Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
May 31, 2012


In-Depth Issues:

IDF General: Israel Waging Daily War with Iran - Gili Cohen (Ha'aretz)
    IDF Northern Command chief Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan said Wednesday that Israel was "indirectly waging a daily war with Iran."
    "It doesn't matter if it's through [Islamic] Jihad in Gaza or Hizbullah in Lebanon. Iran is here, and its negative influence is significant. It isn't a question of 'maybe.' Its influence in Syria, too, is discernible."




Terror at the Eurovision Contest Foiled, Azerbaijan Says - Zulfugar Agayev (Bloomberg)
    Azerbaijan said its agents foiled plots by Islamic rebels to kill foreigners at the Eurovision song contest in Baku last week and assassinate President Ilham Aliyev.
    Azeri law-enforcement officials killed two members of the armed group, including its leader, and arrested 40 more, the National Security Ministry said.




Commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Visits Disputed Gulf Islands (AP-Washington Post)
    Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, has visited three disputed islands in the Gulf that are held by his country but claimed by the United Arab Emirates, Iranian TV said on Thursday.
    See also Ahmadinejad in Abu Musa: Iran's Lengthening Shadow in the Gulf - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (ICA-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)




Two American Tourists Kidnapped in Egyptian Sinai (Ma'an News-PA)
    Two American tourists, Jonathan Shizarlasky and Carter Brabon, were kidnapped by armed Bedouin in Nuweiba in Egyptian Sinai on Thursday, Egyptian security sources said.
    The two were seized at gunpoint from a car near the Hilton hotel. Police said the Bedouin were seeking the release of one of their tribe jailed in a drug case.




Anger in Arab World over Iranian Films Depicting Life of Prophet Muhammad (MEMRI)
    In July 2011, Iranian filmmakers announced a plan to create a film trilogy about the life of the Prophet Muhammad the first feature films about the Prophet ever to be made in the Muslim world.
    The announcement sparked controversy in Muslim countries, in light of fatwas that prohibit any depiction of Muhammad and other prominent figures from early Islam in works of art.
    The filmmakers recently announced that the filming of the first movie, depicting Muhammad's childhood, has been completed; this evoked a new wave of condemnation from clerics, especially in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where columnists attacked Iran and called on Muslims to prevent the film's distribution.



