July 16, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Hebrew U.: FDA-Approved Drug Could Dramatically Ease Covid-19 Symptoms - Gali Weinreb (Globes)
    An FDA-approved treatment for cholesterol could dramatically ease the symptoms of Covid-19, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem reports.
    Prof. Yaakov Nahmias, director of the Grass Center for Bioengineering, found that the drug Fenofibrate could inhibit Covid-19's ability to reproduce in lung cells.
    Prof. Nahmias said, "If our results are confirmed in clinical trials, then within a few months, treatment with our drug could be turning Covid-19 into a type of common cold."
    See also Text: Fenofibrate May Prove Effective in Treating Coronavirus - Avner Ehrlich et al. (Cell Metabolism)

28 New Hizbullah Missile Launch Sites Revealed in Beirut - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    There are at least 28 missile launching sites in Hizbullah-dominated civilian areas of southern Beirut, a report by the ALMA Research and Education Center has revealed.
    Hizbullah is using the population of Beirut as human shields by "not hesitating to place their launch sites near public buildings, educational institutions, factories and more," said Tal Beeri, head of research at ALMA, which specializes in the security challenges on Israel's northern border.
    The sites were found next to high schools, clinics, hospitals, golf clubs and soccer fields, as well as the Iranian Embassy and Lebanese Ministry of Defense.
    The sites are located inside private houses, medical centers, churches, industrial sites, public offices, and fast food chains.
    "These sites are available for immediate operational use," the report stated.
    In addition to Beirut, there are many missile launch sites in Hizbullah strongholds in south Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley.
    The report relied on open-source intelligence posted to Wikimapia.org by an unknown person or intelligence entity.

Israel Receives First Images from Ofek 16 Satellite (IsraelDefense)
    One week after the successful June 6 launch of the Ofek 16 satellite, high-quality images were received at an Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) control station in Israel.
    Amnon Harari, head of the Space and Satellite Administration in the Ministry of Defense, said, "The images we received from the satellite are of excellent quality."

Tightening Military Cooperation between Iran and Syria - Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Iranian Chief of Staff Gen. Mohammad Bagheri signed a new military agreement in Damascus with Syrian Defense Minister Gen. Ali Abdullah Ayoub on July 9, 2020.
    The most prominent aspect of the deal is Iran's supply of its "3-Khordad" air defense system, similar to the Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile system.
    According to Syrian sources, Russia has refused to allow Syria to use the Russian S-300 systems that have been in Syria for more than a year, which are operated by Russian experts.
    The new military agreement sends a message to both the U.S. and Israel that Iran will continue to entrench itself militarily in Syria. It is a sign that Iran and Syria are preparing for escalation in the region.

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How Hamas Diverts International Aid to Gaza - Ran Porat (Times of Israel)
    Since the military coup by Hamas in Gaza in 2007, the Gazan population has been suffering under a regime that mismanages their affairs, wasting billions on weapons and terrorist training and installations instead of spending it on civilian infrastructure and vital services.
    Corruption, embezzlement and abuse of public funds is commonplace.
    An industry has emerged in Gaza that exploits the misery of locals to raise funds that end up in the pockets of slippery operators or terrorists.
    For example, Fathi Hamad, a member of Hamas' core leadership, is the patron of the Al-Falakh charity, managed by the Tanboora family.
    The Tanboora family enjoys a lavish lifestyle, including holidays in luxurious hotels abroad and helicopter rides.
    Supporters of Fatah charge that charity funds are being stolen by the directors of Al-Falakh and diverted to personal investments abroad using dummy companies, which then later distribute the revenues to top Hamas officials.
    A detailed expose published in May in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reveals how Hamas created a "charity mafia."
    Hamas' internal security forces record the amounts of money reaching Gaza from external sources and demand a share, an arrangement enforced on all aid associations, foundations and charities.
    The writer is a research associate at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University.

Missouri Enacts Anti-Israel Boycott Law - Eric Berger (St. Louis Jewish Light)
    Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed a bill Monday that requires companies entering into a contract with the state to certify that they will not engage in a boycott of Israel.
    Missouri is the 32nd state to enact such a law.

