March 16, 2023
A project of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy
Dan Diker, President - Yechiel Leiter, Director General

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Agrees to Stop Arming Houthis in Yemen as Part of Pact with Saudi Arabia - Dion Nissenbaum (Wall Street Journal)
    Iran has agreed to halt covert weapons shipments to its Houthi allies in Yemen as part of a China-brokered deal to re-establish diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, U.S. and Saudi officials said.

Hamas Is Establishing a Presence in Lebanon with Hizbullah's Backing - Yoav Limor (Israel Hayom)
    In the last year, Hamas has been expediting efforts to gain a foothold in Lebanon, mainly in the Palestinian refugee camps in Tyre and Sidon.
    This activity is taking place under the leadership of Saleh al-Arouri - in charge of the foreign activity of Hamas' military wing - who seeks to establish an additional front against Israel that can readily be activated in the event of an escalation in Gaza or Judea and Samaria.
    Arouri and his men have recruited hundreds of Palestinians and trained them to fire rockets, as well as to prepare and lay explosive charges, with a view to employing these forces in the future.

Americans Feel More Positive than Negative about Jews - Patricia Tevington (Pew Research Center)
    35% of Americans view Jews very or somewhat favorably, compared with 6% who view Jews very or somewhat unfavorably, with 58% giving a neutral response, in a survey conducted Sept. 13-18, 2022.
    64% of U.S. adults know someone who is Jewish. Those who know someone from a religious group are more likely to offer an opinion of the group - and usually express more positive feelings.
    42% of non-Jews who know a Jewish person express positive views of Jews, double the 21% among non-Jews who do not personally know someone in this religious group.

FBI: U.S. Hate Crimes Hit Record High - David Nakamura (Washington Post)
    Hate crimes in the U.S. rose in 2021 to the highest level in three decades, the FBI said Monday.
    Attacks targeting Jewish people in 2021 rose from 683 to 817.

Hamas: An Outsider Cannot Understand the Intensity of a Palestinian's Joy at News of a Terror Attack Against Israelis (MEMRI)
    On March 12, 2023, the Felesteen daily, identified with Hamas, describes the rising joy and adrenalin that erupt in the Palestinian street following every terror attack against Israelis, such as suicide attacks and bombings of buses and cafes.
    This joy has a "special fragrance" as people gather in public squares and streets, passing out sweets, and embracing, along with cries of praise for Allah from mosques.
    There is tremendous happiness among the Palestinians when they hear news of terrorist attacks by West Bank Palestinians, who "add their unique fingerprint to the shooting operations in the streets of the tranquil [Israeli] cities," and who, with their deeds, are reviving the glory of the days of the Second Intifada.

Palestinians Pave New Road over Archaeological Site in Israel's Ancient Capital - Tzvi Joffre (Jerusalem Post)
    The Palestinian Authority is paving a new road through an archaeological site in Sebastia, the capital of the northern Kingdom of Israel in the 9th and 8th centuries BCE.
    During work on the road, a wall from the Herodian era was destroyed and burial caves from the Second Temple period were broken into and looted.
    Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan warned that "an attempt is being made here to completely disconnect the State of Israel and the Jewish people from one of its most important and precious heritage sites - a single remnant of the ancient Kingdom of Israel."
    "Every Israeli and every lover of culture should demand that any damage to the site be stopped immediately."

Palestinians Building Neighborhood for Terrorists in Samaria (JNS)
    A new residential neighborhood for Palestinians who served at least five years in Israeli prisons for terrorism-related offenses is to be built northeast of Ramallah, Israel's Channel 12 reported.
    The neighborhood is near the terrorist hotbed of Silwad.

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Welcoming Israeli Soccer Team - Editorial (Jakarta Post-Indonesia)
    We applaud the chairman of the Soccer Association of Indonesia, Erick Thohir, who has asserted Indonesia's readiness to host the Under-20 World Cup from May 22 to June 11 and provide security to all participants, the Israeli team included.
    Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, has no diplomatic ties with Israel.
    The arrival of the Israeli team has ignited a furor in the country, but as a good host Indonesia should not mix sports with politics.
    We welcome all teams, including the Israelis, to Indonesia. As a proper host, Indonesia will do what it takes to make sure all the guests are safe and sound.

