May 26, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Leak on Israel's Role in Iranian Colonel's Death Could Harm Trust - Lazar Berman (Times of Israel)
    Israeli officials were infuriated Thursday by a leak to the New York Times about Israel's role in the killing of a senior member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
    "It mainly harms trust," MK Ram Ben Barak, a former deputy chief of the Mossad who heads the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said Thursday. "And when it is violated in some way, then it damages future cooperation."
    Ben Barak denied that Israeli officials told their American counterparts that they were responsible for the killing. "As far as I know, we did not inform anyone or take responsibility, and that is for the best," he said.
    Israeli officials told Ynet that they were demanding answers from their American counterparts and expressed concern that the report might lead to a spike in Iranian attacks against Israeli targets.

Bipartisan Senate Letter Backs Full Funding for 2023 Israel Missile-Defense Aid - Marc Rod (Jewish Insider)
    44 U.S. Senators, including 34 Democrats and 10 Republicans, signed a letter on Friday in support of full funding - $500 million - to Israel in 2023 for the Iron Dome, David's Sling and Arrow 3 missile-defense programs.
    "This vital funding will help Israel save lives and defend itself, while also strengthening U.S. national security, and furthering research and development," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
    Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) added, "We have had a great deal of success in improving our missile defense systems working with Israel. The advancements we have been able to make in this cooperative effort will benefit our defense capabilities as well as those of our ally Israel."

Senators Demand Biden Pull Taxpayer Funding for Anti-Israel Initiative - Adam Kredo (Washington Free Beacon)
    The State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) announced in March it will pay nonprofit groups up to $987,654 to "strengthen accountability and human rights in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza."
    Groups angling for the grant money are instructed to investigate alleged crimes inside and outside of Israel.
    12 Republican lawmakers are calling on the Biden administration to cancel the grant program. "It is wholly unacceptable for the State Department to fund NGOs to delegitimize and isolate Israel," the senators wrote.
    The State Department is using taxpayer dollars to help feed a network of "anti-Israel nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)" that see it as their mission to topple Western support for the Jewish state.
    "For decades these NGOs and campaigns have been significantly funded by European governments and the European Union. The United States has traditionally condemned such campaigns."

Upsurge in Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes in New York City - Douglas Schoen and Andrew Stein (New York Post)
    Anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York City were up by nearly 100% in March compared with March 2021, per NYPD data. That followed a 400% hike in February and a 300% hike in January.
    The Anti-Defamation League's annual report released in April found anti-Jewish violence at an all-time high, with New York state leading the nation in such incidents.
    Anti-Semitic incidents in the state last year included 51 assaults - the most physical attacks ADL has recorded since it began collecting data 40 years ago.
    Attacks on Jewish institutions like synagogues and schools were up 41%.
    See also My Synagogue's Anti-Semitism Tax - Howard Husock (Wall Street Journal)
    Serving on my synagogue's board of trustees, I found that more than 5% of our budget is now devoted to security to protect the congregation. I call it the anti-Semitism tax.
    When I reviewed the budgets of mainline Protestant churches in my own community, I found no security line items remotely on par with those in my synagogue.
    There have been numerous shootings at religious sites in recent years, but the Jewish community has been the greatest target of religious-based hate crimes in the U.S. since official reporting started.
    I'm chary about the message sent by the synagogue as fortress. We risk giving prospective new members the impression that attending shul is dangerous.
    The writer is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards Are "Blundering and Brainwashed Idiots," Former Prisoner Says - James Rothwell (Telegraph-UK)
    Dr. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, 34, an Australian-British academic imprisoned in Tehran's Evin prison by the IRGC for more than 800 days on false spying charges, said she was bewildered by the incompetence of her captors.
    "They are not well versed in security, geopolitics or counter espionage - they are blundering idiots really....Most of the time, they are blundering around arresting innocent people because of brainwashing and conspiracy theories."
    Moore-Gilbert has written a new book, The Uncaged Sky, recounting her imprisonment.

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I've Been Writing on Israeli Intelligence for Ages - Then Iran Tried to Kidnap Me - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
    On Nov. 23, I received a WhatsApp message inviting me to a conference at the Center for Security Studies in Zurich.
    I have been invited to international conferences for decades, but I wondered why the head of a Swiss institute sent me a WhatsApp message from a phone number in Pennsylvania.
    Last week the Israel Security Agency announced it had uncovered an operation by Iranian intelligence, and the Revolutionary Guards Quds Force targeting Israeli academics and former defense officials.
    One academic traveled to Switzerland, and the ISA alerted him and advised him to return to Israel immediately.
    Identity theft or the use of fake profiles is just one of many methods that Iran employs to spy on Israel and to abduct and kill Israelis.

