December 31, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Egypt Reveals the Financial Terrorist Ties between the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas - Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    On Aug. 28, 2020, after seven years of an intense manhunt, the Egyptian security services arrested Mahmoud Ezzat, the acting general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and head of its military wing, responsible for a series of attacks on senior Egyptian law enforcement officials.
    Ezzat was responsible for the 2015 murder of Egyptian Prosecutor-General Hisham Barakat, Egyptian security chief General Adel Rajaei, and police Colonel Wael Tahon in 2016.
    Ezzat provided a treasure trove of information about the Muslim Brotherhood's financing of Hamas and the global Muslim Brotherhood.
    Hamas leaders raised money in several Arab countries, including Syria and Algeria, in addition to the financial aid they receive from Iran.
    The international fund of the Muslim Brotherhood takes and invests 60% of these donations. The remaining 40% is distributed among the leaders of the movement, and 30% of the profits are transferred to Hamas.
    On Dec. 14, 2020, Al-Arabiya TV reported that Ezzat controlled assets of $19 billion.

Hamas Leader Recounts How Soleimani Handed Him Cash-Filled Suitcases (Al-Monitor)
    Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar told Iran's Arabic-language Al-Alam that during a visit to Tehran as Gaza's foreign minister in 2006, he and eight other members of his delegation received nine suitcases before departure containing $22 million in cash, arranged by Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

Israel's Population at End of 2020: 9.3 Million - Tobias Siegal (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's population stands at nearly 9.3 million, including 6,870,000 Jews (73.9%), 1,956,000 Arabs (21.1%), and 465,000 people (5%) belonging to other ethnic groups, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Thursday.
    In 2020, 176,000 babies were born in Israel, 73.8% to Jewish families, 23.4% to Arab families, and 2.8% to other groups.

Video: Israel's Top Singers Respond to Corona: "We Got This!" - Jordi Peleg (YouTube)
    Israel's top artists came together to boost Israel's morale with "Katan Aleinu" ("We Got This!").
    "We survived it all, we will survive this too, we will not fail, we got this!"

Follow the Jerusalem Center on:

Is Anti-Israel Sentiment Diminishing at the UN? - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    There were 17 pro-Palestinian or anti-Israel resolutions approved by the UN General Assembly in 2020, down from 18 in 2019 and 21 in 2018.
    A resolution affirming the work of a special committee to investigate alleged Israeli human rights abuses was approved 76-14, with 83 abstentions. In 2019 it passed 82-11, 78. In both instances, more nations abstained or voted against, than approved it.
    Both France and the UK voted against Israel 11 times. The U.S. was the only country to vote with Israel against all the resolutions.

Saudis Using Bahrain as Conduit for Business with Israel - Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post)
    Several Saudi companies plan to invest in Israeli hi-tech through Bahrain, a sign of how sentiment about Israel is changing in Saudi Arabia, according to a knowledgeable source.

Introducing Muslim Zionism - Einat Wilf, Ibrahim Al Rashidi and Maryam AlZaabi (Forward)
    We are a Jewish Zionist, an Arab Zionist and a Muslim Zionist. It is time to dispense with the idea that to be a proud Arab and Muslim one must be an anti-Zionist.
    The inculcation and dissemination of anti-Zionism in the Arab and Islamic world has resulted in a massive waste of valuable resources while trying to oust a people who were not at all foreigners and very much belonged in the region.
    Zionism is the political movement for the liberation and self-determination of the Jewish people in their ancient homeland.
    It asks that the Jews, as a people, should be able to govern themselves as an equal nation in the only land which ever formed the consistent and core part of their identity as a people and a nation.
    There is nothing in Arab history and in Islam that necessitates fierce opposition to this idea.
    Arab identity can and should stand on its own merits and has no real need to resort to the negation of Jews and their history.
    Zionism was never about replacing Arabs but about living with them and next to them as an equal nation and people.
    Historically, the golden age of Islamic rule is also the one in which Jews residing in the lands of Islam enjoyed a level of acceptance and tolerance that far surpassed that of Europe's at the time.
    Dr. Einat Wilf is a former member of the Israeli Knesset. Ibrahim Al Rashidi is of Emirati and Lebanese origins, currently living in Brazil. Maryam AlZaabi is an Emirati student at Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi.

