September 23, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Strike Kills al-Qaeda Leader in Syria - Howard Altman (Military Times)
    U.S. forces carried out a strike on a "senior al-Qaeda leader" in Syria on Tuesday, a U.S. Central Command spokesman said.
    A drone strike hit a vehicle traveling on the Idlib-Binnish road east of Idlib province in rebel-controlled northwestern Syria.
    Large parts of Idlib and neighboring Aleppo provinces remain in the hands of Syrian armed opposition, dominated by radical groups. There are over 4 million civilians living in the area.

Florida Ready to Pull Investments from Unilever over Ben and Jerry's Decision (Tampa Bay Times)
    Ash Williams, chief investment officer of the State Board of Administration, said Tuesday he anticipates Unilever will be added to Florida's list of "Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel," prohibiting state investments and contracts with the companies.
    The state has $139 million in holdings in Unilever and its subsidiaries.
    Unilever was advised of the state's position in July, and a 90-day period will end Oct. 26 for Ben & Jerry's to reverse its decision to stop selling ice cream in the West Bank.

Survey: 2/3 of Jewish College Students Feel Unsafe (Brandeis Center for Human Rights under Law)
    A survey of 1,027 members of the predominately Jewish fraternity AEPi and the leading Jewish sorority AEPhi conducted in April found that 70% of the students personally experienced or were familiar with an anti-Semitic attack in the past 120 days, with more than 65% feeling unsafe on campus and one in 10 fearing physical attack.
    Furthermore, 50% of students said they felt the need to hide their Jewish identity.
    The survey also found that 84% were supportive of Israel, 83% considered other Jews extended family, and 56% had traveled to Israel.

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The Abraham Accords: Accomplishments One Year Later - Dmitriy Shapiro (JNS)
    Speaking at the newly established Abraham Accords Peace Institute (AAPI) in Washington on the first anniversary of the accords, Jared Kushner, a former presidential advisor tasked with leading the Israeli-Arab peace process, said that within a 12-month period, Israel has exchanged ambassadors with Bahrain and UAE, opened an embassy in Dubai and a consulate in Abu Dhabi, and inaugurated a diplomatic mission to Morocco.
    Commercial airlines have begun operating nonstop flights between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt, and a flyover agreement with Saudi Arabia was reached.
    There have been 35 diplomatic agreements and hundreds of business transactions involving innovation, tourism, sports, culture, science, air transit, and technology, as well as a drastic increase in Israel's trade with the accord's members.
    "This means that more jobs and opportunities will be available for Jews, Muslims and Christians throughout the entire region," he said.
    Kushner's speech was interrupted by a protestor screaming, "Free Palestine!"
    After she was moved out of the hall, Kushner said, "I don't know why people do that....Quite frankly, there is so much that's available to the Palestinians today and to their leadership if they would just go with focusing on what's best for the people."

