Newsletter : 18fx0806.txt
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Abbas to Dissolve Palestinian Authority, Revoke Recognition of Israel Urges
Hamas to Join Harsh New Line
The Israeli security cabinet meeting Sunday, Aug. 5, resolved not to revise its
counter-terror policy for Gaza in response to the UN-Egyptian truce plan. The statement
the cabinet issued: "The IDF is prepared for any scenario" means that an effort
will be made for now to avoid triggering a major conflagration by an escalated response to
the Hamas' kite-cum-balloon offensive.
The ministers acted on the advice of the IDF chief Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkot, who proposed
continuing the measured policy of restraint, in light of reports coming in from Gaza City
that most Hamas leaders were themselves keen on a ceasefire and the opening of the border
crossings to Israel and Egypt and for that reason would let their arson campaign peter
Furthermore, the broad plan, advanced by the UN emissary and Egypt for a long-term truce
in Gaza, with provisions for alleviating the population's hardships under Hamas rule, has
collapsed after less than a week. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen)
not only vetoed the entire project, he went a lot further; he adopted an extreme
rejectionist position against Israel and is urging Hamas to come aboard. He argues that
neither the UN nor Egypt should determine the fate of the Gaza Strip, but only the
Abbas' first step has been to encourage Hamas to continue its assaults on Israel and not
accept a ceasefire. It is the first time that the PA leader has openly allied himself with
the rival Hamas' March of Return and terror by incendiary kites and balloons. His next
step will be to declare the Palestinian Authority dissolved, followed by the suspension of
Palestinian recognition of Israel and the annulment of the 1993 Oslo interim peace
accords. In view of the hardening of the Palestinian anti-Israel line, Israel's policy of
restraint and containment of terror may prove to be untenable.
Arab Media: Syrian Scientist Killed in Mysterious Blast
By Reuters and Israel Hayom
A top Syrian scientist linked to the development of ?chemical weapons was killed in a
bombing over the weekend, ?Arab media reported Sunday. According to the pro-Syrian
government newspaper al-Watan, Aziz Azbar, head ?of the Scientific Research and Studies
Center ?in Masyaf, in northwest Syria, was killed along with ?his driver on Saturday night
when a bomb attached to ?their car exploded.? The incident was not confirmed by any
official ?Syrian source. ? ?
The deaths were reported by a number of Syrian and ?Lebanese news outlets. The U.K.-based
Syrian ?Observatory for Human Rights also reported of the ?incident, as did several
websites linked to the ?Syrian army.? The Observatory for Human Rights ?said Azbar was
?close to both Syrian President Bashar Assad and the ?Iranian regime.?
It is believed Tehran is using the Masyaf? facility ?to develop and produce weapons, the
group said. The Scientific Research and Studies Center has been ?the target of at least
two airstrikes ?attributed to Israel, including one in late April, in which several
Iranian officers were killed. Western officials have long associated the center ??with the
?production of chemical weapons and Iranian ??missile development efforts. ?
What Could a US-Iran Meeting Mean for Israel?
By Daniel Krygier (Commentary)
US President Donald Trump recently offered to meet Iran's President Rouhani without any
preconditions. What would be the purpose of such a meeting? What would be the potential
impact on Israel and the wider Middle East?
Like Israel, President Trump has been a strong critic of the Obama-led nuclear deal in
2015. At the time, the official purpose of the deal was to moderate the Iranian regime's
policies through financial enticement. As Israel feared, the opposite happened.
The well-being of the Iranian people was never a priority for the Islamist regime in
Tehran. Instead, the infusion of billions of dollars from abroad was used by the ayatollah
regime to escalate its aggressive expansionism against Israel and the Sunni Arab world.
Unlike Obama, Trump appears to share Prime Minister Netanyahu's view that no deal is
better than a bad deal. This conviction led to Washington's decision to withdraw from the
nuclear deal in May 2018. However, Trump has also indicated that he is prepared to
negotiate a new deal with Iran.
Obama's Iran deal was dangerous because it undermined Israel's and America's security.
Tehran sensed Obama's desperation to get a deal at almost any price and exploited it. The
Iranian regime got plenty of cash without being forced to change its aggressive conduct.
It is highly unlikely that Trump will sign a new Iran deal that undermines Washington's
and Jerusalem's security interests. The current US President has showed willingness to
talk to foes like North Korea. However, Trump has also indicated that he is not afraid to
walk away from a bad deal.
Neither Israel nor the United States can change the militant ideology of the Iranian
regime. Only regime change can address that issue. However, financial pressures on Iran
will undermine Tehran's ability to threaten Israel and the Sunni world. Iran's economy is
weak and there is growing domestic opposition in Iran to Islamist regime's costly foreign
Economic sanctions on Iran will increase the unpopular Islamist regime's vulnerability at
home. Trump and Netanyahu have both reached out directly to the Iranian people, telling
them that they deserve a better future. Trump could offer the Iranian regime certain
financial incentives in return for withdrawing its forces from places like Syria, Lebanon,
Iraq and Yemen.
