January 21, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Boosts Funding of Tech Companies to Help Anti-Tehran Protests - Katrina Manson (Financial Times-UK)
    U.S. government-funded technology companies have recorded an increase in the use of circumvention software in Iran in recent weeks after boosting efforts to help Iranian anti-regime protesters thwart Internet censorship and use secure mobile messaging.
    The outreach is part of a U.S. government program dedicated to Internet freedom that supports dissident pressure inside Iran and complements America's "maximum pressure" policy on the regime.
    The U.S.-supported measures include providing apps, servers and other technology to help people communicate, visit banned websites, install anti-tracking software and navigate data shutdowns.
    Many Iranians rely on virtual private networks (VPNs) that receive U.S. funding or are beamed in with U.S. support.

Pompeo Praises Colombia, Honduras, and Guatemala for Declaring Hizbullah a Terror Group (Times of Israel)
    "We applaud the announcements of Colombia, Honduras, and Guatemala to designate Iran-backed Hizbullah a terrorist organization," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on Monday.
    Last year, Argentina and Paraguay blacklisted Hizbullah.

Photos Surface Showing Convicted Nazi War Criminal John Demjanjuk at Sobibor Death Camp (JTA)
    Photos have surfaced of convicted Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk in the Sobibor Nazi death camp, where he denied ever having been a guard.
    The recently discovered images come from the estate of a deputy commandant at the camp, Johann Niemann, one of ten SS men killed by prisoners in the October 1943 uprising.
    Demjanjuk, whose U.S. citizenship was revoked in 2002 for lying about his Nazi service, and who was deported to Germany in 2009, was convicted in Munich in 2011 as an accessory to the murder of 28,060 Jews at the death camp.
    He died in a nursing home at the age of 91 in 2012.
    Sobibor was constructed in German-occupied Poland in 1942. By the time it was shut down in November 1943, at least 167,000 Jews had been gassed there with carbon monoxide.

