September 6, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Al-Qaeda Plotted Multiple Terror Attacks in Israel after 9/11, FBI Agent Says (Times of Israel)
    Al-Qaeda planned to carry out massive terrorist attacks simultaneously at several Israeli nightclubs in 2002 and was in the final stages of the plan, but was thwarted with the help of U.S. intelligence operatives, former FBI researcher Ali Soufan told Yediot Ahronot on Friday.
    The details of the plot had previously been blocked for publication by the CIA and have only now been cleared for publication.
    The information was obtained during interrogations, at a secret CIA black site, of Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, a Palestinian al-Qaeda operative who was captured by the U.S. in March 2002.
    The U.S. said he was a longtime ally of Osama bin Laden.

Israel's Jewish Population Approaches 7 Million - Ofer Aderet (Ha'aretz)
    9,391,000 people live in Israel, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Sunday, ahead of the Jewish New Year which starts Monday evening.
    Israel's Jewish population is 6,943,000 (74%) and the Arab population is 1,982,000 (21%).

Israeli President Herzog Sends Jewish New Year Greetings to Diaspora: "Israel Is Your Home Away from Home" - Amy Spiro (Times of Israel)
    President Isaac Herzog issued a special greeting to diaspora Jewry ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
    He concluded: "Israel is your home away from home - and we are all looking forward to seeing you in our beloved country."

Dermer: World Will Allow Iran to Develop a Nuclear Weapon - Ariel Kahana (Israel Hayom)
    Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said in an interview that despite promises, the U.S. and the international community will allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.
    "No one wanted North Korea and Pakistan to get nuclear weapons, but it happened. Obama and Biden also don't want Iran to have nuclear weapons, but it will happen if we [Israel] don't stop it."

Hamas Says Egypt Pumped Gas into Gaza Tunnel, Killing 3 (Times of Israel)
    The bodies of three Palestinians were discovered on Friday in an underground tunnel between Gaza and Egypt after gas was sent into the tunnel from the Egyptian side, triggering the tunnel's collapse, Hamas authorities reported.

Israel's Trade with Arab States Has Surged since 2020 Peace Deals (Times of Israel)
    In the first seven months of 2021, trade between Israel and countries in the Middle East and North Africa grew by 234% compared to the same period in 2020, according to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics.
    Trade with the UAE surged from $50.8 million in January-July 2020 to $613.9 million in the same period in 2021.
    Trade with Jordan increased from $136.2 to $224.2 million, trade with Egypt went from $92 to $122.4 million, and Morocco trade rose from $14.9 to $20.8 million.

New Unicorn Companies in Israel Growing at Unprecedented Rate - Allon Sinai (Calcalist)
    In business, a unicorn is a privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion. Israel's unicorn list has mushroomed to 68 companies.
    The number of new unicorns in Israel continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, with 24 new ones announced in the first half of 2021. This is twice the number announced in China over the same period and is second only to the U.S.

Israel Aerospace to Resume Production of F-16 Wings - Danny Zaken (Globes)
    Israel Aerospace Industries has announced the resumption of production of F-16 wings for Lockheed Martin, using the assembly line established in the 1980s, following increased worldwide demand for the F-16.

We wish our readers a Happy Jewish New Year!

