Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
L'institut Canadien de Recherches sur le Judaisme
Strength of Israel will not lie

Month: June 2017

ISRAEL — THE “START-UP NATION” — DEVELOPS AS A HIGH-TECH NATION

Startup Nation Has Grown Into Tech Nation, Intel Israel R&D Chief Says: Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel, June 6, 2017 — Israel should start defining itself as a technology nation and not a startup nation anymore in light of the fact that it is managing to grow more mature companies over time…

Israel Reaches for the Skies and the Moon: Ferry Biedermann, CNBC, May 31, 2017 — A telltale white plume streaked across the sky over Israel Monday morning, revealing the country's latest missile test.

Mobileye Acquisition to Start Israeli Auto-Tech Boom: Dubi Ben-Gedalyahu, Jerusalem Post, May 10, 2017 — From a business standpoint, the multi-billion dollar Intel-Mobileye deal on the Israeli auto-tech industry had the effect of a level 8 earthquake on the Richter scale shifting the tectonic plates.

The Indian PM’s Historic Visit: Ephraim Inbar, Israel Hayom, June 27, 2017 — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive in Israel at the beginning of July in the first-ever trip to this country by an Indian prime minister.

 

On Topic Links

 

Mossad Recruits Start-Ups for Real-Life Spy Tech (Video): Breaking Israel News, June 28, 2017

Can Israeli Water Technology Save the World?: Jeevan Vipinachandran, Times of Israel, June 19, 2017

Desalination Nation: How Israel Is Helping the World Fight Water Shortage: Kirk D'Souza, NoCamels, May 24, 2017

How Israeli Startups are Driving the Car Technology Revolution: Andrew Tobin, Times of Israel, May 17, 2017

 

 

STARTUP NATION HAS GROWN INTO TECH

NATION, INTEL ISRAEL R&D CHIEF SAYS                                                                            

Shoshanna Solomon

                                       Times of Israel, June 6, 2017

 

Israel should start defining itself as a technology nation and not a startup nation anymore in light of the fact that it is managing to grow more mature companies over time, a top Intel Corp. official in Israel said at a conference on Tuesday. “We are in a new era,” said Ran Senderovitz, VP, general manager at Intel Israel Development Centers at the Technovation Conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. “We must define Israel not as Startup Nation but as Tech Nation. To define Israel as a Startup Nation is like saying we are Peter Pan — we are this kid that never grows up; we are eternally young. The fact that multinational companies invest in Israel is proof that we can not only create technologies but also grow them in the longer term.”

Companies like Intel, Google, Apple have been snapping up Israeli firms and setting up research and development centers in Israel to make sure they are on top of new technologies being developed in the so-called Startup Nation — the name comes from a book by Den Senor and Saul Singer — which creates some 1,400 new startups a year. But rather than selling off early, as was once the case, entrepreneurs are holding on to their companies for longer in the hope of getting better valuations at a later stage of development.

 

Some 1,400 startups get created every year in Israel and some 800 shut down, said Aharon Aharon, the newly appointed chief executive officer of the Israel Innovation Authority, formerly the Office of the Chief Scientist at Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry. “Do entrepreneurs really know what they are getting into?” he asked attendees at the Technovation 2017 Conference. Aharon formerly headed the activities of Apple in Israel.

 

“Irresistible passion” in an idea and not looking for a quick exit is key, he said. Entrepreneurs should believe their product is going to be a game changer; they must also be willing to take on sacrifices. “You can’t take your children three times a week to the playground or train to be iron woman” if you want to succeed with a startup, he warned. In addition, entrepreneurs should have deep knowledge in one of two things: either know the technology well or know the market and who the competitors to this technology will be.

 

Entrepreneurs also need to know when to take a step back and bring in the experts they need to complement their abilities, as well as be ready for the “roller-coaster ride” of successes and failures the company will encounter along the way. “If you have no stomach to absorb the roller-coaster ride don’t start. You must understand what you are getting into.” Charisma – and the ability to talk and convince customers and investors — is also a key quality entrepreneurs must have. “Good looks are for Tinder, not for a startup,” he said, referring to the popular online dating app. The ability to take tough decisions and be alone when taking them is also a must, he said. This could mean firing your best friend who no longer suits the needs of the company, or changing direction of the product to fit market needs.

 

And patience. “On average startups need seven years to succeed,” Aharon said. It took Mobileye, the Jerusalem-based developer of advanced vision and driver assistance systems set up in 1999, some 15 years before its IPO in New York and some 18 years before its sale, in March this year, to Intel Corp. for $15.3 billion. Louise Phelan, VP CEMEA at online payments processing firm PayPal, who grew up in Ireland in a family of 17 children, said women especially need to overcome a confidence problem when entering the labor and technology market. When you get up in the morning make sure to “take a spoon of confidence” along with your coffee, she advised. “Believe in yourselves.”

 

Technology leaders should make sure to constantly learn and develop by seeking feedback; they should also make sure to know when to take decisions, to learn from failures and move on from them. “Just as we celebrate successes, we must also celebrate failures,” she said. “In life, 10 percent is what happens to you and 90% is what you do about it,” she said. And most importantly, make sure you look after your people. “Technology doesn’t change the world,” she said. “People change the world. Look after your people who are critical to your success.”

 

The CEO of Check Point Software Technologies, Gil Shwed, spoke about the need to be dedicated to your company. For the first three years after setting up the cybersecurity firm he heads, he “cut off friendships, had no family,” he said. Only after the IPO in June 1996, three years after the company was founded, did he start to rebalance his life with friends and family, he said. He now works “just” eight to nine hours a day.

 

The temptation to sell out early was great, especially when the founders got a $3 million offer from BRM at the very early stages of the company, Shwed said. “But we believed in the company and did not even enter negotiations,” he said. Check Point’s market value on the Nasdaq at close on Monday was almost $19 billion.

 

When running a company, Shwed said, it is important to give your workers a feeling that they are doing something important and making a difference. And he channels any unrest he may feel after so many years at the head of his firm into the company itself. “My drive is to do better,” he said. “I push to get better results.”

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ISRAEL REACHES FOR THE SKIES AND THE MOON

Ferry Biedermann

CNBC, May 31, 2017

 

A telltale white plume streaked across the sky over Israel Monday morning, revealing the country's latest missile test. No announcement was made on what propulsion system was tested but experts say it was for an intercontinental ballistic missile or a missile defense rocket. Either way, it was a manifestation of Israel's activity in aerospace, a field in which it is developing significant new capabilities, including in the commercial sector.

 

The country has developed missile systems, such as the Jericho and the Shavit, which has been used to launch its own military satellites into space, anti-missile systems such as the Iron Dome and the Arrow, and is dominating the international export market for military drones. One man who sits at the nexus of Israel's space and drone industries is Yariv Bash, co-founder of SpaceIL, the organization that seeks to put Israel on the moon, and CEO of drone startup Flytrex. With the latter he's seeking to put into place complete solutions for automated drone delivery. While the former, SpaceIL, is a finalist, one of only five in the world, in Google's Lunar X Prize competition for a privately funded moon landing.

 

Bash spoke to CNBC about his passion for all things flying and how he expects the aerospace industry in Israel to develop. "I like to say that I found other people to pay for my hobbies. Seeing something hover above you in the air or seeing a spacecraft leaving the atmosphere, these are two of the most amazing feats you can do as an engineer."

 

What does Flytrex do, what are you currently capable of? "Our systems are capable of delivering up to three kilograms up to ten kilometers away. We can deliver everything. We have a complete system that allows you to drop packages from the air in a safe way, hovering at twenty meters above ground and lowering the package on a wire in a completely safe way that enables you to lower a package to someone."

 

Where Flytrex is currently seeking to operate, Bash will not divulge but he says that he expects that within the next quarter the company will be operating in an urban environment and he will seek a new funding round within the next few quarters. At the beginning of this year, Flytrex was reported to have raised $3 million from several angel and VC investors.

 

How do you see the Israeli drone and aerospace industries develop? "It's like cyber[security]. Israel became a superpower when it comes to cyber startups because of the military capabilities and then you had personnel leaving the military and starting their own companies. I think it's a bit the same with the drone industry. We have a very successful military industry and drones are becoming more civilian. You see a lot of people leaving the military or the aviation industry today and beginning their own startups, joining other startups, to accomplish something on the industrial, commercial, civilian level."

 

How does Israel's international reputation in drones help Flytrex? "I have to say that with our clients I haven't seen them think well, the Israelis are great in military drones so Flytrex might be a good company. I think it mostly helps, the reputation, when you approach government officials. If you want to fly in certain countries you need to be in contact with the local civil aviation authorities, like the FAA in the United States. I think that when it comes to that, most of the countries, most aviation authorities already know Israel as a drone exporter and they most likely went through Israeli documentation and have approved Israeli drones before. They're more familiar with Israel, which really helps when you start the process with them."

 

With SpaceIL you've had a setback (when SpaceX's Falcon rocket blew up in 2016, delaying SpaceIL's launch date and possibly ending its X Prize chances). What will that mean? "It is rocket science, things sometimes explode and go off track. It did postpone a bit our efforts but we're building a spacecraft. It's amazing. Even if it's going to take a few more months than we anticipated, it's still an amazing project. In two months from now you'll be able to come to Israel and see the spacecraft being built. We'll be launching in 2018. We don't have a specific date yet but we're getting very close to the launch date, which is making things a lot harder and a lot more exciting."

 

So, SpaceIL will continue, even if it can no longer win the prize? "For us it's all about Israel reaching the moon, planting out flag there and exciting the next generation… We're actually an education non-profit. Our main vision is impacting every kid in Israel… We'll be recreating something that in the '60s was called the Apollo effect. After the Apollo program kids went in increasing numbers to be scientists and engineers. Here in Israel that's our main vision and we're working to generate thousands and maybe even tens of thousands of new engineers for Israel a decade or two from now." SpaceIL is a $70 million program that has received much of its funding from two billionaire donors, Israel's Morris Kahn and the US's Sheldon Adelson, says Bash.

 

Will there be commercial spin-offs from SpaceIL? That's why the Israeli space agency donated $1.5 million. They believe SpaceIL could sprout a new industry for Israel, just like the aviation industry or the civilian cyber industry. We're a non-profit. Once we go to the moon it will help our engineers and trainees to open up new companies and start new business, they will not be competing with us.

 

 

Contents

MOBILEYE ACQUISITION TO START ISRAELI AUTO-TECH BOOM

Dubi Ben-Gedalyahu

Jerusalem Post, May 10, 2017

 

From a business standpoint, the multi-billion dollar Intel-Mobileye deal on the Israeli auto-tech industry had the effect of a level 8 earthquake on the Richter scale shifting the tectonic plates. Not only was it the largest acquisition in Israel's history, but it also provided a concrete financial criterion for the developing sector and was registered on business seismographs all over the world. BM (before Mobileye), the industry attracted attention mostly from professional parties and knowledgeable people in the global auto industry, as well as a few small-to-medium fish in the venture capital industry. AM (after Mobileye), the business ocean's deep water sharks and whales are gathering round.

 

Every earthquake of these proportions naturally has aftershocks that continue for a long time afterwards, the results of which in this case are evident. Since the deal was announced in March, Israeli companies concentrating on various aspects of the smart vehicle vision have raised over $120 million. Most of the companies found more money available than they were planning on raising, and had to politely turn down some serious investors. Specialist venture capital funds also raised hundreds of millions of dollars from investors all over the world seeking to build a portfolio of investments in seed-stage Israel auto-tech companies and ventures. An airlift of auto industry executives is also continuing under the radar – the very top management level – and that is only the tip of the iceberg.

 

 

Behind the scenes, these aftershocks are starting to generate structural changes in the young and developing industry: consolidation of the existing players, the entry of new companies from parallel sectors, major strides forward by existing companies, etc. Before trying to map some of these changes, it is worth noting that the earthquake epicenter itself, i.e. Intel, has not necessarily calmed down and stabilized.

 

Last week, Intel unveiled an "autonomous vehicle laboratory" in Silicon Valley, in which it is exposing and focusing research and development in many technological areas of the smart car vision extending far beyond Mobileye's computer vision and mapping. We therefore recommend that analysts ignore this earthquake, and continue following Intel's automotive activity in Israel. It is a real possibility that the Mobileye deal was merely Intel's first acquisition, and will serve as a core for the acquisition of a group of Israeli companies with complementary solutions.

 

The dimensions of the Intel-Mobileye deal were also a wakeup call for the Israeli defense industries – the dumb giant of the Israeli economy. "Globes" has already commented about the indirect connection between former defense industry figures and the developing auto-tech industry, but other than a few minor civilian automotive spinoffs, most of the defense industry giants have until now preferred to stay off the superhighway and focus on tanks, missiles, and aircraft. There are quite a few reasons for this. First of all, it is mentally difficult for companies accustomed to working with government customers with products costing from tens of thousands to millions of dollars per unit to get used to the auto industry's stringent cost policy, in which every dollar counts.

 

This situation is now changing, and a good illustration of this appeared last month in the form of a very rare visit to Michigan by a "commercial" delegation organized by the Ministry of Defense International Defense Cooperation Authority for 13 representatives of the largest defense industries in Israel. Michigan, of course, is the center of the US auto industry, and the purpose of the delegation's visit was described, among other things, as presenting solutions and products in sub-systems for military vehicles, robotics, and autonomous propulsion. There is a high correlation between civilian and military uses of smart car technologies. Matters such as autonomous propulsion, artificial intelligence, machine vision, connectivity, encryption, and protection of information transmission to and from a vehicle are also an integral part of the smart battlefield vision in which governments throughout the world have been investing trillions in recent years.

 

Anyone gaining a foothold in advanced core technologies in such sectors and successfully making the necessary mental and business adjustment is therefore likely to benefit from a two-way business track. Defense companies can grab a share of the rich global vehicle market, and civilian companies can win military contracts amounting to tens and hundreds of millions of dollars. It cannot be ruled out that we will see cooperative efforts or intensive activity involving local defense industries in civilian uses of their technology, and perhaps even separate stock exchange offerings by subsidiaries in this sector.

 

Another sleepy giant now responding to the Mobileye deal fallout is Israeli cyber security firm Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. , the pride of the cyber industry. A connection between Check Point, a software company, and the hardware-intensive auto industry ostensibly appears unnatural. In an era of connected vehicles, however, this situation could change dramatically. The auto industry estimates that a single autonomous vehicle will generate a stream of data amounting to four terabytes every 90 minutes. This prodigious stream of data, multiplied by tens and hundreds of millions of vehicles throughout the world, has to be processed, filtered, and also secured against malicious attempted break-ins. This goal requires integration of advanced hardware capabilities in a vehicle, and but also on the cloud to which the data from the vehicle will be streamed…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

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THE INDIAN PM’S HISTORIC VISIT

Ephraim Inbar

Israel Hayom, June 27, 2017

 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive in Israel at the beginning of July in the first-ever trip to this country by an Indian prime minister. The visit reflects the significant expansion in relations between the two countries since they established full diplomatic relations in 1992. Since Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in May 2014, his administration has shed its predecessors' reservations about regular public discussions regarding India's ties with Israel. It is worth noting that Modi's trip to Israel is not planned to be "balanced" with a visit to the Palestinian Authority, indicating that India has freed its relations with Israel from its historical commitment to the Palestinian issue. Indeed, India has modified its voting pattern at international organizations by refraining from joining the automatic majority against Israel.

 

India and Israel share high levels of threat perception and a common strategic agenda. Both have waged major conventional wars against their neighbors and have experienced low-intensity conflict and terrorism, and both are involved in protracted conflicts involving complex ethnic and religious components not always well understood by outsiders. Both also face weapons of mass destruction in the hands of their rivals. The two nations share a common threat from the radical offshoots of Islam in the greater Middle East. Israel regards parts of the Arab world –Saudi Arabia in particular — as hubs for Islamic extremism, while India views Saudi-Pakistani relations with suspicion. Moreover, India fears the Pakistani nuclear arsenal might ultimately fall into the hands of Islamic radicals.

 

For Israel, Islamic radicals in the Arab world and in the Islamic Republic of Iran constitute a constant security challenge. This challenge has become more acute with Iran's nuclear potential. The more recent Islamic State phenomenon has ramifications beyond the battlefields of Iraq and Syria, as its offshoots threaten the stability of Egypt and Jordan — Israel's neighbors — and are increasingly sources of concern in south and southeast Asia. India has gradually overcome its inhibitions and engaged in security cooperation with Israel. Following diplomatic normalization in 1992, India's then-Defense Minister Sharad Pawar admitted to having already been cooperating with Israel on counterterrorism. This cooperation involves exchange of information on the finances, recruitment patterns, and training of terrorist groups, and is conducted away from the public eye. The November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks underscored the need for better counterterrorism preparations in India and elicited greater cooperation with Israeli agencies.

 

Arms supply and technology transfer have become important components in the bilateral relationship. Initially, Russian failure to deliver promised weapons at expected prices or schedules led India to turn to Israeli companies to upgrade some of its aging Soviet platforms, such as its Mig-21s and T-72 tank fleet. Difficulties in the development of weapons systems at home have led to the purchase of Israeli products and to partnership in developing advanced military technology. New Delhi purchased Israeli advanced radar and communications equipment, and turned also to Israel for portable battlefield radars, hand-held thermals, night warfare vision equipment, and electronic fences to improve border monitoring. A long list of Israeli military items, such as ammunition, UAV parts, and even missiles (Spike anti-armor, the Python-4 air-to-air, naval Barak-8 surface-to-air) are being produced in India…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

CIJR Wishes all our friends & supporters: Happy Canada Day?

 

No Daily Briefing will be published on Friday, June 30

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Mossad Recruits Start-Ups for Real-Life Spy Tech (Video): Breaking Israel News, June 28, 2017

Can Israeli Water Technology Save the World?: Jeevan Vipinachandran, Times of Israel, June 19, 2017—Water, the most precious resource in the world, is increasingly scarce. However even as global water shortages threaten the world, Israeli innovation in countering water scarcity could yet lead the world out of the abyss of water shortage and war.

Desalination Nation: How Israel Is Helping the World Fight Water Shortage: Kirk D'Souza, NoCamels, May 24, 2017—In the hot and arid Middle East, clean water is liquid gold. Faced with limited rainfall and a grueling climate, Israel has increasingly relied on seawater since it built its first desalination plant in Eilat in the 1960s.

How Israeli Startups are Driving the Car Technology Revolution: Andrew Tobin, Times of Israel, May 17, 2017—Israeli startups are revving their engines ahead of the country’s largest-ever “smart transportation” event. Over 200 local companies working in transportation technology will be at the EcoMotion Conference on Thursday at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa. The plan is to give auto industry giants a look under the hood of “Startup Nation.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

 

 

 

On Topic Links

 

A Systematic Blunder: Yoram Ettinger, Israel Hayom, June 26, 2017

A Sad Decision That Might Haunt Us All: Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman, BESA, June 28, 2017

Why Iran and Israel May be on the Verge of Conflict — in Syria: Benny Avni, New York Post, June 27, 2017

Iranians Love Israelis; A Message of Hope on ‘International Quds Day’: Kitty Herweijer, Times of Israel, June 23, 2017

 

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“It is truly shocking that this group is permitted to hold Anti-Israel rallies at Queen’s Park despite the repeated appeals by so many members of the Jewish community. It is disgraceful that a rally with speakers supporting the destruction of Israel, denying the Holocaust and making racial slurs is permitted to take place at the site of Ontario’s democratic legislature…How many more anti-Semitic speeches spreading hatred and inciting violence will members of the Jewish community have to endure before the Province finally does something. It is time for this rally to be told it is not welcome at Queen’s Park or any place in Toronto.”— Toronto City Councillor James Pasternak. A petition aiming to prevent an American Holocaust denier from speaking in Toronto garnered nearly 2,000 signatures. Kevin Barrett, who has called the 9/11 attacks an “inside job,” was due to address the city’s annual Al-Quds Day rally on Saturday. Al-Quds is the Muslim name for Jerusalem, and the annual march is generally a call for the destruction of Israel. (James Pasternak, June 20, 2017)

 

“There is no doubt that we will witness the demise of the Zionist entity [Israel]… Today, fighting against the Zionist regime [of Israel] is fighting the hegemonic, arrogant system.” — Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ahead of the Iranian-initiated 'Al Quds day.' Khamenei stated that defending the Palestinians was tantamount to "defending the truth." Al Quds day is held every year on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In a statement, the regime in Tehran accused Israel of "tyranny, oppression and persecution" and blamed Israel for being "the main cause" behind the current crises in the Middle East. Iran also charged Israel as being an "anti-human, child-killing and criminal Zionist regime, which, during the nearly 70 years of its disgraceful life has committed a large number of crimes against humanity." (Jerusalem Post, June 22, 2017)

 

"Last week in Tehran, they put a clock counting down to Israel's destruction- but we will be here long after their theocratic tyranny is just a part of history." — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu was referring to last week's erection of a digital clock that was unveiled in the Iranian capital during Al-Quds Day festivities. The clock does not tell time but instead is counting down to the destruction of Israel, set for 2040. The date is inspired by a speech Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave in 2015 in which he threatened that the "Zionist regime will cease to exist in the next 25 years." (Jerusalem Post, June 25, 2017)

 

“We want peace with Israel, and today, among the opposition in Syria, most people understand that the enemy is Iran and not Israel, so there is a good chance that there will be peace in the future…Israel needs to do more and help the rebels. People here are disappointed [with Israel]. There are also quite a few who think that [the Israelis] are helping [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, because they see that the Israeli-Syrian border is quiet…“I think [Israel] can be more proactive and help us…Regarding the treatment of the wounded in your hospitals, it certainly improved Israel’s image in the eyes of Syrians, but only in a limited way. The reason is that the Arab media does not report it.” — Salim Hudaifa, a former Syrian officer who serves as a representative of the Free Syrian Army. Israel is secretly supporting Syrian rebel groups along its border with Syria in the Golan Heights, providing rebels with funds, food, fuel and medical supplies, The Wall Street Journal reported. While Israel has largely refrained from getting involved in the six-year-long civil war, it has periodically carried out airstrikes in Syria when its interests are threatened. These strikes have mainly been against the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, which is supporting Assad’s regime in the conflict. (JNS, June 28, 2017)

 

“It is immoral to ignore the ‘pay-for-slay’ phenomenon. It is immoral to ignore the promotion of terror by the PLO. It is immoral to ignore the encouragement by the PA of the murder of Israelis…Rejecting the Taylor Force Act means being blackmailed by the PA, surrendering to terror and legitimizing the phenomenon.” — Moshe Ya’alon, a retired IDF lieutenant general. The Taylor Force Act — named after the US military veteran who was killed by a Palestinian terrorist in 2016 — was introduced in February by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado but has made no legislative progress since. The legislation proposes to stop U.S. economic aid to the PA until it changes its laws to cease paying stipends to individuals who commit acts of terrorism and to the families of deceased terrorists. (Algemeiner, June 27, 2017)

 

“As the son of a Holocaust survivor, I was deeply disturbed that in the same week that a group of Jews are targeted, antisemites are given the freedom of the city. We have stood in solidarity with Germany when you were hit by brutal terror attacks. We did that because we identified deeply with the pain caused by terrorism and we wanted to express our support for the people of your city.” — Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, in a letter questioning Berlin Mayor Michael Müller for permitting Hezbollah to march in the city over the weekend. Lapid wrote: “This past week a lecture by a Knesset member from Yesh Atid [Aliza Lavie] was violently disrupted by radical anti-Israel activists at a university in Berlin. A few days later, demonstrators marched through your city proudly displaying photographs of the leader of an antisemitic terrorist organization…your decision to remain silent in the face of this incitement and hatred is a grave mistake. Allowing the glorification of terrorism in your city won’t appease extremists, it will embolden them.” According to Berlin’s intelligence agency, there are 250 active Hezbollah members and supporters in Berlin and some 950 Hezbollah operatives in Germany. (Jerusalem Post, June 25, 2017)

 

