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The Daily TIP: Congressional Committee Unanimously Passes Bipartisan Israel Anti-Boycott Bill

Posted by Tip Staff - June 29, 2018

Congressional Committee Unanimously Passes Bipartisan Israel Anti-Boycott Bill
German Automaker Audi Teams Up with Israeli Startup to Speed Development of Autonomous Cars
Charles Krauthammer, Israel, and Jewish History
Israel Turns to Technology to Fight Low-Tech Fire Kites

Congressional Committee Unanimously Passes Bipartisan Israel Anti-Boycott Bill

The influential House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed the bipartisan Israel Anti-Boycott Act sending it to the full House of Representatives for a vote, The Jerusalem Post reported Thursday.

The bill would protect Israel and Israeli businesses from boycotts organized by international organizations.

Northwestern Law School Prof. Eugene Kontorovich explained last year that the purpose of the bill is to counter efforts by international organizations, such as the United Nations Human Rights Council.

In support of such secondary boycotts, the U.N. Human Rights Council is preparing a blacklist of Israeli-linked companies (using such a broad definition of “supporting settlements” that the blacklist could sweep in any Israeli-linked firm).

The Post termed the bill the "most significant federal effort to legislate against the BDS movement." The BDS — Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions — campaign seeks to isolate Israel by subjecting it to economic boycotts.

Democrats on the committee insisted on language protecting free speech. However, Kontorovich pointed out that the Israel Anti-Boycott Act expanded on previous legislation and never targeted speech, but specific actions.

The current legislation would amend the Export Administration Act of 1979 and extend protection to American companies from boycotts, not only by Arab nations, the target of the 1979 legislation, but from international bodies too.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act was introduced by Rep. Peter Roskam (R - Ill.) and Rep. Juan Vargas (D - Calif.). An identical bill has been introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D - Md.) in the Senate.

German Automaker Audi Teams Up with Israeli Startup to Speed Development of Autonomous Cars

German carmaker Audi AG has partnered with autonomous vehicle simulation platform provider Cognata Ltd to advance the development of autonomous vehicles, the Israel-based startup announced Tuesday.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Audi, through its self-driving car unit Autonomous Intelligent Driving GmbH (AID), is the first major carmaker to enter a multi-year partnership with the Israeli company. Cognata’s simulation platform virtually recreates real-world cities and provides a range of testing scenarios, including realistic traffic mapping.

"At AID, we are convinced that simulation is a key tool to increase our development speed and a necessary one for the validation of our product and for proving it is safe," AID Chief Technology Officer Alex Haag said.

"After exploring various solutions, we decided that partnering with Cognata is the fastest way to reach these goals," Haag added.

The AID-Cognata deal was announced at a time when Israel's defense technology is being redeployed in the development of driverless cars. The same technology has allowed the Israeli military to drive tanks, guide and intercept missiles, as well as keeping its computer systems secure.

Among the international firms that are setting up development centers or startups in Israel are U.S. chipmaker Intel, German auto supplier Continental, Samsung, Daimler, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors.

Cognata’s investors include Maniv Mobility - a car technology fund backed by Jaguar Land Rover and French auto parts maker Valeo - planemaker Airbus' venture capital fund Airbus Ventures and Tel-Aviv based early-stage venture capital firm Emerge.

Charles Krauthammer, Israel, and Jewish History

Charles Krauthammer, the Washington Post columnist who died last week at 68, was remembered for his kindness and generosity, as well as for the sophisticated analyses he brought to the political issues of the day.

For me, Krauthammer was influential in the development of my political views. His columns were also frequently a relief, as he was one of the most articulate and skilled defenders of Israel in the news media.

Krauthammer was one of the few columnists at a major U.S. newspaper who was not just pro-Israel, but an unabashed Zionist.

It would be impossible to cover the full range of Krauthammer's work, who wrote 1,600 columns and numerous longer articles over a 34-year career. I would like to focus on just his defenses of Israel through the lens of history, and specifically Jewish history.

In January 1988, a month after the organized Palestinian riots that became known as the first intifida began, he wrote a column criticizing those who offered advice to Israel on how to handle the riots. But those who offered that advice — some of it well-meaning, some of it not — failed to account for the source of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

As Krauthammer observed, the Palestinian refugee population were kept as refugees by the Arab world "as a means to discomfit Israel," instead of absorbing them.

To read the complete essay, please click here.

Israel Turns to Technology to Fight Low-Tech Fire Kites

In the past three months, hundreds of fire kites and flaming helium balloons – some with explosives attached – have been launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel, causing hundreds of fires, often several a day, that have burned thousands of acres (nearly 7 square miles of land) on the Israeli side of the border. More than half of that land has been in nature reserves.'

The damage, which has been estimated in the millions of shekels, has created a major headache for the Israel Defense Forces, thus far at a loss for how to combat this new kind of terrorism without causing loss of life.

Two new technologies may help Israel regain its deterrence. One is already being deployed, the other is on the way.

The first is called Sky Spotter. It’s built by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and has been operating along the Gaza border for the past week.

That’s only a partial solution, of course: spotting the fire kites is a start but knocking them out of the sky before they ignite the countryside is the army’s ultimate goal. For that, the IDF is testing a laser system to shoot the flying firebombs while they’re still in flight.

The ease with which the fire kites can cross into Israel has raised another concern: mini-drones from Gaza carrying explosives. The concept is that the IDF’s drones will fire hundreds of thin aluminum strips at the enemy mini-drone, thus entangling the drone’s rotor blades and bringing it down.

(via Israel21c)

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