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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

April 8, 2021
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Attacked Iranian Military Ship in Red Sea in Retaliation for Iranian Strikes - Farnaz Fassihi, Eric Schmitt and Ronen Bergman
    An Iranian military vessel stationed in the Red Sea was damaged by an apparent Israeli mine attack on Tuesday. The Tasnim news agency of the Revolutionary Guards said the Saviz had been damaged by a mine attached to the vessel. An American official said the Israelis had notified the U.S. that its forces had struck the vessel. The official said that the Israelis had called the attack a retaliation for earlier Iranian strikes on Israeli vessels. On March 25, an Israeli-owned container ship, the Lori, was hit by an Iranian missile in the Arabian Sea, an Israeli official said.
        Since 2019, Israel has attacked commercial ships carrying Iranian oil and weapons through the eastern Mediterranean and Red Seas. The U.S. Naval Institute reported in October 2020 that the Saviz was a covert military ship operated by the Revolutionary Guards. (New York Times)
        See also Targeted Iranian Vessel Was Intelligence Command Ship - Amos Harel
    According to reports, the Saviz was used by Iran as a command and control "mothership," loitering over the past several years in the Red Sea, between Yemen and Eritrea. With speed boats and intelligence-gathering and surveillance systems, the ship was a floating base for Iranian operations in Yemen and Africa. Saudi Al-Hadath TV reported that the ship sustained "major" damage, but had not been sunk. (Ha'aretz)
        See also below Commentary: With Attack on Iranian Military Ship, Israel Is Sending the U.S. a Clear Message - Ron Ben Yishai (Ynet News)
  • Iran and U.S. Agree on Path Back to Nuclear Deal - Steven Erlanger
    In indirect talks in Vienna on Tuesday, the U.S. and Iran agreed to try to synchronize Washington's lifting of sanctions and Iran's limiting of uranium enrichment. Iranian officials say they can return to compliance fairly quickly, but insist the U.S. lift sanctions first. Washington wants Iran to return to compliance first. Two new working groups are intended to create a road map for a synchronized return of both countries to compliance.
        On Monday, a State Department spokesman, Ned Price, called the talks a "healthy step forward" but added that "we don't anticipate an early or immediate breakthrough."  (New York Times)
        See also Iran: U.S. Must Lift Sanctions All at Once
    Top Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi told Press TV on Tuesday that the U.S. must lift its anti-Iran sanctions "all together, in one step." (Press TV-Iran)
        See also The Iran Nuclear Talks Restart in Vienna - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • U.S. Restores $150 Million to UNRWA for Palestinian Refugee Aid
    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Wednesday the renewal of $150 million in U.S. assistance for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). He also announced $75 million in economic assistance and $10 million for peacebuilding programs. (U.S. State Department)
        See also Israel Slams U.S. Resumption of UNRWA Funding for Palestinians - Tovah Lazaroff
    In response to the U.S. decision to restore funding for UNRWA, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said, "Israel is strongly opposed to the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity happening in UNRWA's facilities. We believe that this UN agency for so-called 'refugees' should not exist in its current format. UNRWA schools regularly use materials that incite against Israel and the twisted definition used by the agency to determine who is a 'refugee' only perpetuates the conflict."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran-Backed Militias in Iraq Threaten to Target Washington
    On April 6, 2021, the Zulfiqar Forces, part of the Iranian-backed "Islamic Resistance in Iraq," released on its Telegram channel a poster depicting a masked fighter wearing the group's uniform and holding a machine gun, against the backdrop of the U.S. Capitol Building, edited to appear in ruins. The group earlier claimed responsibility for the Aug. 27, 2020, rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. (MEMRI)
  • Sudan's Cabinet Votes to Repeal Israel Boycott Law
    Sudan's Cabinet voted on Tuesday to repeal a 1958 law that forbade diplomatic and business relations with Israel, a step that could pave the way for official visits and further diplomatic ties. Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen called the move "an important and necessary step toward the signing of a peace accord between the countries." (Reuters)
  • Germany Fights Exclusion of UK and Israel from EU Research Projects
    Germany and other EU members are opposing a move by the European Commission to block Britain, Israel and Switzerland from quantum and space projects on security grounds, diplomats said Tuesday. The decision to block non-EU countries is backed by France. "In the field of quantum technology in particular, these countries have traditionally been important partners and should continue in this role in the future," German Research Minister Thomas Rachel said.
        The commission stressed in a meeting last week that it was especially concerned about valuable intellectual property ending up in the hands of the U.S. or China. But academics point out that Britain and Israel are longtime partners in these research areas. Cutting them off now would cause Europe to lose even more ground to the U.S. and China, they argue. (AFP-Barron's)

