August 2, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Israel's Public Health Chief Explains Decision for Covid Vaccine Booster Shots - John Dickerson (CBS News)
    As Israel became the first country in the world to start giving Covid booster shots to those over age 60, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, Israel's director of Public Health Services, was interviewed on Sunday on "Face the Nation."
    See also Britain Will Offer Covid-19 Booster Vaccines to 32 Million Britons - Lucy Fisher (Telegraph-UK)
    See also Japan to Buy 50 Million Covid-19 Booster Shots (Reuters)

Has Russia Changed Its Policy on Israeli Airstrikes in Syria? - Lazar Berman (Times of Israel)
    A report by Asharq Al-Awsat, citing a "well-informed" Russian source, said Moscow will be acting more aggressively to foil Israel's ongoing aerial campaign against Iranian targets in Syria. But the report stretches credulity in many ways.
    "We can't rule out the fact that they [Asharq Al-Awsat] received messages from the Russians to publish," said Zvi Magen, Israel's former ambassador to Russia and senior fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
    "The question is who the source is." Without knowing the source, there is no reason to accept the argument of a drastic change in policy. Moreover, the Russians are not publicly standing behind the report.

Poll: American Views of the May War in Gaza - Shibley Telhami (University of Maryland)
    A poll conducted June 22-July 21, 2021, asked: Who is mostly to blame for the recent eruption of violence between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza? 19% said Israelis, 32% said Palestinians, and 43% said both equally.
    What role do you want the U.S. to play in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Lean toward Israel - 27%, lean toward the Palestinians - 10%, lean toward neither side - 63%.

Israeli Artistic Gymnast Artem Dolgopyat Wins Olympic Gold (Times of Israel)
    Israeli gymnast Artem Dolgopyat won Israel's second-ever Olympic gold medal Sunday in the artistic gymnastics floor exercise competition in Tokyo.

Saudi Judoka Faces Israeli and Shakes Hands at Olympics (Al-Monitor)
    The International Judo Federation praised a Saudi Olympian on Friday for agreeing to compete against an Israeli opponent.
    Saudi judoka Tahani Alqahtani shook hands with Israeli Raz Hershko on Friday before their match at the women's judo competition in Tokyo. Hershko won the match.
    Judokas from Sudan and Algeria refused to face Israelis at the Olympics.

U.S. Approves Sale of 18 Helicopters to Israel - Dan Arkin (Israel Defense)
    The U.S. State Department has officially approved the sale of 18 CH-53 King Stallion heavy lift helicopters to Israel for $3.4 billion.
    The sale will improve the capability of the Israel Air Force to transport armored vehicles, personnel and equipment to support military operations.

UN-Paid Teachers Celebrate Deaths of Israelis (UN Watch)
    Over 100 UNRWA educators and staff have publicly promoted violence and anti-Semitism on social media, according to a report by UN Watch.
    The report, Beyond the Textbooks, uncovers 22 recent cases of UNRWA staff incitement which clearly violate the agency's own rules of zero tolerance for anti-Semitism.
    UNRWA Gaza math teacher Nahed Sharawi shared a video of Adolf Hitler with inspirational quotes to "enrich and enlighten your thoughts and minds."
    Husni Masri, an UNRWA teacher in the West Bank, posted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories according to which Jews control the world, created the coronavirus, and seek to destroy Islam.

