June 12, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Spied on Senior Hamas Leader (Times of Israel)
    A staffer in Hamas deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk's office was an agent for Iranian intelligence, and reported his movements and conversations during his various trips abroad, Arab affairs correspondent Ehud Yaari reported on Channel 12 Thursday.
    Abu Marzouk, who resides in Qatar and is in charge of Hamas' foreign relations, is known to be averse to its close ties with Iran.
    The staffer has fled to Sudan.

European Court of Human Rights Rules Against French Conviction of BDS Activists - Yossi Lempkowicz (European Jewish Press)
    The European Court of Human Rights (EHCR) in Strasbourg has ruled that a French criminal conviction against BDS activists involved in a campaign to boycott products imported from Israel violated their freedom of expression.
    France's highest appeals court in 2015 upheld rulings that convicted 12 members of the anti-Israel BDS movement on the basis of inciting racism and anti-Semitism.
    France was ordered to pay $31,150 to each activist.

UN: Arms Seized by U.S., Missiles Used to Attack Saudi Arabia "of Iranian Origin"  (Reuters-New York Times)
    Cruise missiles used in several attacks on oil facilities and an international airport in Saudi Arabia last year were of "Iranian origin," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council in a report seen by Reuters on Thursday.
    Guterres also said several items in U.S. seizures of weapons and related materiel in November 2019 and February 2020 were "of Iranian origin."
    "These items may have been transferred in a manner inconsistent" with a 2015 Security Council resolution.

Lebanon's Currency Plunges and Protests Surge - Ben Hubbard (New York Times)
    A new wave of anti-government protests erupted across Lebanon on Thursday after the Lebanese pound sank to a new low against the U.S. dollar, obliterating the purchasing power of many Lebanese.
    For decades, the Lebanese pound was pegged at 1,500 to the dollar, but it has dropped 70% in value since October.

Russian Air Defense Systems Outmatched by Turkish Drones in Syria and Libya - Seth Frantzman (Long War Journal)
    Recent battles in Syria and Libya illustrate how drones and air defense systems are increasingly used by non-Western powers and proxy forces. Drones provide a relatively inexpensive and expendable air force.
    Russia may suffer a setback in marketing its air defense systems if it can't improve the Pantsir's track record.
    Total reported downings of drones increased from 31 in 2016 to 123 in 2019, with 67 already shot down in 2020.
    The writer is executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.

U.S. Army to Receive First Israeli-Made Air Defense System in December - Thomas Brading (U.S. Army News Service)
    Two Israeli-made Iron Dome air defense batteries are scheduled to arrive in December 2020 and February 2021 at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico to undergo an equipment fielding and training program, said Brig.-Gen. Brian Gibson.
    The rigorous testing of each system will end with a live-fire engagement to shoot down a surrogate cruise missile target.
    After this, the Iron Dome batteries will be available for operational deployment.
    The Iron Dome system is a battle-proven, highly-accurate weapon and for years it has helped safeguard locations around Israel from rocket fire.

Follow the Jerusalem Center on:

The Gaza They Do Not Want You to See - Bassam Tawil (Gatestone Institute)
    The Hamas Ministry of Interior in Gaza warned Palestinians on June 9 not to publish photos from Gaza on social media platforms.
    Hamas is worried that the photos and videos taken by Palestinians would reveal a different reality that runs contrary to the stories and images of "misery" and "suffering" in Gaza.
    Hamas seeks to conceal the shopping malls, supermarkets, fancy restaurants, coffee shops and modern clothing stores that have sprung up in Gaza in recent years.
    One popular Twitter account called @Imshin has been disseminating videos from the middle-class and wealthy of Gaza that never make it into the mainstream media, as they engage in shopping sprees and enjoy outings at swimming pools, restaurants, luxury hotels, and beach resorts.
    See also Photos: Luxury Alongside Poverty in the Palestinian Authority (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

The Corona Pandemic and Iran - Itamar Rabinovich (Hoover Institution)
    Iran has been severely affected by the pandemic and the regime has obviously failed in dealing with it.
    It has not responded effectively and tried unsuccessfully to conceal the full extent of the damage, thus further undermining public trust.
    The economic hardship caused by U.S. sanctions has been aggravated by the sharp decline in oil revenues.
    Yet, the regime's aggressive regional policies, manifested by the nuclear program, involvement in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and the Gulf, and the confrontation with the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Israel, have not been significantly moderated.
    The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., is president of The Israel Institute.

