Tuesday, June 02, 2020

From Ian:

BDS is failing - the never ending story (June 2020)
Here’s the latest installment in our ongoing series of posts documenting BDS fails.
Political BDS Fails

Oklahoma stands with Israel

Biden condemns pro-Palestinian boycott movement
Former Vice President Joe Biden condemned the pro-Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in a new policy page posted on his campaign website.
The page, titled “Joe Biden and the Jewish community,” vows that the presumptive Democratic nominee will “firmly reject the BDS movement, which singles out Israel — home to millions of Jews — and too often veers into anti-Semitism, while letting Palestinians off the hook for their choices.”
While much of the page details Biden’s plan to combat the rapid rise of anti-Semitism within the United States, a significant portion of it also details the candidate’s Israel policy.

BDS Fails to block anti-BDS bill in Missouri
The Missouri state legislature passed a bill SB 739, the “Anti-Discrimination Against Israel Act.”.
The state’s House of Representatives passed the measure, 95-40, while the state Senate did so, 28-1, on April 30. Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, is expected to sign it into law, which would make Missouri the 28th state to enact such a measure to combat the anti-Israel BDS movement.
The legislation would prohibit Missouri and its political subdivisions from entering into contracts worth more than $100,000 with companies with 10 or more employees that engage in BDS.
Moreover, it exercises the state’s freedom to choose firms for contracts. It does not penalize or infringe on any individual’s right to free expression, or penalize companies that choose not to do business with Israel for legitimate economic reasons.
Jewish and pro-Israel groups applauded the bill’s passage.

US Fifth Circuit Throws Out Challenge to Texas Ban on Boycotting Israel
In litigation challenging a Texas law blocking state agencies from hiring companies boycotting Israel, the Fifth Circuit ordered dismissal of the case Monday but declined to decide if the law is constitutional.
Bahia Amawi, a Palestinian U.S. citizen, had worked for the Pflugerville Independent School District for nearly a decade as a speech therapist for kindergarteners when the school district offered to renew her contract for the 2018-2019 school year.
She refused due to a new clause in the contract requiring her to certify that she does not boycott Israel nor would she do so while working for the school district.
Texas joined 25 other states with similar legislation when lawmakers passed House Bill 89 and Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed it in 2017.
The so-called “No Boycott of Israel” bill’s sponsor, Representative Phil King, R-Weatherford, told news outlets in 2017 he introduced the legislation because as a Christian he felt his religious heritage is linked to Israel and the Jewish people, America’s national security depends on having Israel as an ally in the Middle East, and Texas has a large Jewish population and does a lot of business with Israel.
BDS co-founder says goal of movement is end of Israel
While Israel’s supporters claim that the BDS movement is aimed at the Jewish state and is a form of new anti-Semitism, its supporters in Western countries say it’s merely a tool to change Israeli policies.

However, in a newly recorded interview on May 21 with the Gazan Voice Podcast, co-founder of the BDS movement Omar Barghouti explains that should the movement’s goals be achieved, Israel would cease to exist.

“If the refugees return to their homes [in Israel] as the BDS movement calls for, if we bring an end to Israel’s apartheid regime and if we end the occupation on lands occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, what will be left of the Zionist regime? That’s the question. Meaning, what will the two states be based on?” he said.

During the 20-minute interview in Arabic to the Gazan audience, Barghouti appears to have let slip the real objective of the movement he founded.

“International law and the right of return? There won’t be any Zionist state like the one we speak about [in present-day Israel]. There will be two states: One democratic for all its citizens here [Palestine] and one democratic for all its citizens there [Israel]. The Palestinian minority will become a Palestinian majority of what is today called Israel.”

Organizations that promote BDS include the Jewish Voice for Peace, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights and Students for Justice in Palestine.
Schumer PAC Boosting Valerie Plame Ahead of Contested Primary
The super PAC aligned with Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) is the largest donor to a prominent progressive group that has thrown itself behind Valerie Plame’s congressional bid.

