October 6, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

New Gas Discovery in Waters Off Israel - Nermina Kulovic (Offshore Energy-Netherlands)
    Energean has made a commercial gas discovery with the Hermes exploration well offshore Israel.
    Preliminary estimates indicate that the structure contains 7-15 bcm of recoverable natural gas, Energean said Thursday.

How Iran Is Trying to Stop the Protests - Joyce Sohyun Lee (Washington Post)
    To understand the extent of the Iranian government's crackdown against protesters, the Washington Post analyzed hundreds of videos and photographs of protests, spoke to human rights activists, interviewed protesters and reviewed data collected by internet monitoring groups.
    The investigation focused on three key tactics used by the government: the use of live ammunition by security forces, targeted arrests, and the throttling of internet service.
    The Post geolocated videos from seven cities that appear to show security forces shooting at protesters.

Netanyahu Released from Hospital after Feeling Ill during Yom Kippur Services - Moran Azulay (Ynet News)
    Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, 72, was hospitalized on Wednesday after feeling ill at a Jerusalem synagogue during the Yom Kippur fast.
    After staying overnight for observation at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, he was released on Thursday after undergoing medical tests and has returned to his full schedule, his office said.

Hizbullah "Collaborators" Coming Under Increased Attacks in Southern Syria - Riad al-Zein (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Attacks against officers of the Syrian regime, as well as suspected collaborators with Hizbullah, have increased in southern Syria.
    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday that since January, 411 attacks in Daraa province have killed 347 people, including 166 civilians and 142 regime forces or collaborators.
    Assassinations in Quneitra province often target people accused of collaborating with Iran-backed Hizbullah.

Moscow Cozies Up with Hamas to Pressure Israel - John Hardie and Ivana Stradner (Algemeiner)
    A delegation from Hamas, led by Politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh, visited Moscow in September for meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials.
    For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia's war in Ukraine.
    John Hardie is deputy director of the Russia Program at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Ivana Stradner is an advisor.

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Anti-Semitism Is Alive and Well in Britain - Zoe Strimpel (Telegraph-UK)
    There are about 290,000 Jews in the UK or 0.4% of the population. It's odd, then, how much attention we continue to attract: and not of the good kind.
    A recent survey by Hope Not Hate, a charitable trust that campaigns against racism and fascism, found that 1/3 of the British population believe anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
    34% of those 18-24 said that it was "probably" or "definitely true" that Jews have excessive influence over global finance.
    I get the sense that people are bored of hearing Jews go on about anti-Semitism; it's far worse than boring to be its target - and it doesn't seem, after millennia of this most tenacious, deadly ism, there is any let-up in sight.