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Biden's Iran Envoy Says U.S. "Can't Wait Forever" as Iran Continues Nuclear Advances
    U.S. Special Representative to Iran Robert Malley discussed the delay in returning to nuclear talks with Iran on Bloomberg TV on Sept. 3. "As Secretary [of State] Blinken has said, we can't wait forever as Iran continues its nuclear advances, because at some point their advances will be such as to make a return to the JCPOA much less valuable to the U.S. than it would otherwise be. So...let's not drag this on for too long because at some point, we'll have to reach a different conclusion."
        "We've said we're prepared to lift those sanctions that are inconsistent with the [nuclear] deal and to do that if Iran reverses those nuclear steps that are inconsistent with the deal....But if Iran is asking more of the U.S. than is provided in the deal, or is prepared to do less than it is committed to in the deal, then it doesn't matter whether we resume the talks yesterday, today or in three months. We will hit an impasse."  (Bloomberg-JNS)
  • U.S. Sanctions Iranians over Plot to Kidnap NY-Based Journalist
    The U.S. has sanctioned four Iranian intelligence operatives behind a failed plot to kidnap Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad who was critical of Tehran, the U.S. Treasury Department said on Friday. "The Iranian government's kidnapping plot is another example of its continued attempt to silence critical voices, wherever they may be," said Andrea Gacki, head of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control. "Targeting dissidents abroad demonstrates that the government's repression extends far beyond Iran's borders."  (Reuters)
        See also Sanctioning Iranian Intelligence Affiliates for Targeting Dissidents Abroad - Secretary of State Antony Blinken
    Iran's attempt to kidnap a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil because she used her freedom of speech to criticize the Iranian government is unacceptable and an egregious violation of fundamental international norms. Beyond this specific plot, the United States remains aware of ongoing Iranian interest in targeting other American citizens, including current and former U.S. officials.
        We will not tolerate efforts to intimidate independent journalists or silence their voices. We will hold those responsible to account. And we will not tolerate any attacks on U.S. citizens, here or abroad. (U.S. State Department)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Missiles Hit Weapons-Development Center of Iran-Backed Militias in Syria
    Israeli strikes hit military positions containing research centers used by Iranian-backed militias for developing weapons in Barzeh and Jamraya in Rif Dimashq governorate in Syria. (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights-UK)
        See also Israel Destroyed Syrian Missile Battery that Fired toward Tel Aviv
    The Israeli Air Force destroyed a Russian-made S-200 missile system of the Syrian Army after it launched a missile that exploded near central Israel early Friday morning, Israel's Channel 12 reported. The Syrian air defense missile flew over Israel before exploding over the Mediterranean Sea. Missile fragments were later found in the Tel Aviv area.
        The Syrian military fired the missile in response to what Syrian state media said were Israeli airstrikes near Damascus. Israeli officials believe the missile was not intentionally fired at Israeli territory. (Times of Israel)
  • Hamas Launches Incendiary Balloons into Israel, Cites Stalled Qatari Aid - Jack Khoury
    Hamas launched over a dozen incendiary balloons into Israel on Saturday in protest of delays in transferring Qatari aid money to Palestinians in Gaza. Media outlets in Gaza said that Israel had removed 2,000 names from the list of 100,000 Palestinian families in Gaza to receive $100 in cash each month, citing security reasons. Hamas had agreed last month that Israel and the U.S. could examine the list of needy families to prove they are indeed poor and not members of Hamas. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Wants U.S. to Join It in Delaying Iran's Nuclear Project - Amos Harel
    Israel wants to maintain the image of a military threat to Iran's nuclear project, even though it knows that whether a new nuclear agreement will be signed depends primarily on the Iranians. If Ayatollah Khamenei decides that he's interested in an agreement, the Americans will jump at the opportunity.
        Israel's impression is that it's convenient for the Iranian regime to project toughness, while enrichment is continuing apace. The agreement might whitewash the progress the Iranians will have made by the time they sign it.
        If no agreement is signed, Israel will seek to recruit the U.S. to its "campaign between wars," the battles Israel has been waging for the past decade, which initially focused on preventing arms smuggling via Syria to Hizbullah in Lebanon. It has spread to systematic attacks on Iranian interests throughout the Middle East. Israel wants the U.S. to join this project and expand it to include delaying Iran's nuclear project. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iran and the Taliban: Bitter Enemies or Potential Partners - Amb. Dore Gold
    At the end of the 1990s, Shiite Iran and the Sunni Taliban nearly went to war. However, the Iranians also pursued a strategy of supplying Taliban units with arms and cash as well as training Taliban fighters, using the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Iran later deployed the Afghan Fatemiyoun Division in Syria, which became the largest external militia involved in the fighting there.
        Both Iran and the Taliban were committed to seeing U.S. power in Afghanistan weakened. But now that the Americans are gone, does there remain a basis for Iranian-Afghan cooperation? Will Iran seek to add the demographic weight of Shiite communities in Afghanistan and Pakistan to its cause?
        The writer, former Director-General of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israeli Ambassador to the UN, is President of the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The Taliban Takeover: Iranian Interests in Afghanistan - Bat Chen Feldman
    Iran's primary security interests in Afghanistan are to prevent terrorist infiltration. As of now, Iran regards ISIS as the most significant terrorist threat. According to American reports, the Afghan branch of ISIS has conducted many terrorist attacks against civilian Shiite targets in Afghanistan. The American withdrawal is liable to strengthen ISIS in Afghanistan and reinforce its activity against the Shiite community or Iranian targets.
        Iran also wants to safeguard its economic interests as the largest exporter to Afghanistan, one of Iran's largest markets for non-oil exports. Another important Iranian interest is the free flow of water from Afghanistan to Iran - a matter of dispute between the two countries. The Helmand River, which flows from Afghanistan to the Sistan region in Iran, supplies water for about a million people.
        The improved relations between Iran and the Taliban, despite the ideological and religious differences and the Shiite-Sunni rift, reflect a large degree of realpolitik. As long as its security and economic interests are preserved, Iran is not expected to support the Taliban's opponents or engage in subversive activity in Afghanistan.
        The writer is a research assistant in the Iran and Regional Affairs Program at INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Iran's New Government: An Assertive Regional Policy and a Firm Stance toward the West - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall
    Iran's Parliament approved the list of ministers presented by President Ibrahim Raisi on August 25, 2021. Some are on the U.S. government's sanctions list, and some are accused of international terrorism, such as Ahmed Vahidi, the interior minister, who is wanted for his role in the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community building in Argentina.
        Iran's leaders believe that a series of "divine events" have accompanied the Islamic Revolution since its inception: Hizbullah and the Palestinians' rounds of confrontations with Israel, the removal of Saddam Hussein, successfully confronting U.S.-imposed crippling sanctions, the disappearance of sworn enemies (Trump, Netanyahu), and the American departure from countries bordering Iran (Iraq, Afghanistan).
        These prove, in the leaders' view, the justice of their path, and they shape the inner belief and conviction that it is possible to challenge the presence of the West and the "foreign transplant" in the region - Israel - and that Israel can be eliminated through patience, resistance, and coordination with the Muslim countries.
        The writer, an expert on strategic issues with a focus on Iran, terrorism, and the Middle East, is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Time for Israel to Deprive Hamas in Gaza of Its Power of Extortion - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Udi Dekel
    In recent days, Hamas has sought to wage a campaign of attrition that will exhaust Israel through an ongoing campaign of harassment on a number of fronts: terrorism and mob violence from Gaza, incitement in Jerusalem, rocket fire from Lebanon, and encouragement of terrorism in the West Bank. Current efforts to reach understandings and even an arrangement with Hamas weaken the PA and contribute to its image as an irrelevant partner for a political process, while further damaging the PA's legitimacy.
        Israel's current policy of conflict management, instead of changing the rules of the game and acting in a proactive and unexpected way, means continuing to act according to the extortion rules defined by Hamas.
        The writer, former head of the IDF Strategic Planning Division, is Managing Director of INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

