January 22, 2024
Special Report
A project of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy

In-Depth Issues:

When It Comes to Israel, the People of Iran Go Against Their Ayatollahs - Nir Boms and Shayan Arya (Jerusalem Post)
    The Islamic regime in Iran has dedicated vast resources to its hateful anti-Israel campaign. However, domestically, Iran's campaign has been a failure.
    Following Hamas' surprise attack on Oct. 7, the Islamic regime in Tehran tried to show public support by staging a "spontaneous demonstration" to celebrate the murder of 1,200 Israelis next to Gaza. Not even a few thousand participated.
    In a televised debate, a pro-regime hardliner named Alahkaram was challenged to explain why the regime can no longer gather enough people in their staged demonstrations to support the Palestinians.
    The next day, during a soccer match, officials paraded with large Palestinian flags. In response, crowds of young fans shouted insulting slogans towards the officials, chanting in unison: "Take that Palestinian flag and shove it..."
    A clip of the incident circulated online and similar incidents were repeated in other stadiums where young people shouted anti-Palestinian slogans.
    Clips of high school students encouraged to shout, "Death to Israel," showed students replying, "Death to Palestine!"
    Dr. Nir Boms is a research fellow at the Dayan Center for Middle East Studies.
    Shayan Arya is an Iran expert, human rights activist, and member of the Constitutionalist Party of Iran.

A Message to Hamas Supporters Next Door - Ted Deutch (Jerusalem Post)
    Irish diplomat and historian Conor Cruise O'Brien once remarked that antisemitism is a light sleeper. He was right.
    Unless you believe that legions of people suddenly became antisemites post-Oct. 7, we must assume that their latent antisemitism simply found a pretext to surface.
    The burned homes in Kibbutz Be'eri, Nir Oz, and Kfar Aza were still smoldering and the blood on the field at the Supernova music festival was not yet dry when antisemites used murdered Israelis to taunt and intimidate the living.
    In the 10 largest U.S. cities, Jews are now the most-targeted group following a surge of anti-Jewish hate crimes.
    Here is my message to the Hamas supporters next door: While our community must protect ourselves, we will not be pushed into hiding.
    Our Jewish identity cannot be defined by antisemitism and our response to it. We are not defined by those who hate and target us.
    We can find strength and unity in our Jewish community. We are seeing right now how Jews are showing up for one another with planes of supplies and volunteers being sent to Israel to support those on the front lines, to provide shelter and comfort to those who have lost their homes, and to bolster those who have faced unimaginable horror.
    The writer, a former U.S. congressman from Florida, is the CEO of the American Jewish Committee (AJC).

Is Hamas Waging a Smear Campaign Against Egypt? - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    According to Palestinian and Egyptian sources, Hamas seems to be behind the latest online campaign targeting the Egyptian regime and President al-Sisi, that accuses Egypt of preventing humanitarian and medical aid from entering Gaza.
    Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was outlawed in Egypt after al-Sisi came to power.
    The sources also believe that Hamas was behind attempts to organize several rallies in the Egyptian capital of Cairo to demand that Egypt reopen the Rafah border crossing and allow more Palestinians to leave for medical treatment.
    In some videos posted on social media, Palestinian children are seen pleading with apathetic Egyptian soldiers on the other side of the border to help them.
    Palestinian officials have been careful to watch their words for fear of retribution by Egyptian authorities.
    Some Hamas leaders have reportedly moved from Lebanon to Egypt after the assassination of top Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut. They fear that a public attack on Egyptian authorities would result in their expulsion from Egypt.

