February 7, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

Israel's Mossad Suspected of High-Level Iran Penetration - Jiyar Gol (BBC News)
    Sources inside Tehran's Evin prison security ward, where those who are accused of spying for foreign countries are held, have told the BBC there have been scores of high-ranking Revolutionary Guard commanders held there.
    In the final year of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidency in 2013, there were rumors that IRGC commanders and intelligence officers had been arrested for spying for the Mossad.
    One of the accused was the officer in charge of counter-intelligence against Israel in Iran's ministry of intelligence.
    An Iranian revolutionary court quietly convicted him, sentenced him to death, and executed him without any publicity.
    Last year, Ahmadinejad confirmed the Mossad had infiltrated his intelligence ministry.
    He said: "Is it normal that the most senior officer responsible for the control of Israeli spies, responsible for confronting Israeli plots in Iran, himself turned out to be an Israeli agent?"

After Houthi Attacks, U.S. General in UAE to Bolster Defenses - Phil Stewart (Reuters)
    U.S. Marine General Frank McKenzie, head of Central Command, arrived in the UAE on Sunday for talks on efforts to bolster the Gulf state's defenses after a series of missile attacks launched by Houthi fighters in Yemen.
    Earlier this month, the Pentagon announced a U.S. deployment of advanced F-22 fighter jets to the UAE which, McKenzie said, would provide "one of the best look-down radars in the world," capable of identifying targets including land attack cruise missiles and drones.
    "Medium-range ballistic missiles that were fired from Yemen and entered the UAE were not invented, built, [and] designed in Yemen," McKenzie said. "We certainly see the Iranian connection to this."

Leaked IRGC Document Warns of Rising Discontent in Iran - Golnaz Esfandiari (RFE/RL's Radio Farda)
    A "highly confidential" leaked document from Iran's Revolutionary Guards warns that discontent is rising in Iran.
    At a November 2021 task-force meeting chaired by Brig.-Gen. Hossein Nejat, an intelligence survey noted that "social discontent has risen by 300% in the past year" due to soaring inflation and sharp declines in stock prices.
    A domestic security official is quoted as saying that protests in Iran over the past year have increased by 50% and the number of protesters involved has nearly doubled.
    Inflation last year was 40%, but the real inflation rate for basic food items was at least twice that figure.
    Teachers, pensioners, nurses, judiciary workers, and others have taken to the streets in the past few months to demand better pay and express frustration at economic conditions.

UAE Moving Forward with Planned $10 Billion in Israel Investments - Danny Zaken (Globes)
    Sources have told Globes that UAE Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed has decided to unfreeze the $10 billion in investments in Israeli companies that he had promised.
    Abu Dhabi has been waiting for the Israeli political scene to stabilize before fulfilling bin Zayed's promise.

Israel Donates Covid Medical Equipment to Sri Lanka (Daily News-Sri Lanka)
    Israeli Ambassador Naor Gilon on Monday handed over a consignment including ventilators, personal protective equipment (PPEs) and pulse oximeters to Foreign Secretary Adm. Prof. Jayanath Colombage in Colombo.

