December 16, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Israel to Donate 2.5 Million Coronavirus Vaccines to African Nations - Jonathan Lis (Ha'aretz)
    The Israel Foreign Ministry said Wednesday it was donating 2.5 million AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines to a quarter of the countries in Africa under the UN-backed COVAX program.

U.S. Navy Tests Laser Weapon in Mideast amid Drone Boat Threat - Jon Gambrell (AP)
    The USS Portland on Tuesday test-fired its Laser Weapon System Demonstrator and destroyed a floating target in the Gulf of Aden.
    The system could be used to counter bomb-laden drone boats deployed by Yemen's Houthis in the Red Sea.
    Previously, the Portland used the laser to bring down a flying drone in May 2020.

New York Times Issues Correction on Story about Gaza Poetry Class (New York Times)
    An article on Nov. 17 about Refaat Alareer, a Palestinian professor who includes a discussion of Israeli poetry in his literature classes, gave an inaccurate portrayal of the professor.
    After publication, Times editors reviewed additional information that is at odds with the article's description. The editors have concluded that the article did not accurately reflect Mr. Alareer's views.
    See also New York Times Admits Reporter Got Duped by Palestinian Professor - Laurel Duggan (Daily Caller)

Poll: Egyptians Dislike both Iran and Israel - David Pollock (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    A public opinion poll of Egyptians conducted in November 2021, commissioned by the Washington Institute, found that improved economic and diplomatic dealings with Israel have not enhanced Israel's popular image in Egypt.
    63% of Egyptians agree that "Wherever Iran intervenes, it hurts the local Arabs and doesn't help the Palestinians." Only 12% of Egyptians say good relations with Iran are important.
    Just 12% of Egyptians have a positive view of Israel's new peace accords with other Arab countries, down from 25% in November 2020.
    Moreover, only 12% of Egyptians support greater normalization with Israel, such as in sports or business contacts.

Lebanese Man Sentenced to Prison for Marrying Palestinian with Israeli Passport (Al-Araby Al-Jadeed-UK)
    A military court in Beirut sentenced Muhammad Youssef Bannout on Friday to one year in prison and a fine of 500,000 Lebanese pounds ($330) for marrying a Palestinian woman living in Germany who holds Israeli citizenship.
    The 1955 Boycott Law prohibits any type of dealing with Israeli entities and Lebanon and Israel are technically still in a state of war.

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Israeli Tech Removes Drone Threat to Pope Mass in Slovakia - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli anti-drone company D-Fend deployed its EnforceAir system to remove a rogue drone that was interrupting a mass held by Pope Francis with 60,000 worshippers in Slovakia on Sep. 15.
    D-Fend said, "EnforceAir fended off the rogue drone, sending it back to its original takeoff position, far away from the large crowd," without disrupting communications systems operating in the area.

Indian Navy Uses Israeli Tech to Fight Pirates, Terrorists - Justin Paul George (The Week-India)
    The Indian Navy's newly commissioned destroyer, the INS Visakhapatnam, is equipped with the MF-STAR phased array radar - which can detect enemy aircraft and missiles hundreds of kilometers away - and the MR SAM (Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missile), which can shoot down airborne targets, including supersonic anti-ship missiles.
    The MF-STAR was developed in Israel, while the MR SAM was developed jointly by India's Defense Research and Development Organization and Israel Aerospace Industries.
    The ship has also been fitted with an SRCG (Stabilized Remote Control Gun) built in India under a transfer-of-technology pact with Israeli company Elbit.
    The SRCG's computerized targeting system factors in the roll and pitch of the ship to improve accuracy.
    The SRCG is meant primarily to fire on small, fast-moving boats.

Gaza Boy Is 6,000th Child Saved by Israel's Save a Child's Heart (Jewish News-UK)
    Mazen, 11, was born in Gaza with a complicated congenital heart condition. He became the 6,000th child to be saved by Israel's Save a Child's Heart (SACH) organization after an operation to close a hole in his heart at the Pediatric Cardiac Care Unit at Sylvan Adams Children's Hospital in Holon.
    SACH holds a weekly cardiology clinic for Palestinian children at its facility in Holon. 50% of the children saved are from Gaza and the West Bank.

Scottish Football Has Become a Cauldron of Hate for Israel - Paul Drury (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    World football (soccer) governing body FIFA fined the Scottish Football Association 8,000 pounds in November after Israel's national anthem was booed by Scotland fans ahead of a World Cup qualifier in Glasgow in October.
    Jews make up just 0.1% of the population in Scotland.
    One Scotland fan took to Facebook ahead of the Israel game to ask: "Is it OK to sing 'We Hate England More than Jews'?"
    The wife of Celtic player and Israeli national Nir Bitton, who has completed 250 games for Glasgow, posted screenshots of disturbing messages she had received on Instagram, which called for the couple to be "hung on the streets." Further abuse was directed at the couple's children.

