July 2, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

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Iraq's Leadership Finally Setting Limits on Iranian Intervention - Zvi Bar'el (Ha'aretz)
    When Mustafa al-Kadhimi took over as prime minister of Iraq in May, he ruled that every person entering Iraq, including VIPs, will need a visa. This included Gen. Esmail Ghaani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force and successor to Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
    Al-Kadhimi also began a campaign to weaken the clout of Iran's supporters, removing a long list of senior officers and officials from their posts, including national security adviser Falih al-Fayyadh.
    When Ghaani met in April with the commanders of the Shi'ite militias in Iraq that Iran supports and funds, not only did he not bring the usual cash, but said that henceforth the militias would have to rely on the Iraqi government for funding.
    Since Soleimani's killing, some militias have switched loyalties to serve under the orders of Iraqi religious leader Ali al-Sistani.
    Meanwhile, those loyal to Iran have begun developing alternative sources of funding, such as collecting fees at random checkpoints and stealing property.
    The Iranians could well be showing restraint over al-Kadhimi's actions against the Shi'ite militias because, in return, they expect that this will lead to the withdrawal of American forces, which will widen the window for Iranian involvement in the end.

Egypt Is Arresting Doctors Who Raise Alarms over Coronavirus - Jared Malsin (Wall Street Journal)
    Egyptian authorities have arrested at least nine doctors and other medical personnel for speaking out about the deaths of frontline healthcare workers due to the coronavirus.
    At least 103 doctors have died and more than 3,000 have been infected, according to officials at the Egyptian Medical Syndicate, who accuse the government of failing to provide protective gear and test hospital workers.
    Egypt has reported 66,754 cases and 2,872 deaths, while senior Egyptian officials have said the likely number of infections is as much as ten times higher since testing has lagged.

Persecution of Baha'is in Iran Escalates as 77 Imprisoned over Religious Beliefs - Abbie Cheeseman (Telegraph-UK)
    Iranian authorities have escalated their persecution of the Baha'i community.
    At least 77 Baha'is have been imprisoned in the last month "under baseless accusations and for no reason other than a deep-seated antagonism to the Baha'i Faith," which was originally founded in Iran, the Baha'i International Community said.

Israel Security Agency Thwarts Effort to Recruit Spies for Hizbullah - Lilach Shoval (Israel Hayom-Times of Israel)
    Two Israeli Arab women from Majd al-Krum in northern Israel were arrested in early June for seeking to collect sensitive information for Hizbullah, the Israel Security Agency revealed on Tuesday.
    They were recruited by a former resident of their village who is now residing in Lebanon. The two Israeli women met with the Hizbullah woman recruiter in Turkey in 2019.

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The Benefits of Decreased Security Cooperation with the PA - Prof. Hillel Frisch (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
    There is no doubt that security cooperation with the PA contributed to a reduction in terrorism. The questions are how much, and whether or not the Israel Security Agency and the IDF can make up the difference.
    Even with close security cooperation, it was Israel, not PA security forces, who apprehended at least 75% of those suspected of terrorism.
    Contemporary history provides a good lesson that undue reliance on external security intelligence without the building of internal capabilities can backfire - especially with regard to human intelligence, which involves building informant networks in enemy territory.
    A lull in security cooperation could be a blessing in disguise, leading to greater organizational innovation and self-reliance for Israel's security forces.
    The writer is a professor of political and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University and a senior research associate at its Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

Israeli Startups Raised nearly $700 Million in June (Globes)
    Israeli startups raised nearly $700 million in June, according to Start-Up Nation Central.
    Israeli tech companies, which raised a record $8.3 billion in 2019, have raised over $4.7 billion in the first six months of 2020, despite the Covid-19 crisis.
    Financing for tech companies that facilitate remote working, healthcare, and cybersecurity has been boosted by the pandemic.