A Collection of "Alternative Facts" about Israel's Founding - Gil Stein (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
    A recent column in the Sentinel wants you to believe that the new nation of Israel, with less than 700,000 people in 1948, sought to take on the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and others. Israel was attacked the day it declared independence. It was not Israel that started the war.
    After Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 from Jordan and Egypt, it offered to return all of the land in exchange for peace and diplomatic recognition.
    The response was a resounding "No to negotiations, No to recognition and No to peace."
    Palestinian Arabs could have had a state in 1948; they could have had a state in 1967; and they could have had a state had they accepted Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. If they are victims, the wounds are self-inflicted.

There Is Always Someone Eager to Buy into Anti-Israel Propaganda - Ben-Dror Yemini (Ynet News)
    The U.S. flattened 70% of the buildings in Raqqa in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and a similar percentage of all buildings in Mosul in Iraq while fighting terror.
    But Israel, which has put significantly fewer innocent civilians in harm's way compared to any other Western army, faces fiercer scrutiny manyfold.
    In the midst of the May 2021 war in Gaza, the New York Times plastered photos of Palestinian children who were killed on its front page. They never published similar photos of children killed by the U.S. military.
    During the 2014 Gaza War, the Palestinians published a list of 17 journalists who they said were killed by the IDF. The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center found that two were killed by Palestinians and most others were members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad.
    The problem is this kind of anti-Israeli propaganda has no dearth of buyers.
    Israel is justified in its struggle against Palestinian terror and Jihad, and this is a fundamental truth.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Tells U.S. It Killed Iranian Officer - Farnaz Fassihi and Ronen Bergman
    According to a U.S. intelligence official, Israel informed American officials that it was behind the killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Col. Hassan Sayad Khodayari in Tehran on Sunday. The U.S. has designated the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group and has refused an Iranian demand that the designation be removed as a condition for restoring the 2015 nuclear deal.
        The Israelis told the Americans the killing was meant as a warning to Iran to halt the operations of a covert group within the IRGC Quds Force known as Unit 840, which is tasked with abductions and assassinations of foreigners around the world, including Israeli civilians and officials. A Telegram channel affiliated with the Quds Force said the colonel was known in the field by the alias "Colonel Shekar," Persian for hunter. (New York Times)
        See also Senior Iranian Military Official's Killing Was a Preemptive Intervention - Ron Ben-Yishai
    IRGC Col. Hassan Sayad Khodayari was a senior commander of a secret Iranian unit charged with planning and carrying out assassinations and attacks internationally.
        Among operations Khodayari and his men were responsible for in the past three years were the murders of Israelis in Tanzania, Ghana, and Senegal, as well as an attack on an Israeli institution in Bogota, Colombia. There were also attempts to kill businessmen in Cyprus, a murder attempt in Georgia, an attempt to murder the Israeli consul in Istanbul, Turkey, and an attack on the Israeli embassy in Azerbaijan. Therefore, it is no longer possible to not preemptively defuse this ticking bomb. (Ynet News)
        See also IRGC Officer Led Attacks on Israelis in India, Thailand
    Iran's Revolutionary Guards Col. Hassan Sayad Khodayari, who was killed in Tehran on Sunday, was reportedly in charge of the 2012 Bangkok bombings, in which five people were injured in an attempt by the IRGC to kill Israeli diplomats in Thailand. He was also in charge of an operation targeting Tal Yehoshua-Koren, the wife of an Israeli diplomat based in New Delhi, India. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IRGC Colonel's Killing Highlights Israel's Shift in Tactics Against Iran - Ben Caspit
    Iranian websites list Col. Hassan Sayad Khodayari as deputy director of the Quds Force's technological and weapons development, whose purview likely includes the flagship Iranian project to alter Hizbullah's rocket arsenal into precision missiles capable of striking Israeli targets. According to Israeli and Western intelligence assessments, Khodayari is actually a brigadier general and was very close to Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani.
        According to informed intelligence sources, Khodayari was in the advanced stages of carrying out three attacks on Israeli targets in several locations around the world. "These attempts will no longer be executed," said a senior Israeli security source. Israel will no longer ignore attempted attacks and intends to exact a price from those who dispatch them, even in the heart of their capital. Israel's counterterrorism campaign has spread from hitting Iranian facilities in Syria into Iran itself. (Al-Monitor)
  • Biden's Iran Envoy Says Return to Nuclear Deal "Tenuous" - Laura Kelly
    U.S. Special Representative for Iran Rob Malley told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that the prospects for a return to the nuclear deal with Iran were "tenuous at best," despite nearly a year of talks. He said the U.S. is "fully prepared to live with and confront that reality" of moving forward without a return to the deal.
        Malley also announced new sanctions on an "international smuggling and money-laundering network" that he said provides hundreds of millions of dollars to Iran's Revolutionary Guards Quds Force. He also committed to submitting any agreement reached to Congress for review. (The Hill)
        See also Israel Still Concerned about New Nuclear Deal - Amos Harel
    The Israeli defense establishment says Biden insisted on leaving the Revolutionary Guards on the U.S. blacklist only after the chances of signing an agreement in Vienna had declined. That was partly due to Iran's stubbornness, and not just on the sanctions issue, but also due to internal disagreements within the Biden administration. Diplomatic sources still put the chances of signing a deal this year at 50-50. (Ha'aretz)
  • Iran Used Secret UN Records to Evade Nuclear Probes - Laurence Norman
