December 17, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Threatens Oil Shipping in the Red Sea - Lenny Ben David (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    On Dec. 14, 2020, the BW Rhine fuel tanker was hit with an explosion while unloading at Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
    It is believed that the Rhine was hit by a robot boat, probably steered by Iran's proxy, the Houthis in Yemen. Several such "suicide boats" have been intercepted in recent months in the Red Sea.
    Instructions and intelligence are believed to be transmitted from a "mother ship," the Iranian cargo ship Savitz, anchored in the Red Sea.

Officials from Large Muslim-Majority Country Secretly Visit Israel - Ariel Kahana (Israel Hayom)
    A senior adviser to the leader of a large Muslim-majority Asian country that has no diplomatic relations with Israel headed a delegation of senior officials for meetings in Tel Aviv two weeks ago, Israel Hayom has learned.

Saudi Officials: Position on Normalization with Israel Has Changed in Recent Weeks - Daniel Siryoti (Israel Hayom)
    According to officials in Riyadh, the Saudi position on the prospect of normalization with Israel has changed in recent weeks.
    Diplomats confirmed that officials in Riyadh were instrumental in advancing the peace deal between Israel and Morocco.

IDF Provides Hope for Villagers in Hurricane-Ravaged Honduras - Yaakov Lappin (JNS)
    The Israel Defense Forces' National Rescue Unit sent an aid delegation to Honduras in the wake of two Category 4 hurricanes that struck the country in November.
    The Israeli delegation helped rebuild the severely damaged village of Cruz de Valencia, refurbishing houses, installing solar lighting, and repairing the water system, enabling hundreds of residents to return to their homes.

Israel Tests Defenses Against Cruise and Ballistic Missiles - Udi Shaham (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) said Tuesday it successfully completed a series of live-fire intercept tests of an advanced version of the David's Sling weapon system against cruise and ballistic missiles.
    The tests also demonstrated the capabilities of the Iron Dome system in intercepting UAVs and cruise missiles.
    They further demonstrated the interoperability of Israel's multilayered air defenses (Arrow, David's Sling, and Iron Dome) to intercept different threats simultaneously.
    The tests were conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

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Drones Decided the Outcome of the Armenia-Azerbaijan War - Dr. Uzi Rubin (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
    The six-week 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War fought by Armenia and Azerbaijan was the first conflict in which unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) won a war from the air.
    Azerbaijan's UAVs obliterated Armenia's ground-based air defenses, after which they systematically decimated Armenia's ground forces, including tanks, artillery pieces, and supply trucks, forcing Armenia to accept a humiliating ceasefire.
    Azerbaijan's UAV fleet included Turkish missile-firing aircraft and Israeli suicide drones. Videos showed the destruction of at least two S-300 air defense batteries inside Armenia by Israeli HAROP drones.
    The key to Azerbaijan's spectacular victory may have been electronic warfare that blinded Armenian radar.
    The war offered a glimpse of future battlefields on which unmanned weapons and electronic warfare might predominate.
    The writer was founding director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, which managed the Arrow program.

Israel's National Cyber Directorate - Joshua Shuman (Media Line-Jerusalem Post)
    The Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD) was created to become involved in the aftermath of cyberattacks.
    Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Prof. Isaac Ben-Israel, chairman of Israel's National Council for Research and Development, said, "Israel was the first country to understand and come to the conclusion that cyber...required a national program."
    "Israel has many more advanced systems that can be impaired than our neighbors. We created a national program for critical infrastructure like electricity and water, as well as for safeguarding hospitals and transportation."
    Inside the directorate in Beersheba, which employs 350 people, the Cyber Emergency Response Team (CERT) handles hundreds of reports about cyberattack attempts daily.
    From September 2019 through September 2020, CERT dealt with 10,200 incidents.

A New Challenge to Jordan's Status on the Temple Mount - Nadav Shragai (Israel Hayom)
    Morocco's kings, the "defenders of Islam's holy sites in Jerusalem," have led the Jerusalem Committee of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (formerly the Organization of the Islamic Conference) for decades.
    Normalization of ties with Israel may enable Morocco to improve its standing at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. Morocco has donated dozens of prayer rugs to mosques at the site, and has transferred funds, through the Jerusalem Committee, to renovate homes in the area surrounding the Western Wall.
    Jordan, the current "guardian" of the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, is more concerned than ever. Jordan's status on the Temple Mount is anchored in the peace deal it signed with Israel in 1994.

