Friday, October 29, 2021

From Ian:

Mark Regev: Balfour Declaration, Palestinian weaponization of post-colonial guilt
Next week’s anniversary of the Balfour Declaration will once again highlight the seemingly insurmountable Israeli-Palestinian divide.

While Israelis venerate Britain’s decree of November 2, 1917, when His Majesty’s Government officially endorsed “Jewish Zionist aspirations,” Palestinians exploit the very same British pronouncement as a weapon in their war to negate Israel’s existential legitimacy.

For Israelis, Lord Balfour’s famous letter to Lord Rothschild is both an undeniable inflection point in their history and a genuine cause for celebration. It was the first time (since Cyrus the Great in antiquity) that a major world power publicly declared its support for the Jews’ desire to return and reconstitute their homeland.

The declaration also had a significant practical impact, leading directly to the pro-Zionist decisions taken at the 1920 San Remo Conference by the victorious allied powers, and to the League of Nations giving the Mandate for Palestine to Great Britain in order to “secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home.”

The eminent Palestinian-American intellectual Edward Said characterized the declaration as colonialist collusion. In his words, it was “made by a European power… about a non-European territory… in a flat disregard of both the presence and wishes of the native majority resident in that territory.”

Twenty-first-century Palestinian nationalists follow Said’s lead and manipulate the contemporary post-colonial guilt widely felt across the West to assert that the Palestinian people remain colonialism’s greatest victim, and that hence, the international community owes the Palestinians an immeasurable moral debt.
How TIME reported the North African exodus in 1962
The independence of Morocco, Tunisia and now Algeria—joyful news to Moslems—has for Jews signaled another vast and melancholy exodus like so many other uprootings since Moses. A decade ago, 250,000 Jews lived in Morocco. 150,000 in Algeria and 100,000 in Tunisia; now about half of them have left. Last week alone, 5,000 North African Jews arrived by ship and plane in Marseille. By 1975, Jewish leaders estimate, their communities in North Africa will be reduced to less than 15% of their former size.

Jews were living and working in North Africa before the Romans came. Some of them are Berber tribesmen whose ancestors were converted from paganism before the 7th century A.D. Others are Sephardim—Descendants of Spanish Jews who were forced into exile across the Mediterranean by Visigothic persecution in the 6th century or the Inquisition of the 15th. A third strain consists of European Jews who settled in North African cities after World War II. All three have found that exile is the inevitable aftermath of independence.

In Tunisia, President Habib Bourguiba promised that Jews would be allowed to practice their religion in peace: “While I am alive, not a hair on Jewish heads will be touched.” But Tunisian Jews are trapped in the cold war between Israel and the Arab states. Bourguiba’s government has disbanded even Jewish religious organizations on the ground that they promote Zionism, and Jews fear that other Arab countries could force Tunisia to impose restrictions upon them.

In Morocco, the government placed restrictions on Jewish emigration until last October, and fortnight ago closed down the office of the agency in Casablanca that chartered ships and planes for Jews eager to leave the country. Although Jews who leave for Israel are officially forbidden to return to their homes, there is little overt anti-Semitism in Morocco. But emigration goes on, and businessmen in Casablanca complain that they cannot find Jewish labor. “Morocco is down the drain for us,” says one Jewish cafe owner.

In Algeria, Jews fear the onset of independence this week even more than their Christian pied-noir neighbors. Many were active supporters of the underground Secret Army; in Constantine, for example, the first anti-Moslem commando force was composed largely of Jews—and the F.L.N. has not forgotten it.
Honest Reporting: This Date In History: Menachem Begin, Anwar Sadat Named Nobel Peace Prize Winners
On October 27, 1978, then-Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and then-Egyptian president Anwar Sadat were named winners of the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to end more than thirty years of conflict during which Cairo spearheaded four full-scale Arab-initiated wars against the Jewish state (1948, 1956, 1967, 1973).

Five months later, on March 26, 1979, the two leaders signed a formal US-brokered peace treaty in Washington, D.C.

In retrospect, the historic agreement seemingly paved the way for the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords, which, in turn, laid the groundwork for the October 26, 1994 peace deal signed between Israel and Jordan.

While Jerusalem has, as a result, maintained peaceful, albeit predominantly frosty, relations with both Cairo and Amman, the conflict with the Palestinians remains unresolved.

