Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at
Daily Alert app on Android
  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
January 1, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Egyptian Official: Israel Will Be Wiped Out in a Decade - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
    Asharq al-Awsat reported Tuesday that Muslim Brotherhood official and advisor to the Egyptian president Essam al-Aryan wrote on his Facebook account that Israel is destined to collapse.
    "There will be no such thing as Israel, instead there will be Palestine which will be home to Jews, Muslims and Druze and all of the people who were there from the start."
    "Those who want to stay will stay as Palestinian citizens. Those who conquered Palestine will have to go back to their countries."
    A source at Egypt's presidential palace told Asharq al-Awsat that al-Aryan does not represent the presidency's stance.

Press Freedom Group Shocked at Hamas Ban on Israeli Media (Guardian-UK)
    The recent ban imposed by Hamas on Palestinian journalists in Gaza who cooperate with the Israeli media has outraged the Paris-based international press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
    The group issued a statement saying: "This is the first time the Palestinian authorities have issued such a ban, which poses a serious threat to freedom of information."
    "It will also create problems for the not insignificant number of Palestinian journalists in Gaza who work for Israeli TV stations and newspapers."
    "We urge the Hamas government to rescind this order."

Israel Economy Best in the West, Grew 3.3 Percent in 2012 - Steven Scheer (Reuters)
    Israel's economy grew an estimated 3.3% in 2012, its slowest pace in three years, but it still outpaced the 1.4% average growth rate for Western nations.
    Growth slowed from 4.6% in 2011, mainly due to recessions in Europe, Israel's largest trading partner, weak growth in the U.S. and slower growth in Asia.
    "Given the international situation, the Israeli economy is doing very well," Shlomo Yitzhaki, the government's statistician, said Monday.

Sharp Decline in Infiltrators from Egypt Seeking Work in Israel (Israel Prime Minister's Office)
    36 illegal work infiltrators crossed the border from Egypt into Israel in December, down from 2,295 last January.

Israel Home to 8 Million Citizens - Yaron Druckman (Ynet News)
    Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics reported Sunday that the state's population numbers 7,981,000.
    6,015,000 (75.4%) of Israelis are Jews, 1,648,000 are Arabs and 319,000 are affiliated with other religions and ethnic groups.
    170,000 babies were born in 2012, in addition to the arrival of 16,500 new immigrants.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use/Privacy 