"As President, I cannot allow people into our country who want to do us harm. I want people who can love the United States and all of its citizens, and who will be hardworking and productive…Today's ruling allows me to use an important tool for protecting our Nation's homeland. I am also particularly gratified that the Supreme Court's decision was 9-0." — U.S. President Donald Trump. The Supreme Court is allowing Trump to forge ahead with a limited version of his ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries to the U.S. Trump's ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen can be enforced if those visitors lack a "credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States." A State Department spokeswoman said the ban would be implemented starting 72 hours after being cleared by courts. That means it will take effect Thursday. The president has denied that the ban targets Muslims but says it is needed "to protect the nation from terrorist activities" committed by citizens of the six countries. (CTV, Newsweek, June 26, 2017)

 

"I haven’t seen any good enough evidence to show that the President committed a crime…I just feel like they don’t really have it but they want to keep digging. And so I think the President is probably right to say, like, look you are witch hunting me. You have no smoking gun, you have no real proof." — CNN producer John Bonifield. Bonifield was caught on film admitting that CNN's constant coverage of the Trump-Russia narrative is "mostly bulls–t" and "the president is probably right to say [CNN] is witch-hunting [him]." He also noted the story is "good for business." (Project Veritas, June 27, 2017)  

 

"Russia has evolved to what amounts to a definition of absolute security (and) absolute insecurity for some of its neighbors…Russia wants to be accepted by Europe and transcend it simultaneously…If the West withdraws providing stability, China and India will step in, as will Russia…World politics will be revolutionized. If the West engages in conflict without strategic concept, chaos will ensue.” — Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. At a conference on security in London, Kissinger predicted Russia will be in clashes over Ukraine and Syria. He also chillingly warned that with political chaos enveloping Britain and the United States, Russia, India and China could gain a foothold in creating a new world order. And the nation state and old world order all is collapsing in the Middle East, where it once was possible to form alliances, he added. "The maxim no longer applies in the Middle East that your enemy's enemy is your friend. Now, they're probably your enemy too," the 1973 Pulitzer Peace Prize winner said. (Newsmax, June 27, 2017)

 

Contents

 

 

SHORT TAKES

 

 

PENTAGON ALLEGES EVIDENCE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN SYRIA (Washington) — The Pentagon says the U.S. has seen chemical weapons activity at the Syrian air base that was used for a sarin gas attack in April. The U.S. has accused Syrian forces of launching a chemical attack from the base in April that killed dozens of civilians. In response, President Trump ordered the military to fire about 60 cruise missiles at the base. The White House warned that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his military would pay a "heavy price" for another chemical weapons attack. Assad's government and his allies deny the allegation. The White House offered no details on what prompted the warning. (CBC, June 26, 2017)

 

ISRAEL STRIKES GAZA HOURS AFTER ROCKET ATTACK (Gaza) — Israel’s Air Force struck two targets in Gaza hours after a rocket launched from the coastal strip landed in southern Israel. A rocket fired from Gaza landed in an open area at the Shaar HaNegev Regional Council on Monday. The rocket caused no injuries or damage. Israel responded with attacks on two Hamas military targets in Gaza early Tuesday morning, the IDF said. No injuries were reported in the retaliatory strikes. The last time rockets were fired from Gaza on southern Israel was in March. (JTA, June 27, 2017)

 

DECISION TO NIX WESTERN WALL COMPROMISE RILES DIASPORA (Jerusalem) — Israel shelved a plan to open a mixed-gender prayer area at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, a major policy reversal that infuriated the liberal streams of Judaism in the U.S. The egalitarian prayer plan was approved in 2016 as a compromise reached after years of negotiations between liberal Jewish groups and the Israeli authorities. It was seen as a significant breakthrough in promoting religious pluralism in Israel. But the program was never implemented as powerful ultra-Orthodox parties threatened a coalition crisis if any progress on the plan was made on the ground. The decision to suspend the plan prompted warnings that it may spark a crisis with Diaspora Jews, especially in the U.S.  (Israel Hayom, June 26, 2017)

 

BBC APOLOGIZES FOR HEADLINE (London) — Following complaints by Prime Minister Netanyahu over a BBC headline on the recent Palestinian terror attacks in Jerusalem, the news organization recanted and apologized. I.S. and Hamas both claimed responsibility for an attack in Jerusalem’s Old City, carried out by three Palestinians, which killed Israeli Police Staff Sgt. Major Hadas Malka, 23, at Damascus Gate. The terrorists were killed by security services. Malka was stabbed to death. The BBC’s original headline read, “Three Palestinians killed after deadly stabbing in Jerusalem.” Following the complaint, the BBC removed the offending tweet and changed the article headline to, “Israeli policewoman stabbed to death in Jerusalem.” (Breaking Israel News, June 19, 2017)

 

CHICAGO 'DYKE MARCH' BANS JEWISH PRIDE FLAGS (Chicago) — Three people carrying Jewish Pride flags were asked to leave the annual Chicago Dyke March. The Chicago-based LGBTQ newspaper Windy City Times quoted a Dyke March collective member as saying the rainbow flag with the Star of David in the middle "made people feel unsafe," and that the march was "pro-Palestinian" and "anti-Zionist." The Chicago Dyke March is billed as an "anti-racist, anti-violent, volunteer-led, grassroots mobilization and celebration of dyke, queer, bisexual, and transgender resilience," according to its Twitter account. (Ha’aretz, June 26, 2017)

 

AMAZON REMOVES PRO-ISRAEL BOOK, CONTINUES SELLING PRO-PALESTINIAN APPAREL (Chicago) — Amazon has removed a book proving that the myth of Palestinian peoplehood, history and culture was false, while continuing to sell pro-Palestinian shirts calling for Israel’s destruction. The recently published book, titled A History of the Palestinian People: From Ancient Times to the Modern Era, was removed by Amazon, apparently the result of an anti-Israel campaign. The author, Assaf Voll, said that he has no doubt that the removal of his book is the result of a consorted campaign. Amazon’s online store is still selling sweatshirts and t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Free Palestine, End Israeli occupation.” The clothes feature a fist in Palestinian flag colors. (United With Israel, June 25, 2017)

 

MASSIVE IRANIAN FUNDING FOR ANTI-ISRAEL TERROR GROUPS REVEALED (Jerusalem) — Iran’s massive funding of terrorist groups that endanger Israel was exposed in shocking detail by IDF Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Hertzi Halevi. Halevi revealed that Iran is funding Hezbollah to the tune of $75 million a year, while paying $50m. of Hamas’s budget and approximately $70m. to Islamic Jihad. Halevi noted that Tehran is regularly “acting to get exact and advanced weapons into Lebanon and Yemen.” Hinting at Israeli air strikes in Syria on these transfers of advanced weapons, he said, “Israel cannot ignore this development and we have not.” (Jerusalem Post, June 23, 2017)

 

I.S. DESTROYS ICONIC AL-NURI MOSQUE IN MOSUL (Baghdad) — I.S. blew up Mosul’s famed 12th century al-Nuri mosque with its iconic leaning minaret known as al-Hadba. Iraq's Ministry of Defence said I.S. detonated explosives planted inside the structures on Wednesday. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi tweeted that the destruction was an admission by the militants that they are losing the fight for Iraq's second-largest city. The al-Nuri mosque, which is also known as Mosul's Great Mosque, is where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made a rare public appearance, declaring a so-called Islamic caliphate in the summer of 2014, shortly after Mosul was overrun by the militants. The minaret that leaned like Italy's Tower of Pisa had stood for more than 840 years. (CTV, June 21, 2017)

 

CANADIAN SNIPER MAKES RECORD-BREAKING KILL SHOT IN IRAQ (Ottawa) — A sniper with Canada’s elite special forces in Iraq has shattered the world record for the longest confirmed kill shot in military history at a staggering distance of 3,540 metres. The Canadian Armed Forces confirmed that a member of Joint Task Force 2 made the record-breaking shot, killing an I.S. insurgent during an operation in Iraq within the last month. The world record was previously held by British sniper Craig Harrison, who shot a Taliban gunner from 2,475 metres away in 2009. (Globe & Mail, June 21, 2017)

 

U.S. AND ISRAEL TEAM UP TO FIGHT 'BAD ACTORS' IN CYBERSPACE (Washington) — Israel and the U.S. are starting a high-level partnership to create a bulwark against increasingly sophisticated cyber attackers who target critical national infrastructure. The bilateral working group will be led by White House cyber security coordinator Rob Joyce and the head of Israel’s Cyber Bureau, Eviatar Matania. The stronger cyber ties follow meetings between Trump and Netanyahu, and after the U.S. passed legislation expanding joint cyber research with Israel. State security in cyberspace is becoming a growing concern amid a flurry of attacks on government targets and a ransomware attack last month that crippled computer systems around the world. (Bloomberg, June 26, 2017)

 

SHIN BET HEAD SAYS OVER 2,000 TERROR ATTACKS THWARTED WITH CYBERTECH (Jerusalem) — The Shin Bet has used cybertechnology to prevent more than 2,000 terror attacks since the beginning of 2016, Nadav Argaman, the internal security agency’s head, said. Using unspecified technological means, the Shin Bet, along with other Israeli intelligence agencies, have prevented terror attacks in Israel and also passed on information to stop terrorists elsewhere in the world. Argaman said that groundbreaking cybertechnology has also helped to protect against lone-wolf attacks — not directed by terrorist groups but sometimes inspired by social media incitement — that would have been unpreventable using traditional intelligence-gathering means. (Times of Israel, June 27, 2017)

 

ARROW-3 AND AN UNNAMED PROJECT RECEIVE AWARDS (Jerusalem) — The prestigious 2017 Israeli Defense Prize was awarded to two groundbreaking security projects: the Arrow-3 Missile Defense System and an unnamed clandestine project. The Arrow-3 interceptor capabilities enable longer range, higher altitude (exo-atmospheric) and more precise ballistic missile engagements. The second prize will be awarded to a project that successfully tackles a wide variety of threats. Past prizes have been awarded for the Merkava Mark III Tank; the Iron Dome and Arrow missile defense systems; the Trophy active protection system of tanks and armored personnel carriers; Rafael’s family of Air-to-Air Missiles; the Uzi; the Galilee; the Kfir; the Gabriel Missile; and the Popeye Missile. (Jewish Press, June 27, 2017)

 

POLISH OFFICIAL UNDER FIRE FOR HOLOCAUST REMARK (Poland) — Adam Bodnar, a leading Polish human rights official has come under fire for saying the "Polish nation" took part in the implementation of the Holocaust—a controversial statement in a country whose official view is that Poland never collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II. "There is no doubt that the Germans were responsible for the Holocaust, but many nations took part in its implementation. Among them—and I say this with regret—the Polish nation," said Bodnar during his interview. Bodnar quickly apologized for his choice of words and clarified that he did not mean to say that the entire nation took part in the Holocaust, only that some Poles had committed crimes against Jews. (Ynet, June 24, 2017)

 

ISRAELI PROF. GIVES WORLD BIGGER FISH (Jerusalem) — Wild fishing has been on the decline, while aquaculture, or fish farming, has become the fastest growing food-producing sector in the world. One of the challenges facing fish farming is that reproduction, an energy intensive endeavor, makes fish grow more slowly. Prof. Berta Levavi-Sivan at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem identified tiny molecules called Neurokinin B (NKB) and Neurokinin F (NKF) that are secreted by the brains of fish and play a crucial role in their reproduction. Levavi-Sivan then developed molecules that neutralize the effect of NKB and NKF. The molecules inhibit fish reproduction, leading to increased growth rates. These inhibitors can now be included in fish feed to ensure better growth rates. (Jewish Press, June 27, 2017)

 

MARIAH CAREY PROMOTES DEAD SEA COSMETICS (Jerusalem) —Award winning pop diva Mariah Carey arrived in Israel to promote her line of beauty products, launched in collaboration with Dead Sea-based Premier Cosmetics. “We can call [my relationship with Israel] a love affair,” she said. “I’m just so happy to be back in the Holy Land. It’s beautiful here.” Carey — who reportedly received $1.4 million to appear as the face of the Israeli cosmetics brand — downplayed how the anti-Israel BDS movement might target her for collaborating with an Israeli company and visiting the Jewish state. “I don’t think it’s my place to act like a political figure. That’s not who I am,” she said. (Algemeiner, June 27, 2017)

 

EXHIBIT ILLUSTRATES CANADIAN JEWISH EXPERIENCE (Ottawa) — The Canadian Jewish Experience covers 250 years of Jewish history in Canada, from pedlars to politicians to stars of stage and screen. Tucked away at 30 Metcalfe St. in downtown Ottawa, this free exhibit treats visitors to nine panels illustrated by archival photographs. In a panel entitled “War and Peace,” visitors are reminded that Jews have fought for Canada in every war, and that 38 per cent of male Jews volunteered to fight in the Second World War, amounting to 16,880 men. Nearly 2,000 of these soldiers won military awards; 420 died and were buried with both the Maple Leaf and the Star of David on their graves. (CJN, May 30, 2017)

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

A Systematic Blunder: Yoram Ettinger, Israel Hayom, June 26, 2017 —Can Israel afford to defy U.S. presidential pressure to concede land, which is ‎historically and militarily critical to the future of the Jewish state?‎

A Sad Decision That Might Haunt Us All: Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman, BESA, June 28, 2017 —The government’s decision on June 26 to snub, in practice, the non-Orthodox denominations of the Jewish faith, to bar the implementation of the compromise on prayer arrangements in the southern segment of the Western Wall, and to advance legislation on conversions that enshrines the monopoly of the Orthodox (indeed, ultra-Orthodox) establishment has serious and potentially tragic consequences.

Why Iran and Israel May be on the Verge of Conflict — in Syria: Benny Avni, New York Post, June 27, 2017 —Some Israelis like to go to the Golan, where from the safety of a ramp overlooking the valley below, they can watch — no binoculars needed — the most consequential regional event of the age: the Syrian civil war.

Iranians Love Israelis; A Message of Hope on ‘International Quds Day’: Kitty Herweijer, Times of Israel, June 23, 2017—Today marks Quds day, a day initiated by the founder of Islamic republic of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, after the Islamic revolution in 1979 to unite Muslims by opposing the state of Israel. Every year on this day masses of people, led by all political fractions from reformists and moderates to the hardliners, gather in the streets of Tehran to call for the annihilation of the Jewish state.

 

 

“NEO-OTTOMAN” TURKEY SUPPORTS QATAR IN GULF CRISIS & TRIES TO GAIN FOOTHOLD IN JERUSALEM

Turkey’s Failed Grand Design for the Middle East: Burak Bekdil, BESA, June 16, 2017— In many ways, the recent crisis between Qatar and its Gulf and other Muslim “friends” marked, among other things, the last nail in the coffin of Turkey’s “grand Middle Eastern design”.

A New Ottoman Empire?: Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom, June 23, 2017— Four years after the Ottoman Empire faded away and withdrew from the land of Israel, the man who wrote the words to Turkey's national anthem — Mehmet Akif Ersoy — tried to hoist his country's flag.

Turkey's Elite Get Lenient Treatment in Post-Coup Probes: Sibel Hurtas, Al-Monitor, June 22, 2017 — Turkey has been under a state of emergency since the abortive coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Turkey, Where Are Your Jews?: Uzay Bulut, Arutz Sheva, Apr. 12, 2017 — The Turkish newspaper Milliyet published a news report on March 20 entitled “Synagogues from the era of Byzantium are about to disappear forever!”

 

On Topic Links

 

Turkish Takeover in Jerusalem: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, June 2, 2017

Turkey Rolls the Dice by Supporting Qatar in Its Feud With Saudi Arabia: Iyad Dakka, World Politics Review, June 19, 2017

Perspectives on Turkey’s 2017 Presidential Referendum: Ödül Celep, Rubin Center, June, 2017

Soft Sharia in Turkey: Burak Bekdil, Gatestone Institute, June 18, 2017

 

 

TURKEY’S FAILED GRAND DESIGN FOR THE MIDDLE EAST                                                            

Burak Bekdil

           BESA, June 16, 2017

 

In many ways, the recent crisis between Qatar and its Gulf and other Muslim “friends” marked, among other things, the last nail in the coffin of Turkey’s “grand Middle Eastern design”. Once again, Turkey’s leaders were trapped by their own ideological shallowness into betting on a losing horse.

 

Very important Turks in dark suits saw the start of the Arab Spring as a golden opportunity to realize their neo-Ottoman ambitions. In Tunisia, their Islamist brothers in arms, the Ennahdha Party, would come to power and annihilate the “secular infidels”. Rachid Gannouchi, Ennahdha’s chief ideologue, never hid his admiration for Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s stealth Islamization by popular vote.

 

Erdoğan received one rock-star welcome after another on his visits to Beirut and Egypt. He failed, however, to detect that Lebanese Muslims’ devotion to him was merely praise for his outspoken hatred of Israel. He also failed to predict the turn of political events in Egypt, investing all his political resources in the Muslim Brotherhood. In Iraq, he calculated that with some western backing, he could end the Shiite rule in Baghdad and build a Sunni regime instead. In Gaza, Hamas was, and still is, Erdoğan’s ideological next of kin.

 

In Syria, the non-Sunni [Nusayri] president, Bashar al-Assad, is Erdoğan’s worst regional nemesis. Erdoğan’s expectation, it appears, was that Assad would be toppled and replaced by a coalition of Sunni jihadists. Eventually, a pro-Sunni belt in the Middle East would take shape, totally subservient to the emerging Turkish empire and to its emerging caliph, Erdoğan. Such was Erdoğan’s grand design for the region. Qatar was not simply the “lubricant” of Turkey’s fragile economy but also Erdoğan’s main ideological partner.

 

The story is not progressing according to that script, however. Hezbollah in Lebanon decided Erdoğan was simply “too Sunni” for their tastes, notwithstanding his virulent anti-Israeli rhetoric and ideology. In Tunisia, Ennahdha, to Erdoğan’s disappointment, signed a historic compromise with the country’s secular bloc instead of fighting to annihilate it. The Brotherhood in Egypt lost not only power but also legitimacy as international pressure mounted in recognition of the group’s links with violence. In Baghdad, the rulers are still Shiite and controlled by Tehran. In Syria, Assad remains in power, backed by Iran and Russia, and Erdoğan’s jihadist comrades are almost entirely devoid of strategic importance. Moreover, an emerging Kurdish belt in northern Syria has become a Turkish nightmare. Hamas, like the Brotherhood, is getting squeezed day by day, both regionally and internationally. Erdoğan’s ambition to end the naval blockade of Gaza is already a long-forgotten promise. And now Qatar is in trouble, along with Erdoğan himself.

 

It is not just Erdoğan’s other friends in the Gulf and the Muslim world that are now strangling Qatar through a punishing isolation. Erdoğan must also contend with US President Donald Trump, who declared that Qatar – Turkey’s staunchest ally – “had been a high-level sponsor of terrorism.” Erdoğan, still a firm believer in ideology as foreign policy, is not getting any closer to reality. Immediately after the Gulf and other Muslim sanctions were placed on Qatar, the Turkish president signed two treaties with the Gulf state: one to send troops to a joint Turkish-Qatari military base in Qatar, and the other to provide Turkish training for Qatari gendarmerie units. Turkey, along with Iran, also quickly moved to send food stocks to Qatar in an attempt to ease the sanctions.

 

Erdoğan said the sanctions were wrong; that Ankara would continue to improve its already good relations with Doha; and that “we will never abandon our Qatari brothers.” With a caliph’s self-confidence, he ordered that the crisis be resolved before the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan (i.e., the end of June). As to Qatar’s connection to terror, what connection? Erdoğan says he has never seen Qatar supporting terrorism. This declaration is reminiscent of his past statement that “I went to Sudan and did not see any genocide there,” made in support of his “good friend” Omar Bashir, who was wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity and genocide.

 

The cast of the Gulf drama reveals ideological kinships. As part of their anti-Qatar campaign, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt accused 59 individuals and 12 charity organizations of terror links. One of the accused is Yousef al-Qaradawi, the Egyptian chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars. Who is Qaradawi? In 2004, Qaradawi said, “There is no dialogue between us [Jews and Muslims] except by the sword and the rifle.” In 2005, he issued a fatwa permitting the killing of Jewish fetuses. And in 2013, when millions of secular Turks took to the streets to protest Erdoğan’s Islamist policies, Qaradawi rushed to Erdoğan’s aid by declaring that the “Turkish protesters were acting against Allah’s will.”

 

Once again, Erdoğan’s Turkey stands on the wrong corner at the wrong moment. Some of his men fear Turkey may be next in line for international sanctions for standing in solidarity with what Washington views as a high-level sponsor of terror. This may be unlikely, but Erdoğan is ignoring two potential dangers. First, he is operating on the flawed assumption that business as usual will resume no matter how the Gulf crisis ends, and that the Turkish-Qatari alliance will be up and running according to the same ideals. Second, he believes the West is too weak to sanction Turkey either politically or economically, so it has little to fear on that front.

 

He is wrong on both counts. Doha may not be the same place after the Gulf Arabs find a way out of their crisis. A less Turkey-friendly Qatar may well emerge. Turkey’s two staunchest ideological allies, the Brotherhood and Hamas, will likely be further pruned in their own corners of the Arab world, with non-Arab Turkey possibly remaining their only vocal supporter. And the impending “slap” Ankara is ignoring may come not from Washington but from Erdoğan’s Muslim friends in the Gulf. Shortly before the Qatar campaign, Turkey’s defense bureaucracy was curious as to why the Saudis kept delaying a ceremony for a $2 billion contract for the sale of four Turkish frigates to the Kingdom in what would have become Turkey’s largest-ever single defense industry export. Now they have an idea why. That deal, if scrapped, may be just one of the starters on a rich menu.

 

 

Contents  

             

A NEW OTTOMAN EMPIRE?

Nadav Shragai

Israel Hayom, June 23, 2017

 

Four years after the Ottoman Empire faded away and withdrew from the land of Israel, the man who wrote the words to Turkey's national anthem — Mehmet Akif Ersoy — tried to hoist his country's flag. He slipped a line into the anthem to which the Turks still cling. Arusi describes the flag "waving like the shining sky" and praises it: "Oh coy crescent do not frown, for I am ready to sacrifice myself for you! … If you frown, our blood shed for you will not be worthy." But it's doubtful whether back in 1921 even Ersoy believed that less than 100 years later, flags bearing Turkey's moon and star would once again wave over the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount — and under the rule of a Jewish state, no less.

 

Turkey once again wants to gain a foothold and influence in Jerusalem. It is investing a lot of money to gain its objective. The Turkish national and cultural awakening in the Israeli capital, which is keenly felt by the residents of east Jerusalem, has the backing of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who sees himself as the patron of the Muslim Brotherhood and the man who will reinstate the Ottoman Empire and become the father of the Ottoman caliphate that will one day return — even to Jerusalem.

 

Turkey is scattering vast sums around east Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount to acquire a foothold and influence here. Erdogan's loyal partners in this "holy" act are the members of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, led by Sheikh Raed Salah, which rejects the legitimacy of Israel and which has now been outlawed; and Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the former mufti of Jerusalem, one of the most extreme figures in Islam who has decreed suicide bombings legitimate and expressed hope that the U.S. and Britain be destroyed. Sabri is currently the head preacher at Al-Aqsa mosque…

 

It turns out that the Turkish money is flowing into Jerusalem via a number of entities, the most important of which is TIKA, an aid organization funded mostly by the Turkish government that sends enormous amounts of money to some 140 countries. Since 2011, TIKA has been headed by Dr. Serder Cam, who formerly served as chief of Erdogan's parliamentary staff. Members of the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center recently discovered that between 2004, when TIKA first established a branch office in Ramallah, and 2014, it invested millions of dollars in no fewer than 63 projects in Jerusalem…

 

At the request of the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Youth and Sport, TIKA has also invested in the construction of a sports stadium in the A-Tur neighborhood on the way to the Mount of Olives; in refurbishing the archive of Ottoman and Muslim documents on the Temple Mount; in acquiring a water tank for the benefit of worshippers on the Mount; in rebuilding the Muslim cemetery at the foot of the eastern wall of the Temple Mount, near the Golden Gate; in funding archaeological salvage excavations on the Street of the Chain in the Old City; and plenty of other community and religious projects.