To mark the above-mentioned occasions, below please find links to materials HonestReporting previously produced in order to help elucidate the ramifications — and complexities — of these and other current related events.
Hillel Neuer: Warrior for Israel in Geneva
UN Watch’s defense of Israel against undue bias, and Neuer’s own related outspokenness in the media, may prevent potential collaborations with other promoters of universal human rights. But Neuer is unapologetic.

“Everyone will look at things in their own way and based on their own perspective, milieu and pressures. Some may be uncomfortable with us. But the reality is that we are who we are,” Neuer said.

Where does Neuer see himself a decade from now? Still at the helm of UN Watch, “fighting the good fight.”

If the workaholic can find the time, he would like to write a book on how the human rights movement “went off the rails.”

“It began with moral clarity fighting against Hitler, with people like Eleanor Roosevelt and René Cassin and has ended up with people like [Human Rights Watch executive director] Ken Roth who attacks Israel as a war criminal every single day, and basically compares Israel to Nazis,” Neuer said.

“It bothers me how the human rights movement got so subverted and skewed, and I want to understand how that happened,” he said.

Israel Complied With Law of Armed Conflict During Gaza War: JINSA Report
Israel complied with the law of armed conflict (LOAC) and the requirement to mitigate civilian risk during the May hostilities with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, argued a report released Thursday by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA).

“IDF military operations complied with LOAC and consistently implemented precautions to mitigate civilian risk, some exceeding those implemented in recent US combat operations that we participated in, despite confronting an adversary that often sought to exacerbate that risk deliberately,” concluded the assessment, undertaken by a task-force of a dozen retired senior US generals, admirals and military legal experts commissioned by the Washington, DC-based JINSA.

The Israeli army implemented a number of precautionary measures to mitigate risk to the Gazan civilian population, including the dropping of leaflets, telephone calls to Gazan residents, and text messages which were sent to warn Gazan civilians to leave an area in advance of airstrikes, according to the report. Minutes preceding an actual attack, small munitions delivered a “knock on the roof” to provide further warning.

“Yet, we found a significant gap between this reality of IDF LOAC compliance, and of Hamas’ violation of it, and the public’s perception. Israel’s messaging efforts were unable to close this gap,” the report stated.

It purports to present the first independent analysis of the conflict by US military commanders and lawyers with experience in counterterrorism and the laws of armed conflict — including Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr. (ret.), former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and Gen. Charles Wald (ret.), who served as deputy commander of United States European Command.

Their assessment was based on primary source research, a fact-finding trip to Israel, and discussions with senior Israeli and United Nations (UN) officials.
Seth Frantzman: Gaza conflict revealed need for US, Israel and partner cooperation - analysis
The report notes that the US also confronts similar threats from Iranian-backed militias around the Middle East. For instance, Iran has used drones to attack the Tanf base in Syria recently. Iran has increased its use of drones against the US in Iraq and also used drones to attack a ship in the Gulf of Oman in July. The authors argue that processes we see in conflicts here now have parallels in other places where Russia and China also use proxies and conduct cyberattacks.

“This strategic backdrop helps explain the IDF’s emphasis on a short, decisive Gaza campaign that would not bog Israel down and pull focus from its primary challenge. In quickly eliminating as many Hamas and PIJ military assets as it could, it sought in part to deter these groups from reigniting hostilities for the longest possible period of time—thereby maximizing Israel’s freedom of maneuver to address higher-level threats from Iran,” the report notes. “Furthermore, during the May 2021 conflict, when Iran sought to further divert the IDF’s attention through proxy rocket and drone attacks from Lebanon and Syria, Israel conspicuously chose to minimize the risks of escalation by retaliating in limited fashion or not at all. Finally, even while trying to end the conflict quickly, the IDF had to hold back operational capabilities and weapons stocks for the possibility of concurrent or future, larger-scale conflicts with Iran and Hezbollah in the North.”

Iran supplies Hamas with technology such as rockets and drones. The report notes the importance of these new capabilities, including “electronic warfare” that was apparently used by Hamas in Gaza. “The growth of advanced capabilities among hybrid adversaries – including EW, UAVs, tunnels, and the capability to employ high-volume rocket salvos and potentially drone swarms – reveals the need for cooperation between the United States, Israel, and like-minded nations to monitor and interdict transfers of weapons and dual-use technology. It also requires joint research and development efforts to develop solutions for threats such as large-scale mortar salvos and remotely piloted vehicle (RPV) swarms, including exploring the need for directed-energy weapons (DEW) and Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar (C-RAM) systems,” the authors conclude

“The low-flying maneuverable UAVs offered an element of precision unavailable in its unguided rocket arsenals; accordingly, during the conflict Hamas launched them at high-value targets like critical infrastructure in Israel, including an offshore natural gas platform near Gaza. Thanks again to improvements to Iron Dome as well as the use of combat aircraft, these UAV strikes also proved unsuccessful.” This is important because Israel has increased the capabilities of Iron Dome in recent years. The US has also acquired two Iron Dome batteries.

