Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
August 29, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Egypt Leader Said to Reach Out to Sinai Radicals - Maggie Michael (AP)
    Egypt's Islamist president is using former jihadists to mediate with radical Islamists in Sinai, trying to ensure a halt in militant attacks in return for a stop in its military offensive in Sinai.
    The dialogue also raised concerns that it would give de facto recognition to some of the most hard-core, fringe Islamist movements.
    Since a surprise ambush of Egyptian troops on the border with Israel and Gaza on Aug. 5, killing 16 soldiers, thousands of troops backed by tanks have been deployed in northern Sinai.
    There were several raids on alleged militant hideouts in the first few days, but the military operation seems to have avoided direct confrontations.

Ecuador Allowing Iran to Evade Sanctions - Philip Sherwell (Telegraph-UK)
    Documents obtained by the Sunday Telegraph in Quito last week reveal detailed plans to establish substantial banking mechanisms between Ecuador and Iran, even though they have only the tiniest of trade links.
    The new financial ties have prompted suspicions that the real intention is to help Tehran circumvent sanctions by channeling funds through Quito.
    Ecuador has used the U.S. dollar as its own currency since a 2000 financial crisis brought the country to its knees. So any deal would give Iran, which is being choked of access to U.S. dollars by international sanctions, immediate access to America's financial backyard.
    Roger Noriega, a former U.S. ambassador who now monitors Latin America at the American Enterprise Institute, said "these suspicious transactions with Iran should be investigated by the United States and the United Nations."

Palestinians Put UN Recognition Bid on Hold - Mohammed Daraghmeh (AP)
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has decided not to apply for "nonmember" status at the UN General Assembly next month, Foreign Minister Riad Malki said Tuesday in Tehran where he was attending a summit of non-aligned nations.
    Analysts expect the Palestinians to resume their campaign after the U.S. presidential election.

Arab States Lead Call to Censure Israel's Nuclear Program - George Jahn (AP)
    Muslim nations are seeking Israel's censure over its atomic program at September's International Atomic Energy Agency meeting - a move Israel says is a sideshow that deflects attention from the real danger to Mideast peace - Iran.

