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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 29, 2017 PAGE 3A L!!~i!iiii!iiil iiiiiiiiii!!~i~i~! iii iii!i iiiiiiiil iiliil i)i i i!i ii ii Avi Ohayon/GPO Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah E1-Sisi (right) in New York, Sept. 18. By Adam Abrams JNS.org At a time of warming rela- tions between Israel and Arab states, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held his first public meeting Monday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah E1-Sisi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. The meeting comes amid speculation of an historic shift in Arab policy towards the Jewish state. During the hour-and-a-half meeting at the Palace Hotel, the leaders engaged in"a com- prehensive discussion about the problems of the region," according to a statement by the Israeli Prime Minister's Office (PMO). EI-Sisi"expressed his desire to assist in efforts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians and the region," the statement said. The Egyptian president's office released a similar pro- nouncement, saying the two discussed "ways to resume the peace process and establish a Palestinian state." Regarding the peace pro- cess, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Ab- bas--who is also in New York at the U.N. confab--was nota- bly absent from the meeting, but met with EI-Sisi in Cairo in mid-July. "The meeting (between Netanyahu and El-Sisi) repre- sents a public step to further coordinate with Israel on a host of issues, from contain- ing the Islamic State in the Sinai, reining in Hamas in the Gaza Strip, to trying to stem the tide of Iranian influence in the region," Prof. Joshua Teit- elbaum, senior research fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University, told JNS.org. "While the Egyptian press played up the issue of the Palestinian-Israeli negotia- tions, it is most likely that the Israeli and Egyptian leaders discussed these other issues," he said. Israel and Egypt are "really on the same page on a host of regional issues," Teitelbaum noted, and "the public nature of the meeting demonstrated El-Sisi's confidence in his position at home." The last time the two leaders met was in secret in April 2016 at E1-Sisi's presi- dential residence in Cairo. Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog accompanied Netanyahu at that meeting, where the leaders discussed a potential regional peace initiative, Haaretz reported at the time. Additionally, a secret sum- mit held in Aqaba, Jordan-- initiated by then-U.S. Secre- tary of State John Kerry--re- portedly occurred in January 2016 and included El-Sisi, Jordan's King Abdullah and Netanyahu. Netanyahu was said to have outlined a five- step plan aimed at promoting a regional peace initiative with Arab states and reviving peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. This week's meeting be- tween Netanyahu and EI-Sisi. comes just days after Bah- rain's King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa condemned the Arab world's boycott of Israel in an Meeting on page 15A By Adam Abrams JNS .org Despite the raging civil war to Israel's north and east in Syria, the Jewish state's northern border has remained precariously quiet over the last decade. No stranger to looming threats, Israeli officials are planning and ready for several worst-case scenarios in the north as Iran and its terror proxy Hezbol- lah continue to forge their stranglehold on the region. In a possible war scenario with Hezbollah, the Israeli military can launch a "mas- sive and overwhelming" op- eration that would effectively "neutralize" a significant part of the Lebanese terror orga- nization's military capability, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, the head of the International Media Branch for the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, told JNS.org. The IDF's operation would be based on "very accurate in- telligence" collected "relent- lessly" and "would minimize to the greatest extent possible, harm to non-combatants by using the most precise guided munitions that strike only at the legitimate military targets," Conricus said. Striking only Hezbollah targets without collateral damage will be a challenging military feat because Hezbol- JERUSALEM (JTA)--Israel will send a search and rescue team to Mexico in the wake of a severe earthquake--the sec- ond to hit the North American nation in two weeks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the opera- tion and said itwould leave for Mexico as soon as possible, his office said Sept. 20 in a statement. More than 200 people have been killed in the 7.1-magni- tude earthquake that struck central Mexico on Tuesday afternoon, rocking the capital of Mexico City and causing hun- dreds of buildings to collapse. In addition, a delegation of 50 Israeli soldiers is scheduled lah is deliberately "deployed in order to maximize col- lateral damage" to civilians, he added. One-third of the homes in southern Lebanon's 130 villages are known to house military components belong- ing to Hezbollah. "Hezbollah's strategic choice of the battlefield, em- bedding its military assets in Shiite villages and towns, has put the majority of the Shiite population in Lebanon in harm's way, using it as human shields " Brigadier general (Res.) Assaf Orion, a senior research fellow at Israel's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), told JNS.org. Defeating the terror group would likely involve "signifi- cant IDF ground incursions into Lebanon as well as taking out Hezbollah rocket positions located in high- density population areas," in hospitals, schools and apartment buildings, Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, told JNS.org. In a future conflict, one could expect "significant damage to Israel," Orion said, but simultaneously "a dev- astating and unprecedented destruction in Lebanon, in- cluding a significant victory against Hezbollah's military to leave for Mexico City in the afternoon of Sept. 20 to assist in relief efforts. Volunteers from Israel's Zaka search-and-rescue orga- nization arrived in Mexico in the hours following the quake and are helping local rescue forces, the organization said in a statement. In addition, engineers have been sent to local synagogues to make sure that they can safely ac- commodate Rosh Hashanah services, according to Zaka. On the same date in 1985, an 8.0-magnitude earthquake centered on Mexico City left 10,000 people dead and an- other 30,000 injured. Tuesday's quake comes forces and destruction of most infrastructure enabling its war fighting capacity." Largest drill in decades Due to Hezbollah's deep entrenchmentwithin civilian infrastructure, the IDF has narrow windows of