Iran’s Influence Operations in the U.S. Start with the Universities and Stretch to the Department of Defense

The Islamic Republic of Iran operates extensive terrorist and terror-financing networks not just in the Middle East, but also in Europe and Latin America. Drawing on methods used by the KGB, it has also tried to exert influence over Western minds, specifically through the universities. Mariam Memarsadeghi explains:

The Islamic Republic’s soft-power strategy prioritizes university scholars, giving those of Iranian descent in particular access to regime insiders while grooming them to provide a whitewashed version of even the most brutal aspects of clerical rule.

Scholars at America’s top academic institutions are close to those Washington think-tank analysts who promote appeasement of the Islamic Republic. Recent exposés . . . show how the Islamic Republic’s foreign ministry created an “Iran Experts Initiative” to push Tehran’s positions in Washington, particularly on its nuclear program, and managed to have three of its top members land posts as advisors to Robert Malley, Biden’s special envoy to Iran, who is now under State Department and FBI investigation.

Their reporting has prompted Republicans in both the House and Senate to press the Biden administration, including the Department of Defense, to account for the hiring of individuals to highly sensitive U.S. national security positions who took direction from Tehran.

Read more at Caravan

More about: Iran, University

Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation