November 18, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Couple Returns Home after Detention in Turkish Prison (Ynet News)
    Mordi and Natali Oknin, an Israeli couple held by Turkey on suspicion of espionage, returned home on Thursday after they were released.
    The couple was arrested last week for taking photographs of President Erdogan's residence during a trip to Istanbul.
    Prime Minister Bennett and Foreign Minister Lapid said, "We thank the President of Turkey and his government for their cooperation."
    See also In Phone Call, Israeli President Herzog Thanks Turkish President Erdogan for Release of Israeli Tourists - Barak Ravid (Twitter)

Behind the Scenes of the Israeli Couple's Release - Stuart Winer (Times of Israel)
    On Tuesday evening, Ibrahim Kalin, a close adviser to Turkish President Erdogan, informed the charge d'affaires of the Israeli embassy in Turkey, Irit Lillian, that there was no state motive behind the incident and that it did not come from the top, but instead was a local incident that had grown complicated.
    By Wednesday, Kalin had told Israeli officials that the couple would be set free.
    "Erdogan understood that there is no need to enter into a conflict with Israel," said a senior Israel Foreign Ministry official.
    Early Thursday morning, the government sent a private jet to pick up the Oknins, who arrived in Israel 6:20 a.m.
    See also Turkish Media Calls Arrest of Israeli Couple a "Disgrace" - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)

Iran-Backed Hackers Targeting U.S. with Ransomware Attacks - Zoe Strozewski (Newsweek)
    The Iranian government is linked to hackers who have been targeting victims in the U.S. with ransomware attacks, according to an advisory released Wednesday by American, British and Australian officials.
    Iran has taken advantage of computer vulnerabilities in recent months to target entities in the transportation, health care and public health sectors.
    The Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) said Tuesday that it has seen six different Iran-based groups deploying ransomware since last year.

UK Police Name Liverpool Taxi Blast Perpetrator (BBC News)
    Emad Al Swealmeen, 32, reportedly a refugee from Syria, has been named by police as the passenger of a taxi destroyed in a blast outside Liverpool Women's Hospital on Sunday when his homemade bomb went off.

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Iranian "Bags of Dollars" in Southern Syria Raise Assad's, Russia's Concerns - Nazir Magali (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Iranian parties sent bags full of cash dollars to several southern Syrian towns to recruit new supporters, according to a recent Israeli intelligence report.
    They are buying homes and land to be occupied by Iranians or other Shiite population groups from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen.
    This Iranian activity is worrying the Syrian regime as well as Israel and Russia.

Israel, Jordan and UAE to Sign Deal for Huge Solar Farm - Barak Ravid (Axios)
    Israel, Jordan and the UAE are set to sign a deal on Monday in Dubai, pushed along by U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, to build a massive solar farm in the Jordanian desert, Israeli officials said.
    The UAE-funded solar farm will provide energy mainly to Israel, which will build a desalination plant on its Mediterranean coast to provide water to Jordan.

U.S.-Born IDF Missile Defense Officer Takes American UN Envoy on Tour of Iron Dome - Sharon Wrobel (Algemeiner)
    U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield toured an Israeli Iron Dome missile defense unit on Tuesday, guided by Lt. Tova, a U.S.-born Israel Air Force officer.
    "The IDF shared a look at the Iron Dome and David's Sling systems, which our nations developed together to save the lives of innocent civilians," Thomas-Greenfield said.
    Lt. Tova said, "When there are rockets being sent into Israel, we have very few seconds or split-second decisions if we want to shoot it down. We are a team of several people, but at the end I am the one who makes the life-or-death decisions."
    She added, "In America, there is no such thing as a 22-year-old who is making life or death decisions, but in Israel, it is the reality."

Female Israeli Soldiers Operate Drones on Lebanese Border - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Beginning a year ago, female combat intelligence soldiers began to deploy to the border with Lebanon, tasked with collecting real-time intelligence with drones.
    Operating new technologies, their deployment has been a game-changer to track Hizbullah's hostile activities.
    Lt. Meitar Kadosh, commander of the drone squadron, said, "We have operational missions in the sector every day. Sometimes they are incidents that are published and sometimes not. Our drones play a big part by giving an operational picture for troops. My troops are guarding Israeli skies."

Israel Embassy Organizes Free Health Clinics for Women in Delhi (News18-India)
    The Embassy of Israel, in partnership with a medical delegation from Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, organized women's health clinics in urban slums of South Delhi and North Delhi on Nov. 15-19, 2021.
    The clinics provided free tests, check-ups, and disbursement of medicines. Individuals needing further tests were referred to doctors for free treatment at the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute.

Names of 64,000 Shoah Victims Engraved at Memorial Inaugurated in Vienna - Stephen Oryszczuk (Jewish News-UK)
    Austrian and European Jewish leaders inaugurated a new Shoah Wall of Names in Vienna on Nov. 9 to mark the 83rd anniversary of Kristallnacht.
    The spherical memorial is engraved with the names of 64,440 Austrian Jewish victims of the Nazis and was opened by Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg.
    Vienna Jewish community leader Oskar Deutsch said the names on the wall "give the relatives of Shoah victims a place to commemorate their family's individual fate in a central and public square in Austria's capital [and] makes clear that the Shoah is nothing anonymous, nothing abstract."

UAE-Israel Trade Growing beyond Expectations (Khaleej Times-UAE)
    Bilateral trade between Israel and the UAE is outstripping all expectations and is expected to exceed $1 billion this year, according to Adiv Baruch, Chairman of the Israel Export Institute.

