October 4, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Iran: "War with Israel Has Already Started" - Gideon Kouts (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)
    "The war with Israel has already started," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told Maariv.
    "Israel has carried out attacks that were intended to destroy our nuclear program for peaceful purposes.... Israel has severely damaged our research and civilian system.... The whole crisis in the region is Israel's fault."

Photos Show Damage at Iranian Missile Production Facility - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    ImageSat International, a private Israeli intelligence firm, has released satellite photographs of damage at an Iranian missile production facility outside Tehran, after an explosion there last Monday.
    A quarter of the building, said to be a "secret missile base" belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, can be seen completely destroyed.

A Severe Blow to Hamas in the West Bank - Dr. Kobi Michael (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
    Raids by IDF forces last month led to the seizure of weapons and severe damage to Hamas' military infrastructure in the West Bank.
    For Hamas, this is a severe blow to its ongoing effort to launch terrorist attacks from the West Bank into Israeli territory.
    The operations by Israeli security forces returned the initiative to the Israeli side.
    The writer, a senior research fellow at INSS, served as deputy director general and head of the Palestinian desk at the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

EgyptAir Lands in Tel Aviv for First Time in Decades (Ahram Online-Egypt)
    EgyptAir began flying between Israel and Cairo on Sunday for the first time since the 1980s. EgyptAir will operate four weekly direct flights, which take 1 hour and 20 minutes.

New Zealand, Israeli Diplomats Discuss Israel's Assistance to the Pacific (Embassy of Israel-New Zealand)
    Israeli Ambassador Ran Yaakoby met on Friday with New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta.
    Mahuta noted positive reports received on Israel's support of the Maori economy.
    They also discussed Israel's recent assistance to Samoa and Tonga by donating clean technology systems, as well as the additional ways that Israel and New Zealand can work together in combating climate change.