    Iran secured access to secret UN atomic agency reports almost two decades ago and circulated the documents among top officials who prepared cover stories and falsified a record to conceal suspected past work on nuclear weapons, according to Middle East intelligence officials. Persian-language Iranian records reveal some of the tactics Tehran used with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is tasked with monitoring compliance with nuclear nonproliferation treaties and the 2015 nuclear deal.
        Iran's acquisition of sensitive IAEA documents "represents a serious breach of IAEA internal security," said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security and a former UN weapons inspector. "Iran could design answers that admit to what the IAEA already knows, give away information that it will likely discover on its own, and at the same time better hide what the IAEA does not yet know."
        The IAEA records accessed by Iran were among more than 100,000 documents and files seized by Israeli intelligence in January 2018 from a Tehran archive. Israel has passed the nuclear archive over to the U.S. intelligence community. (Wall Street Journal)
  • U.S. Sanctions Hamas Investment Network
    The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control on Tuesday designated a Hamas finance official as well as an expansive network of three Hamas financial facilitators and six companies that have generated revenue for the terrorist group through an international investment portfolio. Hamas' Investment Office held assets worth $500 million.
        Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes Elizabeth Rosenberg said, "Hamas has generated vast sums of revenue through its secret investment portfolio....Hamas maintains a violent agenda that harms both Israelis and Palestinians. The United States is committed to denying Hamas the ability to generate and move funds and to holding Hamas accountable for its role in promoting and carrying out violence."  (U.S. Treasury Department)
  • U.S. Negotiating Deal among Saudis, Israelis and Egyptians - Barak Ravid
    The Biden administration has been quietly mediating the transfer of two strategic islands in the Red Sea from Egyptian to Saudi sovereignty. The White House wants an agreement to be reached before President Biden's upcoming trip to the Middle East at the end of June.
        Tiran and Sanafir islands control the Straits of Tiran - a strategic sea passage to the ports of Aqaba in Jordan and Eilat in Israel. Saudi Arabia gave Egypt control of the islands in 1950. They were later demilitarized as part of the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.
        Israel asked that Saudi Arabia allow Israeli airlines to cross more Saudi airspace, which would dramatically shorten flights to India, Thailand and China. After the Abraham Accords were announced, Saudi Arabia began to allow Israeli airlines to cross some of their eastern airspace for flights to the UAE and Bahrain. Israelis also want the Saudis to allow direct flights from Israel to Saudi Arabia for Muslims in Israel who want to go on pilgrimage to Mecca. (Axios)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Rejects CNN Claim Journalist Shot Deliberately - Itamar Eichner
    The IDF on Tuesday rejected the findings of a CNN investigative report that claimed Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh was deliberately shot by Israeli troops in the Jenin refugee camp earlier this month. The IDF said there can be no conclusive findings as to the origin of the shot that killed Abu Akleh without examining the bullet removed from her body.
        "The IDF has been operating in the Jenin area to apprehend terror suspects after 11 Israeli civilians were killed in attacks perpetrated by residents of Jenin and its surrounding villages and to prevent further attacks. Palestinian gunmen indiscriminately fired hundreds of rounds at troops, turning the Jenin camp into an active warzone," the IDF said. "Without a serious and professional investigation, it is impossible to conclude where the fire originated and such a probe must be done meticulously and based on evidence."  (Ynet News)
  • Turkish Foreign Minister Arrives in Israel for Official Visit - Jonathan Lis
    Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu arrived on Tuesday for a two-day visit to Israel and the West Bank. Israel perceives the visit as a significant step toward putting ties back on track, but still harbors suspicions about Turkey's efforts toward rehabilitating relations. One of Israel's main demands ahead of advancing ties is that Ankara work harder to stop Hamas activities in Turkey. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Turkish Foreign Minister on First Official Visit to Israel in 15 Years (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Israeli Judge Rules Against Jews Who Prayed at Temple Mount
    The Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday ruled against four Jewish teens who prayed on the Temple Mount, reversing a lower court's decision. Judge Einat Avman-Muller wrote that a right to freedom of Jewish worship on the Temple Mount "is not absolute, and it should be superseded by other interests, among them the safeguarding of public order."  (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Arrests Hamas Terror Cell in Jerusalem - Lilach Shoval
    The Israel Security Agency in April arrested an active, five-man Hamas terrorist cell in eastern Jerusalem that was planning to bomb the Jerusalem light rail using a drone. They were also planning to abduct Israeli civilians and soldiers, and had planned to assassinate MK Itamar Ben-Gvir. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • The Iran Nuclear Deal Is Losing Its Mojo - Amb. James F. Jeffrey
    The 2015 Iran nuclear deal's restraints on Iran's enrichment capabilities begin eroding in 2026 and are totally lifted by the end of 2030. Thus, in the next presidential term Iran will again be within a few months of a nuclear device capability. Buying relatively minimal time with a JCPOA return comes with costs: lifting the heavy American sanctions and giving international approval to whatever Iran does within an agreement increasingly less restraining.
        In negotiating the initial agreement, many saw it as transformational, that working with moderate Iranian leaders could change that nation's foreign policy. But few still see the JCPOA that way. A return to the JCPOA at best has time-limited technical advantages, but certainly not sufficient to base a whole regional policy on. With or without the JCPOA, an aggressive Iran on the cusp of nuclear weapons is becoming part of the region's security environment.
        The writer, Chair of the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center, served as U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and Turkey. (Al-Monitor)

