Daily News Alert from Israel

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Prepared for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Updated: 10 min 5 sec ago

Israel Arrests Dual U.S.-Israeli Citizen Linked to Threats on U.S. Jewish Centers

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:00
(AP-Newsday) Josef Federman - Israeli police on Thursday arrested a 19-year-old Jewish man who holds dual Israeli and American citizenship, who they said was the main suspect in a wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the U.S., appearing to crack a case that has sent a chill through the American Jewish community. Israeli police described the suspect as a hacker. "He's the guy who was behind the JCC threats," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. The man is also suspected of placing threatening phone calls to Australia, New Zealand and within Israel. Police also said he had disrupted a Delta Airlines flight at New York's JFK airport in 2015. Israel's national police chief Roni Alsheich said, "This does not bring honor to the State of Israel, of course. But I think it does bring respect to Israel's police."

Israeli Police Arrest Israeli-American for Bomb Threats Against Jewish Centers

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:00
(Ha'aretz) Yaniv Kubovich - The cyberattack unit of Israel's fraud squad arrested the Jewish suspect on Thursday in wake of information it received from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law-enforcement authorities abroad. The FBI found that the threats had originated from Israel. Using innovative technology, the police were able to identify the suspect's home. Five computers were confiscated as well as antennas he used to access other people's networks and to commit the crimes undetected. Police are accusing him of extortion through threats and of false reporting, spreading panic. The suspect has lived in Israel many years. The army refused to draft him after finding him unfit for service.

The Slip-Up that Caught the Jewish Center Bomb Caller

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:00
(Daily Beast) Kevin Poulsen - Israeli police arrested Michael Kaydar, 19, at his home in Ashkelon on Thursday for a wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the U.S. He employed an array of technologies to make himself virtually untraceable for months, but one careless slip-up led police to his door. The bomb threats come in six separate waves. But on at least one occasion, he neglected to route his Internet connection through a proxy server, leaving behind a real IP address in the server logs. The address was in Israel, where police traced it to a WiFi access point that Kaydar had accessed through a giant antenna pointed out a window in his home.

London Attacker Khalid Masood Escaped from MI5's Radar

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:00
(Telegraph-UK) Gordon Rayner - The terrorist who murdered four people in Westminster was named by Scotland Yard as British-born Muslim convert Khalid Masood, 52, who had a string of criminal convictions for assault and had spent time in jail where he is thought to have been radicalized. He was investigated by MI5 for "violent extremism" but was ruled out as a threat by security services before being "re-radicalized." Masood had been "hanging out" with would-be jihadis who wanted to travel to fight abroad, a U.S. government source said.

U.S. Senators Move to Tighten Sanctions on Iran

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:00
(Reuters) Patricia Zengerle - Iran would face tighter U.S. sanctions over ballistic missile launches and other non-nuclear activities under a bill announced on Thursday by a bipartisan group of seven Republican and seven Democratic senators, echoing a harder line on Tehran espoused by President Donald Trump. The bill would set mandatory sanctions for anyone involved with Iran's ballistic missile program, and it would apply sanctions to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said the new bill had been written so as not to interfere with the Iran nuclear accord. The bill's lead sponsors include Republican Senator Bob Corker, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, and Ben Cardin, the panel's ranking Democrat.

Hamas Leader Haniyeh: "There Will Be No State Without the Whole of Palestine"

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:00
(Anadolu-Turkey) Hidayah al-Saidi - Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, speaking on Wednesday in Gaza City, vowed to pursue resistance. "The accumulation of force in Gaza is not meant to only defend the strip, but also to defend Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque," he said. "Gaza is part of Palestine and there will be no Palestinian state without Gaza and there will be no state without the whole of Palestine."

Senate Confirms David Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to Israel

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:00
(Washington Post) Karoun Demirjian - The Senate on Thursday confirmed David M. Friedman to be the next ambassador to Israel in a 52-to-46 vote. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted, "New U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman will be warmly welcomed as President Trump's representative and as a close friend of Israel."

Palestinian Activist Who Didn't Disclose Israel Bombings Will Leave U.S.

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:00
(AP) Rasmea Odeh, a Chicago Palestinian activist who didn't disclose her time in an Israeli prison when she got U.S. citizenship, has agreed to plead guilty and leave the country. Odeh was convicted of two bombings in Israel in 1969. Israel released Odeh in a prisoner exchange in 1979.

Texas Senate Approves Bill Opposed to Boycott of Israel

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:00
(Austin American-Statesman) Chuck Lindell - The Texas Senate on Wednesday approved legislation banning state contracts and investment in companies that boycott Israel, on a 25-4 vote. Texas should not do business with companies that participate in the "BDS" movement, which seeks to isolate Israel and disrupt its economy, said the bill's author, Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe).