Photos and Video: Israel's North through Eyes of a Camera Drone - Asaf Rozen (Ynet News)
    Photos and video of Israel in winter.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Grants Sanctions Relief to Iran - Matthew Lee
    The Biden administration on Friday restored some sanctions relief related to Iran's civilian nuclear activities as talks aimed at salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal enter a critical phase. The waivers will exempt foreign countries and companies that work in Iran's civilian nuclear sector from American penalties. The waivers permit foreign countries and companies to work on civilian projects at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power station, its Arak heavy water plant and the Tehran Research Reactor. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also The U.S. Makes Another Pre-emptive Concession, as Tehran Demands More - Editorial
    Friday's move on Iran sanctions relief was only the most recent concession. Washington lifted sanctions on several Iranian officials and firms in June and ended the fight to restore "snap back" sanctions at the UN a year ago. Iran's oil exports began recovering last year as U.S. enforcement eased. All this is happening as Iran continues to spread terror in the region and stonewall international nuclear inspectors. (Wall Street Journal)
  • ISIS Leader Killed in U.S. Raid in Syria - Barbara Starr
    ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi was killed Wednesday during a U.S. Special Forces raid in northwest Syria, President Joe Biden announced Thursday. Qurayshi blew himself up as U.S. forces approached his compound. (CNN)
        See also Report: Israel Helped U.S. Eliminate ISIS Leader
    Israel "has been involved in and aided" U.S. efforts to eliminate Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, Israel's Channel 13 reported Thursday. (i24News)
        See also Iraq Says It Provided Information to Locate ISIS Leader
    Iraqi military spokesman Yahya Rasool said on Thursday that Iraqi intelligence provided accurate information that led to the whereabouts of Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi. (Reuters)
        See also ISIS Chief Unmasked His Identity during Syrian Prison Attack - Ron Ben Yishai
    ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi commanded the ISIS forces that attacked the Kurdish-run Al Haskah prison 15 miles from his residence. Qurayshi was in communication with his fighters during the battle and some did not observe security precautions, revealing their leader's location. (Ynet News)
        See also Islamic State's Leader Was Plotting a Comeback - Joby Warrick (Washington Post)
  • Palestinians Want PA to Deal with Prices Hikes, Security Chaos in West Bank
    Palestinians in the West Bank cities of Hebron and Bethlehem staged protests on Sunday, calling for the Palestinian Authority to assume responsibility in the wake of prices hikes and security chaos. Truck and taxi drivers took part in the protests.
        The protests came following several measures imposed by the PA, including new taxes that led to price hikes for basic materials. (Middle East Monitor-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel's Bennett, Biden Discuss "Steps to Halt Iranian Nuclear Program" - Jonathan Lis
    Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke on Sunday with U.S. President Joe Biden about continuing Iranian aggression and "potential measures to halt Iran's nuclear program." Bennett congratulated Biden on the assassination of Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi last week by U.S. forces in Syria. Biden reiterated his administration's full support for replenishing Israel's Iron Dome system. According to the White House, Biden "looks forward to a visit [to Israel] later this year."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also President Bidenís Call with Prime Minister Bennett of Israel (White House)
  • Vote on Israel's Ouster from African Union Deferred for a Year - Lahav Karkov
    The African Union decided on Sunday to form a committee to review Israel's observer status and submit its conclusion to next year's AU Executive Council. "Algeria and South Africa failed in their attempt to kick Israel out," an Israel Foreign Ministry source said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Why I Granted Observer Status to the State of Israel - African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki
    "As I received the request for granting Observer Status to Israel...I carefully considered the number of states that recognized the State of Israel in the Continent. The number does not leave any doubt. 44 members of our Organization [out of 54 member states] recognize Israel and have established diplomatic relations....Not to mention that a large number of African states have opened their markets and economic space to Israeli enterprises and signed cooperation agreements....The list is long, very long."
        "The obligation to take account of the national choices and interests of the member states...left me no choice but to grant Observer Status to the country with which all these states, more than four-fifths of the members of our Union, maintain...such a diversity of relations."
        [In addition] "the number of member states which expressly asked for the granting of Observer Status to the State of Israel appeared to me larger than that of the member states that did not recognize Israel. Which number should I comply with? The majority or the minority?" (African Union)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Amnesty International's Moral Turpitude - Fiamma Nirenstein
    The Amnesty UK report deems Israel's existence, not merely its policies, as an illegitimate, colonialist and racist entity. Amnesty confuses the attacked with the aggressor. Amnesty refuses to acknowledge either the sharing of the land of Israel or the terrorism, wars and missiles launched against the Jewish state. Similarly, it ignores the systematic violation of human rights by the Palestinians. Amnesty has debased the very concept of human rights.
        The writer, former vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (JNS)
  • Amnesty International Apartheid Report Slammed in South Africa for Extreme Bias - Tali Feinberg
    An Amnesty International (AI) report calling Israel an apartheid state has been criticized by leading South African Jewish organizations. The report calls for Palestinian refugees and their descendants "to return to homes where they or their families once lived," which would mean Israel would no longer be a Jewish state. It also calls for Israel to be isolated from the international community.
        Sara Gon, a policy fellow at the South African Institute for Race Relations, said, "There's no mention of the genocidal anti-Semitism of the Palestinian leadership....AI believes that Israel has no right to exist, and Jews don't even come into the equation."
        South African Friends of Israel (SAFI) General Manager Pamela Ngubane said the report resorted to "hijacking South Africa's apartheid suffering to defame Israel. Millions of South Africans who suffered and fought under actual apartheid should be angered and insulted by Amnesty's attempt to dilute their own history and experience....SAFI rejects in the strongest terms the report that calls into question Israel's very existence and gives a free pass to terror campaigns against the Jewish state by cloaking the perpetrators in a stolen mantle of victimhood."  (South African Jewish Report)
  • Amnesty's New Report Is a Shameless Attempt to Demonize and Criminalize a Single Nation - Daniel Ben-Ami
    Since the 1970s the term "Apartheid" has been redefined to mean something other than South Africa's Apartheid regime. In broad terms, it now means institutionalized racial discrimination. But if Israel is charged with institutionalized discrimination - an accusation that could be leveled against many other regimes - why give it the special label of "Apartheid"? The answer is that "Apartheid" is being used as a moral signifier. It is a coded way of saying Israel is morally worse than virtually every other nation on Earth.
        Amnesty slams Israel for using lethal force against protests on the border fence separating Gaza and Israel. Yet it is clear that armed Hamas activists played a key role in provoking such conflict. This habit of putting all the blame for the problems in the area on Israel permeates the report.
        Unfortunately, the framing of Amnesty's report makes it impossible to have a rational debate. Amnesty's goal is to criminalize Israel. It explicitly accuses Israel of the "crime against humanity of Apartheid" and calls for individual Israelis to be held criminally responsible. It demands Israel be hauled before the International Criminal Court. Amnesty is itself guilty of the most gross discrimination - it is holding Israel to a different standard to every other country. (Spiked-UK)
  • Pro-Israel Democrats: "The State of Israel Is as Progressive as It Gets" - Mike Wagenheim
    Democratic Majority for Israel, an advocacy group that supports pro-Israel policies in the Democratic Party, held a virtual discussion on Wednesday with several key pro-Israel U.S. House members. Rep. Shontel Brown (D-Ohio) said, "The State of Israel is as progressive as it gets. Some of what the progressive members of the party fight for is actually occurring in Israel. We need to make sure those who have a tainted, tarnished, misinformed view understand the reality."
        Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, discussed Amnesty International's report labeling Israel as an apartheid state. "The one democratic country in the Middle East - with the most diverse government in history, where Jews and Arabs sit together in the Knesset, where there is respect for women and for the LGBTQ community, where so clearly on display are the shared values of the U.S. - to paint that with the brush of apartheid is outrageous....If you want to work towards a Palestinian state, you don't need to be anti-Israel. It harms peace."  (JNS)