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem: From Religious Conflict to Religious Normalization - Nadav Shragai (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Jerusalem is enshrined in the Muslim tradition, alongside Mecca and Medina, as one of the three destinations that every Muslim is tasked with visiting.
    The possibility that we will soon witness crowds of Muslims visiting Jerusalem and the Temple Mount requires the State of Israel to prepare itself.

Guardian Report Ignores Israel's Need to Prevent Terror Attacks - Galia Palmer (HonestReporting)
    An article by Peter Beaumont in the Guardian on Nov. 29 on "Military Invasions of Palestinian Homes" is based on a report by "Breaking the Silence," an NGO with a history of spreading anti-Israel smears.
    A more accurate description of the activity described would be "arrests." Units in the West Bank are sent to enter homes in order to arrest known or suspected perpetrators of terror and violence.
    As a combat soldier currently serving in the Israeli military explained: "We have to go in and do our job, and it's going to cause some discomfort for whoever is in the house, whoever isn't the suspect." The IDF is fulfilling its obligation to keep Israeli citizens safe.
    The Guardian cites a local imam who claims that the IDF's arrest raids are really "to scare everyone. To show who is in charge." But this does not align with reality.
    As soldiers who have served in the IDF can testify, troops are always given a specific name and pictures before entering any home. Soldiers never get orders just to go in and look for trouble.
    Soldiers are regularly instructed not to take anything unnecessary from homes, and those who break these rules are typically sentenced to time in military jail.

Non-Citizens Now Able to Do Israeli National Service - Sarah Ben-Nun (Jerusalem Post)
    Jews without Israeli citizenship will be able to do National Service (sherut leumi) thanks to new regulations passed on Monday in the Knesset that will go into effect on Sep. 1.
    Any Jew who is eligible for Aliyah based on the Law of Return, or is participating in a program like Masa or Taglit-Birthright Israel, has the option to fill any National Service position within Israel for 12 months.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UK Lawmakers Urge Government to Designate Iran's IRGC as Terrorist, Replace Nuclear Deal - Yaghoub Fazeli
    The UK Parliament's Foreign Affairs Select Committee released a report on Wednesday urging Britain to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, declare Tehran's detention of foreign nationals as "state hostage-taking," and work towards brokering a comprehensive deal to replace the current nuclear deal. "The actions of the IRGC meet the criteria for proscription in the Terrorism Act 2000, due to its clear and enduring support for terrorists and non-state actors working to undermine stability in the region," the report said.
        Parliament members described the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) as a "shell of an agreement." "Despite good intentions, the JCPOA was an agreement built on weak foundations. The slow death of the nuclear deal seems to have been inevitable and...it now appears beyond repair," Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Tugendhat said. "The UK government should work to broker a replacement to the JCPOA, which also addresses regional security." Earlier this month, Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also said that a new, broader Iran accord must be reached and that the 2015 deal was no longer enough. (Al-Arabiya)
  • Iran's Ballistic Missile Program, Regional Issues Are Non-Negotiable, President Rouhani Says - Ali Arouzi
    "The missiles program and regional issues have nothing to do with the nuclear issue," Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Monday in Tehran in a possible effort to set the terms of future talks with the U.S. "There is one JCPOA that has been negotiated and agreed - either everyone commits to it or they don't."
        Ahead of the U.S. election, President-elect Joe Biden wrote: "We will continue to push back against Iran's destabilizing activities, which threaten our friends and partners in the region. We will continue to use targeted sanctions against Iran's human rights abuses, its support for terrorism and ballistic missile program."  (NBC News)
  • French Court Finds 14 Guilty in 2015 Attacks on Kosher Supermarket and Charlie Hebdo Magazine - Roger Cohen
    A French court on Wednesday found 14 defendants guilty of aiding in the terrorist attacks that killed 17 people in January 2015, including 10 people at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, and 4 people at the Hyper Cacher kosher Paris supermarket. With the major perpetrators dead, the trial focused on people charged with providing logistical support, including cash, weapons and vehicles. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Coronavirus Cases Spike in Israel
    The Israel Health Ministry on Thursday morning reported 2,802 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, after 2,891 cases were recorded Tuesday, the highest number since Oct. 12. Active cases climbed to 21,544, with 400 people in serious condition, including 150 on ventilators. Israel is preparing to launch a mass vaccination program next week. (Times of Israel)
        See also Israelis Returning from Abroad Test Positive for Coronavirus - Adir Yanko
    Out of 44,000 Israelis who returned from abroad over the past two weeks, 245 tested positive for the coronavirus, including 30 from the U.S., 27 from Ukraine, 26 from the UAE, 16 from Turkey, 11 from Russia, 8 from Holland, and 4 from England. (Ynet News)
  • Gunmen Attack Palestinian Authority Headquarters in Jenin - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Unidentified gunmen attacked Palestinian Authority headquarters in Jenin in the northern West Bank on Monday night, damaging some offices and vehicles. Some of the attackers belonged to the Fatah faction in the Jenin refugee camp and surrounding villages, Palestinian sources said. Eleven people have been arrested in connection with the attack including one of the biggest arms dealers in the area, according to a spokesman for the PA police. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    Israeli-Arab Normalization

