September 9, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

New Afghan Interior Minister Is on FBI's Most Wanted List - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
    On Tuesday, the Taliban named Sirajuddin Haqqani as interior minister, putting a jihadist terrorist in charge of internal security.
    Haqqani is on the FBI's most wanted list, and the U.S. is offering $10 million for information leading to his arrest.
    He was involved in a January 2008 attack on a hotel in Kabul that killed six people, including one American.
    The network he runs is also accused of plotting a 2011 suicide truck bomb in Wardak province that wounded 77 American soldiers.
    In 2012 the Obama Administration officially designated the Haqqani Network as a terrorist organization, with long and extensive ties to al-Qaeda.

Islamists Suffer Crushing Defeat in Moroccan Parliamentary Elections (France 24)
    Morocco's liberal RNI party won 97 seats in the country's 395-seat parliament, up from 37 seats in 2016, while co-ruling PJD Islamists won only 12 seats, down from 125 in 2016, preliminary results showed on Thursday.

Israel Will Reopen to Small Groups of Tourists (Reuters-CNN)
    Israel will allow small foreign tour groups from selected countries to visit from Sept. 19 under a pilot program to restore tourism, the government said on Sunday.
    Tour groups of 5-30 people will be allowed to enter the country provided all group members have been fully vaccinated, the tourism ministry said.

Israel and U.S. to Develop New Arrow 4 Missile to Defeat Hypersonic Weapons - Sebastien Roblin (National Interest)
    In July, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Lockheed-Martin signed a memorandum agreeing to cooperate on the development of the next-generation Arrow 4 air defense system, designed to counter new types of long-range missiles.
    These are believed to include maneuverable hypersonic cruise missile and glide vehicle weapons, as well as missiles that release multiple warheads.