Non-Jewish Zionists Must Speak Up for Israel - Rachel Carey (Jewish News-UK)
    I care about Israel as a Christian, a politics student, and a human being who stands against anti-Jewish hate.
    Support for the Middle East's only democracy should not be treated like a guilty secret.
    Defending Israel's right to exist is key to tackling anti-Semitism, which is often cloaked as anti-Zionism. If I stay silent, I help legitimize an insidious culture of discrimination that ultimately threatens us all.
    Many students don't hold entrenched views about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; they just haven't heard Israel's side of the story.
    I want my fellow students to understand that despite its flaws, Israel is a haven for minority rights, a seedbed for entrepreneurship, and a country committed to peace with its neighbors.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran's Chief Negotiator: Purpose of Vienna Talks Is to Remove Sanctions on Iran, Not the Nuclear Issue
    Iran's top negotiator, Ali Baqeri-Kani, said on Nov. 11 that the upcoming talks will not be about the nuclear issue, which has already been resolved, but will rather focus on removing all sanctions imposed by the U.S. Tehran insists that all sanctions must first be removed in a verifiable manner before the Islamic Republic reverses the "remedial measures" that Tehran took in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA. (Press TV-Iran)
        See also Israel Tells U.S. Envoy Iran Is Using Nuclear Talks to Buy Time - Jonathan Lis
    Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told U.S. special envoy on Iran Robert Malley on Monday that Israel believes Tehran's willingness to revive nuclear talks is a ploy to buy time in order to develop a nuclear weapon. A new round of negotiations will be held in Vienna starting on Nov. 29. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Floats Interim Iran Nuclear Deal - Barak Ravid
    U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan raised with his Israeli counterpart, Eyal Hulata, the idea of an interim agreement with Iran. According to U.S. sources, the idea was that in exchange for a freeze from Iran (for example, on enriching uranium to 60%), the U.S. and its allies could release some frozen Iranian funds or provide sanctions waivers on humanitarian goods.
        Hulata told Sullivan he thought it wasn't a good idea and stressed the Israeli concern that any interim deal will become a permanent agreement that allows Iran to maintain its nuclear infrastructure and uranium stockpile, an Israeli official said. (Axios)
        See also Israel Opposes Limited Deal with Iran - Lahav Harkov
    Israel is concerned that the U.S. will agree to accept a deal with Iran that lifts sanctions in exchange for Iran not continuing to advance its nuclear progress, but not rolling back the steps it has taken in recent years beyond the original limits of the JCPOA. This would give Iran massive funds to do what it did last time it got economic relief - ignite proxy warfare throughout the region - and remain closer to the threshold of a nuclear weapon than ever before. It would relieve pressure on Iran without receiving almost anything in return. Israel has made clear to the U.S. its unequivocal opposition to such an outcome, a diplomatic source said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • UN Atomic Watchdog: Iran Further Raising Nuclear Stockpile - Kiyoko Metzler
    The International Atomic Energy Agency said Wednesday that Iran has an estimated 17.7 kg. of uranium enriched to up to 60% fissile purity, an increase of almost 8 kg. since August. The agency said it is not able to verify Iran's exact stockpile due to the limitations that Tehran imposed on UN inspectors. The IAEA has been unable to access surveillance footage of Iranian nuclear sites or of online enrichment monitors and electronic seals since February.
        In a separate report Wednesday, IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi said inspectors are "being subjected to excessively invasive physical searches by security officials at nuclear facilities in Iran."  (AP)
  • Iran Resumes Production of Advanced Nuclear Program Parts - Laurence Norman
    In August, Iran resumed production of equipment for advanced centrifuges at Karaj, a site the UN atomic energy agency has been unable to monitor or gain access to for months. Iran had stopped work at Karaj in June after a sabotage attack that Tehran blamed on Israel.
        Since the U.S. exited the nuclear deal in 2018, Iran has installed more than 1,000 more advanced centrifuges. That has helped reduce Iran's breakout time for producing enough nuclear fuel for one bomb to as little as a month. These centrifuges are installed at Iran's underground, heavily fortified, Fordow site.
        Western diplomats have warned that without a clear understanding of what material and equipment Iran has now, it is harder to reach an agreement that ensures effective, but temporary, restrictions on Iran's nuclear activities. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Economic, Social Protests Against Hamas Flare Up Again in Gaza - S. Schneidmann
    On Nov. 6, 2021, amid reports about the drowning of Gazan migrants off the Turkish coast, the Facebook page of the "We Want to Live" campaign, first launched in 2019, posted a message addressed to Hamas leaders in Gaza, warning that if the situation does not improve, protests will break out in the streets. "Who will condemn the heroic Gazan leaders...who [drive] SUVs, whose residences have become like palaces."
        "O leaders of Gaza, the public can no longer stand the deprivation. The levels of poverty and unemployment, and the poor living conditions, are not statistics that allow you to whimper at the doors of the donors, [begging for] support that does not benefit the people or improve their lives. The ongoing conduct of the government in Gaza proves without a doubt that the leader in his ivory tower does not see the people, and that he is almost completely out of touch with their reality."
        Many Gazans on social media expressed solidarity with the "We Want to Live" campaign, voicing harsh criticism against Hamas and calling for its removal from power. A Nov. 10 report in the Hamas newspaper Filastin claimed that Israel was behind the Facebook campaign. (MEMRI)
        See also Why Palestinians Are Fleeing Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh (Gatestone Institute)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Stabs Two Israeli Border Police in Jerusalem's Old City
    Two Border Police officers were wounded on Wednesday in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem's Old City. The Palestinian assailant was shot dead by Israeli forces at the scene. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Asks U.S. to Condition Aid to Lebanon on Restricting Hizbullah - Itamar Eichner
    Israeli officials on Tuesday told U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield that the administration should condition any American aid to Lebanon on restrictions on Iran-backed Hizbullah. Israel has requested that Hizbullah be removed from its northern frontier, that the Lebanese army act to stop the group's precise missile production program, and that weapons supplied to Hizbullah from Iran via Syria be prevented from crossing into Lebanon. Israeli officials also voiced concerns that U.S. weapons provided to the Lebanese army might find their way to Hizbullah and could be used against Israel. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinians Fear "Civil War" amid Growing Anarchy - Khaled Abu Toameh
    In the past few days, four universities in the West Bank were shuttered due to violent clashes on campuses between students and rival clans. Al-Quds University in Abu Dis, near Jerusalem, closed after masked gunmen opened fire at cars of students and lecturers in connection with a dispute over a parking lot near the university. Bir Zeit University, north of Ramallah, closed following violent clashes between students belonging to rival Fatah-affiliated groups. On Tuesday, Hebron University and the Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron closed after violent brawls between students of feuding clans.
        In addition, more than 20 houses, businesses and shops were set alight, especially in Hebron, where masked gunmen belong to the Ja'bari and Al-Awaiwi/Abu Eisheh clans have been engaged in street fighting over the past week. "Every night, dozens of gunmen exchange gunfire in various parts of Hebron," said Hebron businessman Haitham Rajabi. "There is no presence of the Palestinian security forces on the streets."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • UAE Working to De-escalate Tensions with Iran, Senior Official Says
    Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the UAE president, said the Gulf state remains deeply concerned about Iran's behavior in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. "Despite this we have taken steps to de-escalate tensions as we have no interest in a confrontation. The whole region would pay the price of such a confrontation for decades to come," Gargash told the Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate on Monday.
        He said the UAE has moved to combat Islamist groups in the region such as the Muslim Brotherhood. "We know that (the U.S.) role is changing, but it is still a vital one," he added, noting that the U.S. remains the UAE's dominant security partner. (Reuters)
  • Iranians Skip International Competitions to Avoid Israelis - Shiryn Ghermezian
    Iran is continuing to block its citizens from participating in international competitions where Israelis are present. At the Nov. 8 Lindores Abbey Blitz chess tournament in Riga, Latvia, officials from Iran forced Iranian chess grandmaster Mohammad Amin Tabatabai to withdraw to avoid competing against an Israeli chess player. Iran withdrew from the 2021 Karate World Senior Championships on Nov. 16-21 in Dubai because five Israeli athletes and two referees from Israel are set to participate.
        In October, Iranian world kickboxing champion Omid Ahmadisafa was photographed in a group that included an Israeli athlete at the WAKO Senior and Master World Championship in Italy. After Iranian security officials saw the picture, they threatened Ahmadisafa's life. He has since sought asylum in Germany. (Algemeiner)