  • Saudi Arabia Is Scrubbing Hate Speech from School Books - Kimberly Dozier
    New reforms in Saudi Arabia's official educational curriculum have stripped out lessons of hatred toward the "other" - whether Christian, Jewish, or gay - and dictats to defend the Islamic faith through violence.
        The Kingdom's latest textbooks have for the first time removed sections calling for non-believers to be punished by death, and predicting an apocalyptic final battle in which Muslims will kill all Jews, according to a report released Tuesday by the Jerusalem-based Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education, (IMPACT-se), which analyzes global curricula for extremist and intolerant views.
        IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff said, "We do see a significant change...a real institutional effort...at the highest levels to make a change to modernize the curriculum to remove offense." However, the books still characterize Jews and Christians as "enemies of Islam." "No question about it, there is still a way to go," says Sheff. (TIME)
        See also Report: Saudi Arabia Makes Significant Improvements to New Textbooks - Eldad J. Pardo (IMPACT-se)
  • World's View of Israel Is Shifting - Dr. Dan Schueftan
    The implications of Israel's peace deals with Arab countries go far beyond the issue of the Palestinians. It's about Israel's decades-long struggle to shift the diplomatic paradigm that seeks to undermine Israel's standing in the world and force it into reckless compromises.
        Having failed to eliminate it through terrorism and war, Israel's enemies have successfully delegitimized Israel by taking advantage of post-colonial guilt in the West and the anti-Semitic tendencies prevalent in Europe. Europe and the U.S. came to believe that forcing "the will of the international community" on Israel, the conditions of which crippled Israel's ability to defend itself, would end hostilities in the region.
        Egypt is in partnership with Israel against three common enemies - the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran, and Turkey. Jordan is aware of the dangers of the Palestinian national movement and knows that its very existence depends on Israel's strength. The Gulf states understand the existential threat from Iran.
        The democratic West no longer needs to choose between Israel and the Arabs: Israel and the core states of the Arab world are on the same side. The writer heads the International Graduate Program in National Security Studies at the University of Haifa. (Israel Hayom)
  • Arab Countries' National Concerns Trump the Palestinian Cause - Hazem Saghieh
    The Palestinian cause no longer intersects with Arab countries' national concerns. It no longer carries the promise of liberation for anyone. It no longer holds an economic promise for a better life. The calls for infinite resistance and endless confrontation have lost all their appeal in the Arab world and, in all likelihood, among the Palestinians themselves.
        The Palestinian cause no longer speaks to states and peoples' interests or fears; indeed, it sometimes feeds those fears. Let us think for a second about movements like Hamas or the Islamic Jihad that ally with Iran, which a significant segment of Arab societies is fearful of. At the very least, it has become possible to say that what goes on between Israel and the Palestinians has barely an impact on the rest of the Arab world. The writer, a Lebanese political analyst, is the political editor of the London-based al-Hayat. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • Egyptian Journalist: Opposing Normalization Contravenes Egypt's Foreign Policy
    Egyptian journalist 'Abd Al-Mun'im Sa'id, board chairman of the Al-Masri Al-Yawm daily, who was appointed by President Al-Sisi to the Egyptian Senate, on Nov. 29, 2020, condemned the perception that the Egyptian people oppose normalization with Israel. He wrote that Egypt made a "brave peace" with Israel by choice and based on its interests. "We know very well how Egypt conducts itself in the east of the Mediterranean and how other Arab countries have followed our lead with regard to relations with Israel."
        "Did the Egyptian people choose [to oppose normalization] when factories in Egypt held demonstrations, demanding to be part of the QIZ (Qualified Industrial Zone) agreement [signed by] Egypt, Israel and the U.S....which gives priority to Egyptian merchandise and opens the gates of the large American market to it?"
        "The question is, why did we not see such outrage and opposition over the Russian or Turkish occupation of Syria, the Iranian occupation of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, or every time Saudi Arabia was targeted [by the Houthis]?"  (MEMRI)
        See also As Arab States Recognize Israel, Egypt's "Cold Peace" Points to Challenges Ahead - Jared Malsin (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Blessings of the Moroccan-Israel Agreement - Ahmed Charai
    The transition to formal relations between Morocco and Israel was not inevitable. A third of Morocco's population currently identify with Islamist movements and parties that reject Israel's right to exist. "Anti-normalization" activism remains a prominent facet of our culture.
        In 2006, the kingdom proposed a plan for the disputed Western Sahara that would grant its residents autonomy within the framework of Moroccan sovereignty. While the Polisario enclave beyond Morocco's borders remains a place of poverty and a hub of terrorism, the Moroccan side has seen billions in investment.
        In my country, millions of young people have tired of extremist ideologies and want the opportunities and benefits which only peace and partnership can bring. They see in Israel a strong partner in developing their economy, spreading opportunity, and securing Morocco's future.
        The writer, a Moroccan publisher, is on the board of the Atlantic Council and is an international counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. (National Interest)
  • Morocco-Israel Deal Has Wide-Ranging Benefits - Zaid M. Belbagi
    Morocco has an independent relationship with the Jewish people that is exclusive to those which other members of the Arab League enjoy. Whether through the historic efforts of the Jewish emissaries of Morocco's many sultans, the Moroccan government in saving its Jewish population from the Holocaust, or the modern-day contribution of Jewish entrepreneurs to the Moroccan economy, the relationship is positive and deep-rooted. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
        See also The Winners and Losers of Israel's Normalization Deal with Morocco - Ralph Nurnberger
    The writer is a professor of international relations at Georgetown University. (Fair Observer)