U.S., Israel Conclude Round of Talks in Washington

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:00
(Prime Minister of Israel-Facebook) After a round of high-level talks between the Trump administration and an Israeli delegation, a joint statement issued Thursday stated: "Senior-level United States and Israeli delegations concluded today four days of intensive discussions, with a particular focus on concrete, near-term measures to improve the overall climate in order to advance the prospects for a genuine and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians." "The issues the two delegations discussed are exceptionally complicated, and the fact that both governments dedicated such senior delegations for nearly a full week of talks reflects the close cooperation between the two countries and the importance both assign to this vital task." "A principal focus of the discussions was specific measures that could have a meaningful impact on the economic environment in the West Bank and Gaza, allowing the Palestinians to more fully realize their economic potential. The Israelis welcomed United States interest in continuing to play a facilitating role in advancing issues regarding electricity and water in ways that will benefit both Israel and the Palestinians and also move the Palestinians toward self-sustainability in these crucial areas." "The two delegations also discussed Israeli settlement construction....The United States delegation reiterated President Trump's concerns regarding settlement activity in the context of moving towards a peace agreement. The Israeli delegation made clear that Israel's intent going forward is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes those concerns into consideration. The talks were serious and constructive, and they are ongoing."

U.S., Israel Conclude Four Days of Talks

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:00
(Wall Street Journal) Felicia Schwartz - Trump administration officials have denied reports that the Israelis rejected a proposal for a partial settlement freeze. "The notion that Israelis have rebuffed proposals...none of it is correct," a senior Trump administration official said. "Nobody is asking for a freeze here." "Overall, it's about how do you create an environment and a climate that allows for resuming the direct negotiations, which are the key for progress to be made," said the official. "In order for there to be a peace deal that is done, it has to be done in direct talks between the two parties, and both of those parties deciding how they're going to pursue this, the shape of an agreement, and what compromises they are willing to make and how this all will be hammered out."

Palestinian Killed While Throwing Firebombs at IDF Troops in West Bank

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:00
(Ynet News) A Palestinian was killed and three wounded Thursday after several Palestinians approached the Israeli community of Beit El from Jalazone in the West Bank and hurled firebombs at IDF troops, prompting them to return fire.

PA Leader Contradicts "Common Knowledge" about Settlement Blocs

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:00
(Jerusalem Post) David Brinn - Along with a contingent of Jerusalem Post editors and reporters, I was in the Palestinian city of Jericho to meet with PA strongman Jibril Rajoub, who has been part of the Israeli-Palestinian landscape for decades. Gracious, hospitable and displaying fluency in English and Hebrew, Rajoub eloquently explained the Palestinian view. He also spoke of both sides having to make "painful concessions" before a lasting solution could be achieved. I asked him to expand on his "painful concessions" statement. Identifying myself as a resident of nearby Ma'aleh Adumim, I pointed out that the common wisdom is that all sides realized that the large settlement blocs like Ma'aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion and Ariel would remain part of Israel in a two-state solution. Rajoub answered by raising his voice and saying absolutely not, all settlements were "a malignant cancer." If it is indeed common knowledge that the settlement blocs are a given in a final-status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, then Rajoub must have not received the memo. Given the opportunity to break away from the Palestinian intransigence of the past and acknowledge the inevitability of facts on the ground, Rajoub retreated to the tired slogans of the past. The writer is the managing editor of the Jerusalem Post.

Mahmoud Abbas Against Freedom of Expression

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:00
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Yoni Ben Menachem - Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is no different from any other ruler in an Arab country. This is another dictator who knows how to suppress his opponents using various pretexts. In recent weeks, Abbas' security forces have been working to locate hundreds of Palestinian youths who participated in conferences organized by his rival, Mohammad Dahlan, for Fatah activists. Ten were transferred to administrative detention, accused of attempting to cooperate with Egyptian intelligence to overthrow Abbas. Gen. Majed Faraj heads Palestinian General Intelligence, an intelligence apparatus that works to locate Abbas' critics in the media and social networks. Journalists have been arrested for allegedly cursing and denouncing the PA and Abbas. At Abbas' request, the PA has prepared a "blacklist" of all activists who criticize him on Facebook and live in the U.S., Europe, and Arab countries. On March 9, 2017, the Prime Minister and Minister of Justice, Rami Hamdallah, sent a letter to Gen. Ziad al-Harih, head of PA Preventive Security, instructing him to step up oversight and monitoring of the accounts of people on social networks that "incite against our institutions." Palestinians, who live near Israel and see Israeli democracy close up, understand that they will be forced to live under a dictatorship in a Palestinian state if it is established. The writer, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television, is a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center.

Israel's "Military Occupation" of the West Bank Ended Long Ago

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:00
(JNS.org) Stephen M. Flatow - Despite all the talk about Israel's "military occupation" in the West Bank, in fact, the Israeli military governor of the territories left long ago. The Israeli army was withdrawn by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, 22 years ago. In Ramallah, Bethlehem and Nablus you won't see any Israeli soldiers. Instead, you'll see Palestinian policemen and security forces. In the areas where more than 98% of the Palestinian Arabs reside, it is the Palestinian Authority, not Israel, which is the ruling power. The mayors are Palestinians. The judges in the courts are Palestinians. So are the folks who guard the jails, staff the hospitals and teach in the schools. There are no Israelis to be found anywhere. The writer, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.