Jerusalem's Changing Demographics: An Overview - Nadav Shragai (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The Jerusalem Statistical Yearbook, published by the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research, provides the latest picture of Jerusalem's demographic mosaic.
    At the end of 2018, 919,400 people lived in Jerusalem, twice the population of Tel Aviv, and 10% of Israel's total population. They included 555,800 Jews (62%) and 349,600 Arabs (38% - of whom 96% were Muslims and 4% Christians).
    The birthrate among the Jewish population in Jerusalem - 29.2 (births per thousand residents) was higher than that of the Arab population - 24.9.
    For many years (1967-2011), the birthrate of the Arab population in Jerusalem was higher, but beginning in 2012 the trend was reversed.
    The decline in the birthrate among the Arab population is associated with an increase in the level of education and increased participation of women in the labor force.
    The overall fertility rate of Jewish women in Jerusalem was 4.4 children, compared with 3.1 children among Arab women.

Search the Recent History of Israel and the Middle East

Send the Daily Alert to a Friend
    If you are viewing the email version of the Daily Alert and want to share it with friends, please click Forward in your email program and enter their address.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. to Sanction ICC Officials for War Crimes Inquiry Against American Troops - Lara Jakes and Edward Wong
    The Trump administration will issue economic sanctions against International Criminal Court officials who are investigating possible war crimes by American troops in Afghanistan and bar them from entering the U.S., senior officials announced Thursday. "We are concerned that adversary nations are manipulating the International Criminal Court by encouraging these allegations against United States personnel," the administration said.
        Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the court's inquiry a "truly breathtaking action by an unaccountable political institution, masquerading as a legal body." Last year, Pompeo revoked the visa of the court's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda. (New York Times)
        See also Secretary of State Pompeo: ICC Targeting Israel for Political Purposes
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday: "We're also gravely concerned about the threat the [International Criminal] Court poses to Israel. The ICC is already threatening Israel with an investigation of so-called war crimes committed by its forces and personnel in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. Given Israel's robust civilian and military legal system and strong track record of investigating and prosecuting wrongdoing by military personnel, it's clear the ICC is only putting Israel in its crosshairs for nakedly political purposes. It's a mockery of justice."
        "They're a trusted and wonderful partner and a buttress of American security. If a rogue court can intimidate our friend or any other ally into abrogating its right to self-defense, that puts Americans at risk as well."  (U.S. State Department)
  • Executive Order Regarding the International Criminal Court
    "With respect to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its illegitimate assertions of jurisdiction over personnel of the United States and certain of its allies...these actions on the part of the ICC, in turn, threaten to infringe upon the sovereignty of the United States and impede the critical national security and foreign policy work of United States Government and allied officials."
        "Furthermore, in 2002, the United States Congress enacted the American Service-Members' Protection Act which rejected the ICC's overbroad, non-consensual assertions of jurisdiction."
        "I therefore determine that any attempt by the ICC to investigate, arrest, detain, or prosecute any United States personnel without the consent of the United States, or of personnel of countries that are United States allies and who are not parties to the Rome Statute or have not otherwise consented to ICC jurisdiction, constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat."  (White House)
        See also Jewish Leaders Applaud Executive Order Sanctioning ICC Officials
    Arthur Stark, Chairman, William Daroff, CEO, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Vice Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said Thursday: "We welcome the Administration's executive order today imposing sanctions on International Criminal Court (ICC) officials in response to politically motivated and inappropriate investigations into matters regarding the United States and Israel that are well beyond its province."
        "In pursuing these illegitimate investigations into the U.S. and Israel, the ICC betrays its purpose, distorts international law, and jeopardizes its own legitimacy as an unbiased judicial forum. We also commend the bipartisan call by 69 Senators and 262 Members of the House of Representatives who called upon the ICC to end its discriminatory campaign."  (Conference of Presidents)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Decision to Sanction International Crime Court Was Coordinated with Israel - Noa Landau
    The U.S. decision to impose sanctions on the International Criminal Court was discussed in a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Jerusalem last month, a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