  • Iran

  • Biden Should Consider "Creative Passivity" in the Middle East - David Ignatius
    Sometimes in life, the best thing to do about a problem is nothing, at least initially. As President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office, that may be the best advice about the Middle East. Don't hurry to restart nuclear negotiations with Iran. Setting that table will take a while, and our diplomacy should seek to stabilize the whole region - from Lebanon to Yemen - and not just revisit the Iranian nuclear file. Formally recapping the Iranian nuclear program is important but, for now, it's enough to monitor Iran's nuclear enrichment and make clear the red lines. (Washington Post)
  • How Biden and Europe Can Confront Iran - Daniel Schwammenthal
    In an interview with the New York Times' Thomas Friedman, President-elect Joe Biden suggested to first re-enter the Iran nuclear deal and only then negotiate new restrictions. Past experience suggests that this approach is unlikely to succeed. Tehran will gladly pocket the lifting of sanctions and then refuse to negotiate - or agree to talks in order to drag them out indefinitely. Let's remember that only after the U.S. and the EU imposed unprecedented sanctions did the Islamic Republic agree to the JCPOA.
        The incoming administration should recalibrate the sequencing - first using the leverage built up by the current sanctions to renegotiate before lifting sanctions. The writer is the director of the American Jewish Committee's Transatlantic Institute in Brussels. (Newsweek)
  • U.S. Special Representative Calls Iran Deal "a Highly Defective Agreement" - Elliott Abrams interviewed by Jacob Magid
    The U.S. special representative for the Islamic Republic, Elliott Abrams, told the Times of Israel last week: "We think that the JCPOA was a highly defective agreement. We share Prime Minister Netanyahu's view of it." He said the Iran nuclear deal's sunset provisions expire too quickly and the jump in Iran's defense spending following the deal's sanctions relief proved that the regime was using the accord to continue to wreak havoc in the region.
        He and other administration officials have been meeting with the Biden transition team. "We try to persuade them [that] it isn't 2015. It's almost 2021 and a lot has changed, so formulas that you thought were good ones for the original [JCPOA] negotiation aren't so good today."  (Times of Israel)