Good Schools Aren't the Secret to Israel's High-Tech Boom

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:00
(Wall Street Journal) Naftali Bennett - I am often asked how a country the size of New Jersey became a global high-tech force. Israel lists 93 companies on Nasdaq - more than India, Japan and South Korea combined. In 2016 investors sank $6 billion into Israel's more than 6,000 startups. During my two years as minister of education I have come to understand that our secret weapon is a parallel education system that operates alongside the formal one, where our children learn to become entrepreneurs. The first component is our heritage of debate - it's in the Jewish DNA. For generations Jews have studied the Talmud, our legal codex, in pairs instead of listening to a lecture, engaging in debate. They analyze issues from all directions, finding different solutions. Multiple answers to a single question are common. The second component is the peer-teaches-peer model of Jewish youth organizations. The third component is the army. Because we are constantly defending ourselves from Islamic terror, young Israeli adults must literally make life-or-death decisions every day. Real-life tasks show young adults how much they are capable of achieving. The writer, a former high-tech CEO, is Israel's minister of education.

The Greek-Israeli Strategic Relationship

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:00
(Ekathimerini-Greece) Alexis Papachelas - The participation of two Syriza party deputies in the 2012 Gaza flotilla seems like a distant memory. Greece and Israel are now conducting joint military drills on a regular basis and they are cooperating closely on the security level. The Jewish lobby in Washington is acting to set up meetings between Greek officials and the Trump administration and is lobbying in favor of Greece. It is all very different compared to the days when Israel and Turkey acted in unison. The Greek political system has adopted a dogma of close strategic cooperation with Israel and appears to be sticking to it regardless of what government is in power. The strategy has been upheld by three successive administrations, while the current one is taking the whole thing a step forward. We have a lot to gain from Israel besides security. The two peoples have a lot in common, but we also differ in two key respects: Greeks are not as good at working together as a group; also, we do not have the professionalism and the drive that is inspired in the Israelis by their fight for survival.

Book Review: The Story of Hebrew

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:00
(Wall Street Journal) Benjamin Balint - When I took some American visitors to the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, my guests were struck not so much by the parchments themselves as by the group of Israeli fourth-graders reading aloud from texts that were two millennia old. In The Story of Hebrew, Lewis Glinert, a professor at Dartmouth College, aims to track the fate of the Hebrew language. The era of biblical Hebrew reaches as far back as the second millennium before the Christian era. Spoken Hebrew seems to have died around 200 CE, more than a century after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. But throughout the diaspora, Jews used written Hebrew, which would flourish as a medium of cultural continuity. In the 19th century, Eastern European cultural Zionists brought about a rebirth of Hebrew, an achievement, Glinert writes, "without precedent in linguistic and sociopolitical history." For pragmatists, resurrecting a bookish tongue that lacked words for tomato, theater, microscope or fun seemed either ridiculous or inconceivable. Even the father of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, envisioned a Jewish state of German speakers. Yet the history-hallowed language returned to its native soil by the sheer will of pioneers like Eliezer Ben-Yehuda (1858-1922), the author of a 16-volume dictionary of Hebrew usage.

How Barn Owls Are Helping to Bring Peace to the Middle East

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:00
(Independent-UK) Ian Johnston - Thirty years ago, after farmers near Beit She'an in the Hula Valley in Israel realized that poison used to control rodents was killing the local barn owl population, some 100 Israeli Jews, Jordanians, Palestinians and Israeli Arabs began to collaborate to help the barn owls. Professor Alexandre Roulin, of Lausanne University in Switzerland, said: "Initially we started this project for the barn owls. This was not for peace-building or reconciliation. The idea was to solve an ecological problem. What we realized is once we met with all these people...we realized, wow, these people really become friends. When you have an issue people have to solve, nothing to do with religion, tradition or culture, people really agree to be together." He said the project to save the barn owls had essentially given Palestinians, Jordanians, Israeli Arabs and Israel Jews a common cause.

Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians Join Forces in Earthquake-Prone Jordan Valley

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 22:00
(Jerusalem Post) Judy Siegel-Itzkovich - With Israel's border area with Jordan at high risk for earthquakes, Israeli institutions are collaborating with the Jordanian Red Crescent and Hebron's Greenland Association to train local residents as first responders, in a joint project conceived by Ben-Gurion University, the European Union and Magen David Adom. First-response teams throughout the region will be prepared to assist one another in case of an emergency. Prof. Limor Aharonson-Daniel, Ben-Gurion University's deputy rector for international academic relations, said: "The collaboration, which began with training the first Jordanian paramedics a decade ago, continues with the establishment of local emergency-response teams over the past three years....Above all, the project has sparked personal relationships and friendships that prove that regional collaboration is indeed possible."

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