The False Narrative of the 1948 Nakba - David Collier (David Collier)
    The "Nakba" is the name given to the Arab defeat in a war that they wanted, started and lost in 1948, a war in which they sought to annihilate the Jews.
    The Arab violence did not begin in reaction to the UN partition vote in November 1947. There were Arab massacres of Jews in 1920, 1921, 1929, 1936 and 1938, all of which occurred before 1947. And between each of these major events were lots of little ones.
    The truth is that by the 1920s, organized violence against Jewish communities had become a regular feature of Jewish life in Mandatory Palestine. Arabs attacked and Jews responded. Arabs that did not attack Jews were mostly left alone.
    From the very beginning, the Arab leadership refused to cooperate with the British Authorities or the Jewish community. Archives are full of examples of the Arab side simply not participating in discussions.
    Islamists such as the Grand Mufti Haj Amin el Husseini, or clan leaders in Beirut or Damascus, would issues orders and gangs on the streets of Jerusalem and Haifa would enforce them. This destroyed the opportunities for moderate voices to emerge.
    This strategy of rejection - more than anything else - is the reason that Arabs in the West Bank do not enjoy independence today.
    The controlling elements of Arab society always saw the destruction of the Jews as the ultimate goal. Nor were they shy about admitting it.
    Everywhere where Jews existed and "Palestinian Arabs" remained in control, Jews suffered massacres and expulsion.
    The Jews had no choice but to stand and fight for every inch of land they held. The alternative - as the Arabs made clear - was annihilation.
    The Arabs, who did not see "Palestine" as anything other than part of a greater Arab nation, could seek refuge in any nearby part of "Arab lands."
    The Arabs had somewhere to go; the Jews did not.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. and Israel Held Secret Talks on Iran "Plan B" - Barak Ravid
    The U.S. and Israel held secret talks on Iran last week to discuss a possible "plan B" if nuclear talks are not resumed, two senior Israeli officials tell me. The meeting last week was held via a secure video conference call and led by national security adviser Jake Sullivan and his Israeli counterpart, Eyal Hulata.
        The U.S. said it would impose additional sanctions on Iran if talks don't resume soon, an Israeli official told me. A spokesperson for Iran's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that Iran would be ready to resume Vienna nuclear talks in a few weeks. (Axios)
  • Funding for Israel's Iron Dome Cut from U.S. Spending Bill - Juliegrace Brufke
    A group of anti-Israel lawmakers forced the House Democratic leadership Tuesday to cut $1 billion for Israel's Iron Dome from a short-term government funding bill. The move prompted a call from Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who reassured Lapid that the cut was a "technical postponement" and that the aid "will be transferred soon."
        Hoyer later announced that he would bring a stand-alone bill on funding the Iron Dome program to the House floor before the end of this week. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said, "The United States must fully live up to our commitments to our friend and our ally, Israel."
        Moderate House Democrats slammed their colleagues for their anti-Israel stance. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) called removing the funding "irresponsible." "Iron Dome is a purely 'defensive' system - it protects civilians when hundreds of rockets are shot at population centers. Whatever your views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, using a system that just saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives as a political chit is problematic."
        Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said, "Just a few months ago, Israel was attacked by over 4,000 rockets launched by Hamas. The Iron Dome saved lives and helped limit civilian casualties during this terrifying escalation. There is strong bipartisan support to supply our friend and ally Israel with the tools to defend itself against future threats."  (New York Post)
        See also AIPAC Raps "Extremists in Congress" after Iron Dome Funding Struck from Bill
    American Jewish groups on Tuesday condemned the removal of a $1 billion allocation for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system from a U.S. budget bill. "Extremists in Congress are playing politics with Israeli & Palestinian lives. Calling to remove funding for a lifesaving defensive system is an affront to our values, risks further conflict, and is counter to the commitment made by Biden & supported by Congressional leadership," said the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). "It's simple: Iron Dome saves lives. Blocking funding for Iron Dome helps terrorists kill civilians."  (Times of Israel)
  • Funding for Israel's Missile Defense System Set for Vote on Thursday - Marc Rod
    The House of Representatives will vote Thursday on authorizing $1 billion for Israel to resupply its Iron Dome missile defense system. The system was used extensively in May, when Hamas fired rockets from Gaza toward Israel, the vast majority of which were intercepted by the system. (Jewish Insider)
        See also Israeli Officials Not Worried over Iron Dome Funds - Jonathan Lis
    One Israeli government official rejected the claim that the developments in Washington reflected Israel's political standing in the U.S. "This incident wasn't connected to Israel at all. In a situation in which the American administration needs every vote in the House of Representatives to pass the budget proposal, a single-digit number of legislators seized on this political situation to exert pressure through it. Does that mean we won't get the money? Quite the contrary."  (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Senator Releases Palestinian Aid - Jacob Magid
    Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, initially held up $75 million in humanitarian assistance that the Biden administration earmarked for the Palestinians last March, due to the Palestinian Authority's payments to prisoners who had carried out attacks against Israelis. In the months that followed, he released $55 million of that aid in two separate approvals.
        The senator agreed to release the last $20 million in aid, "as long as it is reprogrammed to be used for food aid, and will not be in the hands of terrorists." Had the aid not been spent by the end of September, it would have expired. (Times of Israel)
  • Poll: 62 Percent of Palestinians Oppose a Two-State Solution - Dr. Khalil Shikaki
    62% of Palestinians oppose the concept of the two-state solution, while 36% support the concept, according to a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank and Gaza on 15-18 September 2021. Moreover, 73% believe that the chances for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel in the next five years are slim or nonexistent.
        61% oppose and 24% support an unconditional resumption of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. 58% oppose and 36% support a return to dialogue with the new U.S. administration under President Joe Biden. 54% support a return to armed confrontations and intifada.
        78% of the public want President Abbas to resign, up from 68% three months ago. If new legislative elections were held today, 37% say they will vote for Hamas and 32% will vote for Fatah. In light of the recent confrontations with Israel, 45% think Hamas is most deserving of leading the Palestinian people, while only 19% think Fatah under President Abbas should lead the Palestinians. (Palestinian Center for Survey and Policy Research)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    U.S. Congressional Critics Target Israel's Iron Dome