I'm an Israeli Arab. I'm Embarrassed - and Hamas Is to Blame - Mouna Maroun (Newsweek)
    I've spent the majority of my life in Israel's north, a beacon of coexistence where Jews and Arabs have lived side-by-side in harmony.
    Yet today, for the first time in my life, I understand why Jews are afraid of us.
    When I saw an elderly woman being abducted and taken into Gaza, I felt that it could have been my own mother. When I saw pictures of the Arabs and Bedouins who were killed, I saw myself.
    On Oct. 7, Hamas set back any hope we had for peace, gearing us all up for another generation of violence.
    But there is a silver lining. A recent survey by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) indicated that 70% of Arabs in Israel identify with the State of Israel, the highest percentage who feel part of the state since they began asking this question in 2003.
    The writer is Vice President and Dean of Research at the University of Haifa.

Under Fire in Gaza, Paramedic Saves Wounded IDF Soldier  (Times of Israel)
    On Dec. 13, off-duty paramedic Yuval Hizkiya was on her way out of Gaza in a convoy when the tank in front her was hit by an anti-tank missile, killing Elisha Loewenstern and seriously injuring Shachar Shiloni.
    Hizkiya rushed out to tend to Shiloni, who had lost a leg. She took him behind a wall and applied a tourniquet to his wounds while shooting at approaching terrorists.
    Shiloni remained unconscious for three days before waking up, and is now in rehab. Hizkiya visits him whenever she leaves Gaza.
    The war has seen unprecedented engagement of women in active combat.
    See also Israeli Women Fight on Front Line in Gaza - Isabel Kershner (New York Times)
    Capt. Amit Busi, 23, commands a company of 83 soldiers, nearly half of them men, in one of several mixed-gender units fighting in Gaza.
    Her search-and-rescue engineers help infantry troops enter damaged and booby-trapped buildings at risk of collapse, as well as help evacuate wounded soldiers from the battlefield.