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Hamas in Gaza Wages Perilous Campaign of Harassing Israel (AFP)
    Night after night, Palestinians in Gaza approach the border fence with Israel, carrying stun grenades and firebombs to hurl toward IDF soldiers.
    These so-called disruption operations are sponsored by the Islamist armed group Hamas and include sending incendiary balloons into Israel, where they start fires in grasslands and on farms.
    Since the last war in May, Israel has eased restrictions on the entry of goods into Gaza, widened the permitted fishing zone, and approved a new system for distributing Qatari aid via the UN.
    Hamas dismisses these steps as not enough, and has resumed its campaign to "irritate" Israel, said Mukhaimer Abu Saada, a political science professor at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, who labeled it a risky strategy.
    See also Gaza's Militant-Led Border Riots - Joe Truzman (Long War Journal-Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
    Since the start of the border riots in 2018, FDD's Long War Journal has tracked dozens of Palestinian militants participating in the violence.
    Hamas and media outlets have portrayed the riots as "demonstrations" and "protests," but this is a mischaracterization of the reality on the ground.
    Hamas and other factions have been directing militants to attack IDF soldiers at the security fence for more than three years.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Blocking IAEA Access to Nuclear-Related Sites - Laurence Norman
    Iran is refusing to allow inspectors access to nuclear-related sites while continuing to expand its nuclear activities, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in two confidential reports Tuesday, casting doubt on efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.
        In the first report, the UN atomic agency lambasted Iran for failing to cooperate with the IAEA after its discovery, starting in 2019, of traces of radioactive material at several sites in Iran. "Iran has still not provided the necessary explanations for the presence of the nuclear material particles. The Director General remains deeply concerned that nuclear material has been present at undeclared locations in Iran and that the current locations of this nuclear material are not known to the Agency."
        In the second report, the IAEA detailed its repeated recent requests for access to sites in Iran to reset monitoring equipment, like memory cards in cameras, so they wouldn't run out. Iran hasn't yet granted access. With cooperation between the agency and Iran disintegrating, there are calls for the U.S. and Europe to move swiftly to rebuke Iran. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Israel Receives Fourth and Final Sa'ar 6 Corvette from Germany - Seth Frantzman
    Israel has received its fourth and final Sa'ar 6 corvette from Germany, the Nitzahon, which arrived on Aug. 30. Israel characterizes the corvettes as central to the protection of both Israeli waters and energy assets at sea. The other new corvettes are the Atzmaut, Magen and Oz.
        Many of the defense systems on the ships are new, and 90% were designed by Israeli defense companies. These include the naval version of the Iron Dome defense system and Barak missile interceptors.
        The ships have a range of 2,500 nautical miles, giving them the capability to remain at sea for extended periods. The IDF noted that 70% of Israel's electricity comes from natural gas produced by Israel's marine gas rigs, which means they must be protected. (Defense News)
  • Arizona Scraps Investments in Unilever over Ben and Jerry's Israel Policy - Howard Fischer
    Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee announced Tuesday she is selling off all of the state's $143 million in Unilever bonds and commercial paper, following the announcement that the company will no longer sell its Ben & Jerry's ice cream in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. Yee said she had no choice, citing a 2016 law which prohibits state entities from doing business with any company that boycotts Israel.
        Yee said it is irrelevant that when Unilever acquired the company in 2000, it allowed it to make decisions that were not approved by the corporate parent. "The fact remains that Ben & Jerry's is a legal subsidiary of Unilever and due to the decision by Ben & Jerry's, continues to be in violation of Arizona law," Yee wrote. (Arizona Capitol Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Security Forces Seek Recapture of Palestinian Security Prisoners after Prison Break
    Six Palestinian security prisoners who escaped on Monday from Gilboa Prison were still at large on Thursday. Five of the fugitives are members of Islamic Jihad, four of whom were in jail for life in connection with deadly attacks against Israelis. The sixth is Fatah terror chief Zakaria Zubeidi, who is on trial for two dozen crimes, including attempted murder.
        The jailbreak sparked riots by Palestinians in other prisons, as well as in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, in solidarity with the escaped prisoners. (Times of Israel)
        See also Report: 2 Palestinian Fugitives Flee to Jordan, 4 to Jenin
    Two of the Palestinian security prisoners who broke out of Gilboa Prison fled to Jordan and the other four fled to the West Bank city of Jenin, Israel's Channel 13 reported Monday, citing security sources. (Ynet News)
  • Coronavirus in Israel: Serious Cases Stabilize - Yaron Druckman
    The Israel Health Ministry reported Thursday that the rise of severe coronavirus cases has stabilized. 3,241 people tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday, of whom 1,669 were schoolchildren. 1,114 Israelis are currently hospitalized, with 680 patients in severe condition, of whom 160 are ventilated.
        Prof. Doron Gazit, a member of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's expert panel on the pandemic, noted, "The trend of the current infection wave being on its way down is continuing. The daily rise in serious cases is going down." He attributed this drop to the coronavirus vaccine booster shot. He added that the rapid testing campaign for schools also aided in finding infections early and stopping the spread. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israel's Envoy Shocked over Racist Abuse on Britain's Streets - Ben Felsenburg
    Israel's Ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely recalled in an interview her horror at the anti-Semitic protests that erupted as Israel defended its civilians from Hamas missiles in May. "Some of the attacks happened in my neighborhood, some of the cars were driving next to my house," she said, referring to the "hate convoy" that snaked through north London during the Gaza war, with cars draped with Palestinian flags driving through Jewish neighborhoods. "My children had to hear people shouting and screaming horrible things."
        "The issue is that this jihadi ideology has got to the capital of freedom and liberalism that London symbolizes. I'm not just speaking about my own experience, I'm speaking about the Jewish community's experience."
        During the May conflict, the ambassador had faced an often hostile British media. On BBC "Newsnight," the opening question was: "How ashamed are you of your government tonight?" "It wasn't an easy moment for me," Hotovely recalled. "My mother, who's over 60, was sitting in a shelter, kids in Israel were sitting in shelters instead of going to nurseries and schools. But my reaction was very clear. We are a democratic country defending its people being attacked by a terror organization. This is the truth."  (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • Americans' Shifting Views on the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict - Eytan Gilboa
    The Palestinians are waging a sustained propaganda battle to win over Western hearts and minds, especially in the U.S. Turning Israel's struggle for survival upside down, the fake Palestinian narrative of unblemished victimhood has made inroads into American public opinion. Yet, examination of American attitudes toward the Palestinian-Israeli conflict over the past two decades reveals stable and highly favorable feelings toward Israel, and unfavorable, if somewhat improving, attitudes toward the Palestinians.
        Over the past two decades, Israel's favorability rating in surveys has risen from 62% in 2000 to 74% in 2020. By contrast, favorable opinions of the Palestinian Authority were 21% in 2000 and 23% in 2020. More than any other single factor, it is the intensity of Palestinian violence and intransigence that has determined the way Palestinians and the PA were seen by Americans.
        The writer is Professor Emeritus of Political Science and International Communication at Bar-Ilan University and a senior research associate at the BESA Center for Strategic Studies. (Middle East Quarterly)
  • Forging the American-Israeli Alliance of the Future - Jonathan Schanzer
    During the Cold War with the Soviet Union, Israel embraced its role as a democratic, pro-Western bastion with a professional military that was both willing and able to deter Moscow's clients in the Middle East. In the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks, Washington needed capable and like-minded allies in the "War on Terror." Israel, with its many years of experience defending its citizens from terrorism, was a valued partner.
        Today, Israel is one of the few military powers capable of defending American interests, even when America is unwilling or unable to do so. It has played this role for years, taking out the Iraqi and Syrian nuclear programs and undermining the Iranian program through cyber and other means.
        The writer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Treasury Department, is senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Newsweek)
  • Why U.S. Aid to the PA Will Not Bring Peace - Khaled Abu Toameh
    As the Biden administration steps up its efforts to bolster the Palestinian Authority (PA), Palestinians seem to be increasingly losing faith in their leaders. Many are even saying that they support the annulment of the 1993 Oslo Accords, and that the only peace process they would support is one that leads to the elimination of Israel.
        U.S. financial aid may prop up the PA in the short term. In the long term, however, U.S. dollars will not restore the Palestinians' confidence in Abbas or the PA leadership. U.S. dollars will not drive Palestinians to accept Israel's right to exist. The same applies to similar Israeli gestures.
        According to the latest polling, many Palestinians have been so successfully radicalized by their leaders that they want to see Israel removed from the face of the earth. Hate has been embedded so successfully that they would rather see their people suffer and die than accept any accommodation with Israel.
        The only way to change this brutal reality is by halting the messages of hate and the delegitimization of Israel. Until that happens, Palestinians will continue to pocket money from the U.S. and other Western donors, while at the same time moving closer to Hamas and further from any peace with Israel. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Palestinianism and the New Anti-Semitism - Richard L. Cravatts
    A current propaganda campaign seeks to enshrine Palestinianism, in which the suffering of Palestinians trumps the historic suffering and dispossession of the Jews. It is based on the wholesale, deliberate appropriation of the language and symbols of the Jews by the foes who wish to eradicate not only the Jewish past, but the very existence of the Jewish state. Thus, the actual genocide of European Jewry during the Holocaust is either minimized or denied by the Arab world at the same time that Israel is denounced for committing a new "holocaust" against the Palestinians.
        While Arab aggression and homicidal impulses against Jews have been unrelenting, before and since the creation of Israel, Palestinianism has been successful in casting the Arab Palestinians as the perennial victim of Jewish supremacism, even though the aims of the Islamists to establish a Muslim-only state in historic Palestine is the very form of self-determination that is repeatedly decried on the part of Israel for being racist, inhumane, internationally criminal, and morally unacceptable.
        The writer is President Emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME). (Times of Israel)

