May 19, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Weeks Away from Having Enough Material for a Nuclear Bomb - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Iran is currently trying to complete the production and installation of 1,000 advanced IR6 centrifuges, including at a new underground facility being built near Natanz, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced Tuesday.
    He added that Tehran has 60 kg. of 60%-enriched uranium and is a few weeks away from having enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb.
    He also confirmed that the IRGC launched two Shahed-136 drones from Iran toward Israel on Feb. 14. They were shot down by American fighter jets close to Erbil in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

U.S. Denies Involvement in Israeli Exercise Targeting Iran - Howard Altman (War Zone)
    A spokesman for U.S. Central Command, Army Col. Joe Buccino, said there was no connection between a U.S. Air Force refueling training flight off the coast of Israel Thursday and a major Israeli training exercise simulating an attack on Iran.
    "The tanker refuel was not tied to" the Israeli exercise. There is no direct U.S. military involvement in that exercise, Buccino said. The timing of the refueling exercise was coincidental.

Russian S-300 Battery Fires at Israeli Jets over Syria - Lilach Shoval (Israel Hayom)
    A Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile battery fired at Israeli Air Force jets striking in Syria for the first time on May 13, according to foreign reports.
    Israel's Channel 13 reported on Monday that the missiles fired at the Israeli aircraft did not pose a threat and there was no radar lock on the planes.

Hamas Appeals to Russia for Support in Confrontation with Israel - Rasha Abou Jalal (Al-Monitor)
    A Hamas delegation led by Moussa Abu Marzouk visited Moscow on May 4, where it held talks with Russian officials.
    Walid al-Mudallal, a professor of political science at the Islamic University of Gaza, told Al-Monitor, "Hamas needs to strengthen relations and develop cooperation with Moscow as a superpower in the world. It finds the Russian-Ukrainian crisis an ideal opportunity to do so. Friendly relations between Moscow and Hamas will benefit both parties."
    "Such support can be done in indirect ways, through Iran and Hizbullah, which have forged an alliance with Moscow in the face of the United States on many international issues, most notably the Syrian issue."

Israel Sends 2,000 Helmets, 500 Protective Vests to Ukraine Rescue Organizations - Jonathan Lis (Ha'aretz)
    Israel delivered 2,000 helmets and 500 protective vests for emergency and civilian organizations in Ukraine on Wednesday.

House Votes to Condemn Rising Anti-Semitism - Mychael Schnell (The Hill)
    The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution on Wednesday condemning the rise of anti-Semitism in a 420-1 vote.
    The measure calls on elected officials and civil society leaders "to condemn and combat any and all manifestations of anti-Semitism" and to denounce denials or distortions of the Holocaust.
    See also Text: Condemning Rising Anti-Semitism (U.S. House of Representatives)

British Home Secretary: "BDS Movement Is Racist" - Ben Bloch (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    British Home Secretary Priti Patel told a Conservative Friends of Israel reception on Monday that "everything we have seen around the BDS movement is racist."
    She also said that she is "quite unapologetic" about the proscription of the Hamas terror group last year, saying that it was "not just the right thing to do, [it was] a moral imperative."

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Hamas Wins Birzeit University Student Election - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post-Times of Israel)
    Hamas scored a landslide victory in the student council election at Birzeit University in the West Bank on Wednesday, winning 28 of the 51 seats.
    The ruling Fatah faction got only 18 seats, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) won 5.
    In the previous election in 2019, both Hamas and Fatah garnered 23 seats.

Iranian-Born Officer Trains Israeli Intelligence Analysts in Persian - Yoav Limor (Israel Hayom)
    Major M. was three years old when his family fled to Israel from Khomeini's Iran.
    He served as a Persian language analyst in the Intelligence Corps and has been training the next generation of intelligence personnel in the Persian language.
    He sees a dual mission: To help Israel fight its main enemy and to help the Iranian people escape the tyrannical regime in Tehran.
    "From my perspective, we are saving Iran and we are trying to help it return to what it once used to be."

Israeli Arab Wins Kickboxing World Championship (Times of Israel)
    Israeli kickboxer Loai Sakas, a Christian Arab, won a gold medal on Thursday at the world championships in Turkey and draped himself with the Israeli flag.
    Sakas told Channel 12, "I'm first and foremost an Israeli citizen....I represent the country and want everyone here to live in peace with each other."

