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December 28, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

UAE Arrests Cell Planning Attacks - Rania El Gamal (Reuters)
    Security forces in the United Arab Emirates have arrested a cell of UAE and Saudi Arabian citizens which was planning to carry out militant attacks in both countries and other states, the official news agency WAM said on Wednesday.
    Those arrested had acquired materials and equipment for use in terrorist operations.

Israel Redefines Victory in the New Middle East - Yaakov Lappin (Gatestone Institute)
    In the new Middle East, Hamas will continue firing rockets into Israel right up until the last day of a conflict, and claim victory despite absorbing the majority of damages and casualties.
    The last time Israel fought direct battles with organized military foes was during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Today, as the main goal of most conflicts, victory has been replaced by deterrence, rather than clear-cut conquest or triumph over the enemy.
    Furthermore, seizing control of the enemy's turf is seen as a short-term initiative, and assuming long-term control and responsibility for hostile populations is highly unpopular among strategic planners, who argue that this should be avoided wherever possible.
    Nevertheless, at some point, deterrence erodes and must be reestablished again. This is what happened in Gaza last month.
    The IDF's evolving new doctrine involves short spells of fighting in which it hits the other side hard enough to ensure that the Israeli home front will enjoy prolonged calm after the fighting ends.
    Senior Israeli defense sources have indicated this month that any future round of fighting with Hizbullah will make last month's Gaza conflict seem minor by comparison.
    The 1,500 targets struck in Gaza over the course of eight days in November could have been struck in 24 hours had the Israel Air Force elected to do so with its upgraded weapons systems.
    The IDF is not counting on rocket defense systems to secure future victories.

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Why Some "Turks" Are Less Equal - Burak Bekdil (Hurriyet-Turkey)
    Press reports revealed that the prosecutor's office in Istanbul that had tried the Israeli soldiers involved in the Mavi Marmara incident had asked the intelligence services for a listing of Turkish Jews who traveled to Israel two weeks before and after the incident.
    The suspects were put under surveillance and a list was sent to the court.
    The Turkish state and most Turks have always indiscriminately discriminated against the "other," whether the other is "foreign" or not.
    Ishak Alaton, Turkey's best-known Jewish entrepreneur and a frequent target of anti-Semitic rants in the Islamic media, told author Jenny White "that the man you interviewed today, who has reached 82-years-old, has never been given the feeling by this nation that I am part of it."

Egypt: Growing Criticism of Muslim Brotherhood - Zvi Bar'el (Ha'aretz)
    Demonstrations and demands to amend the most controversial clauses of Egypt's new constitution will continue in Cairo, together with demands to investigate and prosecute the people responsible for the deadly clashes outside the presidential palace around three weeks ago.
    The Muslim Brotherhood's popularity has plummeted steeply within a relatively short time.

Israel Grants Scholarships to 66 Indian Scholars - Manash Pratim Gohain (Times of India)
    66 post-doctoral scholars from India will pursue research at top Israeli universities after receiving three-year scholarship grants sponsored by the government of Israel.