  • Palestinians

  • Who's Really Responsible for Palestinian Suffering? - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Last week the so-called "Squad" in Congress proposed House Resolution 1123, "Recognizing the Nakba and Palestinian Refugee Rights." Through the funhouse mirror of nakba rhetoric, the resolution demands recognition of the Palestinian "right of return" in which 7 million descendants of the 1948 refugees would have the right to reclaim the homes of those who left and essentially eliminate Israel as a Jewish state. The purpose of the resolution is to place on record, congressional support for the elimination of Israel.
        The Arabs rejected the compromise offered by the 1947 UN Partition Resolution that called for the creation of two states - one Jewish and one Arab. The Arabs were not prepared to accept any Jewish state, even one far smaller than the one that emerged from the 1948 War of Independence. That rejection led to a war that was certainly a disaster for the Palestinian Arabs who started it. Despite suffering 1% of their population being killed in the fighting, the Jews triumphed.
        Any discussion of the nakba ought to be on the way the Palestinian leadership and the political culture they created are the reason for the original disaster that befell their people and their current plight. Any sympathy for the nakba narrative is not merely built on ignoring the truth about the Palestinians and their wars. It's also inherently anti-Semitic since it is built on a foundation of denial of Jewish rights and the Jewish victims that were created by the Arabs' anti-Zionist hate. (JNS)

