March 24, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Prime Minister Meets in Egypt with President Sissi, UAE Crown Prince - Jonathan Lis (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett arrived in Egypt on Monday for a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
    The meeting was part of an effort to forge a coalition with American backing among countries that would stand together against Iran.
    An Egyptian official said the three leaders would focus in their talks on Iran, Syria and Ukraine, adding that the Palestinian issue is not expected to be a major area of discussion.
    See also Iran's Enemies in the Middle East Are Closing Ranks - David Gardner (Financial Times-UK)

Behind the Meeting of Israeli, Egyptian and UAE Leaders - Dr. Ofir Winter (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
    Egyptian commentators noted that the meeting of Israeli, Egyptian and UAE leaders in Sharm el-Sheikh reflects an interest in forming new regional alliances in light of reduced U.S. involvement in the region.
    Cairo's main concern is an increase in Iran's subversive activities under the cover of a renewed nuclear agreement, particularly in relation to the Houthis, who target Egypt's Gulf allies and could disrupt the Suez Canal.
    The war in Ukraine is another concern. Egypt imports 50% of its wheat from Russia, relied on Russian tourism, and placed hope in a number of Russian economic projects in its territory.
    Last week, Israel engaged to help Egypt compensate for the loss of tourism from Russia and Ukraine, when it agreed to open a new air route between Tel Aviv and Sharm el-Sheikh.
    The writer, a research fellow at INSS, is a lecturer at the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Tel Aviv University.

Over 6,000 Ukrainians Have Moved to Israel since Russia Invaded - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    More than 6,000 Ukrainians have immigrated to Israel in the past month, twice as many as in all of 2021, the Immigration and Absorption Ministry said Thursday.
    "Right now, it's mostly young mothers, small children and men over the age of 60, including 120 Holocaust survivors. They are coming with nothing, just the clothes on their back," Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata said Thursday.
    More than 500 new immigrants arrived in Israel on Wednesday and another 400 were due to arrive Thursday.

U.S. Offering $1 Million to Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations - Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post)
    The U.S. State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor is offering a grant of up to $987,654 for projects that include reporting human rights violations by Israel, raising concern about abuse by organizations seeking boycotts, sanctions and international law tribunals against Israel.
    Prof. Gerald Steinberg, Director of NGO Monitor, said the U.S. funding announcement is unprecedented.
    Steinberg wrote to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying that NGO projects of this kind "are exploited for campaigns targeting Israel. These grantees lobby the International Criminal Court and UN frameworks - such as biased Commissions of Inquiry - to sanction Israel, promote BDS and use the 'apartheid' label."
    "In light of the Biden Administration's repeated rejection of such campaigns, we call on the State Department to reconsider this program."
    Human rights organizations targeting Israel are "an industry on the order of at least $50 million to Israel and Palestinian groups from European governments."

Economic Fallout from Russia-Ukraine War Hits Gaza - Sanaa Alswerky (Media Line-Jerusalem Post)
    The economic repercussions of the Russia-Ukraine war have reached Gaza, where prices have rocketed as a result of the rise in energy and transportation costs as well as in the price of building supplies.
    The price of steel and cement has jumped by 30%, said Imad AbuMatar, a Gaza-based contractor.
    The war has sent food prices sharply up too, with the world price of flour rising by more than 30%.

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Europe's Largest University Cancels Event Linked to Amnesty Report on Israel - Romana Rubeo (Palestine Chronicle)
    La Sapienza University of Rome, the largest university in Europe, on Monday canceled an event aimed at presenting Amnesty International's recent findings labeling Israel an apartheid state.
    The organizers said that the university insisted on including a representative of the Union of Italian Jewish Youth (UGEI) as a prerequisite for holding the event. This was considered unacceptable by the organizers.

Journalist Transforms Palestinian Terrorist into Victim - Akiva Van Koningsveld (HonestReporting)
    On Saturday, an Israeli jogger was injured in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem. Video footage shows how the runner fought off his attacker.
    Yet The Nation correspondent Mohammed El-Kurd wrote: "Israeli occupation forces shot a Palestinian man in occupied Jerusalem. According to eyewitnesses, he was jogging when they shot him."
    See also Video: Palestinian Attacks Israeli Jogger - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)

Weizmann Institute Develops Israel's First Quantum Computer - Gid'on Lev (Ha'aretz)
    Researchers from Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science have developed a quantum computer - the WeizQC - one of about 30 such computers in the world.
    Quantum computers allow for far greater computing power than even the strongest existing computers.