Israelis Bring Water Expertise to India (Ynet News)
    An Israeli delegation of top water experts recently returned from India.
    "There is an almost uncanny fit between India's needs in the urban water arena and what Israeli companies are able to offer," said Abraham Tenne, VP Desalination at Israel's Water Authority.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Syrian Moderates Fear Being Edged Out of Uprising - Tom A. Peter
    Abdul Rahman leads a collection of moderate Free Syrian Army battalions in Aleppo. He says, "The moderates are the majority of people here in Syria, but now they are decreasing without any support....If it continues like it is now, extremist groups will have a lot of influence after the Assad government falls." Many Syrians say that conservative Islamist groups are gaining the most ground inside Syria right now. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Alawite Cleric: Assad Duped Us into Sectarian War
    An opposition Alawite religious cleric who recently fled to Turkey revealed that "the Alawite community is living in a state of great fear, after we have become aware that the collapse of the al-Assad regime is imminent, which will place us at the mercy of fierce reprisals from the Sunni majority." "Many Alawite families have already fled their homes in Damascus and returned to their villages in the Latakia countryside."
        The cleric said that he and other Alawite activists had called on the Alawite community "not to become embroiled in killing their Syrian brothers." The cleric also criticized the Syrian National Council and Syrian National Coalition, saying "the opposition has failed to put forward practical steps to reassure the Alawite community and convince them to abandon the al-Assad family."  (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • Battle for Aleppo Shows Weaknesses of Both Sides - C. J. Chivers
    Col. Abdul Jabbar al-Okaidi, a former Syrian military officer who is now a senior rebel commander in the Aleppo region, said, "Almost all of the military bases and regime forces in Aleppo have been surrounded." Syrian Army units in the area have been largely cut off from the capital. For weeks they have been yielding ground, contracting under the pressures of persistent rebel attacks and difficulties of resupply.
        The Assad regime's tactic of collective punishment through indiscriminate airstrikes and artillery barrages on residential neighborhoods has earned it only anger and disgust.
        Once able to roam freely in its armored columns, the army is confined mostly to Aleppo's south and west, retaining tenuous control of the airport in the southeast. Syrian Air Force support, almost continuous in the city over the summer, has dwindled. Passing attack jets often dispense decoy flares - a sign that pilots fear the rebels' portable, heat-seeking missiles. But the army, while weak, is still potent and difficult to dislodge. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • 14 Attacks by Palestinians on Israelis in West Bank on Thursday - Tovah Lazaroff
    Palestinians threw stones at IDF soldiers and Israeli vehicles in at least 14 separate incidents throughout the West Bank on Thursday. According to the IDF, there were eight incidents in which Palestinians threw stones at Israeli vehicles, including two buses. There were also six incidents in which groups of Palestinians attacked IDF soldiers. In a separate incident, Palestinians hurled stones, firebombs and two pipe bombs at Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Must Make Sure West Bank Not "Contaminated" with Gaza Rocket Capabilities - Yoav Zitun
    "The firing of the Iron Dome system's rocket-intercepting missiles during Operation Pillar of Defense cost the state NIS100 million (about $27 million)," Home Front Minister Avi Dichter revealed on Thursday. The five Iron Dome batteries intercepted 421 rockets with an 84% success rate.
        "The accuracy rate of their rockets is increasing. In any scenario we discuss, the attacks on the home front will emanate from Lebanon in the north and Gaza in the south. We must make certain that the West Bank is not 'contaminated' with these capabilities," Dichter said. (Ynet News)
  • A Month after Gaza War, Hamas Still Rides a Wave of Popularity - Joel Greenberg
