September 8, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

New UK Prime Minister: Liz Truss to Continue UK Support for Israel (i24News)
    Liz Truss, who replaced Boris Johnson as prime minister of the United Kingdom on Tuesday, following a reshuffle within the Conservative Party, confirmed her commitment to the fight against antisemitism and support for Israel. Truss on the issues:
  In an interview with the London-based Jewish Chronicle in August, the new prime minister stressed that there is no greater friend of the UK than Israel, even suggesting during the campaign within her party that she would be open to the transfer of the British embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
  "I want to see the scourge of antisemitism eradicated. That means driving it out of our culture, starting with schools."
  The prime minister also said she "cannot allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons."
  While serving as UK foreign secretary, Truss had challenged Israel's banishment from the United Nations, ensuring that Britain "votes with Israel."

U.S. and Israel Held Massive Air Defense Drills Involving Thaad, Patriot, Iron Dome, Arrow & David's Sling Systems (EurAsian Times)
    Israel and the United States carried out joint simulation drills in the central part of Israel, where Israel's Arrow, David's Sling, and Iron Dome air defense systems, as well as the United States' Patriot, Aegis, and Thaad systems.
  The exercise was held in June and announced this week.

First Temple Throne Ivory Worth More Than Gold Discovered in Jerusalem - Joseph Golder (Newsweek)
    Rare ivory plaques dating back thousands of years to Solomon's Temple and are believed to have been part of a throne have been unearthed in Jerusalem.
  One of the experts who uncovered them said they were the first of their kind to be uncovered in the City of David in Jerusalem. The City of David is an archaeological site believed by experts to be the original center of Jerusalem during the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.

Iran Sentences Two LGBT Activists to Death - David Gritten (BBC)
    Two LGBT activists have been sentenced to death in Iran, rights groups say. A court in Urmia found Zahra Seddiqi Hamedani, 31, and Elham Choubdar, 24, guilty of "corruption on Earth."
  The Hengaw Organization for Human Rights reported that they were accused of promoting homosexuality, promoting Christianity, and communicating with media opposed to the Islamic Republic.
  Before she attempted to leave Iran, Seddiqi Hamedani recorded a video in which she said: "I want you to know how much pressure we LGBT people endure. We risk our lives for our emotions, but we will find our true selves..."

Gaza: Rights Groups and EU Condemn Hamas over "Collaboration" Executions (Middle East Eye)
    Human rights groups and the EU have condemned the execution by Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, of five Palestinians, including two, for "collaboration" with Israel. The dawn executions, by hanging or firing squad, were the first carried out in the besieged coastal enclave for more than five years.
  Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, described the executions as "abhorrent... Death as government-sanctioned punishment is a barbaric practice that has no place in the modern world," he wrote on Twitter.

Ben & Jerry's Makes Fresh Push to Stop Israel Ice Cream Deal - Olivia Solon (Bloomberg)
    Ben & Jerry's is renewing its effort to unwind a contentious decision by parent company Unilever to sell the ice-cream business in Israel.
  The Vermont-based ice-cream maker will confirm its plans to file a revised complaint in New York federal court in the coming weeks, said two people familiar with the matter. Ben & Jerry's independent board wants to stop Unilever's sale of its brand and trademark to a local licensee in Israel.

Desert Winemaking "Sounds Absurd," but Israeli Vineyards in Negev Show the Way - Isabel Kershner (New York Times)
    As growers in more established wine-producing areas of Europe and elsewhere in the world battle unpredictable, extreme weather, including scorching heat waves, Israelis have found themselves at the vanguard of dry-weather wine production, testing approaches that might soon find more global application.
  And the work is being done in the Negev, home to hundreds of technology start-ups and a futuristic solar tower -- and long a laboratory for experimentation in Israel.
  At a Negev cafe, shelves were stacked with bottles of locally produced malbec, merlot, and petit verdot syrah. The boutique winery produces a selection of 5,000 bottles in a good year, and they go for a pricey -- by local standards -- $27 to $45 a bottle.
  "Water is very expensive here," Zvi Remak, the local winemaker, said.