Related Publication:
Israel Campus Beat
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran May Be Reconsidering Position on Syria - Ramin Mostaghim and Alexandra Sandels
    As rebel forces advance and longtime allies in Moscow distance themselves, Syria's most faithful friend is recalculating as well: Iranian officials and analysts say the Islamic Republic has launched a vigorous internal debate about how firmly it will continue to support Syrian President Bashar Assad.
        "The debate behind the curtains among experts and officials regarding the Syrian crisis is very hot," said an Iranian journalist with close ties to the office of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "Staunch support for Bashar Assad's regime is costing the Islamic Republic of Iran a lot." Shiite Muslim Iran faces increasing isolation if Assad is overthrown by predominantly Sunni Muslim rebels supported by Iran's regional rivals in the Persian Gulf.
        In the Iranian media, censors had permitted no criticism or negative stories about Assad until about two months ago. Pro-government and opposition papers have both started running articles that forecast the end of Assad's rule. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Obama Signs "Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act"
    President Barack Obama enacted a law to counter Iran's influence in Latin America, through a new diplomatic and political strategy to be designed by the State Department. The Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act calls for the State Department to develop a strategy within 180 days to "address Iran's growing hostile presence and activity" in the region. It also calls on the Department of Homeland Security to bolster surveillance at U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico to "prevent operatives from Iran, the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps), its Quds Force, Hizbullah or any other terrorist organization from entering the U.S."
        Iran has opened six new embassies in Latin American countries since 2005 - bringing the total to 11 - and 17 cultural centers. Tehran has particularly close ties with Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela. (AFP)
  • After Rocket Attack, an Israeli City Seems Resigned to More in the Future - Jodi Rudoren and Irit Pazner Garshowitz
    Rishon Lezion, Israel's fourth-largest city, seven miles south of Tel Aviv, was struck by a rocket from Gaza on Nov. 20. In its aftermath, many residents are resigned to the unlikeliness of a long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in their lifetimes. Ayal Sheffer, 43, said, "I just want quiet for my children and my country." But as for the Palestinians, he added, "I don't think any contract we'd do with them would give us quiet." A poll on behalf of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs found that 83% of Israeli Jews do not believe that a withdrawal to the 1967 borders and a division of Jerusalem would bring an end to the conflict. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hizbullah Partners with Mexican Drug Cartels - Eldad Beck
    U.S. intelligence indicates that Mexico is home to some 200,000 Syrian and Lebanese immigrants - most of them illegal - who were able to cross the border via an extensive web of contacts with drug cartels. Western intelligence agencies have gathered ample evidence suggesting that the drug cartels in Mexico - which are the de facto rulers of the northern districts bordering the U.S. - are in cahoots with Islamic terror organizations.
        In December 2011, U.S. authorities released an indictment against Lebanese drug lord Ayman Juma, which exposed Hizbullah's involvement with the Los Zetas drug cartel, the most technologically advanced and most dangerous cartel operating in Mexico.
        Hizbullah is helping the drug lords build smuggling tunnels under the U.S.-Mexico border. A 2009 Department of Homeland Security wiretap recorded Professor Abdallah Nafisi, a Kuwaiti clergyman and known al-Qaeda recruiter, boasting about the ease by which nonconventional weapons can be smuggled into the U.S. through the Mexican drug tunnels. "Ten pounds of anthrax in a medium-size suitcase, carried by a Jihad warrior through the tunnels, can kill 300,000 Americans in one hour," he said. "It will make 9/11 look like peanuts."  (Ynet News)
  • Arab-Israeli Soldier Hides His Uniform from Neighbors - Reuven Weiss
    Samir (alias), 26, a Muslim Arab from northern Israel and a married father of one, is a combat soldier in the IDF. He serves in a Home Front Command search and rescue battalion, whose men also perform combat activities. "I love the army," he says. "If I was born and raised in Syria, I would have served in their army. But I live here, so I decided to do my part and enlist."
        In Samir's village army service is not generally accepted. The few who volunteered are still the target of harassment. His wife and parents were the only ones who supported his decision. "I'm in a good place," he says. "If I can continue in the regular service, I will. If not, I will try and join the civilian emergency services: police or fire brigades." Despite the difficulties, Samir calls on Muslim youth to follow in his footsteps. "It's very gratifying," he says. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Liberal Egyptians Wary of Muslim Brotherhood's "Supreme Guide" - Stephanie McCrummen
    During recent opposition protests over the draft constitution, the angriest and most fervent chants were aimed at Mohammed Badie, 69, the "Supreme Guide" of the Muslim Brotherhood who, many are convinced, is secretly ruling Egypt. "Down with the Guide!" they yelled.
        To many seculars, Christians and moderate Muslims, Badie is the dark prince of a coming Islamist tyranny. During street protests, it is common to see images of Badie depicted as an Iranian ayatollah or as Satan. A popular YouTube video casts him as Marlon Brando's don in "The Godfather."
        The reality of Badie's influence is more complicated and difficult to know. According to analysts, he is a relatively uncharismatic figure who was chosen for the top position in 2010 partly for that reason. As the Brotherhood has turned toward politics, Badie has been overshadowed by more powerful figures in the Brotherhood's Guidance Bureau, experts say, including Khairat el-Shater and Mahmoud Ezzat. In his role as Supreme Guide, Badie delivers sermons and speeches that reflect a consensus within the Brotherhood rather than his independent thoughts or directives. (Washington Post)
  • Iran Wakes to New Syrian Reality - Walter Russell Mead
    Syria is crucial to Iran's grand design in the Middle East. It was also the means by which Iran was able to support Hizbullah in Lebanon and construct an anti-Israel alliance with Hamas that helped offset Iran's deep disadvantages on the Arab street, making it look less like a "Persian" and "heretical" anti-Arab power and more like a leader of global Islam in the fight against the West.
        The growing likelihood that decades of building this position will end in catastrophe represents the greatest threat to the Iranian regime since its failure in the Iran-Iraq war. (American Interest)
  • Arab Media Back Charges of Palestinian War Crimes
    Years of exaggerating their losses, and deliberately trying to get their own civilians killed (for propaganda purposes) has caught up with the Palestinians, who are now being accused of war crimes (for using those tactics). This was because Israel was able to provide enough video evidence of Palestinians in Gaza firing rockets from residential neighborhoods, as well as Arab media stories discussing the use of this tactic, to persuade Western media and war crimes researchers that they were being played by the Palestinians. (Strategy Page)

The Year the Arab Spring Went Bad - F. Gregory Gause, III (Foreign Policy)

  • Many countries in the Middle East lack long histories of political unity: Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen are all relatively recent creations; their borders are artificial and their populations are divided along sectarian, ethnic, and regional lines. Furthermore, there is no consensus on core political issues in the Arab world. A plurality of people in these countries now say "Islam is the solution" to their problems - and they are opposed by an equally vehement minority.
  • The consequences of state weakness means the strengthening of tribalism, sectarianism, and other sub-state identities. These sub-state identities in weak states create a vicious circle. New governments, even those freely elected, find their ability to govern severely limited.
  • Between 1949 and 1970, Syria used to be the poster child for Arab political instability, experiencing nine military coups and a brief period of amalgamation with Egypt. After two years of fighting, Syrians look to their own sectarian communities for safety, not the state.
  • With centralized state authority weakened, these countries have become the playing fields of regional rivalry. Local actors invite the foreigners in, looking to them for money, guns and political support. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Qatar are all playing in Syria and Iraq. Saudi Arabia and Iran both support factions in Lebanon. The Saudis are still the monopoly players in Yemen and Bahrain.
  • The role of Salafis, following an ultra-orthodox version of Islam, will enormously influence the future of political transitions across the Arab world. Historically, they have rejected democratic politics as a Western innovation, though some Salafis are ready to participate in electoral politics. While we in the West worry about whether secularists can influence the course of political transitions in the Arab world, the more important question might be whether the Salafis can ever be brought on board for a democratic future.

    The writer is professor of political science at the University of Vermont and non-resident fellow at the Brookings Doha Center.

Unsubscribe from Daily Alert