The need for more cooperation between Israel, the US and other partners is clear from the recent conflict. This report helps provide more evidence for the need to look at the kinds of conflicts Israel faces as foreshadowing other conflicts that the US may face globally.
Biden's friendship toward Israel has always been conditional
It makes for a daunting prospect for those in Israel or the United States who hold onto a belief that the coming years won't be a rerun of the nonstop battles between Washington and Jerusalem that characterized the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu from 2009 to 2016.

Yet Bennett and Lapid are not without hope that they can keep the situation from getting out of hand.

First, they can seek to hold Biden to his promise about keeping disputes with Israel private, rather than letting them play out in public as Obama did. If so, even the most bitter of disagreements won't seem quite so bad.

Second, they can hope that Israel's enemies will, as they have so often in recent history, overplay their hand and force Biden's team back into Israel's corner. Palestinian rejectionism and support for terror and Iran's will to achieve its nuclear ambitions – as well as its assessment that Biden is too weak to stop them from achieving any of their goals – could ultimately prove decisive.

Lastly, they may also count on the dysfunction of the Biden administration. In the past nine months, the Democrats have made a muddle of a host of challenges, including the disaster in Afghanistan, the crisis at the southern border, the collapse of the supply chain for products, and economic malaise that, along with the coronavirus pandemic, won't go away. These issues have sent Biden's polling numbers deep underwater, despite beginning his presidency with a vast store of goodwill and support from those who hoped he represented a calming influence and competence.

Unlike Obama, who had political capital to burn on futile Middle East policies and a pointless feud with Netanyahu, Biden has none to spare. Israelis can only hope that he is wise enough not to waste any on equally foolish spats with whoever is running Israel in the coming years – whether it's Bennett, Lapid, or Netanyahu – that will do nothing to ensure American security priorities or the political prospects of the Democrats. Whether such hopes are vindicated is up to Biden and not his Israeli interlocutors.
Gaza 2021: How Biden Handled His Far-Left Hamas Caucus Problem
Biden clearly understood that his left flank was a problem. Even if he wanted to support America’s ally in a war it did not start, against an Iranian proxy that sought nothing less than its destruction, the president had to play politics. As the 2021 Gaza war dragged on, Biden began to talk tough to Israel. However, a careful examination of the timing of this rhetoric reveals that the toughest talk came only after the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire was reported on Israeli television. With roughly two days until the ceasefire was to take effect, the American president had a blank check to cash. He could call upon the Israelis to halt their operations in Gaza, with the full knowledge that they had already agreed to do so.

On May 19, in the fourth conversation between the two leaders since the crisis erupted, Biden told Netanyahu that he expected a “significant de-escalation” in Gaza, demanding a “path to a ceasefire.” According to one leaked report (presumably by a White House official looking to convey that the president was getting tough with Israel), Biden told Netanyahu that he was “done kidding around,” telling the Israeli leader it was time to end the operation. …

From Israel’s perspective, however, Biden’s tough talk was not a problem. The reality was that he gave the IDF exactly what it needed: the political cover … to neutralize Hamas’ military assets. … In retrospect, the American president handled the Hamas Caucus with the expertise that only someone with four decades of experience in Washington could wield.
Why does Israel keep losing easy diplomatic wins? - opinion
You’re about to announce the terror designation of six Palestinian NGOs known for their charitable work? Here too: prepare the evidence, share it with the Americans, and have it ready to brief the media.

If we all understand this, why doesn’t the government?

There is no one answer. In the case of the al-Jalaa tower, it had to do with the failure of the IDF to understand what it was doing. The IDF Spokesman’s Unit – responsible for media management – is not a party to these operational decisions, and is anyhow run by officers with no media experience. Gantz, who as defense minister had to approve the bombing, should have understood the diplomatic ramifications of the attack as soon as it was presented to him for approval. But he too failed.

