March 8, 2024
Special Edition
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Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy

In-Depth Issues:

How Are Gazans Feeling about the Ongoing War? (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)
    Arab Affairs commentator for Channel 13 news Zvi Yehezkeli was interviewed on Tuesday on Israel Radio.
    "Our Western mind is sure that the Arab mind sees how devastated Gaza is and regrets Oct. 7, but no....They distinguish between that day of 'achievement,' as they see it, and the consequences they brought upon themselves," Yehezkeli explained.
    "It might be that on a personal level, when an ordinary Gazan sees his home destroyed, he feels sorry. But on a general level, they know they will have a new one built, that food will keep coming, that the Americans and the world will take care of them."

Israel: Food Sent to Gaza Is Immediately Taken by Hamas - Zvika Klein (Jerusalem Post)
    A senior Israeli defense official said Thursday, "The food shortage [in Gaza] and use of the word 'hunger' have been exaggerated," explaining that most of the food that Israel has been sending to Gaza has "immediately been taken by Hamas terrorists, who then sell some of the supplies for ten times more than what it's worth."
    "Every family has enough food to survive. Are they eating five meals a day? The answer is no."
    "We have been supplying them with aid as well as the U.S., but unfortunately, it wasn't distributed to the citizens themselves."
    A former senior Israeli defense official said, "there are those who are hungry since Hamas has taken all of the food and they don't have enough money to pay Hamas on the black market."
    Israel and foreign countries bring food and aid into Gaza. Then gangs take the supplies at gunpoint, and a significant portion of the population is left unable to afford necessities.
    Even if Gaza were to be inundated with food supplies, hunger would persist because the issue at its core is not about availability but access and affordability.
    Hamas controls an enormous amount of food and aid. If it had allowed the citizens of Gaza to have access to this aid, the situation would have been very different - but they want their citizens to starve because it helps them create their false narrative.

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Quebec Court Bans Protests near Jewish Institutions - Sabrina Jonas (CBC-Canada-Ha'aretz)
    A Quebec court has prohibited protests for the next 10 days near several Jewish institutions in Montreal following back-to-back demonstrations outside community buildings in recent days.
    According to an injunction granted Tuesday, protests are banned within 50 meters of the Federation CJA building and the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue.
    The order also applies to the Cummings Center, the Sylvan Adams YM-YWHA, Herzliah High School, and United Talmud Torahs of Montreal.
    The injunction was served to Independent Jewish Voices, Montreal4Palestine, Palestinian Youth Movement Montreal, and Alliance4Palestine.
    Federation CJA (Combined Jewish Appeal) said a demonstration took place Monday outside their building, with demonstrators attempting to block access to the building and harassing those trying to enter.
    "The protests we've decried for weeks have escalated into a hate mob targeting Jewish institutions. Jews must be able to gather without the need for protection."
    Yair Szlak, president and CEO of Federation CJA, said the Monday demonstration was aggressive. He said there is a difference between freedom of expression and blockading a Jewish building.
    Deborah Lyons, Canada's special envoy for combatting antisemitism, wrote on X: "It should never have come to this."
    "Jewish Canadians should not require an injunction in order to enter their community institutions. I will be speaking with local leadership to make sure laws are enforced to keep the Jewish community safe."
    See also Pro-Palestinian Mob Blocks Access to Montreal Holocaust Museum over Pro-Israel Event - Stuart Winer (Times of Israel)
    Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters surrounded the Montreal Holocaust Museum on Monday, preventing access to the building where a group of Israeli army reservists were speaking.
    Protesters chanted "Death to Israel, death to the Jews."
    The Combat Against Antisemitism Movement posted on X that "Protesting against Israel outside local Jewish community centers isn't about legitimate criticism. It's about hatred of the Jewish people."

