December 8, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

Over 500 People Executed in Iran in 2022 (AFP)
    At least 504 people have been executed in Iran since the beginning of 2022, far exceeding the number of executions in 2021, the Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) NGO said on Monday.

Iranian Suicide Drones Don't Work in Cold Weather - Sinead Baker (Insider)
    Russia has stopped using Iranian-made kamikaze drones in Ukraine because they don't work in cold weather.
    Yevgeny Silkin, of the Ukraine Armed Forces, said the Iranian drones, which are made of plastic, are not frost resistant and have not been used in Ukraine since Nov. 17, the first day of snow.

Arab, Israeli Experts Meet in Rabat to Strengthen Regional Cooperation - Jihane Rahhou (Morocco World News)
    Experts from Israel and Arab countries met in Rabat on Dec. 5-7 for a "Conference on Education and Coexistence," to strengthen regional cooperation under the Abraham Accords.

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Israel Is 5th Safest Country for Tourists; U.S. Is 20th - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    According to a study by a U.S. insurance comparison website called The Swiftest, Israel is the 5th safest among the 50 countries most widely visited by tourists.
    Visiting Israel is ranked safer than visiting the U.S. (ranked 20), Canada (21), Australia (18), France (15) and the UK (10).
    Only Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Singapore were considered safer than Israel.

Gazan Laborer Arrested in Israel as Hamas Spy - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    The Israel Security Agency (ISA) said Thursday it has arrested a Palestinian man from Gaza, Saber Mahmoud Yosef Abu Thabat, 28, for spying in Israel on behalf of Hamas.
    Abu Thabat, who was arrested in November, had a permit to enter Israel for work. He was recruited by Hamas to collect information on Israeli security agents and to scout out strategic sites in Israel.
    "As part of his interrogation, and due to his activity in Hamas and the knowledge he was exposed to, a vast amount of information was obtained about the operating methods of Hamas' intelligence mechanisms, including the identity of operators, locations of tunnels, weapon stockpiles, and military locations from which the organization operates," the ISA said.

Gaza Cancels Girls' Soccer Match - Hazem Balousha (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
    Religious conservatives have forced the cancelation of a soccer match for girls aged 9-12 in Gaza, describing it as an attempt to "replace the hijab with shorts."
    Scholars and clerics criticized the match, calling it a "moral disgrace."

The IDF versus Drug Dealers - Yaakov Lappin (JNS)
    Two IDF co-ed infantry battalions specialize in protecting Israel's border with Egypt from terrorism and drug smuggling - the Caracal (Wildcat) and Bardelas (Cheetah) battalions.
    Setting up a joint operations center with the Israel Police, the Israel Air Force and others has led to a dramatic rise in the number of foiled drug smuggling runs.
    While there were 200 drug runs thwarted and disrupted in 2021, in 2022 the number has surpassed 500. According to the IDF, while drug runners had a 50% success rate in 2021, that rate dropped to 20% in 2022.
    These battalions also continue with their core task of defending the Egyptian border against terrorist attacks, primarily from ISIS in Sinai.
    However, while jihadist forces remain active in Sinai, at this time they are targeting Egyptian security forces and members of Sinai Bedouin tribes who joined forces with the Egyptian state against them, and not Israel.

IDF Includes 3,300 Soldiers from 73 Countries (Algemeiner)
    The Israel Defense Forces currently include 3,300 soldiers who immigrated from 73 different countries.
    They include 610 from the U.S., 488 from Russia, 332 from Ukraine, and 264 from France.
    98 came from Argentina, while 80 came from both Britain and South Africa. Brazil contributed 63, Canada 51, Kazakhstan 38, Colombia 23, Ethiopia 19, and India 13.
    7 came from Switzerland, 5 from Japan, and 1 each from Serbia, Slovakia, and Botswana.

Autonomous Police Drones Deployed in Israel (Military-Aerospace Electronics)
    The Israel Police have deployed a FlightOps drone to serve as a first responder.
    Immediately after a traffic accident was reported, the drone was dispatched and arrived at the scene before the rescue teams, providing the police control room with a live and clear picture of the scene.
    In another incident, a drone was dispatched to help search for a suspected terrorist.