Schumer’s Senate Majority PAC, which is working to help Democrats win back control of the Senate, has donated nearly $8 million to VoteVets, the liberal group backing Plame in Tuesday’s contested Democratic primary in New Mexico’s Third Congressional District.

The relationship indirectly links Schumer, the Democratic Party’s top-ranking Jewish official, and his top outside allies to a congressional candidate who has struggled to shed her reputation as an anti-Semite. Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire businessman who has, like Schumer, been a reliably pro-Israel voice among Democrats, was among VoteVets’ largest donors in the 2018 cycle.

A spokesman for the Senate Majority PAC did not respond to a request for comment. A Bloomberg spokesman said the Democratic financier has yet to give money to VoteVets in 2020.

VoteVets, which dropped tens of thousands of dollars on advertising to boost Plame in the closing weeks of a crowded primary, received more than half of the $14 million it has raised in the 2020 cycle from Schumer’s PAC, according to the Federal Election Commission. The group has also defended Plame against an aggressive attack ad that used Nazi imagery to blast Plame as a "disgraced racist millionaire," calling for the ads to be pulled down.

Coronavirus death toll rises to 289 as nation grapples with mounting cases
With government officials warning of the need to tighten restrictions in the face of a possible second coronavirus wave, the death toll from the pandemic rose to 290 Tuesday evening as the number of daily cases saw the largest spike in a month.

The death toll was up from 285 Monday night and 287 Tuesday morning, official figures showed.

The latest update stated that a total of 17,285 people had been infected with the virus, up by 116 from Monday night. The number of active cases, which dipped below 2,000 last week, continued to grow and stood at 2,055.

Of them, 29 were listed as in serious condition and on ventilators. Forty were in moderate condition, and the rest were displaying mild or no symptoms.

Israel has taken steps in recent weeks to roll back its virus restrictions, reopening schools, synagogues, malls, restaurants and other spaces. While social distancing and hygiene guidelines remain in place, many people have taken a more relaxed attitude as the virus appeared to wane, often ignoring instructions to wear masks in most settings outside the home.

After several weeks in which infections hovered around 20-30 daily cases, however, Thursday saw a rise to 79, followed by a significant jump of 115 new infections on Friday, the first time that the 100 mark was breached since May 2. Subsequent days have continued the trend of higher numbers, with 98 cases reported Monday.

Health officials have attributed the jump to public complacency and a failure to heed social distancing rules.
Israel 'far from herd immunity' to virus, new study shows
According to a new study from Tel Aviv University in conjunction with Magen David Adom and the Health Ministry's Center for Disease Control, only some 2.5% of Israel's population, or some 200,000 people, have been exposed to coronavirus, and most of them might not even have developed symptoms.

The numbers are based on tests for coronavirus antibodies conducted among 1,700 people throughout Israel. The tests examined data from samples of blood donations taken from the Magen David Adom blood bank as well as the blood bank of the Center for Disease Control.

Representative sampling conducted in other countries has found that rates of exposure to coronavirus are between 1% and 6%.

Interestingly, higher rates of exposure were found in Israelis ages 40-60, with some 3.5% of that group positive for coronavirus antibodies. Over 3% of tests from the Jerusalem area were positive for coronavirus antibodies, and only some 1% from the Haifa region tested positive for antibodies.

The data from the study covers the cumulative exposure of the Israeli population until mid-April. Additional testing will be carried out later this month and at regular intervals.

This data has been presented to a team from the Health Ministry. Researchers recommended that in light of the low rate of exposure, which points to the absence of any herd immunity to coronavirus, Israel maintain the measures currently in place to check the spread of the virus.
Israeli disinfectant tunnel may lead way to safer public events during pandemic
A new way to make disinfectant out of water may offer a way to reduce teh danger of congregating in synagogues and schools, sports games and concerts even during pandemics.

