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Trump Tension High, Cyber Attack Thwarted, Nigerian Soccer


Before Trump’s Visit to Israel, Small Issues Prove Thorniest

Mark Landler, New York Times, May 15th 2017

Recap:

Tensions and expectations run high as US President Donald Trump prepares for his first visit to Israel as President.

The Context:

  • President Trump will visit Saudi Arabia, Israel and Italy on his first trip abroad since taking office in January. Trump recently hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Washington and seeks to renew peace talks [1].

  • This week, an American official reportedly deemed the Western Wall Israeli-occupied territory. The White House immediately denounced the remark saying the comment “do[es] not reflect the US position, and certainly not the President’s position.” Trump has plans for a “private visit” to the Western Wall, making him the first sitting US President ever to do so [2].

  • Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the holiest spot in Judaism, lies underneath the Al Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam. Israel claims Jerusalem as its undivided capital and will celebrate 50 years since its reunification in 1967 this month. Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as their capital for a future Palestinian state.

  • The trip brings high expectations for a decision regarding an American Embassy move to Jerusalem. Most countries, including the US, maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv and although Trump promised repeatedly on the campaign trail to move the Embassy to Jerusalem, he has since put off the decision. He has until June 1st to renew a stay on a law passed by Congress that requires the relocation [3]. Netanyahu believes "the transfer to Jerusalem will advance [the peace process] by correcting a historic injustice and smashing the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel [4]."

  • Adding to the tension, President Trump reportedly shared confidential intelligence with Russian officials regarding an ISIS threat this week. It has yet to be determined whether the source was Israeli or Jordanian but Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the US, downplayed the incident saying “Israel has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump [5].”

Conversation Points:

  • Why have previous Presidents opted not to visit the Western Wall while in office?

  • Was Trump’s embassy rhetoric bluster or are his designs strategic?

  • Will moving the embassy advance peace talks as Netanyahu claims it will?

  • Can Middle Eastern countries afford to maintain their intel sharing relationship with the US if there’s a chance the information might fall into the wrong hands?

Israeli Experts: Country Dodged the Cyber Bullet This Time

Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post, May 14th 2017

Recap:

Israel emerged largely unscathed following a cyber attack that engulfed tens of thousands of computers in 104 countries.

The Context:

  • The attack, which locked computers and held users’ files for ransom, disrupted services from the US, UK, Russia, Spain and India by exploiting a vulnerability identified by the US National Security Agency [6].

  • White Hat, an Israeli cybersecurity company that employs hackers to scour the dark web in search of criminal activities, first spotted the attack and, within an hour, established a vaccine that included IP addresses, URLs and file names to block. Over 250 cybersecurity experts from the public and private sector were soon gathered to combat the outbreak. “It was like a war, everyone put on their uniform and helped,” said White Hat founder Sharon Nimirovski [7].

  • Netanyahu praised recent Israeli efforts to combat the “new threat,” including the establishment of the National Cyber Security Authority and said that Israel’s “critical infrastructure” remained unharmed. Cybersecurity expert Tal Be'ery believes the low casualty rate was more likely attributed to the fact that most people were not in work at the time of the attack and expects “numbers to grow when people go to work and turn [on] their machines [8]."

Conversation Points:

  • Is Israel’s constant state of high alert reason for its effective handling of the cyber attack?

  • Is the low casualty rate more likely attributed to luck or the technological prowess of Israeli tech?

Israeli Envoy Cancels Bash, Funds Nigeria Refugee Kids Soccer

Times of Israel, May 17th 2017

Recap:

Israel’s Ambassador to Nigeria donated the Embassy’s Independence Day fund to establish a soccer league for 250 children displaced by Boko Haram. “Our intention was to bring a message of hope to the children, which is also the Zionist message,” said Ambassador Guy Feldman.

The Context:

  • Boko Haram has displaced 770,000, killed 3,900, wounded 7,300 and kidnapped over 4,000 children in northeastern Nigeria [9].

  • The Israeli embassy provided uniforms, balls and coaches for participants aged 8 to 12 living in Adamawa, a state on the border with Cameroon.

  • The money saved from canceling the Yom Ha’atzmaot reception will also pay for the children’s schooling for an entire year [10].

Conversation Points:

  • Should Israel devote even more discretionary dollars to engender goodwill with local residents around the world?

Notes:

  1. Senior member of Trump team said to tell Israelis: Western Wall is not your territory, Raphael Ahren and Alexander Fulbright, Times of Israel, May 15th 2017

  2. The holiest site in Judaism is becoming a point of conflict between Trump and Israel, Peter Jacobs, AOL, May 15th 2017

  3. Netanyahu Responds to Tillerson: U.S. Embassy Move Would Advance Peace 'By Shattering Palestinian Fantasy', Barak Ravid, Amir Tibon and Jack Khoury, Haaretz, May 15th 2017

  4. TRUMP ENVOY FRIEDMAN ARRIVES IN ISRAEL AMID EMBASSY DEBATE, The Jerusalem Post, May 15th 2017

  5. TRUMP ISIS LEAK TO RUSSIA COULD END ISRAEL-U.S. INTELLIGENCE SHARING, Jack Moore, Newsweek, May 16th 2017

  6. In Israel, cyber experts joined forces to help foil massive attack, Shoshanna Soloman, Times of Israel May 14th 2017

  7. Ibid.

  8. Netanyahu: Global Cyberattack Causes Minor Damage in Israel, Oded Yaron, Barak Ravid and Reuters, Haaretz, May 14th 2017

  9. Israeli ambassador donates party fund to soccer league for Nigerian children, Itamar Eichner, Ynetnews, May 14th 2017

  10. Ibid.


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