Israel Is No Goliath - Daniel Ben-Ami (Spiked-UK)
  • Much of the imagery used to illustrate the recent conflict in Gaza sought to portray a military superpower and a largely helpless victim. The echoes of the biblical story of David and Goliath were difficult to miss. But this vision of a mighty Israel crushing poor Palestinian civilians is highly misleading.
  • First, Israel is far from being a superpower - even in military terms; it is at most a middleweight. By all key metrics - geographic, demographic, and economic - Israel is dwarfed by even a middle-ranked power like Britain.
  • The annual Global Firepower ranking puts Israel in the world's top-20 strongest militaries - but only just, at No. 20. Britain was ranked at No. 8. Several countries in the Middle East are more highly ranked militarily than Israel, including Turkey, Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
  • Moreover, the contemporary conflict is not simply one between Israel and the Palestinians. It also involves an additional main party in the wider region: Islamism.
  • Hamas (the Arabic acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement) in Gaza has substantial external Islamic support, including military backing from Iran and financial support from Qatar. It also has a powerful military ally in Hizbullah in Lebanon, which is also backed by Iran.
  • Indeed, the goal of Hamas, and Islamism generally, is not Palestinian self-determination. It is to subjugate Gaza, along with the rest of the Middle East, under an Islamic caliphate. It is therefore hostile to Palestinian self-determination.
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