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Israeli-Turkish Accord: Core of New Lineup vs Iran

By DEBKAfile & VOA News

The reconciliation agreement announced Monday, June 27 for restoring full normalization between Israel and Turkey after six years of animosity will restart intelligence and security cooperation between the two countries and entail joint military exercises, and investments in energy and defense. DEBKAfile's security experts evaluate the deal as offering a valuable and timely increment for Israeli's national interests on eight scores.

  1. It fits neatly into the current joint Saudi-Egyptian bid for Israel to bolster their emerging alliance with Turkey that is designed for drawing a Sunni line against Iran's expansionist moves in the Horn of Africa, the Red Sea, the Straits of Aqaba and in uncomfortable proximity to the Mediterranean shores of Israel and Egypt.

  2. It is designed as the forerunner of a series of interlocking deals. DEBKAfile can disclose that the next bilateral accord expected to be concluded is a reconciliation agreement between Turkey and Egypt for Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi to bury the hatchet. In at least one respect, this one will be modeled on the Turkish deal with Israel: Turkey is committed not to let Hamas act against Israel from its soil and, by the same token, not to permit Hamas' parent and El-Sisi's archenemy, the Muslim Brotherhood, operate from Turkey.

  3. In this regard, Egypt and Turkey will maintain intelligence cooperation. 4. The bilateral intelligence mechanisms to be set up between Turkey and Israel and Turkey and Egypt will pool their input on Iran.

  1. This key aspect of the renewed cooperation between Ankara and Jerusalem lends it a military-intelligence dimension rather than that of a diplomatic protocol. This dimension finds expression in the decision to devolve its implementation not on the holders of political office but the heads of the military-intelligence services of the two countries.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkot, to whom the head of military intelligence defers, will in fact be in charge of these exchanges, as well as the joint military exercises which are in the active planning stage. Realizing he had been passed over for this important facet of cooperation with Turkey, Israel's new defense minister Avigdor Lieberman announced he was opposed to the deal. This was treated as no more than a token protest that will not impede it.

  1. Jordan has been slated as another member of the new alliance. King Abdullah is currently in the process of quietly dismantling the Muslim Brotherhood networks in his kingdom. Many of is members belong to the Palestinian Hamas. 7. Under the agreement, Israel and Turkey will begin formal talks to build a gas pipeline between the two countries, through which Israel might sell its natural gas, with Turkish assistance, to Europe.

DEBKAfile rates this provision as fundamental to the entire process and of cardinal importance to both their interests. Israel is in need of a major client to boost the development of its offshore gas fields, whereas Turkey wants to be that client and, at the same time, Russia is after a piece of the energy bonanza and most of all a contract to build the pipeline to Europe. Up until recently, Israel put up a keep out sign for Moscow, mainly under pressure from Washington. But in recent months the conversations between Binyamin Netanyahu and Vladimir Putin have progressed into an inclusive strategic dialogue on Middle East issues, especially on Syria. This opened the door to a Russian role being broached in the export of Israeli gas.

  1. This role took another step forward Monday. On the table now is Israeli-Turkish-Russian military and intelligence collaboration for securing the Israeli offshore gas in the Mediterranean – a prospect that brought the Turkish president to finally apologize for his air force downing a Russian Su-24M bomber over the Syrian-Turkish border on Nov. 24, 2015.

For the sake of these promising relations, Turkey was ready to offer compensation in the case of the dead pilot, just as Israel agreed to pay compensation for the nine Turks killed in a clash with Israeli troops during an illicit attempt too breach Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israeli-Turkish-Russian cooperation and goodwill for their mutual benefit on the gas issue may also generate joint efforts in other spheres too.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Turkey and Israel would restore their ambassadors as soon as possible. The re-establishment of full diplomatic relations follows more than a year of secret negotiations. Relations collapsed when Israeli commandos killed the Turkish activists who tried to sail to Gaza, which was under a naval blockade in 2010. Under the deal, Yildirim said Israel will pay families of the dead activists $20 million in compensation.

Netanyahu, speaking simultaneously in Rome, said the naval blockade of Gaza would continue. He said it is vital to preventing arms delivery. Ankara had been demanding Israel lift the embargo in return for full diplomatic relations.