  • Palestinians

  • Palestinian Human Rights Activist Sues over Ben and Jerry's Boycott, Saying It Promotes Hatred - Isabel Vincent
    Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid filed a complaint with New York state's Division of Human Rights last month against Conopco Inc., the U.S. division of Unilever that owns Ben & Jerry's, charging that its boycott in the West Bank is "counterproductive to peace and creates only more hatred, enmity and polarization."
        Eid said the boycott will have an adverse effect on the people it is trying to help. "I, as a Palestinian, as well as many of my friends, family and other Palestinians, are regular shoppers at the Gush Etzion commercial center" in the West Bank. "This shopping area is the true realization of coexistence, as both Jews and Muslims from both Israel and the Palestinian-controlled territories...work and shop here."
        "The gangsters behind the BDS [movement] are causing a lot of damage to the Palestinians," said Eid in an interview. "I want to raise awareness among the U.S. judicial system about how much damage they are causing. If they poured all of the money they are spending on boycotts into building factories and creating jobs in the West Bank and Gaza, it would go a long way to truly helping Palestinians."  (New York Post)
  • UNRWA Is a Nursery for Growing Palestinian Refugees - Itamar Marcus
    Is funding UNRWA good for the Palestinians? Even if UNRWA fixed its schoolbooks and guaranteed that UNRWA schools will no longer hide terror tunnels, it will still remain possibly the most human rights abusing institution funded by the international community.
        Prior to the Trump administration, the U.S. was the largest donor to UNRWA. During the Obama administration, the U.S. gave UNRWA over $2 billion. During those years, the number of refugees increased by 700,000. The U.S. investment did not rehabilitate even one refugee. Moreover, the core UNRWA budget since Obama's first year has risen from $545 million to $806 million today.
        By refusing to resettle the original refugees, UNRWA turned a limited problem into permanent misery, including for the 5.5 million people who were born refugees. UNRWA is the real Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe). For all other refugees, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has helped resettle over 50 million refugees in the same period that UNRWA didn't resettle even one. UNRWA imposed refugee status on millions of children, some born 72 years ago, trampling their right to be born into freedom.
        Funding UNRWA is not only a waste of limited international resources but is funding an organization that is fundamentally a human rights abuser. It is not intended to help the refugees but to preserve them as refugees serving the PA's goals. The UNRWA infrastructure must be closed and its administration transferred to UNHCR - free of the dictates of the PA. UNHCR will be tasked with solving the problem instead of perpetuating the problem. UNHCR will use its billions to train them, create jobs and give them homes in the countries where they were born and lived their entire lives. Resettling these people is a human rights imperative. (Jerusalem Post)
  • UNRWA Doesn't Need More Funding, It Needs to Be Shut Down - Editorial
    There has been a drop in countries funding the UN Palestinian refugee organization UNRWA recently, in large part following reports which show where the money is going. The textbooks and education system in UNRWA-run schools support terrorism and the cult of martyrdom. Hamas has created terror tunnels and weapons stores under UNRWA schools in Gaza, using the children as human shields.
        The Palestinians have been granted perpetual refugee status. According to UNRWA, someone born this week can be considered a refugee of a war that occurred more than seven decades ago. UNRWA has created a bigger refugee problem and, at the same time, perpetuated the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Other Issues