Qatar, Israel Reach Agreement on Diamond Trade - Danny Zaken (Al-Monitor)
    Qatar and Israel do not have diplomatic ties. Trade relations were established in 1996, following the Oslo Accords, but were severed in 2009.
    Yet according to Israeli and Qatari sources, Qatar will allow Israeli merchants to enter the country without obstruction to trade in diamonds.
    The agreement is a possible opening to future commercial agreements with Qatar.

Israel Backs School Internet Connectivity in Rwanda - Hudson Kuteesa (New Times-Rwanda)
    The State of Israel through the Embassy of Israel in Rwanda has contributed $100,000 to purchase computers and other devices for teachers whose schools are being connected to the internet.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Agrees to Replace Cameras at Nuclear Site but Blocks Images - Steven Erlanger
    Iran agreed Wednesday to replace International Atomic Energy Agency surveillance cameras at a key site at Karaj that manufactures parts for advanced centrifuges. But Iran continues to block UN inspectors from viewing the video those cameras produce, and from replacing the full memory cards in cameras at other sites, leaving the inspectors without a clear and complete assessment of Iran's nuclear program.
        There is a growing sense, in Israel as well as in Washington, that Iran does not intend to return to the 2015 deal but is buying time as it continues to make gains in the production of enriched uranium and uranium metal, needed for a weapon. In a joint statement on Monday, the European negotiators said, "As of this moment, we still have not been able to get down to real negotiations. We are losing precious time dealing with new Iranian positions inconsistent with the JCPOA or that go beyond it."  (New York Times)
  • IAEA Chief: 2015 Nuclear Deal No Longer Sufficient for Reality of Iran in 2022 - Jon Gambrell and Isabel Debre
    The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, told the Associated Press in an interview on Tuesday that the restrictions faced by his inspectors in Iran threaten to give the world only a "very blurred image" of Tehran's program as it enriches uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels.
        Grossi acknowledged the advances made by Iran since the 2015 deal's collapse meant there would have to be changes to the original agreement. "The reality is that we are dealing with a very different Iran. 2022 is so different from 2015 that there will have to be adjustments that take into consideration these new realities so our inspectors can inspect whatever the countries agree at the political table....There's no other country other than those making nuclear weapons reaching those high levels" of uranium enrichment. (AP)
  • Israeli Airstrikes in Syria Targeted Chemical Weapons Facilities - Joby Warrick
    On June 8, 2021, Israeli planes struck Syrian military facilities with links to the country's former chemical weapons program to stop a nascent attempt by Syria to restart its production of deadly nerve agents. The raid, and a similar one on March 5, 2020, was ordered after intelligence suggested that Syria was acquiring chemical precursors and other supplies needed to rebuild its chemical-weapons capability, former U.S. and Western intelligence officials said.
        U.S. intelligence officials long suspected that Syria was retaining, if not rebuilding, key aspects of its chemical-weapons capability. (Washington Post)
        See also below Observations: Why Israel Attacked Syrian Chemical Weapons Facilities - Yoav Limor (Israel Hayom)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Holding Off on Reopening Jerusalem Consulate for Palestinians - Jacob Magid
    The Biden administration has effectively shelved its effort to resurrect the de facto mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem shuttered in 2019, following significant pushback from Israel. A Palestinian Affairs Unit (PAU) is continuing to operate from the Agron Street building in West Jerusalem as a subsection of the U.S. embassy in the city. However, for the past several months, the PAU has begun independently reporting back to Washington. (Times of Israel)
  • Two Hamas Agents Arrested for Spying in Israel
    Two Hamas agents were arrested on Nov. 29 for spying in Israel, the Israel Security Agency announced Thursday. Hussein Biari, an Israeli citizen with family in Gaza, and Mahmoud Ahmad, a resident of Gaza with a trade permit to enter Israel, met with Hamas operatives while staying in Gaza in order to receive missions. Ahmad gathered information about Iron Dome batteries throughout the country and secretly photographed IDF soldiers in Ashkelon.
        Biari collected information on military bases, IDF soldiers and Iron Dome batteries. He was also tasked with inciting the Arab population in Israel against the state and with obtaining weapons and carrying out a terrorist attack in Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Arab Indicted for Aiding Palestinian Terrorists
