Prepared for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Updated: 13 min 11 sec ago
(Ha'aretz) Hagar Shezaf -
Israel's High Court on Tuesday rejected a petition demanding the release of Khalil Awawdeh, a Palestinian hunger striker. Judge Anat Baron reiterated the summary provided by the Israel Security Agency regarding the reason for Awawdeh's arrest - which states that he is an Islamic Jihad militant involved in activities that endanger Israel's security.
The judges believed there was "solid" justification for the order to arrest Awawdeh, and added that the fact that there were no charges filed against him does not speak to the strength of the evidence, but only to the fact that exposing such evidence could "severely compromise the security of the state and the sources of information."
(Jerusalem Post) Anna Ahronheim -
Over 5,000 former security officials have signed a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden urging him not to sign a new nuclear agreement with Iran. "Based on our collective experience and assessment, we believe that this deal is catastrophic for American, Israeli and global peace and security for a broad range of reasons."
"The deal will unleash a regional nuclear arms race, in which states like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states will be forced to either develop or acquire nuclear weapons to mitigate the Iranian threat."
(Times of Israel) Tobias Siegal -
Jordanian officials have expressed anger at Israel's move to utilize Ramon Airport in southern Israel for Palestinian travel abroad, claiming it jeopardizes the kingdom's economic interests. Previously, Palestinians wishing to fly abroad were required to travel to Jordan and board a flight there. But in an effort to alleviate crowding at the King Hussein Crossing (the Allenby Bridge) from the West Bank to Jordan, the Israel Airports Authority announced an initiative allowing Palestinians to fly to Turkey through Ramon Airport.
Jordan had opposed the establishment of Ramon Airport from the outset, citing its proximity to King Hussein Airport in Aqaba.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall and Iran Desk -
Tehran apparently is in no hurry to sign a new nuclear deal. According to Iran's Jomhouri Eslami, the U.S. has agreed to submit the agreement for congressional approval and thereby obligate the next U.S. president as well.
Iran demanded reconnecting to SWIFT, the international financial-messages service (from which Iran was removed in 2018), so it can conduct transactions in dollars. Washington said that while it agrees in principle, Iran must first carry out the necessary reforms in the framework of FATF (the Financial Actions Task Force), which requires transparency, fighting corruption, and preventing the transfer of funds to terror groups. Currently, Iran is on the FATF blacklist.
Kayhan, which reflects the views of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, declared that the side that needs the deal is the West, which is in a severe energy crisis, not Iran. It underscored that Iran does not need the nuclear deal or to sign the FATF to rehabilitate its economy. The paper "suggested to the Raisi government to wait two months, until winter arrives in Europe, to get a better deal."
(Foreign Policy) Andrea Stricker and Anthony Ruggiero -
Rafael Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is refusing to close his agency's probe into Tehran's suspect atomic activities to pave the way for the nuclear accord's revival. In June, Grossi reported that Iran failed to provide "technically credible" explanations for the presence of uranium at three sites. He reiterated on Monday that the IAEA cannot settle its inquiry until Tehran obliges. He stated that the IAEA has a "legal obligation" to continue the investigation and needs to know where the Iranian nuclear material and equipment in question are today.
Since 2018, the IAEA has been investigating Iranian activities related to the production of nuclear material at four sites in the early 2000s that the regime failed to declare to the IAEA. In 2018, Israel seized a set of Iranian nuclear files detailing that Tehran had a robust nuclear weapons program up until 2003. The archive revealed that the regime downsized and better camouflaged its nuclear weapons activities in mid-2003. It also contains memorandums of meetings by senior Iranian officials discussing where and how to hide ongoing nuclear weapons activities.
In 2019 and 2020, the IAEA asked Iran for access to three Iranian sites, based on archive information. Iran delayed access and tried to sanitize and remove evidence from the three locations, yet inspectors detected human-made uranium at all of them. Marivan was a former high explosive testing location relevant to nuclear weapons development. Varamin was a former pilot uranium conversion facility for nuclear weapons production. Turquzabad held equipment and nuclear material.