Morocco Criticizes Islamist Party for Comments on Israel (AFP)
    Morocco's royal court on Monday said, "The general secretariat of the PJD [a leading Islamist opposition party] recently published a declaration containing irresponsible excesses and dangerous approximations regarding relations between the Kingdom of Morocco and the State of Israel."
    "The kingdom's external policy is the prerogative of His Majesty the King (Mohammed VI) under the constitution." As such, it "cannot be subjected to political bidding."

The New York Times' "Non-Threatening" Terrorists - Simon Plosker (HonestReporting)
    In a "visual investigation" to disprove Israeli accounts of events and promote alternative versions that incriminate Israel in supposedly criminal acts, the New York Times charges Israel with killing "at least four people who did not appear to pose a threat" during a major exchange of fire in the terror hub of Nablus.
    The Lions' Den terror group has carried out shootings against civilian targets, but for the Times, the Lions' Den is merely accused by Israeli officials of being involved in terrorist activities.
    The Times reports: "Muhammad Anbousi... sets off fireworks toward a military vehicle.... Anbousi calls for help, and another man, Jasser Qaneer, comes to his aid."
    The Times depicts an attack with improvised explosive devices as "fireworks," while failing to mention that the Lions' Den has publicly claimed both Anbousi and Qaneer as members.

It Is Abhorrent to Conflate the Victims of Palestinian Terrorists with Slain Terrorists - Sean Durns (Algemeiner)
    The Washington Post asserted on March 7 that "More than 60 Palestinians have been killed this year by Israeli security forces.... At least 14 Israelis have been killed in attacks by Palestinians."
    This false equivalency is risible. The overwhelming majority of Palestinians killed have been terrorists, with many of the slain Palestinians claimed by the terrorist groups themselves.
    By contrast, all of the Israelis were murdered by terrorists - and all, save one, were civilians.
    It is abhorrent to conflate the victims of terrorists with slain terrorists when listing casualties.
    Moreover, those Palestinian civilians who were killed died during counter-terrorist operations.
    Israel is a small country. The 14 Israelis murdered in Palestinian terrorist attacks in a little more than a month is the proportional equivalent of 500 Americans murdered.
    The writer is a Senior Research Analyst for CAMERA.

Murderer of 7 Praised as "Hero" in U.S.-Funded Palestinian School - Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    A USAID-funded Palestinian high school for girls in Qalqilya in the West Bank teaches its students that terrorist murderers are "heroes" of Palestinian society.
    The Al-Omariya High School held an event, documented on Facebook, which eulogized and glorified as a "hero" Khairy Alqam, who shot and murdered 6 Israelis and 1 Ukrainian national outside a synagogue in Jerusalem in January.

The Illusion of a Lebanese State - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Lebanon is in chaos, with revelations about monies stolen, transferred, and disappeared; the plunging Lebanese pound, which has lost more than 90% of its value since October 2019; the galloping inflation and the deeper poverty.
    All prices in supermarkets and other commercial entities are displayed in dollars. Electricity is almost inexistent. Hospitalization costs are out of reach.
    Teachers have no money to fill their gas tanks and cannot reach the schools where they teach. A third of Lebanon's students and teachers have not seen schools for the last two months.
    Medicines are brought by visitors from abroad or bought at pharmacies selling dubious Iranian or Syrian-made medication.
    The Lebanese have lost hope of seeing a solution soon.