Amnesty International Tries to Put Israel on Trial - Elliot Kaufman (Wall Street Journal)
  • Amnesty asserts that it doesn't seek to argue that any element of Israeli apartheid is "the same or analogous to the system of segregation, oppression and domination as perpetrated in South Africa." Not even analogous? Then why use the word "apartheid" at all?
  • The report leads off by rehashing a long-running dispute over a few properties in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem. Jordan seized the land from Jewish owners in 1948, when it occupied East Jerusalem and expelled every Jew. Israeli courts have offered a compromise whereby these Palestinians could avoid eviction and stay as tenants, with protected status, while paying a low rent to the Jewish owners. Under pressure from Ramallah, the Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah rejected the compromise. Apparently, this is leading evidence of apartheid.
  • If "apartheid" isn't being used to convey its well-known meaning, maybe the purpose is to achieve its well-known effect. Apartheid is one of the capital crimes of the international system. Its practitioner was boycotted, made into a pariah and fought until it dismantled the system. Boycott, marginalization and even violent resistance follow from the apartheid label.
  • By invoking apartheid to single out Israel as an enemy of mankind, Amnesty implicitly rejects Israel's right to exist and authorizes violent resistance to destroy it.
  • In this strange game, the only winning move is not to play. An accusation that isn't the product of disinterested reason won't be refuted by recourse to it, and to defend oneself is to acknowledge the legitimacy of the court.
  • The beauty of Zionism is that Jews can finally have their own court and no longer be made to stand before the biased judges of centuries past, protesting their innocence of imagined crimes when all parties know a guilty verdict is assured in advance.

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