The Institute for Science and International Security has translated and analyzed the archive and estimates that an additional 19 to 23 current and former Iranian sites require investigation.
Andrea Stricker is a research fellow and Anthony Ruggiero is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
(Israel Defense) Amir Rapaport -
Now that Iran is de facto becoming a nuclear state, Israel's attention should be towards developing a new strategy in which no Iranian regime would dare wage a nuclear war against Israel.
Over the years, Israel has taken every possible method to slow down the Iranian nuclear program, aided by Western partners. Nuclear facilities were sabotaged, Iranian nuclear scientists were eliminated, and a cyberattack using the Stuxnet worm penetrated the control and command array of the centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear facilities.
The Israeli defense establishment is in consensus about the inability to end the Iranian nuclear program with one military action, like Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007. The Iranians have scattered their plants in various locations, in the depths of the earth.
The late Mossad chief Meir Dagan believed that at some point, Israel would be required to shift from a strategy of preventing an Iranian bomb to a strategy of conducting itself under the assumption that Iran is a nuclear power. Facing this new era, Israel will be forced to increase its intelligence supremacy via Iran even more, and make the regime feel completely transparent, so it doesn't dare make that final step towards the bomb.
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Nitzan Nuriel, a former executive at the National Security Council, suggested creating a comprehensive network of radars and satellites linked to an array of interception measures that would be able to intercept a warhead over the launching area a mere seconds following the launch. No one is interested in having their own warhead intercepted in their territory and suffering all of the damage meant to be inflicted upon the enemy, especially when unconventional warheads are used.
(Gatestone Institute) Col. Richard Kemp -
Iran has been waging war non-stop on the West and its allies in the Middle East since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Appeasing Tehran by endorsing its nuclear program and handing it billions of dollars from sanctions relief will empower and encourage the ayatollahs to even greater aggression.
The mantra of the apologists for President Biden's attempt to revive President Obama's failed agreement from 2015 that paved the way to an Iranian nuclear bomb is "a bad deal is better than no deal." Well, no, it is not. The argument is that it buys time for the West, with optimism that "something will turn up." But optimism is not a strategy and certainly not for dealing with a violent revolutionary regime dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state, which it sees as the proxy of its ultimate enemy, America.
The "buying time" argument only works if you do not understand Iran and are naive enough to believe the regime will honor what it agrees to. The reality is that the regime in Tehran will ignore constraints imposed by the deal that it does not like. That is what it did with the original JCPOA and its other international undertakings including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that it has frequently breached.
Tehran will continue to develop its nuclear capability - deal or no deal - at the speed it wants until it is physically stopped from doing so. The $100 billion a year it will receive as a result of lifted sanctions will enable Iran to speed up its nuclear program, including development of ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to Europe and the U.S. Iran's regional aggression will shift into overdrive with the massive cash injection.
The writer, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, was chairman of the UK's national crisis management committee, COBRA.
(Ha'aretz) Ben Samuels -
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee has started actively campaigning against the emerging Iran nuclear deal. A detailed memo circulated on Capitol Hill said: "We have serious concerns about a prospective deal that would give the world's leading sponsor of terrorism access to $100 billion per year and fail to meet President Biden's own standards of a 'longer and stronger' nuclear agreement, all while the regime is trying to assassinate Americans on U.S. soil. Congress must review the deal including all side agreements, assess the implications for America and Israel, and vote on this important national security question." U.S. officials have indicated that the deal will be brought to Congress.
"Because of sunsetting restrictions and Iranian advancement in its enrichment capabilities, a new agreement will be shorter and weaker than the original JCPOA [nuclear deal]. In essence, we will be paying more and getting less."
"Russia stands to benefit financially, militarily, and strategically from a deal. Moreover, the agreement reportedly will empower Russian President Putin as the principal judge of whether America is complying with the deal. This puts incredible power into the hands of an actor who has time and again proven his animosity to American interests."