Seriously Wounded IDF Veterans Tour U.S. College Campuses - Zvika Klein (Jerusalem Post)
    In September, Dana Ophir and Matan Rutger, former IDF soldiers that were seriously wounded during their army service, toured close to a dozen colleges on the East Coast, sharing their personal stories with hundreds of students.
    Rutger was run over by a Palestinian terrorist. He required multiple surgeries and spent months in intensive rehabilitation.
    Ophir was injured in a car-ramming that left four of her friends dead. She said, "I became a total invalid, but I refused to succumb to fate and with titanium instead of bones in my body, taught myself to take one baby step at a time."
    "I see young people who are open to hearing us," Rutger said. "When they hear what I went through, they identify and connect."
    "They understand that military service is not about aggression or occupation, but about defending my own family and countrymen and that we'd so much rather live in peace than carrying weapons."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Death Toll in Iran Protests Rises to 154
    Iran's security forces have killed at least 154 protesters since nationwide demonstrations began in mid-September. Over the weekend, students protested at more than 100 universities. On Friday, Iranian security forces killed at least 63 protesters in the southeastern city of Zahedan, according to the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR). Military helicopters dispersed demonstrators by firing at them from the air. (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
  • Iran's Crippled Economy Shrinks Middle Class - Benoit Faucon
    The protests that have gripped Iran for three weeks started over a headscarf, but are morphing into a broader movement fueled by middle-class anger over the country's collapsing economy. Complaints by Iran's large urban middle class have driven the demonstrations in dozens of cities, turning from women's rights to demands for an end to the country's Islamic system of governance.
        Iran's middle class kept growing over the past four decades to 60% of the population, with a strong education system churning out doctors, lawyers, engineers and traders. Now, the middle class is under pressure from 50% inflation and a currency, the rial, that fell to its lowest levels ever this year. Today, the middle class has shrunk to less than half the country.
        According to a poll a year ago by the University of Maryland, 63% of Iranians blame domestic economic mismanagement and corruption, rather than sanctions, for the country's financial woes. (Wall Street Journal)
  • New British Prime Minister a "Huge Zionist and Huge Supporter of Israel" - Lee Harpin
    British Prime Minister Liz Truss told the Conservative Friends of Israel on Sunday she is a "huge Zionist and huge supporter of Israel." Truss added: "In this world - where we are facing threats from authoritarian regimes who don't believe in freedom and democracy - two free democracies, the UK and Israel, need to stand shoulder to shoulder."
        Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told the event of his "incredible pride" at being involved in the "warming of relations between Israel and its neighbors in the region." "Israel has been a beacon of democracy, liberalism, openness, tolerance in a part of the world where that has not been the history," he added. (Jewish News-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Lebanese Raise Objections to Maritime Border Agreement with Israel - Danny Zaken
    Lebanon objects to some of the clauses in the Israel-Lebanon maritime border agreement proposed by U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein, the Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar, identified with Hizbullah, has reported.
        The Lebanese are opposed to the line of security buoys, which would mark the northern line of Israeli control. The Lebanese are also opposed to including the marking out of the land border between Israel and Lebanon in the agreement. The Lebanese also refuse to link the start of drilling by French company TotalEnergies SE on the Lebanese side to an agreement on a compensation plan for Israel. (Globes)
        See also Israel Rejects Lebanon's Changes to Maritime Border Deal - Lahav Harkov
    Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid rejected the changes Lebanon proposed to a maritime border agreement drafted by the U.S., a senior diplomatic source said on Thursday. Lapid assessed some of the demands to be new and significant, and instructed the negotiating team to reject them.
        The source noted that Israel's Karish natural gas field will soon become operative and that Hizbullah has threatened to attack it. "Israel will extract gas from the Karish rig at the moment that it will be possible," he stated. "If Hizbullah or someone else tries to harm Karish or threaten us, the negotiations on the maritime line will stop immediately and [Hizbullah leader] Hassan Nasrallah will have to explain to the citizens of Lebanon why they don't have a gas rig and an economic future."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Seeks to Neutralize New "Lion's Den" Militia in West Bank - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Recently, PA security forces summoned family members of some of the gunmen in the new Lion's Den militia and advised them to talk their sons into laying down their weapons, Palestinian sources revealed on Wednesday. The armed group has been responsible for a spate of shooting attacks on IDF soldiers and Jewish civilians in the Nablus area. The PA was studying the possibility of recruiting the gunmen into the Palestinian security forces.
        A senior Palestinian official said the PA leadership will not allow a small group of gunmen to drag the Palestinians into a major confrontation with Israel. Ibrahim Ramadan, the PA governor of Nablus, revealed that he held a number of meetings with members of the Lions' Den. Ramadan called armed attacks against Israel "useless."
        Speaking of "abnormal" Palestinian mothers who sent their sons to carry out suicide bombings against Israelis, Ramadan said, "These are not mothers. No mother sends her son to his death." In response, several Palestinians accused him of "insulting" the mothers of Palestinian "martyrs," while others called on him to resign. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    The Israel-Lebanon Maritime Deal

  • Israel's Karish Gas Field - Simon Henderson
    Before the end of the month, Israel is scheduled to begin production at the Karish natural gas field off its northern coast, prompting threats from Hizbullah. Karish is much smaller than Israel's current producing fields, Leviathan and Tamar, but it has generated attention because it lies close to the disputed dividing line between Lebanon and Israel's exclusive economic zones.
        Unlike the production apparatus for Leviathan and Tamar, which are hidden beneath the waves and connected by long pipelines to processing platforms near the shore, Karish is tethered to a production and storage vessel floating just above the field, which offers a tempting target to Hizbullah, which flew three drones toward the vessel on July 2 (which Israel shot down).
        The writer is director of the Program on Gulf and Energy Policy at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