Israeli Drones to Help Rescue Operations in Norway (Calcalist)
    After a year of trials, Israeli manufacturer Atlas Dynamics has signed a contract with Norwegian People's Aid (NPAID), one of the world's top arctic rescue units, for its Atlas Pro drones, designed to operate in extreme cold conditions for hours at a time.
    The drones can operate as a swarm and independently from their human operator to allow rescue crews to quickly scan large territories to locate those in need of rescue, replacing manned helicopters currently used for such missions.

Solar-Powered Transmitters to Warn Israeli Drivers of Camels - Itamar Zeligman (Calcalist)
    Several Israelis have lost their lives and dozens have been injured in recent years in accidents involving camels and cars in Israel's Negev desert.
    Startup Negev, a tech accelerator catering to Israel's Bedouin minority, has created a system in which every camel will receive a solar-powered collar that will transmit its location.
    If the camel comes within 100 meters of a road or railway track, GPS users will receive an automatic notification.
    "We are here to protect the lives of the camels and of the drivers," said Ayman El-Sayed.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • With U.S. Backing, UN Confronts Tehran over Nuclear Work - Laurence Norman
    International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi has steered the agency into a deepening confrontation with Iran over enforcement of nuclear-weapons control rules. He told the Wall Street Journal in an interview that if Tehran doesn't grant access to two sites potentially connected to nuclear-weapons work by the end of this month, it "will be bad." "I keep insisting on the absolute necessity for us to resolve this issue very soon," he said. This "isn't going to go away." He said the agency's top goal is to stem nuclear weapons, not champion the 2015 nuclear accord.
        Grossi has tangled with Iran before. As a top Argentine diplomat, he helped persuade Interpol in 2007 to put five Iranian officials wanted over the deadly 1994 Buenos Aires Jewish center bombing back on its wanted list. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Blaze at Iranian Port Adds to String of Damaging Incidents - Sune Engel Rasmussen
    Iranian authorities are investigating a blaze that damaged seven ships at Bushehr port on Wednesday. The fire follows a series of incidents that have damaged facilities connected to Iran's nuclear and missile programs and other important infrastructure. Iranian officials have characterized most of the recent incidents - at least eight in less than three weeks - as accidents. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Palestinian Tribes in Hebron Asked to Help Stem Spike in Covid-19 Cases - Daoud Kuttab
    The Palestinian Ministry of Health announced on July 4 that 2,576 out of the 4,013 Palestinians who had tested positive for the coronavirus came from the Hebron district, as did 9 of the 16 deaths.
        Nayef Hashlamoun, who founded the Watan Center for Culture in Hebron, told Al-Monitor that he contacted the Ayoubi tribe council to which his family belongs and received a green light to publish an announcement that the tribe "will not participate in any weddings or other public events" to "put a stop to the spread of this virus, which had reached a dangerous level."
        On July 8, Haj Nafez Jaabari, head of the Tribal Commission in Hebron, told An-Najah University TV that all tribal leaders have signed a joint declaration to voluntarily stop all weddings and funerals and other large gatherings to avoid further spread of the coronavirus.
        Palestinian columnist Hamadeh Faraneh wrote in Ad Dustour (Jordan) on July 13 that part of the problem in Hebron was the public declarations of the Hizb ut-Tahrir movement. "Because of the policies and statements of the Islamic Hizb ut-Tahrir, which said that the coronavirus was a conspiracy to hurt Islam and close mosques, they incited the public not to follow the Ministry of Health calls....As a result, their followers were among the hardest hit when the virus spread."  (Al-Monitor)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Coronavirus Cases in Israel Reach New Peak - Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman
    Coronavirus cases hit a new peak of 1,898 on Wednesday, the Israel Health Ministry reported Thursday morning. There are currently 24,118 active patients, with 204 in serious condition, including 56 on ventilators. (Jerusalem Post-Ynet News)
  • Coronavirus Hits Palestinian Refugee Camps in West Bank - Khaled Abu Toameh
    More than 90% of the new coronavirus cases in the Palestinian Authority - affecting 729 Palestinians - were detected in West Bank refugee camps, UNRWA officials said Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • EU Builds for Palestinians in Area C - Lahav Harkov
    The EU, Denmark, and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement on Tuesday to build 16 infrastructure projects for the Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank, which is under Israeli control. The EU has funded many illegal Palestinian projects in Area C in recent years, built without Israeli approval. This construction is part of a 2012 PA plan to create Palestinian contiguity in the area, surrounding and isolating Israeli communities.
        The Trump administration is still interested in promoting the extension of Israeli law in parts of the West Bank in the upcoming month, an administration official told the Jerusalem Post. However, the U.S. peace team is still discussing the details and maps. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    The Peace Process

