February 28, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Emergency UK Law Blocks Automatic Early Release of 50 Convicted Terrorists - Emma Brazell (Metro-UK)
    Emergency legislation to block the automatic early release of terrorists became law in the UK on Wednesday.
    The change follows a terror attack on Feb. 2 after Sudesh Amman, 20, who had just been released from prison midway through his sentence, stabbed two bystanders.
    The law will affect around 50 prisoners and ensures that offenders serve 2/3 of their sentence before they are considered for release.
    Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said, "No terrorist should be released early only to kill and maim on our streets. Protecting the public is Government's first duty."

U.S. Adds Leader of Iran-Backed Iraqi Militia to Terrorism Blacklist (AP)
    The U.S. State and Treasury Departments announced Wednesday that they had added Ahmad al-Hamidawi - secretary general of the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah Iraqi militia, responsible for attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq - to its terrorism blacklist.
    Kataib Hezbollah has been designated a "foreign terrorist organization" by the State Department since 2009.

Russia Pulls Out of $1.3 Billion Railway Project with Iran (Radio Farda)
    The state-owned Russian Railways has pulled out of a $1.3 billion project for electrification of a railway line between Garmsar in Iran and Ince Burun in Turkey due to the pressure of U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran, Interfax reported on Tuesday.
    The Russian government had undertaken to provide 85% of the funding.
    Iran and Russia have signed multiple contracts in recent years, but none of them have materialized so far.

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How the Israeli Navy Stays Two Steps Ahead of the Enemy - Yaakov Lappin (JNS-Israel Hayom)
    As Israel's adversaries equip themselves with growing numbers of advanced anti-ship cruise missiles, the Israel Navy's Weapons Systems Department must ensure that countermeasures are installed onboard Israeli ships in time.
    The department's technological personnel are soldiers in their early 20s who have completed degrees in electrical engineering, mathematics and physics as part of their enlistment.
    Air-defense systems, electronic warfare, radars, sonars, command and control, missiles and other systems must be developed quickly enough to allow Israel to stay two steps ahead of Hizbullah and Iran.
    A senior naval officer said their counterparts in Western militaries were shocked at the age of the Israeli personnel.
    "We have conducted trials with partners. Their personnel in equivalent departments is made up of people in their 50s or 60s. I show up with a group of 'kids.' They used to smile when they saw that, but now they know us."
    One of the key projects of the navy is to develop sensors and command systems that hermetically seal Israel's sea borders, both on the surface and underwater.
    To achieve this, complex algorithms were developed for radar and sonar so that operators could quickly tell the difference between an enemy scuba diver and a sea turtle.

Tel Aviv Is Home to over 100 Multinationals - Billy Frenkel (Calcalist)
    In 2019, 16 new development centers opened in Tel Aviv courtesy of multinationals on the hunt for Israeli talent, joining the established 91 centers of giants such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, eBay, and Alibaba.
    Those centers employed 10,250 people, up from 9,663 in 2018, and 6,624 in 2016.
    44% of these companies are in the enterprise software sector, especially cyber and business analytics, while 24% operate in e-commerce, online advertising, and social networks.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • 34 Turkish Soldiers Killed in Air Strikes in Syria's Idlib
    At least 34 Turkish soldiers were killed in air strikes in northwest Syria's Idlib province on Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. (Reuters-New York Times)
        See also Turkish Army Retaliates with Artillery Fire at Syrian Government Targets
    The Turkish army retaliated with artillery fire at Syrian government targets after an airstrike killed Turkish soldiers in Idlib province, Turkish officials said Friday. (France 24)
        See also Russian TV: Turkish Army Firing on Russian Planes in Syria's Idlib
    Russia's Rossiya 24 said on Thursday that Turkish army specialists in Syria's Idlib region were using shoulder-fired missiles to try to shoot down Russian and Syrian military aircraft. It said Russian and Syrian planes were forced to take counter-measures. (Reuters)
        See also Turkey Says It Will No Longer Stop Syrian Migrant Flow to Europe
    Turkey has decided to no longer stop Syrian refugees from reaching Europe by land and sea, a senior Turkish official told Reuters on Thursday, in anticipation of the imminent arrival of refugees from Syria's Idlib where nearly a million have been displaced. Turkish police, coast guard and border security officials have been ordered to stand down, the Turkish official added. (Reuters-New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Drone Kills Syrian Linked to Hizbullah in Quneitra
    An Israeli drone on Thursday struck the vehicle of Imad Tawil, a Syrian linked to Lebanon's Hizbullah and a member of the "Syrian Resistance Forces to Liberate the Golan Heights." The strike occurred near Haidar in Quneitra province in the Syrian Golan Heights. (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights-UK-Naharnet-Lebanon)
        See also Report: Israeli Drone Strike Targets Senior Hizbullah Operative
    The Jordan-based Al-Hadath reported that Imad Tawil was in charge of creating an Iranian-backed terrorist network on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, to make that area a theater of operation against Israel. Israel has warned that it would not let Hizbullah build bases and networks in Syria to be used for staging attacks against Israel. (Israel Hayom)
  • Report: Israeli Helicopters Attack Syrian Army Posts along Border
    Israeli helicopters fired missiles at Syrian army positions in Quneitra, and the nearby towns of al-Qataniyah and al-Hurriyet in the Golan Heights, injuring three soldiers, the Syrian SANA news agency said Thursday. (Times of Israel)
  • Austrian Parliament Condemns BDS Movement as Anti-Semitic - Benjamin Weinthal
    Austria's national parliament unanimously passed a resolution on Thursday condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign as anti-Semitic, and urging that the anti-Israel movement not be supported. Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz said it was a "decisive decision that could serve as an example for other European and world countries, and I urge countries and parliaments to follow Austria's lead and adopt similar decisions."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israel's Iran Confrontation Is Pointing the Way to the Future of War - Dr. Seth J. Frantzman
    Iran is shipping sophisticated surface-to-air missiles, drones and other missiles to its allies across the Middle East. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is trying to prepare the army for a potential future war that does not look like any before, as technology is transforming the battlefield. This is illustrated in the counter-insurgency campaigns the U.S. has faced in the Global War on Terror. The writer is executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis. (The Hill)
  • The Ultimate Stress Test: Lessons from the Israeli Counter-Terror Team - Dr. Neil Farber and Dr. Itay Gil
    Israel's Yamam elite counter-terrorism warfare unit is similar to the U.S. Seal Team 6. Yamam has successfully thwarted multiple terrorist attacks, hijackings, kidnappings, bomb threats, and rescued hostages. The Israeli unit has won the International SWAT competition multiple times, competing against 27 top-rated police and federal SWAT teams from around the world.
        While Yamam members face the most stressful situations imaginable, there have been no suicides or rogue agents who have broken down psychologically. The selection process for Yamam weeds out applicants with low resilience and the unit's training is directed toward fostering resilience and high stress management.
        Candidates are specifically screened for these six character traits: Motivation and psychologic stability, excellent physical conditioning, emotional intelligence, high intellectual capacity, great social skills and teamwork, and excellent problem solving and physical skills.
        Neil Farber, a former Professor of Pediatrics and Anesthesiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, is now an adjunct Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University. Itay Gil, an Israeli security and anti-terrorist expert, is a member and instructor with Yamam. (Psychology Today)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • A Plea Against "Anti-Semitism" - Shulamit S. Magnus
    The term "anti-Semitism" is much in use, but it is terribly problematic. Indeed, it is part of the problem and should be dropped from use. "Anti-Semitism" posits the falsehood that Jews are "Semites." Jews are - Jews. The term "Semites" implies race. Jews are not a race. In fact, no one is. "Race" is a notion invented by racists who wish to establish hierarchies among groups, with themselves in the uppermost one.
        The term "anti-Semitism" was introduced by a Jew-hater, Wilhelm Marr, when he founded the "League of Anti-Semites" in Germany in 1879. Marr divided groups into racial entities and posited a deathly struggle with "Jewishness," which posed a lethal threat to "Germanness," Germany, and indeed, the entire Western world. Marr's paranoid vision, with the core common to all Jew-hatred - that Jews are not weak, disadvantaged, or victimized but on the contrary, demonically strong and threatening - continues to this day.
        "Anti-Semitism" is a euphemism, at best, a dressed-up term to avoid saying "Jews," when this is about hatred of Jews. The term should be removed from use. People who hate Jews are Jew-haters. Speech or other acts that target Jews are anti-Jewish. The phenomenon is Jew-hatred. The writer is professor of Jewish Studies and History and director of the program of Jewish Studies at Oberlin College. (Times of Israel)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israeli Expert Views Coronavirus - Prof. Zvi Bentwich
    The coronavirus epidemic is having a major impact on the economy, daily life and personal security of much of the world's population, as concern about the virus and the protective measures being taken keep increasing. Everyone who works in the fields of infectious diseases and public health is worried, with some justification, about the possible appearance of a new virulent and dangerous infectious agent that will rapidly spread around the world.
        With the rise in the number of people infected and who have fallen ill, and with the intensification of research into the disease and the isolation of its viral factor, a clearer picture of its nature and behavior, and especially of its virulence, has emerged.
        The corona family is familiar to us from the two SARS epidemics of 2002 and 2012 that were caused by other viruses from this family. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the mortality rate from the current disease ranges from 0.5 to 2%, and is significantly lower than the mortality rate from the 2002 SARS outbreak (9.5%) and much lower than the 2012 SARS outbreak (34.4%). It may even be close to the mortality rate from an ordinary flu outbreak in the U.S.
        There are no longer grounds to fear a virulent epidemic that threatens the whole world and will cause widespread illness and death. It is quite likely that the current epidemic will behave like a flu epidemic with which we're familiar and will run its course within a few months, even though the infection rate may remain high since the current virus is highly contagious.
        The writer, an expert in infectious diseases, is director of Ben-Gurion University's Center for Emerging Diseases, Tropical Diseases and AIDS. (Ha'aretz)
  • FDA Clears Israeli-Developed Standing Robotic Wheelchair for U.S. Distribution
    UPnRIDE Robotics announced on Thursday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared its Robotic Standing Wheelchair for marketing and use in the U.S. The device is suitable for most wheelchair users.
        Dr. Amit Goffer, founder and president of UPnRIDE Robotics, a quadriplegic himself following a vehicle accident, is also the founder of ReWalk Robotics, the company that developed an FDA-approved wearable robotic exoskeleton that enables individuals with spinal cord injury to stand upright and walk. He says, "All people confined to a wheelchair should have access to enhanced mobility and enjoy the many health benefits associated with the ability to perform everyday tasks in a standing position."  (NoCamels)
  • Israelis Find the Secret to Killing Toxic Algae Blooms - Ruth Schuster
    Vast "algae blooms" - so enormous they can be seen from outer space - are choking our waters, creating vast "dead zones" and making us sick. Israeli startup BlueGreen has patented technology that kills them - effectively, affordably and "greenly." Its products have been approved for use in drinking water by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
        Ohio's Lake Chippewa had been considered untreatable. Every year the bloom got worse. BlueGreen treated Chippewa in August 2019, deploying its granules in less than an hour. Within 24 hours the bloom was history. In Russia, the company treated the perpetually-plagued Park Pobedi lake in Tatarstan in October 2018. A year later it was still bloom-free. (Ha'aretz)
  • Polish Diplomats in Switzerland during Holocaust Provided Jews with Forged Passports - Jeremy Sharon
    Six Polish diplomats working out of the Swiss capital Bern sought to provide Jews in Poland with forged South American passports, mostly from Paraguay. In some cases the passport holders were allowed to live outside the Jewish ghettos or were sent to internment camps instead of Nazi death camps. According to Polish ambassador to Switzerland Dr. Jakub Kumoch, up to 1,500 Jews who received the Polish-forged documents are confirmed to have survived the Holocaust.
        Then-Polish Ambassador to Switzerland Aleksander Lados, who served in Bern in 1940-45, oversaw the passport forgery efforts. The initiative came from Juliusz Kuhl, a Polish Jewish diplomat in Bern, together with Chaim Yisroel Eiss of Agudat Yisrael in Zurich and Abraham Silberschein. Polish diplomat Konstanty Rokicki was responsible for obtaining the blank South American passports and filling them out.
        The passports were also used by Jews in the Netherlands and Germany. The initiative was ended in 1943 when the Swiss authorities became suspicious and demanded that it be shut down. (Jerusalem Post)

If Iran's Leaders Won't Change, Its People Will Force Them - Joseph I. Lieberman and Mark D. Wallace (Jerusalem Post)
  • United Against Nuclear Iran is working to hold Tehran accountable for its actions, and to stop businesses around the world from engaging with the regime and its terrorist agents.
  • Our goal is to convince Iran to end its malign behavior and behave like a responsible member of the community of nations, or sacrifice the viability of its economy and watch its people continue to suffer.
  • History has shown that when forced to make a choice, the ayatollah has demonstrated a willingness to negotiate, as regime survival is his primary concern. The U.S. has initiated the maximum pressure campaign against Iran to do just that.
  • Only Khamenei and his regime can make the big course corrections that are rightfully demanded and entirely necessary or, ultimately, the Iranian people will step in. We can help them make that decision so the world becomes safer faster.

    Former U.S. senator Joseph I. Lieberman is chairman of United Against Nuclear Iran. Mark D. Wallace, a former U.S. ambassador to the UN for management and reform, is UANI's chief executive.
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