  • Israel Is at the Center of a New International Security Order - Seth J. Frantzman
    Last week's five-day drill in the Red Sea was the first time in history that forces from Bahrain, Israel, the UAE and the U.S. Navy trained together. There is now a large, organized bloc of countries opposed to Iran's ambitions of regional hegemony. After the Abraham Accords altered the geopolitical landscape, Israel was moved from the U.S. European Command's area of responsibility to Central Command, making it easier for the U.S. to organize joint military drills in Israel. Another joint training exercise this month involved 500 U.S. Marines who trained with Israeli commandos.
        In October, air force units from France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, the UK and the U.S. flew in the biennial Blue Flag drill over Israel, the largest number of countries in the exercise since it began in 2013. In July, Israel hosted American, British and German drone operators. In June, Israel, the UK and the U.S. flew F-35s together as part of the Tri-Lightning exercise. In March, Cyprus and France joined the Israel-led Noble Dina naval drill for the first time.
        These exercises are building a new alliance system, with Israel as its linchpin. Military units that practice with Israeli forces gain real combat expertise and signal that Jerusalem has allies increasingly working to confront potential threats in the region. Where belligerent actors once faced a series of isolated countries, they'll now have to tangle with an organized alliance. (Wall Street Journal)
  • China to Continue Promoting Relationship with Israel
    China sees the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel next year as an opportunity to promote the development of their comprehensive partnership, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Israeli President Isaac Herzog in a phone conversation on Wednesday. Xi said China highly values its relations with Israel, noting that both the Chinese nation and the Jewish nation have a time-honored history and civilization. Chinese enterprises have actively taken part in Israel's infrastructure construction, and many Israeli innovative companies have settled and developed in China, Xi said.
        Herzog said that Israel has high respect for China's long history and splendid culture, and sincerely admires the development achievements made by the Chinese people. He said that the Israeli people will never forget the precious help the Chinese people rendered to the Jewish refugees in World War II. (Xinhua-People's Daily-China)
  • Anti-Israel Activists Resort to Violence Because Their Views Cannot Withstand the Application of Fact - Tom Harris
    On Nov. 9, the Israeli ambassador to the UK delivered a speech to students at the London School of Economics (LSE). When she left the building, she had to be bundled into her car by her security team as dozens of screaming, aggressive protesters shouted insults, booed and sought to break through a phalanx of Metropolitan police officers.
        It's one thing to stamp your feet and burst into tears whenever a university invites someone whose views you disagree with, even as you demand that your feelings are more important than free speech. But this is about physical, violent intimidation of your political opponents. The thugs will claim that their cause is so just, so righteous, so obviously right, that their willingness to enforce their views with a fist, a stone or a bottle is merely the natural and just response to the threat of opposing views.
        But there's a much easier, simpler and more logical way to explain why these activists will always resort to mob rule rather than sit down and discuss their views in an adult fashion: they know their views cannot withstand the application of fact. When your own views are based on emotion, wishful thinking and a conviction that lends itself more easily to religious edict than to rational thought, the last thing you want to do is expose them in an arena where your opinions can be examined, analyzed and called out. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Israel Listens to Western Opinion But Must Make Its Own Security Decisions - Mike Fegelman
    A recent column claimed that support for Israel is eroding, particularly among younger American Jews. Yet there is little evidence that attachment to Israel has significantly weakened between Jews in the U.S. or Canada and Israel. A large majority of U.S. Jews report positive views of Israel, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey, and Canadian Jews report even higher levels of attachment.
        In fact, 75% of Americans in general say they are supportive of Israel, according to a Gallup poll, a figure virtually unchanged since 1991. Individual Israeli policies may be viewed differently, but when it comes to Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state in safe and secure borders, there is widespread support.
        The bigger issue is the assumption that Israel, as a sovereign state, needs to adhere to public opinion from the other side of the world. It's a sign of maturity and growth on Israel's part that it exercises its own agency and self-determination, which may or may not be in line with any other country. Jewish history over the last century has shown that when it comes to protection, Jews simply cannot outsource their security.
        This is not to suggest that Israel cares little for opinions in the West. Israel takes great pains to explain its positions, often in the face of significant misinformation. But ultimately, Israel - like all countries - needs to craft its own policies and positions which benefit its citizens first and foremost.
        The writer is executive director of HonestReporting Canada. (Ottawa Citizen-Canada)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • A Mindset of Pure, Unadulterated Anti-Semitism - Michael Levitt
    An inordinate amount of the content on Twitter is directed against Jews and Israel, reflecting a toxic, widespread obsession online and off which betrays a disturbing anti-Semitic bent. The endless defamation of Israel is of little surprise, marked by a troubling double-standard and righteous indignation reserved only for the Jewish homeland. In addition to social media, this preoccupation also plays out in news coverage, the UN, NGOs, in academia and in the arts community.
        Of course, like all other countries, Israel is and should be subject to criticism. But when its very existence is questioned, it's an attack on the Jewish people. Anti-Israel activists often wrap themselves in the "anti-Zionist" flag, as if denying Jews the right to their own state in their ancestral homeland were a badge of honor. This has a negative impact for Jews, with many feeling they're having their safe space stripped away.
        Let's be clear, diaspora Jews and Israelis criticize Israel all the time. It's something else entirely when celebrities and social media influencers with millions of followers use their platforms to regularly denigrate Israel with highly charged misinformation and falsehoods, sometimes even justifying violence and terror against it and its civilian population. One has to wonder why they devote such wildly disproportionate attention to a liberal democracy - that just happens to be the world's only Jewish state.
        The writer is president and CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies. (Toronto Star-Canada)
  • British Labour Party Leader: We Have to Root Out Anti-Zionist Anti-Semitism
    The head of the British Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, told Labour Friends of Israel on Tuesday: "On the day I became leader of the Labour party 18 months ago, my first act was to acknowledge and apologize for the pain and hurt we have caused to the Jewish community in recent years."
        "Anti-Zionist anti-Semitism...denies the Jewish people alone a right to self-determination. It equates Zionism with racism, focuses obsessively on the world's sole Jewish state, and holds it to standards to which no other country is subjected."
        "We will be clear-sighted about the nature and ambition of the likes of Hamas and Hizbullah, whose use of violence and terrorism destroys the prospect of peace. And let me be clear, too, the Labour party does not and will not support BDS. Its principles are wrong - targeting alone the world's sole Jewish state."  (Jewish News-UK)
  • American Jews Face Anti-Semitism in Washington, D.C. - Brooke Goldstein
    Sunrise DC, local affiliate of a national youth-led organization focused on climate change, backed out of a voting rights rally organized by Statehood DC last month because of the participation of three Jewish organizations that support Israel. Any attempt to discriminate against Jews using a political litmus test is racist.
        A Jewish presence in Israel is not a form of "oppression." Israel is the Jewish ancestral homeland and Jews are indigenous to Judea. Zionism is the political movement ensuring Jewish sovereignty in a land Jews have continuously called home for nearly 6,000 years. Asking Jews to reject their identity to participate in interfaith communal events is bigotry, pure and simple.
        Telling Jews not to identify as Zionists is like telling Black people not to identify as African or telling people of Chinese descent not to identify as Asian. Being anti-Zionist is the antithesis of supporting indigenous rights and statehood for indigenous people. Zionism is the ultimate of progressive values in its recognition of Jews as indigenous to the Land of Israel.
        The writer is founder and executive director of the Lawfare Project. (Washington Post)

