March 11, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Tanker Deliberately Spilled Oil in Israeli Waters, Leading International Shipping Journal Confirms - Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post)
    An Iranian tanker deliberately spilled oil into Israel's economic waters, said Lloyd's List, a leading international shipping journal.
    Lloyd's List vessel-tracking data confirmed last week that a tanker called Emerald was responsible for the spill, while it was carrying 90,000 tons of crude oil from Iran to Syria.
    The ship was insured by the UAE-based Islamic P&I club, which Lloyd's List said "is solely used by Iranian ship owners that cannot find cover elsewhere."

Poll: 2/3 of Americans Name Israel an Ally or Friendly Nation - Yoni Wilkenfeld (Algemeiner)
    40% of Americans consider Israel a U.S. ally, with another 27% calling Israel a friendly nation, according to a poll conducted by The Economist and YouGov from Feb. 27 to March 2.

U.S. Blacklists Iranian Interrogators over Human Rights Violations - Secretary of State Antony Blinken (U.S. State Department)
    The U.S. on Tuesday designated Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps interrogators Ali Hemmatian and Masoud Safdari for their involvement in gross violations of human rights, namely the torture and/or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment of political prisoners and persons detained during protests.
    The U.S. will continue to demand the Iranian government treat its people with respect and dignity.

African Nation Brings in Israelis to Prepare Vaccine Strategy - Nathan Jeffay (Times of Israel)
    A 7-member team from IsraAID arrived in the African state of Eswatini, formerly Swaziland, on Monday to help with its Covid-19 vaccination program.
    The country's prime minister, Ambrose Dlamini, died of the virus in December.
    The mission was funded by South Africa-based Jewish billionaire Nathan Kirsh, a citizen of Eswatini.

Israel Sending Medical Team to Equatorial Guinea after Deadly Blasts (Times of Israel)
    Israel on Tuesday said it was sending a medical team to Equatorial Guinea, following deadly blasts at a military camp on Sunday which killed 105 and injured 615 as it devastated buildings at the compound as well as numerous nearby houses.

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Coronavirus Response Improves Israeli Arab View of the IDF - Udi Shaham (Jerusalem Post)
    Col. Nissim Tourgeman, head of the IDF Home Front Command in the Lower Galilee, said Tuesday that the assistance the army provided to 15 Arab local authorities in his region has changed attitudes among the population.
    "It became natural to see the Home Front Command soldiers in the Arab towns," he said. "Now, we see more and more Arab youth that want to join the Home Front Command and volunteer."

Understanding Iran's Vast Media Network in Arab Countries - Hamdi Malik (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    Iran's Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU) is the main propaganda arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), supporting and in many cases creating the bulk of the television channels and other media outlets run by Iran's proxies abroad.
    Tehran's media strategy in the Middle East is an integral part of its effort to advance its regional expansionism.
    Established in 2007, IRTVU falls under the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, chaired by a minister who must receive approval from the Supreme Leader.
    Tasked with disseminating an anti-American and anti-Israeli narrative, the organization acts as an umbrella for "axis of resistance" media outlets.
    Today, IRTVU has more than 210 affiliates in 35 countries, including satellite television channels, radio stations, news websites, news agencies, training centers, media production companies, and research centers.
    The writer is an associate fellow at The Washington Institute and a Middle East analyst at IITV in London.

Study: Increase in Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitism in Turkish Schools (JNS)
    A new study of Turkish textbooks by IMPACT-se and the Henry Jackson Society found an increase in anti-Semitism and the demonization of Israel.
    "Schoolbooks have been weaponized in Erdogan's attempts to Islamize Turkish society and to harken back to a nostalgic age of Turkish domination," said Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se.
    Anti-Israel messaging in the curriculum encourages students to identify with Palestinians as part of Turkey's role as the protector of Muslims.
    The textbooks promote jihad and martyrdom in battle. Jews are characterized as infidels, instead of the traditional Islamic view that they are the "People of the Book."

Israeli Doctors Restore Sight for Azeri Soldiers Hurt in War with Armenia (Jerusalem Post)
    A humanitarian delegation of Israeli specialists in the field of oculoplasty (plastic surgery for the eyes) recently carried out procedures on 150 wounded Azeri soldiers, such as eye socket restoration, eyelid surgery, prosthetic eyes and more.
    The doctors worked tirelessly to help restore sight to the wounded soldiers or, when restoring sight was impossible, to repair their facial deformities and enable them to return to normal routine.
    Dr. Yishay Falick, CEO of Jerusalem's Misgav Ladach Hospital, who led the delegation, said, "I'm proud of all the members of the delegation who came here to help these young people with serious injuries to recover. This is a very beautiful expression of the Israeli volunteer spirit."