Bulgarian Muslim Bus Driver's Family to Receive Aid - Gil Shefler (Jerusalem Post)
    The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) announced at a ceremony in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia that it will include the family of the Bulgarian Muslim bus driver, Mustafa Kyosov, killed in a terror attack that targeted Israeli tourists in Burgas last month, among recipients of aid from the Fund for the Victims of Terror.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • State Department: We Will Continue to Provide Support for Rachel Corrie's Family
    Asked about the Israeli court ruling against the family of Rachel Corrie, the American who was killed in 2003 in Gaza, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Tuesday: "First of all, we reiterate our condolences to the Corrie family on the tragic death of their daughter, Rachel. As you know, we've worked with the family all through this process, and we will continue to provide consular support. We understand the family's disappointment with the outcome of the trial. Under Israeli law, the family has the right to appeal the verdict, and we've seen reports that they are considering doing that. So we will see how this proceeds going forward."  (State Department)
        See also U.S. to Help Family of Slain U.S. Peace Activist Appeal Israeli Ruling (Kuwait News Agency)
        See also below Observations: Summary of the Verdict: Estate of Rachel Corrie v. The State of Israel - Judge Oded Gershon (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Syrian Rebels Patch Together an Arsenal, Including U.S. Weapons from Iraq - C.J. Chivers
    Mixing arms captured from their enemies with arms smuggled across borders, and adding in weapons that the rebels' supporters have made in a constellation of hidden shops, Syria's guerrilla brigades have managed to drive the conventionally equipped Syrian armed forces from areas of the northern countryside and, in certain areas, to put the government to siege.
        Working together at the urging of antigovernment fighters, Syrian businesses and tradesmen have organized a network engaged in making weapons. Some shops concoct explosives and propellants, others wire together the circuits for makeshift bombs. Machinists assemble rockets and mortars. Still others remove the propellant from captured tank and artillery rounds, which is then repurposed in the rebels' arms. This shadowy industry serves as an indicator of the rebels' local organization.
        The rebels have been aided by an unlikely source: the Pentagon's distribution of weapons for Iraq's security forces. A Sunni smuggler called Abu Khaled has been ferrying in weapons from Iraq since the uprising began. In an interview, Abu Khaled said he acquired his weapons from the Iraqi army and police officers, who freely sold old stock and weapons provided them by the U.S. "They sell everything," he said. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Muslim Brotherhood: Morsi Visit in Israel Impossible - Roi Kais
    Gamal Heshmat, a senior official in the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, came out on Wednesday against Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's invitation to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to visit Israel. Heshmat stressed that "there is no possibility for Morsi to visit the Zionist entity" and that "accepting Israel's invitation would be unimaginable." He noted that even ousted president Hosni Mubarak only visited Israel once, to attend Yitzhak Rabin's funeral. "If Mubarak never held such a visit, how could Morsi do it?" he said. (Ynet News)
  • Netanyahu: Iran, Islamic Rise Are Barriers to Negotiations - Herb Keinon
    Iran and the growing Islamic ascendancy in the region are acting as a barrier against any chances of soon restarting negotiations with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) on Tuesday. As long as Iran seemed to be ascendant, and as long as it supported a growing Islamist tendency in the region that is overwhelmingly hostile to Israel - including holding huge sway over Hamas - the Palestinian Authority was not going to come out against the way the regional winds were blowing.
        Israel's position is that if Iran was successfully dealt with and its regional influence reduced, it would be easier to strike a deal with the Palestinians since there would be fewer actors trying to torpedo any agreement. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Ya'alon: Iran Must Decide - Nuclear Bomb or Survival - Gilad Morag
    "Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. We must act together, determinedly and firmly, with all the means at our disposal," Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Tuesday during a commemoration ceremony in the main synagogue in Sofia for the victims of the terror attack in Bulgaria. "The enlightened Western nations must join hands and fight the radical Islamist terror," Ya'alon said. "This terror is occasionally carried out by (Iran's) proxy - the murderous Hizbullah organization. Its objective is to destroy Western culture, expand the Islamic revolution and wipe Israel off the map."
        "We should impose harsher sanctions and not be under the illusion that we are dealing with a conventional regime. We mustn't take any option off the table. And, before it is too late, we must force the violent, tyrannical Iranian regime to face a dilemma: A bomb or survival."  (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Corrie Case: Reckless Choices - Anne Herzberg
    The district court in Haifa found that Rachel Corrie's own negligence led to her death after kneeling in front of an IDF bulldozer during a military operation in Gaza. Corrie, a U.S. college student and member of the radical International Solidarity Movement, traveled to Gaza to serve as a human shield and to directly participate in hostilities between Israel and Palestinian combatants. Numerous Israeli investigations, as well as an expose in Mother Jones, showed that the driver of the bulldozer did not see Corrie and that her death was not intentional. Nevertheless, Corrie became an instant martyr in the political war against Israel.
        After 10 years, it is time to come to terms with the fact that Corrie was responsible for her own poor choices. The writer is the Legal Advisor of NGO Monitor. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also The Corrie Verdict - Editorial
    Rachel Corrie was killed by falling debris, not by the bulldozer. Furthermore, IDF soldiers using teargas had attempted repeatedly to remove her and other pro-Palestinian activists, but Corrie escaped the soldiers by hiding. The Corries also lost a U.S. legal battle against Caterpillar Inc., the firm that sold the bulldozer to the IDF. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Morsi's Wrong Turn - Thomas L. Friedman
    I find it very disturbing that one of the first trips by Egypt's newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, will be to attend the Nonaligned Movement's summit meeting in Tehran this week. Excuse me, President Morsi, but there is only one reason the Iranian regime wants to hold the meeting in Tehran and have heads of state like you attend, and that is to signal to Iran's people that the world approves of their country's clerical leadership and therefore they should never, ever again think about launching a democracy movement - the exact same kind of democracy movement that brought you, Mr. Morsi, to power in Egypt.
        Morsi, who was brought to power by a courageous democracy revolution that neither he nor his Muslim Brotherhood party started - but who benefited from the free and fair election that followed - is lending his legitimacy to an Iranian regime that brutally crushed just such a movement in Tehran. Morsi should be ashamed of himself. (New York Times)
  • Can Hizbullah Survive the Fall of Assad? - Hanin Ghaddar
    The Shiite militant group Hizbullah, long Syria's powerful proxy in Lebanon, has become a wounded beast. And it is walking a very thin line between protecting its assets and aiding a crumbling regime next door. Syria is losing sway in Lebanon, and Hizbullah no longer exercises the same level of control over state institutions as it once did. Today, Hizbullah is regarded by the Arab street as an ally of a dictator who is killing his people. (New York Times)
  • Syria's Escalating Slaughter - Editorial
    According to opposition sources, at least 300 people were slaughtered in the Damascus suburb of Daraya last week by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. The Assad regime is seeking to regain control over opposition-held areas by teaching their residents that harboring the rebels will be punished with mass murder. It's no wonder that civilians are fleeing Syria at a greater rate than ever. The U.S. would be foolish to continue standing by while allies such as Turkey and Jordan are swamped, and possibly destabilized, by Syrian refugees. (Washington Post)