 

Turkey's trusted allies in Jerusalem — mainly the Muslim Brotherhood, who maintain ties to the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement — frequently fly Turkish flags on the Temple Mount and along the way to it. TIKA has also printed hundreds of thousands of copies of an informational booklet in three languages (Turkish, Arabic and English) about the 76 Muslim historical sites and buildings in the Al-Aqsa compound. The booklet launch was a festive ceremony attended by members of the Muslim Waqf and representatives of the Turks and the Palestinians.

 

The crown jewel of Turkey's activity in Jerusalem was replacing the faded old crescent on top of the Dome of the Rock with a shiny new golden crescent donated by the government of Turkey. It was a Turkish association that provided part of the funding for the buses that in recent years have picked up operatives from the Murabitun and Murabitat fundamentalist groups from Palestinian villages in the Triangle region and shuttled them to the Temple Mount, where they spent years instigating riots and unrest until their organizations were outlawed and banned from the Mount.

 

The Turkish obsession with Al-Aqsa and the Temple Mount is both consistent and methodical. Dr. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak, a researcher on Turkey from the Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, mentions that for years, the Turks sent regular delegations to inspect events involving the archaeological excavations around Mughrabi Bridge and the Western Wall tunnels. "Mehmet Gormez, chairman of the Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate, is the one who two years ago on Al-Qadr Eve directed the prayer on the Temple Mount, and under Gormez, Jerusalem became a station on the Hajj route [the holy journey to Mecca]. In other words, on the way to Mecca, [Muslims] pray at Al-Aqsa, and only then proceed to Jordan, and from there to Saudi Arabia," Yanarocak explains.

 

The researcher also notes that the backdrop of the official TV station of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate now includes an image of Al-Aqsa mosque alongside the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. "Turkish schoolbooks are including Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem more and more, too," Yanarocak observes. A reminder: Only a few weeks ago, despite the reconciliation agreement between Israel and Turkey and the supposed end to the Mavi Marmara crisis Erdogan spoke at an international forum of Waqf charities for Al-Quds, the Muslim name for Jerusalem. He called Israeli rule over Jerusalem "an insult" and called on his people and on Muslims worldwide "to protect Jerusalem's Muslim identity" and ascend the Temple Mount.

 

Erdogan took that same opportunity to attack Israel's muezzin bill, which was intended to limit noise from Muslim calls to prayer, and threatened: "We will not allow the muezzin on Al-Aqsa to be silenced. … Any stone that is moved in the city could be significant." He also complained that "only" 26,000 Turks visit Jerusalem each year and added that "although that is a larger number than any other Muslim state, it's much lower than the hundreds of thousands of Americans, Russians and French [who visit]." Indeed, thanks to Erdogan, Muslim tourism to Jerusalem is changing. Today, it is mainly religious groups who visit Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, then leave.

 

Yanarocak explains that Erdogan "believes he is the leader of the moderate Sunni world, and he takes every opportunity to stress that he is the descendant of the Ottoman Empire, which ruled Jerusalem for hundreds of years, the heir to Salah a-Din and Suleiman the Magnificent. He defines the Turks as the grandchildren of those two and aspires to restore Islamic rule and the [Turkish] empire to Jerusalem."…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

Contents

TURKEY, WHERE ARE YOUR JEWS?

Uzay Bulut

Arutz Sheva, Apr. 12, 2017

 

The Turkish newspaper Milliyet published a news report on March 20 entitled “Synagogues from the era of Byzantium are about to disappear forever!” “Among the historical and cultural heritage of Istanbul that is on the verge of extinction are Byzantine synagogues which belong to the Turkish Jewish community,” said the report. “Most of the historic synagogues which numbered in dozens in the early 20th century are located in the Balat and Hasköy areas. Many run the risk of disappearing forever”.

 

“A lot of historic monuments belonging to the Jewish community and built during the Byzantine era are in ruins,” said Mois Gabay, a columnist for the Jewish weekly Salom, and a professional tourist guide. Gabay added that Turkish Jews who lived in the region of Golden Horn, also known by its Turkish name as Haliç "left Turkey a long time ago”.  When there are no more Jewish congregants, it becomes almost impossible to preserve synagogues.

 

Jews in Turkey are mostly known for being the descendants of the immigrants who moved to the Ottoman Empire after being expelled from Spain. However, Jews have been living in Asia Minor since antiquity. Professor Franklin Hugh Adler explains: “Jews, in fact, had inhabited this land long before the birth of Mohammed and the Islamic conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries, or for that matter, the arrival and conquests of the Turks, beginning in the eleventh century. On the eve of the birth of Islam, most of world Jewry lived under Byzantine or Persian rule in the lands of the Mediterranean basin.

 

“At the beginning of the Turkish Republic, in 1923, the Jewish population was 81,454. In Istanbul alone there were 47,035 Jews, roughly thirteen percent of a city that then numbered 373,124.” Today, there are fewer than 15,000 Jews in Turkey, whose entire population is almost 80 million. What happened? Since 1923, when the Turkish Republic was established, Jews have been exposed to systematic discrimination and campaigns of forced Turkification and Islamization. With the Law of Family Names accepted in 1934, Jews as well as other non-Muslim and non-Turkish citizens had to change their names and surnames and adopt Turkish sounding names. The 1934 Turkish Resettlement Law resulted not only in the forced assimilation of non-Turks, but also in their forced displacement. Jews who had lived in Eastern Thrace were forcibly sent to Istanbul. The last of the Jewish “Alliance Israélite Schools” was shut down by the Turkish government in 1937.

 

Jews were deprived of their freedom of movement at least three times: in 1923, 1925 and 1927. During the Holocaust, Turkey opened its doors to very few Jewish and political refugees and even took measures to prevent Jewish immigration in 1937. During the Ottoman Empire, Jews had been allowed to engage in Zionist activities — activities that support the reestablishment of the Jewish homeland in the historic Land of Israel — but during the rule of the new republic, these activities were banned.

 

Hate speech in the Turkish media against Jews has also been a serious and continued problem for decades. For example, in the one-party regime of the CHP (Republican People’s Party) government between the years 1923 and 1945, “The Turkish satirical magazines were full of caricatures of the ‘Jewish merchant’: dirty, materialistic, afraid of water, hook nosed, a black marketer, an opportunist, and utterly unable to speak Turkish without a comical Jewish accent; in short, a similar figure to Jewish types encountered in Nazi iconography,” writes Rifat N. Bali, the leading scholar of Turkish Jewry…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

                                                                                   

Contents

                     

TURKEY'S ELITE GET LENIENT TREATMENT IN POST-COUP PROBES

Sibel Hurtas

Al-Monitor, June 22, 2017

 

Turkey has been under a state of emergency since the abortive coup attempt on July 15, 2016. During this period, 150,000 people have been arrested and 50,000 remain behind bars, including journalists, academics, students, public servants and even shopkeepers. Absent from this long list of alleged supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the US-based cleric accused of masterminding the putsch, are political figures who made no secret of their sympathy for Gulen in the past. This has long stirred controversy and sparked accusations that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is protecting its own.

 

In September 2016, two months after the coup attempt, the arrest of businessman Omer Kavurmaci — the son-in-law of Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas — led many to believe that the operations would extend to political quarters, since the Topbas family’s sympathy for Gulen was no secret. The expectations, however, did not materialize. Moreover, the judiciary made a surprise decision in May 2017 to release Kavurmaci while pending trial, on the grounds he suffers from epilepsy and sleep apnea.

 

Then, in June 2017, the authorities arrested Ekrem Yeter, the son-in-law of AKP co-founder Bulent Arinc. An associate professor in medicine, Yeter was among hundreds of academics expelled from universities through legislative decrees that the government used to its advantage under the state of emergency. Yeter became a suspect because the health association that he chaired was shut down after the coup attempt for alleged affiliation with the Gulen community, which the government has since rebranded as the Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organization.

 

Yeter reportedly testified that he had joined the health association after his father-in-law advised him to contribute to the association. He testified that AKP heavyweights such as Labor Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu and Agriculture Minister Faruk Celik had attended the health association’s events. Given the zeal with which prosecutors pursue alleged Gulen sympathizers, one would have expected that a testimony providing fresh names would lead to an expanded investigation. But this did not happen. Moreover, Yeter walked free after a few days in jail when a court ruled he had a permanent residence and therefore he could report to the police regularly and was not a flight risk. The release of the two men was seen as special treatment, leading social media users to coin the term “sons-in-law law,” which politicians and journalists were quick to adopt. Pro-government columnist Abdulkadir Selvi, for instance, wrote, “Along with criminal law, civil law, commercial law and international law, there is now a new bunch — 'sons-in-law law.'"

 

The contrast between the treatment of different suspects was inescapable. The evidence prosecutors have against the sons-in-law and the evidence used to imprison journalists is beyond comparison. Kavurmaci, for instance, stands accused of financially supporting Gulen even after the coup attempt. Yeter is accused of implementing Gulenist projects via ministries and medical faculties. Cumhuriyet and Al-Monitor columnist Kadri Gursel, meanwhile, has been in jail since November 2016 for alleged links with Gulenists, the supposed evidence for which is telephone records showing that individuals who downloaded the ByLock application — the alleged secret communication channel used by Gulenists — had called or texted the journalist. Moreover, the bulk of those calls and text messages remained unanswered. The charges against other Cumhuriyet writers and journalists still in jail are of a similar nature.

 

“More than 150 journalists remain in jail, including some with a lifelong record of opposing [the Gulenists], while the sons-in-law walk free,” said Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), at a June 13 CHP meeting in parliament. In a sarcastic tone, he added that perhaps “mothers are to blame because they have failed to find the right fathers-in-law for their sons.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Turkish Takeover in Jerusalem: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, June 2, 2017 —The fireworks and fanfare of the Jerusalem liberation jubilee have shoved under the radar a blockbuster expose about the unruly situation in east Jerusalem. Alarm bells should be ringing about the nefarious intensifying involvement of Erdogan's Turkey and other radical Islamist groups in Jerusalem political and social affairs.

Turkey Rolls the Dice by Supporting Qatar in Its Feud With Saudi Arabia: Iyad Dakka, World Politics Review, June 19, 2017—Like the rest of the world, Turkey was blindsided by the sudden decision by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to cut all diplomatic, trade and transportation ties with Qatar earlier this month.

Perspectives on Turkey’s 2017 Presidential Referendum: Ödül Celep, Rubin Center, June, 2017—The April 16, 2017, presidential referendum has created an unprecedented sociopolitical division in Turkey. The referendum has led to odd unions between former foes. It has also brought a variety of diverse political groups into one block, particularly the “no” block.

Soft Sharia in Turkey: Burak Bekdil, Gatestone Institute, June 18, 2017—The good news about Turkish justice is that despite 15 years of not-so-creeping Islamization, court verdicts do not yet sentence wrongdoers to public lashing, stoning, amputations or public hangings in main city squares.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MIDDLE EAST: CONFRONTATION BETWEEN U.S. AND IRAN IN SYRIA INTENSIFIES

The Great Muslim Civil War — and Us: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, June 22, 2017— This week marks six months since the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which classifies Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 line, including in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, as illegal.

Welcome to the Shia Corridor: Ben Cohen, JNS, June 23, 2017 — If you haven’t encountered the term “Shia corridor” yet, chances are that you will in the coming weeks, particularly if the ongoing confrontation between the US and Iran in Syria intensifies.

A Rare Consensus: Eric R. Mandel, Jerusalem Post, June 25, 2017— After speaking with foreign policy experts and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle last week, there was a rare consensus that we shouldn’t harbor any illusions about our strategic Arab alliances in the Middle East.

Prospects for a Near East Treaty Organization: Jose V. Ciprut, BESA, June 10, 2017— US President Donald Trump’s “pilgrimage” to Riyadh, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Rome was carefully choreographed.

 

On Topic Links

 

Arab States Issue Ultimatum to Qatar: Rick Moran, American Thinker, June 24, 2016

President Trump’s Arab Alliance Is a Mirage: Antony J. Blinken, New York Times, June 19, 2017

US Strategy and Israel’s Stake in Eastern Syria: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, June 23, 2017

Resistance Axis Forces Directly Threaten U.S.: We Are On The Brink Of War On Syria-Iraq Border: N. Mozes, MEMRI, June 14, 2017

 

 

 

THE GREAT MUSLIM CIVIL WAR — AND US                                                            

Charles Krauthammer

                                       Washington Post, June 22, 2017

 

The U.S. shoots down a Syrian fighter-bomber. Iran launches missiles into eastern Syria. Russia threatens to attack coalition aircraft west of the Euphrates. What is going on? It might appear a mindless mess, but the outlines are clear. The great Muslim civil war, centered in Syria, is approaching its post-Islamic State phase. It’s the end of the beginning. The parties are maneuvering to shape what comes next. It’s Europe, 1945, when the war was still raging against Nazi Germany, but everyone already knew the outcome. The maneuvering was largely between the approaching victors — the Soviet Union and the Western democracies — to determine postwar boundaries and spheres of influence.

So it is today in Syria. Everyone knows that the Islamic State is finished. Not that it will disappear as an ideology, insurgency and source of continuing terrorism both in the region and the West. But it will disappear as an independent, organized, territorial entity in the heart of the Middle East. It is being squeezed out of existence. Its hold on Mosul, its last major redoubt in Iraq, is nearly gone. Raqqa, its stronghold in Syria and de facto capital, is next. When it falls — it is already surrounded on three sides — the caliphate dies.

 

Much of the fighting today is about who inherits. Take the Syrian jet the United States shot down. It had been attacking a pro-Western Kurdish and Arab force (the Syrian Democratic Forces) not far from Islamic State territory. Why? Because the Bashar al-Assad regime, backed by Iran, Hezbollah and Russia, having gained the upper hand on the non-jihadist rebels in the Syrian heartland (most notably in Aleppo), feels secure enough to set its sights on eastern Syria. If it hopes to restore its authority over the whole country, it will need to control Raqqa and surrounding Islamic State areas. But the forces near Raqqa are pro-Western and anti-regime. Hence the Syrian fighter-bomber attack.

 

Hence the U.S. shoot-down. We are protecting our friends. Hence the Russian threats to now target U.S. planes. The Russians are protecting their friends. On the same day as the shoot-down, Iran launched six surface-to-surface missiles into Syrian territory controlled by the Islamic State. Why? Ostensibly to punish the jihadists for terrorist attacks two weeks ago inside Iran.  Perhaps. But one obvious objective was to demonstrate to Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni Arabs the considerable reach of both Iran’s arms and territorial ambitions.

 

For Iran, Syria is the key, the central theater of a Shiite-Sunni war for regional hegemony. Iran (which is non-Arab) leads the Shiite side, attended by its Arab auxiliaries — Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Shiite militias in Iraq and the highly penetrated government of Iraq, and Assad’s Alawite regime. (Alawites being a non-Sunni sect, often associated with Shiism.) Taken together, they comprise a vast arc — the Shiite Crescent — stretching from Iran through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean. If consolidated, it gives the Persians a Mediterranean reach they have not had in 2,300 years. This alliance operates under the patronage and protection of Russia, which supplies the Iranian-allied side with cash, weapons and, since 2015, air cover from its new bases in Syria.

 

Arrayed on the other side of the great Muslim civil war are the Sunnis, moderate and Western-allied, led by Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Egypt and Jordan — with their Great Power patron, the United States, now (post-Obama) back in action. At stake is consolidation of the Shiite Crescent. It’s already underway. As the Islamic State is driven out of Mosul, Iranian-controlled militias are taking over crucial roads and other strategic assets in western Iraq. Next target: eastern Syria (Raqqa and environs). Imagine the scenario: a unified Syria under Assad, the ever more pliant client of Iran and Russia; Hezbollah, tip of the Iranian spear, dominant in Lebanon; Iran, the regional arbiter; and Russia, with its Syrian bases, the outside hegemon.

 

Our preferred outcome is radically different: a loosely federated Syria, partitioned and cantonized, in which Assad might be left in charge of an Alawite rump.  The Iranian-Russian strategy is a nightmare for the entire Sunni Middle East. And for us too. The Pentagon seems bent on preventing it. Hence the cruise missile attack for crossing the chemical red line. Hence the recent fighter-bomber shoot-down. A reasonable U.S. strategy, given the alternatives. But not without risk. Which is why we need a national debate before we commit too deeply. Perhaps we might squeeze one in amid the national obsession with every James Comey memo-to-self?

 

 

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WELCOME TO THE SHIA CORRIDOR

Ben Cohen

JNS, June 23, 2017

 

If you haven’t encountered the term “Shia corridor” yet, chances are that you will in the coming weeks, particularly if the ongoing confrontation between the US and Iran in Syria intensifies. What was initially a sideshow to the main battle against Islamic State in Syria is fast becoming the main focus of attention. In recent weeks, the US has shot down at least two Iranian armed drones over Syria. A Syrian regime bomber jet supposedly attacking Islamic State positions near Raqqa was also downed, after it ventured too close to positions held by US-allied forces. Armed skirmishes have been reported between US-allied forces and Iranian-backed Shia Islamist militias. The Russians — allied with Iran in supporting the tyrant Bashar al-Assad in Damascus — are also part of this dangerous equation, going so far as to declare that Moscow’s generals will treat US-led coalition aircraft flying west of the Euphrates River in Syria as “potential targets.”

 

What does Iran hope to achieve here? To start with, it’s important to note that the international legitimacy the mullahs have enjoyed since the Iran nuclear deal of 2015 is starting to fragment. The US Senate this month voted to slap new sanctions on Iran for its violations outside the terms of the nuclear deal, such as its use of ballistic missiles and its support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon. Such political moves invariably have a significant economic impact, which is why Western banks continue to advise caution towards companies tempted to invest in Iran.

 

None of this fretting is of much consequence to the overtly revolutionary wings of the Iranian regime, most obviously the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which is built to retain its enormous power with or without sanctions in place. But the eclipse of the Obama administration’s engagement strategy with Iran highlights once again that it is institutions like the IRGC, much more than one or another foreign minister sounding reasonable and eloquent, that define the nature of power and influence in the Islamic Republic.

 

This is where the “Shia corridor” comes in. Iran’s goal to become the dominant power in the Islamic world involves more than religious or ideological influence. It requires the boots of Iran and its proxies on the ground — as demonstrated already in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. It requires that Iran has easy, uninterrupted access to all those parts of the region where it exercises political control.

 

On one level, the idea of a Shia corridor seems a little fantastical. Almost 2,000 miles separate Tehran from the Mediterranean coast to its far west. The road between the two points is distinguished by rough terrain and the presence of numerous militias along the route, many of them belonging to Sunni Islamist factions hostile to Iran. In addition to heavy defenses on the ground, the corridor would need effective aerial warning systems, given Israel’s demonstrated willingness to bomb weapons shipments between Iran and its allies in Syria and Lebanon. Can a country with an ailing economy like Iran’s, that is now facing an increasingly hostile administration in Washington, DC, really carve out such a corridor unopposed?

 

The point, for now at least, is Iran is doing precisely that — assisted by the lack of a defined US policy towards not just the Iranian nuclear program, but its entire regional role; the absence of any appetite among the Europeans for a confrontation with Tehran; and the unprecedented support coming from Iran’s traditional foe, Russia, thanks to President Vladimir Putin’s benevolence. In other words, Iran will face obstacles to its contiguous territorial path only if its adversaries — not just America, but also Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia, among others — are willing to place them there.

 

Does the advance of the corridor so far warrant such concern? At the end of May, a few correspondents in the region, among them the Israeli journalist Seth Frantzman and the American reporter Dexter Filkins, reported that Iranian-backed militias had seized a cluster of villages along the Syrian-Iraqi border, thereby securing an encumbered road link between the IRGC in Tehran and its client in Damascus. “The development is potentially momentous,” Filkins wrote in the New Yorker, “because, for the first time, it would bind together, by a single land route, a string of Iranian allies, including Hezbollah, in Lebanon; the Assad regime, in Syria; and the Iranian-dominated government in Iraq. Those allies form what is often referred to as the Shiite Crescent, an Iranian sphere of influence in an area otherwise dominated by Sunni Muslims.”

 

While those same Sunni Muslims are divided between those who see the Muslim Brotherhood or Iran as their main enemy, and those who accord that distinction to Israel and the US, Iran is presenting a unified Shia revolutionary stance towards the outside world. Iran has allies all the way from Lebanon to Bahrain, and Iran is their unmistakable leader. When looked at on the map, this status conveys the possibility of an Iranian empire that Tehran’s actions in the field seek only to reinforce.

 

The consequences for Israel of a Shia corridor are, needless to say, acute. Since the war in Lebanon in the mid-1980s, Israel has been acutely aware of Iran’s ability to wage direct war on its territory, through the missile barrages of its Hezbollah proxy in Lebanon. The existence of a land corridor will transform Iran’s capacity in this regard, perhaps to the point where a land-based war launched against Israel from Syria and Lebanon could be as perilous as a nuclear attack.

 

For some time now, it has been an established fact that Hezbollah has increased its number of missiles pointed at Israel by a factor of 10, with newer and deadlier models now in operation — despite the existence of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, passed in 2006, which demands that Hezbollah disarm entirely. A land corridor would make any attempt to enforce this resolution a much harder task. As always, Israel is prepared for the worst. But how it responds will depend, more than anything else, on how the Trump administration copes with the reality that America is once again locked in combat with its adversaries.

                                                                                   

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A RARE CONSENSUS

Eric R. Mandel

Jerusalem Post, June 25, 2017

 

After speaking with foreign policy experts and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle last week, there was a rare consensus that we shouldn’t harbor any illusions about our strategic Arab alliances in the Middle East. US President Donald Trump’s realignment back to our Sunni Gulf “allies” makes sense on the surface, as we share the goal of curbing Iran’s obsession to dominate the region.

 

But if we ally ourselves with them, will the Saudi and Gulf States stop supporting radical Sunni jihadists? Will the new Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman be a reformer and a transformative king moving Saudi Arabia into modernity, or will he be reckless and adventurous, creating instability in the region? Don’t forget how hopeful it seemed to many, including Hillary Clinton and secretary of state John Kerry, that the London-trained ophthalmologist Bashar Assad would bring enlightened reform to Syria. It is inaccurate to analyze the region and our choices exclusively in terms of the Sunni-Shi’ite divide. An equally essential filter to understand the conflicting realities is to separate those nation-states who support political Islamism and those who don’t, e.g. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Egypt.

 

Political Islamists, whose goal is a worldwide caliphate, have both Shi’ite and Sunni adherents. They may pursue that goal by conquest or terrorism, as do Islamic State (Sunni) and Iran (Shi’ite), or they may create adherents by providing food, shelter and schooling to disadvantaged Islamic populations. The Muslim Brotherhood (Sunni) subscribes to both strategies, which misled the Obama administration into advocating for the MB as a moderating force within political Islamism, ignoring their actions and words, such as “jihad is our way,” and “dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”

 

Aligning exclusively with either side of these divides, whether Sunnis vs. Shi’ites, or political Islamists and their enablers (Iran/Turkey/Muslim Brotherhood/ Qatar) vs. Egypt/Saudi Arabia/Kuwait/UAE is problematic at best. America must balance bad or worse choices to achieve its strategic goals. The choices are not always clear or satisfying, as there are befuddling realignments between and within the multi-dimensional divides.

 

In the world of political Islam, the lines of Sunni and Shi’ite blur: Shi’ite political Islamist Iran supports Sunni political Islamist Hamas, the progeny of the Sunni political Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. Shi’ite political Islamist Hezbollah and Sunni political Islamist Hamas have been meeting and coordinating their actions, with the shared goal of the destruction of the State of Israel. Another player with shifting allegiances within the political Islamist world is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who turned his nation from the only secular Sunni democracy in the Middle East into a political Islamist state, threatening American interests.

 

Regarding the “status quo” Sunni Wahhabi monarchies embraced by President Trump, Elliot Abrams expresses a post-9/11 view in The National Review that “Wahhabi Islam is at least a gateway drug for extremism…Saudi preachers, mosques, and schools teach…moderate versions of Islam are impure and must be replaced by the only true version.” Let us be clear: there is little commonality of values between America and Saudi Arabia. Ambassador Aaron David Miller referred to Arab nations like Saudi Arabia as tribes with flags. Saudi Arabia is a family owned nation-state run by the descendants of the 19th wife of the clan’s founder, Ibn Saud.