Search the Recent History of Israel and the Middle East

Send the Daily Alert to a Friend
    If you are viewing the email version of the Daily Alert and want to share it with friends, please click Forward in your email program and enter their address.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Has World's Fastest Covid Inoculation Drive - Abbie Cheeseman
    Israel's Health Ministry reported Thursday that it has inoculated almost 800,000 people - 7.7% of its population - with the first of two vaccinations against Covid-19, including 33% of those aged 60 and above. 150,000 people were inoculated on Wednesday.
        "It's really being treated like a war...and Israel is experienced in battles," said Professor Allon Moses, Director of the Hadassah Medical Organization's Department of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. "The hospitals are involved, the community clinics are involved, the army enlisted about 700 paramedics to help with the injections."
        The country's health care system is highly digitized. All citizens over 18 must be registered with one of four competing HMOs. As soon as the vaccine became available, text and voice messages were sent out to eligible cohorts telling them to make an appointment. Israel is set to become the first country to start issuing a "green passport" to residents who have received the full two-dose vaccine - effectively a passport out of lockdown.
        "I see all around me people changing their minds and wanting to receive a vaccine," said Professor Moses. "About 70% of the severely ill patients are over 60, which is the target population for the vaccine, so in the next two to three weeks...far fewer will be severely ill."  (Telegraph-UK-Ynet News)
  • U.S. Says It Won't Allow Pearl Murder Accomplice to Evade Justice - Munir Ahmed
    Acting U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen warned Wednesday that the U.S. won't allow a Pakistani man who was convicted and later acquitted in the 2002 murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl to evade justice after a provincial court in Pakistan ordered his release. Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh helped lure Pearl to a meeting in Karachi at which he was kidnapped. "The United States stands ready to take custody of Omar Sheikh to stand trial here," Rosen said. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also The Pakistani Proceedings Relating to the Abduction and Murder of Daniel Pearl (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • University in London to Repay Student over "Toxic Anti-Semitic Environment" - Harriet Sherwood
    The School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) in London refunded Canadian student Noah Lewis 15,000 pounds in fees on Dec. 24 after he was forced to abandon his studies at SOAS in the academic year 2018/19 because of a "toxic anti-Semitic environment."
        When he stated his intention to write a dissertation on the "systemic biases that exist in the United Nations and target the state of Israel," he said fellow students accused him of being complicit in covering up Israeli war crimes and that he was a "white supremacist Nazi." He felt he had no alternative but to leave the university and demanded his tuition and related fees be refunded.
        Jonathan Turner, executive director of UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), which provided legal assistance to Lewis, said the case "set a benchmark for best practice which should be followed in other cases of an anti-Semitic environment.  (Guardian-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Jonathan Pollard Arrives in Israel - Gil Hoffman
    Jonathan Pollard and his wife Esther arrived in Israel on Tuesday, 35 years after he was arrested for passing classified information to an ally. Pollard, a former civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy, was arrested in 1985 and served 30 years of a life sentence before he was paroled. He is the only American in U.S. history to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally, and the only one to serve more than 10 years in prison for the crime. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Coronavirus in Israel: Over 5,000 New Cases Daily
    Israel on Wednesday recorded over 5,000 new coronavirus cases for the third day in a row. Of the 42,402 active cases, 639 people are in serious condition, with 165 connected to ventilators. The death toll has reached 3,314. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Attacked 50 Targets in Syria in 2020 - Udi Shaham
    The Israel Air Force carried out 50 strikes against targets in Syria in 2020, the IDF revealed Thursday in its annual statistics report. 176 rockets were launched at Israel from Gaza in 2020. 90 landed in open fields and 80 were intercepted. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Biden's Iran Policy: Relief Shouldn't Come without Iranian Concessions - Dennis Ross
    While President-elect Joe Biden has expressed readiness to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, it would take four to six months for Iran to get back into compliance. If the new U.S. administration offers immediate sanctions relief, with Iran only beginning to take steps to comply again, Congress' Republican critics of the JCPOA are likely to cry foul. They will interpret as fundamentally mistaken any moves that reduce U.S. leverage while Iran is neither in compliance nor changing any of its destabilizing behaviors in the Middle East.
        Despite defiant talk, Khamenei knows the Iranians need relief and will look for a way to get it. They must not get it for free.
        The writer is counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and served in senior national security positions under four presidents. (Bloomberg)
  • Conditioning U.S. Aid to Israel Would Make Everyone Less Safe - Lt.-Gen. (ret.) William J. Bender
    Placing more conditions on U.S. aid to Israel would strain America's most critical security relationship in the Middle East and be harmful to Palestinians and Israelis alike. As the U.S. retrenches from the Middle East, its aid to a capable partner like Israel will only become more important, promoting regional security and stability without deploying more American troops.
        Equipment purchased through American aid is likely to help defend the Palestinians. Missile defense funding has helped Israel protect the skies over the West Bank and Israel. U.S. military financing has also enabled Israel to purchase the F-35 fighter aircraft, which it has used in Syria to stop Iran from proliferating advanced weaponry. More than any other ally, Israeli operations against Iran have rolled back Iranian military expansion. The route to stability in the Middle East lies with more U.S.-Israel cooperation, not less.
        The writer, a command pilot, is a former Air Force chief information officer. (National Interest)
  • Can the Palestinians Adjust to Changing Times? - Jonathan S. Tobin
    In the real world outside the fantasy land of UN resolutions, the Palestinians find themselves more isolated than ever. The Arab states, which once sacrificed their national interests, as well as much blood and treasure in the name of the Palestinian cause, have largely abandoned them. After spending the last decades confident in the belief that sooner or later the international community would deliver an isolated Israel to them on a silver platter, it turns out that it is the Palestinians who are the ones without meaningful allies.