        Netanyahu congratulated the decision to impose sanctions on the "biased International Criminal Court," calling it a "kangaroo court" and a "politicized court obsessed with conducting witch hunts against Israel, the United States and other democracies that respect human rights." Netanyahu accused the court of fabricating "outlandish charges," such as that "Jews living in their historic homeland constitutes a war crime."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israeli Foreign Minister Ashkenazi Congratulates Trump for ICC Sanctions
    Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi on Thursday congratulated President Donald Trump and his administration on the decision to impose sanctions on officials at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. "I thank President Trump for taking steps against the politically driven tribunal which illegitimately claims jurisdiction over Israel and the United States," Ashkenazi tweeted. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Works with Fatah Armed Groups after Ending Coordination with Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinian Authority security forces have stepped up their cooperation with the Tanzim and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades armed groups that belong to Fatah in the West Bank, a Fatah official confirmed on Thursday. The cooperation began shortly after the outbreak of the coronavirus in the West Bank in early March, when PA security forces sought assistance in enforcing lockdowns in Palestinian areas.
        Following Abbas' decision to halt security coordination with Israel, the PA security forces stopped operating in Area B, which is jointly controlled by Israel and the PA. This enabled members of the Tanzim and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades to increase their activities in these areas. A senior Tanzim member in al-Eizariya, east of Jerusalem, said PA security commanders "told us that Palestinian security officers would assist the Tanzim members, but without appearing in their uniforms because there's no security coordination with the Israelis."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Coronavirus Cases in Israel Continue to Rise - Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman
    Israel's Health Ministry reported 214 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours on Thursday evening, compared with 175 the previous day. There are currently 3,019 active patients. 300 people have died and 24 are on ventilators. Bedouin towns in the south and areas of southern Tel Aviv where many foreign workers live face an immediate lockdown after they were designated "red zones" for the virus on Thursday. (Jerusalem Post-Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Palestinian Appropriation of Black Pain - Joshua Washington
    Arab leaders have sought to hijack black narratives to legitimize their cause since the '60s. It's why Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, calls Israel an "apartheid state," though nothing in Israel resembles apartheid.
        One image found on the Internet depicts recently murdered George Floyd in a keffiyeh with a Palestinian flag behind him, depicting him as a Palestinian martyr. This is wrong on many accounts, as our struggle could not be more different.
        The Palestinian Authority encourages and incentivizes Palestinians to kill Jews. Palestinians who successfully kill Jews are rewarded with a monthly stipend from the PA. Palestinian children are trained to kill Jews through terrorist training camps and Hamas TV shows.
        Never has the black community resorted to killing white people everywhere just because they are white. Never have we encouraged the death of our own children for our cause. Never have we ever produced television shows to teach our children how to kill white people.
        What the Palestinian Authority is engaged in is not a struggle against oppression; it is pure and simple Jew-hatred, and Palestinian leaders will do anything they can to legitimize it including exploiting black pain to do so.
        We need to stop allowing people who have no real interest in our well-being to tell us how to behave toward our Jewish cousins. Blacks and Jews have much more history that binds us than we could ever have with the likes of the PLO, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or Mahmoud Abbas. The writer is director of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel (IBSI). (Times of Israel)
        See also Video: The Truth Is the Best Weapon in the Fight Against Israelophobia - Joshua Washington (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Reaffirming Dr. Martin Luther King's Zionist Legacy - Joshua Washington (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Warning a Rogue Court: Defending the U.S. and Israel Against Foreign Prosecutors - Editorial
    President Trump is aiming for the right target with the new sanctions he threatened Thursday against the International Criminal Court. Someone needs to rein in the ICC. The bigger aim of the sanctions is to defend American sovereignty and that of allies such as Israel that are also targeted by the court. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Israel Must Control the Jordan Valley to Defend Its Eastern Border - Yitzhak Ilan