New Video Series Addresses 3,000 Years of Jewish History - Zachary Keyser (Jerusalem Post)
    The Jewish Story Explained will tackle three millenniums of Jewish history through the span of 42 episodes, lasting 10 minutes each.
    The first fifteen episodes were released on June 29.
    See also Jerusalem: 4,000 Years in 5 Minutes - (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Calls on UN Security Council to Extend Arms Embargo on Iran
    Secretary of State Michael Pompeo told the UN Security Council on Tuesday: "The arms embargo on the world's most heinous terrorist regime is scheduled to expire on October 18th....If you fail to act, Iran will be free to purchase Russian-made fighter jets that can strike up to a 3,000 kilometer radius, putting cities like Riyadh, New Delhi, Rome, and Warsaw in Iranian crosshairs."
        "Iran will be free to purchase new and advanced technologies for its proxies and partners throughout the Middle East, including Hamas, Hizbullah, and the Houthis....Iran will be free to become a rogue weapons dealer, supplying arms to fuel conflicts from Venezuela, to Syria, to the far reaches of Afghanistan."
        "Iran...supplies Shia militia groups [in Iraq] like Kata'ib Hizbullah - groups which have launched dozens of rocket attacks since the fall of last year against U.S. and coalition forces....Listen to countries in the region. From Israel to the Gulf, countries in the Middle East - who are most exposed to Iran's predations - are speaking with a single voice: Extend the arms embargo."  (U.S. State Department)
        See also UN Report Exposes Iran's Defiance of United Nations (U.S. State Department)
        See also U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook: Military Action Against Iranian Nuclear Program "Always on the Table" (Times of Israel)
  • Limited Diplomatic Fallout Seen for Israel in Wake of Proposed West Bank Moves
    Yoel Guzansky, a senior fellow at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies, told AFP that regardless of any steps Israel may take to extend Israeli law in parts of the West Bank, "I don't think the secret intelligence cooperation [with the Gulf States] will cease," noting that common foe Iran "isn't going anywhere."
        The EU, Israel's top economic partner, has in recent weeks mounted a diplomatic campaign against any such Israeli moves. But the bloc cannot threaten Israel with formal sanctions, as those require unanimous support among members. A European diplomat told AFP that any response against Israel will be weighed against the possible loss of access to Israeli technology, including related to security, which is highly valued by some EU members. "We need the Israelis, but not the Palestinians," he said. (AFP-France24)
  • Israeli Group Concerned over Fate of Jewish Archaeological Sites in West Bank under U.S. Peace Plan - Rinat Harash
    Under the U.S. peace plan, a Palestinian state would be created in most of the West Bank. An Israeli advocacy group called "Safeguarding Eternity" is worried about what will happen to Jewish archaeological sites in those parts of the West Bank. It wants Israel to guarantee control over sites such as the remnants of hilltop Hasmonean and Herodian forts dating back two millennia, and hundreds of ruins from earlier Jewish rule.
        Assaf Avraham, an archaeologist at Israel's Bar-Ilan University, said, "If these areas are not in the hands or under the sovereignty of (authorities) that know how to take care of and maintain archaeological sites, and which have the motivation to do so, we really fear for these places."  (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Sovereignty Move to Happen in July after Trump Statement - Tovah Lazaroff
    Israeli sovereignty in parts of the West Bank "will certainly happen in July," but only after President Donald Trump has made a new statement on the matter, Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis told Army Radio on Wednesday. He noted that Israel and the U.S. were still ironing out their differences on the contours of the plan. U.S. special envoys Avi Berkowitz and Scott Leith are in Israel this week for meetings regarding the sovereignty map. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Coronavirus Cases in Israel Still Rising
    The Israel Health Ministry reported Thursday morning that 966 Israelis have tested positive for coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the highest daily total ever, after more than 20,000 tests were conducted on Wednesday. There are currently 8,647 active cases, 58 in serious condition. The death toll is 324. On Wednesday the Knesset voted to allow the Israel Security Agency to resume phone tracking of Israelis to enable contact tracing of confirmed cases. (Jerusalem Post-Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Authority Announces Full Lockdown as West Bank Coronavirus Cases Spike - Jack Khoury
    The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday announced a full five-day lockdown in the West Bank starting Friday morning as coronavirus cases continue to rise. As of Wednesday evening, the PA confirmed 2,435 active coronavirus cases. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israeli Moves in West Bank Are Not the Disaster for Peace Many Say It Is - Shmuel Rosner
    The Trump administration is the first U.S. administration to state the obvious: Most Israeli communities in the West Bank are here to stay, so we might as well accept them. Doing so doesn't make a peace deal with the Palestinians less likely. In fact, any attempt to promote a resolution must begin by acknowledging this reality and proceed from there. Denying realities has gotten us, thus far, no closer to healing the rifts between the sides. Only grappling with these realities and finding ways to accommodate them can actually lead to peace.
        In 1948, the UN wanted two states to be established in Mandatory Palestine: one for Jews and one for Arabs. The Jews established their state - Israel. The Arabs decided to fight a war and lost. In 1967, in another war instigated by the surrounding Arab countries, Israel took the West Bank, as well. The Israeli government believes that it has the moral and legal right to settle the area, as it is both the heart of the historic national homeland of the Jewish people and essential to the security of modern Israel.