 

So are the Saudis any less supportive of sources of terrorism than in the past? In some ways yes, but they have miles to go, as they still look the other way as wealthy private Saudi citizens continue to give major backing to radical Sunni jihadist actors. Yet their rhetoric toward Israel has moved from hostile to conciliatory. The government-controlled Al Riyadh said recently that “there is no reason for Arabs to unjustifiably demonize Israel,” according to the UK Spectator.

 

Democrats I met with in Congress emphasized a point Antony Blinken, president Barack Obama’s deputy secretary of state, made in The New York Times. “Saudi-exported, ultra-conservative Wahhabism, which breeds intolerance around the world, is no less dangerous to Western interests than Iran’s support for radicalism, regional meddling and expansionism.” Perhaps, but in the Middle East world of bad and worse choices, Iran clearly falls on the more dangerous side for American interests. Blinken’s equivalence is more about not undermining president Obama’s foreign policy legacy, the Iran nuclear agreement (JCPOA). Ever since president Obama allowed the Iranian nuclear agreement to supersede American interests in reining in Iranian hegemony, the Sunni world lost faith in American resolve to both protect them and thwart Iranian expansionism.

 

Complicating this picture are the Gulf monarchies Bahrain, Oman and the UAE, which support Sunni jihadists and claim to be against Iranian interests. They are genuinely worried about the dangers of the rise of political Islamism supported by Qatar, which threatens their totalitarian dynasties. At the same time, they paradoxically funnel money for their supposed enemy Iran through their secretive banking systems. But what motivates all the Gulf States is their fear of Iran; so helping the Iranian regime may simply be a form of appeasement.

 

Every one of these Gulf nations with the possible exception of Saudi Arabia wants American bases on their soil as a deterrent to Iranian territorial aspirations. The UAE vs. Qatar crisis is also be about getting an American base in Abu Dhabi, rather than exclusively the stated goal of stopping Qatari support for terrorism, the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Jazeera and Hezbollah. Going forward, American interests will be advanced if the United States fosters normalization of Sunni-Israeli relations, reins in Iranian hegemonic ambitions and restrains Gulf State support for Sunni jihadists Aligning with peoples and nations that do not share Western values but do advance our interests is the filter and context to understand our choices in 2017 and beyond.

 

 

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PROSPECTS FOR A NEAR EAST TREATY ORGANIZATION

Jose V. Ciprut

BESA, June 10, 2017

 

US President Donald Trump’s “pilgrimage” to Riyadh, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Rome was carefully choreographed. This first foreign trip by a novice president turned out to be a masterstroke. The trip achieved several critical objectives. Mr. Trump wished to create a semblance of unity with allies who had come to question the strength of their respective relationships with the US. He designated a common enemy by suggesting that ancient hatreds can no longer be afforded, and by urging that strategic realignments grounded on a region-wide alliance are not only desirable but feasible. This ambitious agenda eschewed detailed specifics, relying on strict adherence to prepared scripts.

 

By going to Riyadh first, Trump conveyed the impression that he considers the Saudis a top priority. This tacit statement, made before a global audience, so flattered the Saudis that a page replete with historic disappointments was promptly turned. By insisting on visiting the Western Wall without Israeli escort; by discouraging a performance by a Palestinian Christian youth band eager to display its Palestinian national insignia at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; by avoiding the Knesset; and by electing to meet the aging president of the Palestinian Authority in Bethlehem rather than Ramallah, the US president made clear that, at this stage, he would not allow politicized symbolism to cast doubt on his stylized impartiality. His speeches in Riyadh, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem were consistent in their cordiality.

 

The flash visits to the Western Wall, Bethlehem, and Yad Vashem took place even as Britain was mourning the Manchester bombing and a “Day of Rage” was in full swing on the West Bank. The US president called for compassion across the region just as yet another knife-wielding Palestinian Arab had to be neutralized in Netanya. His intercessions were hence timely, conveying a sense of urgency.

 

Trump convincingly remarked that not only those who commit violent crimes, but also those who incite to violence by rewarding criminality in the name of a higher cause ought once and for all to cease and desist. By neither outlining nor so much as alluding to a new road map, and by unequivocally leaving the matter to the parties to debate, he reserved a role for the US as even-handed facilitator. Trump’s administration seems determined not to propose, let alone impose, any ends, means, methods, or style. This fresh approach, with its focus on “the collective need for realistic security-mindedness”, permits all the regional stakeholders to expand their thinking. That thinking could include one particularly intriguing alternate future. It is possible to imagine a wholesale security redesign for the region – one that would include Israel, as well as an autonomous Palestinian entity thriving in peace and prosperity alongside it. This scenario would be conceivable only after the enemy factions agree as one to live in constructive acquiescence to the existence of the Jewish democratic State of Israel.

 

Over the past fifty years, new realities have swept the Middle East. Nasser’s pan-Arabism and the Muslim Brotherhood’s pan-Islamism both failed (although their remodeled ideals are currently being approached through other means by the 57-member Organization of Islamic States). Egypt has been won over by the West. Both Jordan and Egypt have sustained a cold peace with Israel. The “Arab Spring” has led to sporadic implosions that in turn spawned several failed states. Syria has been internally destroyed. Yemen is in agony. Iran has developed an appetite for regional hegemony, with recourse to militias abroad. Iraq and Libya have yet to experience a semblance of stability. Afghans, Chechens, and many other dissatisfied Muslims are fighting for their respective brands of fundamentalism, often engaging in zero-sum games with their own coreligionists. Lebanon remains in its apparently eternal existential dilemma. An increasingly Islamist Turkey has developed its own ambitions across the region by means that have polarized its population. African nations bordering on the Red Sea continue to experience internal unrest. Cyprus has yet to be reunified, and the Kurds’ destiny in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria is still undetermined…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Arab States Issue Ultimatum to Qatar: Rick Moran, American Thinker, June 24, 2016—The crisis in the Gulf over Qatar's ties to terrorism and Iran took an even more serious turn as Arab states issued an ultimatum to Doha demanding that it close the propaganda media outlet Al Jazeera, cut ties with Iran, remove a Turkish military base, and pay reparations. Qatar is not expected to comply with any of these demands.

President Trump’s Arab Alliance Is a Mirage: Antony J. Blinken, New York Times, June 19, 2017—Tweeting first and asking questions later is not a good way to make policy — especially in the Middle East. In a recent salvo, President Donald J. Trump took credit for a decision by one set of American partners — Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates — to sever relations with another, Qatar.

US Strategy and Israel’s Stake in Eastern Syria: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, June 23, 2017—The downing on June 18 of a Syrian Air Force SU-22 by a US Navy F-18 Super Hornet over the skies of northern Syria sharply raises the stakes in the emergent standoff in the country. This standoff is no longer between local militias, nor between regional powers. Rather, through interlocking lines of support, it places the United States in direct opposition to Russia.

Resistance Axis Forces Directly Threaten U.S.: We Are On The Brink Of War On Syria-Iraq Border: N. Mozes, MEMRI, June 14, 2017—On June 9, 2017, forces of the resistance axis, which is headed by Iran and the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, reached the Syria-Iraq border. This is an important accomplishment of these forces vis-à-vis the U.S. and its allies, and it not only boosts the morale of the resistance but it is key in the continued struggle over the future of Syria and the balance of power in the region.

 

 

 

 

 

MIDDLE EAST: CONFRONTATION BETWEEN U.S. AND IRAN IN SYRIA INTENSIFIES

The Great Muslim Civil War — and Us: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, June 22, 2017— This week marks six months since the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which classifies Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 line, including in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, as illegal.

Welcome to the Shia Corridor: Ben Cohen, JNS, June 23, 2017 — If you haven’t encountered the term “Shia corridor” yet, chances are that you will in the coming weeks, particularly if the ongoing confrontation between the US and Iran in Syria intensifies.

A Rare Consensus: Eric R. Mandel, Jerusalem Post, June 25, 2017— After speaking with foreign policy experts and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle last week, there was a rare consensus that we shouldn’t harbor any illusions about our strategic Arab alliances in the Middle East.

Prospects for a Near East Treaty Organization: Jose V. Ciprut, BESA, June 10, 2017— US President Donald Trump’s “pilgrimage” to Riyadh, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Rome was carefully choreographed.

 

On Topic Links

 

Arab States Issue Ultimatum to Qatar: Rick Moran, American Thinker, June 24, 2016

President Trump’s Arab Alliance Is a Mirage: Antony J. Blinken, New York Times, June 19, 2017

US Strategy and Israel’s Stake in Eastern Syria: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, June 23, 2017

Resistance Axis Forces Directly Threaten U.S.: We Are On The Brink Of War On Syria-Iraq Border: N. Mozes, MEMRI, June 14, 2017

 

 

 

THE GREAT MUSLIM CIVIL WAR — AND US                                                            

Charles Krauthammer

                                       Washington Post, June 22, 2017

 

The U.S. shoots down a Syrian fighter-bomber. Iran launches missiles into eastern Syria. Russia threatens to attack coalition aircraft west of the Euphrates. What is going on? It might appear a mindless mess, but the outlines are clear. The great Muslim civil war, centered in Syria, is approaching its post-Islamic State phase. It’s the end of the beginning. The parties are maneuvering to shape what comes next. It’s Europe, 1945, when the war was still raging against Nazi Germany, but everyone already knew the outcome. The maneuvering was largely between the approaching victors — the Soviet Union and the Western democracies — to determine postwar boundaries and spheres of influence.

So it is today in Syria. Everyone knows that the Islamic State is finished. Not that it will disappear as an ideology, insurgency and source of continuing terrorism both in the region and the West. But it will disappear as an independent, organized, territorial entity in the heart of the Middle East. It is being squeezed out of existence. Its hold on Mosul, its last major redoubt in Iraq, is nearly gone. Raqqa, its stronghold in Syria and de facto capital, is next. When it falls — it is already surrounded on three sides — the caliphate dies.

 

Much of the fighting today is about who inherits. Take the Syrian jet the United States shot down. It had been attacking a pro-Western Kurdish and Arab force (the Syrian Democratic Forces) not far from Islamic State territory. Why? Because the Bashar al-Assad regime, backed by Iran, Hezbollah and Russia, having gained the upper hand on the non-jihadist rebels in the Syrian heartland (most notably in Aleppo), feels secure enough to set its sights on eastern Syria. If it hopes to restore its authority over the whole country, it will need to control Raqqa and surrounding Islamic State areas. But the forces near Raqqa are pro-Western and anti-regime. Hence the Syrian fighter-bomber attack.

 

Hence the U.S. shoot-down. We are protecting our friends. Hence the Russian threats to now target U.S. planes. The Russians are protecting their friends. On the same day as the shoot-down, Iran launched six surface-to-surface missiles into Syrian territory controlled by the Islamic State. Why? Ostensibly to punish the jihadists for terrorist attacks two weeks ago inside Iran.  Perhaps. But one obvious objective was to demonstrate to Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni Arabs the considerable reach of both Iran’s arms and territorial ambitions.

 

For Iran, Syria is the key, the central theater of a Shiite-Sunni war for regional hegemony. Iran (which is non-Arab) leads the Shiite side, attended by its Arab auxiliaries — Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Shiite militias in Iraq and the highly penetrated government of Iraq, and Assad’s Alawite regime. (Alawites being a non-Sunni sect, often associated with Shiism.) Taken together, they comprise a vast arc — the Shiite Crescent — stretching from Iran through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean. If consolidated, it gives the Persians a Mediterranean reach they have not had in 2,300 years. This alliance operates under the patronage and protection of Russia, which supplies the Iranian-allied side with cash, weapons and, since 2015, air cover from its new bases in Syria.

 

Arrayed on the other side of the great Muslim civil war are the Sunnis, moderate and Western-allied, led by Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Egypt and Jordan — with their Great Power patron, the United States, now (post-Obama) back in action. At stake is consolidation of the Shiite Crescent. It’s already underway. As the Islamic State is driven out of Mosul, Iranian-controlled militias are taking over crucial roads and other strategic assets in western Iraq. Next target: eastern Syria (Raqqa and environs). Imagine the scenario: a unified Syria under Assad, the ever more pliant client of Iran and Russia; Hezbollah, tip of the Iranian spear, dominant in Lebanon; Iran, the regional arbiter; and Russia, with its Syrian bases, the outside hegemon.

 

Our preferred outcome is radically different: a loosely federated Syria, partitioned and cantonized, in which Assad might be left in charge of an Alawite rump.  The Iranian-Russian strategy is a nightmare for the entire Sunni Middle East. And for us too. The Pentagon seems bent on preventing it. Hence the cruise missile attack for crossing the chemical red line. Hence the recent fighter-bomber shoot-down. A reasonable U.S. strategy, given the alternatives. But not without risk. Which is why we need a national debate before we commit too deeply. Perhaps we might squeeze one in amid the national obsession with every James Comey memo-to-self?

 

 

Contents  

             

WELCOME TO THE SHIA CORRIDOR

Ben Cohen

JNS, June 23, 2017

 

If you haven’t encountered the term “Shia corridor” yet, chances are that you will in the coming weeks, particularly if the ongoing confrontation between the US and Iran in Syria intensifies. What was initially a sideshow to the main battle against Islamic State in Syria is fast becoming the main focus of attention. In recent weeks, the US has shot down at least two Iranian armed drones over Syria. A Syrian regime bomber jet supposedly attacking Islamic State positions near Raqqa was also downed, after it ventured too close to positions held by US-allied forces. Armed skirmishes have been reported between US-allied forces and Iranian-backed Shia Islamist militias. The Russians — allied with Iran in supporting the tyrant Bashar al-Assad in Damascus — are also part of this dangerous equation, going so far as to declare that Moscow’s generals will treat US-led coalition aircraft flying west of the Euphrates River in Syria as “potential targets.”

 

What does Iran hope to achieve here? To start with, it’s important to note that the international legitimacy the mullahs have enjoyed since the Iran nuclear deal of 2015 is starting to fragment. The US Senate this month voted to slap new sanctions on Iran for its violations outside the terms of the nuclear deal, such as its use of ballistic missiles and its support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon. Such political moves invariably have a significant economic impact, which is why Western banks continue to advise caution towards companies tempted to invest in Iran.

 

None of this fretting is of much consequence to the overtly revolutionary wings of the Iranian regime, most obviously the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which is built to retain its enormous power with or without sanctions in place. But the eclipse of the Obama administration’s engagement strategy with Iran highlights once again that it is institutions like the IRGC, much more than one or another foreign minister sounding reasonable and eloquent, that define the nature of power and influence in the Islamic Republic.

 

This is where the “Shia corridor” comes in. Iran’s goal to become the dominant power in the Islamic world involves more than religious or ideological influence. It requires the boots of Iran and its proxies on the ground — as demonstrated already in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. It requires that Iran has easy, uninterrupted access to all those parts of the region where it exercises political control.

 

On one level, the idea of a Shia corridor seems a little fantastical. Almost 2,000 miles separate Tehran from the Mediterranean coast to its far west. The road between the two points is distinguished by rough terrain and the presence of numerous militias along the route, many of them belonging to Sunni Islamist factions hostile to Iran. In addition to heavy defenses on the ground, the corridor would need effective aerial warning systems, given Israel’s demonstrated willingness to bomb weapons shipments between Iran and its allies in Syria and Lebanon. Can a country with an ailing economy like Iran’s, that is now facing an increasingly hostile administration in Washington, DC, really carve out such a corridor unopposed?

 

The point, for now at least, is Iran is doing precisely that — assisted by the lack of a defined US policy towards not just the Iranian nuclear program, but its entire regional role; the absence of any appetite among the Europeans for a confrontation with Tehran; and the unprecedented support coming from Iran’s traditional foe, Russia, thanks to President Vladimir Putin’s benevolence. In other words, Iran will face obstacles to its contiguous territorial path only if its adversaries — not just America, but also Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia, among others — are willing to place them there.

 

Does the advance of the corridor so far warrant such concern? At the end of May, a few correspondents in the region, among them the Israeli journalist Seth Frantzman and the American reporter Dexter Filkins, reported that Iranian-backed militias had seized a cluster of villages along the Syrian-Iraqi border, thereby securing an encumbered road link between the IRGC in Tehran and its client in Damascus. “The development is potentially momentous,” Filkins wrote in the New Yorker, “because, for the first time, it would bind together, by a single land route, a string of Iranian allies, including Hezbollah, in Lebanon; the Assad regime, in Syria; and the Iranian-dominated government in Iraq. Those allies form what is often referred to as the Shiite Crescent, an Iranian sphere of influence in an area otherwise dominated by Sunni Muslims.”

 

While those same Sunni Muslims are divided between those who see the Muslim Brotherhood or Iran as their main enemy, and those who accord that distinction to Israel and the US, Iran is presenting a unified Shia revolutionary stance towards the outside world. Iran has allies all the way from Lebanon to Bahrain, and Iran is their unmistakable leader. When looked at on the map, this status conveys the possibility of an Iranian empire that Tehran’s actions in the field seek only to reinforce.

 

The consequences for Israel of a Shia corridor are, needless to say, acute. Since the war in Lebanon in the mid-1980s, Israel has been acutely aware of Iran’s ability to wage direct war on its territory, through the missile barrages of its Hezbollah proxy in Lebanon. The existence of a land corridor will transform Iran’s capacity in this regard, perhaps to the point where a land-based war launched against Israel from Syria and Lebanon could be as perilous as a nuclear attack.

 

For some time now, it has been an established fact that Hezbollah has increased its number of missiles pointed at Israel by a factor of 10, with newer and deadlier models now in operation — despite the existence of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, passed in 2006, which demands that Hezbollah disarm entirely. A land corridor would make any attempt to enforce this resolution a much harder task. As always, Israel is prepared for the worst. But how it responds will depend, more than anything else, on how the Trump administration copes with the reality that America is once again locked in combat with its adversaries.

                                                                                   

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A RARE CONSENSUS

Eric R. Mandel

Jerusalem Post, June 25, 2017

 

After speaking with foreign policy experts and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle last week, there was a rare consensus that we shouldn’t harbor any illusions about our strategic Arab alliances in the Middle East. US President Donald Trump’s realignment back to our Sunni Gulf “allies” makes sense on the surface, as we share the goal of curbing Iran’s obsession to dominate the region.

 

But if we ally ourselves with them, will the Saudi and Gulf States stop supporting radical Sunni jihadists? Will the new Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman be a reformer and a transformative king moving Saudi Arabia into modernity, or will he be reckless and adventurous, creating instability in the region? Don’t forget how hopeful it seemed to many, including Hillary Clinton and secretary of state John Kerry, that the London-trained ophthalmologist Bashar Assad would bring enlightened reform to Syria. It is inaccurate to analyze the region and our choices exclusively in terms of the Sunni-Shi’ite divide. An equally essential filter to understand the conflicting realities is to separate those nation-states who support political Islamism and those who don’t, e.g. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Egypt.

 

Political Islamists, whose goal is a worldwide caliphate, have both Shi’ite and Sunni adherents. They may pursue that goal by conquest or terrorism, as do Islamic State (Sunni) and Iran (Shi’ite), or they may create adherents by providing food, shelter and schooling to disadvantaged Islamic populations. The Muslim Brotherhood (Sunni) subscribes to both strategies, which misled the Obama administration into advocating for the MB as a moderating force within political Islamism, ignoring their actions and words, such as “jihad is our way,” and “dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”

 

Aligning exclusively with either side of these divides, whether Sunnis vs. Shi’ites, or political Islamists and their enablers (Iran/Turkey/Muslim Brotherhood/ Qatar) vs. Egypt/Saudi Arabia/Kuwait/UAE is problematic at best. America must balance bad or worse choices to achieve its strategic goals. The choices are not always clear or satisfying, as there are befuddling realignments between and within the multi-dimensional divides.

 

In the world of political Islam, the lines of Sunni and Shi’ite blur: Shi’ite political Islamist Iran supports Sunni political Islamist Hamas, the progeny of the Sunni political Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. Shi’ite political Islamist Hezbollah and Sunni political Islamist Hamas have been meeting and coordinating their actions, with the shared goal of the destruction of the State of Israel. Another player with shifting allegiances within the political Islamist world is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who turned his nation from the only secular Sunni democracy in the Middle East into a political Islamist state, threatening American interests.

 

Regarding the “status quo” Sunni Wahhabi monarchies embraced by President Trump, Elliot Abrams expresses a post-9/11 view in The National Review that “Wahhabi Islam is at least a gateway drug for extremism…Saudi preachers, mosques, and schools teach…moderate versions of Islam are impure and must be replaced by the only true version.” Let us be clear: there is little commonality of values between America and Saudi Arabia. Ambassador Aaron David Miller referred to Arab nations like Saudi Arabia as tribes with flags. Saudi Arabia is a family owned nation-state run by the descendants of the 19th wife of the clan’s founder, Ibn Saud.

 

So are the Saudis any less supportive of sources of terrorism than in the past? In some ways yes, but they have miles to go, as they still look the other way as wealthy private Saudi citizens continue to give major backing to radical Sunni jihadist actors. Yet their rhetoric toward Israel has moved from hostile to conciliatory. The government-controlled Al Riyadh said recently that “there is no reason for Arabs to unjustifiably demonize Israel,” according to the UK Spectator.

 

Democrats I met with in Congress emphasized a point Antony Blinken, president Barack Obama’s deputy secretary of state, made in The New York Times. “Saudi-exported, ultra-conservative Wahhabism, which breeds intolerance around the world, is no less dangerous to Western interests than Iran’s support for radicalism, regional meddling and expansionism.” Perhaps, but in the Middle East world of bad and worse choices, Iran clearly falls on the more dangerous side for American interests. Blinken’s equivalence is more about not undermining president Obama’s foreign policy legacy, the Iran nuclear agreement (JCPOA). Ever since president Obama allowed the Iranian nuclear agreement to supersede American interests in reining in Iranian hegemony, the Sunni world lost faith in American resolve to both protect them and thwart Iranian expansionism.

 

Complicating this picture are the Gulf monarchies Bahrain, Oman and the UAE, which support Sunni jihadists and claim to be against Iranian interests. They are genuinely worried about the dangers of the rise of political Islamism supported by Qatar, which threatens their totalitarian dynasties. At the same time, they paradoxically funnel money for their supposed enemy Iran through their secretive banking systems. But what motivates all the Gulf States is their fear of Iran; so helping the Iranian regime may simply be a form of appeasement.

 

Every one of these Gulf nations with the possible exception of Saudi Arabia wants American bases on their soil as a deterrent to Iranian territorial aspirations. The UAE vs. Qatar crisis is also be about getting an American base in Abu Dhabi, rather than exclusively the stated goal of stopping Qatari support for terrorism, the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Jazeera and Hezbollah. Going forward, American interests will be advanced if the United States fosters normalization of Sunni-Israeli relations, reins in Iranian hegemonic ambitions and restrains Gulf State support for Sunni jihadists Aligning with peoples and nations that do not share Western values but do advance our interests is the filter and context to understand our choices in 2017 and beyond.

 

 

Contents

PROSPECTS FOR A NEAR EAST TREATY ORGANIZATION

Jose V. Ciprut

BESA, June 10, 2017

 

US President Donald Trump’s “pilgrimage” to Riyadh, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Rome was carefully choreographed. This first foreign trip by a novice president turned out to be a masterstroke. The trip achieved several critical objectives. Mr. Trump wished to create a semblance of unity with allies who had come to question the strength of their respective relationships with the US. He designated a common enemy by suggesting that ancient hatreds can no longer be afforded, and by urging that strategic realignments grounded on a region-wide alliance are not only desirable but feasible. This ambitious agenda eschewed detailed specifics, relying on strict adherence to prepared scripts.

 

By going to Riyadh first, Trump conveyed the impression that he considers the Saudis a top priority. This tacit statement, made before a global audience, so flattered the Saudis that a page replete with historic disappointments was promptly turned. By insisting on visiting the Western Wall without Israeli escort; by discouraging a performance by a Palestinian Christian youth band eager to display its Palestinian national insignia at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; by avoiding the Knesset; and by electing to meet the aging president of the Palestinian Authority in Bethlehem rather than Ramallah, the US president made clear that, at this stage, he would not allow politicized symbolism to cast doubt on his stylized impartiality. His speeches in Riyadh, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem were consistent in their cordiality.

