June 20, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Supreme Court: Palestinians Have Not Lived in Disputed West Bank Area "for Generations" (CAMERA)
    CAMERA's Israel office prompted a correction at Ha'aretz after it misleadingly referred to Palestinians residing "for generations" in Masafer Yatta, a disputed area in the southern West Bank.
    Last month, Israel's High Court of Justice rejected the claim that Palestinians had lived there permanently before it was declared a firing zone in the early 1980s.
    The area is on the edge of the Judean Desert, where Bedouin goatherders seasonally grazed their flocks.
    The ruling noted that some of the claimants had permanent homes in the town of Yatta.

Morocco Slated to Open Embassy in Israel - Lazar Berman (Times of Israel)
    Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid revealed on June 15 that Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita will be visiting Israel this summer to officially open his nation's embassy in Israel.

IDF Outlines New Strategy to Protect Gaza Border - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    The IDF Southern Command outlined its strategy to secure the Gaza border in a briefing on Thursday.
    The IDF estimates that a surprise Hamas attack could begin with a land incursion of special guerilla forces through attack tunnels, some of which have been dug to within dozens of feet from the new barrier wall.
    Hamas itself has deployed its fighters along the barrier to prevent Gazans from leaving. Most of the Palestinians who have been apprehended by the IDF as they attempted to cross the border were transferred to Hamas in a quiet agreement on the ground.
    The IDF has learned from past incidents and has implemented technology that would alert forces when an Israeli vehicle is exposed to cross-border fire.

Palestinian Rocket Fire Draws Israeli Air Strikes in Gaza (Reuters)
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a rocket toward the Israeli city of Ashkelon on Saturday after months of relative calm, setting off air raid sirens and sending residents to bomb shelters. Israel intercepted the rocket.
    "In response to the rocket attack, IDF aircraft struck a number of Hamas targets in Gaza," the Israeli military said.

U.S. Targets International Sanctions Evasion Network Supporting Iranian Petrochemical Sales (U.S. Treasury Department)
    The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday sanctioned a network of Iranian petrochemical producers, as well as front companies in China and the UAE that support the sale of Iranian petrochemicals abroad.

Iranian Currency Drops to Lowest Value Ever (AP)
    Iran's currency dropped to its lowest value ever on June 12 as traders in Tehran exchanged the rial at 332,000 to the U.S. dollar.
    Iran's currency was trading at 32,000 rials to the dollar at the time of the 2015 nuclear deal.

U.S. Military Raid in Syria Captures Top ISIS Leader - Luis Martinez (ABC News)
    A U.S. military ground raid in northwestern Syria has captured a top ISIS leader, Hani Ahmed al-Kurdia, who was actively planning ISIS operations, a U.S. defense official said.

Doron Almog Set to Head Jewish Agency - Ron Kampeas (Jewish Agency for Israel)
    Maj.-Gen. (res.) Doron Almog, 71, is slated to lead the Jewish Agency for Israel, the body that bridges Israel and the Jewish diaspora, for the next four years.
    Almog, former Commander of the IDF Southern Command (2000-2003), founded and serves as Chairman of the Adi Negev-Nahalat Eran Rehabilitation Village, named after his son Eran, who died at a young age.
    Almog is the recipient of the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement and Special Contribution to Society and the State (2016).

