June 5, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Has Israel-PA Security Coordination Ceased? - Pinhas Inbari (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    While the Palestinian Authority has announced the cessation of security coordination with Israel, a survey of Palestinian sources indicates that coordination continues in alternative ways, and IDF forces continue to operate in PA territory with the knowledge of Palestinian security forces.
    As long as the border crossings with Jordan are in Israel's hands, the Palestinian Authority cannot detach itself from security coordination with Israel.
    Without such cooperation, PA leaders will not be able to cross into Jordan, and that would sever their ties with the Arab world.

Irish Foreign Minister Opposes Ban on Israeli Products from Territories - Marie O'Halloran (Irish Times)
    Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has insisted that the Occupied Territories Bill will not be included in any new program for the government.
    Coveney reiterated his opposition to the legislation, which would ban trade in Israeli products made in the territories, on the basis of legal advice that it would contravene EU law.

U.S. Army Tests Israeli "Smart Scope" Designed to Kill Drones - Slobodan Lekic (Stars and Stripes)
    Photos of U.S. soldiers in the Syrian desert training with an advanced electronic aiming system on their rifles are the first indication that the Israeli-made device was being field tested by the U.S. military.
    The photos showed soldiers using the Smart Shooter SMASH 2000 sighting system mounted on their M4A1 carbines.
    Its fire control system allows the shooter to select a target and lock on, and automatically activates the trigger when a hit is guaranteed.

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Media Obsession with the Palestinians - Dexter Van Zile (Jewish Policy Center)
    While Christians were murdered by jihadists in the Middle East and millions of people were being brutally oppressed in China, journalists fed an unwholesome obsession with Israel.
    Collectively they promoted the messages that there is something particularly loathsome about how Israel is behaving toward Palestinian Arabs, and that the latter are the world's quintessential victims of injustice and oppression.
    As a result, meeting the needs of the Palestinian Arabs, whose leaders have refused to negotiate in good faith and incited against Jews for decades, has become the primary moral - and strategic - imperative embraced by a large swath of American elites.
    Over the past five years, the Washington Post published 756 articles mentioning Gaza, compared to 164 articles about the Uighurs and 161 articles about Tibet.
    Over the same period, the New York Times published 412 articles mentioning the Uighurs, 491 articles mentioning Tibet, and more than 1,500 referring to Gaza.
    The writer is a research fellow for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA).

Israeli Cloud Optimization Company Bought for $450 Million - Omri Zerachovitz (Globes)
    U.S. cloud data services company NetApp announced it is acquiring Israeli cloud infrastructure management and cost optimization company Spot for $450 million.
    Spot built a system that allows customers to save 80% on their cloud computing costs.

