April 1, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

63 Percent of American Jews Have Witnessed or Experienced Anti-Semitism in the Past Five Years - Ben Sales (JTA)
    63% of American Jews have either witnessed or experienced anti-Semitism since 2016, the Anti-Defamation League's annual survey taken in early January has found.
    9% said they have been the victim of an anti-Semitic physical attack.
    59% said they feel Jews are less safe in the U.S. than they were a decade ago.
    See also 2021 Survey on Jewish Americans' Experiences with Anti-Semitism (Anti-Defamation League)

Palestinian Jailed for Murder Will Challenge Abbas' Party in Election - Patrick Kingsley (New York Times)
    Supporters of Marwan Barghouti, 61, a popular Palestinian militant sentenced to five life terms in 2004 for involvement in the murder of five Israelis, on Wednesday announced they will form a separate electoral slate that will compete against PA President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah slate in the elections in May.
    Barghouti's faction joined forces with Nasser al-Kidwa, a nephew of Yasir Arafat and a former Palestinian envoy to the UN.
    Analysts believe their alliance could split the vote among Fatah supporters, which could benefit Hamas.
    Ghaith al-Omari, a former adviser to Abbas and a senior analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said, "Barghouti and Kidwa...have a very deep reservoir of legitimacy in the [Fatah] party and they represent a major challenge to Abbas' hold on power."

Egypt's Sisi Warns Ethiopia Dam Risks "Unimaginable Instability" (Al Jazeera)
    Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has warned there would be severe regional consequences if Egypt's water supply was affected by a giant hydropower dam being built by Ethiopia.
    Ethiopia began filling the reservoir behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) last year.
    See also Ethiopia's Dam over the Nile Risks War with Egypt - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Iranian Hackers Target Medical Personnel in U.S., Israel - Ionut Arghire (Security Week)
    An Iranian threat actor known as TA453 mounted a phishing campaign targeting up to 25 senior medical professionals in the U.S. and Israel, cybersecurity firm Proofpoint reports.
    In December 2020, TA453 employed a Gmail account posing as a prominent Israeli physicist to send malicious emails containing a link to a fake Microsoft login page, in an attempt to harvest Outlook credentials.

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Gaza Man Who Met on Zoom with Israeli Peace Activists Tortured by Hamas, Forced to Divorce Wife - Fares Akram (AP)
    After months of torture in a Hamas prison, Palestinian activist Rami Aman, 39, says he was told: Divorce your wife and you are free to go.
    Aman had recently signed a marriage contract with the daughter of a Hamas official. Now he says the love of his life has been whisked out of Gaza against her will, and he may never see her again.
    AP contacted the woman, who confirmed she was forced into a divorce and wanted her husband back.
    Aman did not think he was doing anything subversive when he joined an innocent online meeting with Israeli peace activists last April.
    For over two hours, Aman and his group of peace activists, the Gaza Youth Committee, talked about coexistence with dozens of Israelis.
    As word of the meeting leaked out, Aman was branded a traitor on social media.
    On April 9, Aman and seven members of his group were summoned by Hamas Internal Security.
    He was blindfolded and forced to sit in tiny kindergarten chairs from 6 a.m. until 1 a.m., accused of collaborating with Israel - a crime punishable by death.

2,000-Year-Old Coin Used for Temple Upkeep Found in Jerusalem (i24News)
    Israeli archeologists working in Jerusalem's Old City found a rare silver coin, believed to have been used during pilgrimage festivals to pay the Temple tax, the Tower of David Museum announced on Monday.
    The Tyrian shekel was produced in the Phoenician city of Tyre between 125 BCE and 70 CE, when the Romans destroyed the Second Temple.
    While mentions of the Tyrian shekel are frequently found in ancient texts in Hebrew, Greek and Latin, only a few actual coins have been found.

German Federal Police Purchases Israeli Night Vision Goggles - Eyal Boguslavsky (Israel Defense)
    Elbit Systems Deutschland, a German subsidiary of Israel's Elbit Systems, announced Wednesday that it was selected to supply night vision goggles to the German Federal Police.
    Elbit said this follows the purchase of these googles by the German Armed Forces, as well as by the Netherlands and Australian Armed Forces.

