September 15, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

Assad Manufactures Advanced Weapons for Iran in Ten Syrian Facilities - Yaniv Kubovich (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz presented on Monday a map with ten facilities in Syria that manufacture advanced weapons for Iran and Iranian proxies.
    "Iran is building terror industries in Syria for their own needs, and recently they have begun to build similar industries in Yemen and Lebanon. The world must stop this Iranian aggression and create a reliable and concrete military option," he said.
    Gantz said the Iranians are spending more than a billion dollars a year on this project.
    He said these facilities are a "potentially substantial threat to Israel and the region, especially the underground factory in Masyaf where precision missiles are being built."

Israel Hosts Moroccan Military Chief (i24News)
    Lt.-Gen. Belkhir el-Farouk, inspector general of Morocco's Royal Armed Forces, was welcomed in Israel by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi on Tuesday, the first public visit by the head of an Arab military.
    El-Farouk will take part in the International Operational Innovation Conference hosted by the IDF, with delegations from 25 nations. Kochavi visited Morocco in July.

UAE Foreign Minister on Official Visit to Israel (UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, arrived in Israel on Wednesday for an official visit.
    Sheikh Abdullah is travelling with a high-level delegation, which will mark two years since the UAE and Israel signed the Abraham Accords.

Hamas Releases Video of Its Fighters Training in West Bank - Ahmad Melhem (Al-Monitor)
    Hamas' Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades released a video Sep. 3 showing its fighters carrying out military exercises in Jenin in the West Bank, not far from the Israeli city of Afula.
    The sight of the al-Qassam Brigades in the West Bank put the Palestinian Authority and its security services on high alert and led to a campaign of arrests in Jenin.
    "The PA is embarrassed by this video," Israeli journalist Ehud Hamo told Israel's Channel 12 on Sep. 5.

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U.S. Returns Looted Ancient Jewish Coin to Israel (AP)
    American authorities have returned a 2,000-year-old Jewish coin to Israel nearly two decades after it was looted, smuggled and put up for auction in the U.S., Israel's antiquities authority announced Tuesday.
    The quarter shekel silver coin, made in the year 69, is one of just two confirmed to exist. The other has been in the British Museum for a century.
    It was minted during the fourth year of the First Jewish Revolt against the Roman Empire in the first century CE.
    According to the antiquities authority, the coin was one of a hoard stolen by Palestinian looters from the Elah Valley west of Jerusalem - site of the Biblical battle between David and Goliath - in 2002.
    It was slated to be sold at an auction in August 2017 but was seized by Homeland Security agents before it went on the block.

BDS Opposition to Project Nimbus Will Harm Arab-Israelis - Emily Schrader (Jerusalem Post)
    The BDS movement is opposing the landmark $1.2 billion Project Nimbus contract between Israel and tech giants Amazon and Google.
    Project Nimbus, according to Google, focuses exclusively on upgrading cloud computing services at the government level for ministries, such as finance, healthcare, transportation, and education, in an effort that will create over 3,000 jobs for Israeli Arabs and Jews alike.
    The project has nothing to do with military or weapons technology.

The Jews and Israel Are Still Winning, and the Haters Are Still Losing - David Suissa (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
    Year after year, those who hate Jews and Israel bang their heads against the wall telling the world that Israel is the worst.
    It must drive them nuts to see that after attacking Israel over so many decades, that little Jewish state has been thriving like never before.
    Year after year, the BDS activists on college campuses schlep their apartheid walls and scream that "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" - and they don't get an inch closer to their goal.
    More and more countries have caught on that in spite of the propaganda they hear about Israel, it's in their interest to get along with the world's only Jewish state and take advantage of Israel's extraordinary array of innovations in medical care, agriculture, cybersecurity, AI, water technology, and food security.
    It has become one of the more creative and innovative societies dealing with some of the planet's most urgent issues.