Israel at War: Daily Zoom Briefing
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Houthis Seek More Iranian Weapons to Step Up Red Sea Attacks - Erin Banco
    Recent intelligence gathered by the U.S. and other Western countries indicates the Iran-backed Houthis are seeking more weapons from Tehran, raising concerns that the militant group is determined to continue attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. Fresh weapons from Iran could replace the ones the Houthis have lost in the half-dozen rounds of U.S. and allied strikes since they began on Jan. 11. (Politico)
  • Growing Oct. 7 "Truther" Groups Deny Hamas Massacre - Elizabeth Dwoskin
    According to Uncensored Truths, a Telegram group with 3,000 subscribers active on foreign policy, Israel was behind the Oct. 7 massacre. The Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack is among the most well-documented in history. A crush of evidence from smartphone cameras and GoPros captured Hamas' deadly onslaught.
        But a growing group denies the basic facts of the attacks, minimizing the violence or disputing its origins. Some argue the ambush was staged by the Israeli military to justify an invasion of Gaza. Others say the 240 hostages Hamas took into Gaza were actually kidnapped by Israel. Some contend the U.S. is behind the plot.
        The phenomenon is worrisome to Jewish leaders and researchers who see ties to Holocaust denial, the attempt to undermine the genocide that killed 6 million Jews during World War II. "There's a built-in audience that wants to deny that Jews are the victims of atrocity and furthers the notion that Jews are secretly behind everything," said Joel Finkelstein, chief science officer at the Network Contagion Research Institute, a nonprofit tracking disinformation. (Washington Post)
  • War Has Hurt the Economies of Israel's Nearest Neighbors - Patricia Cohen
    For Israel's next-door neighbors - Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan - the economic damage of the Israel-Gaza war is already severe, in three months costing the three countries $10.3 billion, the UN Development Program has assessed. "Human development could regress by at least two to three years in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon," the analysis warned, citing refugee flows, soaring public debt, and declines in trade and tourism - a vital source of revenue, foreign currency and employment.
        According to the head of the Suez Canal Authority, traffic is down 30% and revenues are 40% weaker compared to 2023 levels. The drop in tourism has been particularly alarming. In 2019, tourism in Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan accounted for 35-50% of their combined goods and services exports. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Gaza Must Be Demilitarized, under Israel's Full Security Control
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday: "We are continuing the war on all fronts and in all sectors. We are not giving immunity to any terrorist: Not in Gaza, not in Lebanon, not in Syria and not anywhere. Whoever tries to harm us, we will harm him."
        "Hamas is demanding, in exchange for the release of our hostages, the end of the war, the withdrawal of our forces from Gaza, the release of the murders and rapists of the Nukhba and leaving Hamas in place. Were we to agree to this, our soldiers would have fallen in vain. Were we to agree to this, we would not be able to ensure the security of our citizens. We would be unable to safely restore the evacuees to their homes and the next October 7 would be only a question of time."
        "There is no substitute for victory. Only total victory will ensure the elimination of Hamas and the return of all our hostages....After we achieve total victory, after we eliminate Hamas, there will no entity in Gaza that finances terrorism, educates for terrorism or sends terrorists. Gaza must be demilitarized, under Israel's full security control. I will not compromise on full Israeli security control of all territory west of the Jordan River."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Yahya Sinwar's Exorbitant Demands - Yoni Ben Menachem
    Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza and the mastermind behind the Oct. 7 massacre, seeks to replicate the 2011 "Shalit deal," where Israel released over a thousand terrorists, including Sinwar himself, for one captured Israeli soldier. His demands include the release of several thousand security prisoners, including 400 murderers - in exchange for only some of the Israeli hostages.
        Israel must not succumb to Sinwar's blackmail and must continue the fight in Gaza until Hamas' military infrastructure is destroyed and its leadership eliminated. Israel cannot allow enemies to think they can blackmail the state and force security concessions.
        The writer, a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center, is a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • IDF Takes Over Hamas Headquarters in Khan Yunis, Killing Dozens of Terrorists
    The IDF reported on Monday that the Kfir Brigade, operating in cooperation with armored, air and engineering forces, has killed dozens of terrorists in the Bani Suheila neighborhood of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, taking over Hamas headquarters in the area. Israeli troops located and destroyed a house where terrorists manufactured weaponry. (i24News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Why Most American Jews Oppose an Immediate End to the War in Gaza - Eric H. Yoffie
    At a time when American Jews have mostly rallied to Israel's side, Jewish parents and grandparents are wondering what can be said to kids and grandkids who challenge them about Israel. My advice is, first remind them that the Oct. 7 attacks were a methodically planned act of attempted slaughter; the terrorists came with computers filled with instructions, took pictures of their butchery, and in a ghoulish, sickening PR campaign, uploaded the pictures to the internet.
        Second, stress that Israel's war is a war for survival. No society can survive with a terrorist threat like Hamas on its doorstep. Crossing the border fence and killing Jews is the plan. Therefore, Israel must put an end to Hamas rule in Gaza. Failure to do so will lead to the end of the Jewish state.
        Third, because Gaza is one of the most fortified places on earth and Hamas has embedded itself in every crack and crevice of civilian life, there is no way to get at Hamas without a civilian death toll that is tragic. Still, Israelis know that morality begins with security, and the first responsibility of any government is to protect its citizens.
        Fourth, who doesn't want the shooting to stop? Yet for Hamas, a ceasefire is an opportunity to prepare for the next attack. And when it does, Israelis will die and Gazans will die. Hamas is not fighting for a two-state solution. They are not freedom fighters but a death cult, committed to nihilistic jihad.
        The writer is a former president of the Union for Reform Judaism.  (Ha'aretz)
  • America Helps Make Gaza an Open-Air Prison - Eugene Kontorovich
    Gaza is unique among modern war zones. It hasn't produced waves of refugees leaving for neutral countries. This has been deliberate, the result of policies by Hamas and Egypt tacitly supported by the U.S.