Lebanon State Security Seizes Israeli-Made SodaStream Machines  (Ministry of Information-Lebanon)
    A Lebanon State Security patrol seized nine machines made in Israel used to manufacture sparkling water at a commercial center in Dahr el-Ain on Monday.
    Investigations are underway as the authorities prepare to take the necessary legal action against those responsible.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Approves Export Licenses for Anti-Drone Systems for Ukraine - Barak Ravid
    Israel recently approved export licenses for anti-drone jamming systems made by Elbit and Rafael that could help Ukraine counter Iranian drones used by Russia during the war, Israeli and Ukrainian officials said. It's the first time Israel has approved defensive weapons sales to Ukraine. A delegation from Ukraine's Ministry of Defense visited Israel recently for a presentation on the anti-drone systems.
        The systems offered use electronic warfare to jam and down drones. They have a range of 25 miles and can be positioned near power plants or other critical sites. Israeli officials claim the approval of export licenses is not a shift in policy because the systems are defensive and do not involve any live fire that can kill Russian soldiers. A senior Israeli official said one reason for approval was to see how the systems perform against Iranian drones. (Axios)
  • Iran Behind Attacks on Jewish Targets in Germany - Loveday Morris
    In November, a hooded figure fired three bullets at the Old Synagogue in the German city of Essen. According to German and other Western intelligence officials, the orchestrator of the attack was Ramin Yektaparast, a biker gang leader who now lives in Iran, who directed attacks through his criminal networks in Germany at the behest of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The attacks are part of an uptick in Iranian regime activity aimed at Jewish targets as well as the Iranian diaspora in Germany. (Washington Post)
  • China, Russia, Iran Hold Joint Naval Drills in Gulf of Oman
    Naval forces from China, Iran and Russia are staging joint drills in the Gulf of Oman this week, China's Defense Ministry said Tuesday. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Terrorist Crossed Border from Lebanon with Suicide Belt, Planted Explosive, One Wounded - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    A bomb explosion near Megiddo junction on Monday morning that seriously injured an Israeli was likely carried out by a Hizbullah terrorist who crossed the Israeli-Lebanese border undetected, the IDF said Wednesday. On Monday afternoon, the terrorist who planted the explosive was found in a car on Route 899 in the Upper Galilee along with a driver. The terrorist, who wore an explosive belt, was killed by security forces. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Netanyahu Touring European Capitals to Press for Renewed Sanctions on Iran - Ron Ben-Yishai
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently visited Paris, Rome, Berlin, and soon London. According to security officials, his purpose is to galvanize support to further isolate Iran via renewed sanctions and a weapons embargo in the hope of significantly stalling Iranian efforts to secure nuclear capabilities and to curtail their regional aggression via proxies.
        Netanyahu has stressed that the military cooperation between Russia and Iran is designed to improve the accuracy and range of Iranian-made payload-carrying drones to target the Ukrainians. That will not only serve to prolong the war in Ukraine, but make it easier for the Iranians to endanger shipping routes from the Persian Gulf to Europe.
        However, no European leader has signaled real willingness to reinstall the sanctions or make any independent moves on the issue. (Ynet News)
  • Israel: EU Is Wrong to Equate Palestinian Terror with IDF Actions - Tovah Lazaroff
    After EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called for an end to violence by both Israelis and Palestinians, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on Tuesday responded: "There is no place to compare or create equity between the victims of terrorism on the Israeli side and the Palestinian terrorists supported by the Palestinian Authority." It is "morally wrong" for Borrell to write about Hamas without explaining that it is a terror organization, Cohen said.
        Cohen also raised Israeli concern about EU activities in Area C of the West Bank, including its support and financing of construction for Palestinians deemed by Israel to be illegal. "The intervention of the European Union in Israeli internal politics and the financing of Palestinian activities that encourage incitement and payments to terrorist families must stop," Cohen added. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel Seeks to Block EU Foreign Minister's Visit after Critical Comments - Jonathan Lis
    The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell had expressed interest in visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority recently, but Israel has signaled that it will not cooperate after criticism he leveled at Israel on Tuesday. "There's no reason to reward him for his conduct," a foreign ministry official said. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    The Saudi-Iran Deal