European Investment Bank Invests in New Israeli Medical Testing System (AsiaOne-Singapore)
    Israel's POCARED Diagnostics is currently finalizing development of a new microbiology testing system that could revolutionize infectious disease diagnosis by providing complete results, including sample screening, organism identification and antimicrobial susceptibility, within hours instead of days.
    The European Investment Bank on Monday announced an investment of EUR22 million in the company for R&D.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Hizbullah and Allies Lose Majority in Lebanon's Parliamentary Elections - Sarah Dadouch
    Hizbullah and its allies have lost their majority in Lebanon's parliament, according to election results released Tuesday. The Hizbullah-led alliance still retained the larger share of seats with 61, down from 70 after the last elections in 2018. Hizbullah could regain the majority if it persuaded some independent candidates to join its bloc. (Washington Post)
  • A West Bank Hot Spot Reemerges - Stephen Kalin
    Jenin in the West Bank is re-emerging as a stronghold of Palestinian militancy. Four of the assailants who killed 19 Israelis in terrorist attacks since March were from the Jenin region. The Israeli military has responded with raids to arrest people they say helped carry out those attacks. The raids are regularly met with gunfire. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have developed extensive networks of support in the region.
        A senior Israeli military official said the army needs to conduct raids into Jenin to stop terrorism in Israel. "We don't have the ability to wait for the next attack from Jenin, we cannot sit and wait for our civilians to be killed. In general, and more specifically in recent weeks, we're acting to stop those who want to kill Israelis now, right now, so that they're stopped before they carry out their murderous intent."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • Israel Ramping Up Gas Output, Looks to Help Supply Europe - Ari Rabinovitch
    Israel is boosting offshore natural gas output from 20 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year to 40 bcm in the next few years as it expands current projects and brings new fields online, industry officials say. Israel aims to reach a supply agreement with Europe in the coming months as the continent looks to replace Russian supply. Realistically, this would help Europe no sooner than 2024, said Lior Schillat, director general of Israel's Energy Ministry. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Prepares for Increased Violence in Israeli-Arab Cities during Future War - Anna Ahronheim
    The IDF is preparing for twice the amount of violence within Israeli-Arab cities in the event of a new conflict, as compared to what occurred during last year's anti-Hamas operation in Gaza, which saw heavy rioting in mixed Israeli-Arab cities such as Lod and Jaffa. The IDF wants to be able to send troops before violence breaks out, and not in response to the violence, and will work to keep roads open. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also IDF Says Terror Wave Motivated by Religion, Not Hamas - Elisha Ben Kimon
    Israeli security forces say the ongoing Palestinian terror wave is religiously motivated and not a result of incitement by Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar. The common denominator in the recent terror attacks was that they were carried out by lone wolves, and were often provoked by events around the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. (Ynet News)
  • Thousands of Israelis Join Civilian Home Guard amid Terror Wave - Meir Turgeman
    Amid an ongoing terror wave, 4,000 Israelis have thus far stepped forward to volunteer in the new civilian Home Guard established by the Israel Police. Yael Lahav, 44, one of the 4,000 volunteers, is a mother of three from Kiryat Motzkin who enrolled in the campaign because "I was worried for the children."
