February 7, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Russia Says Syrian Air Defense nearly Hit Passenger Plane near Damascus (Reuters-RT-Russia)
    An Airbus A320 with 172 passengers on board flying from Tehran to Damascus made an emergency landing in Russia-controlled Khmeimim air base after Syrian air defense nearly hit it, Russian state news agency RIA said Friday.
    The Syrian air defense was trying to repulse an Israeli attack near Damascus, RIA said, adding that four Israeli F-16 fighter jets fired eight air-to-ground missiles at targets near Damascus without entering Syrian airspace.
    See also Number of Syrian Soldiers and Iranian-Backed Militiamen Killed in Airstrikes Rises to 23 (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights)
    15 Iranian-backed militiamen, including five Syrians and at least three Iranians, were killed in airstrikes on their positions in Damascus and Daraa early Thursday. Eight other Syrian soldiers, including an officer, were killed after air defense batteries were targeted near Damascus.
    The airstrikes targeted weapons and ammunition depots, destroying many of them.

White House Confirms Killing of Al-Qaeda Leader in Yemen - Julian E. Barnes (New York Times)
    The U.S. killed Qassim al-Rimi, 41, the leader of al-Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen, in a drone airstrike in January, the White House confirmed on Thursday.

Poll: Egyptian Hostility to Hamas Is Growing - David Pollock (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    71% of Egyptians voice a negative opinion of Hamas, up from 63% a year ago, according to a new Egyptian poll.
    84% agree that: "Right now internal political and economic reform is more important for our country than any foreign policy issue, so we should stay out of any wars outside our borders."
    54% say good ties with Washington are important to Egypt, while 87% say it is not important for Egypt to have good relations with Iran.
    90% have a negative opinion of Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei and the same percentage express an unfavorable view of Hizbullah.

Belgium Invites NGO with Terrorist Ties to UN - Ariel Kahana (Israel Hayom)
    Belgium, which is presiding over the UN Security Council in February, invited Brad Parker, a representative of the NGO Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), to brief the council.
    DCI-P has numerous ties with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a designated terrorist group in the U.S., EU, Canada and Israel, to the extent that Citibank and Arab Bank stopped providing it with banking services.
    DCI-P alleges Israel is committing war crimes by "torturing children," and Parker has called for senior Israelis to face trial at the International Criminal Court.
    Amb. Alon Bar, Deputy Director-General for the UN and International Organizations at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Belgian Deputy Ambassador to Israel Pascal Buffin that if Belgium is inviting someone such as Parker to address the UNSC, then it apparently shares his views.
    In private discussions with Belgian officials, Israel's Ambassador to Belgium, Emmanuel Nahshon, asked that Parker's appearance at the UNSC be canceled, but was rebuffed.
    "It appears Belgium is making an effort to position itself as the most hostile country to Israel at the UNSC," said Yinam Cohen, director of the UN Political Affairs Department at the Foreign Ministry.

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Hebrew Becomes Hip in American Schools - Faygie Holt (JNS)
    More than 6,600 students were learning Hebrew in a public-school or charter-school setting in 2018, according to a report issued by CASJE, the Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education, and George Washington University's Graduate School of Education and Human Development.
    35 schools were offering Hebrew-language classes - 17 elementary or middle schools, and 18 serving grades 9 through 12.
    Sharon Avni, who co-wrote the report, said, "The biggest surprise is that there are 2,000 students in traditional public schools studying Hebrew language."

Israeli Surveillance Drones in Trial to Monitor UK Waters - George Allison (UK Defence Journal)
    Israel's Elbit Systems has been selected by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to conduct maritime demonstration flights in the UK using a number of its unmanned aerial surveillance systems.
    Elbit says, "The Hermes 900 Maritime Patrol enables persistent monitoring of vast swathes of sea and long coastlines with effective advanced search capabilities to support with valuable search and rescue work as well as the identification of potential hazards."
    "It features maritime radar, an Electro Optic payload, Satellite Communication, an Automatic Identification System receiver and an Emergency Position-indicating Radio Beacon receiver."

Israel-Founded Cybersecurity Firm ForeScout to Be Acquired for $1.9 Billion - Luke Tress (Times of Israel)
    Israel-founded, San Jose-based ForeScout Technologies, Inc., a cybersecurity company, said Thursday that it had been acquired for $1.9 billion by U.S. private equity firm Advent International.
    With R&D in Tel Aviv and other countries, ForeScout has become a world leader in network access control.
    It also offers enterprises and government organizations the ability to view devices when they connect to the network.
    The company was founded in June 2000 in Israel and counts 3,400 customers in 85 countries.