Israeli Startups Raised over $600 Million in November (Globes)
    Israeli startups raised over $600 million in November, for a total of $14.8 billion in the first eleven months of 2022.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iranian Protesters Shut Down Commerce with Three-Day General Strike - Farnaz Fassihi
    Businesses, shops and traditional bazaars in more than 50 cities across Iran were shuttered for three days from Monday through Wednesday in one of the largest general strikes in decades, demonstrating the staying power of protests calling for the end to clerical rule in the country. In the bazaars of Tehran, as well as Shiraz and Tabriz, row after row of stores, restaurants and other businesses had locked their doors, videos showed. (New York Times)
        See also Sister of Iran's Supreme Leader Denounces Him, Calls on Military to Support Protests - Yaghoub Fazeli
    A sister of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has declared her opposition to her brother's regime, according to a letter shared by her son, Mahmoud Moradkhani, on Wednesday. "I think it is appropriate now to declare that I oppose my brother's actions and I express my sympathy with all mothers mourning the crimes of the Islamic Republic regime," wrote Badri Hosseini Khamenei, who lives in Iran. "Ali Khamenei's Revolutionary Guards and mercenaries should lay down their weapons as soon as possible and join the people before it is too late."
        "The people of Iran deserve freedom and prosperity, and their uprising is legitimate and necessary to achieve their rights. I hope to see the victory of the people and the overthrow of this tyranny ruling Iran soon. I believe that the regime of the Islamic Republic of Khomeini and Ali Khamenei has brought nothing but suffering and oppression to Iran and Iranians." Last month, authorities arrested Badri Khamenei's daughter, Farideh Moradkhani, after she declared her support for the protests. (Al Arabiya)
        See also Former Iranian President Khatami Supports Anti-Government Protests - David Gritten (BBC News)
  • U.S. Base in Kuwait Adapts to Iran's Aerial Threat - J.P. Lawrence
    A sign warning troops about the aerial drones now used by U.S. rivals in the Middle East greets arrivals to Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait, a key American military transit hub. "When you see a drone, call security forces immediately," it says in all caps at the inprocessing building. Iran's robust drone and missile systems are forcing the U.S. and its allies to bolster their air defense systems.
        A $2.4 million project aims to renovate the base's air raid bunkers, drawing lessons from a Jan. 8, 2020, attack on U.S. troops in Iraq, said Lt.-Col. Tito Ruiz, security forces commander for the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing. An Iranian missile attack at Al Asad Air Base caused more than 100 traumatic brain injuries that were tied to blast waves, which echoed and were amplified throughout the bunkers. Army engineers have designed new bunkers for forward bases, with steel doors on both ends, which they say will reduce the peak pressures of blast waves from missile strikes by 90%. (Stars and Stripes)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • 3 Palestinian Gunmen Killed during IDF Arrest Raid in Jenin - Emanuel Fabian
    Three Palestinian gunmen were killed during intense clashes in the northern Samarian city of Jenin before dawn on Thursday when Israeli forces entered the Jenin refugee camp to arrest a terrorist. Images circulating online showed two of the men, Sidqi Zakarneh and Tariq al-Damej, brandishing assault rifles. "During the operation, suspects hurled explosives and fired accurate shots at the troops," the IDF said. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Terrorist Killed after Shooting at IDF Military Post near Ofra - Matthias Inbar
    A Palestinian terrorist, Mujahid al-Najjar, shot from a passing vehicle at an IDF military post near the Israeli community of Ofra, north of Jerusalem, on Wednesday before being chased, shot, and killed by Israeli security forces. (i24News)
  • Palestinian Bomb Injures Two Israeli Border Police Officers near Bethlehem - Emanuel Fabian
    Palestinians hurled a bomb at Israeli Border Police, injuring two, on Monday during a riot in the Aida Refugee Camp near Bethlehem. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • Why Iran Is Involved in the Ukraine War - Jamsheed Choksy and Carol Choksy
    As Russia's weapons systems run low in its war in Ukraine, evidence is mounting from attack wreckage of rebadged Iranian-manufactured combat, kamikaze, and reconnaissance drones, as well as surface-to-surface ballistic missiles. Trainers from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have been sent to Crimea to train Russians to use the munitions, according to U.S. officials. Russia has consistently shielded Iran from the full force of U.S., EU, and UN ire over Tehran's reprobate geopolitical actions. Now Iran gets to return the favor.
        Iran is testing its latest military technology through Russia in Ukraine. Russia's use of Iranian weapons serves to vividly display Iran's deadly technology for prospective buyers. While at least half of Iran-supplied drones and missiles are shot down by Ukrainian defenses, Iranian manufacturers and operators are becoming more skilled with each deployment, and what better endorsement for Iranian munitions than their adoption by the armed forces of a global power.
        Jamsheed Choksy is Professor of Central Eurasian and Iranian Studies at Indiana University, where Carol Choksy is Senior Lecturer of Strategic Intelligence. (RealClearWorld)