  • Saudi Arabia-Iran Detente: Old Foes Stay Cautious after Decades of Mistrust - Andrew England
    Riyadh and Tehran have agreed to restore full diplomatic relations under a China-brokered deal. While for years Saudi Arabia and Iran have been arch enemies, top Saudi and Iranian intelligence officials began to hold direct talks to repair ties in early 2021. Diplomats say Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has become more serious about exiting the war in Yemen, where a truce has been holding since last April.
        "The Saudis are still cautious about what it will produce in practice," said a person familiar with Riyadh's thinking. "But they do want to try to improve the relationship by whatever means possible and clearly saw the China card as a good opportunity to back up an agreement in a way Iran would feel inclined to enforce it because of its relationship with Beijing." It was "not an indication of any pivot away from the West. It's just that China is willing to play a peacemaking role and Saudi is willing for anybody to help."
        Saudi Arabia still has concerns across the region where Iran backs powerful Shia militant groups, including Hizbullah in Lebanon, and myriad Iraq factions, as well as Tehran's aggressive nuclear program. "It will be a cold peace - Saudi and Iran will never have a real peace. Tensions will decrease, and things will improve a little," said an Arab diplomat. "But it won't stop the underhanded stuff."  (Financial Times-UK)
  • Expert: Israel Not a Factor in Saudi Decision to Renew Ties with Iran - Yaakov Lappin
    Prof. Eyal Zisser, chair in Contemporary History of the Middle East at Tel Aviv University, told JNS that the Saudi decision to reestablish diplomatic relations with Iran was actually about Riyadh's perception of the U.S., not Israel. "I believe that Israel was not a factor in the Saudi decision. Saudi Arabia in any case is not counting on Israel to protect it. It had hoped that the United States would protect it, but the Americans turned out to be hesitant, following the 2019 unmanned aerial vehicle attacks on Saudi Arabia, the UAVs launched against oil tankers and oil facilities."
        Saudi Arabia, a leader of the Sunni Arab bloc, remains adversarial to Shi'ite Iran and does not trust it, nor does it seek war with Iran. "From the start it was clear that at some point, reconciliation would arrive." Saudi Arabia is signaling its distrust of Washington through this move, and does not view the U.S. as an ally it can rely on for defense, according to Zisser. "The decision does not have practical implications for Israel - because if Saudi Arabia wants to normalize relations with Israel, it will do so." The UAE, for example, has diplomatic ties with Iran. (JNS)
  • The Saudis Want to Diversify Their Relationships, Not Switch Teams - Dario Salvi
    Robert Satloff, executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said in an interview that the resumption of Saudi-Iran relations "has triggered an exaggerated reaction both about China's emergence as a regional powerbroker and about a strategic shift of Riyadh away from its traditional partners toward Beijing. In my view, the decision was principally a tactical decision by Riyadh to achieve near-term calm in Yemen and other fronts with Iran so as to pursue its energetic policy of domestic economic, social and cultural reform with a minimum of external security threats."
        "The Saudis had finally tired of successive [U.S.] administrations either tying Saudi hands or signaling their eagerness to unshackle themselves from regional security responsibilities. But restoring relations with Iran does not mean Riyadh is leaving the American security orbit in favor of an alliance with Tehran. Saudi ties with the U.S. national security infrastructure are too deep - and Saudi differences with Iran on ideological, political, and strategic matters too profound - for this to be more than a tactical shift."  (Asia News-Italy)
  • Why Beijing's Move to Broker Formal Iran-Saudi Relations Is a Good Thing - Fred Kaplan
    Iran and Saudi Arabia have resumed diplomatic relations after a seven-year suspension, thanks to mediation by China. Beijing's move is, for the most part, a good thing. Calming the tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which has sparked proxy wars and terrorist attacks, is in U.S. security interests, as well as the interests of Israel.
        Washington currently has no leverage to preside over the reopening of embassies by Riyadh and Tehran. If the Chinese can get it done, good for them. The U.S. and China are rivals in many ways, but we actually do have a number of common interests; stability in the Middle East is one of them.
        This step does not remotely resemble a Saudi-Iranian peace pact. The schism between Sunnis and Shiites will remain the predominant source of conflict in the region. Saudi Arabia will continue to have tense, often hostile relations with Iran. (Slate)
  • Takeaways from the China-Brokered Saudi-Iran Deal - Aaron David Miller
    Anyone who believes that we're on the cusp of a golden era between Tehran and Riyadh should lie down and wait until the feeling passes. Decades of Saudi-Iranian tensions and bitter rivalries between Persian Shiites and Arab Sunnis will not be easily healed. The fundamental dynamics of that rivalry haven't changed. It strains credulity to believe that conflict reduction can be achieved over such a broad region with so many moving parts by this latest agreement alone. And, of course, there's the unresolved matter of Iran's nuclear program, which might lead to a Saudi effort to acquire a bomb of its own.
        The Saudis have informed Washington that the main result of the accord is that Iran has agreed to stop attacking Saudi interests and supporting anti-Saudi proxies - a glorified cease-fire.
        The argument that this is a major defeat for the U.S. is overblown. If the Saudi-Iran deal actually defuses tensions and opens up a pathway to end Yemen's nightmare, that would be a welcome development. Talk of a U.S. withdrawal from the region is silly. Washington retains critical economic, security, and political ties with the region's key players. And neither China nor Russia can yet replace Washington as a key security partner for both Israel and Arab countries alike.
        The writer, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is a former U.S. State Department Middle East analyst and negotiator. (Foreign Policy)

