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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
January 16, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

White House Won't Confirm or Deny Quotes Attributed to President - Donovan Slack (Politico)
    The White House is not denying a report that President Obama repeatedly said that "Israel doesn't know what its own best interests are."
    The comment, reported by columnist Jeffrey Goldberg on Monday, came after the administration of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced it would advance plans for settlements in the West Bank following recognition by the UN in November of the Palestinan Authority as an observer "state."

Pilgrims or Mercenaries? Identities of Iranian Hostages Freed by Free Syrian Army - Ali Alfoneh (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
    Nine of the Iranians released by the Free Syrian Army in a prisoner exchange with the Syrian government last week have been identified as active-duty members of the Revolutionary Guards.
    The writer is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Facebook Closes Account of Journalist Who Posted Articles on PA Corruption (Algemeiner)
    Khaled Abu Toameh, a veteran reporter for the Jerusalem Post, had his Facebook account deactivated for posting articles about corruption in the Palestinian Authority.
    "All I have done recently is share some articles which have been in the Jordanian press (in Arabic) about corruption. I am for transparency, against corruption, and yet they ban my account and continue to allow the leader of Hamas to have an account. I am not in favor of terrorism like he is."
    Facebook reportedly removed his account following complaints from the PA and Jordanian security authorities.
    See also Reporter's Facebook Account Reopened 24 Hours Later - Melanie Lidman (Jerusalem Post)

Video: Palestinian Terrorist Celebrates Engagement in Jail - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
    A new video posted on social networks documents the engagement party of Samar Abu Kwick, a Palestinian terrorist currently serving three life sentences for a terror attack ten years ago near Ramallah which claimed the lives of two Israeli soldiers.
    The video, shot by the prisoners using a mobile phone, shows the party in Abu Kwick's cell with music, food and drink. The prisoner is seen receiving his guests with hugs and kisses.