Japanese Travel Agent Honored for Helping Jews in Holocaust - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    Israel and Japan on Monday honored Tatsuo Osako, a Japanese travel agent who helped save Jews fleeing from Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II.
    Osako worked as a travel agent in the Japanese coastal city of Tsuruga between 1940 and 1941 when thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing German-occupied Europe through the Soviet Union's Vladivostok arrived at the Japanese port by ship.
    During the war, he helped transport thousands of Jewish refugees to safety and distributed aid money he received from Jewish rescue organizations.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Blinken: Iran Deal Unlikely in Near Term
    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday: "What we've seen over the last week or so in Iran's response to the proposal put forward by the European Union [on restoring the nuclear deal] is clearly a step backward and makes prospects for an agreement in the near term, I would say, unlikely....Iran seems either unwilling or unable to do what is necessary to reach an agreement and they continue to try to introduce extraneous issues to the negotiation that make an agreement less likely. But certainly what we've seen in the last week is a step backward away from the likelihood of any kind of near-term agreement."  (U.S. State Department)
        See also U.S., European Officials See Fading Prospects of Iran Nuclear-Deal Revival - Laurence Norman
    A hardening of demands from Tehran raises doubts about its willingness to revive the 2015 nuclear deal soon. In a weekend statement, France, Germany and Britain said they weren't open to further compromise and warned that Tehran's revamped demands raised "serious doubts as to Iran's intentions and commitment to a successful outcome."
        There are two major issues at the heart of the remaining differences. One is Iranian demands for stronger guarantees that they will reap the full economic benefits of restoring the 2015 deal, including under a new U.S. president. Tehran also reupped a demand to close a UN atomic agency probe into undeclared nuclear material found over the last three years in Iran. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Germany in Talks to Buy Arrow 3 Missile Defense System from Israel - Michael Nienaber
    Germany has made a preliminary decision to buy Israel's Arrow 3 air-defense system instead of Lockheed's THAAD system. Chancellor Olaf Scholz discussed the issue on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in Berlin. "We are very keen to work with Israel...in the area of air defense where Israel has a very effective product with the Arrow 3 system," Scholz said. Lapid said Israel "will play a role in building Germany's new defense force, mainly in the field of air defense."  (Bloomberg)
        See also Arrow 3 Sale to Germany Is Only the Beginning - Danny Zaken
    The emerging decision of the German government to buy Arrow 3 systems for defense against ballistic missiles can be expected to lead to additional deals in Europe, in view of the war in Ukraine and Europe's stance against Russia, a senior source involved in Israeli defense exports told Globes. The Arrow 3 system is considered to be one of the most advanced systems in the world for intercepting ballistic missiles outside the earth's atmosphere.
        In addition, the German army currently leases seven Heron TP drones from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in a deal worth about 1 billion euros. The leasing deal is expected to turn into an outright purchase, and to be expanded to various types of armed drones. (Globes)
  • Three Iranian Nationals Charged with Ransomware Extortion Against U.S. Critical Infrastructure
    Three Iranian nationals were indicted for orchestrating a scheme to hack into the computer networks of multiple U.S. victims, the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey announced Wednesday. Since October 2020, Mansour Ahmadi, Ahmad Khatibi Aghda, and Amir Hossein Nickaein Ravari, all residents of Iran, engaged in a scheme to access computer systems in the U.S., UK, Israel, and elsewhere, causing damage and losses to the victims. They also conducted encryption attacks, denying victims access to their systems and data unless a ransom payment was made. (U.S. Department of Justice)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Officer Killed in West Bank Firefight - Emanuel Fabian
    Maj. Bar Falah, 30, deputy commander of the Nahal reconnaissance unit, was killed in a firefight with two terrorists near the West Bank security fence on Wednesday. Two Palestinian gunmen, one of whom was an officer in the PA security services, were also killed. Soldiers operating surveillance cameras spotted the two gunmen in the seam zone between the West Bank and Israel near the Palestinian village of Jalamah before dawn and troops were dispatched to investigate. (Times of Israel)
        See also IDF Hero Laid to Rest (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Mulls Lockdowns, Rescinding Work Permits for West Bank Areas after Palestinian Attacks - Yaniv Kubovich
    Israel's Defense Ministry announced on Wednesday it will shut the northern West Bank checkpoints of Jalamah and Salem and bar residents of the Palestinian town of Kafr Dan from entering Israel. The two Palestinian gunmen involved in the killing of IDF Maj. Bar Falah came from Kafr Dan. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas and Islamic Jihad Offer Cash for Shooting Attacks on Israelis
    Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are offering about $200 for a shooting attack on Israelis, on condition that a video of the assault is published on TikTok social media, Israel's Channel 12 reported Tuesday. Security officials are concerned that videos of shooting attacks will encourage others to follow their example. (Times of Israel)
  • Fatah Announces Return to Terror - Itamar Marcus
    Following the attack Wednesday that killed IDF Maj. Bar Falah, the Palestinian Fatah movement, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, released a video on Facebook celebrating the attack. The video proclaimed: "The Fatah leadership announces that it has returned to the phase of the armed struggle."  (Palestinian Media Watch)
  • Israel Passes New Information to CIA about Blacklisted Palestinian NGOs - Barak David
    An Israeli security delegation visited Washington last week in another attempt to convince the U.S. to back Israel's designation of six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. The delegation presented up-to-date intelligence regarding their involvement in the terrorist activities of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Israeli officials said.
        A senior Israeli official said, "We told the Americans that we acted against six organizations out of 250 similar organizations that operate in the West Bank because of their involvement in terrorism, and not because of their political positions or because they say things we don't like." A spokesman for the U.S. State Department said, "The U.S. government is currently examining additional information that Israel has provided on the matter."  (Walla-Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel, EU Sign Intelligence Sharing Agreement
    Under a new agreement with the EU, Israeli law enforcement will be able to share and receive intelligence in real-time about serious crime and terrorism with the EU's Europol. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • Iran Exports Its Revolution to Syria - Omar Abu Layla
    Iran is working hard to establish itself in Syria socially and ideologically by strengthening its influence in pre-existing shrines while also building new ones, such as the shrine of Sayyida Zainab in Damascus. In Deir al-Zour, which has a Sunni majority, it has worked to change the very makeup of the region by attracting young people to its militias and attempting to convert youth through social benefits or via cultural activities. These include the Mahdi Scouts, Quran memorization courses, Persian language classes, and trips to its shrines. Iran has also sought to bring in Afghans, Iraqis, and other militia members from outside Syria.
        While airstrikes target specific Iranian military capabilities in Syria, confronting Iran's actual presence in Syria or limiting its penetration is a task that no external party is undertaking. If the U.S. truly wishes to limit Iranian military activity in Syria, it will ultimately need to help local Syrians address the Iranian issue. Otherwise, Iran will be left to build up a much more serious military and soft power threat in Syria.
        The writer, executive director of the independent Deir Ezzor 24 news platform, is studying for a masters degree in public policy at Princeton University. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