A very similar process led to the designation of the NGOs. No one, it seemed, had the foresight to understand that such a move, at a time like this and with an administration like the one in Washington, would lead to a fiasco. Apparently, there is no one sitting around the table when these decisions are made who has the understanding of the modern media landscape and how these events play out.

But there is something else, no less important: Gantz has for some time been operating like a rogue minister in the cabinet. The animosity between him and Bennett and Lapid is no secret; and there are ministers in the government who still suspect that the defense minister is looking for a way to bring down this government in the coming months.

When a defense minister oversees one diplomatic disaster, it can be excused. When he oversees another just five months later, there is a pattern.

Ignorance and politics are causing Israel tremendous damage around the world. Our politicians need to get back to practicing their layup.
Progressives Introduce Motion Slamming Israel’s Decision to Blacklist Palestinian NGOs
Several progressive Democrats introduced a resolution in the US House of Representatives on Thursday criticizing the decision by Israel to declare six Palestinian NGOs as terror organizations.

Sponsored by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), it recognizes the “important work” of the six Palestinian NGOs, censures the declaration by Israel and calls on the Biden administration “to condemn Israeli actions to repress Palestinian society.”

In a statement, McCollum said the decision by Israel “is a sign of incredible weakness more aligned with an authoritarian regime than a healthy democracy.”

“Israel’s decision to brand these prominent Palestinian civil society groups as terrorist organizations exposes the truth that Israel’s occupation is violent, immoral and unjust, and that peaceful efforts to defend the rights of Palestinian children, women, farmers or prisoners must be declared illegal,” she said.

The resolution was co-sponsored by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Cori Bush (D-Miss.), Chuy Garcia (D-Ill.), Marie Newman (D-Ill.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and André Carson (D-Ind.).

McCollum, who backs the BDS movement, has long accused Israel of mistreating Palestinian children. In particular, she has supported the organization Defense for Children International-Palestine, one of the groups that Israel blacklisted for its ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which has been designated by the US and EU as a foreign terror group.
Biden-Bennett dispute on Palestinians, settlements is really all about Iran
IN THIS CONTEXT, it is worth reiterating some basic realities about settlements that I’m sure Biden administration officials know (but are pleased to ignore for the moment, for the tactical reason described above).

First, Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria neither explain Palestinian unwillingness to make peace with Israel nor justify radical Islam’s jihad on Jerusalem. Similarly, freezing or rolling back some settlements will not bring peace with the Palestinians (it certainly didn’t in Gaza), nor calm the convulsing Arab Middle East. Lambs will not lie down with lions no matter how times Washington, the EU and the UN are insistent on condemning “settlement units.”

Second, settlements have not scuttled any previous negotiating effort; Palestinian obduracy and extremism has. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing governments from 2009 until 2021 applied a restrictive approach to settlement building; much more restrictive than the previous governments of Ehud Olmert, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak from 2000 to 2008.

Netanyahu even froze settlement construction altogether for 10 months – the only Israeli leader ever to do so – yet the Palestinians spurned talks with Israel for most of that period, with no reciprocal concessions.

Third, most Israeli housing starts over the past decade have been in cities within settlement blocs that Israel intends to keep under all circumstances – and “everybody knows” this! This includes Gush Etzion, Ariel-Elkana-Karnei Shomron, Ma’aleh Adumim, Beitar Illit and Modi’in Illit and Kiryat Sefer. In fact, the significant government-initiated building has been in the latter two haredi (ultra-Orthodox) cities; cities that are stably situated in Israel’s future.

In other words, there is no Israeli land grab underway, and nothing that would scuttle the establishment of an autonomous, prosperous and peaceful Palestinian entity – if only there was a peaceful Palestinian leadership ready for genuine compromise with Israel.

Sooner or later, Israel unilaterally will extend its rule of law to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, solidifying the de facto territorial compromise that already is in place – and the world will learn to live with that.
The Israel Guys: America Furious About Israel’s Growth in the West Bank | Israel News
Antony Blinken, Ned Price and the rest of the American administration are all “deeply concerned” that Israel just approved 3,000 housing units for Israel’s settlements in Judea and Samaria. On today’s show we get a little fired up concerning why America feels that they have the right to intimidate Israel into getting their permission for everything they do.

The issue of the US reopening the American Consulate in Jerusalem is much deeper than just helping the Palestinians. It has to do with establishing a Palestinian state in Israel’s heartland, and keeping Israel’s sovereign capital divided, instead of united.