Australia Selects Israel's Spike LR2 Missile System (Shephard News-UK)
    The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has selected the Rafael Spike LR2 missile system as its new Long Range Direct Fire Support Weapon capability to target contemporary armored threats.
    Chief of Army, Lt.-Gen. Rick Burr, said the missile "will enable our dismounted teams to engage armored targets faster, at increased range, and with improved accuracy."

Arava Region of Israel to Be 100 Percent Solar-Powered - Yosef Israel Abramowitz (Jerusalem Post)
    The Arava region - from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea - is about to be powered 100% during the day by the sun.
    That includes Eilat, all the hotels, factories, homes, businesses, kibbutzim and air conditioning.
    By 2025, the sun will power all nighttime electricity needs as well.
    The writer is co-founder of solar industries in Israel and Africa.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Architect of U.S. Peace Plan Blames Palestinians for Violence
    Presidential adviser Jared Kushner, who spent nearly three years working on the U.S. peace plan, said Thursday that leaders who are ready for a state "don't call for days of rage and encourage their people to pursue violence if they're not getting what they want." He said he thinks Abbas "was surprised with how good the plan was for the Palestinian people, but he locked himself into a position" by rejecting it before it came out. "If they would like to meet, we're happy to do it, but we're not going to chase them," Kushner said. (AP-New York Times)
        See also Kushner Presents Peace Plan to UN Security Council in Closed-Door Briefing (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
  • Turkey Demands Syrian Army Exit Rebel Areas, Threatens Force
    Turkish President Erdogan threatened Wednesday to use force against Syrian government forces if they don't pull back to an earlier cease-fire line in northern Syria by the end of the month. Speaking after direct clashes Monday between Turkish and Syrian troops inside Syria, he said two of the Turkish observation posts set up as part of an agreement reached in 2018 with Russia are now behind Syrian lines. "If the (Assad) regime does not retreat to areas behind the observations posts, Turkey will be forced to take matters into its own hands." Erdogan said he told Russian President Putin on Tuesday that the Syrian forces must retreat. (AP-Military Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Forces Nab Car Rammer - Judah Ari Gross
    Israeli security forces on Thursday arrested Sanad al-Tourman, 25, from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of A-Tur, who carried out a car-ramming attack that injured a dozen soldiers in Jerusalem earlier in the day. In recent days Tourman made several Facebook posts possibly signaling his intentions, writing: "Whoever seeks peace with the enemy is living under an illusion."
        Also on Thursday, an Israeli soldier was lightly wounded in a shooting attack along a highway near the West Bank community of Dolev. (Times of Israel)
  • Arab Israeli Shoots Israeli Border Policeman outside Temple Mount in Jerusalem - Efrat Forsher
    An Israeli Border Police officer was shot in the shoulder on Thursday when "an assailant approached officers who were stationed near the Lions' Gate [on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem] and opened fire at them," the Israel Police said. "Other officers engaged immediately, firing at the assailant and neutralizing him."
        Hebrew-language media named the shooter as Shadi Bana, 45, from Haifa, who reportedly converted from Christianity to Islam recently. Security camera footage shows the gunman armed with a pistol walking up to a group of officers and shooting at them. (Israel Hayom-Times of Israel)
  • IDF Troops Battle Palestinian Militants in Jenin - Yoav Zitun
    Israeli security services overnight Wednesday conducted a partial demolition of a house in the West Bank city of Jenin belonging to the family of a terrorist who killed Rabbi Raziel Shevach in January 2018. Although the house had been demolished in the past, the structure was rebuilt. Soldiers at the scene reported that at least four masked militants, wearing all black, began firing at them with AK-47 and M-16 assault rifles as soon as the troops arrived in the area. The gunfire was accompanied by a 200-strong mob hurling rocks, firebombs and explosives at the soldiers.
        IDF snipers on rooftops began firing back at the militants in a violent exchange that lasted almost two hours. In addition, explosives planted under military vehicles began detonating during the battle. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Confronts Palestinian Rioters in Hebron - Tovah Lazaroff
    On Thursday, there was a protest in Hebron in which hundreds of Palestinians chanted, "We will march on Jerusalem with millions of martyrs." The violence lasted for hours as hooded and masked Palestinians pelted soldiers with stones from vantage points atop abandoned buildings, while on Shuhada Street below, teens and young adults also threw stones and lobbed firebombs. Israeli security forces responded with tear gas and stun grenades. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Guiding Terror Attacks in Jerusalem, West Bank - Leon Sverdlov
    Hamas' forces and officials in Gaza are guiding the lone wolf attacks that began early Thursday, Maariv's military correspondent Tal Lev Ram told Radio 103FM on Thursday. "There is a guiding hand that is constantly working [on making] the area 'heat up.'"  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    U.S. Peace Plan