 

The flash visits to the Western Wall, Bethlehem, and Yad Vashem took place even as Britain was mourning the Manchester bombing and a “Day of Rage” was in full swing on the West Bank. The US president called for compassion across the region just as yet another knife-wielding Palestinian Arab had to be neutralized in Netanya. His intercessions were hence timely, conveying a sense of urgency.

 

Trump convincingly remarked that not only those who commit violent crimes, but also those who incite to violence by rewarding criminality in the name of a higher cause ought once and for all to cease and desist. By neither outlining nor so much as alluding to a new road map, and by unequivocally leaving the matter to the parties to debate, he reserved a role for the US as even-handed facilitator. Trump’s administration seems determined not to propose, let alone impose, any ends, means, methods, or style. This fresh approach, with its focus on “the collective need for realistic security-mindedness”, permits all the regional stakeholders to expand their thinking. That thinking could include one particularly intriguing alternate future. It is possible to imagine a wholesale security redesign for the region – one that would include Israel, as well as an autonomous Palestinian entity thriving in peace and prosperity alongside it. This scenario would be conceivable only after the enemy factions agree as one to live in constructive acquiescence to the existence of the Jewish democratic State of Israel.

 

Over the past fifty years, new realities have swept the Middle East. Nasser’s pan-Arabism and the Muslim Brotherhood’s pan-Islamism both failed (although their remodeled ideals are currently being approached through other means by the 57-member Organization of Islamic States). Egypt has been won over by the West. Both Jordan and Egypt have sustained a cold peace with Israel. The “Arab Spring” has led to sporadic implosions that in turn spawned several failed states. Syria has been internally destroyed. Yemen is in agony. Iran has developed an appetite for regional hegemony, with recourse to militias abroad. Iraq and Libya have yet to experience a semblance of stability. Afghans, Chechens, and many other dissatisfied Muslims are fighting for their respective brands of fundamentalism, often engaging in zero-sum games with their own coreligionists. Lebanon remains in its apparently eternal existential dilemma. An increasingly Islamist Turkey has developed its own ambitions across the region by means that have polarized its population. African nations bordering on the Red Sea continue to experience internal unrest. Cyprus has yet to be reunified, and the Kurds’ destiny in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria is still undetermined…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Arab States Issue Ultimatum to Qatar: Rick Moran, American Thinker, June 24, 2016—The crisis in the Gulf over Qatar's ties to terrorism and Iran took an even more serious turn as Arab states issued an ultimatum to Doha demanding that it close the propaganda media outlet Al Jazeera, cut ties with Iran, remove a Turkish military base, and pay reparations. Qatar is not expected to comply with any of these demands.

President Trump’s Arab Alliance Is a Mirage: Antony J. Blinken, New York Times, June 19, 2017—Tweeting first and asking questions later is not a good way to make policy — especially in the Middle East. In a recent salvo, President Donald J. Trump took credit for a decision by one set of American partners — Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates — to sever relations with another, Qatar.

US Strategy and Israel’s Stake in Eastern Syria: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, June 23, 2017—The downing on June 18 of a Syrian Air Force SU-22 by a US Navy F-18 Super Hornet over the skies of northern Syria sharply raises the stakes in the emergent standoff in the country. This standoff is no longer between local militias, nor between regional powers. Rather, through interlocking lines of support, it places the United States in direct opposition to Russia.

Resistance Axis Forces Directly Threaten U.S.: We Are On The Brink Of War On Syria-Iraq Border: N. Mozes, MEMRI, June 14, 2017—On June 9, 2017, forces of the resistance axis, which is headed by Iran and the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, reached the Syria-Iraq border. This is an important accomplishment of these forces vis-à-vis the U.S. and its allies, and it not only boosts the morale of the resistance but it is key in the continued struggle over the future of Syria and the balance of power in the region.

 

 

 

 

 

IN MEMORIAM POUR SARAH HALIMI

  

    

 

 

 

 

 

SARAH HALIMI : UN DÉNI D’ANTISÉMITISME

Gabriel Farhi      

ACTUJ, 18 juin, 2017 

 

          

«  Elle avait 65 ans, elle était directrice de crèche, juive. Sarah est morte le 4 Avril dernier à Belleville, battue à mort et défenestrée par un jeune musulman radicalisé. A l’indécence de ce meurtre s’ajoute l’indifférence ». Ces mots sont ceux d’une femme politique qui s’émeut de l’assassinat de Sarah Halimi dans la nuit du 3 au 4 Avril dernier. Cette femme politique n’est pas française, elle est belge et eurodéputée, elle s’appelle Frédérique Ries. Force est de constater que depuis cet assassinat précédé d’insultes antisémites quotidiennes, de torture puis de défénestration, la classe politique française a été silencieuse jusqu’au plus hautes autorités de l’Etat de la mandature précédente ou actuelle. Certes très rapidement le Procureur de Paris, François Molins a reçu des représentants de la communauté juive pour faire un point d’étape. Mais jusque là n’est pas reconnu la circonstance aggravante d’antisémitisme. Cette aberration et ce silence ont conduit 17 intellectuels à signer une tribune dans le Figaro pour dénoncer ce déni d’antisémitisme. Une tribune passée quasi inaperçue dans un timing électoral implacable.

 

 Il y a eu une publication sur les réseaux sociaux il  y a quelques jours qui a fait avancer la prise de conscience de la communauté nationale. Noémie Halioua, journaliste à Actualité Juive, avec des mots justes et émouvants s’est indignée du silence pesant après s’être entretenue avec le frère de Sarah Halimi. Cela l’a bouleversée. Puis les avocats de la famille de la victime ont donné une conférence de presse dont on aurait pu penser que l’onde de choc, après la révélation des circonstances, aurait été grandissante. Rien ou presque rien puisque l’on vous dit que c’est un fou ou un déséquilibré. Comme le dit Michel Onfray : "Si aujourd'hui on veut massacrer des gens, il suffit de plaider la folie."

 

Alors que va t-il se passer lorsque l’on sera sorti de cette longue période électorale dimanche prochain? Nous entrerons alors dans l’été et sa torpeur. Il nous faut hurler pour que le nom de Sarah Halimi ne soit pas relégué au rang des faits divers. On attend de nos responsables qu’ils organisent une, deux, des dizaines de marches blanches, qu’ils interpellent directement ceux qui peuvent agir sur le temps judiciaire qui ne doit jamais être une excuse. La mémoire de Sarah nous oblige et nous en sommes responsables.

 

 

 

SARAH HALIMI : 17 INTELLECTUELS APPELLENT

À CE QUE “QUE LA LUMIÈRE SOIT FAITE”

Times of Israel, 6 juin 2017

 

 

La justice doit encore se prononcer sur la responsabilité de l’assassin. Alain Finkielkraut, Élisabeth Badinter, Jacques Julliard, Marcel Gauchet ou encore Michel Onfray dénoncent dans cette tribune, publiée par le Figaro, que la justice n’ait pas qualifié d’emblée l’assassinat d’antisémite.

 

Selon eux, plusieurs faits plaident en ce sens : l’assassin, Kobili Traore, a crié à plusieurs reprises “Allah Akbar” alors qu’il torturait Sarah Halimi, et il a récité selon plusieurs témoins des sourates du Coran. Comme de nombreux autres terroristes, ajoutent-ils, “il a un passé de délinquant, un casier judiciaire très lourd”.

 

“Il ne pouvait ignorer la judéité de sa voisine, plaide cet appel. La retraitée était une femme pieuse qui portait la perruque caractéristique des juives orthodoxes. Ses petits-fils venaient lui rendre visite en kippa”.

 

Rejoignant les avocats, les 17 personnalités dénoncent “la chape de plomb” et le manque de médiatisation de cette affaire. Depuis une conférence de presse du 22 mai organisée par les avocats de la victime, de nouveaux articles de presse et d’émissions de télévision ou de radio relatent cette affaire.

 

A ce jour, Kobili Traore est toujours interné en psychiatrie, et “la procédure pourrait le déclarer irresponsable pénalement lors de la commission de son acte,” explique l’ex-avocat général de Cour d’Assises Philippe Bilger. Les experts en psychiatrie n’ont pas encore rendu leurs expertises qui permettront de déterminer si oui ou non, Traore pourra être jugé selon sa responsabilité pleine et entière.

 

Selon les proches de la victime s’appuyant sur des témoignages nombreux de voisins, Traore aurait déjà fait preuve de duplicité, alors qu’il tenait par ailleurs des propos incohérents et manifestement délirants. Il aurait crié, peu avant de lancer Sarah Halimi du 3e étage “une femme va se suicider” afin de camoufler son acte, alors même que des voisins assistaient impuissants a la scène depuis un immeuble en vis-a-vis.

 

« Je refuse le facile prétexte de la folie pour un assassin qui a tenté de faire passer la défenestration de sa victime pour un suicide auprès des témoins impuissants à agir », avait déjà expliqué le président du Consistoire, Joël Mergui lors de la conférence de presse organisée par les avocats de victimes.

 

Ont signé cet appel : la philosophe Élisabeth Badinter, connue pour ses engagements pour le droit des femmes, et contre le voile, l’historien Georges Bensoussan au cœur d’une récente polémique pour ses propos sur l’antisémitisme dans le monde musulman, le professeur de science politique Laurent Bouvet, auteur de l’essai l’Insécurité culturelle, les philosophes Pascal Bruckner, Alain Finkielkraut, et Marcel Gauchet, la journaliste (Actualité juive) Noemie Halioua dont le journal avec le Times of Israël furent les premiers a se faire écho de l’affaire Halimi, l’Historien Jacques Julliard, la professeur de lettres Suzanne Julliard, la philosophe Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine, la professeur d’histoire-géographie Barbara Lefebvre, le sociologue Jean-Pierre Le Goff, la journaliste Sonia Mabrouk, le philosophe Michel Onfray, l’essayiste Céline Pina et la démographe Michèle Tribalat.

 

 

 

POUR ONFRAY, LE DÉNI ENTOURANT LE MEURTRE DE

SARAH HALIMI AURA DE LOURDES CONSEQUENCES

Times of Israel, 11 juin 2017

 

 

Scrutant de près l’actualité durant cette campagne présidentielle pour les besoins d’un livre en cours d’écriture, Michel Onfray s’est ébahit, dit-il, de n’avoir vu passer aucune actualité concernant le meurtre de cette femme juive défenestrée de son appartement dans le quartier de Belleville a Paris.

 

« Sarah Halimi est donc morte deux fois, du fait que son meurtre n’a pas reçu l’attention qu’il méritait », accuse Onfray. Celui qui a signé l’appel des 17 intellectuels pour « que la vérité soit dite dans l’affaire Sarah Halimi » pointe ceux qui, dans la presse ou ailleurs, n’ont pas rendu compte de cet événement, aveuglés par l’idée « que l’Islam est une religion de paix, de tolérance et d’amour. »

 

Il prédit une « vengeance du réel », par un retour des partis extrémistes a une échéance plus ou moins lointaine. S’il accuse les médias de dédouaner d’antisémitisme Kobili Traore, l’homme accusé du meurtre de Sarah Halimi, il se trompe en affirmant que des témoins l’ont entendu crier « sale juive ».

 

C’est justement sur ce point que se déploie tout l’effort des avocats de la famille Halimi. Me Buchinger a décidé de demander au juge d’instruction de qualifier ce meurtre de crime antisémite, malgré l’absence de preuves directes.

 

Il en expliquait les raisons au Times of Israël : « Les témoins, au nombre de cinq ou six, ont entendu beaucoup de paroles islamistes. Mais le mot juif n’a pas été entendu par les témoins, il l’a traité de tous les noms mais pas de juive, ou de ‘sale juive’ non, ce qui ne veut pas dire que pendant les moments de torture et de barbarie, il ne l’a pas fait. »

 

« D’autre part, le caractère islamiste est en effet très clair : le fait de traiter cette pauvre femme de Satan (“Sheitan”), de réciter des sourates du Coran, de crier Allah Akbar… Il voulait très certainement tuer une infidèle. »

 

« Alors pourquoi je parle d’antisémitisme ? Car il savait qu elle était juive. Très clairement. Elle habitait juste au-dessus de l’appartement de sa mère. Et des accrochages avaient déjà eu lieu. Il n’est pas allé par hasard chez la seule juive religieuse de l’immeuble. » Pour les avocats de la famille Halimi, ce faisceau de preuves ne laisse que peu de place au doute.

 

 

 

Actualité 

 

 

 

LA SUISSE VEUT MIEUX SURVEILLER LE FINANCEMENT

OCTROYE AUX GROUPES PALESTINIENS

Times of Israel, 16 juin, 2017

 

 

 

Le ministre des Affaires étrangères suisse a promis de renforcer la supervision par son ministère des fonds octroyés aux groupes palestiniens après que les législateurs ont adopté des motions critiques à ce sujet.

 

Didier Burkhalter a fait cette promesse durant un débat survenu au sein du Sénat suisse mardi, après l’adoption par la Chambre haute fédérale de certaines dispositions d’une motion passée devant la Chambre basse au début de la semaine, a annoncé la station de radio suisse RFJ.

 

« Nous allons prendre une série de mesures » pour empêcher l’utilisation des fonds suisses pour des activités considérées comme propices à inciter la haine contre les Juifs et Israël, a déclaré Burkhalter. Les contrats sur la coopération avec des organisations non-gouvernementales seront réexaminés et contiendront des stipulations plus explicites et la révision des « risques politiques » sera renforcée et détaillée dans un rapport adressé au gouvernement fédéral, a-t-il ajouté.

 

Le gouvernement suisse aura un rôle plus actif dans la supervision de la dépense des fonds sur le terrain au niveau mondial « et plus particulièrement au Moyen Orient où le risque d’abus est élevé », aurait dit le ministre.

 

Même si Burkhalter a reconnu que les termes actuels de financement d’un certain nombre d’ONG palestiniennes et israéliennes devaient être réexaminés, il a souligné que « la Suisse ne soutient en aucune manière les organisations incitant à la haine et à l’antisémitisme, ou les organisations associées au mouvement BDS (Boycott, Désinvestissement et Sanctions) contre Israël. »

 

La motion réclamant une « meilleure supervision du financement des ONG au Moyen Orient » adoptée par le Sénat est une version plus douce de la motion approuvée en début de semaine par la Chambre basse, a indiqué RFJ. Elle a omis la référence explicite au rejet de BDS, qui était présente dans le texte de la Chambre basse.

 

Selon l’organisation NGO Monitor, basée en Israël et qui examine les financements des ONG considérées comme hostiles à l’Etat juif et à certaines des politiques de son gouvernement, ce vote à la Chambre basse représente la toute première fois qu’un pays européen adopte une législation mettant un terme au financement d’ONG qui véhiculent des discours d’incitations à la violence et à la haine, ciblant spécifiquement l’antisémitisme.

 

Le ministère des Affaires étrangères a dans le passé refusé de réviser ou même de dévoiler des informations concernant le financement d’organisations dont les activités se consacrent au conflit israélo-palestinien et à Israël.

 

C’est Christian Imark, législateur de la Chambre basse, qui a proposé la résolution originale. Les reportages réalisés par Dominik Feusi, journaliste de Beisler Zeitung, ont été déterminants pour placer cette question au cœur des débats en Suisse, a affirmé NGO Monitor.

 

Samedi, le ministère des Affaires étrangères a indiqué avoir lancé un audit du Secrétariat de droit international humanitaire et des droits de l’Homme, premier mécanisme de financement utilisé par la Suisse, avec le Danemark, la Suède et les Pays-Bas.

 

Le Secrétariat a versé plus de 14 millions de dollars à des ONG entre 2014 et 2016, dont 7,3 millions de dollars de financement de base attribués des associations impliquées dans des campagnes BDS contre Israël, selon NGO Monitor.

 

Plus précisément, 15 des 24 bénéficiaires de base et 11 des 20 bénéficiaires de subventions venues soutenir des projets dans cette période étaient des soutiens du BDS, a annoncé le groupe dans une déclaration mardi.

 

 

 

 

NETANYAHU DEMANDE QUE L’AP CONDAMNE

L’ATTENTAT DE JÉRUSALEM

Times of Israel, 18 juin, 2017

 

 

 

Le Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu a demandé samedi que l’Autorité palestinienne (AP) condamne l’attentat terroriste de Jérusalem commis par trois Palestiniens, qui ont poignardé à mort Hadas Malka, garde-frontière de 23 ans.

 

« Le Premier ministre demande que l’Autorité palestinienne condamne l’attentat, et attend que la communauté internationale le fasse aussi », a indiqué un communiqué de son bureau. Vendredi soir, le Fatah a déclaré dans un communiqué que la mort des trois terroristes, qui ont attaqué en deux lieux de la Vieille Ville de Jérusalem, était un « crime de guerre ».

 

Avigdor Liberman, le ministre de la Défense, a sèchement répondu à la déclaration du Fatah, affirmant qu’elle « montre qu’il n’y a pas de partenaire [pour la paix] de l’autre côté. » Liberman a rendu hommage à Malka, 23 ans, qui a tenté de prendre son arme et a combattu contre son attaquant pendant qu’il la poignardait, pour la « détermination et le courage » avec lesquels elle a agi. Elle était « une inspiration pour nous tous », a-t-il dit.

 

Le président Reuven Rivlin a lui aussi rendu hommage à Malka samedi. « Mon cœur est avec la famille de Hadas, la gardienne de nos murs, pendant ces moments difficiles de profond chagrin, a dit Rivlin. Que sa mémoire soit bénie. »

 

« Je donne de la consolation et de l’aide à sa famille, et je remercie profondément tous ceux qui combattent héroïquement et résolument pour la paix de nos citoyens », a dit Rivlin. Malka a été enterrée à minuit et demi samedi soir, à Ashdod. Elle laisse derrière elle ses parents, ses trois sœurs et ses deux frères. « Nos pensées vont à cette combattante courageuse, qui, d’après ses photographies, semblaient pleine de joie de vivre, et effectuer le service était important pour elle », a dit Rivlin.

 

Il a également rendu hommage aux forces de sécurité israéliennes. « La réactivité de nos forces [de sécurité] nous permet de continuer à vivre ici, à Jérusalem, et dans tout le pays, une vie de sécurité et de routine face aux forces assassines des organisations terroristes », a ajouté Rivlin, promettant qu’Israël « poursuivra tous ceux qui aident le terrorisme, où qu’ils soient. »

 

 

 

 

JARED KUSHNER EN VISITE OFFICIELLE EN ISRAËL EST ALLÉ VISITER LA FAMILLE DE LA SOLDATE ISRAÉLIENNE HADAS MALKA POUR LUI PRÉSENTER SES CONDOLÉANCES

Europe Israel, 21 juin 2017

 

 

 

En visite en Israël pour redémarrer une nouvelle initiative de paix entre Israël et les Palestiniens, le conseiller spécial et gendre de Trump visite en compagnie de David Friedman, la famille de la major sergent Hadas Malka qui a été assassinée dans une attaque terroriste de Jérusalem; Kushner a déclaré que le président américain lui a demandé d’exprimer ses condoléances au nom des États-Unis.

 

L’un des principaux conseillers et beau-fils du président Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, en voyage en Israël mercredi matin est allé rendre visite à la famille de la MSG de 23 ans. Hadas Malka, qui a été assassiné vendredi dernier lors d’une fusillade combinée avec des coups de couteau dans la vieille ville de Jérusalem.

 

Un ami proche de la famille Malka a déclaré que la durée de la visite a duré environ une demi-heure. « Il a offert ses condoléances à la famille endeuillée  a déclaré l’ami. « Kushner a déclaré que le président Donald Trump lui-même lui a demandé d’exprimer ses condoléances au nom des États-Unis ».

 

 

 

 

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UN’S HYPOCRITICAL ANTI-ISRAEL BIAS DENOUNCED BY U.S. ADMINISTRATION

The United Nations Should Ditch its Anti-Israel Bias: Peter Rough, The Hill, June 20, 2017 — This week marks six months since the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which classifies Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 line, including in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, as illegal.

UN Chief Stuck in the Middle: Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, June 14, 2017 — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is a man very much in the middle.

The World Must Finally Awaken to the UN Refugee Agency's Failures in the Palestinian Territories: Asaf Romirowsky Alexander Joffe, New York Daily News, June 12, 2017 — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu broke from the Government of Israel's longstanding policy and stated that UNRWA, the internationally funded UN body dedicated to providing health, education, welfare and legal services to Palestinian “refugees,” should be shut down.

A Letter to the World from Jerusalem: Eliezer Ben Yisrael, Summer, 1969— I am not a creature from another planet, as you seem to believe.

 

On Topic Links

 

UN: Israel to Blame for Palestinian Men Beating Their Wives: Hillel Neuer, Times of Israel, June 13, 2017

New Palestinian Attempt at UNESCO to Claim Hebron and the Patriarch’s Tomb as a Palestinian Site: Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, June 19, 2017

Legal Expert Slams Hypocrisy of UN’s “Unprecedented” Israel Blacklist: The Tower, June 20, 2017

The United Nations is Losing Staggering Sums to Corruption, Mismanagement and Bad Decision-Making: Geoffrey Clarfield, National Post, June 15, 2017

 

 

THE UNITED NATIONS SHOULD DITCH ITS ANTI-ISRAEL BIAS                                                                           

Peter Rough                                                                                                        

The Hill, June 20, 2017

 

This week marks six months since the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which classifies Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 line, including in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, as illegal. Visiting Jerusalem last month, the distance between the pronouncements of Turtle Bay and the realities of the Old City appeared as stark as ever. For starters, everyone knows that Israel will absorb the major settlement blocs near the ’67 line as part of any peace agreement. And no Israel government will ever surrender its access to Jerusalem.

 

Alas, the United Nations has long been a hub of anti-Israeli activity, in part because it views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a colonial legacy pitting the powerful against the powerless. By pursing a one-sided agenda, the U.N. hopes to strengthen the weaker party in the service of justice. However, by issuing rulings on sensitive issues without first preparing the ground for peace, this approach only polarizes the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation. Just as bad, it damages the U.N.’s credibility with Israelis. Instead, the U.N. should switch tracks by focusing on the most important prerequisite for peace: cultivating trust.

 

Israel is a flourishing democracy that sees peace as crucial to maintaining its long-term Jewish identity. In meetings with Israelis of all stripes last month, their anguish at the plight of the Palestinians was palpable to me. Ever since the Second Intifada discredited the Israeli peace camp, however, Israelis have recoiled at major concessions that might imperil their security. If anything, the lesson Israelis have drawn from such initiatives as the withdrawal from Gaza is that the preconditions for a Palestinian state are a long way off. Put simply, the experiences of the past two decades have robbed Israelis of the trust needed to take a risk for peace. The result is that Israeli voters have repeatedly rewarded cautious leaders like Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on pace to challenge David Ben-Gurion as the longest serving prime minister in Israeli history.

 

The U.N. should focus on achieving a breakthrough by fostering the conditions needed for genuine peace. Unfortunately, at present the message for peace is not competitive with the call to violence among Palestinians. This has led the Palestinian leadership to spin a cocoon of anti-Israeli rhetoric from which it has been unable to escape. In 2000, for example, Yasir Arafat reportedly declined Ehud Barak’s generous offer of a Palestinian state by saying that he did not intend to drink tea with assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. If Palestinian leaders are serious about peace, they will need to prepare their people to accept a peace deal. At the very least, the U.N. should press the Palestinians to revamp their educational curriculum. Israelis can only be expected to take risks for peace if they are confident in their own security, which, in turn, depends on Palestinians developing healthier perceptions of Israel.

 

Ironically, U.N. Resolution 2334 comes fifty years after the Six Days War, the generating events of which included the withdrawal of U.N. forces from the Sinai in the face of an Egyptian military buildup. Then, as now, Israel concluded that the U.N. is no substitute for self-reliance. Even so, Israelis remain keenly aware of their status as a small power whose dispute with the Palestinians is bound up in larger regional politics.

