July 15, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Delays Return to Nuclear Talks - Arshad Mohammed (Reuters)
    Iran will not resume negotiations on returning to the 2015 nuclear deal until Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi takes office in August, a diplomatic source said on Wednesday.
    A U.S. State Department spokesperson confirmed that "the Iranians requested more time to deal with their presidential transition."

Israel's Defense Minister Conditions Gaza Development on Release of Soldiers' Bodies and Civilians (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Tuesday that Israel is "providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza."
    "However, we demand peace and we will allow the development of Gaza only after the boys return home," referring to the remains of two kidnapped IDF soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, along with two Israeli citizens held captive by Hamas for the past seven years, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed.

Israel Wants Voucher System for Foreign Aid to Gaza - Dan Williams (Reuters)
    Israel wants foreign aid to Gaza disbursed through a voucher system, as a safeguard against donations being diverted to bolster Hamas and its arsenal, Internal Security Minister Omer Barlev told Israel's Army Radio on Tuesday.
    He said Israel envisaged "a mechanism where what will go in, in essence, would be food vouchers, or vouchers for humanitarian aid, and not cash that can be taken and used for developing weaponry to be wielded against the State of Israel."

EU Parliament Seeks Sanctions on Iran Officials for Human Rights Abuse - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    The European parliament passed a non-binding resolution on July 7 urging that sanctions be imposed on Iranian regime officials for the imprisonment and execution of EU nationals.
    The resolution noted that "Iran has been actively imprisoning foreign nationals in order to blackmail foreign governments" and "at least a dozen EU nationals are being arbitrarily detained in Iran."

Envoys from Germany, France Boycotted Independence Day Event at U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    The German and French ambassadors to Israel boycotted a ceremony held at the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem in honor of America's Independence Day, it was revealed Tuesday.
    Ambassadors from the UK, Canada, Australia, and Norway did attend the event.
    See also France Honors Lawyer Who Pushed Palestinian Cause at ICC - Lazar Berman (Times of Israel)
    France on July 7 conferred its National Order of Merit on Gaza-based lawyer Raji Sourani, 67, who submitted dozens of cases against Israel to the International Criminal Court.
    The ceremony, hosted by France's Consul General in Jerusalem, was held at the French Cultural Center in Gaza City.

IDF: Hizbullah Has Massive Weapons Depot Next to a School - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday revealed the location of a Hizbullah arms depot in the village of Ebba in Lebanon, located across the street from a school.
    "Like this target, there are thousands of similar ones belonging to Hizbullah, which endanger the lives of Lebanon's citizens," the IDF said.

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Rattling Sabers over the Blue Nile: Ethiopia Continues to Fill the Grand Renaissance Dam Reservoir - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Ethiopia announced it had begun the next stage of filling the massive hydropower Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam reservoir (GERD) on July 5, 2021, as negotiations on water-sharing with Egypt and Sudan have reached a dead end.
    The 74 billion cubic meters of water Ethiopia intends to hold in its reservoir is equivalent to 1 1/2 years of Egypt's current share of the Nile.
    Moreover, Ethiopia intends to export the energy produced by its dam to Egypt's neighbors at a price that undercuts what Egypt charges.

The Hamas and Islamic Jihad Leadership and their Ties to Iran - Evan Brown and Lenny Ben-David (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The leadership of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad maintain close ties to Iran, relying on the regime for funds, weaponry, and training.
    See also The Gaza War 2021: Hamas and Iran Attack Israel - Lenny Ben-David, ed. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Nine articles review facets of the May 2021 conflict between Hamas and Israel.

Support for Hateful Palestinian Textbooks Undermines Fight Against Anti-Semitism - MP Stephen Crabb (Jewish News-UK)
    The EU has finally released its report on the Palestinian Authority's school curriculum, which documents the appalling material UK-funded teachers are delivering to Palestinian children.
    The report provides extensive examples of incitement to violence, anti-Semitism, denial of Israel's existence, and the near complete absence of any message about peaceful coexistence.
    Britain's government has rightly taken a zero tolerance approach to anti-Semitism, yet our continued support for Palestinian teachers who teach this material undermines our commitment to combating anti-Jewish racism.
    The writer is Conservative Friends of Israel's Parliamentary Chairman.

