July 19, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Iran's Drone Revolution - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    On May 18, 2021, while Israel was deep in the air war with Gaza, an Iranian drone was launched from Iraq, passed over Jordan and entered Israeli airspace before being downed over the Beit She'an Valley in the north.
    The IDF believes the Iranians have completed the whole production chain in developing drones.
    "They're developing all the basic components themselves - the body of the aircraft, the engine, the navigation systems, the ability to ensure a low radar signature and to maneuver between the flight range and the weight of the load," a military source says.
    "Drones are intended for harassment, collection and deterrence, not for victory. But their progress has been significant. It's no wonder the Americans, like us, are worried about it."

Nikki Haley: "Iran Is the Sugar Daddy of Hamas" - Jacob Kornbluh (Forward)
    Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Sunday:
    "Iran is the sugar daddy of Hamas. The 11-day war that Israel just fought wasn't just with Hamas. Israel was fighting against Iranian weapons, Iranian money and Iranian-trained terrorists, and everyone knows it."
    "We all want a better life for Palestinians. It's the leaders of Hamas who want Palestinians to suffer because it strengthens their grip on power. So let me be clear, Israel isn't responsible for Palestinian suffering. Hamas is responsible for Palestinian suffering."

Palestinian Authority Arrests Singer for Performing for Palestinian Workers at Israeli Industrial Park in West Bank - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    A Palestinian singer has been arrested by the Palestinian Authority security forces for allegedly promoting normalization with Israel, after he performed at a party organized by the owners of an Israeli factory for their Palestinian workers at the Ariel Industrial Park, Palestinian sources said.
    Abdullah Kmeil, the PA governor of the Salfit district, accused the singer of performing in front of "settlers," though the sources said "settlers did not attend the party."
    The governor said he was "shocked" when some Palestinians appealed to the PA security forces to release the singer. "We will not have mercy on anyone who deals in any way that implies normalization," Kmeil warned.

More Israeli Muslims Are Joining the IDF - Tal Lev Ram (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)
    While Israeli Muslims are exempt from the draft, they may volunteer for army service.
    The IDF reported that 606 Muslim Israelis joined the IDF in 2020, compared to 489 in 2019 and 436 in 2018. More than half went to combat units.
    The number joining the Bedouin reconnaissance unit rose to 171 in 2020, compared to 84 in 2018.

Woman Named IDF Military Advocate General - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    Brig.-Gen. Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi was named the new IDF military advocate general on Thursday.
    She will receive the rank of major general immediately upon entering her position.

Woman Appointed Deputy Commander of IDF Intelligence Unit's Digital Division - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Lt.-Col. "C" has been promoted to the position of Deputy Commander of the Digital Division of IDF Intelligence Unit 8200, regarded as Israel's equivalent of the NSA in the U.S.
    "C," 39, and the mother of four children, said, "Along with members of Unit 8200...I will lead the revolution of information superiority and artificial intelligence in a way that will enable quality and rapid exploitation in favor of significant leaps in the IDF's operational effectiveness - exposing and destroying the enemy."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran's Nuclear Advances Complicate U.S. Bid to Revive 2015 Deal - Laurence Norman
    Over the past year, Iran has made significant advances in its ability to amass enriched uranium, complicating U.S. efforts to revive a 2015 deal aimed at curbing Tehran's atomic ambitions. American and European officials estimate that Iran could now gather enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon within two to three months. Iran's breakout time was supposed to remain at one year at least until 2026.
        "There will come a point - but we're not there yet...where if Iran continues to advance its program and there's no deal, then it will be very hard, if not impossible, to recapture the nonproliferation benefits" of the original deal, U.S. special Iran envoy Rob Malley told CNN on Wednesday. Over the past year, Iran has deployed most of its stock of advanced IR-2M centrifuges - which are three to four times faster than the centrifuges Iran is permitted to use under the accord. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Biden's Mideast Point Man Urges Israel to Aid PA - Barak Ravid
    Hady Amr, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs, warned during talks in Jerusalem last week that the Palestinian Authority is facing dangerous economic and political crises, three Israeli officials said. The PA is going through a deep legitimacy crisis after the postponement of parliamentary elections and the death of a political activist in the custody of Palestinian security forces. The situation has been exacerbated by a financial crisis largely driven by the coronavirus pandemic.
        Amr stressed to both Palestinian and Israeli officials that he isn't going to press them or beg them to take steps and they will have to work it out themselves. "If you want the U.S. to help, we will be happy to do it."  (Axios)
  • Israeli Cyber Firm Denies Link to Hacking Phones of Journalists - Munish Chandra Pandey
    News reports claim that the Israeli spyware, Pegasus, was used by several governments to spy on their journalists and politicians. Israeli cyber arms firm NSO, which developed Pegasus, said the allegations were false.
        "NSO Group has a good reason to believe the claims...are based on misleading interpretation of data from accessible and overt basic information, such as HLR Lookup services, which have no bearing on the list of the customers' targets of Pegasus....Such services are openly available to anyone, anywhere, and anytime, and are commonly used by governmental agencies for numerous purposes, as well as by private companies worldwide."
        "Our technology was not associated in any way with the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi. We can confirm that our technology was not used to listen, monitor, track, or collect information regarding him or his family members....NSO sells it technologies solely to law enforcement and intelligence agencies of vetted governments for the sole purpose of saving lives through preventing crime and terror acts. NSO does not operate the system and has no visibility to the data."
        "Our technologies are being used every day to break up pedophilia rings, sex and drug-trafficking rings, locate missing and kidnapped children, locate survivors trapped under collapsed buildings, and protect airspace against disruptive penetration by dangerous drones."  (India Today)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Provides $135 Million to UNRWA
    The Biden administration paid $135 million to the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) on Saturday after an agreement signed last week that condemned anti-Israel hatred. UNRWA claimed it was committed to ensuring that its funds were not transferred to individuals engaged in terrorism or used to support terrorism. UNRWA announced the U.S. grant after a visit by U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr to Israel and the Palestinian territories. (i24News)
  • Opening a U.S. Consulate to the Palestinian Authority on Israeli Territory Undermines Its Sovereignty - Lahav Harkov
    Former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat is on a mission to stop the U.S. from opening a mission to the Palestinians in Israel's capital. He argues that opening a consulate to a foreign entity - the Palestinian Authority - on Israel's territory undermines its sovereignty in Jerusalem.
        A bill Barkat introduced on the subject in the Knesset notes: "As is practiced in the world and international law, including and especially the Vienna Consular Convention, no sovereign state allows a foreign country to open a diplomatic mission on its territory that is meant to serve residents of a third state or entity, certainly not to a hostile entity."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Entrance of Vaccinated Tourists to Israel Postponed amid Corona Outbreak - Rossella Tercatin
    Vaccinated tourists will not be allowed to enter Israel on Aug. 1, as had been previously planned, Israel Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash said Sunday, with the Delta variant of Covid-19 raging around the world. 1,120 new coronavirus cases were identified in Israel on Friday, the highest since March. At the beginning of June, Israel was registering 10-20 new cases per day.
        On Friday, Prime Minister Bennett said the Pfizer vaccine is less effective against the Delta variant, which currently represents the vast majority of cases in Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Coronavirus in Israel: 829 New Cases on Sunday
    There were 829 new coronavirus cases in Israel on Sunday, the Israel Health Ministry announced Monday. 66 patients are in serious condition, with 12 intubated. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Detains Ten Arabs for Throwing Fire Bombs at Jewish Homes in Lod - Ido Efrati
    Ten Israeli Arab residents of Lod and Ramle have been arrested for throwing fire bombs at homes belonging to Jewish families in May. The Israel Security Agency said the attack was "not carried out in the heat of the moment or spontaneously - it was planned days ahead" and took place a week after the rioting died down. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Jews Visiting the Temple Mount Is Not an Assault on the Al-Aqsa Mosque - Herb Keinon
    The record needs to be set straight: A few hundred Jews ascending the Temple Mount on Tisha B'Av, the day commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples that stood on that mount, does not constitute "settlers storming al-Aqsa." It constitutes Jews wanting to visit their holiest site on the fast day dedicated to remembering the Temples that once stood there, and their destruction.
        Had Jews been prevented from commemorating Tisha B'Av, there would be no end to it. Israel cannot allow the threat of violence to determine its policies. Israel also has the right to expect that 1,700 Jews going to the Temple Mount not be falsely framed as an assault on al-Aqsa. Those who frame it in this manner want to ignite passions and invite violence.
        To say that any Jew going up to the site on Tisha B'Av is somehow a provocation or a desecration - as claimed by Hamas, Iran, the Palestinian Authority, and Turkish President Erdogan - is not something that Israel should have to accept. The Jordanians sent an "official letter of protest," calling on Israel to respect "the freedom of worshipers." The call for freedom of worship at the site is particularly ironic since Jews are strictly forbidden to pray there. (Jerusalem Post)
  • It's Impossible for Jews to "Storm" Al-Aqsa
    It is impossible for Jewish visitors to storm the area of the al-Aqsa Mosque. There is but one entrance for non-Muslims via a rickety wooden walkway in need of replacement and Israel Police closely shadow all groups (not only Jews) who ascend to the holy site. (i24News)
  • Islamist Party in Israel's Government Declares Al-Aqsa "Sole Property of Muslims" - Aaron Boxerman
    The Ra'am party, a member of Israel's government, condemned the ascent of hundreds of Jewish "settlers" to the Temple Mount on Sunday in observance of Tisha B'Av. "The Al-Aqsa Mosque, in its 144 dunams [35 acres - referring to the entire Temple Mount compound], is solely the property of Muslims, and no one else has any right to it," the Islamist party said in a joint statement with its parent organization, the Islamic Movement. (Times of Israel)
  • Iran's Answer to U.S. Diplomacy - Editorial
    Nuclear talks between the U.S. and Iran could resume after Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi takes office in August. But Iran's current behavior shows what it thinks about U.S. overtures. Federal prosecutors said last week that an Iranian intelligence network planned to kidnap a U.S. citizen in New York and bring her to Iran. The prosecutors, who indicted four Iranian nationals, said Iranian intelligence has targeted others in Canada, the UK and elsewhere.
        Meanwhile, Reuters reports that an Iranian commander has encouraged Iran-backed militias to step up attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq and Syria. Shiite militias have attacked U.S. positions in Iraq at least 26 times since President Biden took office. Iran's violations of the 2015 nuclear deal also continue, while it ignores its inspection obligations to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Even Russian diplomat Mikhail Ulyanov admitted, "Iran seems to be going too far."  (Wall Street Journal)