A Karmiel, Israel-based industrial automation firm, RD Pack, has taken disinfecting technology developed by researchers at Bar-Ilan University and created a sanitation and disinfection tunnel that sprays visitors at mass events with the liquid.

The tunnel, composed of an aluminum and polycarbonate frame, is now being piloted at Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv as soccer teams are set to resume playing there albeit without fans in the stands.

“When people walk through the tunnel, their whole body gets sprayed with the disinfectant, which works fast and efficiently, and provides the complete sterilization of a person,” said Eran Druker, business development manager at RD Pack, as the firm showcased the tunnel at one of the entrances of the imposing white stadium on Tuesday.

The coronavirus pandemic has killed over 377,000 people worldwide and infected over 6.3 million people. In Israel the death toll from the virus has reached 289, with over 17,000 people infected. Countries have put lockdowns into place to enforce social distancing in a bid to halt the deadly spread of the virus.
MDA Helps Set Up Coronavirus Drive-Thru Testing in the Congo
Dan Gertler, Honorary Consul in Israel for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, recently contacted Magen David Adom, seeking advice and assistance in establishing in the Congo the same drive-thru testing facilities for the coronavirus which have been operating for a month now in Israel.

MDA accepted the challenge and built a dedicated software for managing a drive-thru facility in the Congo. In addition, MDA members have prepared a training program incorporating videos and written procedures, which they passed on to medical professionals who will operate the facility in Africa.

“During the long period in which we operated the many drive-thru sampling facilities, the technology we used has proven itself, alongside the safety practices we developed to manage the contact between potentially infected patients and the team,” said MDA Chief of Information Officer Ido Rosenblat, who said his organization was ready to help the Congo team as soon as they received their request.

Congo’s Minister of Health Dr. Eteni Longondo and Director General Sylvain Yuma Ramazani visited the “Drive and Test” facility that opened in their country in late May and expressed their gratitude to MDA.

MDA Director General Eli Bin said in a statement: “The medical capabilities and technologies of Magen David Adom, along with the methods we are developing, are among the most advanced in the world. We have gained an extensive experience the fight against the coronavirus, obtaining thousands of samples a day, efficiently and safely. Now we are happy to share our knowledge with other medical entities around the world, for the sake of saving human lives.”
Polish historian Ewa Kurek: Coronavirus is ‘Jewfication’ of Europe
Polish historian Ewa Kurek gave an interview on Wrealu24 in March, in which she described the coronavirus outbreak in Europe as a “Jewification.”

According to Kurek, who began her academic career as a Holocaust historian and is now considered as a radical Catholic writer, COVID-19 is used to introduce “Jewish” values into “our Western Christian culture.” She claimed that in Spain, they are facing a shortage of ventilators and need to decide who gets to be treated and who isn’t, hinting that this is allegedly “Talmudic” logic and against the Catholic value of the sacredness of life.

No respectable media source reported that Spanish medical doctors are selecting which of their patients can be saved or not due to the virus outbreak. While Jewish scholars discussed medical ethics extensively – for example, it is allowed to stop a pregnancy if it is real danger to the life of the expecting mother – there is no Jewish understanding that only the young and healthy deserve to be treated. Catholic doctrine also allows for some flexibility in medical issues, making the argument into a misleading one.

Kurek went on to say that “Jewish-Fascist behavior” is now visible in Western Europe, which is controlled by “Jewish conglomerates.”
She also responded to the Israeli Embassy in Poland informing Israelis in the country that they have the option to return home by saying: “Who is a Zionist? A Jews who, for the money paid by another Jew, sends a third Jew to Israel.” This a well-known Jewish joke that, in this context, was used to suggest Zionism is a money-related scheme.
Jeremy Corbyn says EHRC is just “part of the Government machine” in first interview since stepping down as Labour leader in latest attempt to undermine investigation into Party’s antisemitism
Jeremy Corbyn has rubbished the independence of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), saying that it is “part of the Government machine” and that its independence as been “taken away” by the Conservatives.