IDF Commander of Coed Battalion Hails Performance of Mixed-Gender Unit - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    Lt.-Col. Erez Shabtay just completed two years as commander of Caracal, one of four IDF mixed-gender infantry battalions.
    "What I've seen in this battalion opened me up to a totally different world. We have female fighters and officers who are amazing, in terms of their cognitive ability, their creativity, their bravery and their courage," Shabtay said.
    "I have no question about the ability of women to be combat fighters....When you have good people, you can do anything."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iranian Commander Urged Escalation Against U.S. Forces in Iraq
    Iranian Revolutionary Guards intelligence chief Hossein Taeb urged Iraqi Shi'ite militias to step up attacks on U.S. targets during a meeting in Baghdad last week, three militia sources said. American forces in Iraq and Syria were attacked several times following the visit. A senior official in the region, who was briefed by Iranian authorities, said that Taeb conveyed "the supreme leader's message to them about keeping up pressure on U.S. forces in Iraq until they leave the region."  (Reuters)
        See also In Iraq and Syria, Fissures Seen between Iran and Militias It Backs - Qassim Abdul-Zahra
    As Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria continue to target U.S. troops, Iran's Quds Force commander Esmail Ghaani met with militia leaders in Baghdad last month and asked them to maintain calm until after nuclear talks between Iran and the U.S., but he was met with defiance. Iran's influence has frayed because of the U.S. killing of Ghaani's predecessor, Gen. Qasem Soleimani, and senior Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis last year, because of differing interests, and because of financial strains in Tehran.
        "Iran isn't the way it used to be, with 100% control over the militia commanders," said one Shiite political leader. "What is taking place now is when Ghaani asks for calm, the brigade leaders agree with him. But as soon as he leaves the meeting, they disregard his recommendations," said another Shiite political leader. (AP-Military Times)
  • U.S. Charges Four with Plot to Kidnap New York Journalist Critical of Iran - Joel Schectman
    U.S. prosecutors have charged four Iranian intelligence operatives with plotting to kidnap Iranian-American journalist and human rights activist Masih Alinejad, who is critical of Iran. The Iranian operatives hired private investigators in Manhattan to surveil Alinejad and her family.
        The four defendants planned "to forcibly take their intended victim to Iran, where the victim's fate would have been uncertain at best," said Audrey Strauss, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Alinejad said she had drawn the ire of Iran by publicizing women in Iran protesting laws requiring head coverings, as well as accounts of Iranians killed in demonstrations in 2019. (Reuters)
        See also Iranian Intelligence Officials Indicted on Kidnapping Conspiracy Charges (U.S. Justice Department)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • UAE Opens Israel Embassy in Tel Aviv
    UAE Ambassador to Israel Mohamed Al-Khaja inaugurated his country's embassy in Israel on Wednesday in Tel Aviv. "It is time for a new approach and thinking to determine a better path for the future of the region," he said. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
        See also Palestinians Slam Opening of UAE Embassy in Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Fatah Calls for UAE to Be Expelled from Arab League after Embassy Opens in Israel (Morning Star-UK)
  • Israeli Foreign Minister to EU: Europe Must Recognize Israel Is Under Attack - Lahav Harkov
    Europe must remember that Israel is under constant threat from Iran, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday. Lapid called Iran "the No. 1 exporter of terrorism in the world, which never gave up on its ambition to attain a nuclear weapon and never hid who its target is for that weapon: Us. Israel." Iran backs Hizbullah in Lebanon to the north and Hamas in Gaza to the south, he said.
        Israel would like "to broaden the circle of peace" to include the Palestinians, Lapid said. "Unfortunately, there is no possibility at the moment....If there will be a Palestinian state, it needs to be a peace-seeking democracy....You cannot ask us to build with our own hands another threat to our lives."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Lawmakers Push Abbas on Payments to Terrorists at Meeting in Ramallah - Jacob Magid
    A visiting congressional delegation expressed their disapproval over payments to terrorists and their families during a meeting in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last week. Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC) said there was a "great deal of discussion" on the Taylor Force Act, which was passed by Congress in 2018 and suspended U.S. aid to the PA as long as it continued to award stipends to prisoners.
        "We emphasized that such payments are completely and totally unacceptable," said Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL). Schneider noted that "Abbas is considered out of touch with the Palestinian people and has demonstrated over the years an unwillingness to make the hard choices."  (Times of Israel)
  • U.S. Court Rules Syria, Iran, IRGC, Banks Liable for Hamas Attack - Tzvi Joffre
    In a landmark ruling, a U.S. federal court in Washington ruled on Monday that Syria, Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and three Iranian banks were liable for the Hamas terror attack which killed Eitam and Naama Henkin in 2015. The court ruled that because Iran, Syria, the IRGC and the Iranian banks materially support Hamas terrorism and deployed Hamas as agents, they are liable under U.S. law for Eitam's murder, as he was a U.S. citizen.