        Adam Hakim, 33, from Tel Aviv, said the training "course gave me basic tools that would allow me to respond in the case of a terror attack. I'm protecting my family, friends, and surroundings. It is the most basic and necessary thing to do as an Israeli civilian."
        12% of the volunteers are Muslims who are mostly concerned for their safety in the face of increasing violence in Arab communities. (Ynet News)
  • Video: Palestinian Tries to Stab Soldier in West Bank
    A Palestinian tried to stab an Israeli soldier near the headquarters of the Samaria Regional Brigade in the West Bank on Tuesday before being shot by troops on the scene. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • Window of Opportunity for Stopping Iran Nukes Is Narrowing - Tamir Morag
    Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Tuesday that Iran was just weeks away from obtaining enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb. According to Eli Bar-On, an expert on missiles and advanced weapons systems, "There is a difference between the amount of fissile material required for manufacturing a bomb and operational nuclear capability, and the gap between the two creates a window that could give Israel one last chance to stop the Iranians."
        "Gantz revealed that the same famous window of opportunity, which the West has been relying on and is narrow to begin with, has gotten even smaller. This was the last call to the world to stop burying its head in the sand and to stop Iran before it's no longer possible."
        While Israeli defense officials say Iran may take a year or two to learn to attach a nuclear warhead to a ballistic missile, a former senior official at the Negev Nuclear Research Center said it's possible to achieve nuclear capability even without using missiles. "When the Americans dropped the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they didn't use missiles, rather just loaded the bombs on planes and released them from the air."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Why Iran Is in No Rush to Renegotiate a Nuclear Deal - Andrea Stricker
    Iran's enriched uranium stockpiles are surging. "Our nuclear program is advancing as planned and time is on our side," an Iranian official told Reuters on May 5. "Oil sales have doubled," noted Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on May 9. Tehran has not only made impressive strides toward a nuclear weapons capability but repaired much of the financial damage done by U.S. sanctions.
        Since January 2021, Iran has enjoyed reduced international monitoring, substantially improved atomic assets that are increasingly hardened against aerial strikes, an absence of international penalties, and a reviving economy.
        The writer is a research fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. (The Dispatch)
  • Iran Jailed Me for My Last Op-Ed - Hossein Ronaghi
    On Feb. 23, plainclothes agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps imprisoned me for more than a week. This is the group that many in the U.S. argue should be removed from the American terrorist sanctions list. They claim that sanctions on the IRGC are merely symbolic and do little to hold it accountable. As someone who was recently in its prisons, I can assure you that the designation of these criminals as terrorists not only limits their access to resources but sends a message that the world is watching, raising the stakes of the regime's crimes.
        As the American president considers removing my captors and the murderers of peaceful protesters from the U.S. sanctions list, let me say clearly: This is not what Iranians want. Sending our dictator and his regime billions of dollars is not in our best interest. We are willing to live under the economic pressure of sanctions if it weakens the regime holding us hostage and cuts off some of the resources used to jail us, torture us and shoot us in the streets. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Other Issues