  • Iran

  • The Perplexing Iran Policy of the EU - Johannes de Jong
    There seems to be little attention paid to the link between Iran's proxy wars and migration to Europe. However, this link exists as the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, as well as the deteriorating situation in Lebanon, are all exacerbated and continuous due to Iranian proxies. That has real consequences for Europe. Asylum seekers from Syria are still Europe's single largest group of asylum applicants.
        Parliaments of EU member states are calling for Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) to be put on the terror list in light of Iran's severe human rights violations - something EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tries to block. This shows that while the public and parliaments are incensed over Iran's human rights violations, the diplomatic class is not on the same page.
        The writer is director of Sallux, the political foundation of the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM). (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Time to "Snapback" Sanctions on Tehran, Experts Say - Benjamin Weinthal
    After the International Atomic Energy Agency discovered last month that Iran had enriched uranium to 84% purity, a level that has no conceivable civilian use, Michael Rubin, an Iran expert at the American Enterprise Institute, told JNS, "Washington bureaucrats and pundits need to stop counting trees while being blind to the forest. Nor should they make ever-more irrational arguments as they become so invested in a bad nuclear deal that they end up acting as Iran's lawyer."
        "Iran justifies its nuclear program in a desire for civilian energy generation. That requires enrichment to 5%. Anything more suggests Tehran has a weapons program. What is going on now is North Korea-like nuclear extortion."  (JNS)
  • Iran's Slow Boil - Reuel Marc Gerecht
    In response to nationwide demonstrations that erupted in September, widespread arrests, which often include torture, have been constant, with the Iranian regime deploying high-tech and more old-fashioned methods of coercion to collect information on those protesting. Violence against the regime's security forces appears to be petering out, at least in the big, majority-Persian cities. Tactically, the regime has, at least temporarily, given up on forcing women to wear the hijab, hoping to take some wind out of what is clearly a revolutionary movement.
        It's crystal clear, however, to many in the Iranian religious and political elite that for Iranians under 40 (60% of the population), there is zero chance that they will re-embrace the Islamic Republic. Even for those older, it's doubtful they have much affection for the theocracy left, especially given its conduct towards their children and grandchildren.
        The writer, a former Iranian targets officer in the CIA, is a resident scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Hoover Institution)
  • Islam Is the Fastest-Shrinking Religion in Iran - Shay Khatiri
    In Iran, young men and women are posting videos of themselves flipping the turbans off clerics' heads. Islam is the fastest-shrinking religion in the country. People are calling themselves Zoroastrian, not because they believe in it but to embrace the one Persian religion. It's less an expression of religiosity as much as an embrace of national heritage.
        According to the only public opinion survey available, nones - atheists, agnostics, spiritual, and irreligious - now form a plurality at 44%. Shi'ites, once the predominant majority, stand at 32%. Mosques are the emptiest since modern Iran embraced political Islam. Two in three Iranians reject religion as a basis for law in any form.
        The writer, who was involved with the Green Movement in Iran in 2009, is a Senior Policy Analyst at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America. (Providence)

