October 1, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Iran: "We Will Help Any Country Fighting the Zionist Regime and the United States" - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces Brig.-Gen. Abolfazi Shekarchi claimed that there is no Iranian military presence in Syria, only Iranian advisors.
    He added that Iran also provides military advice to Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen, which are part of the "resistance front."
    He said that "any country that opposes the Zionist regime and the bloodthirsty United States will receive assistance from Iran."
    See also Iran Activates Terror Cells Against Saudi Arabia - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    On Sept. 23, 2020, Saudi Arabia revealed a terrorist cell, three of whose operatives had been trained in Iran by the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
    Weapons recovered included explosive bricks, electrical detonators, Kalashnikov rifles and Heckler & Koch sniper rifles.
    Pictures of the captured explosives are similar to those linked to Iran in Yemen and Bahrain and, in a slightly different configuration, in Iraq.
    The writer is a senior research fellow at the Jerusalem Center.

Israel Delivers First Iron Dome Battery to U.S. Army - Tal Schneider (Globes)
    Israel on Wednesday delivered the first of two Iron Dome missile defense batteries to the U.S. Army. The second battery will be delivered in the coming weeks.

Caronavirus Cases Surge in Jordan - Suleiman Al-Khalidi (Reuters)
    Jordan on Wednesday recorded 1,767 new cases of Covid-19, its highest daily tally since the start of the outbreak.

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Clinical Trial at Hadassah Hospital: 5 Serious Corona Patients Now Healthy - Tzvi Joffre (Jerusalem Post)
    Five patients recently discharged from Hadassah Medical Center were healthy and coronavirus-free after taking part in the first clinical trial of an innovative treatment. All five had been hospitalized in serious or critical condition.
    The drug Allocetra is based on research conducted by Prof. Dror Mevorach, director of the internal medicine and coronavirus departments at Hadassah.
    Mevorach explained, "Its activity is carried out by treating cells taken from a healthy donor and engineering them in the laboratory in a way that, when they are injected into the patient's body, will control the inflammation or storm of cytokines that is very harmful to patients."
    See also Allocetra Immune Rebalancing (Enlivex)

Proliferation of Weapons Widespread among West Bank Clans - Ahmad Melhem (Al-Monitor)
    Palestinian security services intensified in September their security operations in the West Bank in pursuit of individuals who have used arms during family quarrels.
    Louay Arziqat, a spokesman for the Palestinian police, said that since the beginning of the year there have been 37 murders, up 42% over last year.
    On Sept. 18, in southern Hebron, a quarrel between families degenerated into armed clashes, during which firearms, including machine guns, were used, and several homes and vehicles were set ablaze.
    On Sept. 17, a young man and two girls were killed northeast of Bethlehem, shot by four armed people who stopped the vehicle and opened fire due to a family dispute.
    The Palestinian security services might sometimes make arrests, but the widespread proliferation of weapons among families and clans will prevent them from eradicating this phenomenon.

Israeli Startups Raised $1.1 Billion in September (Globes)
    Israeli startups raised $1.1 billion in September, according to Start-Up Nation Central.
    After raising a record $8.3 billion in 2019, Israeli tech companies have raised $7.6 billion in the first nine months of 2020.

Czechs to Acquire Israeli Air Defense System in $400 Million Deal (AP-Stars and Stripes)
    Czech Republic Defense Minister Lubomir Metnar said Friday his government wants to buy the Spyder air defense system from Israel to replace its obsolete, Soviet-era anti-aircraft system.
    The Czech military said it had analyzed nine systems from seven producers before deciding on the Israeli one.