  • Shooting Down Israel's Iron Dome - Editorial
    Facing a revolt from progressive lawmakers, and with limited time to avert a government shutdown, on Tuesday House Democrats stripped from their government funding bill the $1 billion earmarked for Israel's Iron Dome missile-defense system. Iron Dome has enjoyed strong bipartisan support. It is a defensive system that shoots down rockets fired by Hamas and other Iran-backed terrorist groups in Gaza to kill Israeli civilians.
        Iron Dome also saves Palestinian lives, since when Israeli casualties are prevented, there's less domestic pressure on Israel's political leaders to escalate their military response. The system's deployment and improvement, with U.S. funding, also helps develop technology that can be used to defend Americans.
        The funding was shot down because a growing number of Democrats oppose anything that would help Israel, even if it promotes peace. Supporters of Israel should take note. If Iron Dome can lose Democratic Party support, then there is nothing pro-Israel that won't be in jeopardy in Congress. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Immorality of Democratic "Progressives" Targeting Iron Dome - David Horovitz
    Were it not for the astonishing Iron Dome missile defense system, the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group would have been able to reduce Israel's residential areas to rubble in recent years, rendering much of the country unlivable. In the May conflict alone, 1,500 rockets fired from Gaza were heading directly into Israeli civilian neighborhoods. In excess of 1,400 of them were knocked out of the sky by Iron Dome interceptors. In the decade since the system was first rushed into service, it has stopped thousands of rockets from killing and maiming Israelis.
        In the Obama era, the president helped ensure that funding for Iron Dome was approved with alacrity. That Democratic members of Congress today would even wish to prevent, never mind succeed in preventing, the smooth approval of funding for Iron Dome dismally underlines the immorality taking hold in areas of that party when it comes to Israel.
        Seeking to deny funds to Israel for Iron Dome is indeed immoral. This is a military system whose sole purpose and capability is defensive. It keeps people alive despite terrorists' best attempts to kill them. It is the vital first line of defense against the war crime of indiscriminate rocket fire directed at civilians.
        Those U.S. legislators doing their utmost to deprive Israel of its protection are attempting to abandon Israelis to that deadly fire. They are opposing Israeli civilians' right to a shield against murderous terrorism. The very readiness to target Iron Dome, of all things, is despicable and unforgivable. It shows that, for some legislators, absolutely no avenue is off-limits when it comes to harming Israel and rendering its people vulnerable to their would-be killers.
        The writer is founding editor of the Times of Israel. (Times of Israel)

  • The Durban IV Conference

  • Pro-Israel Leaders, Officials Protest Durban IV Conference - Dmitriy Shapiro
    A group of pro-Israel academics, activists, government officials and members of the media held a virtual conference on Sep. 19, strongly criticizing the Durban conferences against racism, which since 2001 have singled out and demonized Israel. The virtual conference was organized by Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust and president of Human Rights Voices.
        Speakers included Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The fourth iteration of the conference - Durban IV - was held on Sep. 22 at UN headquarters in New York City. (JNS)
        View the conference Video: Fight Racism, Not Jews: The UN and the Durban Deceit (EYEontheUN.org)
        See also 34 Countries Boycott Anti-Israel Durban IV Conference (Times of Israel)
  • Durban Provided the Seed of the BDS Movement - Lahav Harkov
    The Durban NGO Forum in 2001 "provided the seed and the poisonous root of what would become known as the BDS movement, which is an overtly anti-Semitic movement," said Dan Diker, Director of the Program to Counter Political Warfare and BDS at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. "What Durban did was to regularize Israel as an incorrigible evil that was based on systemic racism modeled after the apartheid regime in South Africa...essentially denying Israel any sort of sovereign rights."  (Jerusalem Post)

  • Other Issues

  • How to Maintain U.S. Support for Israel - Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer interviewed by Ariel Kahana
    "The thing that will hurt our relationship with the United States is if we are weak and we display weakness. With [the 1993] Oslo [accords] and the [2005] disengagement [from Gaza], people thought that if we withdrew, the world would support us. We got a short round of applause, but we paid a very heavy price. When we moved to defend ourselves, support for us disappeared very quickly."
        "That's the reason why it's very important to increase our might. The more our equity grows in the eyes of the Americans, the greater the chances that they will be on our side. If in the future we find ourselves in a situation where a president wants to re-evaluate ties with Israel and the head of the CIA tells him that a rift with Israel would endanger the national security of the United States because it would lose critical intelligence, and the president hears the same from the national cyber and artificial intelligence director, and others, we will know that we have succeeded."
        Q: What does it mean to be "pro-Israel"?
    "The question is whether you want to believe the good about Israel or the worst about Israel. Being pro-Israel means wanting to believe the best about Israel and demanding the burden of proof from our enemies."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Why Arabs No Longer Trust the Muslim Brotherhood - Khaled Abu Toameh
    After the Muslim Brotherhood's rise to power in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Sudan, many Arabs and Muslims no longer believe in its ability to govern. As Moroccan writer Saeed Nashed said, "The Muslim Brotherhood took Morocco into a decade of darkness." The people who gave the Brotherhood a chance to rule discovered that it is as corrupt and incompetent as the secular Arab regimes and heads of state.
        Tunisia's Islamist Ennahda (Renaissance) Party was ousted from power in July. In September, Morocco's governing Islamist Development and Justice Party (PJD) dropped from 125 seats to 12.
        Amr Al-Shobaki, a researcher at the Egyptian Al-Ahram Center for Studies, said the Islamists told people they had tried the socialist and capitalist systems, and now it was time to implement the Islamic project to solve all problems. "After 10 years, however, the [Islamic] project failed and they did not succeed in solving people's economic and social problems."  (Gatestone Institute)