Corruption in the Palestinian Authority - Noor Greene (Reason)
    According to Fadi Elsalameen, an adjunct senior fellow at the American Security Project, "The Palestinian Authority is a burden on the Palestinian population. Almost 84% believe the PA is corrupt."
    "We've spent almost $40 billion inside the Palestinian territories since 1993, and there's very little to show for that money. But we do have very wealthy politicians."
    "Most of the economic sector is monopolized by politicians who are directly linked to the president."
    "The majority of the Palestinian economy depends on labor in Israel....You need a permit to enter Israel to work, which is provided for free by the Israelis. But you have to pay the corrupt Palestinian official, who's now the minister of civil affairs, $500 a month to maintain your permit."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Tehran Digs a New Tunnel Network for Its Nuclear Program - David E. Sanger
    Israeli and American intelligence officials have been watching as Iran digs a vast tunnel network just south of the Natanz nuclear production site, in what they believe is an effort to construct new nuclear facilities so deep in the mountains that they can withstand bunker-busting bombs. Administration officials say they have been following the construction of the new facility for more than a year.
        To the Israelis, the tunnel complex is more evidence of a relentless Iranian effort to pursue a bomb capability. Several Israeli officials say they believe Iran's ultimate objective is to use the facility to enrich uranium at a mass scale, using a family of advanced centrifuges. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Secretly Reviews Israel's Plans for Strikes Against Iranian Targets in Syria - Michael R. Gordon
    Israel secretly coordinates with the U.S. on many of the airstrikes it carries out in Syria, aimed at interrupting Tehran's flow of advanced weapons to Hizbullah and diminishing Iran's military forces and proxies in Syria. For several years, many of Israel's missions have been reviewed in advance for approval by senior officials at U.S. Central Command and at the Pentagon.
        The U.S. aim is to ensure that Israel's bombing raids don't interfere with the U.S.-led military campaign against Islamic State militants who have been attempting to mount a comeback. The main focus of the U.S. review are Israeli missions in eastern Syria that pass near the al-Tanf garrison, a U.S. outpost near the Syria-Jordan border.
        "There is tacit American support for the Israelis acting to blunt the Iranians' efforts to spread weapons around and build their leverage throughout the region. But there has also been a consistent hesitancy about wanting any fingerprints on this," said Dennis Ross, a former U.S. Middle East peace envoy. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Pompeo: Iran's Qasem Soleimani Killed to Stop Plot Against 500 Americans - Beyza Binnur Donmez
    Iran's former top military commander "General Soleimani was engaged in a plot to kill another 500 Americans. We had the opportunity to take down that plot, and we did," former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview with Al Arabiya published Friday. "We had been watching what the Quds Force was up to...and then we had this opportunity to stop what was an imminent attack on U.S. resources, U.S. assets, U.S. people and...the president made the decision to do just that." Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike on Jan. 3, 2020.
        "We know who the Iranian regime is. These are evil theocrats intent on the destruction of the nation of Israel and the United States of America. We ought not to be negotiating to figure out how much money to give them in exchange for an ephemeral promise for just a moment to slow down their enrichment and weapons program."
        "We know they (Iran) lied about the history of that [nuclear] program the first time. Why we would negotiate with someone who has lied about their nuclear program is beyond me."  (Anadolu-Turkey)
  • Israel Cancels Youth Trips to Poland over Polish Attempts to Control Holocaust Studies - Emily Rose
    Israel has canceled educational trips to Poland for thousands of high school students this summer, saying the Polish government is trying to control the Holocaust-studies curriculum taught to Israeli children, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Wednesday. Lapid said Poland has barred Israeli delegations from learning about the role of Polish citizens in collaborating with Nazis during the Holocaust. "They wanted to dictate what was allowed and what wasn't allowed to be taught to Israeli children who go to Poland and that we cannot agree with," he said.
        Holocaust researchers have collected ample evidence of Polish villagers who murdered Jews fleeing the Nazis, or Polish blackmailers who preyed on helpless Jews for financial gain. Nearly all of Poland's 3 million Jews were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust. Young Israelis traditionally travel to Poland in the summer between 11th and 12th grade to tour former Nazi camps in order to learn about the Holocaust and memorialize those murdered. (AP-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Iranian Attack on Israelis in Turkey Foiled - Emanuel Fabian
    On Saturday, Israel's Channel 12 reported that Israeli and Turkish intelligence services thwarted an attack on Israelis in Turkey over the past day. "There are Israelis who were minutes from death and do not know it," a defense official told Channel 13 on Saturday. The official said there had been "significant activity against the Iranian squads" over the past day. Senior Israeli defense officials said the coordination between Israeli and Turkish intelligence was "phenomenal."
        Channel 11 reported that "The incident is not yet behind us, there are still immediate attempts by squads to murder Israelis." Israelis in Turkey have been warned not to open their hotel room doors for delivery people, not to post about their travel plans on social media, and not to go to tourist venues popular among Israelis. The Iranian official behind the planned attacks was identified as Hossein Taeb, who heads the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Intelligence Organization. (Times of Israel)
        See also Israelis Hide Out in Istanbul Hotels amid Iran Attack Warnings (Times of Israel)
        See also Every Israeli in Turkey Is a Target - Amos Harel
    Israeli and Turkish intelligence agencies have been devoting immense efforts to prevent a terror attack against Israeli citizens in Istanbul. According to briefings by Israeli defense officials, the Iranians are so desperate for some achievement that possible targets include almost every Israeli now in Turkey.
        It seems that the Iranian efforts greatly intensified after last month's killing, attributed to Israel, of Col. Hassan Khodaei from the Revolutionary Guards. Since then, a string of other incidents has taken place, including the killing of Revolutionary Guards officers, Iranian engineers and scientists across the country. Even though Israel's links to these events were for the most part marginal or non-existent (something known to the Iranians), the extensive publicity hiked the pressure on Iran to retaliate. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Asks Israel to Allow Palestinian Staff at Allenby Crossing with Jordan - Lahav Harkov
    The U.S. has requested that Israel allow Palestinian Authority officials to join the staff at the Allenby crossing with Jordan. However, Israel is unlikely to agree to any move that would imply recognition of Palestinian sovereignty in the Jordan Valley. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Three Palestinian Gunmen Killed in West Bank
    Three Palestinian gunmen were killed Friday morning after Israeli forces operating in Jenin to search for illegal weapons came under fire. The IDF said gunmen started firing at troops from inside a suspicious vehicle at the side of the road and the soldiers returned fire. Two M-16 rifles, a Carlo submachine gun, loaded magazines and a military vest were found inside the vehicle.
        One of the terrorists killed was a field commander in Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades. (i24News-Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Mob Attacks Israeli Shepherd in West Bank
    Over 20 Palestinians attacked an Israeli man who was grazing sheep near Mevo'ot Yericho in the Jordan Valley on Saturday with clubs and stones. IDF troops arrested seven attackers, who were armed with knives and hatchets. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Hizbullah Threatens to Strike Israeli Offshore Gas Platforms - Yaakov Lappin
    In recent days, Hizbullah has stepped up threats to attack Israel's offshore gas-drilling activities in the Karish field, off the coast of Haifa, due to an unresolved maritime border dispute. Israel maintains that Karish is in its exclusive economic zone in the Mediterranean Sea.
        Prof. Boaz Ganor, founder and executive director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, said: "Hizbullah has the proven ability to fire advanced shore-to-sea missiles to strike the rig. But...I assess that Hizbullah understands that any strike on the Karish gas rig will lead to no less than war, including between Israel and Hizbullah."
        Such a war would cause Israel substantial damage, but it would be "catastrophic for Lebanon," said Ganor. "It will also neutralize Hizbullah's military arsenal that was built by Iran as a strategic deterrent against Israel. This is a price Iran would be unwilling to pay."  (JNS)
        See also Will Hizbullah Prevent a Reasonable Compromise in the Lebanon-Israel Maritime Dispute? - Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman
    The writer is former deputy director of Israel's National Security Council. (Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security)
        See also Israel's Karish Offshore Gas Field: Facts and Figures - Simon Henderson (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • President Biden Insists on Reopening the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem - Yoni Ben Menachem
    The Biden administration has taken an intermediate step toward reopening the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, reopening the Jerusalem consulate would symbolize U.S. recognition of eastern Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state and, de facto, cancel President Trump's recognition of united Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
        As a prelude to President Biden's expected arrival in the region next month, two U.S. officials recently visited Ramallah and conveyed the message that the U.S. is committed to reopening the consulate in Jerusalem. In a State Department briefing on June 14, 2022, Spokesperson Ned Price underlined the administration's intention to reopen the consulate. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • U.S. Presbyterians Support Settlements in Occupied Territory - in Nagorno-Karabakh - Prof. Eugene Kontorovich
    The Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (PCUSA) has long been pugnaciously anti-Israel and routinely passes resolutions accusing the Jewish state of "settler colonialism" and "illegal occupation." At the same time, the PCUSA has a long-established program dedicated to supporting settlements in occupied territory - and funds a variety of pro-settler charities - in Nagorno-Karabakh, an area that had a mixed Armenian-Azeri population until 1994, when Armenia occupied the region after a protracted war. The UN and the U.S. consider Karabakh to be occupied Azeri territory.
        The Azeri population fled during the war and hasn't been allowed to return. At the same time, the Armenian leadership has encouraged the movement of settlers into the occupied territory. The PCUSA is the primary sponsor of the Jinishian Memorial Foundation, an Armenian charity that funds a variety of economic and welfare projects in Armenian settlements.
        The PCUSA is fully within its rights to support Armenian settlements. Nothing in international law requires boycotts or sanctions against such communities. Yet while the PCUSA has made Armenian nationalism a funding priority, when it comes to the Jewish state, it treats Zionism as a horrible crime. The church sees itself as progressive, but its views on Israel are a throwback to something very old.
        The writer is director of the Center for the Middle East and International Law at George Mason University Law School and a scholar at the Kohelet Policy Forum. (Wall Street Journal)