The right mix of carrots and sticks could turn the Iranian people into an active ally of
Israel and the United States. Financial pressures could force the Iranian regime to choose
between staying in power or endangering its future through its continued aggression
against Israel and other US allies.
Time is not on the side of the Islamist regime. US sanctions, Israeli military operations
against Iranian targets and widespread dissatisfaction at home, gives the ayatollah regime
an increasingly limited shelf-life.
Destroying Israel has been a strategic goal of the ayatollah regime since its inception in
1979. However, when forced to choose between its own survival and continuing to threaten
the Jewish state, Tehran should think twice before rejecting any offer from President
Five-Year Drought Raises Questions over Israel's Water Strategy
By Israel Hayom
For years, public service announcements warned Israelis to save water: Take shorter
showers. Plant resilient gardens. Conserve. Then Israel invested heavily in desalination
technology and declared the problem solved having tapped into the abundant waters
of the Mediterranean Sea.
The once ubiquitous conservation warnings have vanished. Now, a five-year drought is
challenging that strategy, as farmers struggle and the country's most important bodies of
water are shrinking. It's a confounding situation for a country that places itself on the
forefront of desalination technology in an arid region, where water is a key geostrategic
issue that has its own clauses in peace agreements.
"Nobody expected five years of drought in a row, so despite our desalination capacity,
it's still a very, very grave situation," said National Infrastructure, Energy and Water
Minister Yuval Steinitz.
Some say Israel's technological advantage may not be enough to overcome the forces of
nature. Situated in the heart of the Middle East, Israel is in one of the driest regions
on earth, traditionally relying on a short rainy season each winter to replenish its
Years of decreased rainfall have reduced the Sea of Galilee, Israel's main natural water
source, to some of its lowest recorded levels, and Israel has stopped pumping water from
it to its national system. The current drought has also dried out some tributaries that
feed into the Jordan River, which flows south into the Sea of Galilee then squiggles 360
kilometers (220 miles) to the lowest place on Earth, the Dead Sea.
The biblical bodies of water are crucial to the survival and stability of Israel, Jordan
and the Palestinian territories, but they are increasingly drying up, largely due to
climate change, growing populations and the greater use of water for agriculture.
In a bid to achieve water security, Israel has opened five desalination plants since 2005
and plans to expand that effort in the coming years. Roughly 40% of Israel's
drinking-quality water now comes from desalination and is expected to hit 70% in 2050.
When the drought was in its infancy, Israel greeted it with a shrug, pointing to its
massive investment in desalination. But the tone has changed recently, and over the last
few months a televised ad has reprised the plea to save water because rehashing a
tagline from previous campaigns "Israel is drying up."
Critics say water conservation a crucial measure in semi-arid Israel has
been sidelined in favor of desalination. "Israel definitely put conservation on the back
burner," said Sarit Caspi-Oron, director of the water department at the advocacy group
Israel Union for Environmental Defense. "As soon as desalination plants were up and
running there was this false sense of security."
She noted that this sense of security led to the increase of water consumption.
"Desalination doesn't make up for everything, and when groundwater is suffering from
drought and the Sea of Galilee is suffering from drought, you need to conserve,"
Caspi-Oron said. In the past, Israel has imposed taxes on water use during droughts and
has promoted the use of water-saving devices. But there are no plans so far to pursue the
measures this time around.
Desalinated water reaches Israeli households in the country's most populated region along
the coast as well as some inland residents. But in northern Israel, residents still rely
on rapidly shrinking natural sources. So far, their intake has not been limited.
Once bubbling brooks in Israel's north have been reduced to a trickle. Officials at the
historic Tel Dan nature reserve say the springs there will be dry within two months, which
could negatively affect tourism in the region.
Among the first to feel the drought's sting have been farmers in the Galilee region.
Israel has imposed a limit on the amount of water they can use, which has threatened an
already tenuous livelihood and forced many to rethink their crops.
Farmer Ofer Moskovitz can typically grow more than one crop each year, but for the first
time he has chosen not to plant his wheat crops and is only growing avocados. Even that
change is proving a challenge. "If I don't water the avocado trees for one day they start
getting weak. If I don't water them for a year, 20 years would go down the drain," he
said. The existing infrastructure makes it impossible to deliver desalinated water to
farmers in the north, said Caspi-Oron.
There are other reasons not to bank on desalination. The desalination plants require
immense amounts of energy and are costly to build and operate. Relying so heavily on
desalination also creates a potential security risk, as an attack on the plants could
potentially knock out large portions of the country's water supply.
Still, Israel is keeping the technology a priority. The government passed a plan in June
to tackle the drought, with its first objective to increase the amount of desalinated
water. It also called for springs and tributaries to be rehabilitated and plans to add
desalinated water to the Sea of Galilee starting next year, despite criticism from some
that this could disturb the balance of minerals in the lake.
Israel is optimistic that the drought can be addressed with a little ingenuity. The
drought "will be solved, there is no question," Steinitz, the energy minister, said. "This
area is not new for us. We simply resume our historic tradition to focus and find
developing water solutions."
