July 20, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

236 European Lawmakers Call for Total EU Ban on Hizbullah - Laura Kelly (The Hill)
    236 European lawmakers have urged the EU to ban Hizbullah in its entirety and "end this false distinction between [its] 'military' and 'political' arms - a distinction Hizbullah itself dismisses." 
    See also Text: The EU Must Ban Hizbullah (AJC Transatlantic Institute)

Rouhani: 25 Million Iranians Infected with Coronavirus (Al-Jazeera)
    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said during a televised meeting of the country's virus-fighting task force on Saturday:
    "Up to now, 25 million Iranians have been infected with this virus. We have to consider the possibility that 30 to 35 million more may face infection."

Pro-Iranian Militia Fires Three Rockets at U.S. Embassy in Baghdad (Ynet News)
    A pro-Iranian militia on Sunday fired three rockets at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Sky News reported. The rockets did not hit the embassy.

Israeli Water Infrastructure Hit with Another Cyberattack (i24News)
    A cyberattack targeted two Israeli water infrastructure facilities, Ynet reported Thursday and the Israel Water Authority confirmed.
    Israeli officials said the attacks were aimed at agricultural water pumps in the Upper Galilee and infrastructure in the center of the country.
    "These were small, specific drainage facilities in the agricultural sector that were immediately and independently repaired by the local authorities. It did not cause any damage to service, and had no real effect," the Water Authority said.

Following Flawed Report, U.S. to Publish New Figures on Palestinian Terrorism - Ariel Kahana (Israel Hayom)
    The State Department's Israel 2019 Human Rights Report published in March said Palestinians committed 101 acts of violence against Israeli civilians in the West Bank, "primarily stonethrowing."
    However, the IDF reported that in 2019 there were 290 incidents of Palestinians throwing firebombs at Israelis and 1,469 stonethrowing incidents.
    The State Department has now said it would amend the document.