  • Other Issues

  • The Struggle for Control of Southern Syria - Dr. Carmit Valensi and Brig.-Gen. (res.) Udi Dekel
    In the summer of 2018, the Assad regime regained control over southern Syria, as Russia promised it would keep Iranian forces away from the area. Most residents of the south, who had previously joined the rebels, were not expelled to Idlib in northern Syria; they were recruited by local security forces obedient to the Assad regime.
        In Daraa province, with a million mostly Sunni residents, local leaders now enjoy a degree of autonomy in managing daily life. Quneitra province adjacent to Israel, with 90,000 mostly Sunni residents, features a Syrian army and Hizbullah presence. Suwayda province, with 500,000 mostly Druze residents, is under the control of local Druze groups. Yet there is a growing presence of pro-Iranian groups.
        Frequent clashes between groups under Iranian influence and those affiliated with Russia indicate growing competition. Iran aims to deepen the grip of its proxies in Syria. However, the U.S. policy of "maximum pressure" on Iran, as well as continual Israeli attacks, have slowed the pace of Iran's consolidation. Hizbullah forces currently active in southern Syria include its advisers in the Syrian army, and the Golan File Unit under direct Hizbullah command, which is establishing terrorist cells comprising local Syrians.
        Carmit Valensi manages the Syria research program at INSS, where Udi Dekel is the managing director. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • How Israel Established Ties with Bhutan - Gilad Cohen
    In November 2017, I flew to Bhutan as part of my first task as Director of the Asia-Pacific Division at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Over the past several years, we have worked to prepare the foundations for normalization. Bhutan's senior leaders greatly value Israel's capabilities and want to learn from the knowledge and technology that Israel has to offer. (Times of Israel)
  • Lebanon's Economy Is in Tatters, and Financial Aid Is Not Forthcoming without Reform - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
    "Lebanon is the Titanic without the orchestra," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stated on December 13, 2020. The meltdown of the Lebanese pound by nearly 80% since October 2019 has led to triple-digit inflation (120.3% year-on-year in August), paralyzed banks, sent inflation soaring, and is expected to drag more than half of the population into poverty. Lebanon's foreign debt reached $90 billion or 170% of the GDP, one of the highest in the world.
        The government is in paralysis due to political obstruction by the Shiite Hizbullah and Amal movements. International donors have vowed to assist Lebanon financially once a government is formed and significant reforms are implemented to fight decades of widespread corruption and mismanagement. But this would mean asking the present political elite to commit suicide. The writer is a special analyst for the Middle East at the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Morocco's Claim to the Western Sahara - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Normalization between Morocco and Israel was coupled with American recognition of the Moroccan claim to the Western Sahara. The territory is a sparsely populated strip of desert adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean that used to be owned by Spain, which gave it up in 1975 after the death of dictator Francisco Franco. Neighboring Morocco staked a claim to the land that had been stolen by Europeans. It was opposed by a small nationalist movement, the Polisario, that, with the help of Algeria, waged a bloody and unsuccessful war against Morocco for 16 years before agreeing to a ceasefire in 1991, which left Morocco in charge of almost the entire country.
        Much of the international community still supports the myth that the Polisario represents the territory, continuing to prop them up in a war they can never win in order to create another dysfunctional Third World country. The U.S. is merely acknowledging reality when it says that the Moroccans aren't giving up land they think is theirs. (JNS)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • EU Steps Up Fight Against Anti-Semitism - M. Apelblat
    The Council of the European Union on Friday issued a declaration on mainstreaming the fight against anti-Semitism across policy areas. The Declaration describes anti-Semitism as an EU-wide phenomenon and emphasizes that the fight against it involves government and policies at the local, national and European levels.
        The Council expressed its concern at the increase in threats to Jewish people in Europe, and the resurgence of conspiracy myths, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the increase in anti-Semitic incidents and hate crime. It stressed that illegal hate speech and online terrorist content must be removed promptly and consistently by internet service providers. A strong and systematic judicial response to anti-Semitic acts is also necessary. (Brussels Times-Belgium)
  • On Campus, the Momentum Against Israel and the Jewish People Is Shifting - Avi Benlolo and Richard L. Cravatts
    The cause of anti-Israelism on college campuses is starting to fall out of fashion. First, the changing landscape in the Middle East is making Palestinian propaganda untenable. Second is the growing global acceptance of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.
        According to the IHRA definition, if the behavior of individuals on campus involves "denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor," "drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis" or "holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel," then those expressions are not mere political commentary, but are, in fact, anti-Semitic.
        Avi Benlolo is a human rights activist. Richard L. Cravatts is president emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. (National Post-Canada)
  • Europe Can't Fight Anti-Semitism while Ignoring Threats to Israel - David Harris
    Countless times, I have heard European leaders, on commemorative anniversaries and at memorial sites, express their anguish over the Holocaust and the fertile European soil that nurtured anti-Semitism over centuries. But too many European leaders are not connecting this painful past to present policies. Had Israel existed at the time, it might have rescued and offered safety to countless European Jews.
        Today, nearly half of the world's Jews live in Israel, which faces both military threats to its existence and endless challenges to its legitimacy. If the EU is serious about tackling anti-Semitism and preserving historical memory of the Holocaust, it cannot neglect, minimize or wish away threats to the existence of Israel and the Jewish right to self-determination. The writer is CEO of the American Jewish Committee (AJC). (Politico)