  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Netanyahu: We Won't Be Bound by Iran Deal that Threatens Us with Destruction - Jeremy Sharon
    During the opening ceremony of Holocaust Remembrance Day at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "A nuclear agreement with Iran is again on the table, but history has taught us that agreements like this with extremist regimes are worthless. To our best friends I say: an agreement with Iran which paves its way to nuclear weapons that threaten us with destruction, an agreement like this will not bind us."
        "Only one thing binds us, to prevent those who seek to destroy us from carrying out their plans. During the Holocaust we did not have the power to protect ourselves and we did not have the privilege of sovereignty. We had no rights, no state, and no defense. Today we have a state, we have the power to defend ourselves and we have the natural and full right as the sovereign state of the Jewish people to protect ourselves from our enemies."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Coronavirus in Israel: Decline in Serious Cases Continues - Rossella Tercatin
    The number of serious coronavirus patients in Israel dropped to 290 on Thursday, the Israel Health Ministry reported. Last week the number was 381 and in mid-January the figure stood at 1,200. 274 new cases were identified on Wednesday and 6 people died, compared with 77 deaths in a single day on Jan. 24. There are currently 4,771 active cases. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Bahrain Jewish Community Holds Holocaust Remembrance Day Event
    The Jewish community in Bahrain marked Holocaust Remembrance Day for the first time in a virtual ceremony at the community synagogue, which was recently renovated at the king's initiative. Amb. Houda Nonoo, from a Bahraini Jewish family, who was the kingdom's ambassador to the U.S., initiated the event. The guest of honor was Dr. Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and a former UN ambassador and Foreign Ministry director-general, who had met with Nonoo during his visit to Bahrain in December 2020. (Israel Hayom)
        See also Video: Dore Gold Speaks with Bahrain Jewish Community on Holocaust Remembrance Day (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Palestinian Authority Critic Says Armed Faction Threatened to Kill Him - Nada Al-Taher
    Palestinian anti-corruption activist Fadi Elsalameen told The National that the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, linked to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' ruling Fatah party, threatened to kill him when he traveled to Hebron in March to visit his family. Elsalameen, a U.S. citizen, is a non-resident fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Former U.S. State Department Middle East adviser Aaron David Miller called on the U.S. government to ensure Elsalameen's safety. (The National-Abu Dhabi)
  • At the Israel-Gaza Border, the IDF Works to Maintain Quiet - Udi Shaham
    Lt.-Col. Amram Hayun, deputy head of the IDF's Gaza Southern Region Brigade, oversees the daily protection of part of Israel's border. Infantry and tank forces "are constantly on the move" along the border to both monitor and respond swiftly to threats, he says. Another element are the advanced observation and monitoring systems that closely follow any suspicious movements and warn operators if a situation is detected that requires attention.
        "Events occur on a daily basis," said Hayun. "Whether it's infiltration attempts, IEDs near the border, rockets launching, and others....Our mission here is to make sure that [Israeli civilians] can continue their daily lives." (Jerusalem Post)