  • Palestinian Arabs

  • New U.S. Security Plan for the West Bank Could Endanger Israel - Tony Badran
    The U.S. is proposing to create and train a 5,000-man Palestinian commando force that would ostensibly fight terrorism in the West Bank in place of the IDF. The plan, drafted by U.S. security coordinator Lt.-Gen. Michael Fenzel and presented to the Israeli government and the PA, envisions a special Palestinian force that would supposedly go after militias in Jenin and Nablus.
        By creating a working military command structure for a 5,000-strong militia, training it in counterterrorism and commando tactics, and arming and equipping it, the U.S. will be giving the Palestinians military capacities far in excess of anything they can organically create or currently possess. The plan is shockingly at variance with previous U.S. equip-and-train programs in the West Bank, as evident from the type of training it will receive. Rather than be a gendarmerie or border guard, it would be a well-equipped 5,000-man army.
        How such training will be used should not be a mystery. The idea of a Palestinian force actually "countering" Palestinian terror is unprecedented, meaning it has never happened. The terrorists themselves are part of the Palestinian Authority's security establishment. An Israeli official recently noted that "Some PA security force members have taken to selling ammunition and weapons to [Palestinian terrorist] fighters throughout the West Bank."  (Tablet)
        See also A Delusional U.S. Plan to Combat Palestinian Terrorism - Bassam Tawil (Gatestone Institute)
  • The Future Direction of Palestinian Politics - Isaac Chotiner
    Khalil Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, said in an interview that there's no doubt that the Palestinians are unhappy with their own leadership and their own political system. There is a perception that the Palestinian Authority leadership is more interested in maintaining the status quo, maintaining its position in power, and putting its own self-interest and survival ahead of the interests of the Palestinian people.
        The current leadership has been in place since 2009 without electoral legitimacy, and the absence of elections is one reason why there is a lot of discontent. There is also a perception that there is a great deal of corruption within the PA, which is becoming a one-man show. It is highly authoritarian, there is no separation of powers anymore, the judiciary has been undermined considerably, and there is no legislature and no accountability or oversight in the political system.
        There isn't going to be an intifada as long as the Palestinian Authority is strong enough to be able to deliver basic services and to deploy its security forces in most of the West Bank. The leadership can decide that it will fight against a third intifada or that it will allow a third intifada to take place. In 2000, Arafat decided to allow an intifada to take place. Today, there is not a leadership that will allow this process to unfold without putting brakes on it. (New Yorker)
  • Do Israeli Arrest Raids "Violate International Law"? - Akiva Van Koningsveld
    Media pundits have frequently decried IDF counterterrorism raids in Palestinian cities, claiming that these actions somehow violate international law. It is disturbingly common for talking heads, NGOs, and self-declared experts to state that something "violates international law" without saying which law it violates, and without providing any substantial legal analysis as to how it contravenes that law.
        The Oslo Accords, forged in the 1990s between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), effectively constitute legally binding treaties between the two under customary international law. Per the Oslo process, the Palestinian Authority was given full security and civil control over Area A of the West Bank, which includes all major Palestinian cities. Crucially, the IDF withdrawal from Area A was conditioned on the Palestinian leadership vowing to fight terrorism and incitement to hatred. Indeed, the PA's responsibility to combat terror is enshrined throughout the Oslo agreements.
        The Vienna Convention which codifies universal rules governing treaties, embraces the principle that international agreements are reciprocal. Accordingly, if the PA refuses to act against incessant terrorism emanating from areas under its control, Israel would likely be entitled to suspend "in whole or in part" its redeployment from parts of the West Bank. In recent years, PA police inaction has led to U.S.-designated terror groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, effectively controlling the streets of Jenin and Nablus.
        With Ramallah skirting its obligation to apprehend, prosecute, and jail terrorists, Israeli raids on Palestinian terror hubs are not a "violation of international law." On the contrary: the Israeli government has a duty to act against terror groups to protect the safety and welfare of its own citizens. Sadly, social media pundits only seem to care about international law when it can be weaponized against the Jewish state. (HonestReporting)
  • Dozens of UN Palestinian Schools Celebrate Terrorism, Teach Children How to Become "Martyrs" - Dina Rovner and Arik Agassi
    While the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) claims its schools teach Palestinian children about peace, tolerance and human rights, a new report by UN Watch and the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) shows that the opposite is true.
        UNRWA deliberately and systematically hires teachers who publicly praise Hitler, glorify terrorist attacks against Israeli children, and spread Goebbels-like conspiracy theories against Jews. Donor countries should not be enabling the poisoning of Palestinian children's minds with hate, something they would never allow at home for their own children.
        The report contains 10 new examples of UNRWA teachers and other staff posting support for hate or violence. The report provides 25 examples from 10 different UNRWA schools of hateful educational content that violates UN values and UNESCO standards. (UN Watch-IMPACT-se)