Israeli Startups Raised $1.1 Billion in February (Globes)
    Israeli startups raised over $1.1 billion in February 2021, after raising a monthly record of $1.44 billion in January.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Won't Make Concessions to Iran to Induce It to Return to Compliance with Nuclear Accord - Rachel Oswald
    Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday that the administration was not going to make any initial concessions to Iran to induce it to return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear accord. Blinken said Iran's breakout time for producing enough fissile material to fuel a nuclear warhead had fallen from more than one year to between three and four months.
        Blinken added, "We have fundamental problems with Iran's actions across a whole series of things, whether it is support for terrorism, whether it is a ballistic missile program. An Iran with a nuclear weapon or with the threshold capacity to have one is an Iran that is likely to act with even greater impunity when it comes to those things."  (Roll Call)
  • Bipartisan Statement by 140 House Members Urges Comprehensive Approach to Iranian Threats
    140 representatives - 70 Democrats and 70 Republicans - sent a letter to Secretary of State Blinken urging that any agreement with Iran must address the full range of threats that Iran poses to the region. The letter, initiated by Reps. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) and Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), said any agreement must address Iran's "nuclear program, their ballistic missile program, and their funding of terrorism."
        "As Democrats and Republicans from across the political spectrum, we are united in preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon and addressing the wide range of illicit Iranian behavior."  (AIPAC)
  • U.S. "Alarmed by the Frequency of Houthi Attacks on Saudi Arabia"
    Following Sunday's volley of drones and missiles, including one aimed at a Saudi facility vital to oil exports, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday, "We continue to be alarmed by the frequency of Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia. Escalating attacks like these are not the actions of a group that is serious about peace....We will look for ways to improve support for Saudi Arabia's ability to defend its territory against threats."
        The attacks targeted an oil storage yard at Ras Tanura, site of a refinery and the world's biggest offshore oil-loading facility, and a residential compound in Dhahran used by Saudi Aramco. Saudi Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki told Al Arabiya TV that Iran was smuggling missiles and drones to the Houthis. (Reuters)
  • Biden Administration Aims to Avoid Public Clash with Israel over Iran - Barak Ravid
    State Department Iran envoy Rob Malley told Axios the U.S. and Israel want to avoid the sort of public confrontation over Iran that took place during the Obama administration. U.S. and Israeli teams led by U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat will hold a first round of talks on Iran on Thursday via secure video conference. Israeli officials say they want to use the first meeting to lay out the latest intelligence on Iran's nuclear program and assess whether the U.S. and Israeli intelligence pictures align.
        Malley said the Biden administration is committed to being consultative and transparent with Israel and that he had already spoken extensively with Israeli officials. "While we may have different interpretations and views as to what happened in 2015-2016, neither of us wishes to repeat it," Malley said. (Axios)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Opposes ICC Probe Against Israel - Omri Nahmias
    Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday that the U.S. opposes the ICC probe against Israel. "It remains our view that jurisdiction is reserved when a state consents to it, or if there's a referral by the United Nations Security Council. Neither is true in the case of Israel and the Palestinian matter, nor is it true in the case of [the U.S.] in Afghanistan....We'll see going forward how we can most effectively engage the ICC to avoid these assertions of jurisdiction when they're not warranted."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli, Egyptian Officials Hold Largest Bilateral Conference in 20 Years - Ariel Kahana
    Some 60 Israeli and Egyptian businesspeople took part in the largest bilateral meeting held between the two countries in the last 20 years at the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh. Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen headed the Israeli delegation and met with Egypt's Deputy Intelligence Minister Nasser Fahmi to discuss future economic plans and security issues. (Israel Hayom)
        See also Egyptair to Replace Sinai Air on Tel Aviv-Cairo Route