"America must support the IAEA's investigation of Iran's undisclosed nuclear activity and reject any effort to pressure the agency to close the probe before it has complete and credible answers to the questions it has raised."
(Jerusalem Post) Yonah Jeremy Bob -
Former IDF Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Tamir Heyman revealed in December 2021 that Israel assisted with intelligence aspects of the U.S. assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani on January 3, 2020. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Heyman said: "We gave intelligence that incriminated and proved the responsibility of Soleimani for killing Americans. The Americans' view of him was radically altered after they saw the intelligence from us and the level of danger he [continued to] present to Americans."
"The Americans needed Soleimani during the fight against ISIS, but they did not forgive him for the attacks he had carried out against Americans....After ISIS, he rechanneled his violence toward Americans and [created new] national security dangers for America. We gave this [intelligence information] to them. This was the trigger that changed their concept of who Soleimani is."
"They accomplished one of the most successful operations against Iran in the region even to this day. The assassination of Soleimani was a point in which there was a paradigm shift. His successors have not been as effective."
(Gatestone Institute) Amir Taheri -
After 30 years of effort, Iran is now in a position to build nuclear warheads. It has also developed a rudimentary capacity for delivering the bomb to a range of 2,000 km. Those who advocate building the bomb in Iran should tell us which nation is the supposed foe. None of Iran's neighbors are likely to attack it, including the only two, Russia and Pakistan, with nuclear arsenals.
Some mullahs designate Israel as the "foe" to justify building the bomb. Interestingly, none of the problems that nation-states might have with one another - border disputes, competition for raw materials and markets, water-sharing disputes, maltreatment of kith-and-kin, bitter historic memories - exist between Iran and Israel. No Iranian leader, even under the present regime, could rationally explain why Israel should be regarded as Iran's enemy.
The writer was the executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979.
(IMPACT-se) Dr. Eldad J. Pardo -
The Iranian curriculum openly teaches hate. Students are taught that death in battle should be sought. Textbooks educate students in preparation for an endless war in the Middle East. The "Islamic Revolution" is taught as a model for all the countries - people should rise up against their governments. Iran is depicted as being committed to a global struggle that seeks to defend the "oppressed of the world."
The curriculum calls for a total war against Israel until it is completely eradicated. The existence of Israel blocks Iranian efforts to hegemonize the region. Israel's destruction is presented both as an ideal and as a realistic goal.
(Bulwark) Shay Khatiri -
GAMAAN, a Netherlands-based center run by two Iranian political scientists that tracks public attitudes in Iran, reports that 67% of Iranians reject the idea of theocracy, and 72% reject having a religious figure as the head of the state. A 2020 report by the same organization found that only 32% identify as Shi'ite Muslims. (Contrast that with the CIA World Factbook, which reports that 90-95% of the country is Shi'ite.) Nearly half identified as some form of irreligious - none, agnostic, spiritual, or atheist. 7.7% called themselves Zoroastrian.
Iranians used to respect the clerical class. Nowadays, stories in the news are about how pedestrians physically assault random mullahs on the street. Before the Islamic Revolution, Iran had a religious population. Now, it has a theocracy and a population increasingly embracing the non-religious components of its national heritage.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser -
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claimed on August 16 in Berlin that Israel had carried out "50 holocausts" against the Palestinians, which is part of the Palestinian narrative. According to this narrative, there is no Jewish people, and therefore it has no right to its own state. It further claims that there was no history of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel compared to the "ancient indigenous Palestinian people."
As victims of Israel and the West, the narrative continues, Palestinians have the right to act in any way to advance their goals, including terrorism, and their victimizers have no right to criticize them. Presenting Israel's policy toward the Palestinians as a holocaust is part of this concept.
In light of this, the question arises as to why it is so essential for Israel to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas and the PA he heads. The PA exempts Israel from the need to manage education, health, and other governmental and economic services for the Palestinian population. Moreover, security coordination with the PA ensures that its security apparatus does not interfere with Israel's counterterrorism activities and detentions within the PA, returns Israelis in distress in PA territory, and acts against opposition elements that threaten the PA itself, thereby restraining Hamas.