  • Weekend Features

  • Italy Recognizes Jewish Couple Who Resisted the Nazis - Eliav Breuer
    On Monday, a park in the heart of Florence, Italy, was named after Wanda Lattes and Albert (Aaron) Nirenstein, a Jewish couple who resisted the Nazis during the Holocaust. Wanda Lattes, born in 1922, joined the Florentine resistance movement and remained active as a partisan until the German retreat in 1944. She transmitted information via bicycle, was responsible for a clandestine network providing medical treatment to wounded partisans, and helped her family find refuge.
        Albert (Aaron) Nirenstein was born in Poland in 1916 and arrived in Mandatory Palestine in 1936, where he helped found Kibbutz Mishmar Hasharon. His father, brother, stepmother and four young stepsisters were all killed by the Nazis in the Sobibor death camp. In the war years, Nirenstein joined the British army's Jewish Brigade, which ended up in Florence. There he met Lattes and the couple remained in Florence, where he became a Holocaust scholar.
        Wanda became one of the first female journalists in Italy. Their three daughters are Fiamma, a former member of the Italian Parliament and a Senior Fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs; Susanna, also a journalist; and Simona, a psychotherapist. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Holocaust Survivor Tracks Down Family of Polish Woman Who Saved Her - Stuart Dowell
    Aviva Landau was due to visit Poland from Israel this month for the first time since the end of World War II and was keen to contact the family of the Polish woman who saved her. Her granddaughter Gal Stern joined the local Facebook group of the town of Kozienice and posted a notice looking for the woman who hid her grandmother for two years during the war. Within hours, Agnieszka Janeczek responded: "She was my great aunt!"
        Anna Neklaws was the woman who saved Aviva's life by taking her into her home in Warsaw and pretending she was her Catholic niece. Aviva, accompanied by her daughter and other family members, finally met relatives of Anna on Sunday in Kozienice.
        Aviva was just six years old in 1943 when she along with her family were marched to Umschlagplatz to be deported to Treblinka. The guards sent her mother and sister back to the ghetto to wait for deportation on another day and her father managed to bribe his way out using a gold watch. Aviva was left in the line alone.
        She was rescued from certain death as a result of a mix up. Suddenly, a German soldier holding a suitcase came to her, put her inside the suitcase, and walked her out of Umschlagplatz. "It turned that he had been paid a small fortune to save another girl but he mistook my grandmother for the other girl, who was most likely murdered in Treblinka," Stern said. (TheFirstNews-Poland)

Understanding the Enemy - Dr. Anat Berko interviewed by Ran Puni (JNS)
  • IDF Lt.-Col. (ret.) Dr. Anat Berko is a criminologist, former Knesset member, and a world-renowned expert on terrorism, whose research focuses on suicide bombers and their handlers. Over the course of 20 years, she met with Palestinian terrorists, including senior Hamas figures such as the group's founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. "The personal relationships that I built with them led to deep insights," she said. "I come from an Iraqi family, I understand Arab culture from the inside."
  • Q: What is the recurring pattern in the inner world of security prisoners?
    Berko: "They are...people who are rooted in a collective society, while we conduct ourselves as individuals. The issue of masculinity is very important to them, and they don't see incarceration as a blow to their status, as criminal prisoners do, but as something that reinforces their status in the eyes of society - something for which they receive recognition as future leaders."
  • "In their society, they are seen as normative people....They are essentially conformists, since acts of terrorism are not seen as something wrong [in Palestinian society]. Even inside the prison walls, they don't feel isolated, unlike criminal prisoners. Security prisoners feel safe in prison since they are jailed in certain affiliation groups, according to the terrorist organization to which they belong, so that they have social support from the inside, and public support from the outside."
  • Q: Is there a possibility of rehabilitating Palestinian prisoners?
    Berko: "They don't express remorse; in my opinion, there's no potential of rehabilitating them because, from their perspective, they didn't do anything wrong or forbidden. Their society empowers them for what they did."
  • "Palestinian security prisoners...receive medical care that isn't included in the [Israeli] healthcare basket....There are security prisoners with serious illnesses who get imprisoned only so they can receive certain medications, or others who get imprisoned so they can study quietly for their matriculation exams. The life of Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar, for example, was saved thanks to brain surgery he had when he was a prisoner [in Israel]. If he had been in Gaza, he wouldn't be alive today."
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