CNBC Issues Correction on the Legality of Israel's Administration of the West Bank (CAMERA)
    On July 21, CNBC wrongly claimed that the "UN Security Council has said the Israeli occupation is a 'flagrant violation' under international law."
    After CAMERA noted that the Security Council has made no such determination, and cited expert opinion that occupations are not illegal, CNBC acknowledged the error and posted a correction on Twitter.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Blames Iran for Drone Attack on Oil Tanker that Killed Two - Jon Gambrell
    Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday blamed Iran for a drone attack Thursday on the Japanese-owned, Israeli-operated oil tanker Mercer Street off the coast of Oman that killed two people. Bennett said Israeli intelligence had evidence linking Iran to the attack. Iran and its militia allies have used "suicide" drones in attacks previously. A U.S. official said the drone attack blasted a hole through the top of the oil tanker's bridge, killing the Romanian captain and a British security guard. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Multiple Drones Involved in Ship Attack - Patrick Kingsley
    A U.S. Defense Department official said American personnel had gone aboard the tanker to assist with a forensic investigation and confirmed that multiple drones were involved in the attack. (New York Times)
        See also U.S.: Iran Conducted This Attack - Secretary of State Antony Blinken
    "We join our partners and allies in our strong condemnation of the attack against the Mercer Street....We are confident that Iran conducted this attack, which killed two innocent people, using one-way explosive UAVs."  (U.S. State Department)
        See also UK Condemns Deliberate Attack on Oil Tanker by Iran (UK Foreign Office)
        See also Iran Gave Up the Option of Plausible Deniability - Amos Harel
    This time, the Iranians chose a target near the Persian Gulf relatively close to home. The drones obviously took off from Iran and were operated by the Revolutionary Guards' air force. Iran thus gave up the option of plausible deniability. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Plans Sanctions Against Iran's Drones and Guided Missiles - Ian Talley
    The U.S. plans a sanctions campaign against Iran's evolving capabilities for precision strikes using drones and guided missiles, as security officials say they see those capabilities as an immediate danger to American and allied interests. Officials said that targeting Iran's procurement networks, such as the providers of parts used to build drones and precision-guided missiles, could more effectively disrupt those activities.
        Iran's precision-strike capabilities were highlighted in 2019 when a drone attack shut half the crude-oil output of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has been attacked more than 100 times in recent months by ballistic missiles, unmanned aerial systems, small drones and cruise missiles. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Murder Trial in Sweden Could Shine Unsavory Light on Iran's New President - Farnaz Fassihi
    Bijan Bazargan, 28, was among 5,000 prisoners in Iran who were executed in the summer of 1988, Amnesty International and other rights groups say. On Tuesday, a Swedish court indicted Hamid Noury, 59, a former Iranian judiciary official, for war crimes and murder in connection with Bazargan's death, under the principle of universal jurisdiction. Noury was arrested at Stockholm airport when he arrived to visit family in 2019.
        Noury's trial begins on Aug. 10 and risks exposing new details about incoming Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, who was a member of the four-person committee that interrogated prisoners and issued execution orders during those mass executions. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: "The Iranians Intended to Attack an Israeli Target"
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told the Cabinet on Sunday: "The world recently received a reminder of Iranian aggression, this time on the high seas. The Iranians, who attacked the ship Mercer Street with unmanned aerial vehicles, intended to attack an Israeli target."
        "Iran, in a cowardly manner, is trying to evade responsibility for the event. They are denying this. Then, I determine, with absolute certainty - Iran carried out the attack against the ship....The intelligence evidence for this exists and we expect the international community will make it clear to the Iranian regime that they have made a serious mistake. In any case, we know how to send a message to Iran in our own way."  (Israel Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Israel Seeks UN Security Council Condemnation of Iranian Maritime Terrorism - Tovah Lazaroff
    Israel is pushing for a UN Security Council condemnation of Iran for the attack on an Israeli-managed oil tanker attacked off the coast of Oman by Iranian drones. A senior Israeli official said, "the masks are coming off and no one can pretend they don't know the character of the Iranian regime. Iran isn't just Israel's problem, it is a global problem, and its behavior endangers free global shipping and trade."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Intensifies Efforts to Launch West Bank Terror Attacks
    Hamas has intensified efforts to carry out terror attacks in the West Bank, with guidance from Gaza, Israel's Channel 11 reported Saturday. The report said Abdallah Arar, a Hamas man released in a 2011 prisoner exchange, had contacted 60 West Bank Palestinians over the past six months to recruit them to carry out attacks. Arar provides the people he enlists with detailed instructions on how to find targets for attacks and build bombs. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Ship Attack Exposes Iran's Empty Toolbox - Vice Adm. (ret.) Eliezer Marom
    Iranian media outlets claimed the Iranian attack on the oil tanker Mercer Street was carried out in response to an Israeli airstrike in Syria. Yet the attack exposed Iran's toolbox as empty. If the Iranians attack a Japanese-owned civilian vessel, sailing under a Liberian flag, with crewmen from across the globe, and killed citizens from the UK and Romania, it certainly illustrates the Islamic republic's inability to harm Israel.
        The Arab world, for which maritime freedom of movement and commerce is extremely important, cannot stand idly by and will respond to this attack through the diplomatic channels at its disposal. The Iranians will likely suspend further attacks on vessels, thus ending the campaign on this particular front.
        Israel must not respond at sea so as not to escalate the situation in this arena. Israel must continue impairing Iran's effort to establish a presence in Syria and Hizbullah's precision missile project through clandestine avenues.
        The writer served as commander of the Israeli Navy (2007-2011). (Israel Hayom)
  • How Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism Intersect - William C. Daroff
    We are witnessing a pattern of hostility toward Jews around the world directly tied to hatred toward Israel. The Anti-Defamation League stated that the May conflict with Gaza saw a 75% spike in anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. - a staggering number considering the already large increase in anti-Semitism over the last few years.
        What we have experienced is a paradigm shift, the culmination of a confluence of movements and events that have nurtured, encouraged and seemingly legitimized anti-Zionism - and provided a license to discriminate against and target Jews for their possible association with the Jewish state.
        As violence and hate crimes against Jews skyrocketed, many progressive organizations, usually so quick to rally around threatened minority groups, have sadly been absent and silent. At the same time, the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism has too often almost ceased to exist.
        Nearly 50 years ago, the great Israeli diplomat Abba Eban said: "Classical anti-Semitism denies the rights of Jews as citizens within society. Anti-Zionism denies the equal rights of the Jewish people to their lawful sovereignty within the community of nations. All that has happened is that the discriminating principle has been transferred from the realm of individual rights to the domain of collective identity."
        The writer is CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. (New York Daily News)
  • Will the PA and EU Allow Israel to Resolve the Khan al-Ahmar Issue? - Col. (res.) Dr. Danny Tirza
    The relocation of the Bedouins from Khan al-Ahmar, who live in tents and tin buildings clustered near the Jerusalem-Jericho Road, has been resolved through a compromise agreement between the Bedouins and the Israeli government, according to which the Bedouins would be relocated to the Arad Valley within Israeli territory and near other members of the Jahalin tribe. Those who were relocated would receive residential land, financial compensation, and permanent resident status in Israel.
        One remaining question is whether the Palestinian Authority and the EU will allow the families to move to a permanent residence or pressure the residents to stay due to the site's strategic significance, keeping them as hostages to a political struggle.
        The writer was, from 1994 to 2007, in charge of regional strategic planning and the formulation of Israel's security positions in negotiations with the Palestinians, and served as the IDF's chief architect for the Security Fence. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
        See also Khan al-Ahmar, Land Policy, and International Law - Naomi Kahn (Fathom-BICOM)
  • Wishful Thinking on a Palestinian State - Oliver Holmes
    As the Guardian's outgoing Jerusalem correspondent, I spoke with Ian Black, the paper's Middle East correspondent 30 years ago. Black recalled "discussing when there might be a Palestinian state. We thought maybe it would happen in two or three years." In the three years I have spent as a Jerusalem correspondent, I cannot remember a single conversation with another reporter in which a Palestinian state was considered a likely near-future scenario.
        Looking over his old clippings, Black said he saw an article from the mid-80s. "I was astonished to find there were only 30,000" Jews living in the West Bank. Roughly 600,000 Israelis now live in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem with no intention of leaving.
        One criticism made of the Guardian is that it focused too much on voices in Israeli society calling for an end to Israeli rule, having the effect of perhaps misleadingly magnifying their domestic influence. "I think in the big picture, the Guardian indulged - including the correspondents and including me - in wishful thinking. I really do," said Black.
        "Israeli society was more divided then, 30 or so years ago, than it is now." The turning point was the second intifada, which decimated any trust between Israelis and Palestinians. (Guardian-UK)