    Egypt's national airline Egyptair is seeking to replace Air Sinai on flights to Israel, officials confirmed to i24News. Former President Hosni Mubarak had refused to let the national carrier land in Israel with an Egyptian flag. Air Sinai operates 7 flights a week in aircraft with no Egyptian flag. Egyptair is seeking to operate 21 flights a week. (i24News)
  • Palestinians Throw Firebombs at Israeli Vehicles in West Bank - Yaniv Kubovich
    IDF soldiers opened fire on two Palestinians who threw firebombs at Israeli vehicles near al-Khader in the West Bank south of Jerusalem on Monday night, injuring both. (Ha'aretz)
  • Coronavirus in Israel: Only 0.2 Percent of Those Fully Vaccinated Develop Covid-19 Symptoms
    Data released by the Israel Health Ministry on Monday shows that a week after their second vaccine dose, out of 3,387,340 people, 4,711 were found to be positive for the coronavirus (less than 1%) and 907 developed symptoms (less than 0.2%). Much of the Israeli economy reopened Sunday as new coronavirus deaths and infections have continued to decline. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • U.S. Decision on West Bank Labeling Helped Affirm Reality - David Milstein
    The Trump administration's decision on labeling requirements for goods exported from Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) into the U.S. is consistent with long-standing U.S. policy and practice, as well as prior agreements and the reality on the ground. That decision requires that goods produced where Israel continues to exercise administrative control in the West Bank under the Oslo Accords be labeled as "Product of Israel." In fact, to the present day, goods exported from Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria into the U.S. have used the word "Israel" without any consequences.
        After the Oslo Accords were signed, Congress amended the U.S.-Israel Free Trade Implementation Act in 1996 to give the president the authority to provide duty-free treatment for goods exported from the West Bank into the U.S. Both the law and President Bill Clinton's signed Proclamation 6955 on Nov. 13, 1996, provided that "articles of Israel may be treated as though they were articles directly shipped from Israel for the purposes of the Agreement even if shipped to the United States from the West Bank." The key point is that the U.S. has treated and continues to treat Israeli goods the same irrespective of their precise geographic origin.
        U.S. policy prior to the Oslo Accords mandated the word "Israel" on the label of all goods emanating from the West Bank. No one ever suggested throughout decades of Republican and Democratic administrations that this policy meant the U.S. was supporting Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank. Country of origin markings factually reflect who has control over a geographic area at a given time. They are not used as a tool to denote sovereignty.
        The writer served as special assistant to U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. (Newsweek)
  • The New York Times Smears Israel - Stephen M. Flatow
    On March 6, the new New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Patrick Kingsley wrote about Palestinian disc jockey Sama Abdulhadi, who was recently arrested by the Palestinian Authority. Kingsley wrote that in 1969, "the Israeli authorities expelled her grandmother, Issam Abdulhadi, a leading women's rights activist." Could it be true that Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir authorized the deportation of a Palestinian woman for being a women's rights activist?
        It took me about five minutes on Google to discover the real reason that Sama's grandmother was deported. An interview with Issam, conducted by the Palestinian Women's Research and Documentation Centre in 2006, describes how in 1965, one year after the founding of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), she was chosen as president of the women's wing - the General Union of Palestinian Women. In 1965 there were no "occupied territories." The PLO was founded to "liberate" all of Israel, including Tel Aviv and Haifa.
        Issam says in the interview about her arrest in 1969: "The most important charge was providing financial assistance to the armed resistance and harboring fida'een [terrorists]....I managed to deny many of the charges. Unfortunately, however, one of the [PLO] leaders who was related to me in one of the charges against me was the one to confess....Now they had confirmation on this topic, supporting and harboring fighters."
        The writer, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America and an attorney, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. (JNS)
        See also The New York Times' "Occupation" Obsession - Jerold Auerbach
    The writer is an American historian, professor emeritus of history at Wellesley College, and the author of Print to Fit: The New York Times, Zionism and Israel 1896-2016. (Academic Studies Press, 2019). (Algemeiner)
  • Is the Biden Administration Planning on Violating the Taylor Force Act? - Mike Pompeo, Sander Gerber, and Stuart Force
