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The Daily TIP: Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Bipartisan Iran Sanctions Bill Targeting Revolutionary Guards

Posted by Tip Staff - June 15, 2017

Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Bipartisan Iran Sanctions Bill Targeting Revolutionary Guards
With Shutdown of Power Plant, Hamas Again Prioritizes Tunnels and Rockets Over Gazan Lives
Mossad Launching Investment Firm to Benefit from Israel’s High-Tech Prowess
Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Druze Attend Multi-Faith Iftar Dinner in Israel

Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Bipartisan Iran Sanctions Bill Targeting Revolutionary Guards

A bipartisan bill imposing new sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps overwhelmingly passed the Senate by a margin of 98-2 on Thursday.

The bill, which passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month by a vote of 18 to 3, imposed "new measures to punish Tehran for ballistic missile tests and the engagements of the country’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps," The Washington Post reported.

The Senate also added an amendment to the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017, which will place new sanctions on Russia for its actions in Ukraine and Syria, as well as its alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The bill "is the first major piece of foreign policy legislation the Senate has considered this year to command so much support from both sides of the aisle," the Post noted.

The House of Representatives has not yet considered this legislation or drafted a similar bill.

"It's a much more powerful sanctions measure than merely just designating Iranian entities that are involved in missile development," Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told CBS News. The bill seeks to target businesses and financial institutions that have commercial dealings with any entity designated by the U.S. for playing a role in Iran's ballistic missile program.

"The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that if Iran were to deliver a nuclear device, the delivery vehicle for that nuclear device would be a missile -- a long-range ballistic missile or intercontinental ballistic missile," Dubowitz said, explaining the significance of targeting Iran's ballistic missile program.

Overall, the bill "targets the regime’s Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) praetorians through powerful sanctions aimed at terror networks, the missile supply chain and domestic repression," Dubowitz told Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post.

With Shutdown of Power Plant, Hamas Again Prioritizes Tunnels and Rockets Over Gazan Lives

Gaza’s sole power plant shut down on Sunday for lack of funds, leaving the nearly 2 million residents of the Strip with only four hours of electricity per day.

The manufactured crisis is just another example of how "Hamas remains the same cynical organization that exploits the distress of Gaza’s residents for political gain," long-time Palestinian affairs correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote Wednesday in The Times of Israel.

The same rationale also serves as Hamas' incentive behind stealing food shipments into the Strip and diverting fuel from hospital generators: the more misery the better.

The bitterness and poverty of Gaza’s residents is the bloodline of Hamas. It is the fertile ground on which its extremist ideology flourishes and from which it recruits its fighters.

Hamas could, if it wanted to, pay for enough electricity to ease the suffering of its people and prevent a deepening of the humanitarian crisis. According to estimates by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Issacharoff reported, Hamas raises $28 million every month in taxes, a significant amount of which they use to pay their members.

But a large portion is diverted to pay for the terrorist organization’s military purposes. Estimates suggest that Hamas is spending $130 million a year on its military infrastructure and preparations for war, including terror tunnels and rockets.

Gaza’s economy lies in ruins. A decade after Hamas' violent seizure of the Strip, unemployment is at around 40 percent and poverty is widespread. Two-thirds of the population rely on international aid organizations. The water is dangerously polluted. And now the lights have gone out.

As Issacharoff observed, "Those who took control of Gaza in a military coup and since then invested more than $1 billion in their military infrastructure, could have easily directed their resources to resolve Gaza’s problems. But what is the value of another few hours of electricity for the people of Gaza, compared to another few tunnels or rockets?"

Mossad Launching Investment Firm to Benefit from Israel’s High-Tech Prowess

Israel’s foreign intelligence agency is creating its own investment firm in order to cash in on the success of Israel’s new startups, Haaretz reported on Wednesday. Mossad will invest its own money in this project, forgoing additional investment from foreign capital and domestic venture capital firms.

Unlike a traditional investment firm, Mossad doesn’t plan to control any shares of the constituent startups in exchange for funding. Instead, in a new model, Mossad will obtain rights to the technology produced by these startups. Such a setup will create a mutually beneficial relationship, as Mossad will get access to cutting-edge developments and the startups will grow as a result of the investment.