You Don't See "Pro-Israel" Demonstrators Shutting Down Events - Lorrie Goldstein (Toronto Sun-Canada)
    Today, in Canada, in 2024, you can be accosted and roughed up by "pro-Palestinian" demonstrators for attending a political event, skating at city hall, shopping in a mall, buying a book at a bookstore, eating lunch at a restaurant, attending university or a municipal council meeting, or living in a "Zionist-infested area."
    Can our political leaders please stop pretending these "pro-Palestinian" demonstrations are a mirror image of "pro-Israel" demonstrations?
    "Pro-Israel" demonstrators are not marching into or targeting "Muslim-infested" areas of Canada for the purpose of intimidation.
    You don't see "pro-Israel" demonstrators shutting down political events, like a gala reception for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in Toronto.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Hamas Leaves Gaza Talks with No Ceasefire Deal - Summer Said
    Hamas said it was pausing its participation in talks in Cairo aimed at securing a ceasefire, after its Gaza leader, Yahya Sinwar, delivered a hardened negotiating position.
        Egyptian officials said Sinwar believes Hamas currently has the upper hand in negotiations, citing internal political divisions within Israel and mounting U.S. pressure on Israel to do more to alleviate the suffering of Gaza civilians. Sinwar hopes that friction between Washington and Israel could allow him to cut a deal more favorable to Hamas and is pushing for a permanent ceasefire and a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.
        Arab and Israeli officials said they fear that Sinwar is deliberately undermining the talks in the hope that Ramadan will galvanize popular Arab support for Hamas, leading to an escalation of tensions in the West Bank and Jerusalem. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Israel: Hamas Does Not Want a Hostage Deal - Itamar Eichner
    Israeli officials said Thursday they were not optimistic that a hostage release agreement with Hamas can be reached because the terror group does not want one. "Hamas made the decision not to advance in the negotiations and to blame Israel for the hunger in Gaza, and to flood media outlets to turn them against Israel."
        Hamas leaders "Sinwar and Haniyeh understand that a deal would bring about a ceasefire and an influx of humanitarian aid which would improve conditions in Gaza, which is something they do not want. They believe that if there is no deal during the Muslim holiday [of Ramadan], Israel's standing in the world would suffer more." (Ynet News)
        See also U.S. Says Hamas Holding Up Ceasefire by Refusing to Release Vulnerable Hostages - Jacob Magid
    A senior Biden administration official said Thursday, "There could be at least a six-week ceasefire today if Hamas would agree to release a defined category of vulnerable hostages, including women, the elderly, the sick and the wounded. The onus right now is on Hamas."  (Times of Israel)
  • U.S. Threatens Action Against Iran at IAEA over Continued "Stonewalling" - Francois Murphy
    At a quarterly meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors on Thursday, the U.S. threatened future action against Iran if Tehran keeps "stonewalling" by denying the IAEA the cooperation and answers it seeks on the origin of uranium particles at undeclared sites. "We cannot allow Iran's current pattern of behavior to continue," the U.S. said. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Envoy Visits UAE to Facilitate Gaza Aid - Itamar Eichner
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's military secretary, Maj.-Gen. Avi Gil, returned from a secret trip to the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday to ensure humanitarian aid reaches Gaza via alternative routes. The trip sought to set up a maritime aid corridor from Cyprus to Gaza. The UAE will buy the aid for shipment to Gaza via Cyprus, where it will undergo security checks.
        In recent days, almost daily aerial aid drops have been conducted by Egypt, Jordan and the U.S.  However, some complain that part of the aid ends up in the ocean or falls in populated neighborhoods, leading to chaotic scrambles for the supplies. (Ynet News)
        See also U.S. Military to Build Emergency Gaza Port for Humanitarian Aid - Tovah Lazaroff
    The U.S. military plans to build an emergency port off the Gaza coast to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians. The port "can receive large ships carrying food, water, medicine, and temporary shelters," U.S. officials said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel Welcomes U.S. Gaza Pier Announcement - Ariel Kahana
    The U.S. announcement Thursday that it would set up a pier to deliver food to Gazans was part of ongoing discussions, an Israeli official said. "Israel welcomes and supports the establishment of a temporary pier to allow for increased humanitarian aid to the residents of Gaza. The initiative was discussed between the two countries and will be implemented in coordination between the parties."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli Strikes Pound Gaza Launch Sites Minutes after Rockets Fired at Border Communities
    After Palestinians in Gaza fired several rockets at the Israeli city of Sderot and nearby Israeli communities on Thursday night, the IDF responded within minutes with strikes on the sources of fire, the IDF stated on Friday. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    Palestinian Arabs