  • Palestinians

  • Phantom Fantasia in the Middle East - Thane Rosenbaum
    Decades of impeccable PR and global gullibility have enabled many to bizarrely believe there once was an Arab nation called Palestine, with the people in it known as Palestinians. Yet there never has been an Arab nation-state called Palestine. At the time of Israel's founding, in 1948, the word Palestinian did not describe a distinct Arab people. In fact, the word, created by the ancient Romans, referred to Jews. Jews have been living continuously in what is today Israel since the time of the Jewish patriarchs of the Old Testament.
        Palestine is more an idea than an actual place, the magical thinking of a country that never existed. Hocus-pocus political history. Palestinian inclusion within the vortex of intersectional grievances is laughable given how Sharia-observant Palestinians, especially in Gaza, feel about women, gays, the transgender, cultural and academic freedom, religious diversity, free speech, and the rule of law. Palestinian rejection of five separate offers of statehood since 1947 is never mentioned.
        Nothing was stolen from the Palestinians. They are stateless because they never had a state - not because they were denied one, or had one taken away. Indeed, it's not at all clear whether they actually want one. For a people with no national currency, political history, sustained leadership, defined borders, or even a gross national product aside from terrorism, Palestinians have nonetheless created the illusion of a homeland lost to Jewish land-grabbers. But hate does not a nation make.
        The writer is a law professor and Distinguished University Professor at Touro College. (White Rose)

  • Other Issues

  • A Message to UC Berkeley: We Are Zionists because We Are Jews - Dr. Naya Lekht
    Imagine banning Black individuals from student groups because they hold pan-African views. Imagine a coalition of campus student groups announcing that Black Americans are welcome, just not the ones who believe that they are indigenous to Africa. Accepting only Jews who tear away their historic limbs or their ancestral legacy is not inclusion. It is discrimination at its highest form; it is also a form of abuse.
        Our abusers maintain that Jews are welcome in the form of ashes, but insist that Jews with power, with weapons in their hands, Jews with borders, Jews who have returned to their ancestral homeland, are evil.
        The writer is Director of Education at Club Z, a Zionist youth movement.  (Algemeiner)
        See also Leading U.S. Jewish Groups Condemn Berkeley Law School over Ban on Zionist Speakers - Luke Tress (Times of Israel)
  • The Folly of Reengaging Assad - Charles Lister
    Although the Assad regime's horrific record of war crimes and crimes against humanity is well known, several governments in the Middle East have recently pursued policies to reengage and normalize Syria's regime. While Jordan had been a longtime backer of Syria's armed anti-Assad opposition since 2012, Jordan flipped in 2017 and 2018. Amman's reasoning for turning against Syria's opposition was its desire for stability along its border, to create conditions amenable to refugee returns, and to rid southern Syria of Islamic State cells as well as an extensive Iranian and Hizbullah presence.
        Yet Syria's southern province of Daraa is now arguably the most unstable region in the country, riddled with daily insurgent attacks, inter-factional strife, and targeted assassinations. Not only does Iran remain in place alongside Hizbullah and a network of local proxy militias, but Iran and its proxies have expanded their reach and influence, commanding some 150 military facilities across southern Syria. The Islamic State, too, continues to conduct sporadic attacks in the area.
        In addition, there has been an enormous surge in Assad regime-sponsored drug smuggling through Jordan. Thanks to the Syrian regime's illicit production of Captagon, an amphetamine-like stimulant, Syria is now a narco-state of global significance. In 2021, $30 billion worth of Captagon was produced in Syrian facilities guarded by private military contractors. According to Jordanian officials, 16 million Captagon pills were seized on Jordanian soil coming from Syria in 2021; in the first five months of 2022, that number stood at 20 million pills, and today, that number has reached 33 million. Dozens of people have been killed in border clashes associated with the Syrian drug trade.
        The writer is a senior fellow and director of the Syria and Counterterrorism and Extremism programs at the Middle East Institute. (Foreign Policy)
  • Beyond the Weary Stalemate, Something Is Happening in the Middle East - Anthony Browne MP
    There is no active Israeli-Palestinian peace process, but that doesn't mean things aren't changing. The plate tectonics of the Middle East are shifting quickly. Speaking to political and business leaders on both the Israeli and Palestinian side on a trip a few weeks ago, there is increasing speculation that there is a pathway for the previously unresolvable conflict to be resolved. "There is a new game in town," as one long-time observer put it.
        The seismic changes are the Abraham Accords. Now at Tel Aviv airport a large proportion of departure signs are to Arab nations - there are over 30 flights a week from Israel to the UAE. The excitement of Arab and Israeli business people about the opportunities is almost tangible. This normalization process is expected to continue across the Arab world.
        This widening Arab recognition of Israel changes the dynamics of the Middle East. The standoff is no longer between the Arab world and Israel, but between Palestinians and Israel. The Abraham Accords give permission to Arabs and Jews to say they like each other. Most importantly, it creates a belief that a peaceful solution is possible. That belief is a precondition for peace. (ConservativeHome-UK)

