June 30, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

Knesset Votes to Disperse, Lapid Replaces Bennett as Prime Minister - Gadi Zaig (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's Knesset voted to dissolve on Thursday, with new elections scheduled for Nov. 1.
    Under a previous coalition agreement, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will replace Naftali Bennett as prime minister until a new government is formed after the elections.

Israel Stopped Hackers from Hitting U.S. Power Plants - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    The deputy chief of IDF Intelligence Unit 8200 on Wednesday said that his agency had previously warned the U.S. of attempts to hack the country's power plants in time to thwart a cyberattack.

Israel Is Building a "Cyber Iron Dome" - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    Iran has become Israel's dominant rival in cyber together with Hizbullah and Hamas, Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD) Chief Gaby Portnoy said Tuesday.
    He said Israel is building a "cyber iron dome" which will elevate cybersecurity by using new mechanisms with cyber parameters that will "reduce cyberattacks, provide new big data and an AI overall approach to synchronize nationwide real-time detection...for ongoing cyberdefense efforts."
    "We are moving faster from resilience to proactive defense," trying to come after cyber attackers in their digital safe havens where they had planned attacks in the past without interference.

Israel Accuses Hizbullah of Trying to Hack UN Lebanon Peacekeepers - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Iran is carrying out cyberattacks aimed at UNIFIL and its deployment in Lebanon for use by Hizbullah, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told the International Cyber Conference on Wednesday.
    He said Iran has been waging cyberattacks against Israel for over a decade.

Arab Countries, Israel Deepen Cooperation ahead of Biden Visit - Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post)
    Top officials from Israel, the U.S., Bahrain, the UAE, Morocco and Egypt convened in Bahrain for the first Negev Forum Steering Committee meeting on Monday, to discuss continued cooperation and "actions to bring security, growth and stability to the Middle East."
    The participants plan to form working groups on the areas of regional security, clean energy, education and tolerance, food security, and tourism.

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Facing Hizbullah Threat, Israel Ramps Up Bomb Shelter Construction in North - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    Israel's Defense Ministry on Tuesday announced it had begun reinforcement work on dozens of homes in Israeli communities close to the Lebanese border threatened by rocket fire in a future conflict with Hizbullah.
    Ultimately, the ministry intends to carry out reinforcement work in 21 communities.
    The Defense Ministry has been conducting a similar effort to reinforce kindergartens in Israeli communities close to the border with Gaza.

U.S. Forces Kill Senior Terrorist Leader in Syria - Matt Seyler (ABC News)
    U.S. Central Command reported that Abu Hamzah al Yemeni, a senior leader of an al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group known as Hurras al-Din, was killed in an airstrike in Syria on Monday.

Major Increase in Palestinian Employment in Israel - Elder of Ziyon (Algemeiner)
    The number of Palestinians working in Israel and in Israeli communities in the West Bank rose from 153,000 in the fourth quarter of 2021 to 204,000 in the first quarter of 2022, an increase of 33%.

In Jenin, Young Men and Children Brandishing Rifles Pledge: "Jihad Is Our Path!" (MEMRI-TV)
    On June 24, 2022, the Palestinian Authority's Awda TV broadcasted a Fatah rally in Jenin in honor of terrorists killed by the IDF.
    At the rally, young men and children brandished rifles and pledged: "Jihad is our path! And death for the sake of Allah is our loftiest aspiration!"

UN Agency Suspends 6 Staff for Calling to Murder Jews (UN Watch)
    The UN agency that runs schools for Palestinians announced to donor states on Tuesday that it has just placed six employees on administrative leave after a report last week by UN Watch exposed UNRWA teachers who publicly call to murder Jews.
    "These temporary suspensions are just a slap on the wrist," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of Geneva-based UN Watch. "Teachers who call to murder Jews must be barred from the classroom for life."