Israeli Synthetic Cornea Could Restore Sight to Millions (Israel Hayom)
    The Israel Health Ministry has approved clinical trials of a synthetic cornea developed by Israeli startup CorNeat Vision, the company announced last week.
    The CorNeat KPro implant is designed to restore the vision of corneal blind patients immediately following implantation.
    Dr. Gilad Litvin, inventor of the device, said implantation is "relatively simple" and takes less than an hour. "We expect it will enable millions of blind patients around the world...to regain their sight."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iranian Spies Accidentally Leaked Videos of Themselves Hacking - Andy Greenberg
    Researchers at IBM's X-Force security team revealed Thursday that they've obtained five hours of video footage from hackers working for ITG18, one of the most active state-sponsored espionage teams linked to the government of Iran. The videos appear to be training demonstrations made to show junior team members how to access compromised Gmail and Yahoo Mail accounts to download their contents, as well as exfiltrating other Google-hosted data from victims.
        The videos represent a rare, first-hand view of state-sponsored cyberspying. Victims included U.S. military personnel and State Department staff. "This kind of thing is a rare win for the defenders," said former NSA staffer Emily Crose. "It's like playing poker and having your opponents lay their entire hand out flat on the table in the middle of the last" hand. (Wired)
  • Israeli Court Rejects Islamic Leader's Appeal Against Conviction for Incitement to Terror - Rina Bassist
    On July 16, the Haifa District Court rejected an appeal by Sheikh Raed Salah, chief of the outlawed Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, against his prison sentence of 28 months in jail. In November 2019, Salah was found guilty of incitement to terror for expressing on several occasions sympathy with terrorists or encouraging terrorism, including a sermon he delivered after the July 2017 terror attack by three Israeli Arabs outside the Temple Mount compound, in which two Israeli police officers were killed. Salah praised the "martyrs of Al-Aqsa" and hailed their actions.
        Rejecting Salah's appeal, the court stated that Salah's contention that the 2017 attack was not terror - but resistance - was "outrageous." The judges added that free speech did not extend to support for violent acts, especially for a community leader. "The public looks to him and learns from his words, as well as his silence, on supporting criminal acts. And so, he bears responsibility."  (Al-Monitor)
  • Lebanon's Financial Collapse Accelerates - Liz Sly
    Most parts of Lebanon are receiving no more than two or three hours of electricity a day and the traffic signals in Beirut have stopped working. These are among the latest symptoms of an economic implosion that is accelerating at an alarming pace in Lebanon - the result of decades of economic mismanagement, corruption and overspending. Economists are now predicting a Venezuela-style collapse, with acute shortages of essential products and services, runaway inflation and rising lawlessness.
        The Lebanese pound has lost over 60% of its value in just the past month. Bread is in short supply because the government can't fund imports of wheat. "Lebanon is no longer on the brink of collapse. The economy of Lebanon has collapsed," said Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Spread of Coronavirus in Israel Slows on Sunday - Adir Yanko
    The Israel Health Ministry reported Monday that 951 people tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday, the first major decline in weeks after a rapid surge that had neared 2,000 a day. The number of active patients is 28,424. The death toll has risen to 415. There are 259 patients in serious condition, with 75 requiring ventilators. 681 people are being treated in hospitals. (Ynet News)
  • Coronavirus Patients in PA Tripled in Three Weeks - Tobias Siegal
    465 people were infected with coronavirus in Palestinian Authority territory in the past 24 hours, PA health organizations reported Sunday evening. The number of active coronavirus patients in the West Bank on July 1 was 2,270 and is now 6,566. The death toll in the West Bank on July 1 was 7 and is now 63. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Arrests 3 Palestinians Planning to Attack Israeli Community in West Bank
    Israeli soldiers arrested three Palestinians in Jalazone, north of Ramallah, who were planning to carry out a terror attack on a Jewish community in the West Bank, the IDF said Saturday. They had planned to hurl an explosive device from their vehicle toward the community of Beit-El, as well as attempt a drive-by shooting. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Will Iran Provide Syria with Advanced Air Defenses? - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Udi Dekel
    Iran and Syria recently signed an agreement to expand military and technological collaboration. A central component of the agreement is to strengthen Syria's air defense with advanced Iranian air defense systems to reduce Israeli, Turkish, and American freedom of action in Syrian airspace.
        If Tehran deploys batteries of advanced surface-to-air missiles operated by Iranian crews in Syrian territory, Israeli planes will be threatened from the moment they take off from airports deep within Israel. In such a scenario, it is likely that Israel will destroy the batteries during their operational deployment. The writer, former head of the IDF Strategic Planning Division, is managing director of the INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Hizbullah Faces Domestic Pressure in Lebanon
    Lt.-Col. (ret.) Yoram Schweitzer, a former Israeli military intelligence officer who was a senior adviser to the prime minister, believes Hizbullah's role as the face of the government is a problem. "It's the most dominant body in power, and the people know that," he says. "[Nasrallah] is trying to shirk the blame for the economic and health crises."
        "Obviously, there is an opportunity for the Americans here. The U.S. has chosen a strategy of maximum financial pressure combined with sanctions and isolation against both Hizbullah and Iran. It's the centerpiece of their approach." Still, Schweitzer doesn't see anything resembling a collapse.
        Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Shimon Shapira, who served as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's military secretary, agreed. "Hizbullah is in bad shape, but not critical....The coronavirus has definitely posed a significant challenge, but with its 150,000 volunteers and operators, [Hizbullah] has responded better than the official government has."  (Media Line-Ynet News)
  • Remembering the AMIA Bombing: Why It Matters 26 Years Later - Toby Dershowitz
    Alberto Nisman, the tireless Argentine prosecutor who led the decade-long investigation into the bombing of the 1994 AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, found that Iranian officials at the highest levels of government had planned and directed the bombing.
        Based on Nisman's investigation, in 2007, INTERPOL issued red notices, akin to wanted-persons notices, requesting law enforcement worldwide to locate and arrest perpetrators of the bombing when they travel internationally. Five red notices against Iranian officials and one against a Lebanese Hizbullah official remain in force today.
        Nisman was found murdered the day before he was to present evidence to the Argentine Congress contending that then-President Cristina Kirchner sought to whitewash Iran's role in the deadliest terrorist attack in the country's history. Kirchner is now Argentina's vice president. The writer is senior vice president for government relations and strategy at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Newsweek)

The Alignment of BDS and Black Lives Matter: Implications for Israel and Diaspora Jewry - Dan Diker (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • American Jewish leaders unequivocally condemned the murder of Minneapolis resident George Floyd while in police custody. Yet Jewish support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement failed to prevent a surge of anti-Semitic violence across the U.S. in the aftermath of the Floyd murder.
  • Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) organizations have ratcheted up racial tensions and anti-Semitic agitation by accusing Israel of complicity in the Floyd murder, recasting Israel as an illegitimate "white oppressor" state that should be dismantled. These BDS-led accusations have moved from the margins to the mainstream of U.S. discourse.
  • The BDS-BLM narrative rebrands Israel as it has the U.S.: as paradigms for white supremacy. This has removed the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from its territorial framework and has recast it as a racial issue.
  • The BDS and BLM movements share a vision for the replacement of Israel, which they see as an extension of the white United States - inherently unjust. In this view, Israel is the result of a historical sin - an error that can be corrected only by Israel's replacement by Palestine.
  • The rebranding of Israel as a white supremacist entity also categorizes Diaspora Jews as "white supremacists" by extension, unless they disavow Israel as a centerpiece of their American Jewish identity.
  • This assault against the historical and international legal legitimacy of the nation-state of the Jewish people also delegitimizes, criminalizes and dehumanizes Diaspora Jews by extension.

    The writer is Director of the Project to Counter BDS and Political Warfare at the Jerusalem Center.

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