Youth in Israel Look Forward to Conscription (Economist-UK)
    While 24 countries including France, Spain, Italy and Germany abandoned the military draft between 1990 and 2013, Yoni, an 18-year-old student in Jerusalem, is awaiting conscription by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
    "I'm looking forward to serving my country," he says. "It's something special that our age group can do."
    Yoni has joined clubs which help Israeli teenagers prepare for the army's physical and intellectual tests. He and his friends travel to beaches to practice running on sand.
    Israeli schools boast about the proportion of their students who have been placed in elite combat units.
    Such units, along with the air force, were seen as incubators of political and professional talent, says Richard Pater, the Jerusalem-based director of the Britain-Israel Communications and Research Center (BICOM).
    A particular mythology has built up around Unit 8200, a signals-intelligence unit whose alumni have filled the ranks of Israeli tech companies.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Asked U.S. to Unfreeze $10 Billion to Show Good Will
    Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Saturday that when U.S. officials tried to discuss restarting nuclear talks last month, he insisted Washington must first release $10 billion of Tehran's frozen funds as a sign of good will. (Reuters)
  • Belgium's Constitutional Court Upholds Ban on Jewish Ritual Slaughter - Yossi Lempkowicz
    On Thursday, the Constitutional Court of Belgium upheld a ruling by the European Court of Justice that member states of the EU can ban religious slaughter. Jewish groups have condemned the ban on ritual slaughter which they see as a severe limitation on religious freedom. In 1933, one of the first laws the Nazis enacted was a ban on kosher animal slaughter.
        The Constitutional Court recognized that the general ban on slaughter without stunning entailed a restriction on freedom of religion of Jews and Muslims, whose religious laws prohibit the consumption of meat of stunned animals. But the court said the ban on slaughter "responds to a pressing social need and is proportionate to the legitimate objective pursued of promoting animal welfare."
        Yohan Benizri, president of CCOJB, the coordination committee of Belgian Jewish organizations, declared: "This is mostly a shame for our country....Are we to accept that hunting is permitted for cultural reasons in this country while a millennial presence in the region would not justify a similar exception?...Legally and politically, we will continue fighting this."  (European Jewish Press-Belgium)
  • Pompeo: Reopening U.S. Jerusalem Consulate "Unnecessary and Counterproductive" - Sam Zieve Cohen
    Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the administration's intended reopening of the U.S. consulate in eastern Jerusalem is "illegal," telling Jewish Insider, "We don't have consulates in the same city we have embassies anywhere in the world."
        "It's unnecessary and counterproductive, and I think, frankly, sends the wrong signal to the Palestinians as well. It signals to them [that it's] back to business as usual, back to the kleptocracy, and "pay to slay" and all the horrors that the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank [has] imposed on its own people as well," invoking a term used for Palestinian Authority payments to families of individuals who commit terror attacks against Israelis. (Jewish Insider)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Military Intelligence: Iran Not Getting the Bomb Any Time Soon - Anna Ahronheim
    While Iran's levels of enriched uranium are "disturbing," the Islamic Republic still has a long way to go before acquiring a functioning nuclear bomb that can threaten Israel, IDF Military Intelligence head Maj.-Gen. Tamir Hayman told Walla News. "The period of time...of two years has not changed....They are not heading toward a bomb right now: It may be in the distant future."
        Hayman added that there is a "consistent and sustained decline of Iranians in Syria." However, Hizbullah remains entrenched there, ready to act against Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Two Palestinians with Grenades Arrested at Gaza Border
    Israeli security forces on Saturday arrested two Palestinians who tried to cross into Israel from Gaza with a bag containing grenades. (i24News)
  • Coronavirus in Israel: Serious Cases at Two-Month Low
    The Israel Health Ministry reported Monday that the number of active serious Covid cases was 564, the lowest number since Aug. 16. Israel's unvaccinated, who constitute 15% of the population, make up 75% of current serious cases. (Ha'aretz)
  • New U.S. Command Center to Monitor Anti-Semitic Threats - Faygie Holt
    The Secure Community Network (SCN) - the security arm of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations - has opened the National Jewish Security Operations Command Center (JSOCC) in Chicago, where intelligence analysts and security professionals can monitor and track threats to the Jewish community and coordinate responses with local, state and federal law enforcement.
        The SCN said it saw a 125% increase in the reporting of incidents and issues related to the Jewish community in 2020, a trend that appears to be continuing in 2021. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Aftermath of the Iron Dome Vote - Michael Koplow
    The recent House vote on $1 billion in supplemental Iron Dome funding - 420 in favor, 9 opposed, 2 present - is even more one-sided than it looks. The vote was commonly portrayed as part of the Obama-era MOU that provides $3.8 billion in annual security assistance to Israel, but the Iron Dome request was a supplemental funding request coming on top of the $500 million for missile defense that is part of the annual $3.8 billion. Despite all the attention that cutting, conditioning, or restricting security assistance to Israel has received, only eight House Democrats voted against providing even more security assistance to Israel.
        It is difficult to look at this vote and still credibly talk about the Democratic Party having been taken over by anti-Zionism. The vote also reveals the overreach in trying to portray Israel in the same light as the globe's worst actors and serial human rights violators; it is not a portrayal that aligns with policymakers or with the sentiments of most Americans.
        The lesson is that there is and will remain wall-to-wall support for Israeli security when it is unambiguously clear that security is indeed the issue. Those who want to downgrade the U.S.-Israel relationship will get nowhere with spurious charges and legislative overreach.
        The writer is policy director of the Israel Policy Forum in Washington. (Israel Policy Forum)
  • Why Israel Is Stepping Up Its Planning to Deal with Iran's Nuclear Threat - David Horovitz
    There is a fundamental disconnect at the heart of the Biden administration's strategy for preventing Iran from attaining nuclear weapons. The U.S. is trying to persuade Iran to resume compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. But it also says it seeks a longer and stronger deal that would address the gaping flaws in the original deal. In other words, it is having a very hard time persuading Tehran to return to a lousy accord, yet hopes it will be able to convince the ayatollahs to agree to a more effective one.
        While the nations party to the 2015 accord see the combination of the ayatollahs and a devastating nuclear weapons capability as a strategic danger, for Israel, a nuclear Iran is an existential threat. Since the U.S. does not regard a nuclear Iran with the same degree of concern as Israel does, Israel is ramping up its concrete practical preparations.
        For perhaps three years after the deal was inked, Israel essentially discarded its operational planning to decimate Iran's nuclear facilities. With the U.S. locked into a diplomatic arrangement, Israel recognized that such an operation was unthinkable. However, in the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal from the deal, and the open Iranian breaching of the accord, serious planning is again the order of the day. Israel is genuinely readying for action, in the hope that the very candid sincerity of that planning will deter the extremists in Tehran, rendering such a strike unnecessary. (Times of Israel)
  • A Pro-Israel Summit in Erbil Breaks New Ground - Dennis Ross
    On Sep. 24, a remarkable event took place in Iraq. In the northern city of Erbil, 312 Iraqis - predominantly Sunnis but also Shiites - gathered to demand that their country enter into relations with Israel and its people via the Abraham Accords, and they did this while risking the wrath of Iran and its military proxies. The participants were religious leaders, youth protesters, and college professors.
        The calls for arresting the participants are a chilling reminder of the limits of expression in Iraq - a sign of the leverage Iran continues to exert, but also an indication that Iran fears the message of the Erbil conference. Nothing could be more threatening to everything that Iran seeks in Iraq and the region than the expansion of peace, especially if it is coming from the ground-up.
        In the Middle East, Americans cannot impose their values, remake societies, or produce peace from the outside. But the U.S. does have a responsibility to support practically and materially those who will fight for themselves and embody the very values Americans believe in. The U.S. has a stake in the survival and success of the Erbil conference-goers.
        The writer, who served in senior national security positions for four presidents, is counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Foreign Policy)
        See also Under Threat, an Iraqi Disowns His Call for Peace - Joseph Braude
    The writer is founder and president of the Center for Peace Communications which sponsored the conference in Erbil. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Bloomberg News Rewrites History to Blame Israel for Hamas Terrorism - Gilead Ini
    On Sep. 27, Bloomberg journalist Zach Mortice wrote: "Since 2007, Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade. In response, Hamas militants have attacked Israel with suicide bombers and missile attacks." According to Bloomberg, Hamas suicide bombings were triggered by Israel's blockade. But this is a lie.
        Hamas suicide bombings began in the 1990s, but virtually ended after 2005, before Hamas' election victory in January 2006 and before the blockade. Missile attacks from Gaza likewise preceded the blockade. The naval blockade wasn't imposed until 2009, following a surge of Palestinian rocket fire. Yet the story bungles cause-and-effect to erase Hamas extremism and implies Israeli fault.
        A key issue - whitewashed by Bloomberg - is Hamas' indiscriminate rocket fire, which is a war crime and is driven by the group's extremist, anti-Semitic and violent ideology. Israeli restrictions on Gaza followed the increases in Hamas rocket fire. To suggest that Hamas attacks on Israel were a response to the blockade is historically illiterate. (CAMERA)