    Mohammed Sunuqrut, a resident of Israel who worked at a pharmaceutical company, was indicted on Monday for providing five liters of hydrogen peroxide for the production of explosives in the West Bank. The explosive material was found after a Hamas terrorist cell was uncovered in September. Sunuqrut has confessed to the charges. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • Expansionist Iran Might Launch a New Pearl Harbor in the Middle East - Dore Gold
    Just as Imperial Japan sought to do 80 years ago, the Islamic Republic of Iran seeks to evict the U.S. military from the Middle East and assert Iranian hegemony over the entire region. Iran is working to weaken American resolve and get Washington to withdraw, so that Iran can inherit the region as its own.
        To deny Iran the victory it thinks is within its grasp is doable. Preconceptions blinded decision-makers at the time of Pearl Harbor, as preconceptions about Iran are clouding the judgments of policy-makers today. This time, the U.S. operates in a broad coalition in the Middle East including Britain, the Arab states and Israel. Iran may have imperial ambitions, but if we listen to each other this time, Pearl Harbor won't happen again.
        The writer, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, served as director-general of the Israel Foreign Ministry and as Israeli ambassador to the UN. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran Accelerates Its Space Program - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall and Iran Desk
    Satellite images from the Iranian Space Center were released on December 12, 2021, showing Iran preparing to launch a space launch vehicle (SLV). It is widely suspected that Iran is seeking to connect its nuclear capabilities to launch vehicles for nuclear weapons.
        In February 2021, Iran launched a powerful new three-stage rocket, the Zuljanah SLV. Forbes magazine wrote that the Zuljanah "is adequate to place a satellite in low-Earth orbit (LEO) and, for Iran, a big step forward for both its space program and its effort to develop delivery vehicles for possible future nuclear warheads."
        UN Security Council Resolution 2231, approved in July 2015, "called upon" Iran not to take any action involving ballistic missiles "designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons." The Permanent Representatives to the UN of Israel and the U.S. noted that two space launch vehicles tested in June 2021 by Iran incorporated technologies that were virtually identical to those used in ballistic missiles designed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Iran's Missile Arsenal Growing in Size, Reach, and Accuracy - Farzin Nadimi
    On Aug. 25, Brig.-Gen. Mohammad Reza Qaraei Ashtiani, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, affirmed prioritizing Iran's strategic missile capability above other force multipliers. On Dec. 12, President Ebrahim Raisi's first budget request to parliament included the equivalent of 210 million euros dedicated to ballistic missile projects.
        Iran has unveiled ten new ballistic missiles and three new satellite launch vehicles (SLVs) since 2015. It has also revealed the existence of multiple underground missile complexes, called "missile cities." Almost every province is believed to have at least one deeply buried ballistic missile storage and launch site.
        Iran is developing missiles with greater accuracy. If Iran achieves accuracy of 10 meters or better with medium-range missiles, this could be a game-changer. Iran has already demonstrated this degree of precision with shorter-range systems, such as the September 2019 strike on Saudi Aramco facilities and the January 2020 strike on U.S. targets at al-Asad Air Base in Iraq. A conventional missile attack using precision-guided systems could replicate the geopolitical effects of a small nuclear weapon.
        The writer is an associate fellow at the Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Iran's Nukes: This Time the Wolf Is Here - David Pollock
    Iran's nuclear weapons program is no longer years or even decades away from completion, but on the verge of a real breakout. And its ideological commitment to Israel's destruction is as intense as ever, buttressed by a far-flung network of deadly missiles, militias, and other military means.
        Iran is closer than ever to a nuclear bomb: probably only weeks away from enough 90% enriched uranium, and a few months away from its crude weaponization. Any "compromise" that leaves Iran with these capabilities guarantees that it will remain a nuclear threshold state. Thus, the imperative today is not merely to freeze, but to roll back, at least some of Tehran's advances from the past two years.
        Still, even if a new deal is achieved, that almost certainly means that Iran will retain much of the material and the know-how needed to break out toward a bomb relatively quickly someday. Once again, a deal would only buy time, without resolving the problem.
        The writer is a fellow at the Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