        This is the first case in which U.S. courts have found Iranian banks liable for a terror attack by a foreign terrorist organization against a U.S. national. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israel Is Held to a Special Standard that Is So High It Can't Be Met - Interview with Amb. Ron Prosor by Ariel Kahana
    Ron Prosor's new book, Undiplomatically Speaking (in Hebrew; English in 2022), reflects one of Israel's outstanding diplomats: initiative, offense, standing up for Israel's national honor, and battling for the justness of Israel's path on all fronts. He explains: "A good diplomat is one who takes the initiative and thinks outside the box. Diplomatic war is being waged against Israel that no other country in the world is subject to. Every Israeli diplomatic mission is a frontline command center."
        "Israel is held up to a...special standard...one that is so high it can't be met. If rockets are fired at Israel, they say Israel has the right to defend itself. But then they don't really allow you to strike at the terrorists. You do everything with one hand tied behind your back, with a threat hovering overhead that your soldiers and officers will be arrested if they leave the country....I can give you a long list of things that are just unbelievable, that only Israel is subject to."
        Ron Prosor, chairman of the Abba Eban Institute of International Diplomacy at the IDC Herzliya, is a former Israeli ambassador to the UN and the UK. (Israel Hayom)
  • Why Arab States Fail - Dan Schueftan
    Nearly all Arab states are finding it difficult to cope with the challenges of the 21st century. The gap between them and the modern world is widening, to the extent that there is doubt it can be bridged without a deep social and cultural revolution. There is less openness, pluralism and tolerance, and more violence and autocracy.
        Blaming Arab failures on a history of colonialism is a pathetic excuse, when we compare the Arabs to the achievements of post-colonial India in establishing democratic rule and removing hundreds of millions of people from desperate poverty, despite a heritage of the caste system.
        The failure is due to a society that clings to its tribal, patriarchal structures, whose values are not pluralistic. This political culture explains, to a large extent, the Arab states' few scientific achievements, the prevalence of terrorism among themselves, the failure of many Arab migrants to Europe to integrate into society, the Palestinians' rejection of compromise and delusion about the destruction of Israel, and the culture of violence, crime, and tribalism that is rife in Arab society in Israel.
        The writer heads the International Graduate Program in National Security Studies at the University of Haifa. (Israel Hayom)
  • Yale Professor: Attack on Israel for Apartheid Not Supported by Fact - Evan Morris
    In Israel, Jews and Arabs sit together in the waiting room of Hadassah Hospital waiting to receive the same care. I know, I have worked there. Jewish and Arab students doing top-flight research at Hebrew University and the Technion present their work side by side at major scientific conferences. I know, I have been there. Jews and Arabs start restaurants and other businesses together. I have seen it.
        Any claims of apartheid are fallacious. Given what I know, I was dismayed to learn of the Yale College Council (YCC) vote to condemn Israel and equate her with apartheid South Africa. The invalidity of this analogy is evident to any thinking student of history. I am frankly disappointed that the Yale administration has been embarrassingly silent in response to statements like that of the YCC. But I am doubly disappointed that Yale students, scholars-in-training, would so readily swallow the false claims underlying the YCC action.
        The writer is a professor of radiology and biomedical imaging at Yale. (Algemeiner)
  • Solidarity with "Palestine" Means Kalashnikovs for Kids - A.J. Caschetta
    The summer camps run by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are terrorist training camps for children to learn to become child warriors. A PIJ political leader explained that the children were being trained in how "to remove the alien corn [i.e., Israel] that was planted by the West and took over Palestine." What they are really doing is teaching kids to kill and die.
        Pictures from PIJ camps show children learning to field-strip and clean their Kalashnikov rifles, running obstacle courses, training under simulated battle conditions of fire and smoke, and learning how to clear rooms like SWAT teams.
        Those signing petitions expressing solidarity with "Palestine" should contemplate the disparity of sending their own children off to camp to sing around the campfire and play "Capture the Flag," while the children of Gaza sing songs of martyrdom and play "Butcher the Jews."
        The writer is a fellow of the Middle East Forum. (National Review)
        See also Hamas' Summer Indoctrination Camps for 50,000 Children - Amelia Navins
    50,000 children in Gaza are participating in summer camps run by armed groups like Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In place of traditional camp T-shirts, participants wear Hamas uniforms and are taught to prepare for armed conflict with Israel.
        They learn to shoot weapons and how to kidnap Israeli soldiers. This year, participants have computer simulators to practice shooting Israeli soldiers and police officers at the Temple Mount, or to fire anti-tank missiles at Israeli targets.
        The goal of these camps is clear: indoctrinate young, vulnerable children with Hamas' values to encourage them to join Hamas' military forces and sacrifice their lives for Hamas' cause.
        The writer is a student at the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • How Hizbullah Holds Sway over the Lebanese State - Dr. Lina Khatib