oppor- tunity to engage "legitimate military targets," Conricus said. However, the IDF is pre- pared for this scenario and recently completed its largest drill in two decades in Israel's northern region, simulat- ing cross-border Hezbollah attacks on Israeli towns in which the terror group aims to commit massacres and take hostages. The exercise was planned over a year and half in ad- vance and tens of thousands of soldiers from all branches of the IDF participated. During the initial stage of the drill, soldiers simulated rooting out Hezbollah ter- rorists from Israeli towns and defending the Jewish state's sovereignty. The drill's second stage simulated "decisive maneuver warfare" into the depths of Hezbollah's terri- tory, Conricus said. The exercise sought to enhance "coordination and synchronization" between the IDF's ground forces, air force, navy, intelligence and cyber units, and shorten "the intelligence cycle" from when two weeks after at least 96 people died in an 8.1 mag- nitude quake that struck off the southern Pacific coast of Mexico on Sept. 7. The Mexican states of Oaxaca and Chiapas were hardest hit. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is also responding, supporting the search, rescue and emer- gency aid efforts of CADENA, its Mexican Jewish humani- tarian partner. The response focuses on immediate rescue and relief including digging people out of the rubble, emer- gency psychology services and medical aid, according to JDC. The JDC has also opened a mailbox for donations. a "target is identified to any type of munition meeting that target," he added. Hezbollah's new capa- bilities and the coming two-front war The IDF has acknowledged that since the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah has matured from a guerilla or- ganization to a fighting force equippedwith heavy artillery, By Ariel Ben Solomon JNS.org Galvanized by common threats by Iran and Islamic extremism, Israel and the its fellow Sunni Muslim Arab states have seen an unex- pectedwarming in relations in recent years. However, despite public and closed-door coop- eration, Israel still remains deeply unpopular among the so-called "Arab street." Drawing on its high-tech prowess and unprecedented social media opportunities, Israeli Prime Minister Ben- jamin Netanyahu's office has strongly embraced new media channels to reach millions of viewers directly, including in the Arab world. Ofir Gendelman, Netan- yahu's spokesman for theArab media, told JNS.org in recent years"Israei has become a pow- erhouse of public diplomacy directed at the Arab world." "Israeli officials are now regularly interviewed on main Arab TV channels and Israeli pundits offer there their insights," he said, adding that Israel is also active on social media in Arabic. With the aid of Arabic language spokespeople in the Prime Minister's Office, the Foreign Ministry, and the IDF, there are millions of followers on the Arabic Facebook and Twitter accounts. Yet, despite these efforts, years of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel messaging byArab governments are sometimes difficult to overcome. "The reactions we are get- ting are varied: some curse and make threats, as this is a main characteristic of dis- high-precision missiles and drones. The terror group also receives about $800 million a year in funding from Iran. Athird of Hezboilah's forces are currently entrenched in Syria's ongoing civil war-- becoming battle-hardened, but simultaneously over- stretched, losing some 2,000 fighters in the conflict. Hezbollah and Iran have course on social media in the Arab world," Gendelman said. "But a lot of Arabs from the region show positive interest in Israel." Netanyahu, speaking at an event earlier this month hosted by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, noted the current shift in Arab sentiment to- wards Israel is more profound today than the improved relations seen following the 1993 Oslo Accords with the Palestinians and the 1994 Is- raeli peace treatywith Jordan. "What's happening now with the Arab bloc states has never before happened in our history--even when we signed agreements," Netan- yahu said, Israel's Channel 2 reported. "What we have now is greater than anything else during any other period in Israel's history." Despite the positive trend, many of Israel's Arab neigh- bors have yet to engage in di- rect relations with the Jewish state. Further, the prime min- ister chided the Palestinians for not following the regional trend of rapprochement with Israel. Gendelman said Netanya- hu's statement that relations between Israel and the Arab states are improving, mainly under the surface, "is reflected in a growing number of posi- tive articles about Israel that were published invariousArab newspapers." Gendelman is also active on social media, his twitter account, which posts in Arabic and English, has over 46,000 followers. "Hostility towards Israel is still widespread in the Arab world but Israeli public establishedweapons factories in Lebanon that can produce powerful missiles and, accord- ing to the IDF official, "more than 120,000 rocket launch- ers and rockets" are positioned in southern Lebanon, "in clear violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701." Iran and Hezbollah are IDF on page 15A diplomacy in Arabic can give the Arab digital generation the truth about Israel and its people," he added. How should Israel carry out an effective Arab PR strategy? The Israeli government needs to look at the big picture and take a comprehensive approach to anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment in the Sunni Arab world, said Ariel Cohen, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank and director of the Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics at the Insti- tute for Analysis of Global Security in Washington. "Israel has not developed an effective hasbara (public relations in Hebrew) strategy regarding anti-Israel and anti- Semitic attitudes both in the Arab world and in the West," asserted Cohen, who has over 25 years of experience in strategic communications. "It is absolutely vital to identify credible opinion leaders and work with them incessantly and systemati- cally to promote a positive and friendly image of Israel for the Arab elites and the street," he added. Social media and tradi- tional media are particularly important in that regard, and more openings exist, as cen- tral controls of the 20th cen- tury state-run propaganda are getting weaker, he explained. "Strategically deepening, legalizing, and formalizing relationships with the Sunni states, and not allowing them to keeping relations 'in the closet' is extremely important for the legitimacy and long- term survival of Israel in the Middle East," Cohen said.