November 5, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Parliament Calls to Increase Nuclear Activity as Members Chant: "Death to America"  (MEMRI-TV)
    The Iranian parliament passed a law obligating the government to increase the production of enriched uranium, activate thousands of centrifuges, and revive the core of the Arak reactor, as they chanted "Death to America!," Iranian Channel 2 TV reported on Nov. 2.

Iranian Intelligence Services Abduct Iranian Opposition Activists from Abroad - Iran Desk (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Iran's security and intelligence services have renewed their active espionage and intelligence operations abroad, targeting opposition activists worldwide, especially in Europe.
    Iranian agents lure them to Turkey and other countries in the region, abduct them, and transfer them for trial in Iran. Sometimes Iranian agents assassinate them on European soil.

Malawi to Be First African State with Embassy in Jerusalem - Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post)
    Malawi plans to open an embassy in Jerusalem by next summer, the first African state to do so, Malawian Foreign Minister Eisenhower Mkaka announced Tuesday during a visit to Israel.

Assad Says Billions in Syrian Assets Locked in Troubled Lebanese Banks - Suleiman Al-Khalidi (Reuters)
    President Bashar al Assad said $20-42 billion in deposits by Syrians in Lebanese banks have been blocked due to a major financial crisis in that country.

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Jordanian Official Receiving Covid-19 Treatment in Israel (Jerusalem Post)
    The chief medical officer of the Jordanian military arrived by helicopter at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem on Wednesday after being diagnosed with coronavirus, Israel's Channel 12 reported.

Sudanese Official: "Any Palestinian Refugee Camp Is in Better Shape than Sudan" - Ariel Kahana (Israel Hayom)
    Discussing Sudan's normalization with Israel, one senior government official in Khartoum told Israel Hayom:
    "The Middle East is changing, and Sudan wants to be part of the process. We have a unique opportunity to rehabilitate our society and our economy."
    "The Palestinians are angry? They're angry with us, when any Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon is in better shape than Sudan? The days when the Palestinian problem was dumped on Sudan are over. We are working for the future of Sudan and our children and grandchildren."

UAE to Import Israeli Wine from Golan Heights, Angering Israel Boycott Movement - Ahmad Melhem (Al-Monitor)
    The UAE has dealt a heavy blow to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement after it signed a deal on Oct. 28 to sell Israeli wine from the Golan Heights in Dubai.
    The BDS movement said it will boycott any Emirati, Arab or international company implementing the Emirati-Israeli normalization agreement.

Female Israeli F-35 Pilot Appointed Deputy Squadron Commander (Calcalist)
    Israel Air Force female pilot Captain S., 26, has been appointed as deputy commander of the 116th "Southern Lions" F-35 squadron after having flown the stealth fighter jet in combat.