  • Israeli Policy Expert Says Talk of a Two-State Solution Is Dangerously Premature - Kobi Michael interviewed by Andrew Silow-Carroll
    Former deputy director general and head of the Palestinian division in Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs, Kobi Michael, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), said in an interview that the Palestinian people are not yet ready to accept the idea of a nation state of the Jewish people. Nor does he think the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of 88-year-old President Mahmoud Abbas has the will, capability, or credibility to govern effectively in Gaza, let alone the West Bank.
        "There is a big difference between the Israeli approach to the two-state solution and the Palestinian approach. In Israeli eyes it means a nation state of the Jewish people, and Palestine is the nation state of the Palestinian people."
        "This is not the Palestinian perspective, where Palestine is the nation state of the Palestinian people and Israel is the state of citizens without any religious, ethnic or national characteristics. This is the core problem of the conflict: the Palestinian refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people for self-determination. They regard Judaism only as a religion. If there is no Jewish people, there is no right for self-determination....So the idea of a two-state solution is a very illusionary idea, at least for the time being under the current circumstances."
        "I think at the end of the day Israel will become much stronger after this war. And I think that the vast majority of Israeli society is much more sober with regard to the Palestinians and the reality that we live in. I think that the Israeli consensus is much broader now. The resilience is very impressive, and I think that the Jewish people and the State of Israel will be able to repair itself and prosper and to live in security for the next eight decades."  (JTA)
  • Unilateral Recognition of a Palestinian State Would Reverse Longstanding U.S. Policy - John Hannah and Michael Makovsky
    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has pressed for "a concrete, time-bound and irreversible path" toward a Palestinian state. This amounts to saying that it doesn't matter how corrupt and incompetent the Palestinian leadership remains, if they continue to incite their people to hate Jews, or if their ultimate goal remains Israel's destruction. What matters is that the Palestinians will be rewarded with a state after Hamas committed the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.
        It's not an overstatement to say this is lunacy and disastrous for U.S. interests. It rewards terror. It will just perpetuate instability, anti-Israel terror, and pro-Hamas sentiment. It reverses longstanding U.S. policy, enshrined in the 1993 Oslo Accords, that Israelis and Palestinians must negotiate all final status issues, including the possible establishment of a Palestinian state.
        Israel will never agree, and America will achieve nothing except a breach in U.S.-Israeli relations and American diplomatic failure. Israeli President Isaac Herzog, a man of the left, told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last month: "If you ask an average Israeli now about his or her mental state, nobody in his right mind is willing now to think about what will be the solution of the peace agreements because everybody wants to know: Can we be promised real safety in the future?"
        To underscore the point, 99 out of 120 members of the Israeli Knesset recently voted against any unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. As one senior Israeli official said, "not even Moses could get that many votes."
        It is impossible to convince Israelis that a Palestinian state in the West Bank - just a few miles from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv - would not pose a mortal threat to them. What lessons would other prospective partners of America draw about aligning with Washington if the U.S. is willing to throw one of its closest partners, Israel, under the bus? And the big winner would be Iran.
        John Hannah is a senior fellow at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), where Michael Makovsky, a former Pentagon official, is President and CEO. (National Interest)

  • Iran

  • Brushing Off an Alarming IAEA Report on the Iranian Nuclear Program - Editorial
    Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said Monday: "The Agency has lost continuity of knowledge in relation to [Iran's] production and inventory of centrifuges, rotors and bellows, heavy water and uranium ore concentrate." In plainer English, the world is in the dark, raising the risk that Iran is accumulating a secret stock of advanced centrifuges to pursue a quiet nuclear breakout.
        The Institute for Science and International Security says Iran can enrich enough uranium for 13 nuclear weapons, seven in the first month of a breakout. Tehran won't allow key monitoring equipment into the country, and it has excluded some of the IAEA's most experienced inspectors. Under such conditions, the world can hardly rely on the IAEA to detect diversion of nuclear materials to new and undeclared facilities.
        Reuters reports that Britain, France and Germany were pushing for a resolution of censure from the IAEA board, but "the United States did not want to risk further diplomatic escalation with Iran." When a mild move such as censure is considered a bridge too far, you know the incentive structure for Iran is all wrong. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Antisemitism

  • Extremist Acts Have Been Normalized in Britain - Robin Simcox
    Robin Simcox, the British Home Office's independent Commissioner for Countering Extremism, wrote on March 7: Not since 9/11 have extremist networks been as emboldened. Antisemitism skyrocketing. Inflammatory and borderline criminal rhetoric widely shared on social media. A sense that the terrorism threat is rising. Protests becoming ever more vociferous, with "from the river to the sea" beamed onto the side of Big Ben during a vote on Gaza. MPs more fearful for their safety than ever.
        Evidence that the state works with or funds extremists has appeared in independent reviews or government strategies dating back over a decade. This needs fixing. Government has more power to tackle extremism than it sometimes thinks.
        The Iranian government does not have an inalienable right to run schools and mosques in our capital city. It is not an unalterable democratic principle that Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood must be allowed to run a multitude of charities. We have not betrayed democracy if extremists are no longer able to operate television channels. And we will not have become an authoritarian state if London is no longer permitted to be turned into a no-go zone for Jews every weekend.
        Government should move faster, be bolder, and be willing to accept higher legal risk if it means implementing policies that keep us safer. This is particularly pertinent when it comes to disrupting the activities of those groups who propagate extremist narratives but who lurk just below the terrorism threshold. These groups have gone unchallenged for too long. (Telegraph-UK)
  • British-Jewish Comedian Explains Why Antisemitism Has Become Trendy - Ami Friedman
    For years, British Jewish comedian David Baddiel, 59, has been analyzing modern antisemitism, especially how it has taken root in progressive circles, becoming a status symbol and a distinctive characteristic of those who fiercely defend anyone else who is treated insensitively because of their race or ethnicity. But "anti-Jewish racism isn't considered racism by a lot of people," he writes in his 2021 book Jews Don't Count.
        "Antisemitism is a form of racism that has been around for generations and generations, long before the establishment of Israel," he said in an interview. "It is truly perverse to think that Jews around the world are responsible for what is happening in the Middle East, that they are to blame for what happens. This isn't the case for Britons of Chinese descent when China behaves unacceptably. It isn't the case for British Indians when India does something, and it isn't the case with any other minority. It's just Israel's actions that are blamed on all Jews, wherever they may be."
        "Israel has become...the thing you have to hate. In the past, South Africa played this role, and I'm afraid now it's Israel. Part of the identity of these people is to hate Israel. People for whom politics is their identity are not interested in complexity....And if the good guys, which for them is the Palestinians, do something as terrible as October 7, those people can't fit it into their worldview. They say, 'That can't be true! It has to be the Jews, the Israelis created this themselves.'"  (Israel Hayom)

