April 13, 2023
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In-Depth Issues:

Israel's Newest Spy Satellite Sends Back First Pictures - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    Israel's newest reconnaissance satellite, Ofek 13, launched on March 28, 2023, has begun beaming back its first pictures "of excellent quality," the Israel Defense Ministry said.

Report: Israel Bombed Syrian HQ in Response to Iranian Attack (Syrian Observer)
    Israeli planes early Sunday targeted a headquarters of Gen. Maher al-Assad, commander of the Syrian Army's Fourth Division and the brother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
    According to Israel's Channel 13, the Israeli army carried out the bombing in response to an Iranian drone that was launched from Syria toward Israel and the launch of 6 rockets at Israel from Syria.

Iran Deploys Hundreds of Armed Drones in Iraq, Potentially Threatening Israel (Shafaq News-Iraq)
    Israeli intelligence officials have revealed that Iran recently deployed hundreds of armed drones in Iraq, raising concerns about a potential attack on Israel.
    Officials told Maariv that Iran aims to establish a base in Iraq similar to one in Syria, to use in an attack on Israel.

Palestinian Authority Blocks Registration of Rights Group - Omar Shakir (Human Rights Watch)
    The Palestinian Authority in March refused to renew the registration of Lawyers for Justice, which has represented Palestinians detained by the PA in the West Bank.
    The PA's move to muzzle Lawyers for Justice reflects a larger trend of the PA "shrinking the space for civil society organizations and further empowering its security services," says the group's head, Mohannad Karaje.
    The PA, through its Intelligence Services, systematically arrests critics and opponents and tortures those in detention.

UK Aid Charities Told to Provide Details of Payments Made in Gaza (Civil Society-UK)
    The UK Treasury's Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) has asked some British aid charities to supply details of all payments made in Gaza since 2021, by April 28, 2023.
    The OFSI letter said charities must include the name of the organizations or people who received the payments, a summary of why the payments were made and any relevant supporting documents such as receipts or invoices.
    The letter noted that Hamas is a proscribed terrorist organization in the UK and that current legislation prohibits a person "from making... any payments to a designated organization or entities owned or controlled by it, or to entities independent of that organization but where payments will be for its benefit."

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Greek Crowds Attack Israeli Fans, Players at Athens Basketball Game - Efrat Amoraban (Ynet News)
    Israeli basketball players and their fans came under attack from Greek crowds in Athens during the FIBA Champions League quarterfinals in Athens on Wednesday, burning the Israeli flag and hurling rocks at Israeli fans in the stands.
    The crowds held banners with pro-Palestinian messages and carried Palestinian and Hizbullah flags.
    The Hapoel Jerusalem team said, "At half time we considered removing our players and fans but were unable to because the Greek fans had surrounded the stadium and the danger was real."
    "We also considered stopping the game but were warned by our security detail that such a move would release even more violence and put lives at risk."

Social Media Platforms Score Poorly on ADL Holocaust Denial Report Card (Anti-Defamation League)
    Social media and online game platforms are failing to combat the proliferation of Holocaust denial content, according to a new report card issued by ADL.
    ADL rated 10 social media and game companies on their efforts to enforce rules and effectively respond to and remove content, memes and messages that deny the Holocaust or use conspiracy theories about it to spread antisemitic beliefs.
    Twitch and YouTube earned a C-plus. Facebook/Instagram, TikTok, Discord, Riot Games and Reddit earned a C-minus. Twitter and Activision Blizzard were issued a D-minus, and Epic Games placed last with an "F."
    "At a time when antisemitism is rising in the U.S. and globally, tech platforms bear considerable responsibility for serving as megaphones for Holocaust deniers," said Yael Eisenstat, Vice President of the ADL Center for Technology and Society.
    See also 2023 Online Holocaust Denial Report Card (Anti-Defamation League)

Retirees' Self-Help in Israeli Schools - Danna Harman (Christian Science Monitor)
    In Israel, 3,000 retired nurses, lawyers, bankers, carpenters, teachers, CEOs, and secretaries are helping to support the schools - pensioners who use their powers to help grade schoolers improve their spelling and practice their math.
    It's good for the kids and good for the retirees, who enjoy a sense of community and purpose.
    Yadid Lahinuch, Hebrew for "Friend of Education," founded 16 years ago, takes the common wisdom that "old people" are a weak community in need of volunteers to help them - and turns it on its head.