  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • With Attack on Iranian Military Ship, Israel Is Sending the U.S. a Clear Message - Ron Ben Yishai
    Iranian Revolutionary Guard commando boats are kept onboard the Saviz to protect Iranian oil tankers and vessels smuggling weapons to Syria and Lebanon. The vessel also acts as an intelligence base, monitoring Saudi vessels that are enforcing a maritime embargo on Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
        The aim of the attack was: 1) To retaliate for an Iranian attack on an Israeli-owned cargo ship in the Arabian Sea last month. 2) To show the Iranians that Tehran would be wise to refrain from attacks on Israel's navy or Israeli-owned vessels anywhere, including in the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. 3) To clarify to the U.S. that Israel will continue its fight against Iran's subversive actions in the region, even as the U.S. is attempting to rebuild relations with the Islamic Republic.
        Israel has come to understand that Washington is hoping to de-escalate their conflict with Iran at almost any cost so that the administration can focus on other issues. The Iranian nuclear program is a nuisance to the Americans. To avoid being dragged into a war, the administration is prepared to make significant concessions to the Iranians.
        Israel's intelligence agencies observed that the Iranians are not attempting to produce nuclear weapons at the moment but do want to be a nuclear threshold state. The Vienna talks will help them with this goal. Officials in Jerusalem are watching with concern as America appears ready to be humiliated by Iran as long as it returns to the 2015 agreement.
        Meanwhile, Iran's economy has rebounded thanks to covert oil sales to China and Russia, and its leaders no longer fear the sanctions. Iran inches closer every day to becoming a nuclear threshold state. (Ynet News)
  • Iran and Israel's Undeclared War at Sea: IRGC-Hizbullah Financing Schemes - Matthew Levitt
    Israel and Iran appear to be in the midst of a gray-zone maritime conflict. Oil smuggling by Iran's Revolutionary Guards allows it to fund and arm Hizbullah while also benefiting the Assad regime in Syria. After mid-2018, these deliveries became Tehran's primary means of financing Hizbullah, and in some cases included arms as well. Israel's maritime actions have caused delays that deprive the Syrian regime of gasoline imports and prevent hard cash, weapons, and missile production equipment from reaching Hizbullah.
        The writer is director of the Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Iran Remains Unworthy of Trust - Dr. Spyridon N. Litsas
    The White House seems ready to allow Tehran to pursue its nuclear aspirations by minimizing or eradicating the economic sanctions against it. Yet the Iranian regime is unwilling to emerge from its zone of systemic radicalism. It is comfortable in its religious-ideological isolation. Aggressiveness toward all other regional actors is Tehran's norm. It is odd to trust the Islamic regime with nuclear weapons when its anti-Americanism and anti-Israelism are so clearly central to its philosophy.
        It is not easy to deter a nuclear power that does not want to be deterred - particularly one that considers itself entitled to behave like a religious and regional hegemon. It would be an enormous mistake for the U.S. to return to regarding Iran as a normal polity that can be trusted.
        The writer is Professor of Homeland Security at Rabdan Academy, UAE, and Professor of International Relations at the University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Iran's Mischief in Morocco - Emanuele Ottolenghi
    Moroccan intelligence arrested a Hizbullah member upon his entry to the country on Jan. 6, who was caught carrying multiple European passports and identity cards. Morocco broke off relations with Iran in 2009 over an Iranian clerical official's statement that Bahrain really belonged to Iran. In 2018, a year after Tehran had reopened its embassy, Morocco's foreign minister, Nasser Bourita, accused Iran of dispatching Hizbullah operatives and supplying weapons and training to the Polisario Front in the Western Sahara which is fighting Morocco.
        Morocco has also accused Iran of efforts to spread its revolutionary brand of Shi'ism among Morocco's predominantly Sunni population. The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (National Interest)