    Israel's sovereignty initiative in the Jordan Valley and parts of Judea and Samaria shouldn't depend on the Palestinian, Arab, or European response. We must ask ourselves if it will benefit Israel in the long run.
        We must apply sovereignty in the Jordan Valley to display through action that we will never withdraw. We need to control the Jordan Valley to defend our eastern border both militarily and demographically. Whoever thinks it's possible to prevent both weapons smuggling into Judea and Samaria and disastrous demographic changes to the country without controlling the Jordan Valley is living in a fantasy world.
        In Judea and Samaria, too, the time has come to decide what we are doing with the half-million Jews who live there, and who were sent there by all previous Israeli governments. This is the land of our forefathers, the land where the people of Israel and its culture were created, therefore we must apply sovereignty there as well. The writer is a former deputy director of the Israel Security Agency. (Israel Hayom)
  • Annexation vs. Sovereignty: Words Matter - Arsen Ostrovsky and Col. Richard Kemp
    The current debate over whether Israel's proposed actions in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) amount to "annexation" or the "application of sovereignty" is a prime example of how words matter, as much of the international community have been referring to this aspect of the U.S. peace plan as "annexation." This is partly a function of a lack of understanding about what the term "annexation" actually connotes. But there are those who know the distinction very well, and are using it to create a dangerous perception: that Israel has no entitlement to Judea and Samaria, and therefore would be committing some illegal act under international law.
        In essence, annexation means one state imposing legal authority over the territory of another state acquired by force or aggression. Russia's annexation of Crimea and Turkey's invasion of Cyprus are prime examples of such cases. But in the case of Judea and Samaria, the allied powers 100 years ago in San Remo, Italy, entrenched the Jewish people's pre-existing historical rights to the land as unequivocal legal rights under international law.
        One may ask, then, how can you annex territory to which you are legally entitled? Indeed, it is factually incorrect to assert that Israel intends to "annex" parts of Judea and Samaria - territory to which it has legitimate claim and that never has been part of a "state of Palestine." One may reasonably argue about the merits of Israel's proposed policy, but to call such actions "annexation" is false.
        Arsen Ostrovsky is an international human rights lawyer. Col. Richard Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, was chairman of the UK's national crisis management committee, COBRA. (JNS)
  • International Law and Israeli Sovereignty in Judea and Samaria - Dr. Yechiel M. Leiter
    There has been a cascade of dire warnings about the consequences should Israel's elected government follow through on Prime Minister Netanyahu's campaign promise to apply Israeli law in parts of Judea and Samaria.
        The Jewish people are the only people in fact who have a recognized legal right over Judea and Samaria. This was enshrined in the mandate drafted and approved by 51 members of the League of Nations guaranteeing the "right of Jewish people to reconstitute their national home" in the Land of Israel (1922). Judea and Samaria have never been under the sovereignty of any other country than the State of Israel. Jordan's invasion of the territory in 1948 and its attempt to annex it in 1950 was widely opposed internationally.
        The prohibition against the forcible transfer of civilians to territory of an occupied state under the Fourth Geneva Convention has no relevance. It was never intended to relate to circumstances of voluntary Jewish settlement on legitimately acquired land which did not belong to a previous lawful sovereign and which was designated as part of the Jewish state under the League of Nations Mandate.
        The writer is a scholar at the Kohelet Policy Forum and heads the international department of the Shiloh Forum. (JNS)
  • BDS Is about Bigotry - Paul Miller
    The anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign "is designed to incite hatred and inject divisiveness on campus, and it almost always results in the harassment of Jewish students," said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, director of the anti-Semitism watchdog group AMCHA Initiative. "Our latest research demonstrates that...academic BDS-compliant behavior and promotion was linked to 86% of Israel-related acts of anti-Semitic harassment....Schools with faculty who endorse academic BDS and that host department-sponsored events promoting BDS are significantly more likely to have incidents of anti-Jewish hostility."
        At anti-Israel rallies sponsored by pro-BDS groups, it is commonplace for Israel advocates to be compared to the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis. The Star of David equated with a swastika can be found at nearly all BDS events. Stop calling the BDS campaign a peaceful movement that seeks co-existence. BDS' sole purpose is to delegitimize Israel, end its very existence, and demonize those who want peace for the Jewish state and its neighbors. The writer is president and executive director of the Haym Salomon Center. (Newsweek)