  • Weekend Features

  • Ancient Oil Lamp Workshop Discovered in Israel
    Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists said Monday that they have unearthed one of the largest oil lamp workshops discovered in Israel, dating back 1,600-1,700 years. The workshop in Beit Shemesh - unearthed ahead of the construction of a new neighborhood - contained hundreds of ancient ceramic oil lamps, which were the main method of lighting in ancient times. "A small number of the ceramic oil lamps are decorated with distinctively Jewish symbols such as the shofar, incense burner, and seven-branched menorah," said Benyamin Storchan of the Antiquities Authority. "The fragments tell us that Jewish life continued to exist in the Judean Hills" well after the failure of the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Romans in 132-136 CE. (Times of Israel)
  • The Unknown Story of Moroccan Holocaust Survivors - Julie Masis
    Although Morocco was a French protectorate and France's Vichy regime was complicit in the murder of French Jews, not a single Jew living in Morocco was sent to a concentration camp during World War II. Nor did Morocco's Jews wear the yellow star, their property was not seized (unlike Jewish property in neighboring Algeria), and they were not stripped of their citizenship. At the same time, Moroccan Jews were forced to live in mellahs, or historic Jewish quarters, where food was scarce and typhus and cholera were common. Those who were already living there were not allowed to move out, and some who were living outside of the Jewish districts had to move into them - a policy that may have been put in place as the first step to extermination.
        Between 1940 and November 1942 when the Americans landed in Morocco, Jewish children were expelled from schools, Jews were fired from government jobs, and there were quotas on how many Jews could attend universities or work as doctors, lawyers and pharmacists, said Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Times of Israel)
  • Polish Diplomat in Istanbul Rescued Hundreds of Jews in Holocaust - Eldad Beck
    Wojciech Rychlewicz was the head of the Polish Consulate General in Istanbul in the early years of WWII and was responsible for the rescue of Polish Jews who fled from the Nazis and the Soviets. Rychlewicz issued hundreds of false official documents confirming that Jewish refugees who arrived in Turkey were Christians. This enabled hundreds, possibly thousands, to emigrate to countries in Latin America and then-British Palestine. (Israel Hayom)

  • There is no shortage of benefits that have accrued to the countries that normalized relations with Israel. But these benefits don't explain the Emirati government's order that hotels offer kosher food, or the eagerness of the UAE and Bahrain for direct flights to Tel Aviv, or the decision by one sheikh to buy into Jerusalem's Beitar soccer club. They don't explain Morocco's move to introduce a curriculum about the history and culture of the country's Jews into state schools.
  • One explanation for the new warmth involves self-reliance. The Emiratis are convinced that the lack of an American response to the Iranian missile assault on the Aramco facility in Saudi Arabia earlier this year means that America will not come to their rescue in case of war.
  • They cannot help noticing, too, that Israel is not protected by American troops. Even when Israel buys expensive military technologies from abroad, it's not because it is unable to produce its own.
  • There is a strategic shift underway in the broader Arab thinking about Israel. Some in the Arab world now seek to study Israel's strengths, and win for themselves the safety and security Israel has managed to eke out in a chaotic, conflict-prone region. For that, they need Israel's entrepreneurs and scientists.
  • There are two ways to hold at bay an enormous and aggressive Iran perched on one's doorstep. One can rely on stronger friends, or one can become one of those stronger friends.

        See also The Breathtaking Nature of the Abraham Accords - Jason D. Greenblatt
    There is a warmth, welcomeness and hospitality that I experience whenever I visit the UAE (and many other places in the region) that reminds me how we are, indeed, so similar to one another. Our religions have our dietary requirements, our prayer customs, the way we value family and kindness to strangers, modesty rules and so much more.
        The Abraham Accords have broken the wall that separated us and reconnected us. I believe there is no going back. The writer was the U.S. Middle East envoy for nearly three years. (Newsweek)
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