June 1, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Synagogues in Los Angeles and Richmond Vandalized during Protests over Police Shooting in Minneapolis - Marcy Oster (JTA)
    Congregation Beth Israel in the Fairfax district in Los Angeles was vandalized with graffiti reading "Free Palestine" as protests against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis swept the city on Saturday.
    Kehillas Yaakov synagogue in Los Angeles was also vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti.
    On the same day, the window of a synagogue in Richmond, Virginia, was smashed during protests.
    See also Kosher Stores, Synagogues Vandalized and Looted in LA (Jerusalem Post)
    The synagogues damaged in LA included Tiferes Tzvi in Fairfax.
    A number of kosher restaurants, bakeries and stores were ransacked by protesters, looting much of the merchandise and causing extensive property damage.
    The stores impacted include Ariel Glatt Kosher Market, Mensch Bakery & Kitchen, and Syd's Pharmacy & Kosher Vitamins.

FCC Chair Asks Why Ayatollah Khamenei's Tweets Don't Violate Twitter Guidelines - Aaron Bandler (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
    Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai asked Twitter in a tweet why Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's tweets against Israel don't violate Twitter's guidelines about glorifying violence.
    Pai highlighted an assortment of Khamenei's tweets calling for "firm, armed resistance [against Israel]."
    The Iranian people are banned from using Twitter.

Iranian-Backed Organizations Establish a Foothold in Gaza - Joe Truzman (Long War Journal-FDD)
    Iran financially and militarily supports a number of proxies in Gaza such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees.
    Iran has also established social welfare programs and charities throughout Gaza to influence the hearts and minds of its residents.
    During the first week of Ramadan, Harakat al Nujaba, an Iranian-backed Iraqi paramilitary group, distributed food baskets and other Ramadan gifts to the families of prisoners and those who have been killed fighting against Israel.
    Another Iranian-funded organization in Gaza is the Palestinian-Iranian Friendship Association (PIFA), which also has branches in Lebanon and Syria.
    See also Iranian-Backed Iraqi Shiite Militia Operates in Gaza (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)