  • Other Issues

  • Zionism Remains a Freedom Struggle - Bret Stephens
    Most of the new states established since World War II were born from the twin processes of decolonization and national-liberation struggles. Among the first was Israel. Israel is a decolonized nation, liberated from imperialism just as surely as Kenya or Indonesia was.
        The allegation that Israel is a white, racist, illegitimate, colonialist regime is unserious. Jews are not "white" to start with, a plurality of Israel's Jewish population is of Middle Eastern descent. A state whose right to exist was affirmed in one of the UN's first resolutions may be many things, but it is not illegitimate. A nation whose ties to a land are millennia-old and continuous is not colonialist, particularly when the territories it is supposedly colonizing were acquired in wars it did not seek and include land it has repeatedly tried to give back.
        As for the argument that Palestinians experience apartheid because they don't get a say in Israeli politics, the entire point of the 1993 Oslo Accords was to provide Palestinians with a separate polity in the form of the Palestinian Authority. The principal reason that Palestinians don't live in a state of their own is that Palestinian leaders have repeatedly rejected one.
        Israel cannot be expected to agree to the immediate creation of a Palestinian state if Israelis have good reasons to fear that ending the occupation is a prelude to ending Israel itself. The Jewish state is expected to conduct its battles with greater regard for the safety of its enemies than for that of its own people. It is expected to make diplomatic concessions that put the lives of its own citizens at serious risk. It is expected, when struck, to turn the other cheek.
        The writer, a New York Times columnist, is editor-in-chief of Sapir: A Journal of Jewish Conversations. (Sapir)
  • Guardian Misleads on Evictions from IDF Training Zone - Adam Levick
    Israel's Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the IDF could evict 1,300 Palestinians living in an IDF training zone adjacent to the Judean Desert in the South Hebron Hills of the West Bank, after a legal battle lasting 20 years. A one-sided and extremely tendentious piece by the Guardian's Jerusalem correspondent on the court ruling appeared to promote the "voice of Palestine," rather than provide readers with an accurate and impartial account of the relevant facts.
        The court determined that the Palestinian petitioners hadn't proved that they lived in the area of Masafer Yatta as permanent residents before the army declared the area a training zone in the early 1980s, but that they only occasionally entered the area during the seasonal migration of their goat herds. The court found that, prior to 1980, there were no permanent residents in the area, and that the Palestinians had not lived there, as was reported, "since the days of the Ottoman empire."
        The court found that some of the complainants have permanent homes in the nearby village of Yatta, and that the petitioners did not provide any documentation of ownership of the land. Before the court ruling, Palestinians turned down an Israeli compromise offer that would allow them to cultivate the land and herd livestock there on the weekends and Jewish holidays, when the army doesn't conduct drills. (CAMERA-UK)
  • "Israel Apartheid" Is the New "Zionism=Racism" - Prof. Eugene Kontorovich
    The coordinated reports by European government-funded NGOs accusing Israel of the crime of apartheid are an example of a "Big Lie." The Amnesty International apartheid report claimed that Israel since its founding was an apartheid state. Thus, it is not any policies of Israel's but the idea of a Jewish state that is apartheid.
        The reports treat the Palestinians as silent objects, rather than political actors who have shaped their own destiny. In particular, the reports ignore the reality of Palestinian self-government and systematic Palestinian efforts to murder Israeli Jews. Since 1993 the Palestinians have had their own government, which regulates almost every aspect of their lives. Unlike South African Bantustans, the PA government is recognized by most countries of the world and functions outside of Israeli control.
        Under the Oslo Agreements, the PA government and Israel agreed on a framework for dividing authority and jurisdiction in areas where their governments and populations are intertwined. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) report cites those very features as evidence of apartheid - in effect saying that the internationally-backed Oslo Accords, for which several Nobel Peace Prizes were awarded, is equivalent to apartheid.
        All of the movement restrictions and the separation wall were established not as part of a policy of racial separation, but only in response to the murderous wave of terror unleashed by the PA in 2000, which killed over 1,000 Israelis. HRW tries to paint self-defense as subjugation, and thus makes no mention of the mass-murder of Israeli civilians.
        "Israel apartheid" is not just a lie, it is an inversion of the truth. In all areas controlled by Israel, Jews and Arabs mix freely and openly. Yet all the areas under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority are Jew-free. The Palestinian constitution defines "Palestine" as an exclusively "Arab nation," makes Islam the official religion and Arabic the sole official language.
        The writer is a professor at George Mason University Law School and a scholar at the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem. (B'nai B'rith International)
  • Where It Counts, the Effort to Boycott Israel Doesn't Even Register - Steven A. Cook
    Those who seek to bring Israel to its knees by rendering it an international pariah through the movement known as BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) have already failed. If one only paid attention to what is being reported from U.S. college campuses, one might believe BDS is thriving. But where it counts - in the halls of government and boardrooms - BDS does not even register. Indeed, 35 U.S. states have enacted anti-BDS legislation.
        Of the nearly 200 countries in the world, over 160 have relations with Israel, including six members of the Arab League. Sure, Israel endures endless criticism at the UN, but since when does what happens in the General Assembly or Human Rights Council have a bearing on the conduct of global affairs? Almost never.
        BDS activists have clearly failed to force global firms to unwind their operations in Israel. Israeli firms are too well integrated into global business for international companies to walk away from the country. Campus BDS resolutions have done little to alter the way the world sees Israel, which is too important a geopolitical and economic player to be isolated.
        The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Foreign Policy)
  • Pakistanis Begin to Visit Israel - Hamza Azhar Salam
    The contention that Israel and/or Jews are obsessively engaged in a long-term plot to destabilize Pakistan, and that Pakistan has a sanctified duty to dismantle Israel, is practically an iron rule of Pakistani grassroots and political discourse.
        Yet recently, a 15-member delegation visited Israel, organized by the American Muslim and Multifaith Women's Empowerment Council and by Sharaka, an NGO founded in the wake of the Abraham Accords to embed people-to-people normalization between Israel and Muslim-majority states. The delegation included American Pakistanis, a British Pakistani, and prominent Pakistani journalist Ahmed Qureshi, who works for Pakistan's state broadcaster, Pakistan Television (PTV).
        Qureshi told me: "All Israelis we met went the extra mile to show us that...they respect Muslims from other countries in the world. They would like to make the experience of local Palestinians and visitors from outside who want to visit [Jerusalem's] Masjid al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock and other holy sites as smooth as possible." The fact that a Pakistani journalist working for the state broadcaster could make this trip reflects that the Pakistani state is increasingly open to normalization.
        The writer is a Pakistani journalist based in London. (Ha'aretz)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Stop Longtime Ann Arbor Synagogue Protesters - Andrew Lapin
    The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a suit against protesters who have gathered weekly outside an Ann Arbor synagogue for nearly two decades holding anti-Israel and anti-Semitic signs. The court denied petitions by congregants who had argued that the protests targeted Jews at their place of worship, violating their First Amendment right to freely exercise their religion.
        Attorney Nathan Lewin told JTA: "I am shocked and dismayed that the Supreme Court and the court of appeals view anti-Semitic picketing timed and designed to harass and intimidate Jews only when they come to pray - clearly protected by the First Amendment's Religion Clause - as free speech that may not be curtailed."  (JTA)