Mr Corbyn made the remarks in his first interview since stepping down as Labour leader, which he gave to the fringe blog, Middle East Eye, which has a history of belittling Labour antisemitism. The interview was conducted by the controversial journalist, Peter Oborne, and the full video will apparently be available tomorrow.

The EHRC launched a full statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party on 28th May 2019 following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.

Asked whether the EHRC’s alleged impartiality would affect its report, Mr Corbyn reportedly replied: “Let’s see what happens.”

Mr Corbyn further claimed that the EHRC was “underfunded” by the Conservative Government which, “for some reason, which I don’t fully understand…decided to take away its independent status and make it part of the government machine.”

Mr Corbyn added that had he won the 2019 General Election he would have restored the EHRC’s independence.

Mr Corbyn’s basis for questioning the EHRC’s independence is not, however, clear. This is also not the first time that Mr Corbyn has tried to undermine the credibility of the independent body (which was established by a Labour Government) investigating his Party for racism: during the 2019 General Election campaign, Mr Corbyn pledged to reform the EHRC if he won power, again without providing a basis for his Party’s concerns, leaving observers to speculate that it was due to the EHRC’s investigation.

Mr Corbyn’s remarks are just the latest attempt by the far-left to question the EHRC’s credibility. Recently, other far-left figures have also suggested that the EHRC may itself be racist, or that if it concludes that the Labour Party is racist it means that it is racist toward other minorities rather than Jews.

Despite Coronavirus, BDS Debate Continues on Campus and Elsewhere
The academic year ended with colleges and universities locked down due to the coronavirus pandemic. The impact on BDS activities, especially Israeli Apartheid Week and Nakba Day, was significant — but incidents continued.

In an unusual case at George Washington University, an avowed BDS advocate, Ilana Feldman, was appointed interim dean at the Elliott School of International Affairs. Feldman, a Middle East specialist, was a leading supporter of a BDS initiative in the American Anthropological Association.

Pro-Israel students and groups including Hillel International immediately opposed Feldman’s appointment and called for her removal, while the college’s J Street U chapter supported it. Some commentators noted that calls for her removal mirrored those from BDS supporters regarding pro-Israel advocates, and suggested she would not be in a position to impose her views on the faculty. Others claim this ignores the chilling effect on speech and behavior that her appointment implied, as well as the potential means at her disposal to discriminate against pro-Israel students.

In a statement, however, the university responded that it officially opposed BDS and that Feldman would adhere to all existing policies. It also added that Feldman would not be a candidate for the permanent position of dean.

In spite of the lockdown, a variety of BDS and other antisemitic incidents took place, including in student governments. At Stanford University, a student government member apologized for social media postings attacking Israel and supporting BDS, but claimed they were “taken out of context.” The student government at the University of California at Irvine also repealed a 2012 BDS resolution. This prompted bitter complaints from the local Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter. The student government at Santa Monica College passed a resolution expressing “solidarity” with Jewish students, but after debate, declined to endorse the IHRA definition of antisemitism.
At King’s College, Anti-Zionism Is Rampant
Despite this persistent air of animosity, the administrations and student unions of London universities do not act diligently enough. Esther explained how “the [KCL] administration persistently fails to recognize or react to complaints of hate speech [at Palestinian Society events].” Tamara asserted that “the student union was highly politicized against Israel while I was at King’s. They shared Israeli Apartheid Week in their newsletter when they usually never share student society events.”

Some professors seem to perpetuate anti-Israel bias as well. While most Jewish students have heard stories of professors admonishing a student for defending Israel in class, Esther experienced anti-Israel rhetoric first hand. “While studying the history of the Middle East, only the Israeli left-wing revisionist ideas along with the Arab narrative were being portrayed, misleading students to believe a biased and one-sided version of history,” she explained. Although these micro-aggressions seem rare, it is difficult to accurately measure how often they occur, since most go unreported.