  • Palestinians

  • Will Biden-Backed Anti-Terror Law Complicate U.S.-Palestinian Ties? - Matthew Zweig and Jonathan Schanzer
    Hamas appears likely to participate in the Palestinian legislative elections on May 22. After the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections led to Hamas' electoral victory, Congress responded by passing the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (PATA). Sen. Joe Biden was an original co-sponsor and the Foreign Relations Committee, then under his chairmanship, approved it unanimously.
        PATA prohibits U.S. assistance to the PA unless the administration certifies that "no ministry, agency, or instrumentality of the Palestinian Authority is effectively controlled by Hamas." Polling indicates that Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party may not win the May elections outright and could be forced into a power-sharing agreement that brings Hamas into the government.
        Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Treasury Department, is senior vice president at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Matthew Zweig is a senior fellow. (The Hill)
  • Biden Is Not Planning to Solve the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Nahal Toosi
    Unlike Barack Obama and Donald Trump, Joe Biden hasn't named a special envoy to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian portfolio. Biden has no plans for any sort of peace conference, or even a peace process, anytime soon. Aside from restoring some aid to the Palestinians, Biden and his team are signaling that the conflict is simply not a priority.
        Lower-level Biden administration officials are now in regular touch with Palestinian counterparts. But Biden has not yet spoken to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, even though he has spoken to Netanyahu.
        Reopening the Palestinians' diplomatic mission in Washington is legally complicated. A law prevents the Palestinians from opening an office in the U.S. unless they pay hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties levied through U.S. courts over past attacks whose victims included Americans. (Politico)
        See also Biden Administration Shows "Disinterest" in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Mohammad Al-Kassim
    Former Israeli ambassador to Washington Danny Ayalon said at this point there is "disinterest" in the Biden administration in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "Certainly, it's not as high on the agenda as it was for the Obama administration." There is a "tactical shift to aid the Palestinians, but other than that the U.S. has much bigger fish to fry with other U.S. concerns around the world."
        Ayalon noted that in the Democratic Party, "There are progressive elements whose policy toward Israel may be not the friendliest, but they remain a minority, and the mainstream Democratic Party which Biden and [Secretary of State] Blinken are part of, they would not see any change in what they call the defense cooperation."  (Media Line)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • A New Bogus Definition of Anti-Semitism - Gerald M. Steinberg and Asaf Romirowsky
    In 2016, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) published a working definition of anti-Semitism, formally adopted by 30 governments, based on an earlier text adopted by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia.
        But for some ideological activists, the Israel-related examples of anti-Semitism are unacceptable. A public relations campaign to undermine the IHRA consensus was launched under the heading of the Jerusalem Declaration on Anti-Semitism (JDA). Falsely claiming support from "leading scholars of anti-Semitism," the funding source is carefully hidden, and the website - created with anonymous ownership - is registered in Iceland.
        A careful reading of the JDA text and context shows that while pretending to be neutral on the legitimacy of Israel and Zionism, their primary goal is delegitimation. Its authors marginalize the core issues of anti-Semitism, stating that "the fight against it is inseparable from the overall fight against all forms of racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, and gender discrimination."
        Gerald M. Steinberg is emeritus professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and heads the Institute for NGO Research. Asaf Romirowsky is executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), and a senior fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan. (National Interest)
  • There Is No Acceptable Anti-Semitism - Noa Tishby
    Israel is my homeland and I love it. But a lot of people don't. I started to make an effort to find out why. My friend Maajid Nawaz, a onetime radical Islamist who has now dedicated his life to reforming Islam and fighting hate, told me, "People hate Israel because of anti-Semitism." Jews are only 2% of the U.S. population, but they are the target of 50% of national religion-based hate crimes.
        Support for a Jewish homeland in Israel has historically been known as "Zionism." Anti-Zionism has simply become a politically-correct form of anti-Semitism. If you're particularly full of rage at only one country on earth, and that country also happens to be Jewish, consider that your opinions about Israel may also have something to do with a bias you carry against Jews.
        The Israeli-born writer is currently co-producing the fourth season of the American version of the award-winning Israeli TV show "In Treatment" for HBO. She is the author of the new book ISRAEL: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth. (RealClearWorld)
  • Anti-Semitic Blogger and Holocaust Denier Jailed in UK
    Alison Chabloz, 57, of St. John's Wood, was found guilty of a communications offense last week and handed an 18-week prison sentence, of which she will serve 9 weeks behind bars. Chabloz claimed on social media that "anything that's worth controlling will have Jews there controlling it" and that Jews were persecuted in Nazi Germany because they "had been behaving in a certain fashion, as we're seeing again today," and that some Jews should be deported.
        District Judge Michael Snow told Chabloz: "I'm sentencing you on the basis that on two separate occasions whilst subject to a suspended sentence, you participated in a radio program where you made grossly offensive comments... insulting to members of a vulnerable community. The need to protect that community from such gross offense is a pressing social need." (Jewish News-UK-Independent-UK)
  • New Anti-Semitism Video from Berkeley - Gabe Stutman
    A new video, "Antisemitism in Our Midst: Past and Present," was created by the Antisemitism Education Initiative at UC Berkeley to help combat ignorance of Jewish history and improve the discourse on issues related to Israel. The 11-minute, animated video offers a broad overview of the history of anti-Semitism and is meant as a teaching tool for student groups and diversity and equity administrators.
        The video explores Jews and race, reiterating that not all Jews are white, neither in America and certainly not in Israel. The false implication "ignores Jews' distinctive ethnic traditions and long history of racial discrimination," and it "associates Jews with privilege in a way that accelerates anti-Semitic stereotypes." (JWeekly)
        View the Video (TheBerkeleyHillel)