When a Teacher Made His Students Debate Hitler's Final Solution - Lior Zaltzman (Kveller)
    In 2017 in Oswego, New York, during a college-level English class at the Center for Instruction, Technology and Innovation, a teacher asked his students to imagine being one of the Nazis at Wannsee, a suburb of Berlin, where they discussed the implementation of the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question."
    He asked his students to argue for, or against, the Final Solution.
    Two of the students, Archer Shurtliff and Jordan April, spoke out and pointed out the tastelessness of the assignment.
    Shurtliff told Oswego County News Now, he understood where the assignment was coming from but he found it unacceptable: "You can play the devil's advocate, but you can't be the devil."
    New York Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, when first asked about it, claimed that it was an exercise in "critical thinking."
    But Shurtliff and April took their fight to the media and to the Anti-Defamation League - and eventually, they won. Elia agreed to make sure the assignment was never given again in New York State.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Undertook Cyber Operation Against Iran to Secure the 2020 Election - Ellen Nakashima
    Gen. Paul Nakasone, who leads both the U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, said Tuesday that the U.S. engaged in actions in the past two weeks against Iran to ensure that it did not interfere in the 2020 election. The move against Iranian hackers working for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps came shortly after they posed as a far-right group to send threatening emails to American voters.
        Nakasone stressed that the agencies' work began after the 2018 midterms and will continue for weeks after Election Day, until the votes are certified. He noted that the level of foreign targeting of the U.S. election was lower than that of two years ago. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Sanctions Companies over Purchase, Sale of Iran Oil
    The U.S. Treasury Department last Thursday sanctioned eight entities in Iran, China and Singapore for buying and selling Iranian petrochemical products. "The United States remains committed to targeting any revenue source the Iranian regime uses to fund terrorist groups and oppress the Iranian people," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
        Foreign financial institutions that knowingly facilitate significant transactions for the persons designated risk exposure to sanctions that could sever their access to the U.S. financial system or block their property under U.S. jurisdiction. (U.S. Treasury Department)
  • 4 Dead in Vienna Terrorist Attack by ISIS Sympathizer - Katrin Bennhold
    An ISIS sympathizer wearing a fake explosive device opened fire on Monday night in the heart of Vienna, killing at least four people and wounding 14. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called the shooting "definitely an Islamist terrorist attack." Police killed the gunman, a 20-year-old Vienna-born man whose parents came from North Macedonia. The Austrian intelligence service said he was one of 90 Austrians who had planned to join the Islamic State in Syria, and had been sentenced last year to 22 months in prison for his attempt. (New York Times)
        See also Netanyahu: "Israel Stands with Austria" - Lahav Harkov
    Israel and Austria are sharing intelligence in the aftermath of the shooting attack in Vienna, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday. He told Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz: "The people of Israel stand with Austria...against the savagery of Islamist terrorism."  (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • UN Declares Jerusalem's Temple Mount as Solely Muslim Site - Tovah Lazaroff
    139 UN countries approved a resolution on Wednesday that referred to the Temple Mount solely as an Islamic holy site called al-Haram al-Sharif. Israel's Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said the resolution "completely ignores any link between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount - our holiest site. This is a disgrace. The audacious attempt to rewrite history will not change the indisputable fact that the Jewish connection to the city of Jerusalem dates back thousands of years."
        Nine countries voted against the Jerusalem resolution, including Australia, Canada, Guatemala, Hungary, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and the U.S. Another 16 abstained. European countries that supported the resolution included Belgium, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also UAE, Bahrain, Sudan Back Anti-Israel Moves at UN - Raphael Ahren
    The three Arab countries with which Jerusalem recently signed normalization agreements - the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan - all supported a series of resolutions critical of Israel at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. (Times of Israel)
  • PA Security Officer Opens Fire on IDF Troops in West Bank - Judah Ari Gross
    Bilal Adnan Rawajbeh, 29, a captain in the Palestinian Preventative Security Forces, opened fire from his vehicle at Israeli troops in the West Bank on Wednesday as he approached the Hawara checkpoint south of Nablus. IDF soldiers responded and killed the attacker. (Times of Israel)
  • Coronavirus in Israel: Downward Trend Continues
    The Israeli Health Ministry reported Thursday morning on 9,406 active coronavirus patients, including 353 in serious condition, with 154 on ventilators. The death toll was 2,597. (Times of Israel)
  • Israeli Court Orders PA to Compensate Family of Terrorist Attack Victims - Yael Friedson
    The Jerusalem District Court ruled on Monday that the Palestinian Authority must pay NIS 13 million ($3.8 million) in compensation to the family of Tzipi and Gadi Shemesh, who were killed in a suicide bombing in 2002. A court ruling two years ago held the PA directly responsible for the bombing that killed the couple and their unborn twins. The perpetrators were members of a Palestinian terrorist organization that acted as a result of the PA's policy which allowed the killing of Israeli civilians.
        According to Palestinian expert Lt.-Col. (res.) Alon Eviatar, the suicide bomber, Muhammad Hashika, had been arrested by the PA and was released specifically to carry out the attack at the request of Abd al-Karim Avis, an officer in the PA's general intelligence apparatus. Moreover, the materials used to make the bomb were taken from the office of the head of the PA's General Intelligence Service, Tawfiq Tirawi, who paid an aide to drive Hashika to the scene of the attack. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    The U.S.-Israel Relationship