Sderot Flourishing under Constant Threat of Rocket Attacks from Gaza - Judy Lash Balint (JNS)
    Sderot is an idyllic, well-maintained small town of 30,000 located less than a mile from Gaza.
    It's also a place where almost everyone suffers from PTSD due to thousands of Palestinian rocket attacks launched from Gaza since 2001.
    Nevertheless, the town is expanding, building new neighborhoods, creating high-tech jobs, hosting large institutes of higher learning, and opening new museums.
    "Terror helps you understand your purpose here," says Mayor Alon Davidi. "We understand what it is to be a Zionist. Hamas has not beaten us."
    Rockets fell twice in the yard of the Davidi home, and in their neighborhood, one house was hit three times over the years.
    Therapist Ephraim Rosenfeld notes, "We have a lot of experience with PTSD, but we never get to the 'post' of post-trauma, it's constant trauma."
    He says Sderot is the center for teaching resilience and trauma response to others, and recently therapists from the Resilience Center traveled to Ukraine to help the Jewish community there.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iranian Officials Admit Damaging Effect of Israeli Security Operations - Farnaz Fassihi and Ronen Bergman
    For more than a decade, Hossein Taeb, chief of intelligence for Iran's Revolutionary Guards, crushed domestic dissent and expanded covert operations beyond Iran's borders, until he was abruptly removed from his position last week. According to Israeli intelligence officials, a botched Iranian effort to target Israeli citizens in Turkey, which caused an embarrassing diplomatic crisis with Ankara, eventually tipped the balance.
        Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a reformist former vice president of Iran, said, "The security breaches inside Iran and the vast scope of operations by Israel have really undermined our most powerful intelligence organization. The strength of our security has always been the bedrock of the Islamic Republic and it has been damaged in the past year."
        Israel's spy network has infiltrated deep into Iran's security circles, Iranian officials have acknowledged. Several dozen employees of the Ministry of Defense's missile development program were arrested on suspicion of leaking classified military information, including design blueprints of missiles, to Israel, according to an Iranian official. (New York Times)
  • Ben and Jerry's Forced to End Israel Boycott - Hannah Boland
    Consumer giant Unilever has blocked Ben & Jerry's from boycotting Israel by selling the ice cream brand's operations in the country to its local manufacturer, Avi Zinger, who has been making and selling the ice cream under license for the past 34 years. Unilever slapped down efforts by Ben & Jerry's to take a political stance, saying it "rejects completely and repudiates unequivocally any form of discrimination or intolerance."
        Last summer, Ben & Jerry's said that it would not be renewing its license agreement with its franchise partner. However, owner Unilever on Wednesday said it had overruled its subsidiary and sold the ice cream maker's local operations, following consultation with the Israeli government. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Israel Hails Unilever's Ben and Jerry's Sale as "Victory" Against Boycotters - Ronn Blitzer (Fox News)
        See also Ben and Jerry's Denounces Unilever's Move to Stay in Israel (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran-U.S. Nuclear Talks in Qatar Fail to Make Progress - Jon Gambrell
    Indirect negotiations between Iran and the U.S. over the nuclear deal ended Wednesday in Qatar after two days without any sign of a breakthrough, diplomats said. The U.S. State Department said that Iran "raised issues wholly unrelated to the JCPOA and apparently is not ready to make a fundamental decision on whether it wants to revive the deal or bury it....We are disappointed that Iran has, yet again, failed to respond positively to the EU's initiative and therefore that no progress was made."  (AP-Washington Post)
  • House Committee Votes to Cut Funding to UN Commission Investigating Israel - Marc Rod
    The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday adopted an amendment to the 2023 State Department and foreign operations funding bill to cut off U.S. funding to the UN Human Rights Council's Commission of Inquiry investigating Israel. "This amendment ensures taxpayer dollars will not go to this highly controversial commission that has been roundly denounced by members on both sides of the aisle, as well as numerous senior officials from the Biden administration," said Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA). (Jewish Insider)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Jewish Worshipers at Joseph's Tomb Attacked with Massive Palestinian Gunfire
    As hundreds of Jewish worshipers under military escort arrived to pray at Joseph's Tomb near Nablus in the West Bank early Thursday, armed Palestinians directed "massive gunfire" at the compound, wounding an IDF commander and two civilians. IDF soldiers returned fire. The Oslo Accords designated Joseph's Tomb as a Jewish holy site that remained under Israeli control. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Will Respond to Iranian Cyberattacks - Emanuel Fabian
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told the Cyber Week conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday: "We don't go around wreaking havoc in Tehran - that's never been our policy. Our policy is, if you mess with Israel, you'll pay a price." On Monday, a cyberattack forced Iran's state-owned Khuzestan Steel Co. to halt production, and two other major steel producers also reported being targeted.
