August 19, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Suggested Israel Adopt "Afghan Model" in West Bank - Ariel Kahana (Israel Hayom)
    In 2013, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry tried to convince Israel to adopt its "Afghan model" by having U.S.-trained Palestinian forces provide Israeli security.
    Kerry wanted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to go to Afghanistan and see first hand the supposed success in building the military there.
    He sought to convince the Israelis that under any peace deal, Israel could rely on U.S.-trained Palestinian forces.
    But Netanyahu politely refused, citing the principle that Israel must not rely on foreign forces for its security.
    See also The Lesson of Afghanistan for Israel: Self-Reliance - Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post)
    The lesson of Afghanistan "is that Israel's doctrine of self-reliance has no replacement," said former Israel Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
    "Israel understood all along that its defense doctrine cannot be based on foreign forces, but the ability of Israel to defend itself by itself."
    "The idea that Israel could rely on foreign forces was firmly rejected by Israeli prime ministers from [Yitzhak] Rabin through [Benjamin] Netanyahu."

Taliban Face Financial Crisis without Access to Foreign Reserves - Peter Beaumont (Guardian-UK)
    Afghanistan's new Taliban rulers are likely to face a financial crisis, with foreign currency reserves largely unreachable and Western aid donors, who fund 75% of the country's institutions, already cutting off or threatening to cut payments.
    On Wednesday, Afghanistan's central bank governor, Ajmal Ahmady, disclosed that the country has $9 billion in reserves abroad, including $7 billion in U.S. bank accounts.
    The Taliban have relied heavily in the past five years on hugely increasing their trade in opium. In 2020, the country accounted for 84% of global opium production.
    But there is a huge disparity between the money the Taliban have had available to fund their military campaign and what they will need to govern.

Palestinian Firefighters Aid Israel in Fighting Massive Jerusalem Wildfires (Al-Monitor)
    Palestinian firefighters came to Jerusalem to help extinguish severe wildfires in forested areas west of Jerusalem this week.
    Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz tweeted, "I would like to thank PA Chairman Abbas for his initiative to send the firefighters who came to assist Israel."
    Palestinian firefighters also responded to fires in Israel in 2010 and 2016.

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Why Has the Debate about Ben and Jerry's Riveted the Attention of American Jews - Jonathan S. Tobin (JNS)
    Ben & Jerry's announcement to keep dessert away from several hundred thousand Jews living in both Jerusalem and in areas that were illegally occupied by Jordan from 1949 to 1967 is being taken as a triumph for the BDS movement, which seeks the extinction of the Jewish state.
    Like it or not, the battle over Ben & Jerry's is fast becoming a crucial test of the strength of the growing BDS movement and its fellow travelers, as well as that of the pro-Israel community.

Ben and Jerry's Israeli Boycott Is Contrary to Human Rights and Decency - Joel Griffith (Miami Herald)
    The Ben & Jerry's boycott of the West Bank is a dagger aimed at Israel. This boycott maligns the world's only Jewish state while denying the right of self-determination for Jews living in their ancestral homeland.
    The "Occupied Territory" label, maliciously applied to the West Bank, ignores the Jewish people's historical connection to the land along with Israel's rights under international law to prosper there.
    This region is the heart of the homeland of the Jewish people. In Hebron, thousands flock each week to the Cave of Machpelah. Purchased by Abraham nearly 4,000 years ago, it's the burial place of the Jewish patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) and matriarchs (Sara, Rebecca and Leah).
    In Jerusalem, King Solomon constructed the Holy Temple more than 3,000 years ago.
    Israel also possess a legal right to thrive in this homeland, dating back to the League of Nations in 1922.
    As Simon Maccabee said 2,160 years ago: "We [the Jews] have not taken strange lands, nor are we ruling over foreign territory. We have returned to our ancestral inheritance, from which we had been unjustly expelled by our enemies. And now that we have been blessed with the opportunity, we will hold onto our ancestral land."
    The writer is a research fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • The Taliban Have Access to U.S. Military Aircraft - Valerie Insinna
    After the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan's airfield in Kandahar on Friday, photos appeared on social media showing Taliban fighters posing with U.S.-made Black Hawk military helicopters and A-29 attack planes. Gen. Mark Kelly, who leads the U.S. Air Combat Command, noted that the Taliban don't have trained pilots capable of safely flying the aircraft, though they could find former Afghan air force pilots who could be coerced to come over to their side. An even larger hurdle would be the cost, expertise and logistics associated with maintaining the aircraft, conducting repairs, and buying spare parts. (Defense News)
        See also Afghans Flee Taliban Takeover in U.S.-Supplied Aircraft - Alan Cullison
    At least 46 planes and helicopters from the Afghan Air Force crossed into Uzbekistan since last weekend, while a handful of airplanes also ended up in Tajikistan. (Wall Street Journal)
  • IAEA: Iran Accelerates Enrichment of Uranium to Near Weapons-Grade - Francois Murphy
    Iran has accelerated its enrichment of uranium to near weapons-grade, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported Tuesday. Iran increased the purity of its refined uranium to 60% from 20% in April. Weapons-grade purity is 90%.
        The move is the latest of many by Iran breaching the restrictions imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal. On Monday, the IAEA said Iran had made progress in its work on enriched uranium metal, which can be used to make the core of a nuclear bomb. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians Attack Israeli Forces during West Bank Arrest Raid - Amos Harel
    An undercover Israeli Border Police force encountered heavy fire from Palestinians during an operation in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank early Monday. The force arrested a former Palestinian security prisoner who was communicating with Hamas militants in Gaza to carry out terrorist attacks within Israel. The arrest was completed without resistance, but when the force prepared to leave, they encountered heavy fire.
        Palestinian video showed militants shooting at the Israeli forces with pistols and rifles. In the exchange of fire, four Palestinian men were killed and three others were wounded. There were no Israeli casualties. Photographs of two of the deceased Palestinians shared on social media show them holding M16 rifles with scopes for improved accuracy. It is clear that this was an organized group of militants and not innocent civilians. (Ha'aretz)
  • Armed Palestinian Dressed as IDF Soldier Arrested in West Bank - Tzvi Joffre
    A Palestinian disguised as an IDF soldier and armed with a shotgun and knives was apprehended in the West Bank on Monday by an IDF patrol. The man said he had intended to carry out an attack on Israelis. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Report: IDF Strikes Hizbullah Outpost in Syria - Yoav Zitun
    Israeli missiles struck a Hizbullah military outpost that overlooks the Golan Heights in Syria's Quneitra province, Syrian state media reported Tuesday. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    The Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan

  • The Fall of Afghanistan Will Strengthen the Abraham Accords - Elliott Abrams
    The collapse of Afghanistan helps explain why the Abraham Accords between Israel and several Arab states happened. Arab states face numerous threats and see their region as one where Iran, Turkey, and Israel are the most powerful nations. They also see a decline in American willingness to use power to protect U.S. allies.
        What is happening in Afghanistan will deepen the impression among Arab governments that they cannot rely on the U.S. to protect their security as they used to. Those states have increasingly drawn the conclusion that they have one neighbor who, unlike Iran or Turkey, poses no threat to them, and who continually displays a firm willingness to use military power against its enemies. That's Israel. For the Arabs, then, the Abraham Accords were the victory of self-interest over ideology.
        The writer, a former U.S. deputy national security advisor, is a senior fellow at CFR. (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan Could Spur Greater Israeli Cooperation with Sunni States - Yossi Melman
    America's rivals China and Russia also need to be concerned about the Taliban's rapid takeover of Afghanistan. The Taliban could try to export terror to Central Asia to destabilize Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. China, with its Muslim Uyghur minority, shares this fear. Moreover, the establishment of a Taliban government in Kabul by a Sunni movement with a religious-fundamentalist ideology does not bode well for the Shiite regime in Tehran.
        At the same time, concerns that the Taliban will renew its alliance with al-Qaeda and return to spreading the idea of global jihad could spur greater cooperation between Israel and Sunni states like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait. (Ha'aretz)
  • Billions Spent on Afghan Army Ultimately Benefitted Taliban - Robert Burns
    Built and trained at a two-decade cost of $83 billion, Afghan security forces collapsed so quickly that the ultimate beneficiary of the American investment was the Taliban, which captured an array of modern military equipment including guns, ammunition, helicopters and vehicles when they overran Afghan forces.
        In 2015, Dr. M. Chris Mason of the Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute subtitled his book, "Why the Afghan National Security Forces Will Not Hold." "Regarding the future of Afghanistan, in blunt terms, the United States has been down this road at the strategic level twice before, in Vietnam and Iraq, and there is no viable rationale for why the results will be any different in Afghanistan....State failure is a matter of time."  (AP-Military Times)