How 100,000 Plaques Shape Holocaust Memory - Sheryl Abbey (Jerusalem Post)
    German artist Gunter Demnig conceived of the idea of setting plaques inscribed with Holocaust victims' names and details of their fate atop stones laid in front of their last homes.
    To date he has installed nearly 100,000 Stumbling Stones plaques, including nine in front of my family's ancestral home in Bleichenbach.
    Stumbling Stones now appear on streets and sidewalks in 30 European countries.
    While the large majority have been placed for Jewish victims, there are also stones for Roma and Sinti, gays, dissidents, and the disabled.
    Unlike concentration camps, Holocaust museums, and other large-scale memorials, Demnig's project helps passersby relate to the Holocaust by focusing on individual victims, one at a time.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Exploits Earthquake Relief Mission to Fly Weapons to Syria - Suleiman Al-Khalidi
    Iran has used earthquake relief flights to bring weapons and military equipment into Syria, nine Syrian, Iranian, Israeli and Western sources said. After the Feb. 6 earthquake in northern Syria and Turkey, hundreds of flights from Iran began landing in Aleppo, Damascus and Latakia bringing supplies, and this went on for seven weeks. The supplies included advanced communications equipment and radar batteries and spare parts required for an upgrade of Syria's Iran-provided air defense system.
        Israel quickly became aware of the flow of weapons into Syria and mounted an aggressive campaign to counter it. Brig.-Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, a former head of research in the Israel army as well as ex-director-general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, said Israeli air strikes against the shipments relied on intelligence so specific that Israel's military knew which truck in a long convoy to target. Syrian military defector Col. Abduljabbar Akaidi said, "Israel's strikes also targeted a meeting of commanders of Iranian militias and shipments of electronic chips to upgrade weapons systems."
        A Syrian army officer said the Israelis were stepping up efforts to defeat Iran in Syria. "Why now? Simply because they have information that something is being developed quickly. They must stop it and hit it to slow it. The quake created the right conditions. The chaos that ensued allowed Iranian jets to land with ease."  (Reuters)
  • Israel's President Sees Hope for Judicial Compromise - Patrick Kingsley
    Two weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended the judicial overhaul legislation to allow for negotiations with the opposition, President Isaac Herzog, who is overseeing the negotiations to find a compromise, said in an interview this week that the negotiations were gaining momentum and that consensus was possible.
        Herzog also warned Israel's enemies against interpreting the country's internal divisions as a sign of military weakness. "Don't fool yourselves," Herzog said. "We have always been united when it comes to our defense and security. Israel is extremely strong and is capable of taking action if needed."  (New York Times)
        See also Judicial Overhaul Negotiation Teams Hold Talks - Jeremy Sharon
    On Monday, negotiation teams for the coalition and opposition parties held extensive meetings at the president's residence, alongside constitutional experts from both sides. The two sides are trying to formulate a comprehensive reform package covering all major constitutional issues raised by the government's judicial reform legislation. A source familiar with the negotiations said the discussions were held in a generally good atmosphere and that the different negotiating teams "came into the room in good faith." Three "marathon discussion sessions" will be held next week.
        A senior government source said a framework for anchoring fundamental civil rights was discussed on Monday. Prime Minister Netanyahu told a press conference on Monday: "We will anchor in the Basic Laws fundamental rights and we will not injure [the rights] of women, LGBT communities, or the ultra-Orthodox."  (Times of Israel)
  • Report: Egypt Secretly Planned to Supply Rockets to Russia, Leaked U.S. Document Says - Evan Hill
    President El-Sisi of Egypt, one of America's closest allies and a major recipient of U.S. aid, recently ordered subordinates to produce up to 40,000 rockets to be covertly shipped to Russia, according to a leaked U.S. intelligence document. The document, dated Feb. 17, also references plans to supply Russia with artillery rounds and gunpowder. Provision of weapons to the Russian government might also trigger U.S. sanctions on Egypt.
        After the war in Ukraine disrupted access to Ukrainian wheat, Cairo began relying heavily on purchases of Russian grain. The arrangement has helped Egypt avoid wheat shortages that could spark social unrest. (Washington Post)
        See also Egypt Denies Supplying Russia with Rockets
    A senior Egyptian official has denied supplying Russia with 40,000 rockets for use in its war against Ukraine. In addition, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday that they have "seen no indication that Egypt is providing lethal weaponry capabilities to Russia."  (Al Jazeera)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Mother of Slain Sisters in Jordan Valley Terror Attack Dies of Wounds - Gilad Cohen
    Lucy (Leah) Dee, 48, died of her wounds on Monday, three days after the terror shooting that claimed the lives of her two daughters, Maia and Rina. (Ynet News)
        See also Five People Saved by Organ Donations from Lucy Dee