Mossad conceived of the idea in order to fully take advantage of what Haaretz describes as “Israel’s technology prowess.” In addition to giving these startups funding for their technology, Mossad plans on adding its own value by utilizing its extensive resources and personnel.

Mossad is not the first intelligence agency to set up a fund to invest in new technologies. Back in 2000, the United States Central Intelligence Agency set up a non-profit investment fund called In-Q-Tel. In-Q-Tel is currently invests in technologies on behalf of the U.S. Defense Department and other Intelligence communities.

Israel is well known for its prowess in the realm of technological innovation. Known as the “Start-Up Nation,” Israel has long been a home to up-and-coming technology firms. Much of this entrepreneurial talent is linked to government bodies, including the IDF’s signal intelligence corps Unit 8200.

Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Druze Attend Multi-Faith Iftar Dinner in Israel
Two hundred and twenty Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Druze, including male and female religious leaders and community members from each of these faiths, came to the Galilee village of Ilut on June 8 to share a Multi-Faith Ramadan Iftar Dinner for Peace.

he dinner has been held annually for more than a decade as the signature event of the Abrahamic Reunion, a network of peacebuilders, religious and spiritual leaders and citizens from across Israel and the Palestinian Authority territories.

Iftar is the break-fast meal ending each day of fasting during the Muslim month of Ramadan.

“This event helps bring down the walls of separation and fear between our people, the shared family of Abraham,” says Abrahamic Reunion Executive Director in Israel, Eliyahu McLean, 48, an Orthodox Hasidic Jew from Netivot.

He was raised in Hawaii and studied Arabic and Islam at the University of California-Berkeley, where he also was a pro-Israel activist. Having participated in Young Judaea high school and gap-year programs in Israel, he came back in 1998 with Interns for Peace.

“I made aliyah with the intention of doing Arab-Jewish peace work and trying to build a bridge of mutual respect,” McLean tells ISRAEL21c.

He cofounded a group called Jerusalem Peacemakers and became a follower of the late Rabbi Menachem Froman, an Orthodox peace activist and one of the founders of Abrahamic Reunion in 2004 along with Sheikh Ghassan Manasra of Nazareth and Anna Less of Sarasota, Florida.

“It started with the Iftar Dinner for Peace and only four years ago did we expand to become a year-round organization with monthly events,” says McLean. “Each of the different religious leaders who are part of our family of spiritual peace builders hosts an event in their home or community.”

The Iftar dinner was hosted this year by Sheikh Khaled Abu Ras, the organization’s incoming Muslim co-executive director in Israel. A longtime participant in Abrahamic Reunion, Abu Ras recently finished a PhD on Sufi philosophy and teaches Islam and Arabic in an Arab primary school in Ilut.

In addition to Ilut residents including local high school principals and teachers, people came from diverse areas: Jerusalem, Golan Heights, Tel Aviv, Jericho, Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus (Shechem) and others.

Rabbi Yakov Nagen, a yeshiva head in Otniel in the Hebron Hills and also active with the prize-winning Interfaith Encounter Association, co-chairs his region of Abrahamic Reunion with a Muslim imam from Tel Sheva near Beersheva.

McLean says the Arab hosts always go out of their way to get strictly kosher food for the religious Jews in attendance. But the fellowship goes beyond that. Nagen told attendees that two years ago, the Ramadan fast day on which the dinner was held coincided with the Jewish fast day of the 17th of Tammuz.

“While the Muslim fast ended at 6:49, the Jewish fast ended at 7:15. And the Muslims insisted on waiting to eat until the Jews broke their fast,” relates McLean. “Rabbi Nagen always shares that story to show how we make room respectfully for one another in our religious practice. This model can serve as a bridge for faithful people from all walks of society.” It is not only nonprofit organizations that reach out to Muslim leaders during Ramadan.

The Monday after the Abrahamic Reunion dinner, President Reuven Rivlin continued a yearly tradition by hosting a traditional Iftar meal at his official residence in Jerusalem for Muslim leaders from Israeli society along with ambassadors to Israel from Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Kazakhstan and representatives of the IDF, Police and Prison Services, Israeli industrialists, academics, teachers and doctors.

(via Israel21c)

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