Israeli Startups Raised Record $2.8 Billion in March (Globes)
    Israeli startups raised a record $2.8 billion in March 2021, nearly double the previously monthly record of $1.44 billion, set in January.
    Israeli tech companies have already raised $5.3 billion in the first three months of 2021, half of the $10 billion raised in 2020.

British Cannonballs Found in Acre's Fortress Walls - Anshel Pfeffer (The Times-UK)
    The fortress that dominates Acre on Israel's northern Mediterranean coast dates back to the Crusaders in the 12th century.
    Two years ago, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) was called in to strengthen the fortress wall facing the bay. They discovered the wall was pockmarked by dozens of holes that had been covered up by plaster.
    When the restorers removed the plaster, they discovered 17 British cannonballs that had penetrated nearly a meter into the wall.
    They date from the Fourth Battle of Acre on Nov. 3, 1840, when the Royal Navy fought against an Egyptian-Ottoman army.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Tries to Break Iran Nuclear Deadlock with New Proposal for Tehran - Nahal Toosi
    Biden administration officials plan to put forth a new proposal to jump-start nuclear talks with Iran. The proposal asks Iran to halt some of its nuclear activities, such as work on advanced centrifuges and the enrichment of uranium to 20% purity, in exchange for some relief from U.S. economic sanctions.
        President Biden appears in no rush to restore the original deal, people familiar with the situation said. The president is well-aware that the public is more concerned about the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, and other issues. Plus, having a Senate split 50-50 also gives Biden less room to maneuver politically. (Politico)
        See also Iran Rejects U.S. Offer to Open Nuclear Talks
    Iranian state-run Press TV said Tuesday that, according to a senior Iranian official, "Tehran will stop its 20% uranium enrichment only if the U.S. lifts ALL its sanctions on Iran first." The official said, "Tehran will further reduce its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal if the U.S. does not lift all sanctions, warning that Washington is rapidly running out of time."  (Reuters)
  • U.S. Government Watchdog Calls to Ensure Palestinian Compliance with Anti-Terrorism Requirements for Aid
    Since 1993, the U.S. government has provided more than $6.3 billion in bilateral assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. This aid ceased as of Jan. 2019, but the Biden administration has announced its intent to resume funding.
        For FYs 2015-19 assistance spending, the U.S. Agency for International Development ensured that the awards it funded directly went to individuals and organizations that were checked for links to terrorism. However, USAID did not ensure that awards these entities made to others, known as subawards, were compliant with anti-terrorism requirements.
        If funding resumes, we recommend that USAID (1) verify that prime awardees have procedures to ensure compliance with anti-terrorism requirements before making subawards and (2) conduct post-award compliance reviews in time to make corrections. (U.S. Government Accountability Office)
  • U.S.: PA Tortured Participants in American-Led 2019 Bahrain Conference
    The State Department's 2020 Human Rights Report stated that in 2019, there were reports Palestinian security forces arrested, intimidated, and tortured Palestinians following their participation in an international conference in Bahrain. Some of these individuals, labeled "collaborators" for working with or engaging with Israelis on political initiatives the PA did not support, reported threats of violence from Fatah, Hamas, and other groups with ties to the PA. They reported damage to personal property and businesses. There were reports that the families of those targeted were pressured to disown them, and that they and their family members were denied medical treatment in PA health facilities.
        Significant human rights issues with respect to the Palestinian Authority include: reports of unlawful or arbitrary killings, torture, and arbitrary detention by authorities; holding political prisoners; significant problems with the independence of the judiciary; serious restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet, including violence, threats of violence, unjustified arrests and prosecutions against journalists, censorship, and site blocking; substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, including harassment of nongovernmental organizations; acts of corruption; lack of accountability for violence against women; violence and threats of violence motivated by anti-Semitism; anti-Semitism in school textbooks; and reports of forced child labor. (U.S. State Department)