News Resources - North America and Europe:
  • Iran Expands Nuclear Program as Talks to Revive 2015 Deal Falter - Laurence Norman
    Iran's cache of highly enriched uranium of 60% purity increased by about 30% in the quarter to August 21, reaching 55.6 kilograms, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency's latest quarterly report sent to member states. Its total stockpile of enriched uranium has grown to 3,941 kilograms, the report said.
      The highly enriched uranium can easily be converted into weapons-grade fuel, with Iran's stockpile of that material well above the minimum amount needed to fuel one nuclear weapon.
      The IAEA has also reported a sharp increase in the number of advanced centrifuges Tehran has installed and fed with uranium at its main nuclear facilities. Iran has also removed IAEA cameras that were overseeing the production of centrifuges, so Iran's inventory of the machines is unknown. "I am sorry to say that I am less confident today about the prospects of closing the deal right now," Josep Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief who coordinates the negotiations, said Monday. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Iran Has Enough Uranium Near Weapons-Grade for a Bomb, IAEA Report Shows
    Iran's stock of uranium enriched to up to 60%, close to weapons-grade, has grown to enough, if enriched further, for a nuclear bomb, a report by the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, showed on Wednesday.
      Passing that threshold is a milestone in the unraveling of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which capped the purity to which Iran was allowed to enrich uranium at 3.67%, well below the 20% it achieved before the deal and the roughly 90% that is weapons-grade.
      "Iran now can produce 25 kg (of uranium) at 90% if they want to," a senior diplomat said in response to the IAEA report. (Reuters)
        See also Iran Says UN Nuclear Watchdog Report "Baseless" (France 24)
  • Iran's Regime Caught Stealing Nuclear Weapons Technology in Sweden - Benjamin Weinthal
    The formal name for the intelligence report -- the Swedish Security Yearbook -- revealed that "Iran also conducts industrial espionage primarily aimed at Swedish high-tech industry and Swedish products that can be used in a nuclear weapons program."
      The 80-page intelligence report, which lists national security threats to Sweden, noted "Iranian intelligence officers act, among other things, under diplomatic cover in Sweden." In response to a Fox News Digital press query, a spokesman for the Swedish Security Service said, "The Swedish Security Service considers Iran to be one of the three countries that poses the gravest security threat to Sweden and Swedish interests. The other two being Russia and China." (Fox News)
  • Iran to Use Facial Recognition Technology to Enforce Grim New Laws on Women
    The Iranian regime is introducing a heavy crackdown on women who do not bow to its strict rules on wearing the hijab by using facial recognition technology. The Secretary of Iran's Headquarters for Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice announced the policy would come as part of a new decree by President Ebrahim Raisi.
      The oppressive rules mean the technology would be used on public transport to identify women who are not complying with the rules. Women in the country can be arrested for the "crime" and even flogged and sent to prison, facing "morality checkpoints" to ensure they adhere to the rules. (Mirror UK)
News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:
  • Lapid Warns Israel Is Prepared to Stop Iran If Threats Continue. Herzog Issues Warning, too - Lahav Harkov
    Israel is prepared to stop any threat from Iran, Prime Minister Yair Lapid warned during a visit to the Nevatim Air Force Base on Tuesday.
      "If Iran keeps trying, it will discover Israel's long arm and its abilities," Lapid said. "We will continue to act on every front against terrorism and those who wish us harm."
      Lapid cited U.S. President Joe Biden saying his country "will not tie Israel's hands" when it comes to defending itself and stopping the possibility that Iran will obtain a nuclear weapon.
      President Isaac Herzog, visiting Germany, implored the nations of the world in a speech before the Bundestag to stand up to Iran, its nuclear ambitions, and its threats to destroy Israel.
      "The possession of weapons of mass destruction by a UN member state that calls on a daily basis for the annihilation of another UN member state is simply inconceivable," Herzog said. "A state that denies the Holocaust, a state that acts out of hatred and belligerency, a state that threatens the State of Israel's right to exist is ineligible to sign deals that will only embolden it, is ineligible for kickbacks or funds, is ineligible for concessions, under any circumstances." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Rebuffing U.S., Israel's Lapid Says "No One Will Dictate Rules of Engagement to Us" - Yaniv Kubovich and Ben Samuels
    Israel's Prime Minister Yair Lapid defiantly said on Wednesday, "No one will dictate open fire regulations to us when we are fighting for our lives."
      Washington said it would ask Israel to rethink its rules of engagement in the West Bank following the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Lapid said he would "not allow anyone to put an IDF soldier on trial who defended himself against fire from terrorists, just to receive a round of applause from the world."
      Lapid's remarks echoed Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who said earlier that Israel's rules of engagement are set by the IDF chief of staff "alone, and he will continue to set the open fire policy in accordance with the operational needs and doctrine of ethics of the IDF."
      Following the Israeli comments, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel responded: "To reiterate, we continue to underscore the importance of accountability in this case, and we're going to continue to impress our Israeli partners to closely review its policies and practices on the rules of engagement, and consider additional steps that will mitigate risk in this circumstance." (Haaretz)
  • Iran's Top Commander: Israel's Joining CENTCOM Is Intolerable to Iran
    Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri cautioned the regional nations over normalizing relations with the Israeli regime, and stressed that Tehran will not bear the Zionist regime's participation in the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) activities in the region.