        Israeli military correspondents, who are regularly briefed off-the-record by senior Israeli officials, hinted that Israel was responsible for the assault in retaliation for a suspected cyberattack that caused rocket sirens to be heard in Jerusalem and Eilat last week. Israeli officials have accused Iran of attempting to hack Israel's water system in 2020.
        Bennett said, "Today you can get stuff done hitting your enemy through cyber which in the past would require to covertly send 50 or 100 commando soldiers behind enemy lines with huge risk. And now you can get a bunch of smart folks sitting at a keyboard to achieve the same effect."
        He added, "And you can no longer hit Israel indirectly through proxies, through Hizbullah, through Hamas, and think you'll get away with it. If you're the bully who's sending folks to hit us, we're going to try and not fight with those folks; we're going to hit the bully....If anyone attacks us on cyber, we're going to attack back."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Iranian Hackers Attack Israeli Hotel Reservation Sites - Jurgita Lapienyte
    The Iranian hacking group Sharp Boys recently hacked at least five Israeli hotel reservation sites, according to the threat intelligence feed DarkFeed. (Cybernews)
  • Palestinian Poll: 2/3 Oppose Two-State Solution, Negotiations with Israel, Dialogue with U.S.
    If new presidential elections were held today in the West Bank and Gaza, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would receive 55% of the vote, while Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah would receive 33%, according to a poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) conducted on June 22-25, 2022. Satisfaction with the performance of President Abbas stands at 23% and dissatisfaction at 73%. 77% want President Abbas to resign.
        69% oppose and 28% support the concept of the two-state solution for Palestinian-Israeli relations. 55% support a return to armed confrontations and intifada. 69% oppose and 22% support an unconditional resumption of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. 65% oppose and 29% support a return to dialogue with the U.S. administration under President Biden. (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • Top Former Israeli Officer: Iran Nuclear Deal Revival Would Have "Unprecedented Devastating Consequences" - Greg Norman
    Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of the Israel Defense Forces Intelligence Assessment Division, warned that returning to the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran struck with world powers will result in "unprecedented devastating consequences" on the global stage.  "The ramifications of a return to the emerging deal will be catastrophic across the board," Kuperwasser told Fox News. "Ending sanctions would position Iran to spend billions of dollars on developing military capabilities, arming its militias, solidifying the regime's domestic grip and bolstering its regional standing, which could lead to escalation in the Middle East."
        "Secondly, the international agreement in question would undermine Israel's international legitimacy to act toward mitigating Iranian capabilities. It is worth noting that current Iranian unilateral actions to blind international monitoring cameras, along with Iran's insistence on non-disclosure of its actual activities at its nuclear sites, make it impossible to guarantee that a deal would prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons, since the very same deal was ineffective in preventing its progress toward the very nuclear weapons arsenal it is poised to achieve," Kuperwasser said.
        "A nuclear Iran will trigger a regional nuclear arms race, which will jeopardize not only Israel's safety, but global security and stability. Therefore, at this time, Israel should focus the bulk of its capabilities on preparing to thwart the Iranian nuclear arms program while generating the support of its allies - first and foremost the United States."   (Fox News)
  • To Derail Iran's Regional Ambitions, Israel Is the Only Local Counterweight that Counts - Reuel Marc Gerecht
    It has become painfully clear that even if the Biden administration can still conclude some new nuclear deal with Iran, stopping the regime's atomic ambitions seems a dreamscape. There is one Middle Eastern countries that might still derail its regional ambitions. Israel, which has unstoppable nuclear delivery means, via missiles, planes, and submarines, and armed forces that can move quickly, lethally, and reliably, is really the only local counterweight that counts.
        The Islamic Republic's unrelenting westward focus toward Arab lands inexorably leads to Israel, which is seen as a Western implant reinforcing pro-American Sunni Muslim rulers in the Middle East. Iran's theocracy defines its mission, in part, by its uncompromising hostility toward Israel.
        It's an excellent conjecture that Washington's major players in foreign affairs and national security want Israel to default to a doctrine of mutually assured destruction, an idea appealing to Americans who use the Cold War as the measure of nuclear success.
        Yet a nuclear-armed Iranian elite may become more aggressive, taking greater risks. Iranian intervention in Bahrain, that might well be welcomed by the numerous Shiites there, is perfectly conceivable.
        The writer, a former Iranian-targets officer in the CIA, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (The Dispatch)