Israel Has Lowest Work Absence Rate among 28 Countries - Abigail Klein Leichman (Israel21c)
    New research by UK-based Small Business Prices reveals that Israeli workers took fewer sick days than did workers in any of the other 27 countries studied - 3.9 days per year.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Nuclear Deal's Final Hurdle Is Lifting Terrorism Sanctions on Revolutionary Guards - Laurence Norman
    In arguing for lifting the terror sanctions on Iran's Revolutionary Guards, U.S. officials have said the threat posed by the Guards would be much worse if Iran gets nuclear weapons. The White House also views an agreement restraining Iran's nuclear program as key to Middle East stability, allowing the U.S. to focus on China and Russia. According to people involved in the talks, the U.S. would remove the Guards from the its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations if Iran commits to rein in its regional aggression and refrains from targeting Americans.
        "We are very concerned about the United States' intention to give in to Iran's outrageous demand and remove the IRGC from the list of terrorist organizations," Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Sunday, adding that Washington seemed willing to agree to a deal with Iran "at almost any cost."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • Iran Hasn't Agreed to U.S. Conditions for Removing IRGC from Terror List - Barak Ravid
    Iranian officials have not agreed to publicly commit to de-escalation in the region - a U.S. condition for removing the Revolutionary Guards from its terror list, two U.S. sources and one Israeli official told me. The White House has become increasingly concerned about a deal with Iran regarding the IRGC and has started cooling to the idea, the U.S. sources said. Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin and Bob Menendez publicly criticized removing the IRGC from the terror blacklist. (Axios)
  • Saudi Arabia Says It Can't Be Held Responsible for Oil Shortages after Houthis Attack Energy Facilities - Sarah Dadouch
    Saudi Arabia said it will not bear responsibility for any shortages in the global oil supply after Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi rebels struck Saudi energy facilities in at least three cities on March 20. The Saudi Foreign Ministry said the attacks will have "dire effects on the production, processing and refining sectors."  (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Arab Kills Four in Stabbing, Car Ramming Attack - Emanuel Fabian
    Four Israelis were killed and two others wounded Tuesday in a car ramming and stabbing attack at an outdoor shopping mall in Beersheba in Israel's deadliest terror attack in years. Mohammad Ghaleb Abu al-Qi'an, 34, from the Bedouin town of Hura, stabbed a woman to death at a gas station, then entered his car and rammed a cyclist, before getting out and stabbing several more people before being shot by Israeli civilians. The victims were Doris Yahbas, 49, a mother of three; Laura Yitzhak, 43, a mother of three; Rabbi Moshe Kravitzky, a father of four; and Menahem Yehezkel, 67.
        Abu al-Qi'an had served four years in prison for plotting to join the Islamic State in Syria. He was released in 2019. (Times of Israel)
        See also Israeli Policeman Learns Sister among Terrorist's Victims; Paramedic Declares His Aunt Dead
    An Israeli policeman tasked with responding to the terrorist attack in Beersheba on Tuesday discovered that his sister was among the four fatalities. In addition, a Magen David Adom paramedic said he was "among the first on the scene, and began to treat an injured, unconscious woman," Walla! News reported. In the midst of administering treatment, "I recognized that she's my aunt, my mother's sister. She was without signs of life and we had to declare her death. I was horrified, but I had to continue to function and take care of my uncle, who was on the scene."  (Algemeiner)
        See also Israel Names Victims of Terror Spree (Ynet News)
        See also Israeli Terror Victims Eulogized - Benjamin Kerstein (Algemeiner)
  • UN Human Rights Council Report Accuses Israel of Apartheid - Lazar Berman
    UN Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk accused Israel of apartheid in a report submitted Tuesday to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Lynk's full title is "Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967."
        Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel's envoy to the UN in Geneva, responded, "The author of this report is well known for his blatant and disturbing anti-Israel views. This report is no different....This report recycles baseless and outrageous libels previously published by NGOs that share the same goal as the author of this report: to delegitimize and criminalize the State of Israel for what it is: the nation-state of the Jewish People, with equal rights for all its citizens, irrespective of religion, race or sex."
        Anne Herzberg of NGO Monitor said, "The UNHRC Rapporteur position for the Palestinians has a one-sided mandate where active demonization of Israel and promoting BDS is essentially a requirement for the job."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • A New Iran Deal Leaves Us Meeker and Weaker - Bret Stephens
    Last year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised a new nuclear deal with Iran that would be "longer and stronger," hinting that it would seek to extend some of the JCPOA's sunset provisions that were set to expire in the next decade, as well as place limits on Iran's testing of ballistic missiles. It isn't clear the new deal will meet either goal.
        Reaching a kick-the-can-down-the-road agreement may seem like a diplomatic victory to the State Department. But it's a strategic defeat when it does little more than delay a crisis for the future in exchange for strengthening our adversaries in the present. Tehran attacked Iraq with ballistic missiles earlier this month and (through its Houthi proxies) launched missile and drone strikes on Abu Dhabi in January. What can Iran's neighbors expect from it when its coffers are refreshed with tens of billions in oil revenues, free from sanctions?