A Silent Arab Spring Is Sprouting in Israel - David Suissa (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
  • I was thinking about Rep. Rashida Tlaib's accusation last week that Israel is an "apartheid" state while at a cafe in Mamilla mall in Jerusalem. Next to my table sat a young Muslim woman wearing hip jeans and an elegant head scarf, ordering lunch and working on her laptop. You can read a thousand tweets and media commentaries, but when you actually walk the streets, "apartheid" is probably the last word you'd want to use to describe this place.
  • As Arab-Israeli Yoseph Haddad recently asked: Is Samer Haj Yehia, the chairman of Israel's largest bank, Leumi, living under an apartheid regime? And what of Dr. Masad Barhoum, director general of Galilee Medical Center, or George Karra, the Supreme Court justice? And what of the Arab doctors, lawyers and police officers, the Arab members of Knesset and the ministers? Are they living in an apartheid state too?
  • The prosaic reality of Arab-Jewish relations is driven by answers to simple questions, such as: Am I allowed to have a coffee here, to get a university degree there, to hang out at this park, to get a job in this hotel, to vote for this candidate, to take my kids to this hospital? The answers are the sharpest rebuttal to the apartheid charge.
  • Many Arab citizens are still bitter about Israel's very existence. But for the first time in Israel's history, an Arab-Muslim party is part of its governing coalition. This is a hopeful sign that pragmatic needs in the Arab sector are superseding the ideological toxins that feed passions but leave stomachs empty. That would be in keeping with the new spirit of the Abraham Accords, which are reshaping Israel-Arab relations around mutual interests.

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