  • Weekend Features

  • Belarussian Couple Posthumously Recognized as Righteous Among the Nations
    Kondratiy and Anna Lakotko of Belarus risked their lives to save six Jews during WWII and were recognized by Yad Vashem on Wednesday as Righteous Among the Nations on behalf of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Their youngest son, Panteley Lakotko, accepted the medal and certificate on behalf of his late parents.
        In July 1942, two young Jewish men, cousins Kalman and Shimon Kotzer, had been hiding in forests and fields after escaping from the ghetto in Miory on the eve of its liquidation. The Lakotkos were among the few who agreed to share their supplies with the forest-dwelling refugees. At the same time, the Lakotkos also hid four Jews in their stables: Icchak Aron and his sister Gitl, and their cousins Shmuel and Reizl Engel.
        As winter forced Kalman and Shimon out of the forest, they were hidden in the Lakotko's cellar. In 1943, all of the Jews joined the partisans and fought the Germans until the area was liberated by the Soviet army in the summer of 1944. (Yad Vashem)

Israel Confronts Iranian Aggression and Renewed Palestinian Terror - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The most important and most dangerous challenge for Israel is the progress in the Iranian nuclear military program. There has been a sharp increase in the pace in which the Iranians are developing their program and the pace in which they are enriching uranium.
  • The Iranians are moving very fast towards having the capability to have enough fissile material for several bombs within a very short period of time. This means Iran is deep into the area where it can be called a threshold nuclear country.
  • There is a big debate among the experts about how much time it is going to take before the Iranians have the weapon itself. Some think it's going to take two years. I'm much more pessimistic because I think that the Iranians don't work in a linear way to first produce the enriched uranium and then start worrying about how to turn it into a bomb.
  • While Israel doesn't see eye-to-eye with the Americans on returning to the Iran nuclear deal, it does cooperate with the Americans on trying to convince the Iranians that moving forward is going to be dangerous. We are in the midst of a big military exercise in which Israel cooperates with the Americans in the modeling of an attack on the Iranian nuclear facilities.
  • Israel has been facing an increase in the number of Palestinian terror attacks in the last couple of months, which have gone beyond the usual level of terrorism. This has forced Israel to launch Operation "Break the Wave" and act in ways beyond what it was doing before, mainly in the Jenin area and the northern part of Judea and Samaria.
  • Perhaps the most disturbing issue that's happening in Israel is the rise of Palestinian nationalistic feelings and religious Islamic feelings among Israeli Arabs. The Arabs living in Israel don't go into the streets because they have some economic difficulties. This is a very minor element in the equation.

    The writer, Director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, was formerly head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence.
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