        The principal geopolitical challenge the U.S. faces today is the perception, shared by friends and foes alike, that we are weak, distracted and divided. The Biden administration urgently needs to telegraph strength. An Iran deal that leaves us even weaker and meeker than the previous deal accomplishes the opposite. (New York Times)
        See also This Is Much, Much Worse than the 2015 Iran Deal - Gabriel Noronha
    The writer served as Special Advisor for Iran in the U.S. State Department in 2019-2020. (Tablet)
  • U.S. Attacks Bennett as Soft on Russia But Is Happy for Moscow to Broker the Iran Nuclear Deal - Melanie Phillips
    With the Western world transfixed by the horrors in Ukraine, Israel finds itself singled out for criticism and misunderstanding in equal measure. Israel depends on Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, turning a blind eye to the frequent Israeli sorties into Syria to destroy Iranian weaponry being transported there to attack Israel from just across the border.
        Despite this, the Biden administration has made a point of pressuring Israel to adopt Western sanctions against Russia. While Israel hasn't officially joined the sanctions campaign, it is ensuring that its financial institutions won't provide a sanctions bypass. Israeli banks have severed relations with sanctioned Russian banks.
        But America is being staggeringly two-faced. While pressuring Israel to impose sanctions, it is using Russia to broker the nuclear deal with Tehran (which refuses to negotiate directly with the U.S.). Under the reported terms of this deal, the Biden administration will make Putin the effective gatekeeper for Iran's nuclear program. Worse still, the U.S. proposes to enable Russia to set up a sanctions evasion hub in Iran, where Russia's state-controlled energy company, Rosatom, is set to cash in on its $10 billion contract to expand Tehran's Bushehr nuclear plant.
        Ukraine's fate demonstrates that, when a despotic power has nuclear weapons, the world's ability to stop its atrocities is all but paralyzed. Despite this, the Biden administration is set upon a course that will enable terrorist Iran to become a nuclear power. (The Times-UK)
  • Dropping IRGC from Blacklist Would Be Boon for Terrorism - Jacob Nagel and Meir Ben-Shabbat
    A U.S. decision to remove Iran's Revolutionary Guards from its foreign terrorist organization blacklist would not only be a distortion of truth, but also an American show of surrender to Iran and a reward to the main perpetrator of terrorism. It will also be a blow to Israel and America's other allies in the region who deal with destructive terrorist plots daily, courtesy of the Revolutionary Guards.
        The Revolutionary Guards was founded in 1979 by Ayatollah Khomeini as a counterweight to the Iranian military which he did not trust because of the American education its senior commanders had received. It operates as a parallel military. The Revolutionary Guards serves as the main means of ensuring the survival of the ayatollah regime and to achieve its vision to establish Iranian hegemony in the region and spread the Islamic Revolution throughout the world.
        Brig.-Gen. (res.) Professor Jacob Nagel, a former Israeli national security adviser, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Meir Ben-Shabbat, a visiting senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, served as Israel's national security adviser and head of the National Security Council. (Israel Hayom)
        See also We Put Iran's Revolutionary Guard on the Terrorist List. Keep It There. - Victoria Coates and Robert Greenway
    Victoria Coates served as deputy national security adviser for the Middle East and North Africa. Robert Greenway served as senior director for the Middle East and North Africa. (Washington Post)
        See also Don't Drop Iran's Revolutionary Guards from Terrorist List - Matthew Levitt
    The writer is director of the Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Resurrecting the Iran Nuclear Deal Would Be an Epic Mistake - Liam Fox
    The 2015 Iran nuclear deal was a fundamentally flawed agreement. Not only did it abandon the original aim of preventing Iran from ever becoming a nuclear weapon state, but it failed to tackle Iran's ballistic missile program, its systematic destabilization of its regional neighbors, or its championing of terrorist groups like Hizbullah and Hamas.
        Now, negotiations are being resurrected, but has anything fundamentally changed? Iran has continued its nuclear program and its stockpile of enriched uranium is now massively greater than permitted, with some of it just below the level of purity needed for a nuclear bomb. In defiance of the UN, it has also continued with its ballistic missile program. In 2018, both the UK and France accused Iran of breaching its obligations by testing medium-range ballistic missiles, which were capable of carrying multiple warheads.
        Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah proudly boasts: "As long as Iran has money, so does Hizbullah." The implications of lifting sanctions on Iran are crystal-clear. It is through such proxies that Iran targets Israel and Israeli interests and gives effect to the long-standing hatred of Iran's leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, for the very existence of the Israeli state. To remove sanctions on Iranian oil without guarantees of stopping such activities would risk money being poured into the funding of groups who are fundamentally anti-West. How, in any rational world, could that be regarded as progress?
        We have seen in the horrors enforced on Ukraine by Putin's Kremlin why wishful thinking is a poor basis for foreign and security policy. How irresponsible and foolish we would be to repeat the mistakes with Iran.
        MP Liam Fox is a former UK Defense Secretary. (Telegraph-UK)