  • At a panel on anti-Semitism on June 6 in Jerusalem, world-famous Soviet dissident and human-rights activist Natan Sharansky said that on American campuses, "The best way to influence non-Jewish students is to bring back Jewish students' pride and feeling of the meaning of their Jewish life, where they are connected to Israel."
  • Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said, "Each person has to fight in their little neck of the woods, and you never know what kind of impact it has either on Jews or on non-Jews. The problem we have with many young Jews is that the pull of the universal is very strong. And it's very hard for them to appreciate the particular. What we need to do is get them to understand that those values that they most admire about Western civilization actually come from the Jews."
  • "We have the ability to engage young people with all the tremendous ideas of Judaism and to make them understand that the bedrock of the values that they cherish the most actually comes with the Jews. Then they'll have pride in their Jewish heritage and tradition and then that will make them more able to fight against the anti-Semites."
See also The Scourge of Anti-Semitism Has Returned to America - William Daroff (Newsweek)
  • For decades, we viewed the specter of anti-Semitism as a ghost of the past, a hatred from another time and another place. When anti-Semitism appeared in the U.S., it used to be on the margins, on the fringe. We had become comfortable here in America over the last three quarters of a century.
  • We took the reprieve that this acceptance granted us and used our energy in the pursuit of noble goals. We brought relief to areas struck by natural disaster, saved refugees fleeing war and persecution, and fought for the civil rights of all Americans. We accomplished these activities secure in the knowledge that the "American Experience" was a cure to the disease of anti-Semitism.
  • But that sense of security may have been a mirage. Too many names of too many communities have become ghastly markers of the threats that we face: Pittsburgh. Poway. Jersey City. Monsey. Colleyville.
  • In the past few years, Zionism has become falsely equated by its opponents with fascism, white supremacy, and racism. Ironically, all three of these specifically target Jews, and Jews have historically and currently been at the forefront of combatting them.

    The writer is CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

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