 

For five decades, the U.S.-Israeli strategic relationship has been a bedrock of both Israel’s security strategy and U.S. power projection into the region. Israelis, therefore, interpreted the U.S. abstention on U.N. Resolution 2334 as a particularly stinging parting shot from the Obama administration as it left power. To Israel’s relief, the Trump administration has reversed course, tightly embracing Israel while forging an agreement to limit settlement construction to existing built-up areas. Moreover, the Trump administration is leveraging flourishing contacts between Israel and its Sunni Arab neighbors, which is sure to have a salutary effect on the peace process. This so-called “outside-in” effect envisions improved ties between Israelis and Arabs slingshotting Israel into improved relations with the Palestinians. If executed cautiously and deliberately while pushing for Palestinian reform, such an approach holds promise for contributing to regional stability.

 

The past two decades since Oslo have shown the futility of negotiating a quick resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the face of terrorism, Israelis have built walls and domes to defend themselves while waiting for Palestinian society to reform itself. The U.N. should dedicate itself to assisting Palestinians with that task, rather than issuing anti-Israeli screeds that work against the Trump administration’s search for peace.

 

 

Contents  

             

 

UN CHIEF STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

                             Herb Keinon

                           Jerusalem Post, June 14, 2017

 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is a man very much in the middle. On the one hand, there is a new wind blowing out of Washington demanding the United Nations alter its systemic discrimination against Israel and anti-Israel bias that permeates so much of the organization.

 

US ambassador Nikki Haley is leading the high-profile charge on this matter, and there have been threats in Washington to withhold funds if the situation is not changed. Israel has decided to withhold $8 million of the $47m. it gives each year to the organization as membership dues and for funding peacekeeping forces and – even though this is an insignificant part of the UN’s budget, the move was noted in the UN’s Turtle Bay neighborhood – not necessarily because Israel’s move will cause significant damage, but out of concern that it may be a harbinger of what the US might do if the situation does not change.

 

But on the other side the Palestinians, the Arab countries and some Europeans are arrayed, pushing equally hard in the opposite direction, pressuring Guterres not to change the UN’s attitude toward Israel; not to alter the situation; to go along; and not revamp what has been operative practice inside the organization for years.

 

These countervailing pressures have put Guterres on a seesaw – one day condemning a UN-sponsored center for women in the West Bank named after a notorious Palestinian female terrorist, and on another day issuing a statement obliquely criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for calling for the dismantling of UNRWA, following the discovery of a Hamas tunnel underneath two of the organization’s schools in Gaza. Guterres, his spokesman said late Monday, “is concerned about recent public criticism of UNRWA and the integrity of its operations.” The secretary- general, the spokesman said, “wishes to express his support for UNRWA and his admiration for the role it plays in delivering essential services and protecting the rights of millions of Palestine refugees across the Middle East.”

 

Netanyahu said on Sunday that UNRWA perpetuates, rather than solves, the Palestinian refugee problem, and called on Haley to work toward the organization’s dismantling. Reaction in Jerusalem to Guterres’s comments about UNRWA were muted, with neither the Prime Minister’s Office nor the Foreign Ministry initiating a response. The reason is simple: Israel is appreciative of Guterres’s efforts to fight against the anti-Israel bias at the UN and understands the strong counter-pressures he is under. Jerusalem believes that the new secretary-general – in office since January 1 – is more receptive than his predecessors to listening to Israeli complaints and protests about biased reports and prejudicial treatment.

 

Both Ban Ki-moon, Guterres’s immediate predecessor, and Kofi Annan – who was the secretary-general two terms ago – spoke of strains of anti-Israel bias and discriminatory treatment toward the Jewish state at the end of their tenures. Guterres is different in that he has discussed it at the very beginning of his. What Israel is uncertain about, however, is whether the former Portuguese prime minister really believes it or is simply concerned about the Americans. Whatever the case, he has changed wordings in some reports and refused to sign others that bash Israel.

 

Almost every week, one UN body or the other issues a report that – whether it deals with women’s rights, children’s’ rights, or heritage sites – includes wording and language slamming Israel. These reports are fed from the Palestinian narrative and, in turn, feed that narrative, then often forming the basis of other UN decisions. And around and around it goes. Jerusalem realizes this is a difficult dynamic to change all at once and has been impressed by Guterres’s willingness to take some steps in that direction.

 

For instance, it used to be that UN Human Rights Commission reports dealing with Israel would be sent to the secretary-general for his signature. The UNHRC no longer sends those reports, however, knowing that he won’t sign them. In addition, Guteres has, over the last six months, made some cosmetic changes to language in some reports – not necessarily everything Israel asked for – but also seen as a sign of taking Israel’s concerns seriously. And he certainly is willing to let his opinion against an anti-Israel bias in the organization be known.

 

The question, however, is whether he has the persistence and determination to continue this fight over the long haul, something that will put him at odds and in conflict with many of his organization’s member-states. The answer to that question may be bound up with whether the Trump administration itself is willing to fight this battle over time, putting it at odds with many UN countries. As of now, Jerusalem – while optimistic – does not have a categorical answer to either of those questions.

                                                                                   

Contents  

                                         

THE WORLD MUST FINALLY AWAKEN TO THE UN REFUGEE

AGENCY'S FAILURES IN THE PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

Asaf Romirowsky Alexander Joffe

New York Daily News, June 12, 2017

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu broke from the Government of Israel's longstanding policy and stated that UNRWA, the internationally funded UN body dedicated to providing health, education, welfare and legal services to Palestinian “refugees,” should be shut down. This dramatic shift is long overdue in a region where refugee populations have grown enormously but where Palestinians continue to receive overdue attention.

 

Netanyahu's statement, made to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley during her visit to Israel last week, came shortly after the discovery of yet another terror tunnel underneath a UNRWA-run school in Gaza. He followed up with a statement to his cabinet that "the existence of UNRWA — and unfortunately its work from time to time — perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem rather than solve it. Therefore, the time has come to dismantle UNRWA and merge its components with the [UN] High Commissioner for Refugees." Though Israeli politicians have argued for changing policy toward UNRWA, Netanyahu appears to have finally done so.

 

For decades, Israeli officials have claimed that without UNRWA providing for the needs of the Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Israel would be held responsible. This is a burden Israel preferred not to bear, despite UNRWA's well-documented cooptation by terrorist elements from Hamas and other groups. The position produced a perversity in which Israel itself reinforced the very organization whose role includes perpetuating a core tenet in the Palestinian national narrative, the absolute centrality of refugees to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the demand that Israel accept repatriation of their descendants through a "right of return." It does so through its educational curricula for Palestinians and in representations in international forums.

 

Understanding the way that UNRWA helps perpetuate the Palestinian refugee problem reveals an entrenched and dysfunctional bureaucracy, accustomed to almost 70 years of international welfare-including over $370 million from the US in 2016. It also sheds light on the subversive dynamic between UNRWA and the Palestinian leadership; the existence of UNRWA allows the Palestinian Authority to continue shirking core responsibilities towards its citizens.

 

At its root, UNRWA effectively argues that — regardless of the reality — all Palestinians are refugees and victims of an Israeli "occupation." The organization has financial and political interests in maintaining this fiction: As long as the Palestinians are refugees, UNRWA is in business. Success is measured by the contributions it receives and prerogatives it assumes. As a case in point, UNRWA released a statement marking the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War stating, "The occupation remains a key obstacle to the realization of a just and lasting solution for the seven-decade-long plight of Palestine refugees, and it continues to be one of the most salient aspects of a historical injustice that has cast a shadow over their lives since 1948."

 

Israel's historic position and ongoing U.S. funding have created a situation that has promoted Palestinian rejectionism, and which does not advance the cause of peace, or U.S. interests in the Middle East. UNRWA learned long ago to wave the bloody shirt, proclaim its formal neutrality and act as unofficial Palestinian spokesman. But with hundreds of thousands of real refugees flooding over the Middle East and Europe, UNRWA's claims, along with those of Palestinian refugees kept in camps by Arab states, ring more and more hollow. If the State of Israel has finally begun to see UNRWA as part of the problem rather than a permanent band-aid, there may be a real chance to remove one problem that has long ensured that conflict will never end.

 

Contents

A LETTER TO THE WORLD FROM JERUSALEM

Eliezer Ben Yisrael

Summer, 1969

 

I am not a creature from another planet, as you seem to believe. I am a Jerusalemite like yourselves, a man of flesh and blood. I am a citizen of my city, an integral part of my people. I have a few things to get off my chest. Because I am not a diplomat, I do not have to mince words. I do not have to please you, or even persuade you. I owe you nothing. You did not build this city; you did not live in it; you did not defend it when they came to destroy it. And we will be damned if we will let you take it away.

 

There was a Jerusalem before there was a New York. When Berlin, Moscow, London, and Paris were miasmal forest and swamp, there was a thriving Jewish community here. It gave something to the world which you nations have rejected ever since you established yourselves – a humane moral code.

 

Here the prophets walked, their words flashing like forked lightning. Here a people who wanted nothing more than to be left alone, fought off waves of heathen would be conquerors, bled and died on the battlements, hurled themselves into the flames of their burning Temple rather than surrender, and when finally overwhelmed by sheer numbers and led away into captivity, swore that before they forgot Jerusalem, they would see their tongues cleave to their palates, their right arms wither.

 

For two painfilled millennia, while we were your unwelcome guests, we prayed daily to return to this city. Three times a day we petitioned the Almighty: “Gather us from the four corners of the world, bring us upright to our land; return in mercy to Jerusalem, Thy city, and dwell in it as Thou promised.” On every Yom Kippur and Passover, we fervently voice the hope that next year would find us in Jerusalem. Your inquisitions, pogroms, expulsions, the ghettos into which you jammed us, your forced baptisms, your quota systems, your genteel anti-Semitism, and the final unspeakable horror, the holocaust (and worse, your terrifying disinterest in it) – all these have not broken us. They may have sapped what little moral strength you still possessed, but they forged us into steel.

 

Do you think that you can break us now after all we have been through? Do you really believe that after Dachau and Auschwitz we are frightened by your threats of blockades and sanctions? We have been to Hell and back a Hell of your making. What more could you possibly have in your arsenal that could scare us?

 

I have watched this city bombarded twice by nations calling themselves civilized. In 1948, while you looked on apathetically, I saw women and children blown to smithereens, after we agreed to your request to internationalize the city. It was a deadly combination that did the job. British officers, Arab gunners, and American made cannons. And then the savage sacking of the Old City; the willful slaughter, the wanton destruction of every synagogue and religious school; the desecration of Jewish cemeteries; the sale by a ghoulish government of tombstones for building materials, for poultry runs, army camps – even latrines. And you never said a word.

 

You never breathed the slightest protest when the Jordanians shut off the holiest of our places, the Western Wall, in violation of the pledges they had made after the war – a war they waged, incidentally, against the decision of the UN. Not a murmur came from you whenever the legionnaires in their spiked helmets casually opened fire upon our citizens from behind the walls.

 

Your hearts bled when Berlin came under siege. You rushed your airlift "to save the gallant Berliners". But you did not send one ounce of food when Jews starved in besieged Jerusalem. You thundered against the wall which the East Germans ran through the middle of the German capital – but not one peep out of you about that other wall, the one that tore through the heart of Jerusalem. And when that same thing happened 20 years later, and the Arabs unleashed a savage, unprovoked bombardment of the Holy City again, did any of you do anything? The only time you came to life was when the city was at last reunited. Then you wrung your hands and spoke loftily of "justice" and need for the "Christian" quality of turning the other cheek.

 

The truth is – and you know it deep inside your gut – you would prefer the city to be destroyed rather than have it governed by Jews. No matter how diplomatically you phrase it, the age old prejudices seep out of every word. If our return to the city has tied your theology in knots, perhaps you had better reexamine your catechisms. After what we have been through, we are not passively going to accommodate ourselves to the twisted idea that we are to suffer eternal homelessness until we accept your savior.

 

For the first time since the year 70 there is now complete religious freedom for all in Jerusalem. For the first time since the Romans put a torch to the Temple, everyone has equal rights. (You prefer to have some more equal than others.) We loathe the sword – but it was you who forced us to take it up. We crave peace – but we are not going back to the peace of 1948 as you would like us to. We are home. It has a lovely sound for a nation you have willed to wander over the face of the globe. We are not leaving. We are redeeming the pledge made by our forefathers: Jerusalem is being rebuilt. "Next year" and the year after, and after, and after, until the end of time – "in Jerusalem!"

 

No Daily Briefing Will Be Published Friday, June 23—Ed.

 

Contents

On Topic Links

 

UN: Israel to Blame for Palestinian Men Beating Their Wives: Hillel Neuer, Times of Israel, June 13, 2017—The chair of today’s UN Human Rights Council debate, council vice-president Amr Ahmed Ramadan of Egypt, broke with parliamentary protocol and refused to me after I challenged a new report that blames Israel for when Palestinian men commit violence against women, and after I asked why Islamic preachers of wife-beating were ignored.

New Palestinian Attempt at UNESCO to Claim Hebron and the Patriarch’s Tomb as a Palestinian Site: Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, June 19, 2017—The town of Hebron, situated in the biblical region of Judea, is the site of the oldest Jewish community in the world, and since Bible times has been considered the second holiest city in Judaism after Jerusalem. The Canaanite city was founded around 1720 BCE, and the ancient Canaanite and Israelite city was situated at Tel Romeida.

Legal Expert Slams Hypocrisy of UN’s “Unprecedented” Israel Blacklist: The Tower, June 20, 2017—Northwestern University Law Professor Eugene Kontorovich presented the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday with a report documenting business dealings in occupied territories around the world, underscoring the hypocrisy behind the council’s decision to compile a blacklist only of companies operating in the West Bank.

The United Nations is Losing Staggering Sums to Corruption, Mismanagement and Bad Decision-Making: Geoffrey Clarfield, National Post, June 15, 2017—Let me take you on a short UN safari around the world, beginning and ending in Washington, D.C., to see just how effectively the United Nations spends our tax dollars.

 

 

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

 

 

 

 

MEDIA-OCRITY OF THE WEEK: “A CASE FOR JEREMY CORBYN” — “Elections take place in the real world; they often involve unpleasant choices. I dislike Corbyn’s anti-Americanism, his long flirtation with Hamas, his coterie’s clueless leftover Marxism and anti-Zionism, his NATO bashing, his unworkable tax-and-spend promises. He’s of that awful Cold War left that actually believed Soviet Moscow was probably not as bad as Washington. Still, Corbyn would not do May’s shameful Trump-love thing. He would not succumb to the jingoistic anti-immigration talk of the Tories. After the terrorist attacks, he said “difficult conversations” were needed with Saudi Arabia: Hallelujah! He would tackle rising inequality. He would seek a soft departure from the European Union keeping Britain as close to Europe as possible…Seldom would a political comeuppance be so merited. That’s enough for me, just.” — Roger Cohen. In the snap U.K. 2017 general election, Corbyn’s Labour Party finished second to Theresa May’s Conservatives, but increased Labour’s share of the popular vote to 40%, resulting in a gain of 32 seats and a hung parliament. (New York Times, June 5, 2017)

 

On Topic Links

 

Why Israel is Saving Syrian Rebels: Terry Glavin, Maclean’s, June 20, 2017

The Stakes in Syria Now Include US-Russia War: Ralph Peters, New York Post, June 19, 2017

New York Times Column Overlooks Jewish Aid to Syrian Refugees: Ira Stoll, Algemeiner, June 20, 2017

This Summer's Most Maddening Pests are on the Climate-Crusading, Trump-Hating, Culture-Censoring Left: Conrad Black, National Post, June 16, 2017

 

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“Hamas has exercised control over Gaza since 2007. After 10 years of Hamas rule, life for the people of Gaza is worse than ever before. Rather than govern, Hamas chooses to devote its resources to building a terrorist arsenal. Rather than pursuing peace, Hamas chooses to provoke destructive wars. Rather than allowing help to reach the Palestinian people, Hamas chooses to divert untold amounts of aid to feed its military enterprise…The Security Council must stand up to condemn Hamas’ terror…While UN agencies and Member States dissect Israel’s actions, few speak out against the terror that Hamas continues to plot. Some Member States of this organization even maintain ties to Hamas and other terrorist groups that flourish in Gaza. The Security Council must unite to say that enough is enough… And while we must do whatever we can to ease the suffering of the people in Gaza, we must also recognize that the suffering will not be fully addressed until the terrorists lose their grip on power.” — Amb. to the UN Nikki Haley. (United Nations, June 20, 2017)

 

“The Hamas leadership in Gaza has threatened Israel with “an explosion” if it does not supply electricity to Gaza at the expense of Israeli taxpayers. Blackmail is, of course, part of the Hamas repertoire. One of the main reasons why Hamas launched thousands of rockets and sent terrorists into Israel via tunnel in the summer of 2014 was to solve its dire economic problem. Hamas needs electricity to build terror tunnels and produce weapons…While Israel naturally prefers quiet along its borders, giving in to Hamas demands and granting it a victory will only lead to further demands. Supplying electricity to Gaza in exchange for a promise that Gazans refrain from shooting at Israeli civilians is no different from paying protection money to the Mafia…Israel has no choice but to reject Hamas demands, even if that refusal brings about another round of violence that will add to the suffering in Gaza.” — Efraim Inbar. (BESA, June 18, 2017)

 

“The democracies are absent to protest prejudice — because this is the only agenda item that singles out one specific state, the Jewish state, for differential and discriminatory treatment. Not Syria, Sudan or North Korea is treated this way.” — Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. The world’s democracies collectively snubbed the UN Human Rights Council’s annual condemnation of Israel, when none of their representatives attended the council’s presentation and debate on “Item 7” — a permanent agenda item focused on the “Human rights situation in Palestine.” As was the case last year, the seats of all the democratic nations represented on the council were empty for the duration of the discussion. Neuer added that he had taken part in the debate to point out why the democratic countries were absent. “Hopefully, one day Item 7 will be removed,” he said. (Algemeiner, June 19, 2017)

 

“The smell of blood will continue to surround the holy and occupied city [of Jerusalem] until dawn. There are young people that wanted to say a clear ‘No!’ to the occupation in their way.” — Editorial in the official Palestinian Authority (PA) daily Al-Hayat-Al-Jadida. Despite Palestinian assurances to US President Donald Trump’s administration not to incite support for terror, newspapers associated with the ruling Fatah faction in the PA have joined with official spokespersons from several Palestinian ministries in praising the three terrorists who murdered Hadas Malka, a 23-year-old Israeli policewoman, in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday. (Algemeiner, June 18, 2017)

 

“Such terrorist acts must be clearly condemned by all…I am appalled that once again some find it appropriate to justify such attacks as “heroic.” They are unacceptable and seek to drag everyone into a new cycle of violence.” — United Nations Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov. Hadas Malka was stabbed to death by a terrorist with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a faction belonging to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), headed by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas. (Jewish Press, June 18, 2017)

 

“This week we will put forward the bill to prevent the division of Jerusalem without a majority of 80 Members of Knesset…Timing is crucial, since it is important to make clear, before the start of a diplomatic process, that Jerusalem will never be divided under any circumstance…The ideas put forward by Ehud Barak in the year 2000 and Ehud Olmert in 2007, to hand the Old City, Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives to the Palestinians are obsolete…I am certain the bill will pass easily.” — Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett. Bennett says his Jewish Home faction intends to table a motion this week to require a supermajority of 80 Knesset members to approve any measure calling for the division of Jerusalem. (Jewish Press, June 18, 2017)

 

“(The Western Wall) is an Islamic endowment that absolutely cannot belong to non-Muslims…It is our property and endowment. It is impossible to concede one millimeter of it.” — Mahmoud Habash, a PA official and President Abbas’s religious affairs advisor. In another step towards claiming the whole of Jerusalem for the Muslim world, two Arab leaders said that the Western Wall, or Kotel, belongs exclusively to the Muslims. Sheikh Ikarma Sabri, imam of the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, echoed Habash’s words, claiming the Western Wall as part of the Islamic Waqf that controls the Mount. Sabri said that Israel was attempting to “convince the world” to “create” its right to sovereignty in Jerusalem. Both statements were likely a desperate attempt to walk back the damaging assertion of senior Fatah official Jabril Rajoub, who said last week on Israeli television that in terms of a peace deal splitting Jerusalem, the Western Wall “must be under Jewish sovereignty…We have no argument about that. This is a Jewish holy place,” he said. (Breaking Israel News, June 11, 2017)

 

“The Iranian regime continues to provide support to its proxies in the region, conduct ballistic missile tests, flagrantly abuse the human rights of its own people, and unjustly imprison foreigners.” — Democratic Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer of New York. Jewish leaders are warmly welcoming the overwhelming bipartisan consensus on Iran, following the passage in the Senate of a new bill meant to counter Iranian and Russian aggression that imposes tough new sanctions upon the Tehran regime. Schumer — a key backer of the legislation — said the sanctions “will specifically target problematic areas that were not part of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement.” These areas include sanctions on persons involved with Iran’s ballistic missile program, terrorism sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and “officials, agents, or affiliates of the IRGC,” and tougher enforcement of the arms embargo on Iran. (Algemeiner, June 16, 2017)

 

“For 65 years, Japan and Israel have cooperated in trade and science, culture and technology, education and aviation. We hold dear this cooperation, and we look forward to making it grow even stronger…We were created thousands of years ago, we preserve and respect our traditions, our past…We also share a strong belief in our future but we don’t take it for granted. That is why we invest so much in education. We know that a nation is only as good as its education.” — Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, at a reception in Jerusalem hosted by Japan’s Ambassador to Israel. The event was held at the King David Hotel to celebrate 65 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Japan. (Jewish Press, June 15, 2017) 

 

“The Resistance is a Second World War term.  It speaks to the fight against the most — may I borrow a term — deplorable force, Nazism, the world has perhaps ever seen. The implications of the term are not healthy. It pictures the democratic victor as a Nazi. It summons up the darkest imagery. It is mean and weird at the same time. Presumably on the other side of the mirror it has equally ludicrous flatteries to offer Trump opponents, though the idea of Mrs. Clinton as Winston Churchill will take more than time to accommodate…Most of all it is strongly suggestive (and that’s a delicate phrasing of the matter) that the “other side” is evil, a threat to all, fascism rearing to leap out on American soil. Which is a polluted form of absolute hysteria. But in a week in which Republican congressmen at a baseball game came under rifle fire, leaving Representative Steve Scalise in critical condition and a lobbyist with serious wounds…perhaps the liberal side of the aisle will give some thought to their rhetoric. They do not, at all, represent a resistance: they represent poor losers.” — Rex Murphy. (National Post, June 18, 2017)

 

Contents

 

SHORT TAKES

 

ATTACK ON WORSHIPPERS NEAR LONDON MOSQUE (London) — A van ploughed into worshippers leaving a London mosque on Monday, killing at least one person and injuring several. The vehicle hit people as they were leaving the Finsbury Park Mosque, one of the biggest in the country. The attack comes during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when people attend prayers at night. Police said one man was pronounced dead at the scene and that the van driver, 48, had been arrested. The incident comes just over two weeks after three Islamists drove into pedestrians on London Bridge and stabbed people at nearby restaurants and bars, killing eight. (Globe & Mail, June 18, 2017)

 

BRUSSELS BOMBING SUSPECT WAS A MOROCCAN CITIZEN (Brussels) — A man who triggered a suitcase bomb in a failed attack at a busy Brussels train station was a 36-year-old Moroccan citizen who was known to the police. The bomber entered Brussels Central Station on Tuesday and began shouting near a group of passengers, according to a police spokesman. He was carrying a suitcase bomb that contained nails and gas bottles. The man set off a partial and relatively harmless explosion. He then left the bag behind while he went in pursuit of a station master, and it “exploded a second time, more violently,” according to the spokesman. After the second explosion, the man approached a soldier and screamed “Allahu akbar.” The soldier opened fire, killing him. (New York Times, June 21, 2017)

 

U.S. AIRCRAFT SHOOTS DOWN A SYRIAN GOVERNMENT JET (Damascus) — A U.S. strike aircraft shot down a Syrian government fighter jet Sunday shortly after the Syrians bombed U.S.-backed fighters in northern Syria. The Pentagon said the downing of the aircraft came hours after Syrian loyalist forces attacked U.S.-backed fighters in the village of Ja’Din, southwest of Raqqa. The rare attack was the first time a U.S. jet has shot down a manned hostile aircraft in more than a decade, and it signaled the United States’ sharply intensifying role in Syria’s war. The incident is the fourth time within a month that the U.S. military has attacked pro-Syrian government forces. (Washington Post, June 18, 2017)