  • Palestinians

  • PA Security Forces Participating in Terror Attacks - Lt.-Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch
    The Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades is an integral part of PA President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement. In the last several months, terrorists from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades have been participating in an ever-growing number of terror attacks against Israelis.
        Ibrahim Al-Nabulsi, who was killed on Aug. 9, 2022, during a gun battle with Israeli security forces, was part of a terror cell founded by Abd Al-Hakim Shahin, an officer in the PA Security Forces, according to the official Fatah Facebook page. Three other Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades terrorists, killed in February 2022, were part of the same cell.
        Palestinian leader Jibril Rajoub has bragged that "12% of the prisoners in the [Israeli] prisons are members of the PA Security [Forces]."  (Palestinian Media Watch)
  • Time to Rethink the Question of Palestine - Alex Ryvchin
    The UN is poised to revisit the question of Palestine with renewed vigor. This invariably means flushing more money into UNRWA, a special agency devoted to keeping Palestinians in refugee camps in preparation for their conquest of Israel, and by upgrading the Palestinian status, recognizing them as a state despite virtual consensus that they in no way meet the legal definition.
        In the 74 years since Israel's declaration of independence in 1948, Israel has continued to build, absorb millions of refugees from Africa, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union, has forged peace with old belligerents like Egypt and Jordan and more recently, Morocco, the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan. The Palestinian Arabs have, for the most part, remained unchanged, still viewing their struggle as one against European colonizers and not the ancient custodians of the land, and believing that if they resist long enough, the Jews will eventually go some place else.
        It is time to deliver the hard truth that those who reject internationally brokered plans of partition, reject every offer of statehood put to them, and consistently use violence as a political device, do not set the terms. As long as the Palestinian leadership receives cost-free solidarity, currency and diplomatic recognition, a negotiated outcome is an impossibility.
        The writer is the Co-Chief Executive Officer of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. (Fathom-BICOM-UK)
  • The Palestinians and the World Do Not Need Another Corrupt, Failed Terrorist Arab State - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership has decided to renew its bid to gain full membership in the UN. However, neither the PA leadership nor the Palestinian people is ready for statehood. And the responsibility for that lies squarely with the failed Palestinian leaders.
        The Palestinian UN bid comes at a time when the PA appears to be losing control over some parts of the West Bank, where gunmen belonging to several groups have replaced the Palestinian security forces. PA President Mahmoud Abbas is well aware that the gunmen are viewed by the Palestinian public as heroes because of their attacks against Israelis. Abbas himself has long been praising and glorifying Palestinians who carry out terrorist attacks against Israel.
        Does anyone seriously think that Abbas or any other Palestinian leader would deploy troops along a border with Israel to stop terrorist attacks? Does anyone seriously think that Abbas would survive for one day if Israel's security forces were to leave the West Bank? Public opinion polls indicate that a majority of Palestinians prefer Hamas to Abbas and his corrupt Fatah faction. (Gatestone Institute)