  • The U.S. Mideast Peace Plan Takes a Fresh Approach - Danny Danon
    Many of the objections to the U.S. Mideast peace plan have focused on its nontraditional approach. Yet any new plan must recognize that the situation today has dramatically changed since the beginning of the peace process in the 1990s. The Middle East has devolved into instability, while the Iranian regime has significantly expanded its regional operations.
        Buoyed by the windfall from the nuclear deal, Iran has spent $7 billion on its terror network, including $1 billion to Hizbullah on Israel's northern border. Tehran's support for the Assad regime has prolonged the Syrian civil war and allowed the Iranians to position their troops near the Israeli and Jordanian borders.
        At the same time, Gaza is now home to numerous terrorist organizations, supported and funded by Iran to the tune of up to $100 million per year. Yet despite the dramatic changes in the region, the plan's critics still cling to a political solution codified in the 1993 Oslo Accords.
        The U.S. plan provides the opportunity for the Palestinians to build the necessary institutions they currently lack. Multiple initiatives focus on ensuring effective governance, expanding the Palestinian educational and health-care systems and guaranteeing foreign investment of $50 billion over 10 years. Imagine what Palestinian society could achieve with this opportunity. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the UN. (Washington Post)
  • Understanding the U.S. Peace Plan from an Islamic Perspective - Dr. Harold Rhode
    The ultimate source of Palestinian rejectionism comes from the deeply rooted belief that, according to Islamic law, any territory that ever comes under Muslim rule must remain Muslim forever. All of Israel and the West Bank were captured by the Muslims in 637-638 CE. That means that, from a Muslim perspective, it is Muslim territory forever.
        According to this view, Spain, too, which Muslims ruled from 712-1492 CE, still belongs to the Muslims. Tel Aviv, therefore, is, from the Muslim perspective, as much a "settlement" as any of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Jews cannot be legitimate sovereigns over either.
        The Oslo process gave the Palestinians veto power. Any time they disagreed with something, the U.S. and some Israeli leaders then started to look for ways to improve the offer, not understanding that there would be no way they could ever placate Palestinian negotiators. The new U.S. plan removes that veto power. Palestinians no longer have the luxury of being able to reject an Israeli offer and expect that the previous offer would be the starting point in any future round of negotiations. The writer served for 28 years as an advisor on the Islamic world in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense. (JNS)
  • U.S. Peace Plan Forces Reality on Palestinians - Sander Gerber
    The U.S. peace plan rejects several poison-pill demands from the Palestinians that had made any deal impossible. It takes the Palestinian "right of return" off the table, which would have demographically overwhelmed Israel with millions of Palestinians moving in from neighboring countries. It also rejects the division of Jerusalem, a politically and logistically impossible demand that Israel surrender half its capital city.
        The plan recognizes Israel's existential security needs. It ensures Israeli sovereignty over the strategically essential Jordan Valley and overall security control over the West Bank. It also ensures that no one will be removed from their homes.
        Most importantly, the plan at long last puts a price on Palestinian rejectionism. For the first time, the Palestinians will not get more as a reward for saying "no." The process no longer will be held hostage to a Palestinian political culture that insists on holding out forever until every demand is met. The writer is a fellow at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America and at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (The Hill)
  • Finally, a Peace Plan that Takes Resolution 242 Seriously - Evelyn Gordon
    While critics claim that the U.S. peace plan "violates UN resolutions," nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, this is the first plan that relates seriously to UN Security Council Resolution 242 that every previous peace plan cites. Resolution 242, adopted in November 1967, was carefully crafted to let Israel keep some of the territory it captured in the Six-Day War. The resolution said a "lasting peace" would require "secure and recognized boundaries," recognizing that the 1967 lines (aka the 1949 armistice lines) did not and could not provide secure boundaries for Israel. (JNS)
  • Palestinians Reject Pragmatic U.S. Peace Plan - Dr. Jennifer Oriel
    The U.S. government presented a plan for Israel and the Palestinian territories that acknowledged the equal right of Israelis and Palestinians to a nation that reflects their different cultures, aspirations and hopes for the future. It took aim at leaders who advance the cause of ideology at the expense of people's welfare.
        The plan draws a distinction between Middle Eastern leaders. The first group includes ideologues and theocrats who use religion to create discord and excuse ineptitude. In the other category are leaders who work to create the conditions conducive to the flourishing of their people, especially economic opportunities.
        On the face of it, the new deal provided ample opportunity for Palestinians to thrive. It proposed a new state substantially larger than the territories under Palestinian administration today. It offered a generously funded plan for nation building. However, Palestinians are reared to believe they are an oppressed people of a colonized state. Jihadi groups capitalize on any perceived slight to emphasize the sense of perpetual victimhood. PA President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the plan outright but has not presented an alternative vision. (The Australian)
  • Why Arab Israelis Don't Wish to Join a Future Palestinian State - Boaz Bismuth
    The U.S. plan has changed the paradigm: All previous plans urged Israel to take the proverbial plunge regardless of whether or not there was any water in the pool. Moreover, it has created a new paradigm by which Palestinian nationalism must first and foremost be good for future Palestinian citizens. The plan presents specific goals and metrics that Palestinians must meet including values of human rights, the rule of law, and refraining from killing Jews - basic criteria that every country should uphold.
        If these conditions are rejected by the Palestinians, meaning they will not commit to establishing good governance and fighting terrorist organizations, then negotiations are not feasible to begin with.
        Statements about potential land swaps sparked outrage and protest among Israel's Arab citizens, especially in the Triangle, a concentration of towns and villages adjacent to the Green Line. Arab Israelis now embrace Israeli rule and say they wish to remain part of Israel even if the Palestinians fulfill their national aspirations and see a state established.
        Arab Israelis were presented with a choice: Which side do you wish to belong to - the "Israeli occupation" or the "future state of Palestine"? They clearly prefer to be part of Israel. This proves to what extent Arab Israelis do not trust the Palestinian leadership to provide them with the security and quality of life they enjoy as Israeli citizens. (Israel Hayom)