Israel Detains Five Finns for Trying to Cross Gaza Border - Said Amouri (Anadolu-Turkey)
    Israeli police on Thursday detained five Finnish citizens including Anna Kontula, a member of the Finnish parliament, for attempting to cross the fence separating Israel and Gaza.
    "We expect those who visit Israel, and especially public servants, to respect Israeli law," Israel's Foreign Ministry said.
    The Finnish Embassy in Israel said Kontula acted as a "private person."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Threatens to Leave Global Nuclear Weapons Treaty - Borzou Daragahi
    Both Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and the speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani, warned on Monday that the country was considering exiting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if Europe takes Tehran before the UN Security Council over its violations of the 2015 accord it signed with the West.
        Iran's foreign ministry on Monday also repeated their threat to nations hosting U.S. troops that they will be targets of Iranian reprisals if America uses their territory to stage attacks on the country.
        Moreover, Iranian officials announced two impending launches of its Zafer surveillance satellites into space. Non-proliferation experts fear that the delivery systems for putting a craft into orbit around the earth can also be used to launch long-range missiles. (Independent-UK)
  • White House Sees a Weakened Tehran - Dion Nissenbaum
    U.S. officials said they are increasingly confident Iran and its Mideast allies are looking to avoid a head-on fight with America as the U.S. seeks to keep pressure on Iran. "The combination of maximum economic pressure and restoring deterrence by credible threat of military force, if attacked, is going to do more to advance peace and stability in the region than a policy of accommodation with the regime," said Brian Hook, who oversees administration policy toward Iran at the State Department.
        After the U.S. strike on Iranian Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Iraqi lawmakers pushed through a nonbinding measure calling for America to withdraw all its troops. But Iraq's caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has now tempered his calls for a U.S. troop pullout, saying he will allow the next government to decide. "The most important consideration here is that Iraq is not absorbed into a Shiite axis led by Iran," said Dore Gold, a former director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs who is now president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Russia Delivers 120 Missiles for S-400 Air Defense System in Turkey
    "Turkey has received two S-400 battalions, more than 120 surface-to-air missiles, as well as auxiliary equipment, spare parts and tools," a source told TASS on Monday. Turkey's National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Jan. 15 that the Russian-made air defense system would be operable by April or May. (TASS-Russia)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Warns Hamas Against Trying to Disrupt Holocaust Gathering
    Israel has warned Hamas that it will respond forcefully to any attempt to disrupt this week's World Holocaust Forum events in Jerusalem, Channel 13 reported Monday. Israeli officials believe Hamas is behind the spate of balloon-borne bombs and incendiary devices launched into Israel in recent days. At least 47 world leaders, including 26 presidents, four kings and four prime ministers, will attend the event in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Security Agency Head: We Thwarted 560 Terror Attacks in 2019 - Judah Ari Gross
    In 2019, the Israel Security Agency (ISA) "prevented upwards of 560 significant terror attacks, including 10 suicide bombings, four kidnappings and more than 300 shooting attacks," agency chief Nadav Argaman said Monday. In 2018, the ISA foiling 500 terror attacks. Five Israelis were killed in terror attacks in 2019, not including Gaza rocket attacks, compared with 11 killed in 2018. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Soleimani Strike May Be Turning Point for Iranian Protesters - Ariel Ben Solomon
    The killing of Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani by the U.S. is reverberating not only around the world but inside Iran as well. According to Harold Rhode, a former adviser on Islamic affairs within the U.S. Defense Department, the ongoing protests in Iran may be a signal that "the government is losing control over the people." "Many people in Iran no longer fear their government" and Soleimani's targeted killing appears to have accelerated this trend, Rhode said.
        "It is important that the Trump administration stay strong and not show Iran any weakness and respond to any aggression with overwhelming strength," said Rhode, noting that U.S. sanctions are taking a severe toll on the country as well as the stability of the Islamic regime. "With all that is going on, it is hard to imagine how much longer the regime could survive."  (JNS)
  • World Leaders Must Recognize that Anti-Semitism Is Unique - Fiamma Nirenstein
    The upcoming leaders' conference in Jerusalem must avoid attempts to dilute anti-Semitism as just another hatred or bias. Throughout my career as a journalist and a member of the Italian parliament, I have always been a liberal proponent of many feminist, equality, and gay rights aims. But anti-Semitism has its own unique dimensions.
        The Jewish people have been persecuted for thousands of years, accused of everything. It is the sole people whose elimination has been scientifically planned and pursued, and that has arisen again thanks to its spiritual strength and its strong beliefs from which modern thought was born, from monotheism and including democracy. To fight anti-Semitism, one has first to understand that it is unique, as the Jewish people are.
        The writer, a Fellow at the Jerusalem Center, served as Vice President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and established and chaired the Committee for the Inquiry into Anti-Semitism of the Italian Parliament. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Israel and Oman Share a Convergence of Interests - Yossi Melman
    Sultan Qaboos Bin Said al Said, Oman's ruler for fifty years, cultivated close relations with Israel's Mossad in great secrecy. Oman became the third Arab country - after Lebanon and Jordan - to maintain secret ties with the Mossad. In Jordan, those ties were with King Hussein; in Lebanon, with President Camille Chamoun.
        In 1975, forces from radical socialist South Yemen invaded Oman's Dhofar region in the south in support of a long-running insurgency. Britain and Iran, then ruled by the Shah, tried to quell the revolt but in vain. Israeli military advisers, coordinated by Mossad operative Ephraim Halevy, later head of the agency, rushed to Oman to help end the revolt. The episode was a classic example of the convergence of national interests between Israel and Oman. The Mossad was also instrumental in assisting Oman improve its water resources to irrigate its arid land.
        One of the more significant benefits of ties with Oman for Israel is the fact that Oman also has good relations with Iran. Through its close contact with Omani officials, Israel was offered a window into Iran's thinking. (Ha'aretz)

  • This week, dozens of heads of state from around the world will convene at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem to mark the Fifth World Holocaust Forum as part of the commemorations surrounding International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
  • Getting support from the UN General Assembly in 2005 to approve the annual commemoration was far from a sure thing. In order for the resolution to pass we needed the support of 96 countries - just over half of all member states.
  • To this end, we requested that representatives of the EU convene a joint meeting with the U.S., Russia, Canada, and Australia. Taking action together would allow us to overcome the inevitable resistance and obtain the majority we needed. At the offices of the European delegation, our host stated that, to his regret, as the Arab bloc was opposed to the initiative, the Europeans would not lend their support.
  • At the time, I was serving as political advisor at the Israeli Permanent Mission to the UN. At the meeting, I turned to the European diplomat hosting us, and to the German diplomat sitting beside me, and said: "Look me in the eyes, me, a representative of the State of Israel and the Jewish people, and tell me that you're not willing to support the special session because of the Arabs. You owe my people a moral debt. The worst tragedy in the history of humankind occurred on your soil. The Arabs and the Palestinians have enough resolutions against us in the General Assembly, and it's time that the Jewish and Israeli narrative is given expression."
  • After securing support from the Russian delegation, the U.S., Canada, and Australia, I then returned to the Europeans, explaining that it was up to them to decide which side of history and morality they wanted to be on. The European diplomat finally concluded: "The European Union will join the initiative, despite the objections of Arab countries."

    The writer is Deputy Director General for Asia and the Pacific at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.