Israeli Soccer Player Signs for Dubai Club (AFP)
    Israeli soccer player Diaa Sabia, 27, currently an attacking midfielder with China's Guangzhou R&F, signed a two-year contract with Dubai's Al-Nasr, the club said Sunday.
    Sabia was born in northern Israel and played for several Israeli clubs.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Nuclear Watchdog Inspects Second Iranian Site
    The International Atomic Energy Agency has inspected the second of two suspected former secret atomic sites in Iran, the agency said on Wednesday. (Reuters)
  • Iran Is Helping Venezuela to Form Popular Mobilization Force
    Former Chief-Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Maj.-Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, says Iran is transferring its experience to countries like Venezuela that are "standing against the U.S." and is helping Venezuela to form a mobilization force like the IRGC Popular Mobilization Force used to suppress social uprisings. Safavi also said, "We gave gasoline to Venezuela and received gold bars, and carried the bars to Iran by plane."  (Radio Farda)
  • Gaza Peace Activists Face Hamas Prison for Holding Video Call with Israelis - Adam Rasgon
    Palestinian military prosecutors in Gaza have charged three Palestinian peace activists with "weakening revolutionary spirit" for their role in holding a video call with Israelis in April that drew more than 200 participants on Zoom. Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, took issue with the decision to charge the activists in a military court. (New York Times)
  • Kuwait Emir Dies Aged 91
    The emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, 91, who has ruled Kuwait since 2006, has died. Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, who became prime minister in 2003, was sworn in as the nation's new emir on Wednesday. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu Reveals Hizbullah Weapons Depot near Beirut Airport
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday via video: "The expanding circle of peace...will make peace between Israelis and Palestinians more likely. Palestinian leaders will increasingly realize that they no longer have a veto over peace and progress in our region, and hopefully, those leaders will ultimately decide to make peace with the Jewish state. And when that happens, Israel will be ready...to end our conflict with the Palestinians once and for all."
        "We all saw the terrible explosion at Beirut port last month....Now, here is where the next explosion could take place. Right here [referring to a map]. This is the Beirut neighborhood of Janah. It's right next to the international airport. And here, Hizbullah is keeping a secret arms depot. This secret arms depot, right here, is adjacent, a meter away, from a gas company. These are gas canisters. Right here. It's a few meters away from a gas station. It's fifty meters away from the gas company. Here are more gas trucks. And it's embedded in civilian housing....If this thing explodes, it's another tragedy."  (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Video: Prime Minister Netanyahu's Speech to the UN (YouTube)
        See also IDF Reveals Two More Hizbullah Missile Sites in Beirut - Judah Ari Gross
    The Israel Defense Forces identified two more Hizbullah missile sites in Beirut Tuesday night, in addition to the one Prime Minister Netanyahu revealed to the UN. One site is an underground facility built beneath four seven-story apartment buildings east of Beirut International Airport. The second site is also a subterranean facility, located under five apartment buildings. (Times of Israel)
        See also Netanyahu Highlights Hizbullah Use of Human Shields - A War Crime - Prof. Orde Kittrie (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
  • Coronavirus in Israel: Nearly 9,000 New Cases
    8,919 people tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday, the Israel Health Ministry reported Thursday. 810 patients are in serious condition, of whom 206 are ventilated. (Last Thursday there were 667 people in serious condition and 164 on ventilators.) The death toll is 1,571 (up from 1,335 last Thursday). There are 68,811 active patients. The most affected cities are Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, and Ashdod. (Ynet News)
  • U.S. Amb. Friedman: Sovereignty Issue Suspended, Not Cancelled - Khaled Abu Toameh
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told Israel Army Radio on Wednesday that the plan to apply Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank has been suspended. "The word that we chose was to suspend the declaration of sovereignty," Friedman said. "It means temporarily. It could take a year or two or more before we are back to that issue. We already made it clear that the issue has been postponed - that doesn't mean that it's cancelled. It just means that for the time being, it's on pause; it's not off the table."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    The Israel-UAE-Bahrain Peace Agreements