  • Weekend Features

  • Photos Show Palestinian Leader Amin al-Husseini at a Nazi Concentration Camp - Wolfgang G. Schwanitz
    In 2017, Jerusalem's Kedem auction house posted three of six previously unknown photos on the Internet, in which the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, inspects the Trebbin concentration camp near Berlin along with Nazi senior officials around 1943.
        Al-Husseini's written pact with the Nazis, the pictures of his visit to a concentration camp, and his subsequent close involvement with the Final Solution show beyond any doubt that the Palestinian leader wanted the Jews of the Mideast to share the same fate as the Jews of Europe.
        The writer, a historian, is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia. (Tablet)
        View Photos and Video of the Grand Mufti and the Nazis (ILTV Israel News)
  • The Onset of Mass Murder: The Fate of Jewish Families in the Soviet Union in 1941
    This new online exhibition highlights the stories of 12 Jewish families who were caught in the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Following the invasion, mass shootings committed by the Einsatzgruppen, other German soldiers and police forces, and local collaborators began across Eastern Europe and continued into 1943, during which 1.5 million Jews were murdered. (Yad Vashem)
  • Where Does the Figure of 6 Million Jewish Holocaust Victims Come From?
    Dr. Wilhelm Hoettl, an Austrian-born official in the Third Reich and a trained historian who served in a number of senior positions in the SS, testified for the prosecution in the Nuremberg trials of accused Nazi war criminals in November 1945. Hoettl described a conversation with Adolf Eichmann, the SS official who had principal responsibility for the logistics of the Jewish genocide, in Budapest in August 1944.
        "Eichmann...told me that, according to his information, some 6,000,000 Jews had perished until then - 4,000,000 in extermination camps and the remaining 2,000,000 through shooting by the Operations Units and other causes, such as disease, etc."  (Ha'aretz)

  • Observations:

    Each year, six Holocaust survivors are chosen to light torches at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on Holocaust Remembrance Day, which began Wednesday evening, in memory of the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust.

  • Manya Bigunov was born in 1927 in the Ukrainian city of Teplyk. In July 1941, the Germans occupied Teplyk and sent residents to forced labor. She escaped from one of the labor camps and survived in the Bershad ghetto in Transnistria. After the war, Manya filled dozens of Yad Vashem's Pages of Testimony commemorating the people of Teplyk. In 1992, she immigrated to Israel.
  • Yossi Chen was born in 1936 in Lachwa, Poland (now Belarus). On Passover eve 1942, all the town's Jews were ordered to move into the ghetto. In August 1942, the Jews learned that the ghetto residents were about to be murdered and an uprising broke out in full cooperation with the ghetto Jewish council, the Judenrat. While the majority of the Jews who tried to flee were shot and killed, six-year-old Yossi fled to the forests. Yossi and his father hid in haystacks, swamps and forests, drank water from swamps and ate berries until they found the partisans. In July 1947, the two boarded the Exodus illegal immigrant ship.
  • Sara Fishman was born in 1927 in what is today Neresnytsya, Ukraine. When Sara and her sisters arrived in Auschwitz, one of the prisoners threw a stone at them with a note attached. The note read that the smoke they saw from the chimney was their parents. Later she was sent to forced labor outside Auschwitz and then to Bergen-Belsen. In 1949 she immigrated to Israel and served in the IDF during the War of Independence.
  • Halina Friedman was born in Lodz, Poland, in 1933. In the Warsaw ghetto, her parents worked in a factory that repaired uniforms for the German Army, and Halina was placed in a kindergarten for the workers' children. In 1942, the children were taken out and shot by machine gun. Halina fell, but was not injured. She lay among the dozens of dead children, covered in their blood. Only at night did she return home. She escaped when the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising broke out in 1943 and for 18 months was hidden in a bunker at the home of two Polish people, Jerzy Kozminski and his stepmother Teresa Kozminska, who were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations in 1965.
  • Zehava Gealel was born in 1935 in The Hague, Netherlands. Dutch police accompanied by Germans arrived to take the family members into custody, but thanks to documents sent by Zehava's grandfather in the U.S., the family members were granted Romanian citizenship and were defined as political prisoners. She was later sent to the Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany and then to Bergen-Belsen. For the past 50 years, Zehava has been a nurse at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer in Israel.
  • Shmuel Naar was born in 1924 in Thessaloniki, Greece. In March 1943 the city's Jews were deported, mostly to Auschwitz. In January 1945, Shmuel was forced on a death march to Bergen-Belsen. In November 1945, he boarded the Berl Katzenelson illegal immigrant ship bound for Israel. When the ship was discovered by a British destroyer, Shmuel jumped into the icy water and swam to shore. Shmuel fought in the War of Independence and in all the wars of Israel including the Yom Kippur War as a combat medic.

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