        Today, Israel's so-called occupation is more than 50 years old. The settlers are raising grandchildren and even great-grandchildren in Judea and Samaria. Around half a million Jews live in the West Bank. Whatever one's views of the legitimacy or desirability of these Israeli communities, they are facts that everyone has to acknowledge. President George W. Bush was the first American leader to acknowledge these facts a decade and a half ago. President Donald Trump went further in his peace proposal in January, indicating that no resident, Jew or Arab, would have to be evacuated from the West Bank as the parties move forward on their quest for peace.
        Moves for Israeli sovereignty will merely take an existing reality and make it official. For example: Close to 100,000 Israelis live in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc right outside Jerusalem. No Israeli government is ever going to agree to make them leave. No serious mediator for peace is going to propose that these people must leave. The writer is a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute. (NBC News)
  • The Assad Regime Is Cracking under Pressure - Jonathan Spyer
    Two years after celebrating victory in the Syrian civil war, the regime of Bashar Assad is facing a mini-insurgency in Daraa province, birthplace of the 2011 revolt, as well as demonstrations in adjacent Suwayda. The economy is hurtling toward the abyss.
        Assad urgently needs money for reconstruction. However, his main allies have no money to give. The U.S. has maintained a united front with the EU to demand that no reconstruction funds be made available to Syria so long as the regime refuses a "comprehensive, genuine and inclusive political transition." Moreover, the new Caesar sanctions against the Syrian government will severely penalize third parties doing business with Assad's Syria.
        Despite talk of the war winding down, Assad and his allies still only control 60% of Syria. The Turks and their Sunni Islamist allies control 15%, while 25% is controlled by the U.S.-aligned, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. The writer is director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis. (Foreign Policy)
        See also Historic Lows for the Assad Regime and the Syrian Pound - Carmit Valensi (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Palestinians Reject EU Moves to Block Funding for Terror-Linked NGOs - Khaled Abu Toameh
    For many years, Palestinian organizations have received unconditional funding from Western donors. The Palestinian attitude was: "You Westerners owe us this money because you contributed to the establishment of Israel after World War II. Thus, you have no right to set any conditions for the funding. Just give us the money and shut up. Any refusal to comply with our demands will result in our rage, and possibly terrorism and other forms of violence, not only against Israel, but also against you 'infidels' in the West."
        Recently, the EU has had the audacity to demand that EU taxpayer money not end up in the hands of terrorist organizations who continue to work for the elimination of Israel. These terrorist organizations included those designated as such by the EU, such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
        The Palestinian opposition to the EU demand is based on the argument that this request is "humiliating" for the Palestinians. They are offended by the idea that their "cash cow" is now refusing to produce money for terrorist aims. It remains to be seen whether the Europeans will cave in to Palestinian threats and drop their demand that EU money actually feed hungry people rather than feed the Palestinian terrorists' hunger for Jewish blood. (Gatestone Institute)
  • The Palestinian Authority Rewards Terrorists for Ramming Cars into Jews - Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll
    There was a time when Palestinian terrorist attacks were even more frequent, when they were daily occurrences. Twenty years ago, before the security fence was built, they came in the form of suicide bombings. Restaurants and buses exploded. Hundreds of civilians, women and children, died at the hands of Palestinian terrorists. Since the security barrier was erected in 2003, these attacks have taken the form of car-rammings and stabbings.
        Palestinian drivers in car-rammings have then gotten out of their vehicles carrying hatchets or knives, stabbing and mutilating Israelis. It is now standard operating procedure to fully neutralize a terrorist for fear that he will continue to try and kill - as some have done.
        The truth is, there is a financial incentive to kill Jews; the families of terrorists receive subsidies by the Palestinian Authority. One side is rewarded financially for ramming cars into the other side. Anyone who wants better for Palestinians should resist a culture that asks its people to die while killing ours. The writer is the co-founder of Chochmat Nashim, an Israeli NGO dedicated to battling extremism and raising the voice of women in the Jewish conversation. (Forward)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • U.S. Deputy Anti-Semitism Envoy: Anti-Zionism Is Anti-Semitism - Faygie Holt
    The "coronavirus conspiracy theory [is] a modern-day blood libel, where Jews or the State of Israel is blamed for the pandemic," U.S. deputy anti-Semitism envoy Ellie Cohanim told Jewish leaders on Monday. "It is not being spread by the usual bad actors on the dark web or elsewhere, but by government officials spreading the lies - from Turkey, the Palestinian Authority and Iran."
        Cohanim, who fled Iran with her family during the 1979 revolution, said she had learned two lessons from her family's experience: that even societies welcoming or hospitable to Jews, like Iran was under the Shah, "can suddenly flip overnight"; and that Jews can "never underestimate the threat of anti-Semitism."
        Asked about the possibility that extension of sovereignty by Israel to parts of the West Bank may lead to increases in anti-Semitism, she said, "Just the fact that American Jewry is nervous about this shows that we have been conditioned to feel the anti-Semitism in our bones." She noted that no other country is subjected to the same kind of scrutiny when they make decisions for their populace.