An Israeli AI Lifeguard at the Beach - Simona Shemer (NoCamels)
    Israeli startup Sightbit is using artificial intelligence (AI) tech to alert lifeguards when swimmers are in danger.
    "Sightbit is, in essence, an AI lifeguard - so our software acts as an additional lifeguard by flagging threats to swimmers," said co-founder Minna Shezaf.
    Special cameras are used to film the beach's swim areas and algorithms analyze the footage in real-time to flag incidences.
    "We display alerts on a monitor, which is stationed at the lifeguard tower. We also sound alarms when swimmers are in danger."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Tried to Poison Israelis by Increasing Chlorine in Water - Mehul Srivastava
    In early April, municipal workers at a water pumping station in central Israel noticed a warning from their computer systems - a few pumps were turning off and on without being told to. A piece of Iranian-written code passed through servers in the U.S. and Europe, and finally to the commercially manufactured software controllers that operated the pumps, according to four Israeli officials and a Western intelligence official.
        The suspected goal? To trick the computers into increasing the amount of chlorine added to the treated water that flows to Israeli homes, the Western official said.
        The Iranian cyber attack would have triggered fail-safes that would have shut down the pumping station when the excess chemical was detected, but would have left tens of thousands of Israeli civilians and farms parched in the middle of a heatwave. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Palestinian Leader Cuts Ties with Israel. His Own People Feel the Pinch - Steve Hendrix and Sufian Taha
    Earlier this month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared an end to long-standing coordination between his governing Palestinian Authority and Israeli officials. Palestinian officials at the main offices that handle travel requests stopped processing applications for hospital visits in Israel. Emergency transport by ambulance is also affected. Outside the Palestinian civil affairs office, many complained that making it harder for them to see doctors or visit family was not a welcome change.
        The West Bank has enjoyed a decade of relative stability, in part thanks to employment, trade and security ties with Israel. Salaries paid to Palestinian workers in Israel, topping $280 million a month, make up one of the West Bank's largest sources of income. (Washington Post)
  • Fearing Coronavirus, Some Arab Gulf States Turn to Israel - Noga Tarnopolsky
    Yoel Har-Even, head of the international division at Tel Aviv's Sheba Medical Center, said the hospital has received inquiries about Covid-19 treatment from countries such as Bahrain and Indonesia, which do not have diplomatic ties with Israel, as well as majority-Muslim countries such as Jordan, Egypt and Azerbaijan. Those contacts are part of an increasingly public, years-in-the-making rapprochement between Israel and some of its Arab neighbors. (Los Angeles Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel, Saudi Arabia in Secret Talks to Curb Turkish Presence on Temple Mount - Daniel Siryoti
    Israel and Saudi Arabia have been reportedly engaged in secret talks since last December, through American mediation, over including Saudi representatives in the Islamic Waqf Council at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. According to one senior Saudi diplomat, up until a few months ago the Jordanians - who hold special and exclusive status in managing the Waqf - adamantly objected to any change in the Waqf Council. Amman, however, has since changed its position amid intensive Turkish interference in east Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
        The Jordanians decided, in contravention of the Oslo Accords, to include Palestinian representatives in the Waqf Council. But the Palestinian officials who joined the Waqf opened the door for the Turkish government to establish a presence by funneling tens of millions of dollars - under direct order from Turkish President Erdogan - through Islamist-Turkish non-profit organizations.
        Consequently, the Jordanians have told Israel and the U.S. that they are now prepared to soften their position on incorporating Saudi representatives to the Waqf, on condition that Jordan retains its exclusive status on the Mount and that Saudi Arabia applies diplomatic pressure to expel the Turkish Islamist organizations operating under Palestinian auspices. (Israel Hayom)
  • Despite Cut in Ties, PA Officials Said to Meet with IDF for Security Talks
    Senior Palestinian officials reportedly met with IDF officers last week to discuss security arrangements, despite the Palestinian Authority's recent public announcement that it had cut off all ties with Israel. The Walla Hebrew news site said the meetings took place at the initiative of the PA out of concern that a flare-up of violence on the ground could harm its ability to govern.
        Channel 13 reported earlier last week that Ramallah had sent messages to Israel saying it would not allow terror attacks against Israelis or a mass popular uprising. (Times of Israel)
  • IDF Soldiers Thwart Car-Ramming Attack in West Bank
    "An assailant attempted to run his car over IDF soldiers who operated" near Halamish in the West Bank. "In response, the troops fired and neutralized the assailant," the IDF said Friday. (i24News)
  • Coronavirus in Israel
    The number of active Covid-19 cases in Israel rose to 2,001 on Monday (compared to 1,942 on Wednesday) after schools reopened. 34 patients were on ventilators. 285 people have died. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • A Decade after the Marmara Flotilla - Lilach Shoval
    Ten years after the May 31, 2010, IDF raid on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship trying to breach the maritime blockade on Gaza, troops involved in the mission that ended with 10 dead passengers and several Israeli soldiers seriously wounded insist the operation was not a failure.
        One member of the Shayetet 13 Naval Special Forces Unit that led the mission said: "The unusual factor here was the number of passengers on board and the fact that we didn't know that there were about 60 IHH terrorists among them. In the flotillas that preceded the Marmara we encountered peace activists - not terrorists who were paid to kill Israeli soldiers."
        His feet barely touched the deck before three men jumped him. "I took a blow to the head from a crowbar and my helmet flew off. They came at me with axes, crowbars and hammers. The first thing that went through my head was, 'What's going on here?' We never encountered such violence, it was off the charts. When the third crowbars hit me in the head it finally dawned on me - they were actually trying to kill me. So I grabbed my weapon and shot one of the terrorists."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Lebanese Demand Bread, Hizbullah Offers Fantasies - Baria Alamuddin
    Once upon a time, an incautious word against Hizbullah could merit a death sentence. Nowadays, ridiculing the "Axis of Resistance" has become a Lebanese national pastime. In recent days, a flood of videos and articles have boldly questioned how Lebanon benefits from Hassan Nasrallah's promises of breakfasting in Jerusalem, while penniless citizens struggle to obtain breakfast in Beirut.
        "The image of the Israelis packing their stuff and getting on planes and ships is in front of my eyes," Nasrallah blustered in his latest fusillade of lies. Social media activists are incessantly denouncing Nasrallah as a traitor for selling out his nation to Iran. Hizbullah's very existence guarantees that Lebanon will never receive sufficient international financial support, which represents its only possible exit from the current catastrophic impasse.
        Moreover, by training and arming anti-state insurgents in Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Syria, Hizbullah objectively poses a far more immediate threat to Arab regional stability than to Israel. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)

Sovereignty over the Jordan Valley Is Key to Israel's Security - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Amir Avivi (The Hill)
  • In order to thrive, and not just survive, Israel must have a minimally defensible eastern border, located in the Jordan Valley, and it must retain control of the eastern mountain ridge.
  • Yitzhak Rabin, architect of the Oslo Accords, included full Israeli security control over Jewish cities in Judea and Samaria/the West Bank, and full freedom of maneuver for Israelis along the main roads of the area, within those parameters.
  • The Trump peace plan, with its endorsement of Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, accurately reflects the Rabin parameters. It also calls for a two-state solution and a demilitarized Palestinian state, with Israeli security control over the entire area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The U.S. peace plan was coordinated with Sunni states and Israel. That coordination is the result of the Sunni view that an alliance with Israel is an existential imperative in their fight against Iran - something that is of far greater significance to them than the Palestinian-Arab cause.
  • Jordan, despite its rhetoric, is unlikely to cancel its peace treaty with Israel. It is Israel and the U.S. that stabilize Jordan, not the other way around. There is no Jordanian interest in having a Palestinian military presence on their western border.
  • The Palestinian public in Judea and Samaria, for its part, has demonstrated that it is primarily interested in its economic wellbeing. The Palestinian-Arab street has shown little appetite to return to the days of the Second Intifada.

    The writer has more than 30 years of military and national defense experience, concluding his service as Head of the Auditing and Consulting Department of the Israeli Defense Establishment (including the Israel Defense Forces, the Ministry of Defense and Israeli Military Industries).

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