 

RUSSIA CLAIMS TO HAVE KILLED I.S. LEADER (Damascus) — Russia claimed it killed the leader of I.S. in Iraq and Syria in an airstrike targeting a meeting of I.S. leaders just outside the group's de facto capital in Syria. Russia said Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a Russian strike in May along with other senior group commanders. There had been previous reports of al-Baghdadi being killed but they did not turn out to be true. The I.S. leader last released an audio message on Nov. 3, urging his followers to keep up the fight for Mosul as they defend the city against a major offensive that began weeks earlier. The report of al-Baghdadi's death comes as I.S. suffers major setbacks in which they have lost wide areas of territory and both of their strongholds — Mosul in Iraq and Syria's Raqqa. (CBC, June 16, 2017)

 

REPORT: ISRAEL ACTIVELY SUPPORTING SYRIAN REBELS (Damascus) — Israel has reportedly been supplying Syrian rebels for years with money, food, fuel and medical equipment, according to the New York Times. According to the report, the goal of the covert involvement is to create a buffer zone between the two countries populated by friendly forces. The report relies on interviews with five Syrian rebels who say the IDF maintains contact with opposition organizations and the aid it supplies includes payments to rebel commanders, which they in turn use to pay the salaries of fighters and purchase weapons and ammunition. According to the report, Israel's goal is to keep fighters allied with the regime of President Assad and supported by Iran, such as Hezbollah, far away from the Israel-Syria border. Israel has denied such accusations, saying it is not involved in Syria's civil war. (Ynet, June 19, 2017)

 

US SHOOTS DOWN SECOND IRAN-MADE ARMED DRONE OVER SYRIA (Damascus) — US forces in southern Syria have shot down an Iranian-made armed drone in the second such incident in 12 days, in a further sign that Washington and Tehran’s agendas are colliding along the Syrian-Iraqi desert frontier. A US F-15 fighter jet opened fire on the drone in the early afternoon because it was approaching a US outpost near al-Tanf where US advisors were training an anti-Isis local militia, according to the Pentagon. Al-Tanf is a strategic point near the Syrian, Iraq and Jordanian borders. In a similar incident on 8 June, an Iranian-made drone of the same kind dropped a bomb near US troops at the same training outpost before it was shot down by a US plane. (Guardian, June 20, 2017)

 

MONTREAL MAN FOUND GUILTY OF ATTEMPTING TO LEAVE CANADA TO JOIN I.S. (Montreal) — A 29-year-old Quebec man has been found guilty of trying to join I.S., in a case that experts say is a major test of Canada's anti-terrorism laws. Ismael Habib is the first adult to proceed to trial on charges of attempting to leave Canada to participate in the activities of a terrorist group — a section of the Anti-terrorism Act enacted by the Stephen Harper government in 2013. During the ​trial, it was revealed that Habib told an undercover RCMP officer posing as a crime boss peddling fake passports that it was his "duty" to fight jihad in Syria. Habib now faces a maximum 10-year sentence. (CBC, June 19, 2017)

 

HEZBOLLAH FLAGS WAVED AS HUNDREDS GATHER FOR AL QUDS DAY MARCH (London) — Hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators took to the streets of London to mark the annual Al Quds Day. As in previous years, many participants waved flags of terrorist group Hezbollah and called for the destruction of Israel. The march was organized by the Islamic Human Rights Commission. A smaller crowd of pro-Israelis held a counter-demonstration, waving Israeli flags. Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has been under fire from the Jewish community for allowing the event to take place. Last week his spokesperson said Khan did not have the authority to cancel it. (Jerusalem Online, June 18, 2017)

 

GUNMEN KILL TWO IN ATTACK ON MALI RESORT (Dakar) — Four gunmen stormed a camping resort outside Mali’s capital, killing two people before escaping in a shootout with soldiers from an antiterrorism unit. The resort, known as Le Campement Kangaba, is about seven miles from the capital, Bamako. One of the attackers was wounded and managed to escape with his comrades. Several terrorist attacks have targeted foreigners in Mali in recent years, including an assault in November 2015 when gunmen stormed the lobby of the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, mowing down guests and workers. At least 19 people were killed in a melee that lasted several hours. Mali has served as a base for rebel and Islamist groups in recent years. (New York Times, June 18, 2017)

 

PALESTINIANS TO CLAIM TOMB OF PATRIARCHS ON UN WORLD HERITAGE LIST (Paris) — The World Heritage Committee is set to debate inscribing the Old City of Hebron – including its Tomb of the Patriarchs – to the “State of Palestine” when it meets in July. The World Heritage Committee operates under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization. For the last three years Israel has waged a stiff battle at UNESCO to prevent the Palestinians from linguistically reclassifying Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount, solely as the Muslim religious site known as al-Haram al-Sharif. (Jerusalem Post, June 16, 2017)  

 

MLA VOTES TO REJECT BDS (New York) — The Modern Language Association has voted to reject academic boycotts of Israel. The MLA announced that the resolution passed by a vote of 1,954 to 885. A vote of ten percent of the organization’s more than 18,000 voting members was needed to pass the resolution and make it policy, a threshold that few resolutions have been able to pass. Resolutions calling for an academic boycott of Israeli universities routinely come before the MLA executive and membership and have been voted down. Last June, the membership of the American Anthropological Association narrowly defeated a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions. (Arutz Sheva, June 15, 2017)

 

SFSU HIT BY LAWSUIT ALLEGING ‘ANTI-JEWISH ANIMUS’ (San Francisco) — San Francisco State University was hit by a lawsuit brought by students and community members accusing the school of “an extremely disturbing and consistent pattern of anti-Jewish animus.” Claiming the school has allowed a “hostile environment” toward Jews since at least 1968, when the social justice-focused College of Ethnic Studies was established, the plaintiffs said that the situation “has only gotten worse over time” and that “SFSU and its administrators have knowingly fostered this.” The plaintiffs include two current students, one recent graduate and three members of the local Jewish community. All of the plaintiffs attended the 2016 lecture by Jerusalem Mayor Barkat, which was disrupted by students, including members of the student group General Union of Palestine Students. (Algemeiner, June 19, 2017)

 

US AIRCRAFT CARRIER TO DOCK IN HAIFA (Haifa) — The USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier will dock in Haifa Bay for the first time in 17 years as it heads back to the Syrian coast to take part in the air campaign against I.S.. The Pentagon said the Nimitz-class carrier was moved from the Persian Gulf to the Eastern Mediterranean last month. The nuclear-powered ship, carrying a crew of 5,700 and 80 fighter planes, deployed from Norfolk, Va., on January 21. Haifa served as a base for the US Sixth Fleet during the 1980s and 90s, but the Pentagon discontinued use of the coastal city in 2000 when the second intifada erupted. Next month’s visit, which will include shore leave for most of the crew, is expected to inject millions of shekels into the local economy. (Ynet, June 19, 2017)

 

TEL AVIV-SHANGHAI ROUTE TO OPEN (Shanghai) — The fourth largest airline in China, Hainan Airlines, has signed an agreement this week to open a new direct route from Shanghai to Tel Aviv. The development makes the airline the first to operate regular flights between the economic capital of China and Israel. In the last year, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of tourists and business people visiting Israel from China. Israel’s former ambassador to China, Matan Vilnai said that it was important to make Israel accessible to the East. “For many years, it was difficult to get here, but we have worked very hard to make Israel open to China…There is a great interest in China in the technological innovation that Israel is known for, in addition to the history of the state. The bottom line is that want Israel to be as accessible as possible to this important market,” he said. (Jewish Voice, June 21, 2017)

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Why Israel is Saving Syrian Rebels: Terry Glavin, Maclean’s, June 20, 2017 —On a hospital bed at the Ziv Medical Center, high in the Upper Galilee Mountains, a Syrian rebel who goes by the name Ramadan was still wincing in pain from a bullet that had torn through his right shoulder only 10 days before. But he said there was something important he wanted to tell me.

The Stakes in Syria Now Include US-Russia War: Ralph Peters, New York Post, June 19, 2017— The stakes in Syria just jumped mighty high. Syrian troops attacked the anti-ISIS fighters we back. We warned them to knock it off. In reply, a Syrian aircraft struck our allies. An American jet shot it down.

New York Times Column Overlooks Jewish Aid to Syrian Refugees: Ira Stoll, Algemeiner, June 20, 2017—“Why Don’t You Donate for Syrian Refugees? Blame Bad Marketing,” is the headline over a New York Times column by Charles Duhigg. It reports, “It is statistically unlikely, however, that you’ll write a check to help Syrian refugees. Though the Syrian crisis is a huge and heartbreaking story, it has translated into relatively little charitable giving.”

This Summer's Most Maddening Pests are on the Climate-Crusading, Trump-Hating, Culture-Censoring Left: Conrad Black, National Post, June 16, 2017—It being the verge of summer, it is time to be ready to repel insects and philistines. One current infestation of philistines has raised the fatuous roar of lamentation over the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

 

 

HAMAS: TEN YEARS OF ANTI-ISRAEL VIOLENCE AND OPPRESSIVE RULE OVER GAZA

Qatar Enables Hamas’s Gaza Oppression: David Ibsen, Jerusalem Post, June 18, 2017— In the 10 years since Hamas forces violently expelled the Palestinian Authority from the Gaza Strip, the terrorist group has brought the coastal enclave to ruin through mismanagement, violence and neglect…

Hamas: Striking the Right Balance: Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, BESA, June 19, 2017— The first and most important element currently putting pressure on Hamas is the loss of Qatar.

Marking a Decade of Hamas Rule in Gaza: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, June 16, 2017 — Characteristiclally, writing that appears in the media tends to be negative and critical…

Palestinians' Real Tragedy: Failed Leadership: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, June 15, 2017— The Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip may be at war with each other, but the two rival parties seem to be in agreement over one issue: silencing and intimidating their critics.

 

On Topic Links

 

Why Terrorist Organizations ISIL and Hamas are Competing to Take Credit for Attack in Israel: Washington Post, June 19, 2017

Gaza in the Dark Is Not So Terrible: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, June 18, 2017

Qatar vs. Saudi Arabia: How Iran and the Brotherhood Tore the Gulf Apart: David Andrew Weinberg, National Interest, June 8, 2017

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Iran's 'Preferred Proxy,' Arming in Gaza: Yaakov Lappin, IPT News, June 5, 2017

 

 

 

QATAR ENABLES HAMAS’S GAZA OPPRESSION

                                                           David Ibsen                                                                                                           Jerusalem Post, June 18, 2017

 

In the 10 years since Hamas forces violently expelled the Palestinian Authority from the Gaza Strip, the terrorist group has brought the coastal enclave to ruin through mismanagement, violence and neglect; an essential service as basic as electricity has been cut to no more than four hours a day. If not for the political and financial lifeline provided by Qatar, Hamas’s rule would likely have collapsed years ago.

 

Last week, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and other countries severed diplomatic and commercial ties with Qatar. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir specifically cited Qatari support of Hamas and its parent group, the Muslim Brotherhood, as the impetus for the current diplomatic crisis. In response, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani defended Hamas as a “legitimate resistance movement.” It is time for Qatar to recognize Hamas for what it is: a murderous terrorist group that has set back the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and stolen precious resources from the Gazan people.

 

Hamas first came to power in 2006’s Palestinian legislative elections. The international community largely shunned the new Hamas-led Palestinian government. The United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations – the so-called quartet of Middle East peacemakers – demanded Hamas renounce violence, recognize Israel and abide by past Palestinian agreements in order to receive recognition.

 

Hamas chose to do none of the above. And after a year of factional fighting (political and physical) with rival Fatah, Hamas forces drove Fatah and the PA from Gaza on June 15, 2007. Cut off from the West Bank, the PA and the international community Hamas’s rule should have quickly ended, particularly after Hamas rocket fire into Israel the following year sparked the first of three wars with Israel.

 

Instead, Qatar continued to provide Hamas with hundreds of millions of dollars to pay salaries and to rebuild Gaza after the devastating wars Hamas initiated with Israel. In October 2012, then-Qatari emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani even defied Hamas’s international isolation and became the first foreign head of state to visit the Gaza Strip after Hamas violently seized control.

 

In Qatar itself, now-former Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has been a “dear guest” of the Qatari government, despite US sanctions against him. Last month, Mashaal and Hamas held a press conference at the Sheraton hotel in Doha to announce the group’s new guiding political document, which Hamas heralded as a sign of its moderation. However, the new document simply reiterated Hamas’s commitment to armed jihad in order to replace all of Israel with a Palestinian state “from the river to the sea.” According to the new document, “armed resistance” remains Hamas’s “strategic choice.”

 

In the same week that Qatar’s neighbors determined its support for terrorism could no longer be tolerated, the United Nations discovered Hamas tunnels beneath one of its schools in Gaza. As the summer months threaten sweltering temperatures, Gazans have fewer than four hours of electricity each day to run refrigeration or air conditioning. The responsibility of governance has not moderated Hamas, and the leaders of the Arab world now recognize the disastrous consequences of Hamas’s violent coup. All except one. Despite Hamas’s continued commitment to terrorism and its blatant disregard for the people of Gaza and international institutions, Qatari support for Hamas remains steadfast. As the Gazan people mark 10 years of oppressive Hamas rule by candlelight, they have Doha to thank for their continued suffering. Qatar’s purse strings must first be closed if Gaza is to ever break free.

 

 

Contents  

             

HAMAS: STRIKING THE RIGHT BALANCE

Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror

BESA, June 19, 2017

 

The first and most important element currently putting pressure on Hamas is the loss of Qatar. Under pressure from its Arab Gulf neighbors, Qatar has expelled several Hamas leaders and is leaving open the possibility that the organization’s entire leadership will eventually need to leave the country. If Qatar ceases to provide economic aid to the Gaza Strip due to this pressure, residents of Gaza and Hamas will have lost what has been their primary source of help in recent years.

 

The second source of pressure is the recent decisions of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. First, the PA will reduce or has already significantly reduced salaries to people it considers its enemies in Gaza, and these cuts will have a considerable impact on the economic situation. Abbas has also decided not to pay for a large portion of the electricity Gaza consumes, leading to the Israeli cabinet’s decision on Sunday to reduce the amount of electricity Israel transfers to Gaza. As a result, the people of Gaza will be left without electricity for much of the time.

 

There is no alternative to Israeli electricity, because the Egyptians, too, are denying Gaza more electricity. As to who will supply the salaries, there is no alternative there either. No one will fill the void left by the PA on this matter and it does not appear that anyone will step into Qatar’s shoes if it has to discontinue its economic support.

 

All these factors will lead to immense pressure on the Gaza Strip in general and on Hamas, which is responsible for Gaza, in particular. This is a classic example of a situation in which Israel has no “good decision” to make. On the one hand, Israel has a great interest in pressuring Hamas to sacrifice its military investments. On the other hand, the worse the situation in Gaza becomes, and the less Hamas has to lose, the greater the risk of a violent outburst from inside Gaza. This outburst will be aimed at Israel, not Hamas.

 

What is the right balance between pressure on Hamas and the building of hope for the citizens of Gaza? The answer to this question is entirely unclear. How can pressure be applied without causing an eruption? To do so is an art, and it is difficult to provide good advice. It is exceedingly clear, however, that once the three prongs of pressure – less electricity, lower salaries, and reduced economic aid – affect life in a tangible manner, the Gaza Strip will become far more combustible. This has to be taken into account.

 

                                                                                   

Contents  

                                         

MARKING A DECADE OF HAMAS RULE IN GAZA

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Arutz Sheva, June 16, 2017

 

Characteristiclally, writing that appears in the media tends to be negative and critical, because journalists generally deal with disasters, wars, disputes, problems and all kinds of trouble – and not with, let's say, the dedications of new kindergartens or cornerstone laying ceremonies for new neighborhoods.

 

Sadly enough, the Arab world provides a good deal of depressing subject matter, especially since the last months of 2010. Late 2010 is when the terrible tempest known at first as the Arab Spring began, leading to hundreds of  thousands of deaths, millions of injured and over 10 million refugees, mostly Syrian. No one has any idea when – or if – this horrible tragedy will come to an end.

 

In this article, I want to deal with something that has some positive sides to it, even though my country, the State of Israel, suffers not a little from it – and that is Gaza, the state established exactly a decade ago during June 2007 by Hamas. I am certainly not a supporter of Hamas, since one of its main goals is to eliminate me, my family and my country. Still, one must salute this movement which, against all predictions, managed to establish a state, administer it, defend it and turn it into a fait accompli on the political map of the Middle East.

 

I consider Gaza a state, because what has been established in that geographical strip over the past decade is, for all intents and purposes, a state. It is a governmental entity with a leader, law enforcement agency, army, military industry, internal security and intelligence agencies, legal system, media, tax structure, legislature, education and health ministries, infrastructure – and every other institution a state needs. The State of Gaza even has marked borders, as well as border crossings to Israel and Egypt, its surrounding states, and it has reached agreements with those countries and others that allow for the management of daily life.

 

The establishment of a state, however, does not change the fact that Hamas is a terror organization through and through, not only because of its acts of terror against Israel and its Jewish population, but because of the terrible means it employs against its own residents in order to maintain its rule over them. Israel is well aware of this, but its political echelons have no intentions of bringing down the Hamas government, and even countries like Egypt which is conducting an all-out war against the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas' birth mother, conducts negotiations with Gaza State representatives who arrive as official guests to its capital city.

 

Furthermore, the State of Gaza has succeeded in forcing Israel, its arch-enemy, to provide it with food, fuel, medicine and building materials, some used to dig attack tunnels against Israel itself. There is no other country in the world that has succeeded in getting another state – for whose destruction it continues to call – to provide it with goods. Can anyone imagine the United Kingdom, France of the USA sending so much as an overripe banana to a country which has vowed to destroy them? Israel does. it sends hundreds of tons of perfectly edible bananas to Gaza every day, despite the fact that the Islamic Covenant of Hamas – its founding document – calls in no uncertain terms for Israel's destruction.

 

Every single day, over a thousand trucks piled with every kind of merchandise, enter the State of Gaza from Israel.  Hamas immediately confiscates anything that can be of use to its members and leaves the leftovers for the general population. In addition, Hamas levies taxes for fund its activities, and while the smuggling tunnels connecting Egypt and Gaza remained open, until Egypt destroyed them, Hamas ran the smuggling industry: it allowed only its members to dig the tunnels, forbade anyone on its black list to do so, and was given a portion of the contraband goods as a form of tax.

 

From a political standpoint, Hamas has managed to achieve a position on the same level as that of the PLO, that of representing the "Palestinian people." Hamas, impressively, won most of the Palestinian Legislature seats in the first elections in which the organization took part. Another, just as important, achievement is the fact that Hamas leaders managed to get Qatar, with all the massive economic ability of that gas-rich emirate, on their side. The Qatari Emir is the first Arab ruler, and so far the only one, who visited the State of Gaza while it is under Hamas rule – and without asking the Palestinian Authority for permission to do so.

 

Qatar has invested billions so far in the State of Gaza, its money funding significant portions of the local arms, rocket and tunnel-digging industry. The economic backing Qatar provided for Hamas enabled it to survive three violent clashes with Israel, Operations Cast Lead in 2008-09, Pillar of Defense in 2012 and Protective Edge in 2014. Qatar's media outlet Al Jazeera served Hamas interests during each one of these operations, broadcasting non-stop anti Israel reports that turned Arab and international public opinion against Israel.

 

The State of Gaza has fallen upon hard times recently as a result of Qatar's altercation with other Arab states, Trump's inclusion of Hamas on his list of terrorist organizations in his Riyadh speech and now because of PA refusal to continue paying for the Hamas State's electricity supplied by Israel. Hamas can easily afford to pay for its own electricity whose entire annual cost is about a tenth of the amount Hamas invests in its members welfare, in military industry and tunnel infrastructure, but Hamas leaders have reacted with utter cynicism: for all they care, the Gazan population can continue suffering in darkness and without refrigeration in the torrid summer weather, while they carry on with their comfortable lives and continue digging tunnels.

 

Gaza's population has not said a word. They all know what happens to anyone who criticizes Hamas – he is first arrested, then taken to the torture chambers in Hamas' dungeons, and is never heard from again. Anyone suspected of collaboration with Israel is summarily executed – this happened just a few weeks ago. Sinwar, the new Hamas leader, is himself accused of killing someone he suspected of treason. In extreme cases, masked men appear at suspects' homes in the dead of night and humiliate their families in various ways.

All this aside, the Hamas State's greatest accomplishment is the security standoff it has reached with Israel. Taking advantage of Israel's sensitivity to human life, Hamas places its rocket launchers in the midst of civilian areas so that its citizens form human shields. In emergencies, Hamas leaders hide in bunkers built underneath hospitals, knowing that Israel will never bomb them. The Hamas regime digs its attack tunnels underneath UNWRA schools because the UN will not allow Israel to hit them. Just recently, the UN organization discovered one of these tunnels, and its Secretary General did not even bother to condemn Hamas for digging it. After all, Qatar funds certain UN organizations, such as UNESCO, so the secretary general knows enough to refrain from offending the source of his budget.

 

Israel is concerned about security for the Israeli population near Gaza, leading it to try to avoid friction with the Hamas State as much as possible. Every time someone fires a shot from the Gaza Strip to Israel, the Israeli reaction is immediate and painful, and the Hamas government has learned that lesson.  Israel has also built underground obstacles to tunnel digging from Gaza into Israeli territory, but my heart tells me that Hamas will search for, and possibly find, ways to get around these obstacles, either by destroying them or digging under them.

 

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz has called for building a Gazan seaport and perhaps even an airport on an artificial island opposite Gaza, so that everything that arrives to Gaza would first have to pass Israeli scrutiny before reaching the coast. There is logic in this idea, but it is hard to believe that the Hamas government will agree to it.  The terrorist regime doesn't care much for its citizens' welfare and is interested in running its own port, not one built out in the sea where it cannot import weapons and rockets because Israel is in control…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

Contents                        PALESTINIANS' REAL TRAGEDY: FAILED LEADERSHIP

Khaled Abu Toameh

Gatestone Institute, June 15, 2017

 

The Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip may be at war with each other, but the two rival parties seem to be in agreement over one issue: silencing and intimidating their critics. Of course, this does not come as a surprise to those who are familiar with the undemocratic nature of the PA and Hamas. Under the regimes of the PA and Hamas, Palestinians are free to criticize Israel and incite against it. But when it comes to criticizing the leaders of the PA and Hamas, the rules of the game are different. Such criticism is considered a "crime" and those responsible often find themselves behind bars or subjected to other forms of punishment.

 

This, of course, is not what the majority of Palestinians were expecting from their leaders. After the signing of the Oslo Accords and the establishment of the PA more than 20 years ago, Palestinians were hoping to see democracy and freedom of speech. However, the PA, first under Yasser Arafat and later under Mahmoud Abbas, has proven to be not much different than most of the Arab dictatorships, where democracy and freedom of expression and the media are non-existent.

 

If Palestinians had in the past to deal with only one regime (the PA) that does not honor freedom of expression, in the last 10 years they have fallen victim to another repressive government (Hamas) that rules the Gaza Strip with an iron fist and suppresses any form of freedom of expression and targets anyone who dares to speak out.

 

The Palestinians in PA's West Bank-controlled territories and Hamas's Gaza Strip can only look at their neighbors in Israel and envy them for the democracy, free media and rule of law. Hardly a day passes without the Palestinians being reminded by both the PA and Hamas that they are still far from achieving their dream of enjoying democracy and freedom of expression. A free media is something that Palestinians can only continue to dream about.

 

The Palestinian media in the West Bank serves as a mouthpiece for the PA and its leaders. Even privately-owned television and radio stations in the West Bank have long learned that they must toe the line or face punitive measures and feel the heavy hand of the PA security forces. This is why Palestinian media outlets and journalists in the West Bank refrain from reporting about any story that may reflect negatively on Abbas or any of his cronies. In the world of the media, it is called self-censorship. In the Gaza Strip, the situation is not any better. In fact, it is hard to talk about the existence of a media under Hamas. Hamas and its security forces maintain a tight grip on local media outlets and journalists are subjected to tight restrictions. Criticism of Hamas is almost unheard of and could land those responsible in prison.