        Asked about the notion that one can be anti-Zionist and not anti-Semitic, Cohanim said U.S. policy is that "anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. Full stop." She added that when people criticize other countries for action they have taken, that doesn't lead to a discussion about the country's right to exist. (JNS)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israel Wields Startup Tech Against Coronavirus - Guillaume Lavallee
    Israeli entrepreneurs have worked with the government and health professionals on projects to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, says Wendy Singer of Israel's Start-Up Nation Central. Diagnostic Robotics drafted a questionnaire which people who suspect they have coronavirus symptoms can fill in and send on their smartphone. An algorithm then assesses the person's probability of infection and cross-checks this information with that of others, said the company's head, Kira Radinsk. "When the system identifies an increasing number of symptomatic cases, an alert is sent to the deputy director of the Ministry of Health who generally immediately approves a series of tests for the given location."
        Shortly after the outbreak of the coronavirus, Anyvision installed thermal cameras at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv to let officials spot hospital staff with a fever. Its facial recognition software shows "in seconds" anyone who came into contact with an infected staffer.
        To ease the load on hospitals, the Israeli government signed a deal with Datos for remote medical care for coronavirus patients with light or no symptoms. Patients download an app and then measure their vital signs and input the results. "At the start of the crisis, health services had to call patients twice a day regardless of their condition," which was a drain on resources, said Datos founder Uri Bettesh. With his app there is only a need to make contact if the patient's data shows it to be necessary, freeing up staff to focus on severe cases. (AFP)
  • IDF Augmented Reality Map Finds Hidden Terrorists - Zak Doffman
    Israeli Intelligence has developed an augmented reality mapping application designed to find hidden terrorists. Welcome to the battlefield of the future. "Our enemies have adopted a technique to merge into urban areas populated with civilians," said Lt.-Col. N. "We need to unveil the enemy, precisely, and stop the threat....We need to get the right house on the right street."
        The augmented reality overlay comes from a fusion of multiple, highly classified intelligence sources. There's also artificial intelligence running pattern analytics on prior enemy tactics, techniques and procedures to infer what a hidden enemy is likely to do next, in real time. Arrows and graphics explain to a soldier on the ground why the third-floor apartment with the wrought iron balcony is deemed a hostile environment, why anyone exiting the building can be considered a combatant.
        This "intelligence saturated" viewpoint can be presented to the solider on a smartphone or tablet, or streamed directly into their binoculars or weapons sights. (Forbes)
  • The British Mandate Began 100 Years Ago - A Photo Essay - Lenny Ben-David
    On June 30, 1920, 100 years ago, Herbert Samuel landed in Palestine to assume his duties as Britain's High Commissioner of the Mandate.  Samuel was a committed Zionist. At the beginning of World War I, then serving in the Home Office, he drafted a memorandum on "The Future of Palestine" in which he proposed a Jewish state as a "foundation of enlightenment."
        In his 1921 Annual Report on the Civil Administration of Palestine, Samuel wrote: "The country was before the War, and is now, undeveloped and under-populated. The methods of agriculture are, for the most part, primitive; the area of land now cultivated could yield a far greater product. There are in addition large cultivable areas that are left untilled. The summits and slopes of the hills are admirably suited to the growth of trees, but there are no forests. Miles of sand dunes that could be redeemed are untouched."
        The writer, former deputy chief of mission at Israel's Embassy in Washington, is the author of American Interests in the Holy Land Revealed in Early Photographs. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Misconceptions over Planned Israeli Moves in West Bank - Natasha Hausdorff (Jewish News-UK)
  • The last few weeks have seen a herd mentality take hold about Israel with fevered discussion over Israel's proposed application of civilian law to parts of Area C in the West Bank. The move is consistently misrepresented as "annexation" and a "violation" of international law. Both allegations are false and stand in the way of any informed debate.
  • What is being considered is a change to the internal administrative legal framework in certain parts of Area C which would replace military law with the civilian law that applies throughout Israel. The existing framework was intended to be temporary, but it has been dragged out for 53 years, through decades of failed negotiations.
  • The universal rule for determining borders for emerging states dictates that they are established with the administrative boundaries of the prior administrative entity. Israel was preceded by the "Mandate for Palestine," which was established by the League of Nations and administered by Britain. As the only state to emerge from the Mandate in 1948, international law dictates that Israel inherited the Mandate's administrative boundaries.
  • The principle that a new state inherits the borders of the last top-level administrative unit has been universally applied upon the independence of new states, including to the emergence of states in Asia, Africa, South America and from the former Soviet Union. The one and only exception now appears to be with respect to the establishment of Israel.
  • When generations of Israelis have witnessed every compromise lead to more blood on the streets, it has become harder and harder to explain why the next time will be different. The policy of "land for peace" (where Israel hands over land and the Palestinians promise peace) has been revealed to be a gargantuan failure.
  • The public is being consistently misinformed on the proposal Israel is to consider this month. The harm to Israel's international standing arises from the conspiracy theory that it violates international law, not from the reality of the proposals.

    The writer is a barrister and a director of UK Lawyers for Israel.
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