  • U.S. Says Israel "Occupies" West Bank
    State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said Wednesday: "It is a historical fact that Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights after the 1967 war. You mentioned the Human Rights Report that we rolled out yesterday. In fact, the 2020 Human Rights Report does use the term "occupation" in the context of the current status of the West Bank. This has been the longstanding position of previous administrations of both parties over the course of many decades. This doesn't change our position."  (U.S. State Department)
        See also U.S. Rights Report Keeps Trump Language on Israel, Palestinian Territories
    In its latest annual report on human rights abuses around the world, the State Department continued a Trump administration practice, starting with the edition released in 2018, of dropping the term "Occupied Territories" from its section on Israel. The Biden administration's report kept Trump's revised country chapter title, "Israel, West Bank and Gaza." Under the Obama administration, the section was titled, "Israel and the Occupied Territories."  (Al-Monitor)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Coronavirus in Israel: Active Cases Drop to Lowest Level since June 2020
    The number of active coronavirus cases in Israel dipped to 7,200 on Thursday, the lowest level since June 2020. The number of patients in serious condition dropped to 385.
        Israel has vaccinated 51.2% of its population with two shots, including 80% of Israelis over 50 and 90% of the over-70 population. The economy is now largely open, including restaurants and cultural venues - under certain restrictions. Israel is using the Pfizer vaccine and is inoculating all over the age of 16. It plans to inoculate adolescents aged 12-15 when U.S. regulators approve the move. (Times of Israel)
  • Israelis Warned Against Travel in Mideast amid Iran Threat - Tzvi Joffre
    Israel's National Security Council warned Israeli tourists against visiting the UAE, Bahrain, Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkey, Jordan and Egypt due to the high likelihood of an Iranian attack. The NSC pointed to the targeting of the Israeli embassy in New Delhi in January and Iranian attempts to target Israeli embassies in Africa in February, stressing that Iran was expected to continue efforts to hit Israeli targets. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • How the Abraham Accords Are Game Changers - Amb. David Friedman interviewed by Martin Kramer
    "As somebody who had basically a commercial, business career, a problem-solving career - whether it was Jared [Kushner] or me - we looked at things like we did in our past lives, asking: What do we want to accomplish? What are the things standing in our way? How do we resolve obstacles? What do people want? What do they need? What can we live with? What's reasonable? What's not? It's the way people have transacted business for years."
        "The Emirates are just across the Straits of Hormuz from Iran. To have an ally of the quality of the Emirates - probably the best military apparatus in the Arab world - to have them aligned, at peace with Israel, is enormously important. This is also a very important signal from Israel to the Palestinians, Hamas, and Hizbullah. Israel isn't going away. Israel is a permanent member of the Middle East community of nations."  (Mosaic)
  • How to Bring Peace to the New Middle East - Walter Russell Mead
    The old Middle East peace process is dead: The Israeli-Palestinian dispute no longer dominates the regional agenda. The old peace process developed at a time when the U.S. had no serious rival for world leadership, the Middle East mattered more to the global economy than it does today, and Arab states were more powerful in the region than they are now. Under those circumstances, promoting the peace process was a necessary aspect of America's diplomatic balancing act that helped maintain Washington's alliances with the Arab world while supporting Israel.
        Since then, the leading Arab states have either fallen into chaos (Syria and Iraq) or become so worried about Iran that they have little energy to devote to the Palestinian cause. At the same time, Israel's attractiveness as a trading partner and source of technology and investment has dramatically increased. Any signal that the Biden administration intends to return to President Obama's Middle East policy would likely drive the Arabs and Israelis more closely together and increase the Arab states' willingness to overlook the Palestinians.