Israeli Startups Raised over $300 Million in May (Globes)
    Israeli tech companies raised over $300 million in May, and have raised over $4 billion in the first five months of 2020, despite the Covid-19 crisis.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. and Iran Exchange Prisoners in Deal - Jessica Donati
    Iran released U.S. Navy veteran Michael White after nearly two years in custody on Thursday as part of a prisoner deal negotiated with Iran, a U.S. official said. As part of the deal, the U.S. has freed dual U.S.-Iranian citizen Matteo Taerri, a medical doctor imprisoned on charges of evading sanctions.
        Tehran has a history of arresting people with foreign ties and using them as bargaining chips. The State Department is seeking the release of at least three other U.S. citizens detained in Iran. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Norway to Withhold Funding to Palestinians over Textbooks Promoting Hate and Violence - Marcy Oster
    Foreign Affairs Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide said Thursday that Norway will withhold half of the year's funding to the Palestinian Authority's education system until it stops using textbooks that promote hate and violence. In May, the European Parliament passed resolutions that condemn the PA for continuing to teach hate and oppose EU aid to the PA being used for this purpose. (JTA)
  • Tony Blair: Israel's Relationship with Gulf Arab States Is Reason for Hope - Lee Harpin
    Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in an online interview described Israel's relationship with the Gulf states as "the biggest reason for hope in the Middle East." Blair said he had spent the last few years working on forging this relationship, which he said was not purely a ''security relationship.''
        "Yes it's true they both have security interests in common. They are both worried about Iran. The other thing is that there is a new and emerging leadership in the Middle East that really wants to modernize their countries to make sure that religion isn't abused and turned into a political ideology."  (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • EU Diplomats Predict Low-Key Reaction to Application of Israeli Law in Parts of West Bank - Ariel Kahana
    If Israel proceeds with its plan to apply Israeli law to the Jordan Valley and Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, the European Union will take punitive measures of relatively little economic significance, European diplomats have said. According to the European envoys, the internal working guidelines of EU institutions; the historical relationship between Israel and Germany, as well as other EU member nations; and Europe's interest in maintaining good relations with Israel will ultimately prevent the EU from responding harshly.
        At a meeting of EU foreign ministers three weeks ago, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell tried to publish a joint statement warning Israel against applying Israel law, but Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Austria blocked the move. "Every major decision about European foreign policy requires consensus of all 27 member nations," one diplomat observed. "Because of the serious disagreements...there will not be any agreement about sanctions."
        The envoys also said they did not expect the EU to cancel its partnership with Israel on the Horizon 2027 research initiative because Israel's research and development capabilities were "too good" to give up. Ultimately, the diplomats assessed, Europe's response will be largely verbal and symbolic. (Israel Hayom)
  • Report: Airstrikes in Syria Target Iranian Missile Factories - Tzvi Joffre
    At least nine people were killed in airstrikes that targeted Syrian defense factories near Masyaf in northwest Syria on Thursday night, according to Syrian reports. A Syrian military source told the official Syrian news agency SANA that the airstrikes were conducted by IDF aircraft from over Lebanese airspace.
        According to the Step News Agency, the airstrikes targeted four defense factories belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in an area where surface-to-surface missiles are manufactured. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Coronavirus in Israel: 118 New Cases in 24 Hours - Adir Yanko
    Israel's Health Ministry reported Thursday evening that 118 new cases of coronavirus had been detected in the last 24 hours. 291 people have died from Covid-19. There are 23 patients on ventilators, down from 140 six weeks ago. 87 schools have closed after students or staff members tested positive. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Jews Are to Blame, Again - Ben-Dror Yemini
    No matter what disaster or crisis occurs, it is merely a matter of time until the Jews or Israel are held at fault for it. We were blamed for the coronavirus outbreak, even though Jews in Western nations are disproportionately hit harder by the disease than the general population.
        Now the anti-Semites have spun a whole new tale, that the despicable death of George Floyd in Minneapolis was a result of the police officers being trained by the Israel Police. In response to past critics, the National Black Police Association wrote a letter supporting the training in Israel, highlighting the counter-terrorism tactics they are taught. (Ynet News)
  • Col. Kemp: U.S. Peace Proposals Represent the Best Chance for a Lasting Peace - Lee Harpin
    A letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson from Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, signed by 126 MPs and Peers as part of a campaign for the Council for Arab-British Understanding, described Israel's plans to extend Israeli law in parts of the West Bank "as a mortal blow to the chances of peace." In a response from Col. Richard Kemp, the Marquess of Reading and film-maker Hugh Kitson, the PM is urged to recognize "the historical and legal facts pertaining to this matter that the signatories of Mr. Blunt's letter seem either to not understand or to reject."
        "Decades spent pursuing the received wisdom reflected in Mr. Blunt's letter have, as you know, proven not only fruitless but have also increased suffering for the Palestinian people and heightened danger for Israeli citizens and the Jewish diaspora. Now is the time for new and creative thinking. The U.S. Administration's current peace proposals, including sovereignty implementation, in fact represent the best chance for a lasting peace between the two sides as well as a future two-state solution."  (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • The Intrinsic Anti-Semitism of BDS - Ricki Hollander
    The Palestinian BDS campaign calling for broad boycotts, divestment initiatives, embargoes and sanctions against Israel was launched in July 2005. The BDS movement promotes itself in terms of Palestinian human rights and justice, using the pretense that its campaign constitutes "non-violent" criticism of Israeli policy toward Palestinians.
        But the inherent anti-Semitic nature of the movement is evidenced by the anti-Jewish actions and hate rhetoric of the movement's leaders who justify, promote or themselves engage in violent rhetoric and, at times, even physical violence against Israelis, Jews, or Jewish supporters of Israel.
        BDS leaders have accused Israel of responsibility for Palestinian deaths that might arise from the Covid-19 virus, compared Zionists themselves to the coronavirus, and accused Israel and Jews of deliberately spreading the virus in order to kill non-Jews. (CAMERA)