        The refusal of the Arab League to intervene against the Abraham Accords demolished the assumption that the Arab world would always back the Palestinians' refusal to make peace. While the Palestinian leadership remains stuck in a mindset that thinks of Israel as an illegitimate state that will eventually be erased from the map, other Arabs and Muslims recognize that isn't going to happen and aren't going to go on sacrificing their own interests for the Palestinians.
        Though the states normalizing relations are still paying lip service to the Palestinian cause, the idea that they are eager for the creation of a Palestinian state may also be a myth. The last thing Arab governments want is to have another unstable, weak state that would be vulnerable to Islamist extremists. Such a development would be as much of a threat to them as it would be to Israel. (Israel Hayom)
  • Pakistan Should Recognize Israel - Zafar Aziz Chaudhry
    Pakistan and Israel almost simultaneously appeared on the map of the world on the basis of their religious identity. Israel made a request for bilateral relations with Pakistan, but was ignored. The UN approved a plan to partition Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state in 1947, but the Arabs rejected it. Since Israel's establishment in May 1948, Pakistan has refused to establish diplomatic relations with it. However, Israeli and Pakistani officials maintained clandestine contacts over the years.
        We have upheld the Palestinian cause, but mere emotional attachment with their cause will neither benefit them nor us. No decision should be based on emotional grounds. If we have diplomatic relations with countries like India and Bangladesh with whom we had open wars, then what prevents us from recognizing Israel from whom we can benefit more than losing anything? (Daily Times-Pakistan)
  • Transformations in the Middle East: Challenges for the New U.S. Administration - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
    The Middle East of 2020 is far different from 2016. The past four years have witnessed political pressure to contain, isolate, and destabilize Iran and its proxies, together with economic sanctions that have had a deep impact on Iran's economy. They also saw an unprecedented activist policy in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflicts, with the presentation of a comprehensive peace plan, which led to normalization of relations between Israel and a number of Arab states.
        In the past four years, no Arab regime has fallen to the Islamic Jihadist wave, and those which witnessed a change produced a seemingly more democratic government, such as in Sudan and Algeria. However, many Arab states are plagued by subversive activities carried out by extreme Muslim fundamentalist groups or by Iranian-sponsored terrorist groups.
        Syria has undergone a de facto partition into three main areas: the Kurdish region in northeast Syria under the U.S. umbrella, the Jihadist enclave in Idlib under Turkish military protection, and the rest of Syria where Bashar Assad rules with the active assistance and involvement of Iran and its proxies.
        The fact that Hizbullah controls Lebanese politics pushes away Saudi Arabia and most of the Gulf states, which now deny Lebanon the generous financial assistance given in the past, thus generating an unprecedented economic crisis. Today, Lebanon is being emptied by its elite, who are heading to Europe and the U.S.
        The writer, a special Middle East analyst at the Jerusalem Center, was former Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Hizb ut-Tahrir (Islamic Liberation Party) Wants a Caliphate - Nadav Shragai
    Hizb ut-Tahrir (Islamic Liberation Party) was founded in Jerusalem in 1952 and operates in 50 countries. It preaches the establishment of an Islamic caliphate as it existed under Muhammad. The term tahrir (liberation) refers to a total liberation from any Western cultural influence. Members aspire to replace every national government with a global Muslim rule.
        Dr. David Koren, a researcher at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, explains that "in the Palestinian context, Hizb ut-Tahrir promotes two main issues: laying the groundwork to make Al-Aqsa Mosque a future platform on which the world caliphate will eventually be declared, and challenging Jordan's position as guardian of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem."
        In eastern Jerusalem, Hizb ut-Tahrir has tens of thousands of supporters. It brought 15,000 Muslims to the Temple Mount mosques for an anti-France protest. The Israel Security Agency has opposed outlawing the group, arguing that in Israel, the group was not making the move toward violence and terrorism, and it should be allowed to operate openly to avoid it going underground.
        Dr. Shaul Bartal of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University notes, "Zionism isn't mentioned in the writings of the Islamic Liberation Party. The conflict is between Islam and the Jews. Israel is mentioned as a state of the Jews or as a Jewish entity. They view Palestine as...an inseparable part of Dar al-Islam (the abode of Islam) and no Jew has the right to live there."
        The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, has documented Jerusalem for Ha'aretz and Israel Hayom for over 30 years. (Israel Hayom)
  • Combating Double Standards Is the Key to Human Rights for All - MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh
    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights calls to ensure that all people are guaranteed fundamental freedoms - to life, liberty, safety and more. The denying of these rights to any group, individual or country undermines the entire system. The Holocaust provides just one example of Jews being singled out and systematically targeted, and the world stood by in silence as six million Jews were slaughtered.
        On Nov. 30 we marked the Commemoration for Jewish Refugees from Arab Lands and Iran - recognizing 850,000 Jews who were ethnically cleansed last century from the Middle East, wiping out communities 2,500 years old. Rights granted to refugee communities all over the world were not provided to these Jewish refugees.
        Some 42% of all countries are religious in some way, yet only Israel - the only Jewish state in the world - is singled out. Israel - the Jew among the nations - is the only state treated with consistent condemnation by the international community and its institutions, even as mass human rights violations are committed in China, Iran, Syria and elsewhere. (Newsweek)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • A Stunning Ruling Against Religious Freedom - Melanie Phillips
    Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Slovenia have banned kosher and halal slaughtering practices. Now the European Court of Justice, the EU's highest judicial body, has issued a ruling upholding the ban on kosher and halal ritual slaughter in two regions of Belgium, sending out a devastating cultural signal. A core principle of Western modernity, that minority groups can freely practice their religious precepts in a private sphere within which they pose no threat to the majority, has now been junked in Europe.
        The ruling upholds neither animal welfare nor religious freedom. Both Judaism and Islam require animals to "be intact and healthy at the time of slaughter" for meat to be kosher or halal. Requiring pre-slaughter stunning of an animal by firing a bolt into its head or by electric shock damages the animal, making it forbidden to eat. Moreover, the idea that stunning is humane is risible. It's often ineffective, causing the animal to be subjected to this assault more than once. At its base, the argument over ritual slaughter reflects the priority now given to animals over humans. (JNS)