  • Israel Stays Flexible on U.S. Election Outcome - Andrew Parasiliti
    While former Vice President Joe Biden is a longtime champion of the U.S.-Israel relationship, what anxiety there may be in Israel around the rising possibility of a Biden presidency revolves around two issues: Iran, and a wing of the Democratic Party that is not as committed to the U.S.-Israel partnership. But the U.S.-Israel relationship isn't built on one president or party. It has enjoyed rock-solid bipartisan history.
        If Biden wins, expect Netanyahu and Biden to be on speed dial. If Biden pursues a new deal with Iran, the bet here is he will keep Netanyahu and Israel close, avoiding the friction of the Obama administration. Biden has been complimentary of Israel's normalization agreements, and would likely pick up that thread. Biden will also be key to holding off initiatives by Democrats critical of Israel.
        The writer, former director of RAND's Center for Global Risk and Security and executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies-US, is president of Al-Monitor. (Al-Monitor)
  • Israel Is Prepared to Work with Any U.S. President - Gil Hoffman
    Likud party officials say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would get along well with Democratic candidate Joe Biden if he won Tuesday's U.S. presidential election. Sources close to Netanyahu revealed that he prepared for the possibility of a victory by Biden.
        Netanyahu, referring to the Trump peace plan in an interview with the Jerusalem Post in February, said: "Once the Trump plan is put forward, the goalposts will have been moved, and it will be very difficult for any administration to move them back....Any administration, Democrat or Republican, will have to work by the new realities. They will have to take the new situation into account. You can't work based on falsehoods. Any attempt to advance a U.S. plan that is based on falsehoods will crash due to the realities....I'll work fine with Democrats or Republicans."  (Jerusalem Post)

  • Palestinians

  • The Palestinian Tail Can No Longer Wag the Arab Dog - Josef Joffe
    For half a century, an entire peace industry churned out the mantra that the Palestinians were the core of the Mideast conflict, an idea that collapsed after the Israel-UAE deal. Credit for the change should go to those pious revolutionaries in Tehran, led by Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who unwittingly engineered the historic realignment.
        The heirs of Darius have been on an expansionist roll ever since their war against Iraq ended in 1988. They keep working on a nuclear armory while fielding ever longer-range missiles. Iran has advanced all the way to the Mediterranean. It now has a border with Israel, thanks to Hizbullah and Hamas.
        The Middle East stage is home to an unending intra-Islamic battle between creeds and sects, tribes and ethnicities, potentates and oppressed states and ideologies. It is occupied by ruthless actors like Turkey, Russia and Iran, plus ISIS and non-state killer brigades. Internal war, not Israel, is the supreme threat. In this theater, the misery of the Palestinians has shrunk into a side-show, if not a nuisance.
        Maybe, Mahmoud Abbas' successor will realize that the Palestinian tail can no longer wag the Arab dog and sit down in earnest with Israel. Heavenly rewards - billions in aid and investment - are guaranteed.
        The writer, a Distinguished Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, serves on the Editorial Council of Die Zeit in Hamburg, Germany. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel-Arab Accords an Earthquake for Palestinians - Avi Issacharoff
    The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, representing 57 Islamic states, including Turkey and Iran, has been headed for the past four years by Secretary-General Yousef Al-Othaimeen, a Saudi politician.
        On Monday, in an interview to Sky News in Arabic, Al-Othaimeen said: "We need to think outside the box....This [Palestinian] issue has been going on for over 70 years. We have tried wars and throwing the Israelis into the sea; we have tried a lot. The new generation of our Palestinian brothers needs to try ideas that will lead to a solution to this problem, which is of interest to us all, but in new ways, ways that have not yet been tried....Why insist on the path of resistance and boycott and distancing? What should be distanced are the traditional and familiar ideas."
        Such statements would have been inconceivable a few months ago. They show how the Israeli normalization agreement with Sudan, and the earlier agreements with Bahrain and the UAE, have generated a Middle East earthquake. The world view of generations of Arabs was shaped around the Palestinian issue and the conflict with Israel. Yet that foundational worldview has collapsed. Suddenly, the Palestinians find themselves irrelevant. (Times of Israel)
  • The Real Palestinian Pandemic: Political Sclerosis - Prof. Hillel Frisch
    Mahmoud Abbas heads an organization that has witnessed only one leadership change in its 56 years of existence, and this only occurred when Yasser Arafat died in 2004. No elections have taken place for the PA presidency since 2005. Abbas, in his mid-80s, will not live forever and a power vacuum in the PA is inevitable. This leaves the situation ripe for competing warlords and Hamas to fight it out for succession.
        The writer is a professor of political and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University and a senior research associate at its BESA Center. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