    Five people received life-saving organ transplants from Lucy (Leah) Dee, who was murdered in the shooting attack in the Jordan Valley, the National Transplant Center announced on Tuesday. A woman, 51, received a heart transplant; a woman, 58, received a lung transplant; a man, 25, received a liver transplant; and two people, 58 and 39, received kidney transplants. Dee's corneas will be transplanted in the future.
        Dr. Evyatar Nesher, director of the transplant division at Rabin Medical Center, said, "I have been doing transplants for many years and am very moved by the strength of the donor family, the unimaginable nobility at a time of such a terrible tragedy."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Gunmen Open Fire at IDF Post in Samaria - Emanuel Fabian
    After a number of Palestinian gunmen opened fire from a passing vehicle at a military post near the Israeli community of Elon Moreh in Samaria, Israeli forces returned fire, killing two Palestinian gunmen and wounding a third who escaped. Three M16 rifles and two handguns were found. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • The Murder of Three Israeli Women: An Unspeakable Atrocity - Melanie Phillips
    The murder of Maia and Rina Dee and their mother Lucy (Leah) was an unspeakable atrocity that has united Israel in horror. Once again, Israeli Jews have been murdered for nothing other than the fact that they are Jews living in their ancestral homeland. Once again, a quiet, wholesome, blameless family has been shattered forever by the forces of evil bent upon exterminating Jews.
        Since September 2000, Palestinian Arabs have murdered at least 1,420 Israelis. Over the past year, at least 30 Israelis have been murdered in such attacks. For months, there have been multiple attempted attacks against Israeli citizens almost every day.
        What makes this atrocity all the more unbearable is the reaction from so much of the West. The Dee family lives in Efrat and the attack happened in the Jordan Valley, all part of the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria. Israeli Jews who are attacked in these territories tend to be dehumanized by Western commentators as "settlers" in the "occupied territories" who were "asking for it"; or they are airbrushed out of media coverage altogether.
        This is even though the Palestinian Arabs have been murdering Jews in Israel and these territories for more than a century, decades before the so-called "occupation of the West Bank" after the 1967 Six-Day War. The West disapproves of Israeli Jews in these areas because so many Westerners have fallen for the ludicrous fiction that the Palestinian Arabs were the indigenous people of the land - a status that belongs to the Jews alone.
        The British government continues to sanitize or ignore fanatical Palestinian Arab Islamic incitement to murder Israeli Jews and steal their land; it continues to refuse to exert any pressure on the Palestinian Arabs to cease its war of extermination against the State of Israel. Instead, it calls on both sides to "de-escalate" - an obscene moral equivalence between the terrorists and terrorized.
        The writer is a columnist for The Times-UK. (Substack)
  • What Is Really Happening at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque - Bassam Tawil
    Tens of thousands of Muslims from Israel and the West Bank were able to attend prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, especially on Fridays, in the first two weeks of Ramadan. That is until a group of extremists decided to turn the mosque compound into a scene of anarchy and lawlessness, violating the sanctity of the holy site and endangering the lives of the peaceful worshippers there.
        These extremists, some wearing masks, did not come to pray. They came with stones, fireworks, wood planks and iron rods. That is not what Muslim worshippers usually bring to a mosque. Their intention was, to all appearances, to create a violent riot against Jewish visitors and the police.
        When the Israeli police moved to evict the agitators, many in the Western mainstream media attacked Israel for "assaulting peaceful worshippers" and sending troops to "storm" one of Islam's holiest sites. Ironically, thanks to Israel's hundreds of cost-free coaches that bus Muslims to Jerusalem during Ramadan from all over Israel, a record 200,000 worshippers attended the most recent Friday prayers, the Jordanian-controlled Islamic Waqf reported.
        The full responsibility for the latest tensions lies solely on the Muslims who hijacked Ramadan to incite violence and spew hatred against Israel and Jews. On March 21, the Islamic Waqf issued a directive that Muslims should not stay overnight at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This was agreed to during the recent Aqaba and Sharm el-Sheikh summits between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as by Jordan and Egypt. Yet the Islamic Waqf allowed these violent extremists to barricade themselves inside the mosque. Those who are desecrating the mosque are the people who damaged the interior of the mosque by using fireworks as weapons. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Video: What Really Happened in the Al-Aqsa Riots
    Israel grants full access to Al-Aqsa Mosque to all Muslims, allowing them to pray peacefully every day. The recent riots at Al-Aqsa were planned in advance by Palestinian terrorists. The rioters barricaded themselves inside the mosque with fireworks, sticks and rocks, planning to attack non-Muslim visitors and risking innocent Muslim worshippers.
        Due to the professional action of Israeli police, there were no fatalities. Thanks to the efforts of Israeli security forces, tens of thousands of Muslims were able to safely return to pray at Al-Aqsa. Israel is committed to religious freedom and tolerance for all religions. The real danger to Al-Aqsa comes from Palestinian terrorists who are using the mosque as a platform for incitement that leads to violence. (Israel Ministry of Public Diplomacy)