  • Other Issues

  • The False Doomsday Discourse on Israel - David M. Weinberg
    According to the extreme discourse of those who are convulsing Israel with "days of rage" demonstrations, Israeli democracy is under attack by dark forces of ultra-nationalism, racism, fascism, and religious radicalism - all rolled into one nefarious judicial reform package. As a result, thousands of people are riled-up. Yet Israel is far haler and heartier than the protesters would have us believe.
        Like Britain, France, Germany, and the U.S. these days, there is a real and worthy debate in Israel over important public policy matters. It is important to acknowledge this. Opposition to public policy reforms must be debated on their merits, without claims of intolerance, repression, dictatorship, thought police, and the crushing of democratic norms.
        In the end, which hopefully will be soon, there probably will be compromise on a package of political reforms that completely satisfies neither side but will go a long way toward repair of current judicial distortions. After all, there are forces always hostile to Israel who are exploiting this situation to crash Israel's diplomatic relations and to undermine Israel-diaspora relations with false accusations of Israel's descent into barbarism. So, beware the doomsday discourse. It is neither accurate nor wise.
        The writer is a senior fellow at the Kohelet Forum and at Israel's Defense and Security Forum. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Why American Jews' Attachment to Israel Has Remained Fairly Stable - Prof. Uzi Rebhun
    As nationwide surveys attest, American Jews' attachment to Israel has remained fairly stable to this day, with the percentage of American Jews who have visited Israel growing significantly. Despite some reservations, Israel is a visible component of American Jews' group identity and political and cultural interest. This strong connection rests on three interconnected foundations.
        The first is the Holocaust and the limited ability of American Jews to help Jews in danger, demonstrating the importance of an independent Jewish state that has military power and is open to unrestricted Jewish immigration.
        The second is Israel's centrality as a symbol of ethnic and religious belonging. Israel is an inspiration for a full Jewish life, be it religious or secular, and for the flourishing of Jewish culture and creation - a place where Jewish exiles gather and merge and a source of Jewish pride for its scientific and technological achievements.
        The third is antisemitism. Although American Jews are firmly planted in the U.S., 90% think there is "a lot" or "some" antisemitism in their country today, and three in four believe the scope of antisemitism has grown in recent years. Under such circumstances, some may view Israel as a shelter.
        The writer heads the Division of Jewish Demography at the Institute of Contemporary Jewry at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Europe Slowly Understands the Importance of the Abraham Accords - Yossi Lempkowicz
    A symposium organized last week by the European Coalition for Israel in the European Parliament brought together stakeholders both from the European Commission and the European Parliament with some of the key states behind the Abraham Accords to discuss the next steps of the normalization process. After the signing of the Abraham Accords, which normalized Israel's relations with several Arab states in 2020, the EU had remained on the sidelines.
        Israel's ambassador to the EU and NATO, Haim Regev, said, "It took time for us to convince them that this was a deep and dramatic development, that they should be part of it. In the last three months, we see a real change." Last month for the first time, Israel participated in a trilateral workshop in Rabat with the EU and Morocco, financed by the EU, that will lead to water projects, the construction of new desalination plants, and wastewater management.
        EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy Oliver Varhelyi has allocated 10 million euros to expand those kinds of activities. There is a new steering committee led by the EU embassy in Tel Aviv which together with Israel is looking into additional projects. "Soon we hope to have within the European Parliament an Abraham Accords network. We have also held a joint seminar in NATO that brought experts from Israel, Bahrein, and Morocco to see what we can do together," said Regev. "There is a growing interest and appetite in the EU to be part of the Abraham Accords."  (EU Reporter-Ireland)

