February 9, 2023
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In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Emergency Teams in Turkey Have Rescued Ten People - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    As of Thursday, the IDF Search and Rescue Brigade has rescued 10 Turkish citizens trapped beneath the rubble, since arriving in Turkey late Monday in response to the disastrous earthquake.
    IDF Homefront Command foreign rescue chief Col. Golan Vach said that ten other countries have sent delegations, but that Israel's preparedness and effectiveness is among the highest level.
    "We will total over 420 personnel soon. All Israeli citizens can be proud. The speed with which we got to the field has been impressive," he said.

Israeli Rescue Team Locates Bodies of Jewish Community Leaders in Antakya, Turkey (Ynet News)
    On Wednesday, an Israeli rescue team found the bodies of Shaul and Fortuna Cenudioglu, who headed the small Jewish community in Antakya, Turkey, inside the rubble of their home.

Polisario Money Laundering Scheme Linked to Hizbullah - Matthias Inbar (i24News)
    The Polisario Front is a rebel Sahrawi nationalist liberation movement that claims Western Sahara, which is controlled by Morocco.
    The group, which is linked to Iran ally Hizbullah in Lebanon and operates from Tindouf in Algeria, organized a large-scale illegal money laundering network based in Spain.

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Israel Intensifies Efforts to Increase Gas Exports - Danny Zaken (Globes)
    With the growing demand for natural gas in Europe, Israel is planning to maximize the potential of its gas resources.
    Discussions are underway to build a new pipeline system to carry gas from Israel and Cyprus to liquefaction facilities in Egypt, build a liquefaction facility in Cyprus, build a floating liquefaction facility as part of the expansion of Israel's Leviathan field, and export gas to Europe using tankers.
    In Israel's economic waters, only about 25% of the gas fields' potential has been exploited. It is estimated that there is a chance of discovering more gas fields with significant volumes.

Hizbullah's Future - Baria Alamuddin (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
    With its considerable income from Iran, narcotics and other illegal sources, Hizbullah has exploited widespread impoverishment and chaos to acquire land, properties and businesses, including vast tracts of territory in regions far outside Hizbullah-land.
    Hizbullah is weakened, in part because Tehran has been weakened, with large demonstrations continuing across Iran, the collapse of negotiations on the nuclear issue, and Benjamin Netanyahu's new government in Israel signaling its readiness for confrontation.
    Hizbullah's relationship with its Shiite support base has been challenged as never before. Wading into the Syrian carnage not only created thousands of "martyrs" and wounded veterans, but also meant Hizbullah has diluted its ranks with less ideologically committed recruits.
    Many of these foot soldiers were disgusted by the corruption of superiors who had become massively enriched through their involvement in cross-border smuggling.
    They, too, have seen salaries slashed as Hizbullah has been compelled to impose austerity measures, meaning that it is far less able to buy loyalty than in the past.

Jewish Communities in U.S. Embrace Security Staff in Face of Rising Antisemitism - Ella Bilu (JTA)
    In a 17-day span in October and November, 2022, at least 14 U.S. Jewish day schools reported receiving suspicious phone calls or bomb threats, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
    While security at synagogues used to be an afterthought, now "it's part of all planning and into every aspect of a synagogue," said Jason Moss, executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel Valley and Pomona.
    Moss said many synagogues struggle with funding security because it's an additional expense.
    Due to rising antisemitism, 54% of synagogues surveyed had some form of armed security guards, a 2018 study found.
    Only 17% of non-Jewish houses of worship had security guards.

Linfield University in Oregon to Pay $1 Million to Professor Fired for Reporting Antisemitic Incidents - Andrew Lapin (JTA)
    Linfield University in Oregon will pay $1 million to tenured English professor Daniel Pollack-Pelzner for his wrongful termination in 2021.
    He was fired shortly after he went public with accusations of antisemitic remarks made by the school's president, Miles K. Davis.
    A report last year by the American Association of University Professors found that Linfield had violated Pollack-Pelzner's academic freedom and right to due process.