  • Other Issues

  • Sudan's Action Is Understandable; Many Arab Countries Have Ties with Israel - Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
    The Muslim Brotherhood, which lost power in Sudan last year, is the main driver behind the intense attack against Sudan and the chairman of its Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, under the pretext of his meeting with the Israeli prime minister in Uganda. More than half of all Arab countries - including Tunisia, Qatar, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Oman and others - have dealt with Israel.
        Political bullying against Arab governments in the name of Palestine or Israel is unacceptable. Everyone is tired of this declining political rhetoric. States have their supreme interests, and sovereign decisions are not to be decided on Twitter.
        The Iranians involved the previous Sudanese regime in their battles over the years, and the Sudanese people paid a high price for this. Naval and air chases sank Iranian ships off Sudanese ports, and Iranian military training camps were bombed on Sudanese territory.
        In addition, the crimes of the previous Sudanese regime against its people placed the country on international and U.S. sanctions lists. Sudan does not have many options if it wants to lift these sanctions, move away from the Iranian strategy of conflict, and shift to internal development. The writer is former general manager of Al-Arabiya and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • Tehran's "Deciders" Are an Increasingly Isolated Minority - Amir Taheri
    The Khomeinist regime's support base, mired in corruption, finds it increasingly hard to communicate with society at large. The mass gatherings that the regime organizes should deceive no one. Today, the Tehran "deciders" constitute a small, increasingly isolated minority caught in an imagined past and fearful of the future.
        Worse still, many "deciders" have already put part of their money abroad, having sent their children to Europe and America. All they are interested in is to get the money and run. They are unable to build the state institutions needed for a modern economy capable of seeking a credible place in the global market. The writer was executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • Belgian Governor Calls to Halt PA Payments to Terrorists - Alex Traiman
    Cathy Berx, the governor of Antwerp Province in Belgium, was in Israel for the World Holocaust Forum in January. Berx told JNS that the Palestinian Authority must give up all forms of terror including the "pay-to-slay" policy that provides stipends to terrorists and the families of so-called "martyrs" killed in the act of attempted murder.
        She added that it's improper to continue funding the PA unless the terror-financing practice has been discontinued, and that "an independent audit" of the program is required to ensure that European funding is not going into the hands of terrorists or their sponsors. "You do not give money to an organization that has as an aim to fund terrorists, to fund those who have as an aim to destroy a nation."  (JNS)
  • Arab Youth Must Be Taught the Truth about the Holocaust - Ahmed Charai
    We must renew our determination to educate all young people about the Nazi genocide of six million Jews, and of the murder of so many others. The Holocaust represented the pairing of the methodology of the industrial revolution to the dark tradition of mass murder. It showed how technologized propaganda methods dehumanized other people so as to make actual acts of industrialized mass murder possible.
        Many Arab historians have colluded in the falsification of Holocaust history. The result is that entire chapters of history are missing from what Arab governments teach their students. Into the vacuum have poured the diatribes of religious extremists, where the Palestinians are the only victims of history, as Jews and Israelis are turned into Nazis.
        Distortion of Holocaust history is nurturing a grievance culture that yields only self-loathing and paralysis. And it is separating the image of Arabs from that of all other civilized peoples, making them into an international embarrassment. Arab youth must be taught the truth about the Holocaust. The writer, a Moroccan publisher, is on the board of the Atlantic Council and is an international counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (National Interest)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israeli Master Spy Avraham Dar - Sigal Ben David