  • The Emirati and Bahraini Agreements with Israel Are Revolutionary - Varsha Koduvayur and David Daoud
    The UAE and Bahrain deals with Israel set the stage for a sea change in Arab-Israeli relations, as ties between Israel and the Gulf have grown exponentially in recent years. Because the UAE and Bahrain are regional business hubs, the two peace deals will facilitate interactions between Israelis and thousands of expatriate workers from across the Arab and Islamic world whose home countries have hostile relations with Israel, if any.
        Even if the process is incremental, creating a space for these populations to interact with each other for the first time as real human beings - away from hostilities, mutual recriminations, and governmental propaganda - will have a revolutionary impact on all sides, and on regional peace.
        The Emirati and Bahraini agreements with Israel upend decades of stifling status quo and fruitless political orthodoxies that have failed to advance the cause of a genuine, positive peace. In time, the Gulf's embrace of Israel could even encourage Egypt and Jordan to move toward a warmer peace with the Israelis. Varsha Koduvayur is a senior research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. David Daoud is a research analyst at United Against Nuclear Iran. (Foreign Policy)
  • The Arab World Is Having a Jewish Revolution - Steven A. Cook
    A critical consequence of the Abraham Accords is the normalization of Jews and Judaism in an Arab and Muslim society. That is a big deal.
        During my time in Cairo in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I was struck by the anti-Semitism that was part of the cultural discourse. When I was a student in Damascus, Syria, 26 summers ago, agents of the regime regaled me one evening with a long and exhaustive string of anti-Semitic canards because they felt it was important that they teach me what I did not learn in the U.S.
        With the signing of the Abraham Accords, the Emiratis have flipped the narrative. Their outreach to Israel has generated an interest in Jews and Judaism that is refreshing. The writer is a senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Foreign Policy)

  • Other Issues

  • Anti-Israel Claims of Ethnic Cleansing Have No Place in the Columbia Spectator - Jennifer Roskies
    In "A Jewish Argument for Divestment" in the Columbia Spectator (Sept. 23, 2020), two Columbia University undergraduates unleash vile accusations against the Jewish state, including that of ethnic cleansing. Subsequently, the student body voted 61% to 27% "to recommend that the University should divest from companies profiting from or otherwise supporting Israeli policy toward the Palestinian people."
        With regard to ethnic cleansing, we recall the photographs documenting the Jews driven from the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City, their home for centuries, by the Arab Legion in 1948, with Jews forbidden to even set foot in Jewish holy sites until the city's reunification in 1967.
        Consider the irony: The article appeared just as the UAE and more and more voices in the Sunni Arab world formally and publicly recognize the Jews as a people with a historical connection and indigenous presence in the Land of Israel. The writer is Director-General of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Former Saudi Official: Palestinians Have Lost a Significant Part of Popular Sympathy
    Dr. Saud al-Kateb, former Saudi deputy minister for public diplomacy, said in an interview with Diwan Al-Mullah Online TV (Kuwait) on Sep. 17, 2020: "The Palestinians have lost a significant part of the popular sympathy with their cause....Saudi Arabia is our number one cause. It is also our number two cause and our number ten cause. Then comes the Palestinian cause. The Palestinians need to fathom this fact, and cease viewing us as a faucet that streams support for them - support for which we are rewarded with curses."  (MEMRI-TV)
  • Why Palestinian Unity Is a Pipe Dream - Hussein Ibish
    Fatah and Hamas, the dominant parties in the West Bank and Gaza, respectively, say they have agreed to hold a general election, the first in 15 years, to allow them to form a united front in opposition to Israel. There is virtually no chance it will actually happen. Over the past decade, each has become well-entrenched in its own fiefdom, where it rules and consumes resources without effective opposition.
        Obviously, national reconciliation is essential to Palestinian interests. But it's not possible to fit the square peg of Fatah's secular-nationalist goal of a two-state agreement with Israel into the round hole of Hamas' Islamist rhetoric of armed struggle until complete victory. There is a long history of bad blood - and actual bloodshed - between them. The writer is a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. (Bloomberg)
  • The Cyber-Avengers Protecting Hospitals from Ransomware - Sonner Kehrt
    In February, Israel-based cyber intelligence researcher Ohad Zaidenberg started noticing malicious emails and files disguised as information about Covid. They used fear of the new virus as leverage to get people to click a link or download a file. A former intelligence officer, Zaidenberg became conceerned that the malware might compromise hospital security.
        In May 2017, computers at National Health Service hospitals all across the UK started displaying a pop-up message demanding users pay $300 in bitcoin to restore access to their files. The ransomware attack infected more than 200,000 computers worldwide and the attack cost the National Health Service over $100 million. Then Zaidenberg saw in the news that the second-largest hospital in the Czech Republic had been attacked.
        Zaidenberg recruited a group of cyber threat researchers to work, pro bono, assessing threats related to the virus. Within a month, the group had well over a thousand members, each vetted for their identities and the skills they could contribute. Members organized themselves into teams and fanned out to hunt down Covid-related threats before they could wreak havoc.
        Within the first month, they'd found more than 2,000 health care software vulnerabilities in 80 countries and identified nearly 400 malicious files that were unlikely to be stopped by common antivirus software. (Wired)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • International Project Combats Online Anti-Semitism through Artificial Intelligence - Tobias Siegal
    The "Decoding Anti-Semitism" project aims to combat the spread of anti-Semitism and hatred online by using artificial intelligence (AI). An international team of discourse analysts, computational linguists and historians is currently developing an AI-driven approach to identifying online anti-Semitism.
        Dr. Matthias J. Becker, a linguist leading the project at the Technical University Berlin, pointed to the connection between online hate speech and actual hate crimes. "We see that hate speech online and hate crimes are to some extent always connected. In order to prevent that more and more users become radicalized on the web, it is important to identify the real dimensions of anti-Semitism."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • NYU to Revise Discrimination Policy following Anti-Semitic Activity on Campus - Melissa Weiss
    New York University has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) following a complaint filed on behalf of an NYU student that cited numerous instances of anti-Semitic activity on campus. The agreement is the first since a presidential executive order in December 2019 added anti-Semitism to the list of forms of discrimination prohibited by Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
        NYU will revise its non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies to include shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics, including anti-Semitism, as factors that cannot be discriminated against. (Jewish Insider)