        A new peace process would entail engaging the increasingly robust Israeli-Arab entente to resolve the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians, with a credible U.S. commitment to regional security against Iran as the cornerstone of a new Middle East reality.
        The writer, a fellow in strategy and statesmanship at Hudson Institute, is Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Has U.S. Policy Changed to Embrace the UN "Durban" Hate-Fest? - Anne Bayefsky
    The "Durban Declaration," adopted three days before 9/11 at the UN hate-fest in Durban, South Africa, encourages the hatred of Jews. Israel is the only state mentioned in the entire manifesto, which claims that Palestinians are "victims" of Israeli racism. At the UN Human Rights Council on March 19, 2021, the U.S. representative spoke of "recalling the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action" that paints the Jewish state as a racist state.
        Prior to this, no American administration would have paired a call to combat racism with "recalling the Durban Declaration" or marking a Durban "anniversary." The American delegation at Durban in 2001, led by Holocaust survivor Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), walked out of the conference, together with Israel, fully supported by Secretary of State Colin Powell. Under former President Barack Obama, the U.S. boycotted successive attempts to resuscitate Durban with "Durban II" in Geneva in 2009 and Durban III in New York in 2011.
        Durban IV, to take place in New York in September, needs to be publicly shunned - not recalled, reaffirmed, and celebrated. The writer is director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, and president of Human Rights Voices. (JNS)
  • Support for Palestinians in U.S. Remains Low - Ray Hanania
    Although a Gallup poll released last week shows that 52% of Americans support Palestinian statehood while 37% oppose it, claims that the survey reflects rising backing for their rights are exaggerated. That 37% is worrisome and the 52% is weak. Although a record high 25% sympathize more with the Palestinians than the Israelis, that still leaves 75% that either sympathize more with Israel (58%) or say neither/both/no opinion (17%).
        The poll also notes that more Americans want the U.S. government to pressure the Palestinians "to resolve the Middle East conflict" (44%) than Israel (34%), a figure that isn't something Palestinians should be cheering. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • Egypt-Turkey Rapprochement Is Constraining the Muslim Brotherhood - Haisam Hassanein
    On March 19, AP reported that "Turkish authorities have asked three Istanbul-based Egyptian opposition TV channels to soften their critical political coverage of Egypt's government, as Turkey seeks to repair frayed ties with Cairo." After the Egyptian military overthrew Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood-led government in 2013, Turkey became a haven for many key opposition figures.
        The two countries have recently begun to develop mutual understandings on key regional issues. At the same time, some voices within the MB political structure have begun calling for dialogue with the Egyptian government, setting aside their past demand that Egyptian President Sisi release all prisoners and admit he took power illegitimately in 2013. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Should Israel Cooperate with the ICC? - Anne Herzberg
    On March 3, 2021, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda confirmed the initiation of an investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor "respecting the Situation in Palestine." Several scholars have advised the Israeli government to take a more cooperative approach toward the Court, based on the theory that engagement will lead to a more favorable result for Israel.
        In contrast, there are strong strategic, diplomatic, and legal arguments for not cooperating, and for concluding that engagement with the ICC would legitimize an illegitimate process. Israel is not a member of the Court, it did not ask for this investigation, and the machinations of the Palestinians and their allies that led to this decision are part of a calculated campaign to internationalize the Arab-Israeli conflict and circumvent a negotiated peace settlement.
        The writer is the Legal Advisor of NGO Monitor and the UN Representative for the Institute for NGO Research. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