        Months after the start of the Russia-Ukraine war in 2022, 3.5 million Ukrainians had applied for temporary residence in countries such as Poland and Germany. The Syrian civil war produced five million refugees. The U.S. invasion of Iraq produced two million international refugees. Fleeing a war zone and seeking asylum in a neutral country is a human right enshrined in the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention.
        Yet three months after Oct. 7, fewer than 1,000 people - either foreign nationals or wounded - have been allowed by Egypt and Hamas to leave Gaza. The Biden administration's repeated professions of concern about an imaginary Israeli plan to force out Gazans has distracted from its unconscionable silence about the deadly reality that Gazans are trapped against their will in what has now become the world's largest open-air prison.
        By not pressuring Egypt to open its border, according to its obligations under international refugee law, the U.S. is letting Gaza become a pressure cooker of civilian suffering. Washington has no problem with Cairo putting Gazans in harm's way, accepting a tightly sealed Egypt, while he lets millions pour across America's southern border. Why would the U.S. support locking Gazans in like North Korea does? Since 1948, Arab states and the UN have refused to treat Palestinians like ordinary refugees, keeping them in a unique intergenerational limbo to provide a reservoir of resentment against Israel.
        The writer is a professor at George Mason University Law School and a scholar at the Kohelet Policy Forum.  (Wall Street Journal)
  • Psychological Warfare after the Guns Are Stilled: The Need for Cognitive Reframing the "Day After" - Irwin J. Mansdorf, PhD
    In the repeated battles between Israel and Palestinian and Islamic terror organizations, Israel finds itself time and again at a psychological disadvantage despite holding a clear military advantage. Much of this psychological disadvantage stems from the lack of any need for Israel's enemies to conform to accepted standards and "rules of war."
        Whereas most civil societies would prefer negotiation over self-destruction, Palestinian terror organizations do not, when ideology becomes the motor for cognitive choice. When an ideology is religiously based, belief in those precepts presents a formidable obstacle to any reality-based argument to the contrary. Those who are ideologically addicted will see victory where others see defeat.
        This religious-ideological mechanism driving Hamas is the primary reason why, for Israel, the insistence on removing any vestige of Hamas rule in Gaza is essential. While Western eyes and ears see and hear a defeated Gazan population, Hamas' perspective is still focused on the events of Oct. 7, which represents a victory of the Jihad-based resistance to infidels on Islamic land. For Israel, if the military defeat of Hamas is not followed by its psychological defeat, the remnants of the organization will undoubtedly regroup to fight another day.
        The events of Oct 7 created a broad and encompassing common societal trauma for Israelis. The military and political response must promise an effective and lasting feeling of personal security, which is at the center of Israeli thinking. Any political solution for the "day after" will need to be based on the current broad consensus among Israelis of zero tolerance for terror or the threat of terror.
        The trauma caused by the attack has reinforced thinking that demands personal security and prioritizes it above taking risks for peace with a partner in whom any trust has been marred. The Israeli public will not likely accept any post-war reality where threats to personal safety continue.
        The writer is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center specializing in political psychology and a member of the emergency division of the IDF Homefront Command.  (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Hamas Seeks to Divide Israel - Irwin J. Mansdorf (JNS)
  • Documenting the Enablers of Hamas War Crimes: UN Agencies, Government Aid Programs and NGOs - Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg
    UN agencies, government aid programs and NGOs have consistently and willfully aided and abetted Hamas as it built its vast terror infrastructure in Gaza. They diverted aid money to Hamas to fund its terrorist activities, provided propaganda and disinformation support to Hamas in its efforts to tarnish and discredit Israel, and indoctrinated Gazan schoolchildren to hate Jews.
        Systematic documentation of the complicity of Hamas enablers and allies is now required. Evidence of their involvement and behavior - specifically with respect to the large-scale theft of aid for construction of the massive terror infrastructure beneath Gaza and tens of thousands of lethal rockets - is available in numerous photographs and videos from the IDF.
        It strains credulity to claim that the heads of UNRWA - the largest aid framework operating in Gaza - were unaware of the Hamas activities under and in the immediate proximity of their facilities and residences. By carefully examining the activities of the organizations operating under international humanitarian aid frameworks, policies can be formulated to prevent a repetition of this behavior.
        The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is emeritus professor of politics at Bar-Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor.  (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • At This Point, a Two-State Solution Is Asking Israel to Commit Suicide - Yaara Segal
    The atrocities committed on Oct. 7 will forever mark a massive turning point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For perhaps the first time, Israelis were left with no choice but to believe the Palestinian side, whose actions were nowhere near signaling for peace, nor any solution resulting in any type of coexistence.
        Yet as the American administration repeatedly stresses the importance of a two-state solution which would entail the creation of a Palestinian state, it is completely oblivious to the new reality Israel has been facing. Asking Israel to support a two-state solution at this time is tantamount to asking Israel to commit suicide. Israel simply cannot allow the creation of an Iranian-backed Islamist state at its doorstep.
        The Biden administration is thinking of giving postwar control of Gaza to the incompetent and corrupt Palestinian Authority, whose leaders - Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas - have turned down every single Israeli peace offer since 2000. Both Arafat and Abbas had several opportunities to establish a Palestinian state. However, they rejected these offers time and again, denying their people the opportunity to live in peace and security in their own state next to Israel.
        When speaking in Arabic, the PA and Hamas leaders sound almost identical, especially when it comes to talking about Israel. As such, it's hard to see how the PA could be entrusted with managing a Palestinian state that exists peacefully alongside Israel.
        Before Oct. 7, most Israelis believed in peace with the Palestinians. Today, many Israelis no longer believe that this is a realistic scenario in the foreseeable future. A barbaric massacre will do that to people. Hamas showed us who they are on Oct. 7, and we believe them.
        The writer served in Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is the former senior advisor to Israel's ambassador in the UAE.  (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)