Isaac Herzog: Next stop: Making UAE-Israel relations extraordinary
The Abraham Accords normalised relations between Israel and the UAE. But normalisation is just the beginning. One year on, our job is to make those relations extraordinary.

It has always made sense for the Middle East’s two most dynamic, innovative and forward-thinking economies to collaborate. But as President of the State of Israel, I believe that Israel and the UAE can do so much more than collaborate: we can form a genuine partnership, one that will transform the Middle East for the better over this challenging century.

What is a genuine partnership? It means that Israel and the UAE must be truly invested in each other’s success, united in the belief that our work together can unleash unlimited good for our peoples and the whole region.

Together, Israel and the UAE can prove to the whole Middle East that peace pays off. Our region is full of people who quietly realise that it is time for normal relations with Israel. I believe that the success of our partnership will inspire and embolden them to speak up and make peace.

But more than that, Israel and the UAE have a genuine opportunity to spearhead change in this troubled region, by leading by the power of example. Together, we can lead innovative efforts to address environmental, water, and sustainability challenges, for the benefit of our whole region.

I salute the courageous decision of the leaders of the UAE to embark on this path. If their wisdom inspires others to follow suit, that will be extraordinary.
DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi Reaffirms Support for Israeli Observer Status at African Union During Jerusalem Visit
Felix Tshisekedi, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, on Thursday reaffirmed his support for Israel’s observer status at the African Union (AU) — the regional organization with 55 member states from across the African continent.

At a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem, Tshisekedi, who also serves as Chairman of the AU, pledged to continue to supporting Israel’s accession to the AU. Tshisekedi also promised to boost DR Congo’s bilateral ties with Israel through the forthcoming opening of an economic mission in the Israeli capital.

Israel was accepted as an observer by the AU in July. Chad Aleli Admasu, the Israeli Ambassador to Ethiopia and Burundi, presented his credentials to Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission, at the bloc’s headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The Jewish state had previously held observer status with the AU’s predecessor, the Organization of African Unity, but had been thwarted for nearly 20 years in its bid to rejoin the regional grouping until the breakthrough this past summer.

Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority urged the AU to revoke Israel’s observer status. Israel “must be held accountable and exposed, not rewarded and accommodated,” PA Foreign Minister Riyad Malki wrote in an Oct. 14 letter to the AU’s Executive Council.
As a Bahraini, I wanted to see Israel with my own eyes
As a Bahraini woman who recently founded an organisation to teach Hebrew in the Gulf, I knew that going to Israel last month would be an historic trip. I also knew that I was secretly a little apprehensive about it.

The trip, which was organised by the Gulf-Israel Centre for Social Entrepreneurship (Sharaka), was timed to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Abraham Accords. Among other things, these Accords normalised relations between Israel and Bahrain.

The chance to go was an opportunity – and not just to build a warm peace. I am a 28-year-old Hebrew speaker who founded the Shemot Academy for Learning Hebrew in Bahrain and am the first Bahraini citizen to hold BA in Hebrew Literature, but I had never been to the country whose language I had learned, and which I now planned to teach.

More than anything, I wanted to explore Israel with my own eyes. I wanted to understand the real Israel, to encounter and experience it for myself.

I was curious. Now I’m back home, I am thankful that I did go. The visit was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I have been able to share with my community.

Before leaving Bahrain, I admit to hiding some fears, particularly around visiting Jerusalem. It was based on what we had seen and heard about the city in the media. My friends and family were all worried about me. What I expected to see and feel was totally different to what we saw and felt. I was surprised by how calm and safe it was.
MEMRI: Egyptian Journalist On Jewish Wedding In Bahrain: The Jewish Citizens Of Arab Countries Are Loyal And Have Equal Rights; Pluralism Is A Source Of Social Strength, Not Weakness
In an article in the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Egyptian journalist Suleiman Gouda writes with nostalgia about the Jewish presence that once existed in the Arab countries. Noting that Bahrain recently saw its first Jewish wedding in 52 years, he uses this as an opportunity to express his views on Jews from Arab countries, on normalization with Israel and on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mentioning that this wedding was momentous not only because it was the first Jewish wedding in Bahrain in over a century, but also because the groom was the son of Houda Noono, Bahrain's former ambassador in Washington, he states that Jews in high-ranking positions used to be a fairly common phenomenon in Arab countries. This is perfectly natural, he says, because Jews are citizens of these countries, no different from other citizens.