  • Weekend Features

  • A Jewish Dynasty in a Changing China - Jonathan Kaufman
    Since 1880, when Iraqi Jewish refugee Elly Kadoorie arrived in Hong Kong, the Kadoorie family have been a barometer of the country's openness to the world, rising to become the richest Western family in China. Their portfolio includes China Light and Power, which provides electricity to 80% of Hong Kong's residents, and the luxury Peninsula hotel chain.
        In the early 20th century, as China opened up to Western ideas, many Chinese intellectuals developed a fascination with Jewish culture. Sun Yat-sen, the first president of the Republic of China, wrote to Elly Kadoorie that the Jews were a "wonderful and historic nation, which has contributed so much to the civilization of the world." Kadoorie, an active Zionist, helped persuade him to endorse the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which laid the groundwork for the founding of the State of Israel.
        During World War II, the elderly Elly Kadoorie was imprisoned in a Japanese camp, and he died in captivity in 1944. After the war, the Chinese communists swept in and most Westerners fled, but Elly's grown sons, Lawrence and Horace, moved to the family's hotel in Hong Kong. Over the next 70 years, the Kadoories rebuilt their fortune.
        The writer is director of the School of Journalism at Northeastern University. This essay is adapted from his new book, The Last Kings of Shanghai: The Rival Jewish Dynasties That Helped Create Modern China (Viking, 2020). (Wall Street Journal)
  • Coronavirus Pandemic Brings New Uses for Augmented Reality - Sara Castellanos
    Augmented reality superimposes digital content, such as 3-D images or visual instructions, onto a user's view of the real world. This can be done through mobile devices and wearable headsets such as Microsoft's HoloLens. The coronavirus pandemic has increased interest in remote assistance and training because employees and customers are less willing to be in close contact.
        Since March, Sheba Medical Center in Israel has used five HoloLens 2 headsets to train 60 physicians, biomedical engineers and nurses on how to operate ventilators for Covid-19 patients, said Ravid Segal, chief technology officer of the Israel Center for Medical Simulation (MSR), located at Sheba. The HoloLens headset uses optical projection to create digital hologram-like objects that users can see and interact with.
        Medical workers wearing the headset can see a hologram-like rendering of a ventilator superimposed on their real-world view. The headset includes built-in instructions that guide the worker through the process of operating the ventilator in front of them. The headset can also be used as a way for doctors in other parts of the hospital to give remote assistance without needing to be physically present but still being able to see what is happening in a patient's room. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Coronavirus a Boon for Israel Gap-Year Programs - Judy Maltz
    While 10-day Birthright trips to Israel have been suspended due to the coronavirus, longer-term Israel experience programs are experiencing a bonanza. This includes international students enrolled at Israeli universities, yeshivas and seminaries, as well as programs overseen and subsidized by Masa, which brings thousands of diaspora Jews to Israel on educational, volunteer and internship programs.
        Masa CEO Ofer Gutman said many of the programs supervised by his organization continue to operate, even as they comply with social distancing requirements. He said registration for programs scheduled to open next year has been more than double the usual numbers as Jews in the U.S. consider alternatives to universities back home, given the likelihood that classrooms will remain closed next semester.
        "In many ways it's similar to what happened in 2008 and 2009, when there were lots of layoffs in America and many young people out of college who couldn't find jobs," Gutman recalls. "I think many post-college Jews from America will use this opportunity to take on internships in Israel that could add a nice line to their CVs."
        Yossi Garr, director of Nativ, a gap-year program run by the Conservative movement, says: "It's a choice between spending your first year of college at home in your basement on a laptop or studying at Hebrew University, which is a real academic opportunity, along with all the social aspects that come with a program in Israel."  (Ha'aretz)

Iran's Shifting Posture in Syria (Soufan Center-Cipher Brief)
  • Since intervening in 2012 to help the Assad regime battle against a nationwide armed uprising, Iran has deployed several thousand Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) officers and units of its regular military to advise and support Assad's ground forces.
  • Iran also facilitated the deployment to Syria of tens of thousands of fighters from Lebanese Hizbullah, fighters from several Iraqi Shia militia groups, and Afghan and Pakistani Shia militiamen.
  • Iran has used its intervention in Syria to secure its supply routes to Hizbullah and to develop military production facilities to help Hizbullah upgrade the precision of its more than 100,000 Iran-supplied rockets and short-range ballistic missiles aimed at Israel. Israel has responded with regular bombardment of Iran-controlled installations in Syria.
  • Iran's apparent drawdown of its military presence in Syria likely reflects Tehran's calculation that the Assad regime is secure.
  • Iran's drawdown from Syria is likely also a function of pressure from Russia and the Assad regime itself. Russia sees Iran as an obstacle to efforts to compel Assad to reach a political settlement with the opposition and to attracting reconstruction funds - all vital to Russia's ability to wind down its own involvement in Syria.
  • Several potential donors - particularly the Persian Gulf states - are reluctant to invest in Syria's rebuilding if Iran remains present there.
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