  • Weekend Features

  • Film Lauds WWII Partisan Chief Who Found Hitler's V2 Rockets - Rich Tenorio
    Leonid Berenshtein, a Soviet Jew born in Ukraine, became a legendary partisan commander during World War II. In 1944, he located a factory in Poland that produced Hitler's dreaded V2 rockets. The factory was subsequently bombed by the Red Army. His story is shared in a new docudrama film, "Berenshtein."
        Georgian-Israeli director Roman Shumunov recalled, "When I met him, he was 95 years old. He lived in a very, very small apartment....No one knew anything about him in Israel....I was sitting with a man who was responsible for great, internationally significant things in the Second World War that changed the whole outcome of the war."  (Times of Israel)
        View Video Trailer: "Berenshtein" (Berenshtein.com)

Liberals Believe in Coexistence - Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch (Times of Israel)
  • I am just a simple Jew. I have an uncomplicated, unsophisticated approach that has guided me throughout my life: If a theory is antisemitic, it can't be moral. If a theory leads to antisemitism, it can't be moral. If a theory denies Israel's right to exist and seeks to dismantle the world's only Jewish state, it is immoral.
  • I agree that the Palestinians deserve dignity and freedom, and I have spent much of my career supporting these aims. But the editors of the Harvard Crimson are utterly wrong to write that "the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement [is] a means to achieving that goal." The BDS movement seeks not coexistence with Israel but Israel's destruction; not a two-state solution but one Palestinian state. And BDS considers armed struggle against Israel a legitimate means to achieve this end.
  • In practice, what's the point of being anti-Zionist today? Are we supposed to ignore Jewish national aspirations - and the will of Israeli citizens themselves - and create yet another (the 22nd) Muslim-majority country in the Middle East, none of which are democracies - at the expense of the world's one Jewish and democratic state?
  • Why? Because some American students and professors tell us that Palestinian dignity categorically requires, not coexistence, but Israel's elimination? That, as BDS has said, "a Jewish state in any shape or form [contravenes] the basic rights of the...Palestinian population"?
  • I am always amazed that people who do not live in the Middle East, might never have been to Israel, perhaps can't find it on a map, do not speak Hebrew, do not understand Israeli or Palestinian society in-depth, can be so certain about how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - and end up supporting those who seek Israel's destruction.
  • As a lifelong liberal, I recoil from the illiberalism of BDS. Liberals believe in coexistence. Liberals respect facts. We value truth. Liberals do not think in all-or-nothing categories. Liberal elite students should be the first to recognize the illiberalism of anti-Zionism, no matter the veneer of virtue. When they say, "Palestine Free from the River to the Sea," they mean the ethnic cleansing of the Jews.

    The writer, senior rabbi of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York City, served as executive director of the Association of Reform Zionists of America.
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