  • Palestinians

  • Palestinians Murder Israelis of Color - Gil Troy
    Israel buried yet another victim of the Palestinian refusal to accept any Jews anywhere in the ancestral Jewish homeland. On Nov. 23, Tadese Tashume Ben Ma'ada, 50, a father of six, was riddled with shrapnel by a Palestinian bomb packed with nails. Ben Ma'ada immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia 21 years ago.
        No non-African country had ever happily absorbed an African immigration. That disproves the claims that Israel is either racist or colonialist. Racial differences did not stop Israel from airlifting tens of thousands of Ethiopians to freedom, where Israelis welcomed the immigrants enthusiastically and generously.
        In moving to Israel, Ethiopian Jews were not embarking on some colonialist adventure to a foreign land; they were correcting historical mistakes, and returning home.
        The writer is a Distinguished Scholar of North American History at McGill University, and the author of four books on Zionism. (Algemeiner)
  • Does the Moral High Ground Belong to the Side that Loses More People? - Akiva Van Koningsveld
    As Israel struggles to contain the deadliest surge in Palestinian terrorism since 2008, the media is resorting to the dubious practice of presenting Palestinian and Israeli casualty numbers like a sports scoreboard. Yet the raw numbers fail to acknowledge that while Israeli fatalities have largely been innocent civilians, the majority of Palestinians killed were engaged in acts of violence.
        According to an HonestReporting count, 61.6% of the 143 Palestinians who died in the West Bank this year were shot while attacking Israeli civilians or security forces with guns, knives, explosives, firebombs, rocks, or cars. An additional 27.3% died during violent riots. Almost half were members of U.S.-designated terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.
        The moral high ground does not necessarily belong to the side that loses more people - particularly if those people are killed trying to slaughter innocent civilians. By uncritically echoing the Palestinian death tally, the media are making the latest Palestinian assault on Israelis look like a campaign of aggression by Israel. (HonestReporting)
  • The Meaning of the Palestinian Focus on "Nakba Day" - Adi Schwartz
    The decision of the UN General Assembly to mark the Palestinian Nakba Day ("catastrophe") is actually a decision to mourn the establishment of the State of Israel. It reflects why Israel never succeeded in signing a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Nakba Day was not intended to mark the alleged humanitarian disaster that befell the Palestinian people in the 1948 war, but rather the fact of Jews gaining independence.
        The thought that 600,000 Jews managed to defeat 60 million Muslim Arabs at the time was and still is unimaginable to the Arabs. This is the greatest humiliation, the source of the frustration, rage, and violence directed toward the State of Israel. This is the true meaning of "nakba," the disaster of the Jews' success to declare a state despite all the efforts by the Arabs to prevent them from doing so. The fact that Palestinians commemorate Nakba Day on May 15 - the date of the declaration of Israel's independence - is a clear indication of this.
        The settlements were not on the agenda at the time of the War of Independence. The Arabs saw the establishment of Israel as a "nakba." Even when they were offered an independent Palestinian state with a capital in east Jerusalem, the Palestinians turned it down. The explanation for this is that the war for Israel's existence is still ongoing for them. It's not Israel's alleged occupation that is the problem for the Palestinians, but its very existence. (Israel Hayom)