  • Israel's Response to the Ukraine Crisis

  • Israel Opens Field Hospital in Ukraine - Natalie Gryvnyak
    Israel this week opened a field hospital in Mostytskah, Ukraine, near the Polish border with more than 100 medical staff from the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan. It includes a medical laboratory, X-ray room, ultrasonography room, isolation ward, and is staffed by paramedics, emergency care physicians, and specialist pediatricians, surgeons, dentists, gynecologists, and experts in infectious diseases. (Jewish News-UK)
  • Why Israel's Iron Dome Won't Really Help Ukraine Against Russia - Sam Sokol
    Despite calls for Jerusalem to provide Kyiv with missile defense technology, experts believe that logistical and technological limitations mean that Israel's Iron Dome would provide little practical benefit to Ukraine. Tal Inbar, a senior research fellow at the U.S.-based Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, believes that while the system could likely intercept some Russian munitions, such as Grad rockets, the large land mass of Ukraine and the variety of Russia's projectiles means that exporting Iron Dome batteries "is more of a theoretical question and wishful thinking by Ukraine" than a practical solution.
        "The larger the country is, you need a much larger number of radars and interceptors. Israeli is a small country, in that regard it's an advantage to missile defense. That's not the case in Ukraine," he said. Saudi forces, with their advanced missile defense capabilities, are still struggling to prevent Houthi strikes because of the large territory they have to defend. Moreover, Russia is using ballistic and hypersonic missiles which cannot be stopped by a short-range system like Iron Dome.
        There would also be logistical difficulties to providing Ukraine with Iron Dome. The "implementation of such a system is complex and a long process, so even if Israel was willing...the time to make it operational is not so short." Beyond that, the IDF has a limited supply of interceptors, with the U.S. Congress only recently approving a $1 billion allocation for Israel to replenish the missiles it expended in shooting down Hamas rockets during last summer's fighting. "So it is a little bit naive [to think] that Israel could supply other countries with a sufficient amount of interceptors," Inbar said. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Problems with Sending Ukraine Israel's "Iron Dome" - Jim Geraghty
    Is it reasonable for Ukrainian President Zelensky to expect Israel to lend or sell an Iron Dome missile-defense system to Ukraine? Israel now has 10 batteries deployed across the country, and planned to deploy at least 15 batteries. So Israel still doesn't have as many batteries as it would like to have, and the country doesn't have any spares. If Israel did choose to ship an Iron Dome battery to Ukraine, it would have to leave an area unguarded.
        Moreover, Israel may not want the Iron Dome system's technology getting in the hands of a hostile force. Any weapon you deploy on a battlefield could well fall into the hands of the enemy.
        Would it be preferable if the Ukrainian military had an Iron Dome system or two to position around one of its vulnerable cities? Absolutely. But Israel has some legitimate objections based upon its own security needs, the logistical complications of getting the systems to Ukraine, protecting sensitive technology, and avoiding getting sucked into a conflict with Russia. (National Review)