Though there are reasons for optimism, further change is still needed. Tamara noted that “certain things have improved on campus. Jewish students in the UK are growing increasingly aware and informed, organizing more and more pro-Israel events and preempting horrible events like Israeli Apartheid Week in many cases. But the Jewish community in the UK needs to be more supportive of pro-Israel activity on campus and make it a priority.” Esther believes that “further education of Zionist students is needed so that they feel confident standing up against teachers or peers in defense of Israel, as well as continued engagement with students who are not knowledgeable about the conflict to help them form a fair opinion.”

I believe students need to be more active in reporting all incidents that occur. Notifying university administrations about every incident is the best way to show them how widespread aggressive anti-Zionism is. Furthermore, informing other students, the Community Security Trust (CST), and, if necessary, the police is the best way for the community to understand the full extent of the issue and then focus on dissolving anti-Zionist antagonism. Unfortunately, fully dissolving this antipathy for Israel in the UK is far more challenging. It will persist as long as a one-sided view of the conflict, painting Israel as the sole antagonist, is reported and generally accepted within society. I fear that this view will remain fashionable for a long time.
A BBC tale of two cities, two mosques and one country
On May 31st a report headlined “Coronavirus: Famous mosques reopen in Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem” appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page.

In the latter part of the report readers were provided with the names of the city and the country in which one of the two featured mosques had reopened:
“In Saudi Arabia on Sunday, there were similar scenes at the Prophet’s Mosque in the city of Medina, where worshippers gathered for prayers.”

However BBC portrayal of the opening of the other mosque, which was more extensively covered, included the name of the city – but not the country – in which it is located:
“Hundreds of Muslims filed into Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, for morning prayers on Sunday.”

A similar report aired on BBC News 24 television the same day apparently described al Aqsa mosque as being in “occupied East Jerusalem”.

Regular readers will be aware that the BBC has long refused to describe even those parts of Jerusalem which were not invaded and occupied by Jordan in 1948 as the capital city of Israel. We have previously documented the ahistorical ‘rationale’ behind that editorial policy, including the erroneous claim that “technically, West Jerusalem is not Israeli sovereign territory”.

The BBC’s editorial policy concerning the parts of Jerusalem which were belligerently invaded, occupied and later annexed by Jordan is outlined in its ‘style guide’.
Reuters Arabic Misidentifies Dome of Rock
The following photo and caption appeared in the Arabic version of an article by Reuters’ Stephen Farrell, published on April 24 and dedicated to the opening Friday of Ramadan in the Old City of Jerusalem:

The Arabic reads: “Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque with the Dome of the Rock behind it – a picture from the Reuters archive.”

However, the dome shown in the back of the photo belongs to the mosque itself, while the Dome of the Rock does not appear at all in the picture as is located behind the camera.

Notably, the English version of the same article is accompanied by a different photo and does not contain the error.

Given the great importance of both buildings to Muslims worldwide, it is rather striking that editors of Reuters' Arabic service made this error. CAMERA had notified editors of the error, and yet they have failed to correct.
Almost Journalism Haaretz’s Fictional “Almost A Lynching” of Yael Lerer
Shaffir’s post described a crowd that chanted, yelled and prevented Lerer from speaking her mind as some of the panel’s members fanned the flames. However, Shaffir, who was entirely disgusted with the disruptive audience, made not a single mention of physical violence or any attempt of violence. She wrote about her efforts to calm the situation and her demands that Lerer be permitted to speak. In other words, her account contradicts Lerer’s claim, as faithfully recounted by Haaretz‘s Littman, that “The other panel participants did not come to her defense.”

Moreover, Yael Lerer’s own video footage of the incident contradicts her claims of violence and “almost a lynching.” The following appears on Lerer’s YouTube channel:

Additional videos of the disrupted panel posted on Lerer’s YouTube channel also do not show any sign of violence. For one moment (here, minute 7:47), a man from the crowd goes on stage and approaches Lerer, and is immediately escorted off without incident.