  • Other Issues

  • Israel: Al Jazeera Journalist's Death Was Thoroughly Investigated
    Al Jazeera on Tuesday announced it had formally requested that the International Criminal Court (ICC) open an investigation into the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed in Jenin in May during an exchange of fire between the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian terrorists. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said, "I expressed my condolences following the passing of Shireen Abu Akleh. At the same time, we must remember that this was a combat scenario, which was investigated thoroughly."
        "I suggest that [international] officials and Al Jazeera representatives go investigate what is happening to reporters in Iran and nearby regions where Al Jazeera operates. There is no other military that operates under the moral standards of the IDF, and I would like to emphasize my full support, and that of the entire defense establishment, to the commanders and soldiers who are defending the citizens of Israel."
        The IDF investigation took into account the context in which the incident occurred, with Israeli troops under "life-risking, widespread and indiscriminate" fire from Palestinian terrorists. At no point was Israeli fire directed at anyone other than the Palestinian terrorists, some of whom fired "from the area in which Ms. Shireen Abu Akleh was present."  (JNS)
  • Why a One-State Solution Is Impractical - Walter Russell Mead
    Some argue that the only moral choice to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a single state where all the inhabitants of former British Palestine (modern Israel, Gaza and the West Bank) enjoy equal rights. Superficially appealing, the one-state solution is both wildly impractical and grossly unjust. More than a century of conflict hasn't prepared two different peoples to live harmoniously in a single state.
        In addition, Israel, a regional superpower enjoying unprecedented friendly relations with the most powerful Arab states, won't voluntarily surrender its sovereignty no matter how many American colleges pass boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) resolutions.
        To argue that the Jewish state must continually earn the right to exist by satisfying its moral critics and political opponents is absurd. People criticize Chinese actions in Xinjiang and Tibet without saying that those misdeeds deprive the Chinese people of the right to a state of their own.
        The writer, a fellow at the Hudson Institute, is Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • The Toxic Stew of Anti-Semitism - Editorial
    Jew haters use the code words of "Zionists" and "Zionism" to condemn Israel, when what they're really voicing is their hatred of Jews and Judaism. Thinly-disguised hatred of Israel has helped to fuel anti-Semitism, to the point where many synagogues now arrange to have police officers on duty outside their places of worship during the high holidays.
        It's become a necessary precaution, given that Jews were once again the most targeted religious group for hate crimes in Canada last year, according to Statistics Canada data. To pretend that hatred of Jews isn't linked to hatred of Israel is absurd. As the late British Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, head of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, wrote, this is just the latest example of how anti-Semitism survives by mutating over time.
        Today, with human rights the paradigm, Israel is falsely accused of being the world's worst human rights violator - including at the UN General Assembly - which every year passes more resolutions condemning Israel than all other nations on earth, combined. Selectively holding Israel to a higher standard of moral behavior than any other country is anti-Semitism. (Toronto Sun-Canada)

  • Weekend Features

  • Jerusalem's History in Vintage Pictures: Hanukkah Eve and a Maccabean Deliverance - December 11, 1917 - Lenny Ben-David
    During World War I, the Jews of Palestine suffered terribly from starvation, disease, and the Turkish army's looting, forced conscription, imprisonment, and execution. Then on December 11, 1917, the British army under General Edmund Allenby liberated Jerusalem.
        An official British military report on the Jerusalem victory likened the event to the defeat and ouster of the Seleucid Greeks by the Maccabees and attributed this quote to General Allenby:
        "On this same day, 2,082 years before, another race of conquerors, equally detested, were looking their last on the city which they could not hold, and inasmuch as the liberation of Jerusalem in 1917 will probably ameliorate the lot of the Jews more than that of any other community in Palestine, it was fitting that the flight of the Turks should have coincided with the national festival of Hanukkah, which commemorates the recapture of the Temple from the heathen Seleucids by Judas Maccabeus in 165 B.C."  (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Israel Is Not an "Apartheid" State - Israeli Ambassador to Ireland Lironne Bar Sadeh (Irish Times)
  • The letter in the Irish Times, "Israel and the Palestinian people" (Nov. 30), signed by various Irish luminaries, repeats the usual canard that Israel is an "apartheid" state.
  • This is an outrageous falsehood. Israel is in fact the only long-lasting liberal democracy in the entire Middle East. It is the only country in the region with freedom of speech, party, press, and association and judicial transparency.
  • It has equality under the law for all its citizens, a fifth of whom by the way are Israeli Arabs, both Muslim and Christian. It is also the only country in the region with rights and equality for the LGBTQ+ community. In terms of its legal and political systems, its vibrant press and rich civil society, Israel is remarkably similar to Ireland.
  • Those who signed the letter think they are helping in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, but in fact they are not. By constantly demonizing Israel and ignoring the deep flaws on the Palestinian side, such as the Islamic fundamentalism of Hamas, and the squalid corruption of the Palestinian Authority, they make themselves morally and intellectually bankrupt.
  • People who genuinely want to help the Palestinians should encourage democratic, moderate forces within Palestinian society and those who will eventually realize that peace with Israel can only come about through dialogue and mutual compromise, not by demonization and intransigence.
  • It is tragic that some people in Ireland, instead of supporting Israel and the moderate Arab forces in the region, prefer to demonize Israel as much as possible and fail to condemn Iran and the forces of extremism which blight the region.
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