  • Palestinians

  • PA Torturing Detainees at Jericho Prison - Dana Ben-Shimon
    The Jericho prison has become the Palestinian Authority's No. 1 torture center. According to the testimonies of Palestinians detained at the facility, detainees are hit all over the body, have their heads covered, and their hands tied behind their back for long periods of time. They are blackmailed, withheld food and sleep, prevented from seeing a lawyer or family members, and threatened with acts of violence, including sexual violence, against their family members.
        According to the Independent Palestinian Rights Network, 252 complaints of torture at PA prisons were filed in 2021. Moreover, many who experience torture do not file a complaint. (Israel Hayom)
        See also Who Cares When the PA Violates Human Rights? - Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
    The Palestinian Authority has poured considerable energy into "branding" itself internationally as a victim of Israeli human rights violations. Yet anyone looking at the human rights situation in the PA will see an appalling reality, with torture in Palestinian prisons being just one example. The situation for women, children, homosexuals, and minority groups in the PA is even worse.
        Particularly disturbing is the conspiracy of silence on the part of other countries, the international media, and international human rights groups, who perpetually turn a blind eye to the PA's gross violations of human rights - which they know about.
        The writer is the founder of Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center. (Israel Hayom)
  • Masafer Yatta: Fact and Fiction - Naomi Kahn
    The Masafer Yatta case illustrates how anti-Israel organizations, foreign governments and the Palestinian Authority have turned a run-of-the-mill case of illegal construction into a massive international issue.
        Masafer Yatta in the southern West Bank is state land, which was declared a military training ground in the early 1980s. There has not been settlement of any kind on the land in over 100 years. This is a desert area, very difficult terrain, with no water and not arable. British Mandate-era maps show no settlement of any kind. Aerial photos from as recently as 1997 make this point unequivocally.
        A recent Israel High Court decision holds that the residents of the illegal "villages" of Masafer Yatta arrived after the IDF closed off the area. It also holds that these residents, almost without exception, have permanent homes in the nearby town of Yatta. Yet two decades passed before the High Court finally asserted that Arab claims to this land are unfounded, and the claim that Israel is dispossessing indigenous people is a lie.
        The writer is director of the International Division of Regavim, an Israeli movement dedicated to the protection of Israel's land resources. (JNS)

  • Other Issues

  • Germany Seeking Israeli Weapons Systems - Assaf Uni
    As Germany rebuilds its military after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it is looking to Israel to help improve its preparedness. In the past decade, a reciprocal security relationship has provided Germany with UAVs built in Israel and air-to-surface missiles fired from UAVs developed by Israel's defense industry. Israel also sells anti-tank missiles and missile defense systems to Germany. A German request to purchase the Arrow 3 long-range missile defense system is also being discussed.
        "From the moment the German army's procurement list was published, that is, the key areas where it intends to spend the 100 billion euros, the phones have not stopped ringing," said an Israeli source familiar with security procurement relations between the two countries.
        Dr. Peter Lintl, of SWF, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, said, "The Germans see clearly that Israel arms work, and there's no doubt that Israel is a leading country in this area....There are many considerations in buying weapons systems, but they are undoubtedly always joined by a longstanding German consideration - reinforcing ties between the countries, because of the history."  (Globes)
  • Zionism Is Not What Most Anti-Zionists Believe It Is - Gemma J. Schneider
    Zionism is not what most people backing an anti-Zionist agenda in the name of justice believe they are rejecting, or likening to racism and cruelty. They are rejecting a false projection of Zionism, carefully constructed by movements like BDS, whose entire narrative is founded upon a hefty hijacking of Jewish identity and history.
        The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not rooted in a racial struggle, nor in an ideology of superiority or hate. On the contrary, Zionism was born in 1896 as a movement of liberation, of freedom, and of resisting unfair power imbalances during a period in which Jews across Europe were persecuted.
        Early Zionist settlers in Palestine didn't steal or conquer the land as they came in throughout the late 19th and early 20th century, as is the case with most European settler colonialism narratives. They bought the land. In fact, early leaders of the Zionist movement, like Theodor Herzl, explicitly rejected the idea of displacing non-Jewish populations. Nonetheless, prior to 1947, Jewish people increasingly suffered violent attacks, killings, rapes, and mass lootings from neighboring non-Jewish groups.
        The BDS website reduces Israel's "violent establishment in 1948" to an act of "ethnic cleansing" against those "indigenous" to the region. First of all, Jews were already indigenous to the region, as archaeological and biblical evidence has underscored. Next, Israel's declaration of independence came only after a 1947 UN two-state solution was met with fierce opposition from Arab leaders. Most guttingly, this narrative subverts the post-Holocaust environment by charging Jewish people, fresh out of the Holocaust, with a "premeditated" ethnic cleansing plot.
        The writer is an associate editor of the Harvard Crimson. (Harvard Crimson)