According to Gouda, the reversal in the attitude towards the Jews in Arab countries was caused by Israel's policy, and that today there is confusion between a Jew, namely a follower of the monotheistic religion of Judaism, and an Israeli Jew, who espouses a political ideology that harms the rights of the Palestinian people. Stating that the true homeland of the Arab Jews is not Israel but rather the Arab countries in which they were born and raised, he contends that social pluralism is a source of strength and not a source of weakness.

Gouda notes that the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco established diplomatic ties with Israel only after clarifying that this was meant to serve the Palestinian cause rather than harm it, and that they expected Israel to find a serious solution to this issue –- which may cause other Arab countries to establish ties with Israel.
IDF liaison sets up shop in US CENTCOM offices in Florida, solidifying move
The Israel Defense Forces dispatched an officer to serve as its first representative to the United States Central Command this week, further solidifying Israel’s move to its area of responsibility, the military said Thursday.

A former fighter pilot, the officer, who can only be identified by his rank and first Hebrew initial, Maj. “Aleph,” will be stationed in CENTCOM’s headquarters in Tampa, Florida.

“As part of his position, he will be responsible for coordinating joint orders between the IDF and CENTCOM, in peace and wartime, strengthening operational cooperation and exchanging operational knowledge, among other things,” the IDF said.

After decades of working with the US military’s European Command, Israel was moved to CENTCOM earlier this year, in a move that was meant to improve the IDF’s ability to work with the US and its allies in the Middle East to counter Iran.

“Through cooperation in training, intelligence and operational planning, we will continue to tackle current challenges, chief among them the Iranian threat. I have no doubt that the joint work with CENTCOM and Gulf countries will continue to lead Israel and its security to great achievements,” says IDF Maj. Gen. Tal Kalman, who heads the military directorate tasked specifically with countering Iran, known as the Strategy and Third-Circle Directorate.

German photographer spills the beans: Jordan flew in IDF aerial drill
A German military photographer posted two pictures of Jordanian fighter jets taking part in this month’s massive Blue Flag aerial exercise on social media on Friday, apparently inadvertently revealing that the kingdom had participated in the Israeli-hosted drill.

Until the cameraman, Falk Bärwald, posted the photographs on his Instagram account, Jordan’s participation in the two-week-long exercise had officially been kept a secret.

In one photo, a Jordanian F-16 fighter jet can be seen riding along a runway in the Israeli Air Force’s Ovda base, just north of Eilat, while a French Rafale jet flies above it. In the second, a Jordanian F-16 could be seen taking off from the same base.

The German military photographer later deleted his post, though the images had already been downloaded and shared widely on Twitter, Telegram, and other social media platforms.

In years past, aviation analysts and enthusiasts have spotted what appeared to be Jordanian planes taking part in the Blue Flag exercise — in both 2017 and 2019 — though these have not necessarily been definitive, as commercially available plane-tracking software has been known to show false readings.

President attends Kafr Qasim memorial, apologizes for 1956 massacre
Israel’s President Isaac Herzog apologized for a 1956 massacre of Arab citizens of Israel by border police officers, appearing at an annual memorial to ask for forgiveness on behalf of the state.

“I am standing here before you today with my head bowed and my heart pained, on the sixty-fifth anniversary of one of the saddest events in the history of our country,” Herzog said at the ceremony in Kafr Qasim, where the killings took place.

Herzog is the second Israeli president to address the event. His predecessor Reuven Rivlin attended in 2014 and condemned the massacre, in which the Border Police killed 48 Arab Israeli men, women and children for violating a wartime curfew near the central town of Kafr Qasim. The unborn child of a pregnant woman is considered a 49th victim.

In 2007, then-president Shimon Peres broke ground when he formally expressed regret over the massacre, but was not at the memorial.

Israel has not taken formal responsibility for the massacre and a bill proposing to have the state do so was overwhelmingly voted down Wednesday. Arab Israeli parliamentarians regularly propose the bill near the October 29 anniversary, but the Knesset has repeatedly rejected proposals to acknowledge state responsibility.

Nonetheless, the president said that the gravity of the incident has “never been in question.”
Yisrael Medad: Letter to the Editor Re: Temple Mount
Jeremy Sharon’s excellent overview of the Temple Mount situation at present should have recalled four background essentials for a fuller understanding of the issue.