Without question, many of those present in the room did not like Lerer or the things she said. They also didn’t bother to hide their dismay. But there was no attempt to use violence against her, and there was certainly no “lynch” attempt, “almost” or otherwise.

Presspectiva, CAMERA’s Hebrew site, contacted Shany Littman to inquire about the disparity between her description of the incident in Netanya Academic College as a “violent attack by rightists,” versus what the evidence shows. As of this writing, she has yet to respond.

Man who berated Jewish family on tube for twenty minutes identified and charged with multiple racially aggravated public order offences
A man who allegedly berated a Jewish family on the London Underground for twenty minutes has been identified and charged with multiple racially aggravated public order offences.

Isher Campbell, 35, of Dudley is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 5th August in connection with the incident last November, which was filmed by another passenger. The suspect, dressed in a hooded tracksuit top and a cap, can be seen on the video reading from what may be a bible and gesturing at a Jewish father and his sons, who are wearing Jewish skullcaps called kippot. He tells them, “I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jewish, and are not, but do lie,” adding: “Behold, I will make them come and worship before your feet, and they will know that I have loved thee.”

The Jewish man can be seen calmly putting his arm around one of his sons and comforting him, saying: “just ignore him.”

An upstanding male passenger, whose face cannot be seen in the footage, confronted the abusive man, who responded by saying “I’m no Christian pastor” and threatens to punch him and telling him to: “F*** off.” A brave observant Muslim woman, Asma Shuweikh, then also intervened, in order to distract the assailant from the family. Ms Shuweikh has recently disclosed that she intends to testify if the matter comes to court.
U.S. to Replace Tombstones in Military Cemeteries that Have Swastikas
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it will begin the process of replacing three gravestones bearing swastikas in cemeteries in Texas and Utah, less than a month after saying they would be preserved as “historic resources.”

The VA told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency last month that it would preserve the gravestones, which mark the burial sites of three German prisoners of war. That comment came in response to a call by a group called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation to have them replaced.

But in a statement Monday, the VA reversed course.

While noting that it was not legally permitted to unilaterally remove or alter the headstones under the National Historic Preservation Act, the department said it would nonetheless “begin taking required steps including consultation with stakeholders about how to replace these headstones with historically accurate markers that do not include the Nazi swastika and German text.”

“It is understandably upsetting to our Veterans and their families to see Nazi inscriptions near those who gave their lives for this nation,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said. “That’s why VA will initiate the process required to replace these POW headstones.”

The headstones in question are located at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas, and the Fort Douglas Post Cemetery in Salt Lake City, Utah. The VA said it will propose that the headstones be preserved in its National Cemetery Administration History Collection.
US National Instruments to buy Israel’s OptimalPlus for $365 million
US firm National Instruments Corporation (NI), a producer of automated test equipment and virtual instrumentation software, said Tuesday it has entered an agreement to buy Israel’s OptimalPlus Ltd., a maker of data analytics software for the semiconductor, automotive and electronics industries.

The deal is for $365 million, the US firm said in a statement. Shares of NI are traded on Nasdaq at a market value of $5 billion.

NI and OptimalPlus have highly complementary activities in the semiconductor, automotive and electronics industries, the statement said. The acquisition will expand NI’s enterprise software capabilities and provide customers with insights about their product development through the advanced product analytics offered by OptimalPlus.

Holon, Israel-based OptimalPlus was founded in 2005 by Dan Glotter, who is its CEO. The firm, which also has offices in Asia, Europe and the US, had revenue of $51 million in 2019 and employs some 240 workers. The firm has raised some $81 million from investors including Israeli VC funds Viola, Pitango Venture Capital, Evergreen Venture Partners and investment firm KKR, according to data compiled by Start-Up Nation Central.