      "The normalization of ties between a number of regional countries and the Zionist regime has posed threats to the West Asia," Major General Baqeri said on Monday. "Also, the Zionist regime's joining the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) could create threats for us," he stressed, adding, "But, we do not tolerate the presence of the Zionist regime." (Fars News - Iran)
  • Senator Says Biden Administration Committed to Congressional Review of Iran Deal - Jeremy Sharon
    Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said on Monday that the Biden administration had committed to submitting any agreement on Iran's nuclear program to Congress for review.
      Speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem, Menendez, a Democrat who opposed the original 2015 Iran deal known as the JCPOA, said such a review would be conducted by his committee and that a vote would be held in the Senate on any agreement.
      "The administration has made the commitment that if they enter into an agreement to follow on from what was the JCPOA, they will submit it to Congress, and we will review it. That review starts in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which I chair," said Menendez
      Menendez, the senior senator for New Jersey, is participating in a bipartisan Senate delegation to Israel, which is being led by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina (Republican), and includes Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi (R), Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee (R), Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming (R), and Representative Ronny Jackson of Texas (R). (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Tehran's Mounting Violations of the Iran Deal and Its Accelerating March to A Nuclear Weapons Arsenal - Amb. Dore Gold
    Since the start of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West, Tehran has managed to create an impression that it has kept to the terms of the various agreements that were reached, and it was the West and, above all, the United States which violated past agreements. It is Iran that has violated past agreements with the West. The most glaring issue has been Tehran's refusal to provide an answer to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about uranium particles that were discovered at three undeclared sites in Iran. In the American tradition, a disarmament negotiation with former adversaries is legitimate if it is based on a credible inspection system. It was President Ronald Reagan who quoted the famous Russian proverb, "Trust but verify."
      It is here that the Iranians were repeatedly caught red-handed. Looking back, Iran proved consistently that it had been a totally unreliable partner for the West. In November 2004, the IAEA determined Iran had been in breach of its Safeguards Agreement when it declared that many Iranian activities in the areas of uranium enrichment, uranium conversion, and plutonium separation were not declared to the agency. The Iranians even razed buildings to hide evidence, like at the Lavizan -- Shian complex. (JCPA)
  • Hamas Tells Media to Lie: What Should the Media Tell its Readers? - Toby Dershowitz
    In a stunning expose, a recent Associated Press article revealed a Hamas directive to journalists not to report on Gazans killed by Palestinian rockets that misfired and killed local families rather than their intended Israeli civilian targets. Reports indicate Palestinian Islamic Jihad killed more Palestinians in the early August Gaza-Israel conflict than did Israel. Hamas also requires all visiting reporters to hire a local "sponsor," a fixer or stringer, often a Palestinian journalist or translator. Hamas' media directive says sponsors will be held responsible for what the journalists produce. (The National Interest)
  • Waiting for Thermidor: America's Foreign Policy Towards Iran - Reuel Marc Gerecth and Ray Takeyh
    The Islamic Republic of Iran may be on an accelerated schedule for revolutionary decay, at least if compared to the USSR.
      The Biden administration is stumped by Iran. Upon inauguration, President Joe Biden and the best and the brightest of the Democratic Party assumed that reviving the Iran nuclear deal would be simple. In one of the ironic twists of history, they are bedeviled by their predecessor Donald Trump. It was the Trump administration that designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the muscle behind the theocracy, as a foreign terrorist organization. (The National Interest)
  • Israel's Doctrine: Make Syrian Airports Pay for Hosting Iran - Seth Frantzman
    Aleppo International Airport was damaged in an airstrike on September 6. Syrian regime media has blamed Israel for airstrikes in Syria over the last month, and Iranian media has reported on the airstrikes.
      According to satellite images from ImageSat International, the runway of the airport appears out of service. Back in June, Damascus International Airport was also damaged in an airstrike.
      Tel Aviv University's INSS Managing Director Maj. Gen. (res.) Tamir Hayman commented on the attack on Damascus International Airport, which foreign sources attribute to Israel:
      "On the strategic level, the operational pressure in Syria is intended to halt Iran's consolidation in Syria and demonstrate to the Syrian regime the cost of hosting the Iranians. On the operational level -- three objectives: Work against strategic arms shipments (missiles and UAVs); prevent the transfer of weapons, money, and precision technology to Hizbullah; work against the infrastructure of Shiite militias, whose purpose is to attack Israel." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Mahmoud Abbas Fears an Armed Intifada in the West Bank - Yoni Ben Menachem
    Senior Palestinian Authority officials accuse Israel of responsibility for the recent wave of terrorism in the West Bank and claim that the primary catalyst is the entry of IDF forces into city centers and refugee camps.
      Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is concerned that the recent escalation in the West Bank could undermine the stability of his rule if it spreads to all areas of the West Bank. The PA chairman opposes a third intifada and fears it will topple his regime. The important thing for him now is to keep his throne and transfer power in an orderly manner to his heir apparent, Hussein al-Sheikh. The Palestinian street in the West Bank is not interested in an intifada now and knows there is no purpose to the current wave of violence and that it will eventually disappear. (JCPA)