 

In the absence of a free and independent media in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, some writers, journalists and political activists have resorted to social media to air their views and share their grievances with their fellow Palestinians and the outside world. But the PA and Hamas have discovered the power of Facebook and Twitter, and have taken the battle against their critics to these two platforms. Posting critical or controversial postings on social media is considered a serious offense under the PA and Hamas. The leaders of the PA and Hamas accuse those who dare to criticize them on Facebook of "extending their tongues" and "insulting" representatives of the Palestinians.

 

In the past few years, dozens of Palestinian journalists, bloggers, academics and political activists have been imprisoned or summoned for interrogation by the PA and Hamas over their Facebook postings. International human rights organizations and advocates of free speech and media around the world prefer to look the other way in the face of these human rights violations by the PA and Hamas. Moreover, "pro-Palestinian" groups and individuals in the West do not seem to care about the sad state of affairs of the Palestinians under the PA and Hamas. The only "wrongdoing" and "evil" they see is on the Israeli side. By ignoring the plight of the suppressed Palestinians, these "pro-Palestinian" activists and groups are actually aiding the PA and Hamas in their efforts to silence the voices of dissent and criticism.

 

The absence of international criticism allows the PA and Hamas to continue their policy of silencing and intimidating Palestinians who dare to speak out against the lack of freedom of expression and democracy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Recently, for example, Hamas arrested two Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who posted critical remarks on Facebook: Abdallah Abu Sharekh and Shukri Abu Oun. Abu Sharekh, a prominent writer, was arrested shortly after he posted a comment on Facebook criticizing senior Hamas official Salah Bardaweel. "You are ruling the Gaza Strip with an iron fist and fire," Abu Sharekh wrote. "The state of oppression (in the Gaza Strip) is intolerable. You (Hamas) have taken the Gaza Strip back to the Middle Ages."

 

Abu Sharekh's criticism came in response to the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip. Thousands of families in the Gaza Strip spend most of the day without electricity as a result of the power struggle between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Last month, the PA announced that it would stop paying Israel for the fuel supplied to the power plants in the Gaza Strip. The PA's move is designed to punish Hamas. But Abu Sharekh and other Palestinians in the Gaza Strip hold Hamas responsible for the crisis. They argue that Hamas' corruption, specifically the embezzlement of Qatari funds intended to purchase fuel for the power plants, is the main reason behind the crisis. Abu Sharekh, in his Facebook comment, pointed out that Hamas leaders have installed private generators that supply their homes with electricity even during the power outages…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

Contents

On Topic Links

 

Why Terrorist Organizations ISIL and Hamas are Competing to Take Credit for Attack in Israel: Washington Post, June 19, 2017—The facts aren’t in dispute. On Friday, a small group of assailants launched an attack near Jerusalem’s Old City. Wielding guns and knives, they killed a female police officer and wounded three other people.

Gaza in the Dark Is Not So Terrible: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, June 18, 2017—The Hamas leadership in Gaza has threatened Israel with “an explosion” if it does not supply electricity to Gaza at the expense of Israeli taxpayers. Blackmail is, of course, part of the Hamas repertoire. One of the main reasons why Hamas launched thousands of rockets and sent terrorists into Israel via tunnel in the summer of 2014 was to solve its dire economic problem. Hamas needs electricity to build terror tunnels and produce weapons.

Qatar vs. Saudi Arabia: How Iran and the Brotherhood Tore the Gulf Apart: David Andrew Weinberg, National Interest, June 8, 2017 —The Gulf monarchies face the most serious crisis in their history. It is largely being covered as a diplomatic spat, since several Arab nations terminated their relations with Qatar on Monday to protest its support for radical Islamists. But the crisis has an economic component as well. Saudi Arabia severed Qatar’s access to its only land border, across which roughly 40 percent of Qatar’s food needs are imported.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Iran's 'Preferred Proxy,' Arming in Gaza: Yaakov Lappin, IPT News, June 5, 2017—Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the second largest terrorist army in Gaza, recently issued a video threat about its willingness to end the three-year truce in place with Israel.

 

 

 

 

ISRAEL, DESPITE ONGOING THREATS, MAINTAINS MILITARY ADVANTAGE WITH HIGH-TECH WEAPONS

Big Data Is Preparing the IDF for 21st Century Combat: Yaakov Lappin, JNS, June 18, 2017— In the not too distant future, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) battalion commander may stare out at the urban sprawl of a Gazan neighborhood.

Is This a Sneak Peek at the Israeli Army's New Tank?: Michael Peck, National Interest, June 16, 2017 — A small armored wedge with a remote-controlled turret: is this what the Israel Defense Force’s future armored vehicles will look like?

Crossing into ‘ISIS land’ with Givati Fighters: Yoav Zitun, Ynet, June 15, 2017— A group of children dangle their feet in a hidden pool, in the steep slopes descending from Kibbutz Meitzar in the southeastern Golan Heights.

Israel Is Still at War: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, May 4, 2017— After several military defeats, the largest and strongest Arab state, Egypt, signed a historic peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

 

On Topic Links

 

Yossi’s Private Tank War – 6×6 (Video): Jewish Press, June 18, 2017

Israel Aerospace Industries Launch Simulated Air Battle Training: Jewish Press, June 12, 2017

The Six-Day War Was a One-Time Event: Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, BESA, June 5, 2017

How Israel Spots Lone-Wolf Attackers: Economist, June 8, 2017

 

 

BIG DATA IS PREPARING THE IDF FOR 21ST CENTURY COMBAT

Yaakov Lappin

JNS, June 18, 2017

 

In the not too distant future, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) battalion commander may stare out at the urban sprawl of a Gazan neighborhood. As the commander surveys the residential buildings, the locations of enemy gunmen hiding in apartments will be visible, marked in red by the augmented reality (AR) military glasses that he or she is wearing.

 

On the third floor of a building, the commander will see a hostile combatant crouching and pointing a shoulder-fired missile. On the fifth floor, he or she will know that two snipers are lying in wait, and that behind the building there are enemy mortar launchers. The battalion commander will pass on the coordinates of these threats to Israeli Air Force aircraft hovering overhead, and they will promptly destroy the targets.

 

The commander may receive an incoming alert message on a piece of eye wear; a terrorist cell is spotted moving in his or her direction from the Gazan coastline. With the push of a button on the screen of a tablet-like device, the commander could order an Israeli Navy missile ship — waiting in the sea, tens of miles away — to launch a precision strike on the target. And then the commander will lead his or her soldiers forward.

 

This is a fictional scenario today, but it could become reality soon, thanks to the high-tech revolution of the IDF’s network-centered warfare (NCW). The technology used in the above scenario will allow the IDF to adapt to 21st century Mideast warfare, where enemies appear and vanish in very little time, often in urban settings. This new environment is a far cry from the organized state militaries that the IDF faced in the 20th century.

 

Maj. Assaf Ovadia, head of the IDF’s Combined Operations Department, confirmed to … that several technological breakthroughs have recently occurred, paving the path for the formation of a digital military network that will significantly enhance the IDF’s capabilities. “The world is changing very quickly, both in the civilian and military spheres. So are the threats we are dealing with,” Ovadia said. “Our ability to handle big data means we can bring information very rapidly to the end user in the field. We are adding new abilities all of the time.” For now, this means that all three IDF branches — the army, navy and air force — are linked in a unified command and control network. A fourth member of the network is the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate, which provides critical information in real time to field units conducting operations.

 

Following important combat lessons learned from the 2006 Second Lebanon War, the IDF’s C4I Branch (which stands for Computers, Communications, Command and Control) set up the revolutionary Network IDF, which allows all the military branches to share the same data infrastructure. In the past, each IDF branch had its own system for managing operations, which was ineffective and delayed the transit of critical, real-time information. “Now, nothing is transferred because everyone is sitting on the same infrastructure. Each one is contributing to the common picture, in line with their missions,” Ovadia explained.

 

Network IDF was launched as a concept in 2014, and quickly began changing the way that Israeli forces fight in battle. During the 2014 conflict with Hamas, a terrorist naval commando cell from Gaza swam north in the Mediterranean Sea and landed on Zikim beach on Israel’s southern coastline. What happened next represented “the first sparks” of the network, Ovadia said. “An observations soldier saw suspicious activity on the beach. She transmitted data in real time to ground and air units. Then a dialogue began between a tank commander and the air force. The units coordinated their firepower against the targets,” he recalled.

 

The biggest challenge with the new system is securing the network against breach attempts, which could become a source of vulnerability for the IDF. Since the system’s inception, the IDF has worked to secure the network so that data can be shared safely with end users in the field. In 2015, Network IDF was declared fully operational, and today it continues to evolve. For the network to be truly effective, Ovadia said, it’s necessary to analyze the raw data, and turn it into useful knowledge. And the intelligence must be sent only to those who would directly benefit from it. “We don’t want a company commander to receive all [the information] Military Intelligence has. Similarly, a tank commander is only interested in the ten kilometers in front of him.” Higher ranking officers have access to far more data.

 

In today’s IDF, every end user, whether a tank commander or a senior officer in the general staff, has access to a command and control system, which includes a screen. Future plans include making these capabilities more automatic. And augmented reality is already being used in training. “We are dealing with augmented reality a lot. We are on the way to it,” Ovadia said. “In the future, we won’t want an observations soldier to merely say what she sees. We want the commander in the field to see what she sees.”       

 

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IS THIS A SNEAK PEEK AT THE ISRAELI ARMY'S NEW TANK?

Michael Peck                                                                                                        

National Interest, June 16, 2017

 

A small armored wedge with a remote-controlled turret: is this what the Israel Defense Force’s future armored vehicles will look like? The answer is . . . maybe. At a conference in Israel last month, the former chief of the IDF’s Armored Corps showed a simulation of what Project Carmel—the IDF’s effort to develop technology for the its generation of tanks—might produce. The virtual vehicle is wedge-shaped, with the hull sloping towards the front. The cannon-armed turret is set at the rear of the hull, with a machine gun mounted on top…

 

Israel is developing two next-generation armored vehicles. One is the Eitan, the IDF’s first wheeled armored personnel carrier and the chosen replacement for Israel’s fleet of old and poorly armored M113 APCs. Already in the prototype stage, the eight-wheeled Eitan somewhat resembles the U.S. Stryker. The thirty-ton Eitan will be paired with the much heavier Namer, an APC based on the chassis of the Merkava tank.

 

However, the simulated vehicle displayed at the conference by retired Brigadier General Didi Ben-Yoash, who is heading Project Carmel, is much more of a tank. It would be tracked rather than wheeled like the Eitan, and would weigh thirty-five to forty tons (compared to a sixty-eight-ton M-1 Abrams). With just two crewmen, the vehicle would mostly function autonomously, including “autonomous navigation and driving, target spotting, aiming, independent firing whenever possible plus other features,” according to Israel Defense magazine.

 

The “cockpit” of the Israeli vehicle will have space for a third crewman to operate drones and standoff weapons. The tank would also have an active protection system, such as Israel’s Trophy, to deflect antitank missiles and rockets. “The future armored platform will be light, agile, small, relatively inexpensive and simple to operate and designed primarily for operation in urban areas with the hatches closed,” Israel Defense said. The new tank will not replace the current Merkava 4, which is expected to remain in production until 2020. “Rather, it is a research-and-development program aimed at a state-of-the-art, medium-weight combat vehicle,” according to Defense News. “It won’t be Merkava 5,” an Israeli official told Defense News. “The operational requirement will be something entirely different.”

 

Much like the United States and its Ground-X Vehicle Technology project, Israel is aiming to develop smaller, lightweight tanks that can operate in urban terrain. In Israel’s case, the IDF is mindful of the lessons of Operation Cast Lead, the 2014 incursion in Gaza that saw Israeli soldiers challenged by a city with narrow streets and crisscrossed by tunnels. Also in line with U.S. thinking, the Israeli vehicle will be heavily networked into battlefield command and control systems.

 

The Below the Turret Ring blog offers a thoughtful analysis of what’s known about Project Carmel vehicle so far. The Israeli vehicle is considerably lighter than the forty-eight-ton Armata, which is Russia’s next-generation tank. Its active protection system might stop antitank missiles, but its armor won’t stop heavy cannon rounds from tanks such as the T-72. “The closest Russian counterpart to the Carmel might be the BMPT/BMPT-72 Terminator fire support vehicle designed by the Russian company UVZ,” the blog notes.

 

In that sense, Project Carmel sounds less like a main battle tank that can replace the Merkava or Abrams in a turret-to-turret armored slugfest. A small tank protected by medium armor and armed with an autocannon and missiles, it would seem to have its own niche as an infantry support vehicle.          

 

 

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CROSSING INTO ‘ISIS LAND’ WITH GIVATI FIGHTERS

Yoav Zitun

Ynet, June 15, 2017

 

A group of children dangle their feet in a hidden pool, in the steep slopes descending from Kibbutz Meitzar in the southeastern Golan Heights. The ravishing image is completed by the nearby meadow, with cows and horses and the trickling water from the Yarmouk and Ruqqad rivers. An IDF tank shields the children from above, as the new fence on the Israel-Syria border, just a few dozen meters way, winds southward to the border triangle with Jordan. The view from the armored forces soldiers’ post is breathtaking. The calm sounds nothing like the artillery fire which is heard here on an almost weekly basis.

 

On the other side of the border, as the Israeli children bathe undisturbed in a hidden jewel of nature, a Syrian boy from the nearby village of al-Sharaf learns how to fire an assault rifle, guided by an Islamic State member, in an improvised shooting range between an abandoned United Nations post and the slopes of the Ruqqad River. “Everything here is green, people hike here and enjoy the nature and the amazing landscape, and only several kilometers away there is total chaos,” says Lieutenant Colonel Nir Ben Hamo, commander of the Givati patrol unit, who has been responsible for this area in the past few months. The same view—from two different worlds.

 

While the heart of Ben Hamo’s regiment belongs in the south, keeping one eye on Gaza at all times, and his forces are constantly preparing for war in Givati’s home zone, for several months in the past year Lt. Col. Ben Hamo and his soldiers were in charge of the most dangerous and explosive region, where they had complete lack of control and limited intelligence on the enemies. This time, it was neither the familiar Hamas nor Hezbollah, which remains the army’s primary scenario, or even 1,000 ISIS fighters scattered across a huge area in Sinai, who the Egyptian army is working to crush.

 

Only last week, Arab media reported on an attack—likely the first of its kind—of ISIS posts on the Syria-Israel-Jordan border, which was most probably carried out by the international coalition’s aerial forces. According to foreign sources, Israel has been helping the forces that are fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq for years, providing intelligence on targets, and it’s quite possible that it did the same this time too. Nevertheless, the explosive tensions and the incomprehensible discrepancy between the pastoral view and the moment that everything could blow up continue as the forces move northward along the border fence.

 

Israel is not taking in Syrian refugees yet, but they are already knocking on its door. In the past year, refugee encampments have been slowly piling up near and north of Har Chozek, close to the orchards of the Druze town of Buq'ata, a few tens of meters from the fence. The IDF has also institutionalized the handling of wounded Syrians: The field hospital in the northern Golan Heights has been shut down, and military teams have been trained to provide quick care on the ground and examine every wounded person in an armed and secured booth on the fence, before evacuating them into Israel.

 

The fighters along the border not only hear the sounds of explosions and bursts of gunfire, but they also read press reports sometimes about alleged Israeli attacks and targeted killings of Hezbollah and regime supporters who are active in the Syrian Golan Heights. “These incidents definitely prompt us to raise the alertness and tension level among the fighters, out of a common sense that the Syrian regime may react against us,” explains Lt. Col. Gidi Kfir-El, commander of the 9th Battalion of the 401st Armored Brigade, who is responsible for the central and northern Golan Heights area.

 

 “The perception of our activity in the defense mission,” he adds, “has become just like our activity vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip: Regimental combat teams of the engineering, armored, infantry and canine forces, with combat intelligence gathering and aerial guidance if necessary. We are capable of getting a tank ready for action within minutes, and like in Gaza, it has possible targets beforehand for a counter-attack over a spillover from Syrian fighting.”

 

The problem with ISIS in the Golan Heights is that it is largely based on locals—a few thousand ISIS-supporting residents in villages in the southern Golan, who are trying to increasingly wear out the Al-Nusra Front organization, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, which is considered more moderate and which still controls a considerable part of the border strip with Israel. In between, there are a number of small outposts which still belong to the army of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who recently fought back and succeeded in regaining control of a few parts of the northern Golan Heights. The southern part remains black, painted in ISIS colors.

 

“It is for a reason that the IDF constantly stations the regular reconnaissance units here, the finest units with specific patrol, antitank and destruction abilities,” says Lt. Col. Ben Hamo, who during Operation Protective Edge replaced his commander, Major Benaya Sarel, who was killed near Rafah while chasing the kidnappers of Lt. Hadar Goldin. Ben Hamo asks his fighters to exercise quite a lot of restraint and intelligence against the enemy. “In a regimental or even company region,” he says, “there could be a few rules of engagement, sometimes for the same fighters, in accordance with the type of gunmen they see. In this region, we get to exercise our specific abilities excellently. We see members of Shuhada al-Yarmouk (the ISIS organization’s name in the Syrian Golan Heights) attacking more areas controlled by the other rebels. They have diverse weapons, Western arms, antitank missiles, explosive devices and even some armored vehicles, including a few tanks.”

 

Lt. Col. Ben Hamo prefers to hold his peace when he is asked if wounded Syrians are offered humanitarian aid in his region as well. Up until recently, Israel took a lot of pride in this activity, but then it apparently decided to keep a low profile for some reason. The field hospital that was built on the border in the northern Golan Heights halted its activity, the official reason being an optimization of the way the wounded are evacuated to Israel. In the southern part of the Golan Heights, which is controlled by ISIS, the IDF prefers to keep mum on the humanitarian issue.

 

The IDF refers to the Syrians who live in the Golan Heights as “locals,” and has detected that they prefer to keep the war as far away from their villages as possible. Nevertheless, the army does not approve of the southern villagers’ support for ISIS, which was implemented about nine months ago when mortars and gunshots were fired at a Golani force that was in the middle of conducting an ambush operation as it crossed the fence while remaining in an Israeli enclave in the southern Golan Heights. There were no casualties among the soldiers, but the IDF launched a quick response: Tanks and aircraft killed the cell members and destroyed a United Nations Disengagement Observer Force post, which was used by the Shuhada fighters…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

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ISRAEL IS STILL AT WAR

Prof. Efraim Inbar

BESA, May 4, 2017

 

After several military defeats, the largest and strongest Arab state, Egypt, signed a historic peace treaty with Israel in 1979. The defection of Egypt from the anti-Israel Arab alliance largely neutralized the option of a large-scale conventional attack on Israel, improving Israel’s overall strategic position. Yet Cairo refrained from developing normal relations with the Jewish state.  A “cold peace” evolved, underscoring the countries’ common strategic interests but also the reluctance of Egypt to participate in reconciling the two peoples.

 

Jordan followed suit in 1994, largely emulating the Egyptian precedent. Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel also reflected common strategic interests – but was commonly referred to by Jordanians as the “King’s peace,” indicating a disinclination for people-to-people interactions with the Jews west of the Jordan River. The inhibitions in the Arab world against accepting Israel should not be a surprise. Muslims seem to have good theological reasons for rejecting the existence of a Jewish state. Moreover, the education system in the Arab countries has inculcated anti-Semitic messages and hatred toward Israel for decades. Unfortunately, the dissemination of negative images of Jews and Israel has hardly changed in Arab schools and media.

 

This is also why the euphoria of the 1990s elicited by the “peace process” with the Palestinians, and propagated by the “peace camp”, was unwarranted. Indeed, the peace negotiations failed miserably. The process did, however, allow the Palestinian national movement a foothold in the West Bank and Gaza. As a large part of the Arab world is in deep socio-political crisis and another fears the Iranian threat, it is the Palestinian national movement and the Islamists that carry on the struggle against the Zionists.

 

The Palestinians are at the forefront of the war on Israel, despite their lack of tanks and airplanes. They use terror, and pay the terrorists captured by Israel as well as their families. The use of force against Jews is applauded, and killed perpetrators are awarded the status of martyrs. They use missiles against Israel’s civilian population. The limits on their firepower are the result of Israeli efforts to cut off their supply of armaments.   The Palestinian national movement denies the historic links of the Jews to the Land of Israel, and particularly Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority (PA) demanded of the UK that it apologize for the 1917 Balfour declaration, which recognized Jewish attachment to the Land of Israel. There are endless examples in Palestinian schools and media to sustain the conclusion that the Palestinians are not ready to make peace.

 

Moreover, the PA cannot conclude a “cold peace” like Egypt or Jordan. Those two countries take their commitment seriously to prevent terrorism from their territory. In the West Bank, the PA – established by Yitzhak Rabin on the premise that it will fight terror in exchange for the transfer of territory – refuses to honor its part of the bargain. It encourages terror by subsidies to jailed terrorists and by innumerable steps to eulogize the “martyrs” and honor their “heritage.” The ruling Palestinian elite in Gaza, Hamas, formally refuses to give up armed struggle against Israel. The “Oslo process” was an attempt by Israel to push the Palestinian national movement into a statist posture and to eventually adopt a statist rationale along the lines of that of Egypt and Jordan, which led them to a “cold peace” with Israel. But the religious and ethnic dimensions of the conflict with Israel have overcome any underdeveloped statist Palestinian instincts. The ethno-religious impulses of the Palestinians nurture their continuation of violent conflict.

 

So far, no Palestinian leader who has adopted a statist agenda, prioritizing state-building over other Palestinian aspirations, has garnered popular support. Salam Fayyad, who was admired in the West for his attempts to reform the PA’s bloated bureaucracy, seemed to tend in this direction. But his level of support among the Palestinian public never rose above 10%. Palestinian society is becoming more religious and radical, similarly to other Arab societies. This trend benefits Hamas, which is becoming more popular. The ascendance of Hamas further feeds hostility towards Israel. A drive to satisfy the quest for revenge, and, ultimately, to destroy Israel – which would be an historic justice in the eyes of the Palestinians – overrides any other consideration.

 

A renewal of negotiations leading to Israeli withdrawals is extremely unlikely to result in a durable and satisfactory agreement any time soon. Israel will need to maintain a strong army for many more decades to deal with the Palestinian challenge. Moreover, changes within neighboring states can be rapid. Unexpected scenarios, such as a return of the Muslim Brotherhood to the helm in Egypt or the fall of the Hashemite dynasty, might take place, and a large-scale conventional threat might reemerge. Finally, the Iranian nuclear specter is still hovering over the Middle East. Israel must remain vigilant and continue to prepare for a variety of warlike scenarios. The understandable desire for peace should not blur the discomforting likelihood that Israel will live by its sword for many years to come.

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Yossi’s Private Tank War – 6×6 (Video): Jewish Press, June 18, 2017—The IDF released a series of 6 videos, stories of personal heroism during the Six Day War. This video is the story of Yossi Lepper, a tankist who found himself alone with his tank in Gaza during the war.

Israel Aerospace Industries Launch Simulated Air Battle Training: Jewish Press, June 12, 2017—Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) will provide the EHUD®, ACMI system to the Israeli Air Force to be used by the corps’ training between combat aircraft and the Lavi training airplanes.

The Six-Day War Was a One-Time Event: Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, BESA, June 5, 2017—In many ways, the 1967 war was a “secondary tremor” from the tectonic earthquake of WWII. It used many of the same doctrines and tactics, and the same, or similar, military platforms (the main exception being fighter jets that replaced propeller air force planes).

How Israel Spots Lone-Wolf Attackers: Economist, June 8, 2017—His last Facebook post was perhaps the only clue of Raed Jaradat’s yearning for vengeance: it showed a Palestinian teenager lying dead with her headscarf soaked in blood and the message “Imagine if this were your sister.” Dania Irsheid, 17, had been shot by Israeli security forces in October 2015 at the entrance to the Ibrahimi mosque (Jews call it the Cave of the Patriarchs) in Hebron. Police said she had tried to stab Israelis; Palestinian witnesses say she was unarmed.