    If presidential elections were held today in the West Bank and Gaza, the Hamas prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, would defeat Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a recently published poll showed. Hamas' claim that it won a victory in last month's war by striking deep into Israel appears to have resonated widely. At a Hamas rally this month in Nablus, the first allowed in the West Bank in five years, a veiled woman said permission for the rally did not represent a change in attitude by the PA, but rather its recognition of "the political situation" after "Hamas won in Gaza" last month. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • In the Wake of the Gaza War, How Israelis and Hamas Comfort Their Children - Samuel Heilman
    In a radio report on the BBC, a Gaza teacher describes the "therapy" provided for young Palestinian children traumatized by the eight days of war. To allow them to express their feelings, the little children were taken to a public square and lined up. Some were dressed in the green uniform of Hamas fighters and were "armed" with toy machine guns that they were encouraged to shoot in the air at Israelis. Then an Israeli flag was placed on the ground in front of them and set ablaze while all the youngsters stamped on it and screamed epithets of hatred toward Israel and Israelis, with the encouragement of their teachers.
        This stands in sharp contrast to the children in the Hof Ashkelon region who were "welcomed by a clown and a man dressed as a panda bear who hugged them and danced with them." In these episodes, we can see the future. For the children of Gaza it is one in which hatred of the Israeli supersedes all else. For the children of Israel, it is a need to be taught again to smile in the face of trauma.
        As long as the dream of a Palestinian boy is to lob bombs and rockets at Israelis, or Palestinian youngsters heal themselves by pretending to shoot Israelis and express loathing for them, there is neither hope for peace nor likelihood of a decent future for the Palestinian people. Those who encourage the Palestinians to see the source of their victimization in Israel are only paving the road to this dead end. The true enemy of the Palestinians is the hatred of Israel that they and others nurture and encourage. The writer is a distinguished professor of sociology at Queens College, CUNY. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Abbas, Sending Mixed Messages Is Not Peacemaking - Abraham Foxman
    For more than two years, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas - who is internationally portrayed as the moderate, peace-seeking, representative leader of the Palestinian people - has ignored repeated calls by Israel to return to negotiations, choosing instead to pursue counterproductive unilateral measures to promote Palestinian statehood.
        At the UN General Assembly, Abbas once again charged the Jewish state with everything from racism and genocide to ethnic cleansing. He made no mention of the violent terrorist actions committed by Hamas and other Gaza-based Palestinian factions against Israel, including last month's eight-day rocket bombardment of Israeli cities and towns.
        The Palestinian Authority must cease its stubborn refusal to negotiate with Israel and put an end to incendiary rhetoric and imagery. They must acknowledge that, as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton so aptly put it, the road to Palestinian statehood runs through Jerusalem and Ramallah, and not New York. The writer is National Director of the Anti-Defamation League. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamastine: A Present from the UN - Amin Farouk
    Near the Islamic University in Gaza - where PhD theses are written on topics such as "The role of the Muslim mother in preparing her sons to be martyrs of the resistance" - a large outdoor rally was recently held to glorify, celebrate and promote anti-Semitism and genocide.
        On stage was an enormous model of an M-75 rocket, which opened to reveal terrorist leader Khaled Mashaal and his entourage, who marched out to bask in Gazan adulation. Mashaal pointed to the rocket behind him and bragged about the "rain of missiles" Hamas had launched on Israeli civilians, especially in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
        He called for the annihilation of the Jews and the destruction of their homeland, for the continuation of rocket fire and terrorist attacks, for the abduction of IDF soldiers, and for jihad until the "liberation" of all "Palestine." "This land is the country of the Arab Islamic people where only Muslims and Christians will live."  (Gatestone Institute)