Yildirim said under the agreement Turkey would be allowed to deliver aid to Gaza, through Israel. He said the first ship loaded with more than 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid will leave for the Israeli port of Ashdod on Friday. He also said Turkey would build a 200-bed hospital in Gaza.

Istanbul-based political consultant Atilla Yesilada of Global Source Partners said powerful forces of mutual interest are driving the deal. "There are political as well as economic reasons, obviously the dynamics of the Syria war have compelled both Israel and Turkey for a reconciliation," he said. "Israel was afraid that its border with Syria would be occupied by radical fundamentalist organizations." Israel and Turkey were once allies whose relationship extended to close military ties.

Undercover Cop Busts Major Haredi Drugs, Weapons Ring


An undercover ultra-Orthodox police officer single-handedly busted drug and gun-running networks in two of Israel's major haredi communities. The agent, who spoke on the record but whose identity has been hidden for his own protection, infiltrated criminal networks in Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem's insular Mea Shearim neighborhood, leading to the arrests of 45 drug-dealers, gun-runners and other criminals.

After receiving reams of intelligence concerning criminal activity in those areas - neighborhoods where many residents are often hesitant to cooperate with authorities - police decided to launch an undercover sting operation to flush out and arrest the criminals.

A religious, yeshiva-educated Jerusalemite was selected two years ago for the job, which spanned 18 months of intense, sometimes dangerous work infiltrating a complex ring of Jewish and Arab criminals. He was briefed extensively and coached on all the details of the criminal underworld, including special slang and other nuances - ignorance of which could have potentially blown his cover.

Police describe the agent as "a good kid" from a religious family who prior to his mission had no ties whatsoever to any criminality, but whose dedication to the job exceeded all expectations. He first infiltrated a criminal network in Mea Shearim, gaining the trust of a wide range of gangsters and managing to procure drugs including marijuana, hashish, ecstasy and cocaine, as well as a stolen car for good measure.

The agent also bought illegal guns from two Arab workers, who he discovered were Palestinians from the Hebron area working illegally in Israeli sovereign territory. He described how there were two very different sides to Mea Shearim - where he himself spent much time during his yeshiva years. "The Mea Shearim of the daytime, and the Mea Shearim of the night."

Following his success in Jerusalem, the police force then transferred him to Beit Shemesh, where he soon uncovered another major criminal network in the majority-haredi neighborhood of Ramat Beit Shemesh.

There, he succeeded in purchasing an even larger quantity of drugs - "tens of kilos," police say - at the cost of hundreds of thousands of shekels. he also procured an array of weapons and ammunition including two Karl Gustav submachine guns, an M-16 assault rifle which investigators believe was stolen from an IDF base, and ammunition.

In total, he succeeded in incriminating 60 drug and weapons dealers, 45 of whom have already been indicted. Police say more arrests and indictments will be filed soon. Among the suspects are two minors aged 15 and 17, and a resident of southern Israel who was allowed to study in a Jerusalem yeshiva as an alternative to jail time for drug offenses.

Police have hailed the agent's incredible dedication and bravery. "We are talking about a very complex investigation, in areas which are hostile and suspicious towards the police," Edri said. "The agent's professional training by experienced detectives, along with the agent's ability to learn, resourcefulness and faith in justice, helped incriminated 60 suspects and distance them from the general public, for the sake of the security of the residents of the Mea Shearim and Ramat Beit Shemesh neighborhoods, and the residents of all of Jerusalem."

The agent himself responded with humility, thanking "all those who accompanied me throughout this period." He added that he was confident his actions would bring a greater sense of peace and security to the law-abiding public, and added that his identity as a religious Jew in great part motivated him to undertake such a dangerous mission. "As it says in the book of Devarim (Deuteronomy): 'And you shall purge the evil from your midst.' I hope that we will learn to do good and purge the evil from among us for a better society."

The Jewish World May Actually be 5-10 Million People Bigger


One of the more tantalizing mysteries of Jewish history is the possibility of the discovery of lost Jews. Since the time of Sennacherib in the 7th century BCE, the question of lost Jews has been one that has received a lot of attention. Today, with the return of Jews from all over the world to the State of Israel, the subject has never been more relevant.

