Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 7, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Elections to Be Held on Sep. 4 - Aaron Kalman (Times of Israel)
    Israel will hold Knesset elections on Sep. 4, a year before their scheduled date, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced at a cabinet meeting on Monday.
    The Knesset is expected to vote to dissolve itself Monday, paving the way for new elections.

Syria's Muslim Brotherhood Rises from the Ashes - Khaled Yacoub Oweis (Reuters-Daily Star-Lebanon)
    At the Syrian National Council, the main political group challenging President Bashar Assad, there is little dispute about who calls the shots. From annihilation 30 years ago when they challenged the iron-fisted rule of Hafez Assad, the Muslim Brotherhood has recovered to become the dominant force of the exile opposition in the revolt against his son Bashar.
    The Syrian Brotherhood is a branch of the Sunni Muslim movement founded in Egypt in the 1920s. It portrays itself as espousing a moderate, Turkish-style Islamist agenda and unveiled a manifesto last month that did not mention the word Islam.
    With backing from Ankara, and following the political ascendancy of the Brotherhood in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, the group is poised to be at the top of any new governing system in Syria.
    Extending the loose Brotherhood umbrella to Syria will raise pressure on the U.S.-backed Hashemite monarchy in Jordan, where the local Brotherhood has been sidelined.
    The Brotherhood has been financing Free Syrian Army defectors based in Turkey and channeling money and supplies to Syria, reviving their base among small Sunni farmers and middle class Syrians, opposition sources say.
    Fawaz al-Tello, a veteran opposition figure and former political prisoner who fled Syria four months ago, said the Brotherhood has "gained control of the SNC's aid division and the military bureau, its only important components."
    Brotherhood leader Mulhem Droubi said the Brotherhood began supporting armed resistance in earnest a month ago. He said there is no dispute now about the need for armed resistance, alongside street protests against Assad.