  • Other Issues

  • Cancel the Durban IV Review Conference - Amb. Alan Baker
    One of the most regrettable, disappointing, and damaging phenomena of contemporary international practice has been the utter failure of the international community and the UN to deal genuinely with the evils of racism. A serious attempt by the international community to deal with racism - the 2001 Durban Conference in post-apartheid South Africa - was usurped, politicized, and manipulated into a bitter, racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel hate-fest. The forum was undermined because of an irrepressible and irresistible urge by Arab and Muslim states, Iran, the PLO, and NGOs to abuse the conference with a clear anti-Israel agenda. Both Israel and the U.S. walked out of the conference.
        The UN General Assembly convened second and third Durban review conferences in 2009 and 2011, which were boycotted by the U.S., Canada, Italy, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, and Poland. On September 22, 2021, the UN intends to convene a fourth Durban review conference. The U.S., Canada, the UK, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Australia, the Netherlands, and France have announced their intention to boycott this conference. Durban must be expunged and forgotten.
        The writer, former legal counsel to Israel's foreign ministry, heads the international law program at the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • UN Peacekeepers Let Hizbullah Call the Shots - Tony Badran
    In theory, the mission of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is to prevent Hizbullah from launching attacks against Israel from southern Lebanon, and to ensure the area is free of weapons. In practice, UNIFIL is an expensive charade. Hizbullah holds absolute sway in southern Lebanon. When UNIFIL attempted to enhance its surveillance capabilities in 2020 through the installation of advanced cameras at 19 locations near the border, Hizbullah threatened to respond and the plan was abandoned.
        The writer is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Newsweek)
  • New Israel-Hating Curriculum Coming to California Schools - David Bernstein and Pamela Paresky
    When an Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) was unanimously adopted in March by the California Board of Education, some members of the Jewish community pushed for various modifications and ultimately supported it. Now, the very people who authored earlier versions of the curriculum so explicitly anti-Semitic they were unable to pass it, are now pushing a "Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum" that contains even more extreme prescriptions.
        Their website promotes a curriculum "toolkit" that refers to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Jewish Community Resource (sic) Council (JCRC), and Simon Wiesenthal's Museum of Tolerance as "Zionist organizations" whose "primary goal is to stunt the development of authentic anti-racist curriculum." They define Zionism as a "colonial ideology," claim that there is "current apartheid in Israel" and that Israel's "settler colonialism" must be included in California's ethnic studies curriculum.
        What makes Israel an appropriate subject for a curriculum that is supposed to be about ethnic groups in the U.S.? The authors subscribe to the conspiracy theory that there are clear "connections between the struggle for Palestinian rights and the struggles of Indigenous, Black and brown communities" in the U.S.  California is about to pass a bill mandating Ethnic Studies as a graduation requirement, and 14 school districts have already passed resolutions endorsing this anti-Semitic version.
        David Bernstein, past president and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, is the founder of the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values, where Pamela Paresky is Board Chair. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
  • Time for Palestinians to Wake Up to the Unshakable Reality of Israel - Dr. Alon Ben-Meir
    Nothing has so undermined the Palestinian cause in the eyes of Israelis than their calls to have a state that extends from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, which would mean the extinction of Israel. It's time for the Palestinians to wake up to the unshakable reality that Israel will continue to exist no matter what anyone says or does. As long as a significant segment of Palestinians continue to proclaim "from the river to the sea," they will never realize their dream of statehood.
        For statehood to happen, the Palestinians must persuade the Israelis that they have no sinister design to wipe Israel off the map at a later stage. But Palestinians teach their students in school that Israeli Jews are the perpetual enemy, preparing the next generation to fight on until the bitter end.
        The writer is a professor of international relations at New York University. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • The "Anti-Semitism/Anti-Israel" Phenomenon: What Do Israeli Campus Professionals Think? - Irwin J. Mansdorf
    Jewish campus professionals are uniquely positioned to assess the nature and extent of anti-Israel activity and anti-Semitic sentiment on campus. The data suggest that while specific campuses may represent centers of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel activity, the broad generalization of "the campus" as a problem for Jewish students may be inaccurate.
        Contrary to sentiment in the general Jewish American community, the assessment of campus professionals is that liberal and progressive groups represent the greater source of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sentiment on campuses.
        The writer is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center specializing in political psychology and an adjunct professor of psychology at Long Island University. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

After the Taliban Victory: An Alliance of Moderation for the Middle East - Amb. Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • We in Israel have to team up with our Sunni Arab allies to build a new security consensus for the Middle East. After Prime Minister Netanyahu's 2015 speech to Congress on the Iranan threat, a whole new approach became visible to us in the Sunni Arab world. It became clear that they understood the dangers of the Middle East the same way we did and the basis for a real alliance between former enemies became very real.
  • Saudi Arabia is a different country today and we in Israel have to find ways to reach out to it, as well as its other neighbors, to build an alliance of moderation for the Middle East against the forces that are threatening us.
  • Iran seems determined to get a nuclear weapons capability to threaten the existence of the State of Israel and we have to behave as though that is the case. Jerusalem Center experts who do research in Farsi (Persian) have made clear that the Iranian defense doctrine is very much influenced by Shiite religious considerations. If, for example, the Jewish population in the world is destroyed, that will accelerate the arrival of the hidden imam known as the Mahdi, the 12th imam.
  • The mutual suspicion between parts of the Sunni world and parts of the Shia world is much more intense than the Arab-Israel conflict. We should expose the Arab public to how the Jewish people and the Sunni world have worked together in the past. I remind Middle Eastern audiences that after the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans, for 500 years Jews were forbidden from living in our holy city, and when the second caliph of Islam, Umar ibn Al-Khattab, came into Jerusalem, he reopened the city to the Jewish people.
  • As director-general of the Israel Foreign Ministry, I visited South Africa and learned of the Jewish home outside Johannesburg where Nelson Mandela would hide from the police. While he was there he read the books in the home. One was The Revolt by Menachem Begin. Months later, at the UN General Assembly, I met with the foreign minister of South Africa, who was known as a radical extremist. I told her the story of Nelson Mandela reading Begin's book and said, "The head of your national movement read a book written by the head of my national movement."

    The writer is president of the Jerusalem Center. This is from a Zoom interview with Sapir journal editor-in-chief Bret Stephens on August 16, 2021.
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