State of Ohio Purchases $20 Million in Israel Bonds - Becky Raspe (Cleveland Jewish News)
    Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague announced Feb. 1 the state's purchase of $20 million in Israel Bonds.
    The Ohio Treasury will hold a total of $182.5 million in Israel Bonds, one of the largest government holders of these bonds in the U.S.
    In addition, the Franklin County treasurer purchased $4 million of Israel Bonds on Feb. 1, one of 15 Ohio counties that invest in Israel Bonds.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Says It's Poised to Send Quake Aid to Syria - Dan Williams
    Israel said on Monday it had received a Syrian request for assistance with earthquake relief and that it was prepared to oblige, in what would be rare cooperation between the enemy neighbors. However, the Syrian pro-government newspaper Al Watan cited an official source as denying Damascus had made such a request. (Reuters)
  • Turkey Arrests ISIS Members Targeting Istanbul Synagogues - David I. Klein
    Istanbul police arrested 15 suspects connected to Islamic State who were plotting to target synagogues and churches, Turkish media reported on Sunday. Istanbul police said, "15 people were detained on the grounds that the so-called Khorasan Province leadership of Daesh [ISIS] ordered an action against the Swedish and Dutch Consulate Generals and places of worship belonging to our Christian and Jewish citizens in Istanbul."  (JTA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Aid Delegation Arrives in Turkey after Deadly Quakes - Judah Ari Gross
    A delegation of 150 people from the Israel Defense Forces' Home Front Command landed in Adana, Turkey, on Tuesday to begin operations there and in surrounding areas. Also on Tuesday, 25 volunteers from United Hatzalah were on board a flight to Gaziantep, one of the cities hardest hit by the tremors. They included doctors, paramedics and trauma experts, who brought with them 10 tons of equipment and humanitarian aid.
        A team from Israel's national search-and-rescue unit was on the flight as well, bringing the equipment needed for the complicated and dangerous work of excavating people from collapsed or collapsing buildings. A small group from IsraAID, including trauma experts, was also on the flight with a number of water purification systems. (Times of Israel)
        See also Israel Sends Field Hospital to Turkey
    An Israeli medical team arrived in Turkey on Wednesday to set up a field hospital in the wake of the devastating earthquake. The 230-strong Israeli delegation will establish a hospital that will include operating rooms, trauma units, X-ray machines, and laboratories. (Ynet News)
  • Car Bomb Intended for Terror Attack Explodes in Jenin
    A car bomb intended for a Palestinian terror attack exploded in Jenin before it could fulfill its purpose on Monday evening, Israel's Channel 11 reported. One individual was wounded. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Teachers, Lawyers Protest Against Palestinian Authority - Mohammed Najib
    The Palestinian Authority is facing protests from schoolteachers and lawyers over a number of grievances, and a strike by doctors might follow. Lawyer and human rights activist Amer Hamdan from Nablus said the basis of the PA's problem with teachers and lawyers is poor political decision-making. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    Israeli Democracy

  • The "Resistance" Wants to Thwart Israeli Democracy - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Opponents of the Israeli government's judicial reform are seeking to emulate the anti-Trump resistance. The claims that the proposed judicial reforms will shred democracy are risible. All the government wants is to move Israel's judiciary into line with those of other democracies, in which the courts may be powerful but do not operate as unchallenged rulers of the country - not only with the unlimited power that they arrogated to themselves, but with the ability to perpetuate it by naming their successors.
        This is something that Americans wouldn't tolerate in their courts, yet Israeli critics have convinced their foreign allies that preserving such a system is essential to safeguarding democracy. This is not so much an example of the lawful exercise of the right of the minority to dissent as it is an effort for elites, with the help of foreign allies, to overturn the results of an election. Far from preserving Israel as a democratic state, they are asking Americans to help squelch Israeli democracy. (JNS)
        See also Reforming Israel's Supreme Court Promotes Democracy - Jerome M. Marcus (JNS)
  • "Israel Will Stay a Vibrant Democracy," Says Israel's UK Ambassador - Daniel Ben-David
    Israel's Ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely called for calm ahead of Saturday's "Saving Israeli Democracy" protest outside the London embassy. Hotovely told the JC that the proposed judicial reforms are "not about changing the nature of Israel's democracy" and that those who were concerned about the future of the country needn't be. "Democracy is something so basic to our Jewish identity. I don't believe you can be Jewish without being democratic....We will never give up our democratic identity."
        These reforms "are not about changing the nature of Israel's democracy. Israel is a vibrant democracy, and it will stay like this forever, because we love well-intentioned fighting and debating too much. I do believe, speaking on behalf of the people who are happy with the reforms, they felt the balance part of checks and balances was unbalanced for many years."
        "Israel's Supreme Court was for years defending minorities, defending human rights, and creating precedents for helping to advance human rights. We are so proud of our Supreme Court, but we need to understand that in a way this is not the only branch of our democracy. We need to balance between peoples' rights to have laws that wouldn't be overruled time after time."  (Jewish Chronicle-UK)