  • The Two-State Solution Is Not Dead - U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman
    There are dozens of Muslim states and Christian states around the globe and nobody seems to mind; why can't there be a single, tiny Jewish state?
        Why has the two-state solution failed? Because the Palestinian leadership has refused offer after offer, because it pays terrorists to kill Israelis, because it incites hatred against Jews, and because it is deeply unpopular, corrupt and cruel to its own people.
        The two-state solution is not dead. President Trump's Vision for Peace proposes an achievable means for the Palestinians to self-govern within the bulk of Judea and Samaria without jeopardizing Israel's security.
        The Palestinian people have the opportunity today for real independence. The world stands by with an offer of massive financial assistance in the form of investment, not handouts, so that legitimate Palestinian aspirations may be realized. Sadly, the Palestinian leadership appears poised to miss this opportunity just as it has missed every other opportunity since 1947. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Unilateral Application of Israeli Sovereignty Is Necessary to Move the Peace Process Forward - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser
    The application of Israeli law and sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and parts of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) according to the U.S. peace plan is a legitimate and legal move that may finally break the impasse on the road to a peace based on the "two states for two peoples" formula. Waiting for Palestinian acquiescence and allowing the Palestinians to retain a veto power over any progress in the peace process guarantees that there will never be peace.
        Britain in 1922 got the mandate from the League of Nations, based on recognition of the historical connection between the Jewish People and Palestine, to reconstitute the national home of the Jewish People in that country. This is the last legally binding document regarding the ownership of this land. Obviously, the Palestinians also claim the land and Israel is ready to share it with them.
        Claims that this move will make reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians more difficult are misleading, as the prevailing situation is that there is no way today to make durable peace with our Palestinian neighbors. The Palestinians reject the "two states for two peoples" framework as long as one of these peoples is the Jewish People. Palestinian rejectionism is the reason the peace process is frozen and did not produce any agreement.
        In recent years Europe has been more committed to the Palestinian positions than many Arab states. Some Europeans lean towards the positions of Iran and Turkey rather than those of the pragmatic Arabs. This policy has emboldened the Palestinians and encouraged them to stick to their intransigence and has made a great contribution to preventing any chance of progress towards peace. The writer, former head of the research division in IDF Military Intelligence, is a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Fathom-BICOM-UK)
  • A Better Chance at Peace - Ahron Shapiro
    The same U.S. plan that would give the green light for Israel to extend its sovereignty over some parts of the West Bank - an intangible change that would be hard to see on the ground - would simultaneously give the Palestinians unprecedented and very tangible concessions to bring the long-sought two-state outcome closer than ever.
        The dividends of the U.S. plan for the Palestinians include the express intention of creating an opportunity for establishing an independent state, subject to sensible conditions. Moreover, the Palestinians would receive massive investment and economic opportunity to help ensure the success of that state.
        Despite their concerns, most Israelis do support the U.S. plan as a basis for negotiations for a two-state outcome with their Palestinian neighbors. The plan's proponents have called it a way to "break the logjam" in the moribund peace process. The context for the initiative is the fact that the Palestinian leadership has refused to negotiate directly with Israel for more than a decade, after repeatedly rejecting reasonable statehood proposals from Israel in 2000, 2001, and 2008.
        Given the longstanding impasse in the peace process - driven in no small part by the Palestinian refusal to accept the legitimacy and permanence of Israel's very existence - knowledgeable and realistic supporters of an eventual two-state outcome should be strongly urging the Palestinian leadership to use the opportunity presented by the U.S. peace plan to return to serious negotiations. The writer is senior policy analyst at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council. (Sydney Daily Telegraph-Australia)
  • Why Did the Camp David Peace Talks Fail 20 Years Ago? - Shlomo Ben-Ami
    20 years ago this month, U.S. President Bill Clinton invited Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat to a peace summit at Camp David, in which I participated. Arafat's decision to reject Barak's proposals at Camp David as well as the more generous Clinton Parameters offered in December can be explained less by a particular demand or concession than by the overarching, delusional, and self-defeating worldview to which many Palestinians cling. This was a devastating mistake, the consequences of which Palestinians suffer every day.
        As the late Fouad Ajami, a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, wrote in 2001, the Palestinians suffer from "an innate refusal to surrender to the logic of things, a belief that a mysterious higher power will always come to their rescue, as if the laws of history did not apply to them." The writer, a former Israeli foreign minister, is Vice President of the Toledo International Center for Peace. (Project Syndicate)