Summary of the Verdict: Estate of Rachel Corrie v. The State of Israel - Judge Oded Gershon (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

  • During the relevant period of time, the "Philadelphi Corridor" was the site of daily warfare, i.e., daily gunfire by snipers, missile fire and IED explosions directed at the IDF forces, events which led to the injury and death of many Israelis. There was a military directive in force declaring the "Philadelphi Corridor" a "closed military area" and forbidding the entry of civilians. Less than one hour before the incident, a hand-grenade was thrown at the IDF forces.
  • Rachel Corrie was an activist in the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), whose activists "specialized" in sabotaging the IDF's operational actions. ISM activities included stationing activists to serve as "human shields" for terrorists wanted by Israeli security forces; financial, logistical and moral assistance to Palestinians, including terrorists and their families; interrupting demolition activities or the sealing off of houses belonging to terrorists who conducted suicide attacks with multiple casualties.
  • The two bulldozers and the armored personnel carrier were occupied with the clear military operational task of clearing the land in a dangerous area which posed a significant risk. The force's action was designed to eliminate the danger of terrorists hiding and to expose hidden explosive devices, both of which were intended to kill IDF soldiers. The act of clearing the land was "a war-related action."
  • The decedent was behind the bulldozer's blade and behind a pile of dirt and therefore the bulldozer's operator could not have seen her. The bulldozer moved very slowly, at a speed of one kilometer per hour. When the decedent saw the pile of dirt moving towards her, she did not move, as any reasonable person would have. She began to climb the pile of dirt. Therefore, the decedent was trapped in the pile of dirt and fell. The decedent could have distanced herself from any danger without any difficulty. However, she chose to take the risk described above, and that eventually led to her death.
  • There is no foundation to the plaintiffs' claim that the bulldozer struck the decedent intentionally. This was a very unfortunate accident and was not intentional. No one wished to harm the decedent. I was convinced that the bulldozer's operator would not have continued to work if he had seen the decedent standing in front of the bulldozer, as he and his colleagues acted in similar circumstances earlier that day, when they moved from location to location because of the disturbances caused by the members of the ISM.
  • Because the decedent was accidentally killed in the framework of a "war-related activity," the State bears no responsibility for the damages inflicted on the plaintiffs resulting from a war-related action. Because of the circumstance surrounding the decedent's death, I will not make the plaintiffs' pay the legal expenses and each side will bear its own costs.

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