  • Other Issues

  • Justifications of Efrat Residents' Murder Is Contrary to International Law - Michael Starr
    Some commentators have argued that the residence of a mother and her two children in Efrat, in disputed territory, meant that they were not civilians and thereby the use of violence against them was legitimate. Such a standard is against the protections afforded to civilians under international law and, if applied generally, would legitimize human rights atrocities around the world.
        One of the main principles of international humanitarian law (IHL) is that of distinction, enshrined in Additional Protocol I, Article 48 of the Geneva Conventions, that civilians must be distinguished from combatants. Only military targets are permissible. The protected status of civilians is ironclad. Residing in disputed territory does not remove civilian status. Under IHL, states and non-state armed groups are obligated to actively avoid harming civilians. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Why Is Israel Judged Differently? - Shale Horowitz
    As Israel celebrates its 75th anniversary, it remains the only state in the world that is constantly threatened with extinction by immediate and more remote neighbors. The Jewish state is often chastised when it responds in strength to acts of aggression, remaking the victim into an aggressor, while there is a tolerant international attitude to countless conflicts that involve far harsher and more indiscriminate use of force in response to far lesser threats.
        Israel has never sought to conquer and destroy the surrounding Arab states even as they sought its destruction. Ironically, it was only after Israel relinquished control of 95% of the West Bank and Gaza's Palestinian population by 1997 that terrorism in these territories spiraled to unprecedented heights. In the two-and-a-half decades preceding the Oslo accords, some 400 Israelis were murdered; since the conclusion of these "peace" agreements, over 1,700 Israelis were murdered, and another 10,000 wounded.
        Israel's enemies must be challenged to name a single state that has acted better in similar circumstances. They must also be asked to explain why the Jewish state alone is persistently subjected to such double standards while far more brutal states are given a free reign.
        The writer is a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. (Middle East Quarterly)
  • Israel Isn't Perfect, but It's an Example for the Mideast - Nadim Koteich
    While Israel debates policy and holds regular elections, much of the Middle East remains under authoritarian rule that quashes political discourse and silences dissent. As a Lebanese who has lived under the dictatorships of Hizbullah and Bashar al-Assad, I've witnessed how autocrats are freed from accountability for economic disarray, the erosion of human rights, and the destruction of infrastructure.
        Any Middle Eastern observer would draw a distinction between the demonstrations in Israel and the protests elsewhere in the region - including in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon. In those countries, public dissent is often described by the authorities as treasonous, claims used to justify harsh repression in the form of lawless imprisonment and execution.
        Few countries in the Middle East have a sterling record when dealing with ethnic or racial minorities. Ask the Kurds and Christians in Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey, or consider the hostilities between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
        The writer is a Lebanese columnist and talk show host. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Impossible Takes Longer: Has Israel Fulfilled Its Founders' Dreams? - Daniel Gordis interviewed by Laura E. Adkins
    In his new book, Impossible Takes Longer: 75 Years After Its Creation, Has Israel Fulfilled Its Founders' Dreams?, Israeli author Daniel Gordis argues that Israel has fundamentally changed the Jewish condition in extraordinary ways.
        In an interview on March 29, 2023, Gordis said: "Israel is more meaningful as the nation-state of the Jewish people than as the nation-state of its citizens. The purpose of the state was to breathe new life into the Jewish people. And I think Israel has transformed the existential condition of what it means to be a Jew. We can't stop people from killing Jews. But in Israel, they can no longer kill us with impunity. American Jews are beneficiaries of that reality."
        "Israel is one of the last sources of passion - even anger - in a way that few other things are. What else are American Jews going to get worked up about in the Jewish world? Tikkun olam? That is not a source of passion for most people."
        "You don't like the sight - neither do I - of Israeli jets pounding Gaza while the Iron Dome shoots down the stuff that's headed at us? But before American Jews opine, ask yourself...to what extent have you, living in the almost idyllic setting of America, actually allowed your self-preservation to atrophy because you haven't had to hone it all this time?"
        "I want Israeli Arabs to have every single civil right that I have. Having said that, I want to figure out a way of doing that in a country in which it is totally obvious that the purpose of this country is the preservation of the Jewish people."  (Forward)