  • Iran

  • Months of Protest Have Forged an Even More Intransigent Iranian Regime - Vali Nasr
    The demonstrations in Iran have posed the most significant threat to the government since 1979. Popular anger is still mounting, and dire economic conditions make further unrest all but inevitable. While some insiders have called for meaningful change if the Islamic Republic is to weather the storm, there is no evidence that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is listening. The regime is even more intransigent and potentially aggressive than ever before.
        Khamenei views the protests as a U.S. conspiracy, hatched in concert with Israel and Saudi Arabia, to topple the Islamic Republic. He witnessed firsthand how accommodating protesters only hastened the collapse of the monarchy in 1979.
        Iran has responded to its deepening international isolation by drawing closer to Russia. Media outlets connected to the IRGC reported last month that Iran will receive two dozen advanced Russian Sukhoi Su-35 air defense fighters by March and is looking to acquire helicopters and an advanced S-400 air defense system, which is capable of tracking F-35 stealth fighter jets. Such acquisitions would significantly boost Iran's military capability to better counter Israeli air power in Syria.
        The writer is Professor of International Affairs and Middle East Studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. (Foreign Affairs)

  • Palestinian Arabs

  • At the UN, Special Treatment for Palestinians Shouldn't Be Automatic - Daniel S. Mariaschin and David J. Michaels
    Established almost 74 years ago, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is among the costliest of UN agencies. UNRWA's budget now exceeds $1 billion every year. The general UN budget is just $3 billion - and now the General Assembly has agreed to consider contributing directly to UNRWA from it at the expense of countless acute global priorities.
        UNRWA is the only UN refugee agency dedicated to a population of just one origin. All the world's other refugees are served by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Although more than 100 million people have been displaced in today's world - from Eritrea, the Central African Republic, Somalia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Syria, and now Ukraine - UNRWA's staff is double the size of UNHCR's.
        Rather than heavily prioritize the descendants of some who fled warfare in 1948 over all those fleeing warfare globally today, the UN should tackle the policies that have allowed the Palestinian issue to fester - including host countries' refusal to integrate longtime residents, Palestinian leaders' refusal of pragmatic compromise, and UNRWA's encouragement of a maximalism that is no recipe for a better future.
        Daniel S. Mariaschin is CEO and David J. Michaels is director of UN and Intercommunal Affairs at B'nai B'rith International. (Newsweek)

  • Other Issues

  • Survey Finds Jump in Anti-Israel Coverage by New York Times
    Israeli author and journalist Lilac Sigan monitored the daily coverage of Israel in the New York Times throughout 2022 in collaboration with international communication and public diplomacy expert Professor Eytan Gilboa of Bar-Ilan University. She found that "the coverage continuously distorts the reality in Israel and in the region, in a way that affixes a false perception for future generations. This affects Israel's ties with large parts of the American public, and especially with American Jews. The reader receives only partial facts from the news outlet, which paints a dark and monochromatic picture. This is disturbing, distorting and dangerous."
        The negative coverage of Israel rose from 53% during the first 10 months of 2022, to 68% after Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected prime minister. 20 negative opinion pieces about Israel were published, compared to 13 against Iran. National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir was referred to 20 times along with the word "terrorist," while Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, who was in prison for over 20 years in Israel for terrorist activities, was only mentioned twice in that connection. (Jewish News-UK)
  • New York Times Demonizes Jewish Settlers - Ricki Hollander
    On Feb. 5, 2023, a New York Times front page article indicted "the settler movement," "settlers," "settler-activists," and "settler leaders" as international criminals responsible for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. (The term "settler" is mentioned almost 40 times and comes across as a pejorative to be drummed into readers' minds.)
        What about Palestinian responsibility for the wave of attacks that has been ongoing since 2022? Palestinian gunmen attacking soldiers carrying out counter-terrorism arrest operations? The slaughter of Israeli civilians outside a synagogue on International Holocaust Remembrance Day by a Palestinian terrorist? Palestinian leaders praising the attack? Widespread Palestinian celebrations following the massacre? The subsequent Palestinian shooting attacks on Israeli pedestrians, restaurants and buses?
        Missing from the report is the clear distinction between murderous and injurious attacks against Israelis perpetrated by large and growing numbers of Palestinian assailants, and attacks - mostly property vandalism - against Palestinians perpetrated by a very small percentage of Israeli settlers.
        Nor is there any contrast drawn between the justification by Palestinian leaders of deadly violence against Israelis or its celebration within Palestinian society, and the widespread condemnation of attacks on Palestinians within Israeli society, including by the vast majority of Israeli settlers.
        Perhaps most deceiving is the unequivocal designation that Israeli settlement in the West Bank is "illegal under international law." They are wrong. There has never been consensus among countries, international lawyers or scholars of jurisprudence about this issue. In 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that, "The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law."  (CAMERA)
  • The Significance of the U.S.-Israeli Juniper Oak Military Exercise - Jonathan Lord
    In the recent Juniper Oak exercise, the U.S. and Israeli militaries performed joint exercises in all domains: land, air, sea, space, and cyber. Juniper Oak may prove to be one of the world's greatest demonstrations of modern military capability. A typical joint military exercise takes about one year to plan. The planning for Juniper Oak began in November 2022, which demonstrates the close level of coordination between the U.S. military and the IDF, and that they are able to plan operations quickly and effectively.
        For Israel's emerging partners in the Gulf who have sought to normalize relations, seeing this awesome display of military capability is a showcase for what they stand to gain should they choose to further develop their defense relationships with Israel. For those countries that have yet to normalize with Israel, a demonstration like this puts on full display what they could stand to gain. Juniper Oak also demonstrates to leaders in Tehran that the U.S. has a credible military option, should the regime continue down the road to a nuclear weapon.
        The writer is a senior fellow and director of the Middle East Security program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). (Inkstick)