  • Other Issues

  • Saudi Arabia, UAE Refuse to Side with U.S. Against Russia - H. Varulkar
    Since the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have avoided taking a clear stance on the conflict and endorsing the position of the U.S., their major ally. The two countries refused to condemn Russia, due to their growing political, military and economic ties with it, and also due to their assessment that Russia is likely to become a prominent power in the new world order that is currently taking shape. Saudi Arabia and the UAE did vote in favor of condemning Russia at the UN General Assembly on March 2, 2022.
        Another reason is their strained relations with the U.S. administration due to Biden's attitude towards Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, and especially due to his lenient stance vis-a-vis Iran and his efforts to sign a nuclear agreement with it. Saudi Arabia and the UAE feel the U.S. has abandoned its allies and is disregarding the growing threat posed to them by Iran. On March 8, it was reported that bin Salman and Emirati Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed had both refused to accept phone calls from Biden about increasing oil production.
        The writer is Director of Research at MEMRI. (MEMRI)
        See also Arab Leaders Refrain from Criticizing Russia over Ukraine War - Yoel Guzansky (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • A Crisis in U.S.-Middle East Relations - Firas Maksad
    Most of America's Middle Eastern allies - Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Israel, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt - also are expanding ties to Russia and China. America's Middle Eastern partners have rationally concluded that they need to diversify their foreign-policy options, given Washington's reluctance to uphold its defense commitments.
        Dramatic scenes of the disorderly U.S. exit from Afghanistan confirmed that America is in retreat. For Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in particular, the lack of a meaningful American response to Iran-sponsored drone attacks on airports and oil facilities in 2019 and 2022 was the straw that broke the camel's back.
        The U.S. can't engage effectively in a great-power competition while relinquishing its dominant position in the Middle East. When the void left by the U.S. is being filled by Russian military encroachment, and as China has displaced the U.S. as the lead trading partner for most of the Middle East, allies and partners will need to adjust accordingly.
        Moreover, while the U.S. assumes that achieving detente with Iran, beginning with a nuclear deal, would make the region more stable, once most Western sanctions are lifted and American deterrence across the region wanes, Iran's appetite for expansionism will likely increase.
        The writer is an adjunct professor at George Washington University's Elliott School for International Affairs and a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute. (Wall Street Journal)

Crying Racism while Denying Reality - Dan Schueftan (Israel Hayom)
  • The world is shocked by the suffering of the Ukrainian population and is opening its arms to millions of its refugees. Yet the region's Arabs complain that the world denies their suffering and closes its gates to refugees, claiming this shows racist differentiation.
  • However, the Arabs and their apologists ignore the differences in the circumstances that created their plight and in their collective behavior. The Ukrainians were forced into refugeedom because their predatory neighbor conspires to enslave their homeland. The Arabs were conquered usually as a result of their violence, and were forced into refugeedom by barbaric wars waged to oppress their neighbors.
  • The Ukrainian refugees are not expected to threaten the quality of life of the countries that have taken them in, to behave with unusual violence, to identify with their enemies, or to maintain a lifestyle that is in opposition to the core values of society.
  • By contrast, a large portion of Arab immigrants to Europe brought with them the values and non-pluralistic lifestyles that wrought destruction on their homelands: violent behavior, a tendency toward mass, violent riots, the oppression of women, and the legitimization of terrorism.
  • The Arab writers ignoring these circumstances present the differentiation in treatment of various refugees as racism - refusing to take responsibility for their conduct and its consequences. The Palestinian public, which turns terrorists into exemplary figures and generously funds them and their families, is surprised when victims of that terror treat their sons with suspicion.
  • Immigrants from India are welcome in Britain. They have the highest employment rate and the lowest poverty rate of all minorities there despite not having blonde hair and blue eyes.

    The writer heads the International Graduate Program in National Security Studies at the University of Haifa.
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