Video: Bar Mitzva Boy in Sacramento Gives Ambulance to Israel (KCRA-CNN)
    Robert Leeds, 13, used his bar mitzva money to purchase an ambulance for Ashkelon, Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Criticizes Egypt's Leader for Anti-Semitic Remarks - David D. Kirkpatrick
    White House spokesman Jay Carney on Tuesday condemned anti-Semitic comments made by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi before he took office, calling on him to "make clear this kind of rhetoric is not acceptable or productive in a democratic Egypt." In a three-year-old video clip, Morsi urged Egyptians to "nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred" for Jews and Zionists. In another video from 2010 Morsi referred to "Zionists" as "these bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs."
        Carney said: "We completely reject these statements, as we do any language that espouses religious hatred. This kind of discourse has been acceptable in the region for far too long and is counter to the goal of peace." Inflammatory anti-Semitism is a staple of political discourse of all stripes in Egypt. (New York Times)
        See also below Commentary: President Morsi's Repulsive Comments - Editorial (New York Times)
  • Palestinians Demand Salaries as PA Cash Crisis Bites - Noah Browning
    Hundreds of Palestinian government workers protested outside the PA prime minister's office in Ramallah in the West Bank on Tuesday, saying they had not received a full salary in almost three months amid a deepening financial crisis. From a high of $1.8 billion in 2008, foreign aid plummeted to $600 million last year, according to the Palestinian Monetary Authority. Yet hiring has continued to rise in the PA's swollen public sector, and efforts to improve tax and utility bill collections have only increased public anger.
        Palestinian officials said Arab countries had failed to deliver a $100 million monthly "safety net" promised before their UN statehood move in November. Around $200 million in U.S. budget assistance pledged by Washington in 2012 has been held up by Congress. (Reuters)
        See also EU Speeds Up Aid for Palestinians
    The European Union said Tuesday it was bringing forward to the first quarter of 2013 aid payments of 60 million euros ($80 million) to help the Palestinian Authority finance its budget deficit, pay civil servants and pensions, and provide essential public services. Another 40 million euros will go to UNRWA, paying for education, health, and social services for Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. (AFP)
  • Explosions Kill 87 at Syrian University - Mariam Karouny
    Two explosions tore through the University of Aleppo on Tuesday, killing 87 people and wounding dozens. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it could not identify the source of the blasts. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Urges UN to Keep Syrian WMDs from Hizbullah - Ilan Ben Zion
    Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that the world faces "the frightening possibility that Hizbullah could soon get its hands on Assad's vast stockpiles of chemical weapons." He urged world leaders to "act today, not tomorrow" to ensure Assad's arsenal doesn't fall into the hands of terrorists. "We have a responsibility to prevent the world's most dangerous weapons from falling into the hands of the world's most dangerous actors," he said. (Times of Israel)
        See also Statement by Amb. Prosor at UN Security Council Debate on Counter-Terrorism (IMRA-Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • PA Police Challenged in West Bank - Elhanan Miller
    Palestinian security forces arrived at the Balata refugee camp near Nablus on Tuesday to arrest Mohammed Abu-Zu'bul and Iyad Tirawi, leaders in Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigades, who were shown by Israel's Channel 2 TV on Thursday parading with their weapons and firing into the air. Women and children gathered at Abu-Zu'bul's home and forced the PA security forces to retreat, the Dunya al-Watan news agency reported.
        On Monday, shots were fired at Jenin governor Talal Dweikat, the Quds news network reported. The governor also received intimidating messages warning that his destiny would be similar to that of his predecessor, Qadura Moussa, who died of a heart attack last May after shots were fired at his home. (Times of Israel)
  • Government Seeks Court's Okay to Dismantle Palestinian E1 Tents - Tovah Lazaroff and Ben Hartman
    The Israeli government on Tuesday asked the High Court of Justice to rescind its temporary injunction protecting 25 large white protest tents, erected by Palestinians last Friday in an undeveloped area of Ma'ale Adumim known as E1. On Sunday some 100 activists were forcibly evacuated from the encampment, however the tents were protected by an injunction.
        The state disputed the activists' claim that the land was private Palestinian property, noting that it had been declared state land in 1982 and again in 2005. The state added that the Palestinians were staging a nationalist battle that had little to do with property rights. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • President Morsi's Repulsive Comments - Editorial
    Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's scurrilous comments from nearly three years ago about Zionists and Jews, which just came to light, have raised serious doubts about whether he can ever be the force for moderation and stability that is needed. That kind of pure bigotry is unacceptable anywhere, anytime. But it is even more offensive in public discourse, coming from someone who became the president of a major country.
        The sad truth is that defaming Jews is an all too standard feature of Egyptian, and Arab, discourse. Teaching children to hate and dehumanizing one's adversaries is just the kind of twisted mentality that fuels the conflicts that torment the region. (New York Times)
  • Egypt's U.S.-Subsidized Politics of Hate - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Better late than never is the only way one can describe the New York Times' decision to run an article about Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's history of anti-Semitic slanders. The problem is that Morsi's use of a phrase that is commonly employed throughout the Muslim world to describe Jews as well as other comments that are straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is so common in Egypt as to make it almost unexceptionable. That is in no small measure the result of Brotherhood propaganda and mainstream Islamist thought in which demonization of Israelis, Jews, and Americans is commonplace.
        While some might paint the Brotherhood as a responsible political movement, Jew-hatred is one of its core beliefs. The question is not so much whether Morsi will publicly disavow these slurs but whether the Obama administration will continue to buy into the myth that Morsi is some kind of a moderate whose government deserves to continue to be treated as an ally.
        Morsi's talk about "apes and pigs" is not a side issue to be ignored in the name of stability. It goes straight to the heart of whether Egypt should be treated as a nation ruled by a radical and hostile government that is confident that nothing it does will cause it to lose its American subsidy. (Commentary)
  • Obama, Israelis, and Palestinians: More Words, Less Action - David Makovsky and David Pollock
    In addressing the seemingly endless Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the second Obama administration enjoys the ironic advantage of exceedingly low expectations. The entire issue will probably have lower priority as compared with Obama's first term. Other, more urgent Mideast crises in Syria, Iran, Egypt and elsewhere, and the president's own perception of a pressing need for more "nation-building at home," make Palestinians and Israelis pale by comparison.
        Objecting to new Israeli construction in the West Bank is at best only half a strategy. To promote Israeli-Palestinian peace, the U.S. needs to pay at least as much attention to hate speech as to housing starts. The writers are fellows at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Atlantic)

The Struggle for the Fertile Crescent - Fouad Ajami (Wall Street Journal)

  • A struggle rages for a large swath of the Fertile Crescent, perhaps the most serious challenge to the borders of that slice of the Arab world since the European map makers stood up the states of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon in the aftermath of World War I.
  • During the Iraq War, the Alawite rulers in Damascus aided and abetted Sunni jihadists keen to do battle against the Americans and their Shiite supporters. With Syria ablaze, those jihadists, who see a chance to throw off the Alawite yoke, now war against Assad.
  • If the people in the Fertile Crescent had expected help and deliverance from the pre-eminent liberal power in the world, they now know better.

    The writer is a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution.

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