  • Other Issues

  • In Israel, Jews and Arabs Alike Reject the "Equity" Ideology Sweeping the West - Ian Kingsbury
    During a visit to Israel in February organized by the UCLA School of Medicine, Jewish and Arab Israelis told me that the ideology of "diversity, equity and inclusion" sacrifices the merit that has helped Israel survive in a sea of hostility. Israelis talk about DEI differently, most notably by excluding or redefining the E. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is committed to "diversity and inclusion." Ditto the Israel Institute of Technology, or Technion. Tel Aviv University keeps the E, but instead of equity, it emphasizes "equality and diversity."
        Instead of lowering standards in pursuit of equity, the Technion is reaching out to Arab communities to find more qualified students. Its efforts have increased the number of Arab undergraduate students by about 80%, from 500 in 2020 to more than 900 in 2023, while the dropout rate has decreased. At Hebrew University, an Arab woman who works as a diversity official said her school demands equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.
        Michael Halberthal, director general at Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa, told us that "people get promotion into their position according to their abilities, not about their religion, not about their gender, not about anything else. And it works." Halberthal said it is the only hospital in the Middle East where an Arab woman heads the nephrology, or kidney disease, unit. After Oct. 7, the hospital's Arab employees showed up en masse to treat the expected influx of patients.
        I asked an officer who briefed us at Nevatim Airbase if the Israeli Air Force has any initiatives to increase diversity in its ranks. The officer said that while there are efforts to recruit a broad swath of Israeli citizens, assignments and promotions are based on ability. A person has to earn the pilot's seat in an F-35, because when Israel is at war, Israel must win. It can't afford to embrace such a divisive and destructive ideology. (Wall Street Journal)

The Transfer of War into Enemy Territory to Remove the Threat of Invasion into Israel - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Dr. Meir Finkel (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Until the 1980s, the occupation of territory and transfer of the war into enemy territory for the purpose of removing the threat of invasion into Israel were central components in the IDF's perception of warfare. Later, the holding of conquered territory that contained an enemy population prepared to conduct guerrilla warfare was perceived as a liability rather than an advantage.
  • Ever since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the IDF has immediately withdrawn from every territory it conquered, forfeiting any achievement provided by the occupation of territory.
  • Yet, occupying territory serves multiple purposes on all levels of warfare. On the tactical level, it can be used to capture advantageous positions from the enemy. On the operational level, it can disrupt enemy formations. On the strategic level, the enemy's capital can be occupied for the purpose of regime change.
  • Losing territory is a painful loss for Israel's enemies. Hamas in Gaza wants to "return" to Jaffa, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and indeed the rest of Israel. Hizbullah is fighting for the Galilee foothills. Territory remains as important to Israel's enemies as it ever was. Therefore, Israel's holding of enemy territory constitutes a serious loss for those enemies.
  • Holding territory is also a bargaining chip in diplomatic negotiations. This was the case with Egypt and Syria in the agreements on the separation of forces at the end of the Yom Kippur War, and later in the framework of the peace agreement with Egypt.
  • Residents should not be allowed to return to captured territory until Israel's desired diplomatic arrangement is achieved, even if this means the IDF maintains a security zone for months or years in the enemy's territory.
  • Preventing the return of the population is not for the purpose of punishing them. Rather, it is for the same reason that they were evacuated before the war: to minimize the chances of their being harmed. Territory captured during ground combat will remain largely destroyed and will lack any basic electricity or water infrastructure, and it will be filled with ruins and explosive remnants. Fighting is also likely to continue to occur in the area, even if only sporadically.

    The writer headed the IDF Concepts and Combat Doctrine Department for seven years, and served as commander of the IDF's Dado Center for Interdisciplinary Military Studies (2014-2019).
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