Accusing Israel of Genocide Is a Perverse Moral Inversion - Ephraim Mirvis (Daily Telegraph-UK)
  • The difference between the tragic loss of civilian life in a just war and the crime of genocide lies in the purposeful annihilation of a people as an objective in and of itself. It is a crime in which no distinction is made between the combatant and the non-combatant. It is a crime characterized by the absence of any objective beyond the erasure of the victims.
  • It should be obvious that if Israel's objectives were genocidal, it could have used its military strength to level Gaza in a matter of days. Instead, it is placing the lives of its own soldiers at risk in its ground operations, securing humanitarian corridors and providing civilians with advance notice of its operations, even to the detriment of its military objectives.
  • To make the case that genocide is taking place, one would have to ignore the scores of military lawyers, engineers and humanitarian aid coordinators working within the Israel Defense Forces, who spend hours every day planning how they might strike targets in a way that minimizes collateral harm, facilitating the entry of aid into Gaza, collecting intelligence about civilian presence around targets and aborting attacks accordingly. These are not the actions of a state motivated by murderous intent.
  • If there is indeed a genocidal force in this conflict, it must surely be Hamas, whose rape, sexual mutilation and cold-blooded murder of innocent civilians, which it proudly broadcast to the world, is clear evidence of its dehumanization of Jews.

    The writer is the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth.
See also Blaming Israel Is an Outrageous Inversion of Reality - Editorial (Sunday Telegraph-UK)
  • Sadly, when the world's only Jewish state finds itself at war, Israel is too often also the first to be blamed. Yet the indiscriminate savagery of Oct. 7, which the Hamas leadership has vowed to repeat again and again, made clear what the terror group thinks about living alongside the region's Jews. Its founding charter declares Palestine an "Islamic land," rejects peace deals and says that Islam will obliterate Israel.
  • Similarly, the Houthis in Yemen chant "Death to Israel!" and mean it. Behind both groups stands the implacable antisemitism of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a state on the verge of nuclear capability which is dedicated to wiping both Israel and its inhabitants from the map.
  • For more than 70 years, every offer to make a deal for a two-state solution has been rejected by the Palestinians. It is not Israel that is intransigent, but Palestinian elites and their misguided Western supporters. It is the fault of Hamas, and their Iranian paymasters, that peaceful coexistence is now further off than ever. The path to mutual peace cannot be reached without defeating Hamas.

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