  • Weekend Features

  • The American Christian Zionist Dream - Walter Russell Mead
    On March 5, 1891, evangelical minister William Blackstone presented a petition to President Benjamin Harrison asking him to use his influence to persuade European leaders to prevail upon the Ottoman sultan to open the province of Palestine for Jewish settlement and the creation of a Jewish national home.
        Among the 400 signatures on Blackstone's petition were J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Cyrus McCormick, the editors of most of the leading American newspapers, leading clergymen from the East Coast and the Middle West, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, and the speaker of the House of Representatives. It had also been signed by prominent media corporations, including The New York Times.
        For many of the signers, the petition merely expressed the long-held belief among both religious and secular people of the 19th century that the Jews, like the Greeks and the Italians, could regain some of their ancient glory and greatness if freed from foreign rule and oppression. Blackstone presented a new version of his petition to Woodrow Wilson in 1916 and saw his principles enshrined in American law in 1922.
        On December 11, 1917, British forces under General Edmund Allenby entered Jerusalem unopposed as the Turks retreated, and for the first time since the Crusades a Christian power found itself in control of the city. The conquest of Jerusalem ignited a media firestorm across the U.S. The next year, Theodore Roosevelt wrote, "There can be no peace worth having" until "the Jews [are] given control of Palestine."
        The New York American commented in an editorial: "It is certainly true that the passage of Jerusalem into the hands of the Allies means the swift establishment of that re-gathered and redeemed Zion for which the world's Jews have dreamed ever since the tribes were scattered in the breaking up of Israel."
        Support for Zionist aspirations in Palestine quickly became part of the boilerplate foreign policy prescriptions of American politicians in both major political parties. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt backed this idea; so did Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge.
        The writer, a fellow at the Hudson Institute, is Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College. This is excerpted from his new book, The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel, and the Fate of the Jewish People. (Tablet)

Someone in Washington Is Scared of Iran - Prof. Eyal Zisser (Israel Hayom)
  • Every time an explosion is reported at an Iranian nuclear facility or a senior Revolutionary Guards official meets their end in the heart of Tehran, senior anonymous officials in Washington let it be known that the U.S. was not responsible for the act and insinuate responsibility lies with and the resulting act of vengeance should be directed at Israel.
  • The same thing happened last week when Pentagon officials anonymously said that Israel had ramped up its activities against Iran without asking for U.S. authorization or informing Washington of its actions. There is something unhealthy about these repeated leaks that insinuate Israel is behind regional tensions.
  • When the Iranians attacked Saudi and Emirati oil facilities in 2019, the Americans did not respond at all, despite the fact that these two countries are close U.S. allies. Even when U.S. bases were attacked by Iran's emissaries in the region, the U.S. response was minor.
  • Yet American concerns over Iran are neither understandable nor justified. There is no need to exaggerate its power. Iran is in a state of serious financial crisis, and its military is not as powerful as Tehran would have us believe.
  • Israel has proven over the last decade that one can set red lines for the Iranians and thwart their activity. It has also proven that Tehran is limited in its ability to retaliate and is deterred from conflict.
  • In this region, those who turn the other cheek are guaranteed to get struck once again. It is inappropriate for officials in Washington to try to place the blame on us.

    The writer is a lecturer in Middle East history at Tel Aviv University.
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