  • Other Issues

  • Israel's Ongoing Role in the Struggle over Mediterranean Gas - Ambassador Dore Gold
    The war in Ukraine altered gas markets yet again in 2022. The Europeans are being forced to come up with a new strategy to keep the same quantities of gas flowing, albeit from new sources, given the fact that nearly 40% of Europe's gas supply came from Russia. In July, 26 out of 27 EU member states agreed to cut back Russian imports by two-thirds by the end of 2022.
        In June, the EU signed an MOU with both Israel and Egypt that would increase natural gas exports to Europe. The EastMed pipeline project is planned to go beneath the waters of Israel, Cyprus, and Greece and reach a length of 1,200 miles.
        Unfortunately, the Biden administration withdrew its support for the EastMed pipeline in January 2022, even though it did not entail U.S. federal funding. The pipeline was supposed to be completed in 2025.
        The writer, President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, served as Director-General of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as Israel's Ambassador to the UN. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Israeli Natural Gas Revenues Boom - Doron Peskin
    Between January and June 2022, royalties to Israel from natural gas reached $250 million, compared to $165 million during the first half of 2021, thanks to record production from the Leviathan and Tamar reservoirs. From 2004 to June 30, 2022, the total revenue from royalties from natural gas came to nearly $3 billion. (Al-Monitor)
  • Will Hizbullah Torpedo Lebanon's Maritime Border Talks with Israel? - Ben Caspit
    Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah now marks 30 years in power. "If there is one leader for whose health and longevity we should be praying three times a day, it is Nasrallah," a senior Israeli intelligence source told Al-Monitor. "He is calculated, credible, plays by the rules, sticks to his promises - and at the same time he is deterred. He knows us very well and we know him. He is far more pragmatic than his bellicose rhetoric suggests. Overall, this is a man with whom we can do business and reach a balance that translates into stability for both sides."
        A senior officer in Israel's Northern Command said, "Nasrallah does not want war. He was at war with us and knows its meaning. Even his Iranian handlers will probably not be satisfied with such a flare-up....This Shiite forward base vis-a-vis Israel was not established to wage a fight over natural gas, but to create a strategic threat to Israel in case it decides to attack Iran. Nasrallah knows it; he also knows that we know it."  (Al-Monitor)

  • Antisemitism

  • The Intersectionality of Antisemitism - Ruthie Blum
    Fiamma Nirenstein's latest book, Jewish Lives Matter, paints an aptly bleak portrait of the way in which Jew-hatred has had a resurgence in the West under the guise of human rights. As Nirenstein illustrates, this inversion of good and evil was given a serious push by champions of the Palestinian cause, whose false claims against the Zionist enterprise provided the perfect cloak for any antisemitism that was dormant, or at least kept under wraps, in the aftermath of the Holocaust.
        She writes, "Although Jews could only be identified by a very manipulative observer as the white oppressor or masculinist, this is precisely what has happened. The so-called intersectionality purportedly aimed at realizing human rights for all has become the catalyst for the current wave of antisemitism."
        The intersectional ploy of linking the Palestinians to a progressive agenda against all oppression is outrageous, since the Palestinian Authority, which has total control over its media, openly discriminates against women, gays and blacks. Nirenstein also notes "the new version of antisemitism that puts the Jew in the same category as the white supremacist....Jews have been strangely expunged from the list of the persecuted and added to that of the persecutors."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Video: Book Launch - Fiamma Nirenstein, Jewish Lives Matter: Human Rights and Anti-Semitism (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

It's Time for Plan B on Iran - Editorial (Bloomberg)
  • Negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran have reached yet another impasse. Although the deal may not be dead just yet, the U.S. should act as though it is.
  • The IAEA estimates that Iran now has more than enough uranium enriched to 60% - a short step from weapons-grade - to build a nuclear weapon, and can add to that stockpile relatively quickly.
  • The proposed pact has not been lengthened or strengthened in any way: Key provisions begin to lapse in a couple of years. Nor would it address Iran's burgeoning missile and drone programs, or its support for violent proxies such as Hizbullah. Given that, the U.S. will arguably need to take many of the same actions to contain the Iranian threat whether the 2015 deal is resurrected or not.
  • Shifting to a Plan B now might help persuade Iran to back off its most unreasonable demands - and will put the U.S. in a better position to deal with the consequences if it doesn't. The U.S. should thus work harder to close sanctions loopholes that have allowed Iran to continue to sell millions of barrels of oil, primarily to China.
  • Deal or no deal, the challenge of confronting Iran's malign activities across the Middle East will remain. When challenged by Iranian proxies, the U.S. should hit back harder and faster. Most important, the U.S. should make sure Iran understands that its patience isn't infinite.
  • The White House should also support Israel's right to defend itself, including by speeding delivery of key systems such as refueling tankers for long-range air strikes, and should continue to conduct joint exercises to prepare for a conflict.
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