The Dark Side of Holocaust Education - Ruth R. Wisse (National Affairs)
  • This reasoning that hate groups promote hate and that studying the Holocaust will prevent hate prompted the establishment of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1980 and continues to undergird Holocaust education. But is there any evidence that Holocaust education decreases hatred of the Jews among those Americans who are susceptible to it?
  • Already 30 years ago in Commentary, noted historian Lucy Dawidowicz raised serious concerns about the outcomes of Holocaust-related projects. Her study identified problems including a failure to suggest that anti-Semitism had any history before Hitler. What's more, Holocaust education is routinely appropriated for activist agendas.
  • The destruction of European Jewry was not about hate. The mass murder of 6 million Jews began as part of an electoral process in which a party came to power by organizing politics against the Jews. Hitler ran on this platform and used it in the conquest of other nations, inviting their citizens to join in the killing and plundering of the Jews. Some people organized against Jews without hating them.
  • Holocaust education distorts by equating evil with Nazism. The Soviets in their Gulag and forced famine in Ukraine killed more than the Nazis did in their death camps. Weaponizing the Holocaust against Nazism detracts attention from other ongoing anti-Jewish and anti-Western forces.
  • American students are learning about the Jews first and foremost as victims of the Nazis. Yet, historically speaking, Jews are demonstrably the opposite of victims - they are builders, creators, innovators, facilitators, perpetually adaptive, the model of entrepreneurial resilience under circumstances beyond imagining.
  • The Jews applied their energies to doing what had been considered impossible and resurrected their sovereign country. Any true "Never Again" project should trace this instead of telling only half the story.

    The writer is Professor of Yiddish Literature and Comparative Literature Emerita at Harvard University.
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