  • Weekend Features

  • Inside the IDF's Intelligence Target Bank Headquarters - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    In May 2021, a joint Israel Security Agency-IDF operation targeted four senior members of Hamas' General Staff Forum: Gaza City Brigade commander Bassem Issa; Jamaa Tahla, head of Hamas' cyber command, leader of its missile improvement project and head of its R&D department; Jamal Zebeda, head of projects and development for Hamas' production network; and Hazzem Hatib, chief engineer and deputy head of Hamas' production network. The air force removed them from the playing field. Hitting all four of these key officials in a short period of time was considered a leap forward in the IDF's intelligence targeting capabilities.
        IDF intelligence used to have hundreds of targets in its Lebanon target bank; now it has thousands. In addition, when a conflict breaks out with Gaza or Lebanon, the IDF could double the number of targets in the target bank over the course of the conflict. A synergy of artificial intelligence and technology beginning in 2019 takes targeting exponentially to an entirely different level. At a practical level, it means being able to confirm a new target in three minutes which before would have taken 24 hours.
        The IDF believes its standards are higher than ever. Few of the target bank personnel are 18-year-olds. The average age is 24-25, meaning that personnel already have had six to seven years of IDF experience and have completed an intense three-month targeting course. (Jerusalem Post)

Israel, Split and United - Prof. Sam Lehman-Wilzig (Times of Israel)
  • People have forgotten that the Zionist project was beset by serious internal strife from the very start. Uganda vs. Palestine; Socialists vs. Revisionists vs. Agudat Yisrael; Ben-Gurion vs. Jabotinsky; the newly formed IDF attacking the Irgun's Altalena armaments ship; the German reparations riots; Mapai vs. Mapam; Western Ashkenazi elites vs. Eastern/North African Mizrahi immigrants.
  • The question isn't why Israel has had so much domestic discord, but rather how the country and society have managed to stay together with more than a semblance of unity. The answer: external enemies. There is nothing as useful to putting out flames in the kitchen as a forest fire outside threatening to engulf your entire home. This has been going on for over a hundred years, beginning with the 1921 and 1929 Arab pogrom attacks against Jews.
  • Circling the wagons when under attack, at least temporarily negating internal discord, is not something unique to Israel. This past week Finland joined NATO. This was close to unthinkable two years ago, until Russia invaded Ukraine. That palpable, external threat unified NATO's nations like it hasn't been since the Cold War.
  • This is the blind spot of most autocracies like Russia, Hamas, Hizbullah, and Iran. When they see disunion in their enemy, they take it for "the beginning of the end of the Zionist entity," not realizing that disunion does not entail civil war or domestic military dysfunction.
  • Attacks from the outside, despite strife from within, ultimately achieve the opposite of what they seem to be doing at first: strengthening Israel's will to survive and flourish.

    The writer taught at Bar-Ilan University (1977-2017), where he served as head of the Journalism Division, Political Studies Department Chairman, and School of Communication Chairman.
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