It is claimed that improving the quality of life of Palestinians reduces their inclination to carry out terrorism, although this assumption has no basis. Palestinian terrorism does not stem from feelings of economic distress but from a commitment to the Palestinian narrative.
The writer, director of the project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center, was formerly head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence.
(Newsweek) Bassem Eid -
Sometimes a world leader's toxicity is clear for all to see. Such a moment arrived for the PA's Mahmoud Abbas when he stood alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin and claimed that Israel had committed "50 Holocausts" against the Palestinians. Scholz later tweeted: "I am disgusted by the outrageous remarks made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. For us Germans in particular, any relativization of the singularity of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable."
Abbas was supposed to be the pragmatist, the moderate, compared to his predecessor, Yasser Arafat.
In hindsight, perhaps Abbas' remarks should not have been so shocking. In 1982, Abbas wrote a doctoral thesis at Patrice Lumumba University in Soviet Moscow, titled "The Secret Connection between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement," in which he asserted that under a million Jews had died in the Holocaust; a later 1984 introduction challenged the existence of the Nazi gas chambers.
For those who don't know - for instance, those raised in the PA - the Nazi Third Reich carried out an industrialized genocide of most of Europe's Jews, slaughtering 6 million. Meanwhile, the Palestinian population has increased by nine times since the Partition of the British Mandate in 1947. Yet, today, the mathematically, historically, and ethically challenged Abbas is allowed to masquerade as a moderate statesman. Palestinian culture has been brainwashed by decades of official Holocaust denial and antisemitic incitement. For peace to materialize, a whole new generation of Palestinian leadership must step forward.
The writer is a Jerusalem-based Palestinian political analyst and human rights pioneer.
(Jerusalem Post) Khaled Abu Toameh -
In recent months, Palestinians in the West Bank have returned to the "armed struggle" against Israel. Dozens of gunmen stay awake all night to watch out for soldiers entering their areas. In some instances, when the soldiers don't show up, the gunmen go out searching for them. The gunmen have replaced the Palestinian security forces, who often disappear just before the arrival of the soldiers.
IDF soldiers who carry out nightly incursions into Palestinian villages are usually met with barrages of stones and firebombs. Nowadays, they are almost always met with heavy gunfire. "We have a popular resistance during the day and an armed resistance during the night. The number of young men carrying weapons is increasing every day," said a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah.
The Palestinian Authority does not seem to be capable of - or willing - to confront the gunmen, who enjoy the support of the Palestinian public. Gunmen, especially in the Jenin and Nablus regions, are being armed and funded by Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas. Both Iranian-backed groups seek to push Palestinians in the West Bank toward an armed confrontation with Israel.
Several Fatah gunmen have no problem cooperating with Islamic Jihad and Hamas as long as they are offered money and weapons. The two groups hope that an increase in shooting attacks also undermines the PA's control of the West Bank and encourages some members of the Palestinian security forces to join them in the fight against Israel.
Hamas reported 44 shooting attacks in the West Bank in July and 33 more since the beginning of August.
(National Interest) David May and Zachary Fesen -
The "Palestine 194" campaign is an attempt to achieve Palestinian statehood via UN approval rather than negotiating with Israel. Abbas first mentioned in 2010 his ambition to make Palestine the 194th UN member state. Yet only the UN Security Council can grant approval of full Palestinian membership, keeping Abbas' goal out of reach without American support.
A 2021 poll indicated Abbas would lose to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in presidential elections by a 22-point margin. Rumored Abbas successor Hussein al-Sheikh is even less popular, with only 3% of Palestinians favoring him to succeed Abbas. Hamas has seized on Abbas' plummeting favorability to gain political influence in the West Bank, while calling for Palestinians to "revolt" against the PA. In response, the PA has repeatedly cracked down on West Bank Hamas supporters.