Implications for the U.S. of Israel's Recent Missile Defense Test - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Jacob Nagel and Jonathan Schanzer (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
  • The Israel Missile Defense Organization and U.S. Missile Defense Agency this month completed a series of tests of Israel's multilayered missile defense system. The tests simulated a variety of advanced threats, including low-altitude cruise missiles, long-range ballistic missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles. It was the first time Israel deployed the David's Sling, Iron Dome and Arrow systems simultaneously.
  • The Israeli navy will soon equip its Sa'ar 6-class corvettes with Iron Dome to protect natural gas rigs against cruise missiles.
  • Israel tested its tactical laser system - still in development - as an alternative to Iron Dome interceptors for lower-tier threats.
  • The tests also demonstrated for the first time Israel's ability to intercept a salvo of precision-guided munitions which Iran's proxy, Hizbullah, has been stockpiling.
  • Iran and its regional proxies have repeatedly attacked U.S. personnel and partners in the Persian Gulf. On Jan. 8, Iran launched short-range missiles at two Iraqi bases hosting U.S. troops. Unfortunately, the current American Patriot systems are at best only a partial solution to such threats.
  • After Israel's recent missile defense tests, Washington has little choice but to look closer at Israel's proven air defense systems. Israel's Skyceptor interceptor, developed for David's Sling, can be fired from Patriot batteries and can intercept low-altitude, maneuverable cruise missiles and drones.

    Brig.-Gen. (res.) Jacob Nagel, former deputy director of the Israel Ministry of Defense's Directorate of Defense R&D, is a senior fellow at FDD, where Jonathan Schanzer is senior vice president for research.
Support Daily Alert
Daily Alert is the work of a team of expert analysts who find the most important and timely articles from around the world on Israel, the Middle East and U.S. policy. No wonder it is read by heads of government, leading journalists, and thousands of people who want to stay on top of the news. To continue to provide this service, Daily Alert requires your support. Please take a moment to click here and make your contribution through the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Daily Alert is published every Monday and Thursday.
Unsubscribe from Israel Alert.