  • Weekend Features

  • "Israel Is the Most Daring Enterprise in the History of the Jewish People" - Interview with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin
    The State of Israel was, and will always be, the home of every Jew. We are all one people, and Israel is dear to all of us. Israel is the most daring enterprise in the history of the Jewish People, and we are full partners - not only in the establishment of Israel, but also in its development.
        All Jews are true stakeholders in this wonder called Israel. You stand beside us at times of crisis and joy. You dream with us. You challenge us. You help keep us strong. And we are strong. This cannot be taken for granted. and I thank you for this sense of family and for your unconditional support and love. (Moment)
  • Rep. Elaine Luria: Israel's New Democratic Champion in Congress - Ben Samuels
    Former New York Reps. Nita Lowey and Eliot Engel, who finished their terms in 2021, were arguably Israel's most stalwart Democratic supporters in Congress over the past several decades. Rep. Elaine Luria, a 45-year-old Navy veteran from Virginia who operated nuclear reactors on combat ships, has attempted to fill the void. She acknowledges there are "some very loud voices" in Congress that do not share her views and that the media tends to amplify those voices. "Sometimes detractors get more oxygen than I think they should," she says.
        The first time she spoke on the House floor was to respond to her Democratic colleague Rep. Ilhan Omar, who in the context of anti-Semitism accusations and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict raised claims of dual loyalty by other members of the Democratic caucus. "I never envisioned that would be the course I took...so quickly after coming to Congress. I thought it was just incredibly important to speak up against anti-Semitism."  (Ha'aretz)
  • The Chinese Diplomat Who Saved Jews from the Nazis - Harold Brackman
    Ho Feng-Shan was Consul-General at the Chinese legation in Vienna in 1938. Fluent in German, he made friends with many local Jewish intellectuals. Against the orders of his superiors, he issued visas to Shanghai to Austrian Jews, enabling tens of thousands of Jews to flee, until he was ordered to return to China in 1940.
        After the Communist victory in 1949, he followed the Nationalist government to Taiwan and served as an ambassador until 1973. In his memoirs, he explained his motivations during World War II: "Seeing the Jews so doomed, it was only natural to feel deep compassion, and from a humanitarian standpoint, to be impelled to help them." In 2001, Yad Vashem recognized him as "Righteous Among the Nations" for being among the first diplomats to issue visas that saved Jews from the Holocaust. (Algemeiner)
  • Remembering the Martyred Soviet Jews - Alex Ryvchin
    Every Jew from the Soviet Union knows the words "Babi Yar." The Jews of Kiev, people indistinguishable from me in appearance, in native tongue, in cuisine, were murdered in that ravine during World War II. By chance, my family had the fortune to be evacuated a few weeks before the city fell, a turn of fate through which I was born.
        I traveled to Babi Yar in hope of grasping how the events that happened there could occur. How it could be that within days of the withdrawal of the Red Army, a peaceful, well-integrated civilian community could simply be plucked from their ordinary lives and led to that ravine, looted, stripped naked and murdered in their tens of thousands.
        How could their Ukrainian neighbors line the streets to watch the spectacle of howling Jewish children being taken to die, of old women carrying their bundles to nowhere? How could they have cheered and taunted, helped themselves to the possessions of people among whom they had lived for generations, and deposited more tip-offs to the Germans about hiding Jews than the Nazis could process? And how could these scenes be repeated, day after day, in towns and villages across Soviet territory?
        How was it that a force of 3,000 killers of the Einsatzgruppen could be allowed to carry out the murders of 1.5 million people? How could it pass that the well-educated, cultured men that filled the ranks of the killing squads could perform their work of hunting and terminating every single Jew, not only with a deathly efficiency but with an unmistakable sadism?
        The writer is the co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. (Australian Jewish News)
        See also Ukrainian Filmmaker Focuses on Babi Yar - Matt Lebovic (Times of Israel)
  • Auschwitz's Forgotten "Dressmakers" - Matt Lebovic
    The Dressmakers of Auschwitz, by Lucy Adlington, to be published in September, tells the story of 40 mostly Jewish seamstresses imprisoned at Auschwitz who survived by creating high-end gowns and cocktail dresses for the wives of Nazi camp officers. Starting in 1943, the sewing workshop received orders from as far away as Berlin, and a six-month waiting list developed. On Feb. 14, Berta Berkovich Kohut - the "sewing circle's" last survivor - died at 99. (Times of Israel)

  • Maj.-Gen. Tal Kalman, who heads the IDF's Iran Directorate, said in an interview that the Israeli strategy in the past 30 years actually worked, and the proof is that Iran still has no nuclear capability.
  • Kalman took part in discussions on Iran earlier this month with the new U.S. administration's National Security Council. "The first stage is to be aligned with them on the intelligence picture. The Iranian nuclear program in 2021 is not the same program that existed when the deal was signed in 2015. I think that in very high percentages they see the situation as we do."
  • "As we see it, the actions Iran has taken are reversible, and were made to signal the international community to 'hold us back and come back to the deal.' It's not that Iran has run away and is headed towards a bomb....Under Biden's national security doctrines, the Middle East is in fourth or fifth place. The U.S. is looking at other regions and doesn't want to invest as much in ours."
  • Israel has the ability to militarily thwart Iran's nuclear plans. This is the message Israel is sending in its dialogue with the U.S. and Europe. "We don't want to use it....It must be the final resort. We need to reach a solution in other ways, diplomatically, and I think there's a chance for that, but this tool is also important. The Iranian regime is...cautious and calculated....For them the nuclear bomb is an insurance policy, so if they understand it could endanger them, they'll think again."
  • "Over the past two years we've seen dramatic changes in cooperation with our allies, mainly the U.S.  We have a relationship that has reached high intimacy. There were operations in the past year where things happened that never did before, from intelligence cooperation to operational cooperation. It happens because the Americans understand the shared interest in restraining the Iranian challenge in the Middle East."
  • Kalman noted the normalization agreements with the Gulf states, adding, "I think the Iranian leader, whose strategy is to base Iran on Israel's borders, wakes up these days and is very concerned, because he sees potential for Israel to be based around his own borders. It's a major change."
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