Tens of Thousands of Druze and Their Supporters Rally Against Nation-State Law
Tens of thousands of Israel's Druze community and their supporters rallied in Tel Aviv
against the controversial nation-state law. Israeli media reported that at least 50,000
and up to 90,000 participated in the Druze-led rally on Saturday night in Rabin Square.
Many protesters carried the Druze flag and the Tel Aviv city hall was lit up in the colors
of the Druze flag.
"We're all proud of the democratic and free State of Israel, where human dignity and
freedom are the supreme values. We've never doubted the Jewish identity of the state. We
recognized its Jewish character with full equality for its non-Jewish citizens," Druze
religious leader Sheikh Mowafak Tarif said at the rally.
"No one can teach us what sacrifice is, and no one can preach to us about loyalty and
devotionthe military cemeteries are a testament to that. We are determined to fight
alongside you for the state's character and the right to live in it with equality and
dignity," Tarif, who received the honor of lighting a torch at last year's national
Independence Day ceremony, said. "Despite our unconditional loyalty to the state, the
state doesn't see us as equals. The cry of the Druze community is real. They feel
justifiably that someone seeks to take their Israeliness away."
Tarif also said that he sincerely believes that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has
had several meetings with Druze leaders since the passage of the law, and who appointed a
high-level committee to recommend and implement actions to cement the position of the
Druze in Israel society, plans to fix the damage caused by the law.
"We came here to tell the entire Israeli nation, with all of the Israeli people, that this
country is for all of us," retired Brig. Gen. Amal Assad told The Associated Press. "We
were born here, we will die here, we love this country, we have defended it, and we will
continue to live here together Jews, Arabs, Druze, Circassians, Bedouins, as equal
brothers. We are all Israelis."
Druze, unlike other Arabs who make Israel their home, are subject to the mandatory draft.
Several Druze servicemen in the last week have announced that they would resign from the
military due to the passage of the law.
Ahead of the rally, 40 former Israeli diplomats released a statement against the
nation-state law, saying that they are "embarrassed" and "pained" by its passage. "During
our years of service for the State of Israel, we could always look world nations in the
eye and tell them with an honest heart that Israel, being the only democracy in the Middle
East, is indeed a proud Jewish state, but one run in the spirit of Israel's prophets and
upholding equality between its different components, including by maintaining Arabic as an
official language alongside Hebrew," the statement said.
"Being proud of the right we were given to represent the State of Israel, defend it
publicly, promote its interests, its security and our government's policy, and act to
advance science, the economy and culture in Israel, we express our protest against the
legislation that excludes the minorities among usArabs, Muslims, Druze, Christians,
Circassians and others," it also said.
During the rally, opposition leader Tzippy Livni and Avi Gabbay, head of the Labor Party,
announced in a statement that they would pass legislation making Israel's Declaration of
Independence, which calls Israel a Jewish and democratic state, the constitution of the
Hours after the end of the rally, Netanyahu on Sunday morning at the regular Cabinet
meeting addressed again the issue of the nation-state law. "The State of Israel is the
national state of the Jewish people. Israel is a Jewish and democratic state. Individual
rights are anchored in many laws including Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. Nobody
has harmed and nobody intends to harm these individual rights but without
the Nation-State Law it will be impossible to ensure for [future] generations the future
of Israel as a Jewish national state," Netanyahu said.
He also said that the "deep bond between the Druze community and our commitment to it
are also essential; therefore, today we will establish a special ministerial committee to
advance this bond and this commitment and at the same time will appreciate those of all
religions and all ethnic communities who serve in the IDF and the security forces."
Book Claiming Holocaust Victims Didn't `Tap Into' Inner Strength Required Reading at
University of North Carolina
An online textbook that states Holocaust victims did not "tap into their strength" is
required reading at the University of North Carolina (UNC). The book, "21st Century
Wellness," is part of a one-credit hour Lifetime Fitness course all UNC undergraduates
have to take before graduation. The course is meant to teach students how to stay
physically fit and make healthy lifestyle choices.
The book was written by former Olympic speedskater Barbara Lockhart and Brigham Young
University Prof. Ron Hager.
But along with handing out advice about leading a healthy lifestyle, the book contains an
excerpt that says that Holocaust victims who died failed to find their inner strength, CNN
reported. "The people in the camps who did not tap into the strength that comes from their
intrinsic worth succumbed to the brutality to which they were subjected," the book reads.
The text was contracted for use for two years, but it is currently under review for the
fall, a school spokesman said.
The school works with the book's publisher, Bearface Institutional Technologies, to make
changes to the text. Perceivant, Bearface's parent company, sells its materials to 15
universities, including Arizona State, Ohio State and Mississippi State, CNN reported.
The Holocaust example was meant to show that a person's circumstance don't define them and
their worth, Hager told CNN. Some survivors have said knowing their worth helped them
survive, and people who didn't know their worth might have had a harder time in the camps,
he claimed. "A sense of inherent self-worth can be a source of strength or motivation that
can help those struggling, in this case in concentration camps but also for anyone."
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