A Century of U.S.-Israel Ties -- and the Conspiracy Theories - Walter Russell Mead (Wall Street Journal)
  • One hundred years ago, Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge (R., Mass.) and Rep. Hamilton Fish (R., N.Y.) steered a joint resolution through Congress, putting the U.S. on record in supporting a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The Senate vote was unanimous; the House whooped it through on a voice vote. In September 1922, President Warren G. Harding signed the resolution, launching a tradition of official American support for Zionist aspirations in Palestine that a long line of presidents from both parties have continued.
  • The Lodge-Fish Resolution unintentionally launched another tradition: belief among many Americans that American support for Zionism was the result of nefarious Jewish influence. Jewish wealth, the theory went, favored pro-Israel politicians while Jews supposedly imposed pro-Israel views on a press that they allegedly controlled. The two traditions coexist to this day. Support for Israel, while not unlimited or uncritical, dominates both parties in Congress, while controversies over the role of pro-Israel "Jewish money" in American elections continue to rage.
  • But the past 100 years tell a different story. American Jews, contrary to legend, aren't an irresistible political force. Two years after the Lodge-Fish resolution, Congress passed a system of immigration restrictions that reduced Jewish immigration to the U.S. by about 90%. The American Jewish community was unable to block this legislation. just as it was unable to persuade Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration to take strong action to protect Jews in Hitler's Germany.
  • Yet these years of Jewish powerlessness were peak years for anti-Semitic conspiracies. Henry Ford's Dearborn Independent, a newspaper distributed nationally was a platform for anti-Semitic propaganda. The Ku Klux Klan was near the height of its influence.
  • It wasn't simply that American Jews were too weak to impose Zionism on the American political system. Most of them didn't want to. Led by Henry Morgenthau, Woodrow Wilson's ambassador to the Ottoman Empire and the most influential Jewish political leader of the era, most prominent American Jews opposed the British government's Balfour Declaration and the Lodge-Fish Resolution that endorsed it.
  • During the 19 years between Israel's 1948 declaration of independence and its overwhelming victory in the 1967 Six Day War, American Jews were united and enthusiastic in supporting Israel. Yet U.S.-Israel relations were at their frostiest in that era.
  • The modern era of a close U.S.-Israel alignment began only after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel and rapprochement with the U.S. The relationship deepened after the shah of Iran fell in 1979, and again after the 9/11 attacks when Israeli intelligence significantly assisted American counterterror efforts around the world.
  • It is the story of non-Jewish support for Israel that needs to be told. It is not only that American Christians going back to Boston Puritans like Increase Mather and colonial theologians like Jonathan Edwards believed that God would someday lead the Jews back to their biblical homeland. Politicians like John Adams and Theodore Roosevelt, and hardheaded businessmen, like John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan, supported Zionist aspirations as well.
  • One hundred years after the Lodge-Fish Resolution, Jewish and non-Jewish Americans alike continue to debate America's relationship with the Zionist movement and the Jewish state. That is as it should be. Those who think that Jewish financial and media power are the forces that drive America's Middle East policy continue to miss the point. Anti-Semitic myths about Jewish power can't explain America's past policy in the Middle East and provide no useful guidance for the future.