Firstly, the sanctified Jewish “Temple Mount” area is smaller than the Muslim al-Haram al-Sharif, and Jews do not seek to enter Muslim buildings. There is enough room for Muslims, Jews and Christians to pray without “invading” another’s territory.

The second is that Jewish prayer is recognized as a basic right by decisions of the High Court of Justice based on the 1967 Law for the Preservation of Holy Places. Prayer is not illegal.

Third, the status quo of 1967 is not upheld by the Muslim Wakf, which has built three new mosques within the compound, destroyed historical and archaeological artifacts and altered administrative customs.

Fourth, Jordan, which is responsible for the (Jerusalem) Wakf Islamic religious trust and funds it, refuses to fulfill its obligations as per the 1994 Peace Treaty with Israel. Article 9 reads: “Each Party will provide freedom of access to places of religious and historical significance... The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.” Even the positioning of surveillance cameras that could help prevent violence at the Temple Mount was sabotaged by Jordan.

Last Afghan Jew: Give me $10m to move to Israel or I'll be going back home to Kabul
He is the last Jew of Afghanistan, who was rescued in a courageous humanitarian mission last month after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban.

But in a bizarre twist, according to his rescuer, Zebulon Simentov is refusing to go to Israel to make his home there unless he is first paid $10million – and he has warned he is otherwise ready to go back to Afghanistan.

After his rescue in September, Mr Simentov was flown to a country that has remained unnamed for security reasons. He is now in Istanbul, where he is staying in a hotel.

In an extraordinary phone conversation with his rescuer, Israeli humanitarian contractor Moti Kahana, he demanded the staggering sum, claiming he “lost a lot of money” in leaving Afghanistan, and also asked for additional cash to buy a winter coat.

In earlier statements weeks ago he had been insistent that he would not make Israel his final destination because he feared punitive measures over his failure to give a get to his wife, who has lived there with his two daughters since 1998. However, he has since granted the divorce in a ceremony performed over Zoom, organised in Turkey by Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, chairman of the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States.

Mr Simentov’s brother Aron and sister Osnat are also in Israel, living in Holon, near Tel Aviv. But instead of making aliyah he wants to go to the US and live in New York, where he has relatives.
Woman now thought to be Afghanistan's last Jew flees country
For years, Zebulon Simentov branded himself as the "last Jew of Afghanistan," the sole remnant of a centuries-old community. He charged reporters for interviews and held court in Kabul's only remaining synagogue. He left the country last month for Istanbul after the Taliban seized power.

Now it appears he was not the last one.

Simentov's distant cousin, Tova Moradi, was born and raised in Kabul and lived there until last week, more than a month after Simentov departed in September. Fearing for their safety, Moradi, her children, and nearly two dozen grandchildren fled the country in recent weeks in an escape orchestrated by an Israeli aid group, activists, and prominent Jewish philanthropists.

"I loved my country, loved it very much, but had to leave because my children were in danger," Moradi told The Associated Press from her modest quarters in the Albanian town of Golem, whose beachside resorts have been converted to makeshift homes for some 2,000 Afghan refugees.

Moradi, 83, was one of 10 children born to a Jewish family in Kabul. At age 16, she ran away from home and married a Muslim man. She never converted to Islam, maintained some Jewish traditions, and it was no secret in her neighborhood that she was Jewish.
PA on verge of financial collapse as fewer donors honor commitments
The Palestinian Authority is experiencing the worst fiscal difficulties it has ever had since its establishment more than a quarter-century ago. Top officials say that the treasury is facing a severe cash crunch, and this could soon reflect on its ability to pay government salaries and conduct daily business.

An adviser to PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told a local radio station that the PA is experiencing its worst financial situation in years.

In an interview on Ajyal Radio this week, Stephen Salameh said that the cessation of European support comes on top of a massive reduction in financial aid from Arab countries and the United States. In the past, when faced with financial crises, the PA turned to wealthy Arab governments in the Gulf for assistance, but that support has declined.

Of the $100 million that the Arab League member countries had committed to the PA as part of a financial “security net,” less than $2 million has been forthcoming, according to a top official at the PA Ministry of Finance.

The donors’ share of the PA budget has dropped by a whopping 58% in the past few years, forcing the government to scramble for ways to make up the difference. This has left the PA with limited options; it raised taxes, implemented austerity measures, and looked to local banks for loans.

But with the emergence of the coronavirus and an economy on the ropes, citizens cannot afford to pay higher taxes and banks are increasingly wary of continuing to raise the PA’s borrowing limit. The government is now trying to resurrect old moves from its playbook.