  • "Jewish Privilege"

  • The Myth of "Jewish Privilege" - Jonathan S. Tobin
    The far right and far left have promoted the notion that Jews use some mythical "privilege" in order to manipulate the world. The only privilege most Jews have experienced is being singled out for hatred, discrimination and violence. That doesn't only refer to the Holocaust but also encompasses centuries of persecution that preceded that genocide. Anti-Jewish hate crimes remain the most prevalent form of religious bias in the U.S., according to two decades of FBI statistics.
        In the last 72 years, the State of Israel has become the stand-in for traditional Jewish scapegoats by hatemongers, as well as Western elites who think that Jews - alone of all the peoples - must not only be denied sovereignty over their ancient homeland, but the right to live in peace there or of self-defense.
        As far as the Jewish privilege of Israel, it remains singled out as the one nation on the planet that is the focus of an international movement focused on its extinction. That it has thrived and grown just makes its enemies all the more frustrated and angry. (JNS)
  • How Jewish Twitter Users Took On a Virtual Anti-Semitic Mob - Hen Mazzig
    When I saw "#JewishPrivilege" was trending on Twitter last week, I cringed. White nationalists had created the hashtag to spread anti-Semitic conspiracies about Jews being "privileged" - that we control the media, the banks and the world. Seemingly progressive Twitter users soon piled on with false claims that Jews don't face any discrimination, while also suggesting they are responsible for the discrimination and other ills many minorities face. This felt like an organized attack - as if everyone was in agreement that Jewish people are to be blamed for all that is wrong in the world.
        The virtual mob of anti-Semites sparked flashbacks to my Iraqi grandma retelling stories of surviving the Farhud, a massacre in which a real-life mob of Iraqis murdered all the Jews they could in Baghdad back in 1941. So I urged Jews on Twitter to share their personal stories to refute the #JewishPrivilege falsehood. In a matter of hours, Jews shared their experiences of discrimination, violence, exile and mass murder.
        The notion that Jews of any background are the oppressors rather than the oppressed erases our history - including the Holocaust and pogroms of many decades past, as well as more recent chapters, like the plight of the Ethiopian Jews who escaped persecution in Ethiopia by airlifts to Israel in the 1980s and '90s. Seeking to deny the entire Jewish people's generational struggles and erase us from the collective of minority groups denies our humanity and identity, and is thereby an act of deep-seated anti-Semitism. (NBC News)

  • Other Issues

  • How Iran Uses Charities as Cover to Export Revolution - Yaakov Lappin
    "The Iranian Red Crescent serves as a cover for Quds Forces and the Iranian Intelligence Office (MOIS), making extensive use to advance Iranian subversion in various countries including Lebanon, Bahrain, Yemen and Iraq," said political Islam analyst Dr. Yossi Mansharof in a new report published by the Alma Research and Education Center. During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the Quds Force used the Iranian Red Crescent as a cover to smuggle military equipment and weapon supplies from Iran to Lebanon.
        The Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation "serves as one of the key channels of the Quds Force worldwide and...was one of the channels through which Quds Forces delivered weapons to the various pro-Iranian Shi'ite militias in Iraq during the war against U.S.-led coalition forces (2011-2003)." The writer is a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. (JNS)
        See also Text: Organizations and Associations in the Service of Iran's Quds Force - Dr. Yossi Mansharof (Alma Research and Education Center)
  • U.S. Diplomat Views Syria, Iran and Russia - Amb. Frederic C. Hof interviewed by Manar Rachwani
    For Iran, Bashar al-Assad and his entourage are an absolutely essential pillar of Iranian foreign policy, while there is practically no sentiment at all in Syria for subordinating this proud country to Iran. Hizbullah's presence and status in Lebanon are the jewel in the crown of Iranian foreign policy, and the Iranians see Assad as absolutely essential for the preservation of Hizbullah.
        On the other hand, it is becoming increasingly clear to Russian insiders that Bashar al-Assad and his entourage represent a liability for Russian interests in Syria and the region more broadly. While President Putin argues that support for Assad puts Russia back on the world stage as a great power, in terms of the objective interests of the Russian state, I think Assad is more than expendable.
        In the Obama administration and in particular with the president, there was faith in the proposition that by signing the nuclear agreement, Iran would begin to modify its other regional policies. Many of us believed from the beginning that this was false, that it was not going to happen. And I think it's a lesson learned.
        U.S. Ambassador Frederic C. Hof, former director of the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, served as a special adviser for transition in Syria under President Barack Obama. (Syria Direct-Jordan)