  • Palestinians

  • Are Arab Citizens of Israel Palestinians? - Yair Rosenberg
    The Arab community comprises 20% of Israel's population. To some activists and journalists, they are simply "Palestinians," separate and alienated from broader Israeli society. But that's not what many tell pollsters. In 2019, a survey by progressive pollsters Dahlia Scheindlin and David Reis found that while 14% of Arabs in Israel identified as "Palestinian," 19% preferred "Palestinian-Israeli," 22% went with "Arab," and 46% chose "Arab-Israeli." In 2020, a survey by top Israeli pollster Professor Camil Fuchs offered more options. 23% picked "Israeli," 15% chose "Arab," 51% opted for "Arab-Israeli," and just 7% went with "Palestinian."
        Already in 2017, polls found that 60% of Arab citizens held a positive view of the Israeli state. 63% of Arabs said that Israel was a "positive" place to live, compared with 34% who said it was not. Another survey that year found that 51% of Arabs in Israel described themselves as "quite proud" or "very proud" to be Israeli, while 56% characterized the country's situation as "good" or "very good."  (Atlantic)
        See also Poll: 93% of Jerusalem Arabs Prefer Israeli Rule to Palestinian Authority
    According to a poll published on Dec. 13 by Palestinian Shfa news, 93% of Arab residents of Jerusalem prefer to remain under Israeli rule and would not give up their Israeli identity card. The poll asked 1,200 Arab Jerusalemites - none of them Israeli citizens - their preference for living under Israeli or Palestinian rule in the future. 1,116 responded that they prefer for Israel to continue to rule Jerusalem. 84 said they preferred the Palestinian Authority, but 79 of those said they would not give up their Israeli identity card. (Algemeiner)
  • Recent Palestinian "Martyrs" Urge Others to Follow in their Footsteps - Nadav Shragai
    With the last eight stabbing and shooting attacks in Jerusalem, and dozens of other attacks and attempted attacks nationwide in the past 10 weeks, "martyrdom" is seeing a renaissance in Palestinian society. The wills of the terrorists, both those who were killed during the attacks and those who lived through them, teach us about their thinking.
        Mohammed Shawkat Salima, who stabbed Avraham Elmaliach, defined himself on Facebook as "a martyr on the waiting list." Hamas member Fadi Abu Shkhaydam, who murdered Eliyahu Kay, claimed that "after years of work, study, and teaching, there is no choice but to let the ship sail on our blood and serve as a practical example in the field of jihad."
        The most common motive documented in the wills is the desire to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque from "Jewish invasion," a reference to Jewish visits to the Temple Mount. In Palestinian society, the Al-Aqsa "martyrs" are considered elite celebrities, guaranteed a place of honor in the Palestinian pantheon. (Israel Hayom)
  • Time for Palestinians to Stop Just Saying "No" - Ray Hanania
    Peace between Israel and the Palestinians has not been achieved because the Palestinians never really tried to negotiate or offer ideas. Palestinians always start their "negotiations" from the point of suffering and conflict, making their situation worse. They increase their negative rhetoric, believing it would enhance public support. It didn't. No one likes a complainer, especially one that refuses to engage.
        The word "no" is not a strategy. It is a symbol of weakness, not a substitute for effective or strategic leadership. Palestinians need to silence fanatics who beat the drums of anger, hate and emotion as tools to empower themselves. The only way peace works is if Palestinians stop saying "no" and start engaging. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • The Forgotten History of the Term "Palestine" - Douglas J. Feith
    In 135 CE, after stamping out the province of Judea's second insurrection, the Romans renamed the province Syria Palaestina - Palestinian Syria - as a punishment, to obliterate the link between the Jews and the province. "Palaestina" referred to the Philistines, whose home base had been on the Mediterranean coast, but no nation has ever had that name.
        Since biblical times, Palestine was understood to span the Jordan River. It was common to call the one bank Western Palestine and the other Eastern Palestine. According to the Bible, the Israelite tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Menasseh held land east of the Jordan River. Before World War I, no books described that river as Palestine's eastern boundary. In other words, the Jordan River did not bound Palestine; it bisected it.
        The writer, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute, served as U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy. (Mosaic)