    Hizbullah has become the most influential political organization in Lebanon, but is able to operate without the accountability required of a state institution and without full responsibility to the Lebanese people. Hizbullah's power is not achieved through sheer coercion; it has consolidated control through elite pacts and by taking advantage of weaknesses in the Lebanese state system. As long as the current political system in Lebanon exists, it will not be possible to loosen Hizbullah's hold over the Lebanese state.
        Hizbullah has de facto control over Lebanon's border with Syria. It uses the Port of Beirut to transport drugs, weapons and explosive material both in and out of Lebanon without any state oversight.
        The writer is Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Chatham House. (Chatham House-UK)
  • Did Israel Lose the Social Media War over Gaza? - Jonathan Conn
    Social media played a crucial role in shaping public opinion around the 2021 Hamas-Israel conflict. This study looks at influential social media posts propelled to the spotlight in the social media "battlefield" on TikTok, Reddit, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Wikipedia.
        Social media activists can warp events, images, and videos to fit their agenda without any accountability. Users can post unlimited comments, insults, racism, and lies. In this environment, herd mentality fueled by emotion trumps truth and reason. Posts with the most likes and views are propelled to the spotlight regardless of veracity. Israel must learn to overcome its foes on the social media battlefield.
        The writer is a student at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Arab and Jewish Demographic Trends - Yoram Ettinger
    During the period of Israel's full control of the West Bank (1967-1992), the Arab population expanded by 79%, from 586,000 to 1,050,000, due to the unprecedented Israeli development of health, medical, transportation, education and employment infrastructure, following stagnation during the Jordanian occupation of the area (1948-1967). Arab infant mortality was drastically reduced, while life expectancy surged. The Arab population in the West Bank has also undergone massive urbanization (from 75% rural in 1967 to 77% urban in 2021).
        Israel, with a birthrate of 3.09 per woman (compared with 3.02 among West Bank Arab women), leads the 34 OECD countries in fertility. This is due to the Israeli state of mind, which is heavy on optimism, faith, patriotism, attachment to roots, collective responsibility, and the centrality of children. It is common for secular, highly-educated, working Israeli Jewish women to have three or four children, a trend unheard of elsewhere in the West. Israel's robust demography refutes the assertion that its Jewish majority is threatened by Arab demographic growth. (Jewish Policy Center)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • Explosion of Anti-Semitism Raises Painful Questions - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Sima Vaknin Gill
    Why did Israel's conflict with Hamas in Gaza, unlike any other conflict in the world, become a green light to intimidate and attack a minority community? Why are Jews and Jewish communities uniquely ascribed responsibility for actions in a decades-long, geo-political dispute thousands of miles away?
        In the dangerously simplistic binary world view which has gripped progressive circles, Jews are unjustifiably viewed as white and privileged, while Israelis are automatically seen as wicked oppressors, thanks to manufactured and frankly anti-Semitic stereotypes. Yet, too often, voicing concerns over anti-Semitism is treated as an affront, something of a threat to other minority groups. To express sympathy for Jews facing intimidation and attack is deemed offensive.
        Those concerned with equality and social justice should proudly demonstrate solidarity with any minority under threat, instead of singling out one sole minority undeserving of solidarity and protection.
        The writer, a former intelligence officer in the Israel Air Force, is the former director-general of Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs. (EU Reporter-Belgium)
  • I Resigned from the CUNY Union Because of Its Anti-Semitism - Leah Garrett
    Last week, with deep regret, I resigned from the Professional Staff Congress of the City University of New York (PSC-CUNY) due to its anti-Semitism. I joined the union when I became a professor of Jewish studies at Hunter College in 2018. I was extremely proud to do so, as union organizing was in my blood. My great-grandfather helped found the Jewish Labor Committee in 1934, whose focus was to organize Jewish workers and to combat the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe.
        On June 10, the PSC-CUNY approved a resolution which called Israel a "settler colonial state" that was massacring Palestinians and endorsed the BDS movement. The resolution did not mention Jewish casualties at all and did not mention Hamas, whose charter contains the chilling injunction to wipe out all Jews from the Middle East.
        It seems to me that the American country club anti-Semitism of the 1950s and 1960s has found its new expression in BDS. You can tell yourself that you're not actually a racist, you just don't like the only country in the world where Jews are in a majority.
        My great-grandfather believed that in the U.S., all workers were united in their desire to fight hatred, intolerance and anti-Semitism. He would have been stunned to discover that this branch of the worker's movement was being used to push an agenda that was making Jewish faculty and students feel unwelcome, hated and afraid. (Forward)
  • Double Message, Double Standard: Institutions Abandoning the IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism Court Danger - Fiamma Nirenstein
    This study focuses on the discrepancy between the formal adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism and its actual application by the many countries and institutions that have approved it. This results in anti-Semitism being reinforced by the very institutions which adopted the IHRA.
        The writer, former vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Weekend Features