    Avraham Dar, who passed away recently at the age of 94, spoke five languages fluently and befriended everyone he came across. His son, Gidi Dar, said, "My father never resorted to violence during his operations. That wasn't his style. He'd always come up with a story and finagle his way through sticky situations. In that way, he succeeded in overthrowing Mustafa Hafez, the head of the Egyptian Fedayeen....Hafez would lead killing squads across the border into Israel [from Gaza] to kill Jews."
        "My father...befriended a Bedouin double agent and he fabricated a story, claiming that the head of the Egyptian-controlled Gaza police was cooperating with the Israelis. He confided this to the agent, and gave him a copy of the message in code inside a book, making him promise to keep it secret. Of course, the agent ran straight to Hafez and excitedly told him about the amazing intel he'd uncovered."
        "Hafez had to open the book himself, since it included information about some of his men. When Hafez opened the book, it exploded in his face and he and all his men in the Fedayeen headquarters were killed. A similar bomb eliminated his deputy in Jordan just a few hours later."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Where Does the Figure of 6 Million Holocaust Victims Come From?
    In November 1945, Dr. Wilhelm Hoettl, a trained historian who served in a number of senior positions in the SS, testified for the prosecution in the Nuremberg trials of accused Nazi war criminals. He described a conversation he had with Adolf Eichmann, the SS official who had principal responsibility for the logistics of the Jewish genocide, in Budapest in August 1944.
        Hoettl recalled how "Eichmann...told me that, according to his information, some 6,000,000 Jews had perished until then - 4,000,000 in extermination camps and the remaining 2,000,000 through shooting by the Operations Units and other causes, such as disease, etc."  (Ha'aretz)
  • How Morocco Saved Its Jews - Menachem Genack
    During World War II, the Vichy government of France, which made common cause with the Nazis, asked Morocco to turn over its Jews. King Mohammed V responded, "There are no Jews in Morocco; there are only Moroccan citizens....I do not approve of the new anti-Semitic laws....The Jews are under my protection, and I reject any distinction that should be made amongst my people."
        Before the founding of Israel, a quarter of a million Jews lived in Morocco. During Vichy rule (1940-44), no Moroccan Jews were deported or killed. The writer is CEO of the OU Kosher certification agency. His parents escaped from Belgium to Casablanca en route to the U.S. during the war. (The Hill)

Give Peace (Plan) a Chance - Rabbi Yitz Greenberg (Jerusalem Post)
  • For Israelis and Palestinians, the U.S. peace plan is the best offered in more than half a century, mainly because it directs the essential dismantling of underlying conceptions that block any peace possibility. The plan pushes the Palestinians to move off their present path of pursuing independence by undermining the State of Israel.
  • The Palestinians have been ill-served by their allies and previous American administrations who allowed them to live inside a bubble of victimhood. The world failed to openly repudiate Palestinians hopes to gain sovereignty while isolating and wearing down the Jewish state.
  • PA incitement to hate, support of terrorism, and refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state convinced the majority of Israelis (who supported the Oslo Accords and welcomed a path toward Palestinian sovereignty) that a settlement with the Palestinians will lead to a mortal threat to Israel's very existence.
  • For over a century the world community failed to tell the Arabs to stop their unyielding opposition to a Jewish state, which led to never-ending war and less positive outcomes for the Arabs in the Holy Land. That silence sustained the Arab and the Palestinian self-defeating policy.

    The writer, president of the J.J. Greenberg Institute for the Advancement of Jewish Life, is president emeritus of CLAL: The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.
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