OptimalPlus’ technology uses machine learning to provide real-time analytics and to get insights from data across the entire production and supply chain, providing clients with metrics on quality, yield and efficiency and reliability. Customers include Nvidia, Qualcomm, Continental and Samsung, according to the firm’s website.
Israel's OurCrowd launches $100m. pandemic innovation fund
Jerusalem-based venture capital platform OurCrowd launched a $100 million investment fund on Tuesday, targeting technological solutions to combat and cope with COVID-19 and future pandemics.

The “Pandemic Innovation Fund” will invest in new start-ups and more than 20 existing portfolio companies, OurCrowd said, answering medical, business, educational and social needs resulting from health emergencies.

Crowdfunding investment platform OurCrowd, headed by serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist Jon Medved, cited the acceleration of technology adoption during the current COVID-19 crisis, FDA approval of new digital diagnostic tools, a major increase in remote working and cybersecurity adaptation for the emergence of the increasingly digital world as factors behind the launch of the fund.

“The rapid spread of the coronavirus has validated our vision of a connected digital world poised to solve any crisis through global communication and rapid response,” Medved said. “To ensure that we get the world back on track, there is now an urgent need for innovation. Technology can help us overcome many of the problems resulting from the crisis. It’s time for tech to move fast and fix things.”
U.S. Troops Are Vulnerable. Israel Technologies Can Help
The recent U.S. decision to withdraw two Patriot missile defense batteries from Saudi Arabia has again highlighted how vulnerable U.S. interests in the Middle East remain to Iran’s growing arsenal of short- to medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and rockets. Repeatedly over the last year, Iran and its regional proxies have used these weapons to attack U.S. personnel and partners in the Persian Gulf, inflicting significant damage on lives and property while exposing dangerous gaps in current American defense capabilities. Finding fast and practical solutions to fill those gaps should be an urgent U.S. priority. Battle-proven Israeli technology could be of significant help.

On March 10, the commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), General Frank McKenzie, testified that Iran’s inventory of 2,500 to 3,000 ballistic missiles constituted the primary threat faced by the United States and its allies in the Middle East. Though McKenzie provided no breakdown of Iran’s missile arsenal, he indicated that most fall into the category of shorter-range systems.

On April 22, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) successfully launched a very small (6U CubeSat, weighing about 30 pounds) military satellite into space using a 3-stage rocket – marking potentially important progress in its efforts to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of striking the United States. While requiring careful monitoring and planning, however, Iran likely remains years away from an ICBM capability. When it comes to spending America’s limited missile-defense resources, the priority against Iran should clearly remain on defeating the full spectrum of short- to mid-range threats that are capable of wreaking havoc on U.S. interests today.

The immediate danger comes not from Iranian weapons with ranges over 3,000 miles, but from those that operate under 1,500 miles. Indeed, within days of its satellite launch, Iran’s regular Army announced that it had added three new types of combat drones to its arsenal, while the IRGC claimed that it was preparing to deploy an updated “Fotros” long-range attack drone, capable of flying for 30 hours with a range of 1,250 miles, threatening Israel, U.S. forces across the Gulf region, and parts of Europe as well.
Israeli missile strikes target at sea from 248 miles
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) released a video on Tuesday unveiling a new ballistic anti-ship missile that can strike a target at both close and long range.

IAI announced on Twitter that it had successfully tested its new precision-guided tactical missile, which is able to hit a target at ranges of both 399 km (248 miles) and 90 km (56 miles).

The Long Range Artillery Weapon System (LORA) is a land-to-sea weapon system meant to respond to a ballistic assault with a precision strike within 30 feet of the target. The missile in the Tuesday experiment was launched from sea.
Billionaire Roman Abramovich buys $64M home in central Israel
Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich has recently closed escrow on the most expensive residential deal in the Israeli real-estate industry's history, shelling out NIS 226 million ($64.5 million) for a home in Herzliya Pituach, an affluent beachfront neighborhood in the central Israeli city of Herzliya.