    The Biden Administration has signaled its desire to resume aid to the Palestinian Authority. The bipartisan Taylor Force Act blocks U.S. funding for the PA until it changes its incentivizing of terrorism. The law is named for a West Point graduate who was stabbed to death in Tel Aviv by a Palestinian terrorist. The PA celebrated the killer as a "heroic martyr" and began paying his family.
        The Taylor Force Act cut off U.S. aid to the PA until its pay-to-slay program is dismantled and the laws governing it are repealed. Since money is fungible, aid to the PA frees up PA money to reward terrorists.
        Mike Pompeo is a former U.S. Secretary of State. Sander Gerber is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Stuart Force is the father of Captain Taylor Force. (ACLJ)
        See also Secretary of State Blinken: U.S. to Uphold Taylor Force Act - Ben Samuels
    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that he will uphold the Taylor Force Act, which limits U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority over its payments to convicted terrorists and their families. "President Biden was actually in Israel about a mile and a half away from Taylor Force when he was murdered. He spoke out about that immediately, and has been a forceful advocate for doing justice by Taylor Force and making sure that we are making good on the obligations that we have under the Taylor Force Act."  (Ha'aretz)
  • South African Chief Justice Defiant over Pro-Israel Remarks - Loyiso Sidimba
    Judge Phineas Mojapelo's Judicial Conduct Committee has ordered outgoing Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to unconditionally apologize and retract his pro-Israel comments made last year. Mogoeng had said in June that he was under an obligation as a Christian to love Israel. Responding to complaints, Mogoeng insisted that "Israeli-Palestine politics or issues are not an integral part of South African politics....Mature democracies don't penalize judges for holding strong views on Christianity or any religion."  (Independent Online-South Africa)
        See also Group Linked to African Christian Democratic Party Leader Urges Mogoeng Mogoeng Not to Apologize for Comments about Israel - Alex Mitchley
    Defend Embrace Invest(In) Support Israel (DEISI), founded by ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe, said Mogoeng's comments were not wrong. "The vast majority of South Africans are not anti-Israel. They are pro-Israel just as they are pro-Palestinian, just like the chief justice expressed....We refuse to be bullied by organizations disguised as human rights activists whose primary existence is to demonize Israel and her supporters," the group said in a statement. (News24-South Africa)
  • The Palestinians Will Be Left with a Hague Hangover - Prof. Eyal Zisser
    Despite the rejoicing in Ramallah over the International Criminal Court's decision to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes, the decision has not and will not advance the Palestinians an inch closer toward realizing their ambitions. Recall that in 2004, the ICC ruled that the security barrier Israel built to protect its citizens against a deadly wave of terror was illegal, and asked that it be torn down.
        After failing in their efforts to break Israel's will with violence and terror, Palestinians now hope that cultural and economic boycotts, alongside decisions from UN organizations, will force Israel to its knees. Beyond this, the Palestinians hope that when the moment of truth arrives, the American administration will turn on Israel. The Palestinians, however, are destined for disappointment.
        The spirit of the times has produced the Abraham Accords, where several leading Arab countries have declared that peace is the Arabs' only path forward, not the path of armed struggle. Ultimately, the Palestinians will find themselves alone. The writer is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel-Arab Cooperation Is Thriving - Anchal Vohra
    Officially, the Saudi government denies it conducts any business with Israel. It maintains that normalization is dependent on Israel agreeing to the Arab peace initiative, which calls for a separate Palestinian state. But behind closed doors, cooperation between the Israelis and several Gulf nations is thriving.
        Now, as U.S. President Joe Biden speaks of rejoining the nuclear deal with Iran, Israel is strengthening its alliance with its Arab partners through strategic, technological, and business cooperation.
        An additional reason for cooperation is the general fatigue of Arab countries with the Palestinian cause and the rise of national identities over a united Arab one. Analysts say many countries in the Gulf, or at least sizable segments of their populations, don't wish to be held hostage to the Palestinian issue any longer and see relations with Israel as essential to diversifying their economies. (Foreign Policy)