  • The U.S.-Israel Relationship Is "One of the Most Effective Partnerships in the World" - Lenny Ben-David
    Sometime in the last decade, the relationship between the U.S. and Israel switched from "patron-client" to "partnership." Intelligence sharing became more extensive and energetic; the development of new weaponry to be deployed on, under, and above the battlefield expanded; and joint exercises between air forces, navies and special forces went far beyond anything imagined before.
        Israeli defense industries have invented and developed state-of-the-art cyber programs, anti-missile weapons, drones, pilotless armed UAVs, tank protection systems, and avionics. In effect, Israel became an overseas version of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for the U.S. Defense Department. Israel has provided the U.S. with real-time weapons-testing of U.S. systems in very hostile skies, particularly the F-35 stealth fighter. Israel's Trophy active protection system shields U.S. Abrams tanks from RPGs and anti-tank missiles.
        Foreign policy scholar Walter Russell Mead described the U.S-Israel relationship today as "one of the most intimate and effective partnerships in the world....The integration of Israeli and American defense and tech industries contributes substantially to the security and the prosperity of both countries."
        The writer served 25 years in senior posts in AIPAC in Washington and Jerusalem, and as Israel's Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington. (JNS)
  • The Palestinians Do Not Overshadow Israel-Morocco Relations - Lahav Harkov
    Israel's Ambassador to Morocco David Govrin is in constant contact with Moroccan authorities and journalists to relay trustworthy information and build trust. He says, "The Moroccan public deeply identifies with the Palestinians." At the same time, the Palestinians do not overshadow Israel-Morocco relations, but rather the subject "comes up occasionally, mostly in times of crisis. The Palestinian matter is not at the center of the public agenda in Morocco. In internal policy, the central matters are health, education and economic development, and in foreign policy, the most important matter is the [Western] Sahara."
        A Moroccan human rights advocate said recent clashes between Israel and the Palestinians "have more of an influence on a media level....The official government level is separate. The Abraham Accords are here, they are a reality, government collaboration is continuing and official diplomatic ties are still ongoing." Ties with Israel "improved really fast, based on putting aside geopolitical differences and past conflicts and focusing on what Israel and Morocco can do."
        Amb. Govrin added, "The feeling is that they want us here, they like us and they are embracing us....The Moroccan hospitality is extraordinary and it is nice to be in a place where tolerance and coexistence are very deep values."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Young Moroccan Activists Tour Israel - Sharon Wrobel (Algemeiner)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • UK Government Cuts Links with Students' Union over Anti-Semitism Concerns
    The UK Government will temporarily disengage with the National Union of Students (NUS) following recent anti-Semitism allegations. The NUS will be removed from all Department for Education groups and replaced with alternative student representation. The NUS will not receive any government funding. The allegations of anti-Semitism, which have been well-documented and span several years, have prompted a worry that systemic anti-Semitism within the organization is not being properly addressed. (UK Department for Education)
        See also Anti-Semitic Campus Incidents in UK Hit Record Levels - Marie Jackson
    Dave Rich, director of policy for the Community Security Trust (CST), said the number of anti-Semitic incidents reported by Jewish students and staff "hit record levels" last year, and have continued in 2022. The CST said it has received reports of 45 university-related anti-Semitic incidents so far this academic year, compared with 26 from the previous academic year. Rich said, "Jewish students deserve to enjoy their university experience just as much as anybody else, and when anti-Semitism happens they have a right to expect their own institutions, and their national union, to take their side."  (BBC News)
  • California Parents Say No to Anti-Semitic Ethnic Studies - Lori Lowenthal Marcus and Jesse M. Fried
    A group of Jewish public-school parents and teachers filed a federal lawsuit last Thursday challenging the adoption of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist curricular materials in Los Angeles public schools.
        The Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Consortium, which disseminates teaching materials lifted directly from radical anti-Israel websites, rejects the idea that all cultures should be studied. It asserts that ethnic studies is about only four groups: Native Americans, black Americans, Chicanos/Latinos, and Asian-Americans/Pacific Islanders. That last group includes Arabs from the Middle East - but not Jews, who've lived in that same region for millennia.
        The consortium's materials deny that Jews are indigenous to the Middle East and teach that Israel is a "colonialist" and "settler state" founded through "genocide," "ethnic cleansing" and "apartheid." They falsely teach that Zionism is an invention of the "late 19th century." Tell that to the millions of Jews who end their Passover Seders with "next year in Jerusalem," or end every Jewish wedding by breaking a glass to mourn Jerusalem's destruction, or pray each day facing Jerusalem.
        The consortium's materials says Israel and the U.S. are "white settler states," even though Israel's Jewish population is more than half "people of color" - including people whose ancestors lived in Africa and India and more three million Israelis descended from Jews who've lived in the Middle East for more than 2,600 years.
        Jewish teachers have the right to a workplace, and Jewish parents to a public school for their children, where government-paid teachers don't denounce their homeland, characterize their people as genocidal criminals, or disparage their religious beliefs.
        Ms. Marcus is legal director of the Deborah Project and lead counsel in the lawsuit. Mr. Fried is a professor at Harvard Law School and chairman of the Deborah Project's board of directors. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Slavery, Anti-Semitism and Harvard's Missing Moral Compass - Ruth R. Wisse
    A Harvard Crimson editorial proposes to help "free Palestine" by boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. Yet Arab claims of victimhood at the hands of the Jews is a daring political inversion. The 21 Arab countries occupy 640 times more land than Israel. The Arab League, not the Jews, refused to partition Palestine in 1947.
        I was privileged to teach at Harvard for 21 years, and the gratitude I feel is in no way diminished by my dismay at seeing this great university succumb to ideas that, if left unchallenged, may yet bring down the republic.
        The writer is Professor of Yiddish Literature and Comparative Literature Emerita at Harvard University. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Weekend Features