According to various genetic/DNA studies conducted over the past decade, 20% of men in the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) have Jewish genetic ancestry. In Brazil, estimates are that 5-10 million people are descendants of so-called Bnei Anousim - descendants of Jews who were forcibly converted to Christianity. This phenomenon spans the world, potentially reaching millions more.

Two organizations have dedicated themselves to the discovery of lost Jews from the Iberian Peninsula, Shavei Israel and Reconectar. Arutz Sheva spoke to both organizations about the work that they are doing to reconnect Jews of Spanish and Portuguese descent to their Jewish roots.

Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based nonprofit, has launched a new initiative to help Spanish and Portuguese descendants of Bnei Anousim reconnect with their Jewish Heritage, while Reconectar, which has an Israeli base but is mainly located in South and Central America, has an ongoing outreach liaison program with whom members of the community can contact in order to learn more about their heritage.

Michael Freund, Founder and Director of Shavei Israel, told Arutz Sheva about the challenges of discovering who is a descendant of the Bnei Anousim. "More than five centuries after Portuguese Jewry was compelled to convert to Catholicism, there are of course many challenges to identifying people with a Bnei Anousim background. There are some who have family trees stretching back over the centuries which prove that their ancestors only married among themselves down through the generations, but in most cases it involves more detective work."

Ashley Perry, the Director of Reconectar, likewise described the detective work needed. "There are a lot of clues that we need to uncover. People may not have a heritage stating that they were Jewish, but their name may signify it, and some of the customs they keep may point to it. We do not have a 100% answer yes or no, which is why if people want to fully return to Judaism, they have to undergo a conversion, but according to a response published by Rabbi Soloveitchik, they do not need to say a blessing on the conversion."

In an effort to help those who may think that they are descended from Jewish ancestry, Shavei Israel has published an online book that will help people who think they are descendants, identify some of the tell-tale signs. The unprecedented 109-page guide is aimed at assisting the millions of people in Brazil, Portugal and elsewhere who may have a long-lost Jewish lineage reconnect to their roots.

According to press release by Shavei Israel "the book covers all the major questions someone at the beginning of their process of Jewish discovery might have." One of the primary aims of the book Freund said "is to provide people with the tools they need to begin assessing their roots by looking at family customs and family names." These as well as DNA advances can help provide clues to one's Jewish ancestry.

"I want to get people to start asking questions and digging into their past in the hopes that this will encourage them to uncover their possible Jewish connection. We are at the beginning of an historic turning point, one that will see millions of people throughout the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking world reconnecting with their Jewish roots," Freund said.

When asked why it is so important for the about the return of the Bnei Anousim to return to Judaism Freund responded by saying: "The Bnei Anousim are our brothers and sisters. Their ancestors were taken from us, they were essentially kidnapped from the Jewish people. And yet with remarkable courage and determination, many continued to practice Judaism in secret down through the generations, despite the persecution of the Inquisition. We owe it to them and their ancestors – and to ourselves! – to bring back as many of their descendants as possible."

"The Bnei Anousim are unique because of the breadth and scope of the phenomenon, which can be found in just about every Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking country around the world. In addition, the story of the Bnei Anousim is one of heroism in the face of tragedy, and determination in the face of disaster, which is what makes it so inspiring and compelling."

Freund pointed out that the return of the Bnei Anousim to the Jewish people was foretold. "Don Isaac Abarbanel, the great rabbi and financier who was himself expelled from Spain in 1492, writes in his commentary to the Books of Deuteronomy and Isaiah that a time will come when the Anousim will one day return to the Jewish people. We are witnessing the beginning of the fulfillment of his vision, and it behooves us to roll up our sleeves and do everything we can to help the Bnei Anousim to return to the Jewish people. Doing so will strengthen us qualitatively and quantitatively, spiritually and demographically.

"The numbers of descendants of Bnei Anousim is vast. We believe that the total number exceeds tens of millions of people; their self-discovery as Jews can greatly impact and enrich the international Jewish community," says Freund. "Our mission is to support anyone who is in search of their Jewish ancestry and we are thrilled with the outpouring of interest, especially at a time when we are witnessing a resurgence in European anti-Semitism."

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