  • Weekend Feature

  • When Jews Sought Refuge after World War II - Amy Davidson Sorkin
    As David Nasaw recounts in The Last Million: Europe's Displaced Persons from World War to Cold War, after World War II the Allied authorities initially maintained that it was wrong to differentiate Jews from other displaced people. Instead, displaced persons were to be sorted out on a "nationality basis," which meant that a Polish Jew who had survived the death camps might share quarters with someone who had guarded a camp in Poland.
        Many Polish Jews did try to return home, only to be greeted with violence from neighbors who, in some cases, had taken possession of their houses. On July 4, 1946, in the town of Kielce, some 40 Jewish survivors were killed in a pogrom: "stoned to death, beaten to death, thrown from windows, shot, bayoneted," Nasaw reports.
        When it came to resettling the refugees, the prospect of increased Jewish immigration to Palestine, which President Truman endorsed, exasperated the British who still controlled the region. Yet there was no mobilization to bring Jewish refugees into the UK. In the U.S., too, the number of Jews admitted during the first years after the war was achingly small.
        At the same time, the British gave sanctuary to thousands from the Baltic states to address labor shortages in agriculture and industry. This hit a snag when a doctor in London noticed that many of the Latvian men had their blood types tattooed under their left arms, revealing them to have been members of the S.S. When British miners refused to work with the Baltic men whose S.S. tattoos they had spotted, the National Coal Board recommended that they not be given jobs "where they might have to remove their shirts."
        In late 1946, Jewish groups in the U.S. pushed Congress to pass legislation to accept 400,000 D.P.s, estimating that based on the proportion of Jews in the D.P. camps, a good 100,000 would be Jews. But senators who didn't want to let Jews in added language excluding the Jews who had fled the Polish pogroms. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of non-Jewish Eastern Europeans arrived in the U.S. with little real examination of their wartime records. (New Yorker)

A New Understanding Dawns in the Middle East - Hillel Fradkin and Lewis Libby (Mosaic)
  • In the aftermath of the new peace treaties between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan, important Arab public figures - from political officials to clerics to intellectuals - are now openly proclaiming that the Arab world has been the primary author of its own pain. These admissions may signal the beginnings of a new sensibility among Arabs and Sunni Muslims about their political and social situation.
  • Their error was the notion that Israel was the most crucial enemy of Arabs, Muslims, and their states, an enemy that had to be not only defeated but utterly eradicated because it disrupted the harmony and progress of the Arab and Muslim world. Until recently, this view was central to Arab and Muslim sensibility.
  • As Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh has observed: "For most Arabs the terms peace and normalization with Israel were associated with extremely negative connotations: humiliation, submission, defeat, and shame." To the question of what ailed Arab and Muslim politics and society, there was always this widely-accepted answer: the state of Israel. If only it could be eliminated, all would be well.
  • The new deals have now shattered that discourse, declaring that Israel is not the enemy it was alleged to be, and promising a "warm peace" with broad economic and cultural exchanges. They acknowledge that Israel is not the problem, but rather a partner on the path toward solving Middle Eastern woes.
  • Most crucially, the changes in Arab discourse regarding Israel have not unleashed the vehement and widespread explosions of opposition throughout the Sunni world which would have been expected in decades past. Rather, they seem to bespeak views that were developing over some time, waiting for the opportunity to be let out.

    Hillel Fradkin is director of the Hudson Institute's Center on Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Muslim World. Lewis Libby is Hudson's senior vice president.
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