Abramovich, who received Israeli citizenship in 2018, bought land covering 2,375 acres, according to financial daily Globes.

According to the report, the home was previously owned by British hedge fund manager Alan Howard, who had bought the property from Israeli businessman and philanthropist Lenny Recanati in 2006, for $9 million

The property was placed on the market in 2018, with an asking price of $100 million but there were no takers.

According to Globes, Abramovich leased the home last year with an option to buy.

The deal was reportedly completed just weeks before the coronavirus pandemic crippled economic activity.

With this purchase, Abramovich joins an exclusive club of people who have paid over NIS 100 million for a home in Israel. These include high tech businessman Zaki Rakib, who bought a 100 million shekel home in Tel Aviv, Cypriot-Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi, who bought Rakib's home several years later for NIS 146 million, and Russian billionaire Valery Kogan, who shelled out NIS 110 million to turn five adjoining penthouse apartments in Tel Aviv into one apartment.
Netanyahu’s life story to be made into HBO series ‘Bibi’
Benjamin Netanyahu, the TV series, is coming to HBO.

“Bibi,” the longtime Israeli prime minister’s ubiquitous nickname, will be based on the bestselling biography “The Netanyahu Years” written by veteran Israeli journalist Ben Caspit, Variety reported Thursday.

The series is set to be produced by Tel Aviv-based production company Abot Hameiri, which is best known for producing Israeli versions of “X-Factor,” “America’s Got Talent,” “The Bachelor,” and “Survivor,” and is now behind the Israeli television show “Shtisel.”

Award-winning screenwriter Kirk Ellis has been hired to write the screenplay.

“Ben Caspit’s insightful reporting demonstrates how private life always shapes public affairs, and there’s no shortage of conflict – or opinions – when it comes to Benjamin Netanyahu,” Ellis said in a statement, according to Variety.

Ellis won two Emmys as writer and co-executive producer on David McCullough’s “John Adams” biography for HBO.

“Bibi” will be the first television series about Netanyahu, who has been Israel’s prime minister since 2009. He previously served in the post from 1996 to 1999.
Pioneering Dead Sea Scrolls DNA study reveals Bible was changing 2,000 years ago
A seven-year interdisciplinary study of ancient animal DNA taken from 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scroll fragments has provided researchers with new and surprising insight into the Jews and their theology on the cusp of the fall of the Second Temple.

The breakthrough study reveals that the various scrolls from which the fragments come were written in different locations along the Dead Sea and, in some cases, even far away from it. This new theory is based on new evidence that part of the Dead Sea Scrolls corpus was written on calfskin, which would not have been available in the Judean Desert, say the researchers. Previously, researchers had presumed the parchment was made from goats, which thrive in the desert climate.

The pioneering new DNA methodology may now enable researchers to group together some of the thousands of disparate scroll fragments that experts have for decades been unable to match, enabling potential reconstruction of more of the ancient texts.

Among the discoveries is that two fragments from the Book of Jeremiah reflect differing versions of the book, which themselves also stray from the biblical text as it is known today. “The ancient DNA proves that two copies of Jeremiah, textually different from each other, were brought from outside the Judean Desert,” said Tel Aviv University Biblical Studies Prof. Noam Mizrahi.

The unprecedented “paleogenomic” study of ancient DNA from the Dead Sea Scrolls — the oldest biblical manuscripts yet discovered — provides each parchment’s animal source with a unique DNA fingerprint.

Tracing the origins of these animal skins provides a new window into the geographical and chronological development of the biblical canon, and gives insight into whether the scrolls reflect the narrow, extremist worldview that characterized the Jewish sects at Qumran, or whether they were a library of texts collected from the broader Jewish community.

“For me, as philologist who has conducted many years of research on the texts inscribed on the scrolls — studying their content, language, scribal features — I was amazed to see how much information can be gleaned by analyzing the biological material from which the scrolls are made,” Mizrahi told The Times of Israel this week.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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