Video: Today Saudi Arabia Is Part of the Solution - Amb. Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Twenty years ago in Saudi Arabia, there were huge multinational charities propagating a movement representing an extreme form of Islam known as Wahhabism.
  • We in Israel had a particular interest in what they were doing, since one of their recipients was Hamas, a Palestinian group that advocated suicide bombings. I wrote a New York Times bestseller, Hatred's Kingdom, which presented the evidence on Saudi funding of Hamas from captured documents.
  • How much Saudi money is going to Hamas in 2021? The answer is "zero." In fact, Saudi Arabia is not giving a dime to any of the terrorist organizations. Today the main countries funding Hamas are the Islamic Republic of Iran and Qatar.
  • Back in 2001, the Muslim World League, headquartered in the Saudi kingdom, was spreading the ideology that supported a new wave of global terror. Yet in 2020, its secretary-general took a delegation to Auschwitz. We are in a different world.
  • Historically, Jews and Muslims have been cousins who surmounted their differences and reached a common language that brought us together. In the Middle Ages, Jewish religious scholars like Maimonides wrote in Judeo-Arabic. Our religions are rooted in common concepts.
  • We must embrace that history again and, in doing so, set the stage for a very different Middle East.

    The writer, president of the Jerusalem Center, served as Israel's ambassador to the UN and director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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