  • The Treasure of the Jews - Matti Friedman
    Andrew Lawler's book Under Jerusalem: The Buried History of the World's Most Contested City, surveys some of the colorful and fraught episodes that have played out underground over the past century and a half. 1865 saw the creation of the Palestine Exploration Fund in London, where the founders included the archbishop of York, who "called for a new crusade to rescue from darkness and oblivion much of the history of that country in which we all take so dear an interest." The explorers were inflamed by the possibility of grand findings from Jewish antiquity.
        A central problem affecting many Western observers is their narrative of a city "sacred to three faiths." There is a failure to understand the unique centrality of Jerusalem in Judaism or to admit that the city is of interest to other religions only because it was sacred to Jews first. Jerusalem has existed at the center of Jewish consciousness since Rome was a village on the Tiber and it has that role in no other religion.
        Christianity cares about Jerusalem because Jesus and his followers were Jews who orbited the Jewish ritual center on the Temple Mount. Islam built the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount because that was the site of the Jewish temple. Both religions have more important cities elsewhere, but came here to claim they had supplanted the numerically insignificant but historically imposing natives of Judea. The lack of interest in archaeology on the part of Arab residents is related to the common, and politically dangerous, knowledge that if you dig past the city's Islamic and Christian layers, what you're going to find is Jewish.
        The writer was an Associated Press reporter in Jerusalem between 2006 and 2011. (Jewish Review of Books)
  • Thanks and Recognition to Israeli Who Defended His Community
    After Tekoa resident Yair Maimon stopped a Palestinian attacker armed with a knife at the entrance to his home on May 8, hundreds of residents gathered in the community's central park to give thanks and recognition to the local hero.
        Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Ne'eman told Maimon, "You and your family were heroes, both at the beginning of the evening and afterwards. You deserve great credit for agreeing to explain to the people of Israel what happened. This is very important because we need to recall that 'He who arises to kill you, kill him first.' And you demonstrated this plainly, with strength, bravery, without hesitation, without confusion."
        Maimon thanked the crowd and said: "It is wonderful to see you all here. I am happy that it turned out as it did, and I want you to know that in Tekoa there are many heroes. I happen to know them from Magen David Adom and the Emergency Squad. After 13 years in the Emergency Squad I am acquainted with each of them and I believe that they would have done exactly the same thing. There are many heroes in this community."  (Gushpanka-Hebrew, 13May2022)
  • Did Palestinians Back the Nazis in World War II? - Ben-Dror Yemini
    Does the fact that thousands of Palestinian Arabs enlisted in the British Army in World War II prove that only a tiny minority of Palestinians backed the Nazis? Israeli researcher Yoni Rainey claims it doesn't.
        In his books - Closed Case and The Hidden Side of Nazism and the Holocaust - he claims that 9,000 Palestinian and Jordanian Arabs did enlist in the British Army during the war (in comparison with 27,000 Jews). But from the moment it became evident that the Germans may pass through Egypt and reach Palestine in spring 1942, Palestinian Arabs switched sides.
        About 78% of the Arab volunteers deserted the British army, often stealing weapons for the purpose of helping the Germans fight the Jews when the time came. Additionally, a survey in 1941 showed that 88% of Palestinian Arabs supported Nazi Germany, while only 9% backed the British Mandate.
        If the war would have ended with a German victory, no Nakba would have taken place. Rather, the extermination of all Jews in the Mideast would have commenced. (Ynet News)

  • The two-state solution for settling the Israeli-Palestinian dispute has been adopted by the U.S. and the international community as the magic panacea for all the ills of the Middle East.
  • Yet the two-state solution has never been accepted by Israel and the Palestinians as the agreed solution to their dispute, and it does not figure in any major peace process document, such as Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), or the 1993-5 Oslo Accords.
  • The Oslo Accords, still the only valid and mutually agreed basis for resolving the dispute, determine that the permanent status of the territories remains an open negotiating issue. They contain no reference to a one-, two- or three-state solution.
  • Former Israeli Prime Ministers Rabin, Sharon and Netanyahu each visualized some form of Palestinian entity, possibly a demilitarized state, existing side-by-side in amity and mutual respect with Israel, with limited security and sovereign prerogatives.
  • Any such state would be expected to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, just as Israel would recognize a Palestinian state as the nation-state of the Palestinian people.
  • However, no such two-state solution could materialize without cognizance of the necessary, basic components that a Palestinian state entity would need to meet, including political and economic stability, unified leadership, the ability to represent the entire Palestinian people, and the removal of terror elements and infrastructure.

    The writer, who heads the international law program at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is former legal counsel to Israel's Foreign Ministry and participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians.
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