Al-Qaeda Terrorist Tied to Bombing of USS Cole Killed in Yemen Airstrike - Eric Schmitt (New York Times)
    Yemeni authorities said Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso, 37, a senior al-Qaeda militant on the FBI's Most Wanted list in connection with the bombing of the Navy destroyer USS Cole that killed 17 sailors in 2000, was killed in an airstrike Sunday.
    Yemen's embassy in Washington described Quso as "a leading figure in the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula."
    The State Department had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Warns Hizbullah over Iran - Adrian Blomfield
    Any Hizbullah retaliation to an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities would prompt Israel to launch a war in Lebanon so ferocious that it would take a decade to rebuild, a senior Israeli military officer has warned. "They will have to think about whether they want it or not. I hope that Iran will not push them into a war that Iran will not pay the price for but that Lebanon will," said the officer, a senior commander on Israel's northern border.
        The officer suggested that Israel had taken too cautious an approach in the 2006 conflict with Hizbullah, leading to the deaths of dozens of Israeli soldiers. No such mistake would be made in the next conflict, he said, especially as Hizbullah had built military sites in the center of many villages and towns in southern Lebanon. "In these villages where Hizbullah has infrastructure I will guess that civilians will not have houses to come back to after the war," he said.
        Hizbullah has acquired a stockpile of 50,000 rockets of greater sophistication and range than it had before and is capable of striking at Tel Aviv, more than 70 miles away, according to Israeli intelligence assessments. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Syrian Troops Tear-Gas Damascus Mourners
    Syrian troops used tear gas to try to disperse a mass funeral for slain protesters attended by thousands in Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. "Syrian regime forces used tear gas to disperse people attending the funerals of the Kfar Sousa martyrs and calling for the fall of the regime," the Observatory said. Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory accused the regime of launching the attacks to stop funerals a day after the security forces killed 30 anti-regime protesters, including nine in the Kfar Sousa and Tadamon districts of Damascus. (AFP-France24)
        See also Heavy Fighting Rocks Eastern Syria - Khaled Yacoub Oweis
    Fighting between rebels and President Assad's forces erupted in eastern Syria, residents and activists said on Sunday. Rebels armed with rocket-propelled grenades attacked tank positions east of the provincial capital Deir al-Zor, in response to an army offensive against towns and villages in the tribal area bordering Iraq that has killed tens of people and stopped others reaching supplies and medical care. (Reuters)
  • German Police Arrest 110 Salafist Protesters as Clashes Leave 29 Officers Injured
    Clashes in Bonn, Germany, injured 29 officers Saturday, authorities said Sunday. About 110 ultraconservative Muslim Salafist protesters were briefly arrested after they started attacking security forces with stones and bottles, police said. Two of the injured police officers were hospitalized with serious wounds after being stabbed. The trouble started when hundreds of Muslims protested against a rally of about 30 supporters of the marginal anti-immigration Pro NRW party, which has angered Muslims by showing unfavorable cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Similar clashes between Salafists and the Pro NRW party erupted last weekend.
        Germany's intelligence and security agencies are closely monitoring the Salafists' actions as the group is increasingly viewed as a threat to security. "Salafism is currently the most dynamic Islamist movement in Germany as well as internationally. Its fanatic followers represent a particular danger for Germany's security," Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich told the Sunday paper Bild am Sonntag. "The Salafists provide the ideological foundation for those who then turn violent."  (AP-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Ex-IDF Intelligence Chief: Nuclear Iran More Dangerous than Military Strike - Natasha Mozgovaya
    Former IDF Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin said on Saturday that a nuclear Iran would be more dangerous than carrying out a military strike on Iran. Speaking at a conference of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Yadlin said he favored exhausting all other options before striking Iran's nuclear facilities, but stressed, "The flying time of a missile from Tehran to Tel Aviv is seven minutes and the temptation for first strike is huge." "If they can't be contained when they don't have nuclear weapons, how can they be contained when they do?"  (Ha'aretz)
  • Security Report Calls to Destroy Homes of Itamar Terrorists - Gabe Fisher
    The Israel Security Agency recommended destroying homes belonging to the families of two Palestinian terrorists who killed five members of the Fogel family in their home in Itamar in 2011, in a report released Sunday. Hakim Awad and Amjad Awad confessed to the brutal killings of the two parents and three children, including a 3-month-old infant, and admitted they received assistance from family members, who hid them in neighboring Awarta village after the murders. Family members also concealed weapons and destroyed evidence relating to the crime. (Times of Israel)
  • Thousands in Jordan Call for End to Peace with Israel - Yoel Goldman
    In rallies in seven cities in Jordan on Friday, protesters called for an end to the 1994 peace treaty with Israel and for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Amman. Protesters burned Israeli and American flags, and chanted "death, death to Israel." The protests were organized by the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood and several youth organizations. (Times of Israel)
  • Video: Disabled Israeli Rower Won Gold - and Had to Sing "Hatikvah" on Her Own
    Organizers of a rowing competition for the disabled in Italy apparently didn't take into consideration the possibility that the Israeli contender, Moran Samuel, would win the competition, and they forgot to bring the CD with the national anthem, "Hatikvah," to the awards ceremony.
        Moran took the microphone from the master of ceremonies and belted a dazzling a cappella rendition of the Israeli national anthem. (JTA-Israel TV Channel 2-YouTube)
        See also Video: The Entire Anthem by Moran Samuel (MidEast Truth)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Egyptian Gas: Facts and Theories - Zvi Mazel
    Both Egypt and Israel tend to play down the impact of the cancellation of the sale of Egyptian gas to Israel. However, the cancellation marks a further deterioration of relations between the two countries. Israel was counting on the natural gas from the offshore fields of Port Said, which involved relatively low infrastructure costs, to produce cheaper and cleaner electricity, and had eyed Egyptian gas since the mid-1990s. At the time, Qatar had declared its willingness to sell gas to Israel, but Jerusalem had preferred to buy gas from Egypt in order to further strengthen the links between the two countries.
        Lengthy negotiations ended in a memorandum of understanding signed on June 30, 2005. Article II of that memorandum is explicit: "The government of the Arab Republic of Egypt guarantees the continuous and uninterrupted supply of the natural gas contracted...for the initial 15 years as well as for any extended period." Yet after repeated sabotage of the pipeline, Egypt supplied less than 20% of the contracted gas in 2011 and even less in the first quarter of 2012. The loss to the economy of Israel was estimated at 1.5% of its GNP, according to the Israel Finance Ministry, due to the need to turn to more expensive (and more polluting) energy sources.
        Not only will the Egyptian move further frighten foreign investors, but Egypt is likely to incur heavy penalties for the unilateral cancellation of the contract. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt. (Jerusalem Post)
  • An Israeli and a Palestinian Scathed by South Africa Apartheid Rhetoric - Benjamin Pogrund and Bassem Eid
    The two of us, an Israeli and a Palestinian, went to South Africa recently to speak about the Middle East. In several dozen meetings we repeatedly heard the "Israel is apartheid" accusation. No, we replied: Apartheid does not exist inside Israel. On the West Bank it is not apartheid. The apartheid comparison is false and confuses the real problems.
        It became clear to us that South Africans generally have limited knowledge about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But they hold many prejudices and these are fed and manipulated by organizations that are vehemently anti-Israel - to the extent of calling for destruction of the Jewish state.
        Our strangest meeting was with scores of Congolese who asked us why their conflict - ongoing since 1960 with a toll of more than 7 million people dead - receives less attention than does the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. South African-born Benjamin Pogrund was founder of Yakar's Center for Social Concern in Jerusalem. Bassem Eid is director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group. (Ha'aretz)

Hunger Strikers' Goal Is Not Peace - Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary)

  • For decades, foreign cheerleaders for the Palestinians have sought to portray those fighting against Israel as potential disciples of Gandhi as they seek to portray the Jews as stand-ins for the role of colonial oppressor. But there are two main problems with this scenario.
  • The first is the fact that most Palestinians view violence against Israelis as not only a legitimate tactic but also something that is integral to their national identity.
  • The second is that even if they were to adopt a policy of non-violence, the Palestinian goal is not their own state living in peace beside Israel but the end of the Jewish state and its replacement by one in which Arabs will rule.
  • In the wake of a hunger strike by some Palestinian security prisoners, on Thursday in Ramallah, 300 women marched to Al Manara Square, chanting, "Yes for hunger strike, no to submission" and "Down with the olive branch, long live the rifle." Is there another way to interpret calls for an end to peace and the use of "the rifle" but as a call for violent attacks on Israel?

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