  • Weekend Features

  • A Mossad Agent's Treasure Trove of Photos - Ronen Bergman
    South African-born Sylvia Rafael was a Mossad agent who worked as a photographer for a now defunct French press agency from 1965 to 1971. Her identity was revealed when she was arrested as a member of a Mossad team that had planned to kill a top Palestinian militant in Norway. On Tuesday, her photography work was featured for the first time at the Yitzhak Rabin Center in Tel Aviv after being kept for decades in a locked suitcase in the Mossad archive.
        The photos include portraits of President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and his successor, Anwar Sadat, as well as King Hussein of Jordan and Prince Abdullah, the current king, oblivious to the fact that they were being photographed by a Mossad agent. Other images show scenes from Yemen, Djibouti, Lebanon and Jordan, which would have been off limits for any Israelis. Rafael, who died in 2005, appears in some of the photos. This was a common practice for intelligence agents trying to get pictures of locations or people without arousing suspicion.
        "Sylvia was someone special," said Moti Kfir, who served as commander of Mossad's Clandestine Operations Academy at the time Rafael was recruited and trained there. She had "a remarkable talent for forming relationships with anyone, and to give her or him the feeling that they were her best friends....She was not scared of anything. There was no assignment that she expressed fear about or refused to carry out."  (New York Times)
  • A Jewish Man in WWII Berlin Forged Documents that Saved Hundreds of Lives - Renee Ghert-Zand
    The new German-language film "The Forger" recounts the story of Cioma Schonhaus, whose parents and grandmother were deported to death camps, but stayed behind in Berlin to work in an armament factory. He later took off his yellow star and assumed the more Germanic name Peter Schonhausen. He joined the underground and used his graphic skills to forge passports that enabled hundreds of Jews to flee the country.
        When the Gestapo closed in, he forged a German Wehrmacht soldier's identity card and holiday pass for himself and fled on a bicycle to Switzerland, where he lived for the rest of his life until he died in 2015 at age 93. (Times of Israel)

  • 14 people were killed in Palestinian terror attacks over the first two months of 2023. The common denominator of all the explanations to justify these attacks is that terrorism is a response to the absence of a political horizon.
  • Unfortunately, this ostensibly logical proposition has been tested in a real-world laboratory, and the results were far from encouraging.
  • When the Oslo Accords were signed at the White House in 1993, they undoubtedly established a clear political horizon. Palestinian rule was initially established in Gaza and Jericho, and later expanded to the West Bank, where the PA receiving full control over area A, where most Palestinians live. By the end of 1995, the IDF had completed its pullout of all the West Bank's major cities, except Hebron.
  • Despite this, the first months of 1996 witnessed an explosion of murderous Palestinian suicide bombings. A Feb. 25 attack murdered 26; a March 3 bombing left 19 fatalities; and a March 4 attack left 16 dead.
  • Today, when Palestinians contend that terrorism stems from the absence of a political horizon, they assume the world will blame Israel. It is conveniently forgotten that it was the Palestinians who said "no" at Camp David in 2000, torpedoed Clinton's parameters, dismissed Ehud Olmert's 2008 peace plan, and refused to sign John Kerry's 2014 framework.
  • If the lack of a political horizon is cited to justify terrorism, the Palestinians should recall the story of the boy who murders his parents, only to demand mercy for being an orphan.

    The writer, formerly an adviser to the prime minister and former Israeli Ambassador to the UK, is chair of the Abba Eban Institute for Diplomacy at Reichman University.
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