  • Video: Israel Unveils Major Discovery from Jerusalem's Second Temple Era - Yaron Steinbuch
    Israeli archaeologists have discovered "one of the most magnificent public buildings from the Second Temple period that has ever been uncovered outside the Temple Mount walls in Jerusalem," said Shlomit Weksler-Bdolach, excavation director for the Israel Antiquities Authority. The structure will be part of the Western Wall Tunnels itinerary, offering visitors a glimpse into life during the first century. It features two rooms decorated with Corinthian capitals - the topmost parts of a column. Another chamber contained a sumptuous fountain with running water. (New York Post)
        See also Video: Magnificent Building from Second Temple Period in Jerusalem (Israel Antiquities Authority)
  • Ancient Coins Found from Jewish Revolt against the Romans - Rossella Tercatin
    Two 2,000-year-old coins dating back to the Jewish revolt against the Romans have been found by Bar-Ilan University archaeologists in Wadi Rashash in the Binyamin region of the West Bank. One coin minted around 67 CE features a vine leaf and the Hebrew inscription Herut Zion (Freedom for Zion). The second coin dates back to the Bar Kochba Revolt (132-135 CE). It bears a palm branch surrounded by a wreath and the inscription LeHerut Yerushalayim (Freedom to Jerusalem) on one side and a musical instrument and the name "Shimon" on the other - the first name of the rebellion's leader Bar Kochba. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Any request to reopen the former U.S. consulate in Jerusalem as an independent U.S. mission serving the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian residents of the territories raises legal and political issues requiring due consideration.
  • The former U.S. Jerusalem consulate functioned as an independent entity, separate from the U.S. embassy to Israel, serving principally as a quasi-diplomatic mission for the Arab population of the territories and the Palestinian Authority.
  • With the 2017 U.S. recognition of Israel's sovereignty in all of Jerusalem, any new consular mission in Israel would, pursuant to relevant international consular practice, require Israel's prior consent.
  • It is highly unlikely that Israel could give its consent to reopening a U.S. Jerusalem consulate as an independent mission within Israel, serving a foreign political entity - the Palestinian Authority and residents of the areas under its control.
  • The 1995 Oslo Accords witnessed by world leaders, including the U.S. president, enables foreign states to maintain "representative offices" in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority in order to facilitate implementation of cooperation agreements for the benefit of the Authority. This would appear to be the appropriate formula for any U.S. representation via-a-vis the Palestinian leadership and people.

    The writer, former legal counsel to Israel's foreign ministry and former ambassador to Canada, heads the international law program at the Jerusalem Center.

        See also U.S. Should Not Reopen the Jerusalem Consulate - Amb. David Friedman (The Hill)
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