  • Weekend Features

  • Ha'aretz Resurrects the Theory of Khazar Roots of European Jewry - Dore Gold
    Every few years the theory is advanced that the Jews of Europe are actually descendants of the Khazar Kingdom, a mostly Turkish people whose king and nobility converted to Judaism in the early 8th century, allowing them to become a buffer state between Islam and Christendom. Last Friday, Ha'aretz again revived the Khazar theory when it showcased the work of Dr. Eran Elhaik, who claimed that based on genetic research: "the rise of European Jewry is therefore explained by the contribution of the Judeo-Khazars."
        What do historians have to say about the Khazar theory of the origins of European Jewry? Professor D.M. Dunlop of Columbia University was the most authoritative historian of the Khazar Kingdom. In his book The History of the Jewish Khazars, he explains that there is "little evidence" to substantiate the theory that after their defeat in 965, the Khazars sought refuge in Eastern Europe and became the basis of European Jewry.
        Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the advocates of the theory have persisted. In many cases over the last few decades, it appears that they are motivated mainly by a hostile political agenda which aims to advance the delegitimization of the Jewish state. The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Israel Hayom)
  • "Lawrence of Arabia" Believed in Zionism - Alexander Zvielli
    T.E. Lawrence, the legendary "Lawrence of Arabia," believed in Zionism as a force to restore Palestine to its ancient glory, brought about by active British-Jewish-Arab cooperation. During World War I he persuaded the Arabs to revolt against the Ottoman Turks. He organized an Arab fighting unit commanded by Emir Feisal, son of Sherif Hussein of Mecca, which captured Aqaba in 1916 and entered Damascus in 1918.
        In June 1918, Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann went to meet Emir Feisal in Trans-Jordan. Upon his arrival at Feisal's camp he was greeted by Lawrence, who instructed Weizmann on how to approach Emir Feisal and how to present his cause. Acting as translator, Lawrence helped persuaded Feisal that Jewish settlement in Palestine would be of great benefit to the country and the Arab people.
        During the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, an historic letter was published on March 3, on behalf of the Hedjaz delegation, signed by Emir Feisal, which said: "We feel that the Arabs and Jews are cousins by race...and by happy coincidence have been able to take first step towards the attainment of their national ideals together. We Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Winston Churchill Visits Palestine in 1921, Meets Lawrence and Emir Abdullah, and Voices Support for Jewish State (Israel Daily Picture)
  • What Wingate Wrought - Max Boot
    In 1936, T.E. Lawrence's distant cousin, British Army Captain Orde Wingate, was dispatched to Palestine as an intelligence officer in the British force striving to put down an Arab rebellion. Notwithstanding his Arabist background, he became enamored of Zionism. Wingate admired the Jews for making the desert "blossom like the rose," and he felt that they would be more valuable allies for Britain than the Arabs.
        The Arab revolt was marked by urban terrorism, with bombings and shootings targeting both British authorities and Jewish civilians. After the British regained control of the cities, the rebels focused on attacks against isolated Jewish settlements and police posts as well as against moderate Arabs.
        At first the Jews responded with restraint, but as the violence continued they began fighting back. In 1938 Wingate persuaded British and Zionist leaders to let him organize Special Night Squads made up of British soldiers and Jews whose practice was to march at night and attack at dawn. They would venture out of fortified kibbutzim to "bodily assault" Palestinian gangs. Yet he instructed the Night Squads to treat Arab civilians "with courtesy and respect."
        By the time Wingate left Palestine in 1939, he had earned the lasting gratitude of Palestinian Jews. Veterans of his Night Squads, including Moshe Dayan and Yigael Yadin, would become leading generals in Israel's army, which they infused with his insistence on fast-moving offensive operations led by officers from the front, and his emphasis on preempting terrorist attacks. The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Weekly Standard)

How to Secure Israel's Future - Ehud Barak (Prospect-UK)

  • The State of Israel lives in a tough neighborhood, one in which there is no second chance for those who are unable to defend themselves, a neighborhood which is characterized by uncertainty, instability and hostility.
  • About 15% of our citizens have spent the last decade under the direct threat of artillery rockets, mortars and missiles, launched indiscriminately by terror groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. During the recent escalation with Hamas, half of the country was within range of the terrorists' missiles launched from Gaza (and 1,500 were fired in eight days in November).
  • On our northern border, Hizbullah, a Shia terrorist organization based in Lebanon, has amassed an arsenal of around 70,000 artillery rockets and missiles. The Sinai peninsula has become anarchical, while the brutal civil war in Syria has already trickled over into the Golan Heights.
  • Iran remains the chief sponsor of terror, continuing - openly - to arm and fund the terrorist organizations seeking to destabilize the region. It supports Hizbullah, as well as Assad's brutal campaign in Syria. It aspires to be the regional hegemon and continues to develop its military nuclear program.
  • It is often noted that the Iranian threat represents a complex challenge for Israel. That is undeniable, but for Israel, this "complex challenge" could become a potentially existential threat.
  • Israelis are a stiff-necked people. We must be strong and open-eyed; extending one hand out perennially to feel for any potential opportunity for peace. The other hand, however, as is imperative in our tough neighborhood, must remain firmly on the trigger, ready to protect our citizens should the necessity arise.

    The writer, a former prime minister, is Israel's minister of defense.
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