Iran's Nuclear Program a Central Pillar of Its "Shi'ite Revival" Vision - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall interviewed by Yaakov Lappin (Israel Hayom-JNS)
  • Iran expert Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, says becoming a nuclear-armed state is a central aspect of Iran's "Shi'ite revival" mindset. "They believe in the Shi'ite revival. It's important to grasp the importance they attach to this goal....The Iranians feel they have Divine intervention helping them."
  • "The nuclear program is the anchor that would allow Iran to position itself in the role that it has defined for itself. Becoming a nuclear state would influence all of Iran's tentacles in the region....The Iranians feel they are succeeding." The Islamic Republic would like to extend a nuclear umbrella over its regionwide activities and those of its proxies, he said.
  • "Iran's bottom line is that it wants to become a nuclear-armed state or a nuclear breakout state." The way Iran managed negotiations with world powers leading to the 2015 nuclear deal was part of a "highly organized" push to eventually reach that objective.
  • It's the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, and the IRGC who decide this policy. "The Supreme Leader is growing stronger within the country. The election of Ebrahim Raisi as president is bringing the Supreme Leader's power to a peak. All of the more pragmatic moderates are being pushed aside....The West will struggle to find someone in Iran it is comfortable doing business with."
  • The flaws of the original 2015 deal are fully on display, he said, due to the speed with which Iran was able to return to nuclear activity in recent months. "Whether or not Iran goes back to the 2015 agreement doesn't matter to it. Within a short time, they have proven their nuclear knowledge, and they can decide to advance their nuclear project whenever they want."
  • "The know-how cannot be taken away from the Iranians. They know what to do, and how to do it. If they're not stopped, they will get to where they want to go." Iran is shortening its nuclear breakout time quickly, he added.

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