  • Other Issues

  • Boycott of Israeli Universities Ignores Arab Students - David Isaac
    The Middle East Studies Association of North America at its annual meeting on Dec. 2 voted to endorse an academic boycott of Israeli institutions. Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars (NAS), said the assertion that Palestinians were being shut out of educational opportunities due to Israeli malfeasance doesn't square with the facts. "There are plenty of Palestinians who pursue an education, quite a few of them in Israel. At Israeli institutions where they apply and meet the entrance requirements, they're gladly admitted."
        According to the Israeli Council for Higher Education, there were 54,000 Arab students at Israeli universities in the 2020-2021 academic year, comprising 17% of all students in Israel, compared to their constituting 20% of the population. This is a 110% increase from the 2009-2010 academic year. (JNS)
  • How Objective Are Human Rights NGOs When It Comes to Israel? - Elizabeth Blade
    Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International frequently condemn Israel. In 2019, it was reported that the head of Amnesty devoted 70% of his tweets to the "illegal" acts of the Jewish state. Mitchell Bard, an American foreign policy analyst, says this "bias" has been "consistent for many years now. There is a desire to fight for the underdogs and the Palestinians are seen as victims of a stronger neighbor." Also, "there is an element of anti-Semitism as Israel is singled out far more often than true human rights abusers."
        Human Rights Watch has been condemned for releasing reports that are based primarily on Palestinian eyewitnesses' testimony. It has been accused of suspecting anyone wearing a uniform, of relying on poor research and receiving information from elements that are hostile to Israel, like the militants of Hamas or Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) groups. These organizations "are very damaging to Israel because their reports are accepted by the media without any questions, so their views are parroted and amplified."
        Israel cannot do much to change the situation. "Israel can disseminate the facts, but they are not always reported in the media. Frequently, [Israeli] government statements are deemed to have less credibility than the supposedly objective NGOs. Israel can expose their biases, but they have a halo effect of the false image of neutrality."  (Sputnik-Russia)
  • Deconstructing Definitions of Apartheid that Delegitimize the Jewish State - Joshua Kern and Anne Herzberg
    Certain NGOs have alleged that Israel is guilty of the crime against humanity of apartheid. However, the definition of apartheid used by these NGOs is not legally substantiated. These groups promote artificial and manufactured definitions designed to demonize Israel.
        This report provides a full analysis grounded in international law of apartheid's definition and concludes that the legal basis for the definition proposed by certain NGOs is doubtful. (NGO Monitor)

  • Weekend Features

  • The Real Winner of the 70th Miss Universe Contest Is Israel - Allison Kaplan Sommer
    Officially, the winner of the Miss Universe contest in Eilat on Dec. 12 was Miss India. But the host country, Israel, also achieved a significant public relations victory. An estimated 600 million viewers in 172 countries were deluged with images of Israel not seen on the evening news.
        The broadcast included a montage of the 80 smiling international beauty queens touring the country, from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, exclaiming how they were "living history" and "felt at home," gushing ecstatically about the food. Israel was portrayed as a place to have fun, not dodge rockets. And each of the contestants' social media feeds featured their exploits and positive impressions of the country.
        The BDS movement called for a boycott of the event. The South African government withdrew its support for the participation of Miss South Africa. But Lalela Mswane defied the haters and competed anyway. She declared Israelis to be among the "friendliest people on Earth" and finished third. In the end, not even one country openly declared that they were boycotting the contest because of Israel. The two Muslim countries that stayed away - Malaysia and Indonesia - cited pandemic concerns, while the participation of Bahrain and Morocco was highly-publicized. (Ha'aretz)
  • Miss South Africa Places Third in Eilat Miss Universe Pageant after Rejecting Pressure to Boycott Israel - Shiryn Ghermezian
    Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane was the second-runner up in the Miss Universe pageant held in Eilat, Israel, on Sunday. The South African government announced in November that it would not back her participation in the pageant as a show of support for the Israel boycott movement.
        The South African Zionist Federation said, "Congratulations to Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane who refused to listen to BDS and anti-Israel voices who bullied and pressured her. Lalela, your stand for peace has not gone unappreciated and unnoticed!"  (Algemeiner)
        See also Lalela Mswane Addresses Miss Universe Backlash as She Returns from Israel (Channel 24-South Africa)
  • 80 Years Ago, the Nazis Pioneered "Industrial Murder" at Chelmno - Matt Lebovic
    In the Polish village of Chelmno, outside Lodz, the German SS pioneered methods of mass murder on an industrial scale later deployed at other death camps. Initially, the Germans played elaborate games to deceive victims and bystanders. For many months, most Jews believed the deportees were headed for labor camps and resettlement. Only after the Germans demanded the Lodz ghetto Jewish council hand over thousands of children for deportation did most Jews realize "resettlement" meant death.
        At Chelmno, up to 50 victims were packed inside custom-rigged "mobile killing vans," with vehicle exhaust funneled into the sealed compartment. At least 172,000 Jews were murdered at Chelmno. (Times of Israel)

  • Israeli strikes on secret facilities where the Syrian regime had intended to restart its chemical weapons manufacturing program had three goals.
  • The first was to keep non-conventional weapons out of Syria's hands, even if they were only at the initial stages of development.
  • The second was to make it clear that Israel would not allow Syria to threaten it with weapons of mass destruction.
  • And third, to send a message to other countries - primarily Iran - that Israel will take the same course of action against anyone who develops weapons that threaten its existence.
  • The Washington Post report does not make clear why the U.S. was not the one to attack after promising that it would not allow Syria to obtain chemical weapons.

        See also Israel Concerned that Chemical Weapons in Syria Could Reach Hizbullah (JNS)
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