  • Weekend Features

  • Jews Are Indigenous to the Land of Israel - Noam Rotstain
    Archaeological, genetic, and historical evidence backs the indigeneity of Jews to Israel. Anthropologist Jose Martinez Cobo, who served the UN on indigenous matters, developed a checklist to clarify the meaning of indigeneity, which includes occupation of ancestral lands, common ancestry with the original occupants of the land, culture, language, and residence in parts of the country. A study found that over 90% of Jewish people can trace their genetics to the southern Levant region, which includes Israel.
        Using the same UN checklist, we can determine that genetically, linguistically, culturally, and spiritually, Palestinians can trace themselves back to the Hejaz region in the Arabian peninsula, now known as Saudi Arabia. Arabs began arriving in the Levant region in the 7th century CE, hundreds of years after the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans. (Algemeiner)
  • Israeli Envoy in Ukraine Slams Naming of Soccer Stadium in Honor of Nazi Ally - Ben Cohen
    Israel's Ambassador to Ukraine Joel Lion on Tuesday condemned the decision of the Ternopil city council to name a soccer stadium after Roman Shukhevych, the leader of the Ukrainian nationalist Nachtigall battalion created by the Germans during World War II.
        According to Swedish academic Per Anders Rudling, "Roman Shukhevych personally helped set up the Ukrainian nationalist militia, which played a key role in the L'viv pogrom. Soldiers of Nachtigall partook in the July 1, 1941 L'viv pogrom, as well as massacres of Jews in the vicinity of Vinnytsia."  (Algemeiner)
  • Poland's Destroyed Jewish Graveyards - Matt Lebovic
    In The Annihilation of Jewish Cemeteries, Polish author Krzysztof Bielawski says Polish citizens likely did more damage to Jewish burial grounds after World War II than did the country's German occupiers. "Even if a cemetery was devastated by the Nazis during the war, it was also destroyed by the local population. Giant destruction was done by the post-war Polish state," Bielawski told the Times of Israel. Bielawski, who is not Jewish, created a website about Jewish cemeteries in Poland, pursued Jewish studies at the graduate level, and joined the staff of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in 2009.
        Bielawski documented hundreds of examples of destruction among Poland's 1,200 Jewish cemeteries. During the 1960s, burial grounds disappeared to make way for schools, malls, sports arenas, and parks. (Times of Israel)

Addressing Iran's Weaponization Work - Jay Solomon (National Interest)
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is seeking answers from Tehran on three sites in the country where undeclared nuclear weapons research is suspected to have occurred in recent decades. IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi said Monday in Vienna that, "After 18 months, Iran has not provided the necessary, full and technically credible explanation for the presence of these [man-made uranium] particles."
  • The Biden administration shouldn't pressure Grossi to paper over Iran's deceit, which goes to the heart of whether the regime can be trusted with advanced nuclear capabilities. Instead, Washington should demand answers in order to build a stronger foundation for a new JCPOA that it can sell to a skeptical Mideast region. The uncertainty about the state of Iran's weapons capabilities makes the ability of the U.S. to accurately certify Tehran's "breakout" time nearly impossible.
  • The issue of Iran's past weaponization work was supposed to be resolved in 2015 as part of the completion of the JCPOA negotiations. But the shortcomings of the IAEA's investigation became clear in 2018 after Israel raided an Iranian government warehouse near Tehran. The operation unearthed 300 tons of secret documents that showed Iran's weapons program was far larger and more advanced than U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies understood six years ago.
  • The nuclear archive documents a crash Iranian program to build five atomic bombs and place some of them on long-range missiles, and the IAEA has found uranium traces at some of the sites pinpointed in the captured documents.
  • At its core, the IAEA's mission is to account for all nuclear materials and equipment possessed by member states. Allowing Iran to dissemble and whitewash its nuclear sites would set a terrible precedent for other nations who might be tempted to pursue a covert nuclear weapons program. Also, the failure to reckon with the truth about Iran's weaponization history will cripple efforts to improve the JCPOA.
  • Not knowing the true state of Iran's capabilities, and the location of all its nuclear fuel and equipment, would lead many in the Mideast to assume Tehran is just a turn-of-the-screw away from having an atomic bomb.

    The writer, an adjunct fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is the author of The Iran Wars: Spy Games, Bank Battles and the Secret Deals That Reshaped the Middle East.

        See also How Israel's Mossad Turned the IAEA around on Iran with Evidence - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    Former IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano had signed off in 2015 on the idea that Iran had come clean enough on past "possible military dimensions" of its nuclear program. Then, after the Mossad raided Iran's secret nuclear archives in 2018, it provided the IAEA with volumes of Iranian nuclear documents which proved otherwise. These documents also led to previously unknown nuclear sites in Iran, where the IAEA had no choice but to follow-up.
        While Amano responded slowly to the new information until his unexpected death in July 2019, the current IAEA director-general, Rafael Grossi, who took over in December 2019, started to confront the Islamic Republic to resolve questions about its undeclared nuclear activities revealed by the Mossad. In June 2020, Grossi got the IAEA Board of Governors to condemn Iran's lack of cooperation - the first such condemnation since before the 2015 deal, and in August 2020, he finally got access to the additional sites. (Jerusalem Post)
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