  • Weekend Features

  • How "Hotel Corona" Brought Israelis and Palestinians Together - Daniel Estrin and Gregory Warner
    The guests at the Dan Jerusalem Hotel from mid-March through early May included Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, and Arab residents of Jerusalem - all Covid-19 patients in quarantine, forced to live together until they were no longer infectious. They called it the "Hotel Corona." The life the patients created together - shared widely on social media - became the envy of the rest of Israel: sunbathing, yoga classes, Zumba sessions, singalongs by the grand piano, and room parties. Outside the hotel, everyone else was under lockdown at home.
        Aysha Abu Shhab, 19, who is Muslim, noticed everyone was sticking with their own kind at dinner. She wanted to branch out. So she sat down with a Jewish couple, Amram Maman, 66, and his wife Gina. "They were laughing all the time, so I chose them," she said. By the end of the meal, they were singing "Inta Omri" ("You Are My Life"), a popular Egyptian song from the 1960s.
        Noam Shuster-Eliassi, a comedian, performed stand-up for an audience of Jews and Arabs. She told her jokes in Hebrew and Arabic, surprising the audience. As the days went by, Shuster-Eliassi noticed the Arab and Jewish guests began intermingling more. "I was like, wait, where is the racism? Where's all the problems? Where's all the prejudice? Everybody's getting along here in this hotel."  (NPR)
  • Astronaut Jessica Meir Wants to Go Back into Space - Renee Ghert-Zand
    NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, who identifies as Jewish and whose father was an Iraqi-born Israeli, spoke with the Times of Israel two months after she returned from a seven-month stint aboard the International Space Station. "I dreamed about going to space my entire life and...it was even far more incredible than I imagined," Meir said. "I was literally smiling for almost the entire seven months....I really felt at home and in my element."
        Once back from space, "You literally feel gravity. When you sit down, you feel like someone is pressing you into the chair," she said. With 3,280 orbits of Earth and a trip of 86.9 million miles under her belt, Meir is itching to get back into space. "I would have gone back the day after I came back. I'll go tomorrow. Once you have experienced that feeling, you want more of it."  (Times of Israel)
  • Polish Police Involvement in the Nazi Final Solution - Ofer Aderet
    Polish historian Jan Grabowski's new book, On Duty: The Role of Polish "Blue" and Criminal Police in the Holocaust, published recently in Poland and forthcoming in English later this year, has upset the Polish right wing. Grabowski responded in a Facebook post: "I am glad that the book has had its impact not only among the more enlightened readers but also among those who prefer to build their historical identity on historical fallacies and myths."
        "I was surprised to discover the role played by the Polish police in the murder of Poland's Jews," Grabowski told Ha'aretz this week. "Murder, rape, robbery - the scale is incomprehensible," he writes in the book.
        The Polish police was reconstituted by the Germans in 1939, immediately after their conquest of the country. Many of the personnel in the new force came from the local Blue Police that had existed before the war. The Polish police under German command, Grabowski explains, became "a murderous and criminal organization which was a key element in the implementation of the Final Solution."
        Grabowski provides documents that demonstrate that under German auspices, but with independent initiative and great fervor, the Polish police officers took part in the systematic murder of Jews in cities and villages, in ghettos and in places of hiding. "Without the Polish police, the Germans would not have succeeded in their plan," Grabowski said. "The Polish police became important actors in the German policy of extermination."
        The Germans found it difficult to distinguish between Polish Jews and Poles who were not Jews. "The Germans were rather at a loss and did not have a clue about how to distinguish those who were Jewish, once they blended into the outside population and took off their arm bands." In this they were aided by the Polish police, who knew their Jewish neighbors well. Grabowski also documents many other cases in which Polish police officers acted independently and murdered Jews without any German involvement. "They were the people who made certain that there was no way for the Jews to escape."  (Ha'aretz)

  • IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi is working on a multi-year program called "Momentum" to give the State of Israel a more efficient, modern and powerful army. In closed military forums, Kochavi displays confidence that the IDF - in two or three years' time - can achieve a swift and clear military victory if forced into war, while dramatically reducing the casualties and destruction among Israel's civilians, and inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy and its assets.
  • The plan is intended to significantly reduce the number of rockets that Israel's home front will absorb, both because the duration of the fighting will be significantly shortened, and because the IDF will maneuver to the main launch areas found deep inside enemy territory. The IDF thereby hopes to instill such a clear military victory that it will create long-term strategic deterrence for Israel that will postpone or prevent the next war.
  • Kochavi says that to win with minimum losses, the IDF needs to make a big leap forward in a number of areas:
    • Combined "multidimensional" combat, in order to increase the deadliness of the IDF's land units. The goal is to organize, equip, and train the IDF in a way that allows units from all branches to work together.
    • The production of a continued, reliable stream of targets identified by intelligence agencies.
    • Innovation in warfare methods including cyber.
    • New preparations to protect against aerial threats, including laser technology.
  • The Momentum plan defines the required mix of the IDF budget as including 70% of investment for offensive operations and 30% for defensive measures.
  • As part of the plan, the procurement of Israeli-made products will include Merkava Mark IV tanks, the Namer APC, small armed drones, and urban warfare robots for fighting in places like Gaza.
Support Daily Alert
Daily Alert is the work of a team of expert analysts who find the most important and timely articles from around the world on Israel, the Middle East and U.S. policy. No wonder it is read by heads of government, leading journalists, and thousands of people who want to stay on top of the news. To continue to provide this service, Daily Alert requires your support. Please take a moment to click here and make your contribution through the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Daily Alert was founded by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in 2002.
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert.