July 22, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. to Delay Reopening of Jerusalem Consulate to Palestinians at Israel's Request (i24News)
    The U.S. will delay reopening the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem as a de facto mission to the Palestinians following requests from the Israeli Prime Minister's Office and the Foreign Ministry, Walla reported.
    A high-ranking Israeli source said the reopening of the consulate contradicts the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem in 2017 as the capital of Israel.
    See also below Observations: The U.S. Should Not Reopen Its "Embassy" to the Palestinians in Jerusalem - Justice Elyakim Rubinstein (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 21July2021)

Israeli Airstrikes Destroy Iranian Warehouses in Syria (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights)
    Israeli airstrikes have targeted the area of Jabal al-Waha, near the scientific research center and the Syrian regime's defense factories in al-Sferah in the Aleppo countryside.
    The targeted site hosts headquarters and weapons warehouses belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iranian-backed militias.

Israel Denies Report It Pushed U.S. to Strike Iran - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Saturday night denied a report in the New Yorker that former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed former U.S. president Donald Trump to carry out a military strike on Iran after the 2020 presidential election.
    On Wednesday, Gantz called for Israel to step up preparations should Iran get close to obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Water Shortages Compound Iran's Problems - Farnaz Fassihi (New York Times)
    As Iran struggles with a fifth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, it is also contending with a severe water shortage.
    A prolonged drought and rising temperatures, combined with decades of government mismanagement, have turned the water crisis into a volatile incubator of violent protests.
    Large crowds in Khuzestan Province in the southwest, home to an ethnic Arab population that has historically faced discrimination, were captured in amateur videos on social media shouting, "I am thirsty!" and demanding immediate relief.
    Security forces and anti-riot police beat the crowds with batons, scattered them with tear gas, tracked them with drones and fired gunshots, according to witnesses.
    Three young men were shot and killed by security forces, according to rights organizations.

Ben and Jerry's Boycott Could Harm Palestinian Employees (Jerusalem Post)
    Ben & Jerry's decision to halt sales of their ice cream in the West Bank will harm Palestinian workers.
    Hen Israeli, vice president of the Sagi Group, which distributes two tons of ice cream to Jerusalem and the West Bank every week, employs 10 Palestinians who receive working conditions and salaries they could not earn under the Palestinian Authority.

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90 Israeli Athletes to Participate in Tokyo Olympics - Jordan Pike (Jerusalem Post)
    90 athletes from Israel will be present at the Tokyo Olympic Games, almost double the 47 who competed at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, according to the Israel Olympic Committee.
    The increase is primarily due to Israel's first-ever baseball team competing. Israeli is also making its debut in surfing, archery and equestrian.
    The delegation includes gymnast Alexander Shatilov for his fourth Olympic games. Judoka Or Sasson won a bronze medal in the 2016 Olympics. No. 1 ranked rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram is seen as Israel's best bet for a medal in Tokyo.

Turkish President Erdogan's Burning Hatred for Israel - Jacob Dayan (Ha'aretz)
    As chief of staff for former Israeli foreign ministers Silvan Shalom and Tzipi Livni, I participated in a number of meetings with Turkish President Erdogan, during the days in which he still met with Israeli leaders.
    In all of these meetings I felt his conspicuous lack of affection for Israel, and even hatred. Erdogan had a clear vision of the new Middle East, and it did not include Israel.
    We have a tendency to blame ourselves for everything that doesn't work, but in this case, the relationship with Erdogan was hopeless from the beginning.
    Only those who were present in a meeting with Erdogan and felt his burning hatred for Israel, and only those who heard what he said, can understand how deeply these things are imprinted in his worldview.

Gaza Event Celebrates Irish Republican "Martyrs" - Neil Doyle (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    Belfast-based Palestine Aid last week sponsored a "funday" for children in Gaza which celebrated the lives of infamous Irish Republican "martyrs."
    Pictures posted on Twitter showed children on a beach carrying framed portraits of IRA bomber Bobby Sands and Marxist revolutionary James Connolly.
    The images were posted by Palestine Aid director Fra Hughes, whose Facebook page features him meeting and shaking hands with mass-murdering Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

American Jewish Committee Condemns United Church of Christ Resolution on Israel, Palestinians - Yonat Shimron (Religion News Service-Washington Post)
    The American Jewish Committee condemned a resolution adopted 462-78 with 18 abstentions at a meeting of the United Church of Christ on Sunday.
    The resolution refers to Israel's "apartheid system of laws and legal procedures" and demands an end to U.S. military aid to Israel.
    The AJC said the measure "demonizes Israel, fails to offer a credible path to Israeli-Palestinian peace, and undermines advances in Christian-Jewish relations."
    "It pretends there aren't two parties to the conflict," said Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC's director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations. "That is not the way to get to peace."

3 Existing Drugs Fight Coronavirus Successfully in Jerusalem Lab - Nathan Jeffay (Times of Israel)
    Israeli scientists have identified three existing drugs that have illustrated high ability to fight the coronavirus in lab tests.
    The results "showed that the drugs can protect cells from onslaught by the virus with close to 100% effectiveness," said Hebrew University biochemist Prof. Isaiah Arkin.
    Darapladib, which currently treats atherosclerosis, the cancer drug Flumatinib, and an HIV medicine target proteins that hardly change between variants and are likely to remain effective in spite of mutations.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Weighs New Sanctions on Iran's Oil Sales to China If Nuclear Talks Fail - Benoit Faucon
    The U.S. is considering tighter sanctions on Iranian oil sales to China as a way to encourage Tehran to conclude a nuclear deal and raise the costs of abandoning stalled negotiations. As the nuclear talks falter, the U.S. is running through options intended to induce Iran to keep negotiating or punish it if it doesn't, according to U.S. officials. One plan being drafted would choke off Iran's swelling crude-oil sales to China through fresh sanctions targeting shipping networks. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Jewish Leaders Call for Reversal of Ben and Jerry's Boycott Decision
    The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said Tuesday: We are deeply disappointed in Ben & Jerry's decision to cease operations with its Israeli licensee. We commend Ben & Jerry's Israel, which operated the company's first factory outside the U.S. as a lessee beginning over 30 years ago.
        We encourage Unilever, the multinational corporation that owns Ben & Jerry's, to recognize that boycotts of Israel are discriminatory and further inflame the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We call upon Unilever to override the decision of its subsidiary Ben & Jerry's. (Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations)
        See also Ben and Jerry's Board Wanted to Boycott All of Israel - Tovah Lazaroff
    Ben & Jerry's independent board of directors wanted to boycott Israel in its entirety and not just the West Bank, but was stopped from doing so by the company's CEO and the British-based parent company Unilever. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Rejects BDS Movement which Unfairly Singles Out Israel
    State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday: "We firmly reject the BDS movement, which unfairly singles out Israel....The United States will be a strong partner in fighting efforts around the world that potentially seek to delegitimize Israel and will work tirelessly to support Israel's further integration into the international community."  (U.S. State Department)
  • Israel Proves that Vaccines Work - Aaron Blake
    Israel shot to the head of the pack with an aggressive Covid-19 vaccination campaign, dropping from 10,000 new daily cases in January to an average as low as 10 last month. It began logging some days with zero deaths in April, and has recorded about 100 confirmed deaths in the last three months.
        But now the country is suddenly seeing an uptick in cases due to the delta variant, including among the 85% of Israeli adults who are vaccinated. Yet the number of serious cases remains extremely low. Israel is averaging about 120 weekly hospital admissions, which is down from a peak of nearly 2,000 in January. So while cases are less than 1/10 of what they were then, hospitalizations are about 1/16 and admissions to the intensive care unit are about 1/20, according to data collected by the University of Oxford.
        Israeli government data show the Pfizer vaccine is less effective at preventing coronavirus cases of the delta variant, but it is still 93% effective at preventing serious cases and hospitalization. (Washington Post)
        See also Pfizer Vaccine Is 88 Percent Effective Against Delta Covid Variant, UK Study Finds (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Condemns Ben and Jerry's Boycott Decision
    Ben & Jerry's current Israeli distributor condemned the ice cream company's decision to drop its licensing agreement. "Ben & Jerry's International decided not to renew their agreement with us in a year and a half, after we refused their demand to stop distribution throughout Israel. We urge the Israeli government and consumers - don't let them boycott Israel. Keep ice cream out of politics."
        Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said, "Ben & Jerry's decided to brand itself as anti-Israel ice cream. This is a moral mistake and I believe it will turn out to be a business mistake as well. The boycott against Israel... reflects that they have totally lost their way."
        Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called the decision "a disgraceful capitulation to anti-Semitism, to BDS, to all that is evil in the anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish discourse." Lapid said he would ask the over 30 U.S. states with anti-BDS laws to implement them against Ben & Jerry's in retaliation. The laws require states to divest from companies that boycott Israel. (Times of Israel)
        See also Israel's President: Boycotts Against Israel Are a New Form of Terrorism - Greer Fay Cashman (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Envoy Urges U.S. States to Activate Anti-BDS Laws Against Ben and Jerry's - Amy Spiro
    Gilad Erdan, Israel's ambassador to the U.S. and the UN, sent letters to the governors of the 35 U.S. states that have enacted legislation against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, requesting that they sanction Ben & Jerry's over its recent decision to halt sales in the West Bank. States that have passed anti-BDS legislation include Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, California, Maryland and Texas.
        Erdan called Ben & Jerry's decision "the de-facto adoption of anti-Semitic practices and advancement of the de-legitimization of the Jewish state and the de-humanization of the Jewish people." He added that such boycotts "significantly harm Palestinians as well," many of whom shop in Israeli-owned stores in the West Bank. (Times of Israel)
  • Congressman Calls for State Response to BDS Moves by Ben and Jerry's and Unilever - Omri Nahmias
    Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) said Tuesday: "The decision by Unilever and Ben & Jerry's to target hundreds of thousands of Jewish customers abroad with this discriminatory boycott is a disgrace and a direct embrace of the anti-Israel BDS movement. New York State must now follow the 2016 Executive Order that prohibits state agencies from conducting business with institutions or companies that promote BDS, and requires the OGS [New York State Office of General Services] Commissioner to maintain and update a list of entities participating in BDS."
        "Both Ben & Jerry's and Unilever need to be immediately added to the OGS list, and the state needs to end any current business and suspend any future business with either company. Our state needs to follow its self-imposed standards, lead by example, and stand up to this anti-Israel and anti-Jewish discrimination."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Responds to Rocket Attack from Lebanon
    Two rockets were launched from Lebanon into western Galilee early Tuesday. One rocket was intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome system. The IDF responded with artillery fire and said it believes "Palestinian elements" in Lebanon are responsible. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    The NSO Spyware Case

  • In Spyware Case, Defense Minister Says Israel Complies with International Law - Amy Spiro
    Responding to reports that Israel's NSO Group has been selling spyware that was used by foreign governments to target journalists and activists, Defense Minister Benny Gantz asserted Tuesday that Israel operates fully within international law. "We are aware of recent publications regarding the use of systems developed in certain Israeli cyber companies," said Gantz. "Israel, as a liberal Western democracy, controls exports of cyber products in accordance with its defense export control law, complying with international export control regimes."
        "As a matter of policy, the State of Israel authorizes the export of cyber products solely to governments, only for lawful use, and exclusively for the purposes of preventing and investigating crime and terrorism. The countries acquiring these systems must abide by their commitments to these requirements. We are currently studying the information that is published on the subject."  (Times of Israel)
  • "Somebody Has to Do the Dirty Work": NSO Founders Defend the Spyware They Built - Elizabeth Dwoskin
    Israelis Shalev Hulio and Omri Lavie, who helped found the NSO Group, told the Washington Post this week they were asked by law enforcement officials in 2009 to help them read and listen to the conversations of terrorists, pedophiles and other criminals in the age of the smartphone. Hulio has acknowledged that some of NSO's government customers had misused its software in the past - describing it as a "violation of trust" - and said NSO shut off five clients' access in the past several years after conducting a human rights audit, and had ended ties with two in the last year alone.
        "We built this company to save life. Period," Hulio said Monday. "There is not enough education about what a national security or intelligence organization needs to do every day in order to give basic security to their citizens. And all we hear is this campaign that we are violating human rights, and it's very upsetting. Because I know how much life has been saved globally because of our technology."
        "This technology was used to handle literally the worst this planet has to offer. Somebody has to do the dirty work....If somebody says, I found a better way to get criminals, get terrorists, get information from a pedophile, I will shut down this company."
        Hulio says he believes that interests hostile to Israel are behind some of the attacks on his company. At the same time, Hulio said the company will continue to immediately shut down any clients that have "violated trust" and has refused to sell to 90 countries, including Russia and China. (Washington Post)

  • Ben & Jerry's Israel Boycott

  • Ben and Jerry's Decision Will Have Consequences - Ron Kampeas
    Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, director of the Center for the Middle East and International Law at George Mason University Law School, said, "Ben & Jerry's is doing this in full awareness that this will basically end their business with Israel. Under Israeli law, a business can't discriminate among Israeli citizens, regardless of where they live."
        In Illinois, Richard Goldberg, a senior adviser to former Gov. Bruce Rauner, drafted one of the first anti-BDS laws in the nation in 2015. These laws represent a real threat to Unilever, Goldberg said. "Unilever, being the parent company in this case, is responsible and is liable and is subject to the state anti-BDS laws as they are written."
        Goldberg, now a senior adviser to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said the disinvestment language - modeled on earlier laws mandating disinvestment of state employee funds from Iran and Sudan - could result in Unilever being removed from state employee index funds. That's "a massive amount of money just across 12 states invested in international equities," he said.
        "You have a very formal, explicit announcement from Ben & Jerry's announcing, very clearly, that they are taking a step to inflict harm on an Israeli company. There really never has been a clearer case, and so high-profile, for a statement that would violate the BDS laws."  (JTA)
  • Ben and Jerry's May Test American Anti-BDS Laws - Arno Rosenfeld
    Ben & Jerry's announcement Monday that it will end sales in the West Bank may test American laws intended to bar companies that boycott Israel from state government contracts and pension funds. "Selective boycotts are just as illegal as total boycotts," said Marc Stern, chief legal officer for the American Jewish Committee, which has lobbied for laws meant to stem the BDS movement aimed at Israel.
        Stern said several states - including New York, New Jersey and Illinois - go farther than most, and have laws that ban state agencies from contracting with companies that refuse to do business with Israel or with "territories controlled by Israel."  (Forward)
  • Ben and Jerry's Joins the List of Counterproductive "Do-Gooders" - Marc Schulman
    I am so tired of people who view themselves as "do-gooders," advancing actions that only make the chance of reaching peace with the Palestinians even slimmer. Ben & Jerry's intention to cease selling their ice cream in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem is another of these counterproductive actions. This move will not bring peace. The Palestinians will say, "We do not have to make any fundamental concessions; we will let the world pressure Israel."
        I supported Israel's unilateral pullout from Gaza. We pulled out unilaterally and completely in 2005 and still thousands of rockets are fired at us each year. Somehow, though, the world protests our actions. People seem thoroughly uninterested in who fired missiles, in who started the war.
       Whose fault is it that Gaza, instead of being a Palestinian Singapore, is impoverished and spends much of its money building underground tunnels and missiles? The onus is on the Palestinians to respond to the many peace offers that have been put forward by Israel. (Newsweek)
  • Ben and Jerry's Handed a Victory to the Campaign of Hate - Ben-Dror Yemini
    Dear Ben & Jerry's directors: Anyone who opposes racism, lies, incitement, and human rights abuses should boycott your ice cream. Even if it wasn't your intention, your boycott is another success story for the racist and anti-Semitic campaign that opposes the very existence of just one state in the whole world: the Jewish state.
        The settlements were never the obstacle to peace. Remember the settlements in Gaza that were all evacuated by the Israeli government? Your decision is also contrary to the winds that are blowing today in most Arab countries, where they know all too well that Palestinian refusal is the real problem and not Israel.
        According to a survey conducted by the Zogby Institute a few months ago, most residents of Arab countries support normalization with Israel. And what about you? Are you on the side of those who want peace and normalization or for those who cultivate boycotts and hatred? (Ynet News)
  • New York Supermarket Chain Cracks Down on Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream over West Bank Boycott - Lisa Fickenscher
    New York City supermarket chain Morton Williams has decided to reduce by 70% its sales and marketing of Ben & Jerry's ice cream after the popular brand took sides in the Middle East controversy. Co-owner Avi Kaner said the brand will be demoted to the "least desirable locations" of its freezer aisles. "You'll be able to find the product, but you'll have to look for it," he said.
        Morton Williams said: "This action is taken in response to Ben & Jerry's boycott of Jewish communities that are at the center of a territorial dispute in Israel, including the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem - inhabited by Jews for over 3,000 years." Kaner added, "Of all the places in the world to boycott, Ben & Jerry's has chosen to target the one Jewish nation in the world."  (New York Post)
  • How Ben and Jerry's Israel Boycott Has United Many Jews - David Suissa
    Some issues simply go too far, and Ben & Jerry's decision to stop selling its ice cream in "Occupied Palestinian Territories" was one of those. Unlike previous companies subjected to boycotts, Ben & Jerry's makes its ice cream inside Israel. It doesn't even operate any ice cream stores over the 1967 lines. But by targeting sales to the West Bank rather than products made there, Ben & Jerry's is setting an alarming precedent.
        As reported in the Jerusalem Post, the boycott criteria already set by Ben & Jerry's "would make any Israeli or foreign company that helps stock a [West Bank] supermarket with those products susceptible to boycotts." Regardless of where one sits on the political spectrum, Ben & Jerry's has crossed a line that repulses much of the mainstream Jewish community.
        We've seen this singling out of Israel over and over by groups that ignore genocides and mass murders to go after the world's only Jewish state. When a beloved brand joins the anti-Israel parade so loudly and forcefully, it concentrates the mind about the unfair and discriminatory targeting of Israel. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)

  • Other Issues

  • The "Apartheid" Poll and the Disinformation Discourse - Dan Diker and Yechiel Leiter
    A disinformation campaign leveled at Israel's legitimacy has been percolating through the West since the 1975 UN "Zionism is Racism" Resolution. This campaign has come to normalize the application of delegitimizing terms to Israel such as "genocide," "apartheid," "ethnic cleansing," "settler colonialism," and "racism."
        Disinformation by BDS-affiliated and Jewish anti-Zionist organizations spread through American college campuses and social media have negatively affected Jewish public opinion on Israel. American Jewish and Israeli leaders must stand against the disinformation campaign that has become the progressive discourse.
        Dan Diker is Director of the Project to Counter BDS and Political Warfare at the Jerusalem Center. Dr. Yechiel Leiter is Director of the International Department of the Shiloh Policy Forum. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • How Hamas Leader Yahya Sinwar's Behavior Has Changed - Yaniv Kubovich
    Israeli defense officials say Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar's behavior has changed in the past few months. His former pragmatism has been replaced by hasty decisions, and he has exchanged his relative humility for messianism. According to his updated Military Intelligence personality profile, Sinwar is now unpredictable. "This transformation that Sinwar is undergoing makes him a dangerous figure for us," said an Israeli defense official.
        Israel believes the change took place about two months before the run-up to the war in May and that the Hamas leadership elections in Gaza were the trigger. Only in the fourth round of voting did Sinwar secure victory against Nizar Awadallah, an extremist from the founding generation of Hamas.
        An IDF intelligence official says Sinwar understood that the criticism he faced "presented him as someone who had given up on the military option" against Israel. So "he decided to line up with the military arm of Hamas. He went to war with Israel consciously and tried to obtain greater support among his people and young people in Gaza."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Iranian-American Journalist Targeted in Iran Kidnap Plot: "I Would Love to Visit Israel" - Jacob Magid
    Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad, whom Iran sought to kidnap from U.S. soil last year, told the Times of Israel: "I would love to visit Israel. I'm sure that saying this will lead to more threats against me and my family, but someone should take a step, break this taboo and speak up against this hate propagated by the regime."
        Referring to the Iranian plot against her, she said: "This whole kidnapping story is a challenge from the Islamic Republic to the U.S. government. If they keep silent, then it is a signal to [Iran], and they'll come after more citizens on American soil." She added: "This regime, which kills its own citizens, you think you can trust them? That you can talk to them? That you can have a deal with this regime, without asking them to respect human rights?"
        In Iran, her brother has been arrested and remains in jail due to her activism. Newly-elected President Ibrahim Raisi "was the head of the judiciary when my brother got arrested because of my activities." She insisted that the government is not representative of the majority of Iranians, "who do not view the U.S. and Israel as the enemy."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Interview with Iranian Dissident Masih Alinejad - Lela Gilbert (Hudson Institute, 2019)

The U.S. Should Not Reopen Its "Embassy" to the Palestinians in Jerusalem - Justice Elyakim Rubinstein (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 21July2021)
  • It has been reported that the Americans want to reopen their consulate in Jerusalem that was closed after the U.S. moved its embassy to the city. It is proper to oppose such a move. There is no place for turning back the wheel of history.
  • An independent consulate in Jerusalem, Israel's capital, would be a total anomaly.
  • Until President Trump decided to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, the American consulate served as a foreign implant in the heart of Jerusalem and acted in recent decades as an "embassy" to the Palestinian Authority.
  • Its renewal today would be a double anomaly. I am sure that there is not another country in the world that has both an embassy and an independent consulate in its capital that serves as an "embassy" to another entity.
  • Israel does not have to agree to the return of the continuing insult contained in such a move.
  • The diplomatic lexicon is rich enough to enable the establishment of a liaison office to the Paletinian Authority in Ramallah without harming Israel's relations with the U.S.

    The writer is a former Vice President of the Supreme Court of the State of Israel. He also served as Attorney General.
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