FDD: Hamas Acknowledges Members of Specialized Unit Killed by Israel
On Oct. 26, Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades acknowledged three of its members killed in the May conflict with Israel were members of a specialized Frogman unit.

The group did not detail the deaths of Ali Walid Bris, Muhammed Hassan Abu Samaan and Muhammed Jamal Abu Samaan only noting they were killed in a ‘Zionist bombing during the battle of Sword of Jerusalem.’

Al-Qassam Brigades published martyrdom posters of the three fighters shortly after the deaths in May. However, the group only acknowledged that Muhammed Jamal Abu Samaan belonged to the specialized unit.

The two other fighters, Ali Bris and Muhammed Hassan Abu Samaan, were only described as ‘fighter(s) in the way Allah.’

The circumstances leading up to their deaths is unclear. However, the IDF stated it had targeted Hamas operatives that launched an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) on May 17. Both Muhammed Hassan Abu Samaan and Muhammed Jamal Abu Samaan were killed on May 17, according to al-Qassam Brigades. It’s possible they were a part of the cell that launched the UUV and were subsequently targeted by the Israel Defense Forces. However, FDD’s Long War Journal could not independently verify this information.

It’s also noteworthy to mention Ali Bris was also a member of Gaza’s military police which adds to the increasing evidence of the dual-roles some militants play in the Gaza Strip.

US Sanctions Two Lebanese Businessmen and a Member of Parliament
The US Treasury on Thursday imposed sanctions on two top Lebanese contractors and a lawmaker close to the Hezbollah movement over alleged large-scale corruption that undermined the rule of law in Lebanon.

Businessmen Jihad al-Arab and Dany Khoury, close to former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri and Christian politician Gebran Bassil respectively, were sanctioned for alleged corruption related to state contracts.

Lawmaker Jamil Sayyed was sanctioned for allegedly seeking to “skirt domestic banking policies and regulations” and transfer $120 million abroad, “presumably to enrich himself and his associates,” a Treasury statement said.

Sayyed did not respond to a request for comment and wrote on Twitter that he would hold a news conference on Friday to discuss the matter.

The Treasury alleged that Khoury and Arab both received state contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars, including for garbage collection and disposal work, thanks to political connections.
Israel, Russia working against Iran with Syrian reconstruction in mind
Israeli aircraft carried out attacks against military targets belonging to the Assad regime and its allies on Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog group reported. The attacks resulted in material damage, but no casualties were recorded.

The bombing came after several attacks on targets associated with the Syrian regime in recent weeks, for which Israel has been blamed. Perhaps most notable was the death of a Syrian official last week, also attributed to Israel.

Midhat Saleh, a former member of the Syrian parliament and head of the Syrian Golan Heights Affairs Office, was reportedly shot dead by an Israeli sniper on October 16 in a Syrian village on the border with Israel.

Saleh was born in Majdal Shams, a Druze village in the contested Golan Heights on Israel’s side of the border, and previously spent 12 years in an Israeli prison after being convicted of acting against Israel’s security forces. He left for Syria after he was released from prison in 1998. Israeli media reported that Saleh was considered by Israel the middleman between the Assad regime, Iran, Hezbollah and Iran-backed militias in the Syrian Golan, assisting the Iranian entrenchment on Israel’s borders.

The Syrian state news agency SANA blamed Israel for the official’s death. The Israeli army, as is its policy, has not commented.
Iranian Hackers Leak ‘Israeli Defense Ministry Files’ Online
An Iranian hacker group on Thursday released data allegedly stolen from the Israeli Defense Ministry that contained sensitive information about Israeli soldiers, Ynet reported.

The group, which calls itself “Moses Staff,” leaked, among other details, information related to the deployment of an Israel Defense Forces brigade, including “job descriptions, a full list of names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers and residential addresses of members of the brigade,” according to the report.

Information also included details about IDF reserve officers and military units, thousands of Israeli teens set to enlist and sensitive material concerning psychological information and socio-economic status.

The group also posted pictures of Defense Minister Benny Gantz, warning that he was being surveilled by the group.

“We know every decision you make and will hit you where you least expect it. We have secret Defense Ministry documents, operational military maps and troop deployment information and will publish your crimes to the world,” the groups said in their post, according to the report.

The leaks were posted on the dark web and in Telegram groups.


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