Two decades of Abbas rule have left the Palestinians divided, lacking democratic protections, politically hopeless, and on the precipice of an ugly succession battle. Western governments should make clear to Abbas that Palestine 194 is a dead end.
David May is a senior research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Zachary Fesen is an intern.
(Economist-UK) Once a year or so, the Palestinian president puts out something that resembles a proof-of-life video. At 86, Mahmoud Abbas is the world's fourth-oldest head of state and in the 18th year of a four-year term. He has delegated many of his responsibilities to aides. There have been no direct negotiations with Israel since 2014.
Abbas spends a good chunk of time abroad, at his home in Jordan or visiting foreign leaders. His sons, Tareq and Yasser, run an array of businesses in the West Bank, with interests in everything from tobacco to insurance. They are loathed by most Palestinians.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Amb. Alan Baker -
An Amnesty International report on Aug. 4, 2022, names Ukraine as responsible for the deaths of Ukrainian citizens caused by Russian bombardments. One cannot avoid comparing Amnesty's concern for the protection of civilians in Ukraine and its demonstrated lack of concern about the actions of Palestinian terror groups in Gaza.
While Amnesty calls out Ukraine for allegedly "establishing bases and operating weapons systems in populated residential areas," it curiously refrains from addressing precisely the same phenomenon employed by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
From a perusal of Amnesty International's website and daily media briefings, one perceives a distinct fixation, a plethora of accusations against Israel, as opposed to almost non-existent coverage of the grave humanitarian violations by Palestinian terror groups.
The writer, who heads the international law program at the Jerusalem Center, is former legal counsel to Israel's Foreign Ministry and participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) David Pollock -
According to a Saudi public opinion poll conducted on July 25-August 15, 2022, 59% agree that "We cannot count on the United States these days, so we should look more to Russia and China as partners." 55% say good relations with China, and 52% say good relations with Russia, are important to the country, compared with 40% who say good relations with the U.S. are important. Regarding normalization with Israel, 42% agree that "people who want to have business or sports contacts with Israelis should be allowed to do so." But 57% still reject ties with Israelis.
Speaking in Basel, Switzerland, on Aug. 29, 2022, on the 125th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress, Israeli President Isaac Herzog said:
"Today, 125 years after that formative moment when a handful of pioneering, inspirational Zionist leaders changed human and Jewish history forever here in Basel, the cradle of political Zionism, in the hall where Theodor Herzl opened the First Zionist Congress, I stand before you as the President of the State of Israel, having come from Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the nation-state of the Jewish People, the State of Israel, the fulfillment of the dreams and prayers of so many generations."
"Herzl was Zionism's greatest instigator. He translated Jewish identity into an effective political doctrine, and he opened up the possibility for Jews to experience their identity as an independent political community, as a state."
"Herzl's vision...sought to create a new space for the Jewish People, a space that was at once political, diplomatic, territorial and cultural. A space in which the Jewish People could continue arguing, debating and making decisions about their great dilemmas...but without the fears...of anti-Semitism and persecution...and the fear of assimilation to the point of the erasure of identity, culture and spirituality."
"A year ago...a major social media company had considered...whether the word 'Zionist' should be censored on social media...as a term of abuse....I was appalled because, inconceivably, at no point did anyone suggest that 'Zionist' might actually be a positive term!"
"We must reclaim the term 'Zionism' for ourselves, with our heads held high and our backs straight, as an expression of our own national identity, traditions, hopes, pride, enlightened values, justice and commitment to tikkun olam....This is the mission of our generation."
"From a Jewish and Israeli perspective, Zionism means populating the Land of Israel and building Israeli society; it means...the perpetual pursuit of peace and coexistence with members of all peoples and faiths living in Israel and in the whole Middle East."
"Our generation's Zionism is expressed in its essential contribution to building whole worlds of intellect and culture, across the world;...to extending assistance to people in disaster zones; to providing economic, medical and welfare support for those who need it; to waging an all-out war on hatred and violence."