  • Weekend Features

  • The Double Lives of Jews in Fanatical Islamic Iran - Renee Ghert-Zand
    Esther Amini's new book, Concealed: Memoir of a Jewish-Iranian Daughter Caught Between the Chador and America, recalls the Jews in Mashhad, Iran, where her parents' families had survived for centuries by hiding their true identity and practicing Judaism in secret, because of the fanatical brand of Islam dictated by the local imams.
        Although her parents escaped Iran and arrived in the U.S. shortly after World War II, they never really left Mashhad behind. Amini writes that her father was a very frightened man because of his Mashhadi background. "He was raised in a city that fed into paranoia, where speech was lethal, and the outside world was dangerous....He expected pogroms every day."  (Times of Israel)
  • Spanish Diplomat Saved over 5,000 Jews from Nazi Persecution
    Angel Sanz Briz, a Spanish diplomat who saved over 5,000 Jews from Nazi persecution in Hungary, was given an online tribute last Thursday. Appointed to a diplomatic post in Hungary in 1944, Sanz Briz offered to protect Jews of Spanish origin and bring them Spanish passports. He received the consent of the Hungarian authorities to enable 200 Spanish Jews to receive them, but he turned that into 200 families.
        In the last seven months of 1944, Briz issued forged Spanish documents to 5,200 Jews, according to Yad Vashem, which recognized him as Righteous Among the Nations in 1966. "My father thought that what he had done in Budapest was the most important and rewarding thing in his life," said his daughter Angela, who attended the event. "He also considered that he had simply done his duty, that he could not look the other way."  (JTA)
  • Albania Holocaust Memorial Honors Locals Who Protected Jews - Llazar Semini
    Albania unveiled a Holocaust memorial in the capital Tirana last Thursday to honor the dead and the Albanians who protected Jews from the Nazis. Albanians protected their few hundred Jews, and helped other Jews who fled from Germany and Austria by either smuggling them abroad or hiding them. German forces occupied Albania from September 1943 until November 1944.
        Israeli Ambassador Noah Gal Gendler praised Albania's protection of Jews as "an excellent example from a small country which highlights the values of humanity, sacrifice and love."  (AP)

  • The current initiatives that are being tried by the Trump administration are important because they are trying to liberate us from all the failed peace plans of the past.
  • Most of the architects of peace in the past envisioned a mass removal of Israelis from Judea and Samaria - from the West Bank - and that is simply not going to happen. We pulled out 8,000-9,000 Israelis from the Gaza Strip and we created a scar in the memory of many Israelis from having done that, because we were willing to try to set the foundations of some kind of peace. And what we got was a dramatic escalation of rocket fire shot at Israel.
  • So having tried that in the past, it would have made no sense to develop a peace plan predicated upon the mass removal of Israelis. You shouldn't try and forcibly remove Palestinians either. A peace plan - to be just and to be fair - has to be based on these populations staying in their homes, which is what the Trump peace plan tries to do.
  • We have a horrible experience with how architects of peacemaking have worked. Therefore, in this case, what you have is an effort to create a territorial compromise where Israel remains in areas that are of strategic importance to its future defense.
  • Our position is one that has a firm basis legally, a firm basis morally, and a firm basis for setting the stage for a peace process that can work. We have to give this larger peace plan a chance, as we have in the past, and right now there's nothing else on the table that has any chance of working.

    Jerusalem Center President Dore Gold participated in a Webinar sponsored by the Britain Israel Communications & Research Centre - BICOM on July 2, 2020.
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