  • Antisemitism

  • New Report Could Hamstring Palestine Advocacy in Britain's Largest Student Organization - Dahlia Krutkovich
    On Jan. 12, the UK National Union of Students (NUS) released a report investigating allegations of antisemitism within its ranks. The report by investigator Rebecca Tuck found that the union was a "hostile" environment for Jewish students. In response, the NUS has promised to set new limits on anti-Zionist speech and organizing as part of a broad anti-antisemitism strategy, which will be drawn up in consultation with the Union of Jewish Students (UJS).
        Tuck writes that she agrees with British Jewish groups "that many instances of antisemitism...occur when pro-Palestinian or anti-Israeli or 'anti-Zionist' campaigning takes place." She found that Judaism had been omitted as a religious identity from various NUS surveys and candidate nomination forms, and that multi-faith prayer rooms were used for committee meetings during prayer times for Jewish students.
        Anti-Zionist advocates worry that the report's recommendations will functionally eliminate the NUS as a national platform for Palestine solidarity. Historically, the union has served as an important arena for anti-Zionist organizing. In 2015, the NUS executive leadership voted to endorse BDS and support individual student unions that wanted to hold boycott campaigns. "A lot of students organizing on campuses are very worried that the takeaway from this report is that they need to moderate their activity," said Stella Swain, student campaigns officer at the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC). (Jewish Currents)
  • U.S. Christian Group Shows Support for Jews when Antisemitic Attacks Occur - Maggie Phillips
    The Christian Philos Project was founded in 2014 to increase understanding and appreciation for both Judaism and Israel. In 2021, it launched the Philos Action League (PAL), a network of on-call volunteers ready to show up whenever antisemitic attacks occur. If there is vandalism at a synagogue or cemetery, they place a bouquet of white roses on the site. If there is an anti-Israel demonstration, they stand with the counterprotesters. If there is violence, they show up at the hospital (or memorial site) with a bouquet.
        In Christian terms, it's called the "ministry of presence." It is the belief that in a difficult situation, there is value in being intentionally, mindfully present. The PAL network has a call list of 2,100 people in all 50 states, who have gone on 128 "responses" after antisemitic incidents. (Tablet)

Coming Out as an Arab Advocate of Peace with Israel - Hussain Abdul-Hussain (Dispatch)
  • As a student in Lebanon in the 1990s, I believed that the Jewish state sought to occupy Arab lands "from the Euphrates to the Nile," and I was hardly alone. I immigrated to Washington in 2004, where I started consuming everything Hebrew. Yet to this day I have not visited Israel. Doing so would risk entanglement with Lebanese authorities during my visits to Beirut.
  • Still, I came to see that Zionism is not a conspiracy, but the basic idea that the long history of antisemitism and Jewish suffering, culminating in the Holocaust, created the need for a sovereign Jewish homeland. For Israel, that sovereignty is non-negotiable.
  • It should not be surprising that some Arab states finally decided that there was no point in waiting for Palestinians to accept a version of the two-state solution that did not embed within it a demographic threat to Jewish sovereignty. Was it their obligation to perpetuate an endless conflict and harm their own interests in the name of solidarity?
  • Saudi Arabia has been inching closer to peace with Israel, with its media leading the way, including Al-Arabiya's unprecedented interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month. Saudi networks have started inviting Israeli pundits on their shows, a practice that remains taboo on most Arab channels.
  • While Riyadh and Jerusalem negotiate, Arab advocates of peace have a crucial role to play. The first step is to defy pervasive shaming by fellow Arabs and come out as proponents of normalization. Their voices can help bring peace talks across the finish line, because fear of a public backlash is precisely what constrains so many Middle Eastern leaders who would prefer to treat Israel as a neighbor, not an enemy.

    The writer is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington.
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