The Taliban's Palestinian Partners: Implications for the Middle East Peace Process - Dan Diker and Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The Taliban's reconquering of Afghanistan has reenergized the global jihad's war against the West, inspiring other regional Islamist and extremist movements, including those of the Palestinians.
  • Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad see the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan as vindicating their longstanding ideological claims that patience pays off and that "resistance" can defeat the American-led Western alliance and dismantle the State of Israel.
  • Congratulating the Taliban on August 17, 2021, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said, "The demise of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan is a prelude to the demise of the Israeli occupation of the land of Palestine."
  • Palestinian statements of support for the Taliban should be understood in the context of the fundamentalist groups' ideological rejection of America and Israel as infidels seeking to control the lands of Islam.
  • Dr. Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian scholar and cleric, is widely considered the "father of the global jihad" and served as a mentor to Osama bin Laden. Azzam laid the groundwork for the establishment of al-Qaeda and the Pakistani jihadist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the deadly Mumbai, India, attack in 2008, killing 175 people.
  • Palestinian "human rights" organizations sought to undermine the American mission in Afghanistan, submitting complaints to the International Criminal Court (ICC) charging U.S. military forces in Afghanistan and the CIA with "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity."
  • The Taliban victory in Afghanistan makes it impossible for Palestinian Islamists to agree to any U.S. peace proposal that would require any Palestinian concessions. The Taliban's takeover and the U.S. withdrawal have legitimized and empowered Hamas as the new standard for "resistance" against Israel.

    Dan Diker is Director of the Project to Counter BDS and Political Warfare at the Jerusalem Center. Khaled Abu Toameh is a veteran journalist who has been covering Palestinian affairs for three decades. Both are Fellows of the Jerusalem Center.

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