  • Why should the Jewish state not do what it can legally do to maintain a Jewish majority? Why do so many of its champions find it difficult to affirm what is so clearly sensible and right? Students of Israel and Zionism know that demography is destiny.
  • Zionism has always been about creating a democratic state with a Jewish majority. The State of Israel can, and must, take appropriate steps to assure that a stable Jewish majority is maintained. Taking such steps, and being honest about your intentions, need not be inconsistent with democratic principles or with the ideals of Israel's Declaration of Independence. The loss of a Jewish majority means the end of Zionism and the disappearance of the State of Israel.
  • The premise of Zionism is that there are many Jews who desperately want to live in a majority-Jewish state. Their eagerness is understandable, and they make no apologies for this fact. They are grateful that the State of Israel, after millennia of Jewish exile, finally enables them to do so. Israel, they remind us, was created to promote the religion, civilization and culture of the Jewish people and its dominant Jewish majority.
  • To forcibly transfer Arab citizens out of the country would be a violation of democratic norms and international law, not to mention Jewish values and tradition. But assuring a Jewish majority by adopting laws and policies that are consistent with democratic governance is an altogether different matter. It is both acceptable and desirable.
  • Absent a Jewish majority, would Israel continue to provide no-questions-asked refuge to Jews facing danger and distress in countries around the globe? Almost certainly not.
  • We Jews want a state of our own, where the Jews, a secure and confident majority, will call the shots, govern democratically, and live in peace with our neighbors. That is what Zionism is.

    The writer is a former president of the Union for Reform Judaism.

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