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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Images Show Iran Test Site Cleanup - Jay Solomon
    New satellite photographs published by a Washington think tank appear to show intensified efforts by Iran over the past week to cleanse a military site south of Tehran suspected of being used for nuclear-weapons research. The International Atomic Energy Agency has specifically been pressing Iran to allow inspectors to visit the Parchin military site, which the agency believes may have been involved in the testing of high explosives used to simulate a nuclear detonation.
        On Wednesday, the Institute for Science and International Security posted satellite photos taken on May 25 that appear to show the razing of two buildings at the Parchin site and the deployment of heavy machinery to move earth and equipment. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Two Buildings Razed at Suspected Parchin Explosive Testing Complex - David Albright and Robert Avagyan (Institute for Science and International Security)
  • Russia Dashes U.S. Hopes for Increased Pressure on Syria - Julian Pecquet
    Russia on Wednesday dashed U.S. hopes that the Kremlin would increase pressure on Syria following the massacre in Houma. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Interfax news agency that for Russia to increase pressure on Syria would be "hardly appropriate."  (The Hill)
  • Christians Should "Convert, Pay Tribute, or Leave," Says Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Candidate - Raymond Ibrahim
    According to the popular Egyptian website El Bashayer, Muhammad Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate, said on May 27 regarding the Christian Copts: "They need to know that conquest is coming, and Egypt will be Islamic, and that they must pay jizya (financial tribute required of non-Muslims) or emigrate."  (Gatestone Institute)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Ya'alon: Iran "Laughing All the Way to a Bomb" - Amos Harel
    Iran continues to strive for a nuclear weapon since it is not convinced the West is seriously contemplating a military strike against its facilities, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Wednesday, adding that Tehran was "laughing all the way to a bomb." He added that there was no sign that Iran felt "threatened, despite economic hardships." "They're not coming to these talks with a sense of urgency."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Security Agency Chief: We Thwarted Abduction at Last Minute - Moran Azulay
    Israel Security Agency chief Yoram Cohen told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday: "Recently we have managed to thwart an abduction attack at the very last minute." He noted that 50% of West Bank terror is carried out by Hamas and that out of 28 foiled terror plots, at least 18 were organized by Hamas. He also said that only a few of the Shalit deal detainees resumed their terrorist activity after their release, and that 2,000 terrorists were arrested in the past year.
        He added, "Security coordination with the PA is good....Given a concrete Israeli warning, the PA does act as it serves its interests too."  (Ynet News)
  • Israel Transfers Bodies of Palestinian Terrorists to West Bank, Gaza - Avi Issacharoff
    Israel transferred to Palestinian authorities on Thursday the bodies of 91 Palestinian terrorists, including several suicide bombers, saying it hoped the move would help restart peace efforts. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas both planned official memorial ceremonies since the terrorists are regarded as heroes. Dozens of Israelis were killed in attacks they carried out. (Ha'aretz)
        See also PA to Honor Suicide Bombers, Terrorists - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • How Tehran Is Outflanking Washington - Michael Singh
    U.S. officials often seem more worried about the consequences of military action against Iran than about the Iranian nuclear program a strike would be designed to destroy. Indeed, for many in the U.S., the mere fact of "intensive" talks about Iran's nuclear program is itself a success. For Iran, there is little indication that the talks are aimed at building confidence or opening up the broader possibility of U.S.-Iran rapprochement. Indeed, there is ample evidence that the Iranian regime views normal relations with the U.S. as undesirable, even threatening, while it views a nuclear weapons capability as strategically vital.
        Prolonging the talks serves Iran beyond merely buying time or delaying an attack. The talks enhance Iranian prestige by sitting as co-equal with the world's great powers and discussing the great issues of the day, while securing tacit acceptance of nuclear advances once deemed unacceptable. Iran's low-level uranium enrichment appears off the table for discussion, and Western analysts now frequently assert that insisting on the full suspension of enrichment and reprocessing by Iran is "unrealistic," even though it is called for in a series of UN Security Council resolutions.
        The fundamental bargain offered by the U.S. asks Iran to trade something it apparently values enormously - the ability to produce nuclear weapons - for something in which it has no demonstrable interest and likely regards as threatening, closer ties with the West. Iran must be presented with a different bargain: end its nuclear weapons work or face devastating consequences. Iran must be convinced that continued pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability will threaten, rather than ensure, the regime's ultimate survival. The writer is managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former senior director for Middle East affairs at the U.S. National Security Council. (New York Daily News)
  • First Round of Egypt's Presidential Election a Defeat for the Islamists - Barry Rubin
    While Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Muhammad Mursi received the most votes in the first round of the Egyptian election, the results were actually a defeat for the Brotherhood and Islamism. Only 44% backed an Islamist candidate, compared to 75% in the parliamentary election, and only 25% voted for the Muslim Brotherhood, compared to 47% in the parliamentary vote.
        The Brotherhood's victory in the previous elections made them more radical and more arrogant. They mistakenly cast off the cloak of pretended moderation too soon and scared some voters. When Islamists win, they become bolder and more aggressive. Yet the Islamists are still heading for control over Egypt. The parliament, which they run, is going to make the rules and write the constitution. (PJ Media)
        See also Behind the Egyptian Election Results - Issandr El Amrani
    The opinion polls' biggest failure was to accurately predict Amr Moussa's dismal performance. The former secretary-general of the Arab League spent months as the frontrunner and benefited from the best name-recognition of any candidate, but ended with under 11%. The number of voters who chose to vote neither for the Muslim Brotherhood nor an establishment figure, about 40-45%, indicates there is wide room for a political alternative to these two camps. Hamdeen Sabbahi, a populist who came in third, benefitted from being the only non-Islamist, non-former regime major candidate. (The National-Abu Dhabi)
Observations:

Netanyahu: Getting Iran to Stop Its 20 Percent Enrichment Is Not Enough (Prime Minister's Office)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Institute for National Security Studies on May 29:

  • To date, there have been several rounds of talks in which the Iranians were required to stop low levels of uranium enrichment, this is to say, to stop enrichment of 3.5%. Even though that is a low level, it is a significant part of the enrichment process needed to prepare fissile material for a bomb.
  • Not only did the Iranians not do this, they continued enriching uranium without interruption and increased their level of enrichment to 20%, and as it has recently become apparent, even higher than that. In other words, they are constantly advancing their nuclear program to create atomic bombs.
  • One would expect that the powers demand that Iran stop all enrichment in light of its serial violations and in light of the fact that they are currently enriching at a level of 20%, but instead they are reducing their demands. In the first round, they demanded that the Iranians stop the 3.5%, and even that is not happening now. In this round, they are not even insisting that the Iranians stop all enrichment.
  • On the one hand, it is good that they are imposing heavy economic sanctions on Iran. This is a positive and important thing. We asked for it, and I must say with satisfaction that this pressure is being put on Iran. However, on the other hand, these sanctions must be accompanied by the demands I outlined. It is the combination of the two that will lead to the stopping of the Iranian nuclear program.
  • It is very possible that the Iranians will temporarily stop their enrichment at 20%, but that is not enough. The test will be if the Iranians will agree to stop all enrichment, remove all enriched material and dismantle their underground nuclear facility at Qom. This is the test and there is no other.

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