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July 5, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Al-Qaeda's Jihad on Anti-Morsi Egyptians - Raymond Ibrahim (Gatestone Institute)
    Hours before Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was sidelined by the military council, Muhammad al-Zawahiri, Egypt's al-Qaeda leader, declared that the terrorist organization would wage a jihad to save Morsi and his Islamist agenda for Egypt.
    According to a July 2 report, "al-Qaeda, under the leadership of Muhammad Zawahiri, is currently planning reprisal operations by which to attack the army and the Morsi-opposition all around the Republic [of Egypt]."
    The report adds that Zawahiri had been arrested and was being interrogated - only to be ordered released by a [Morsi] presidential order. He has since fled to the Sinai, where al-Qaeda is stationed.
    In the context of all these threats, many Egyptians are understandably worried.
    This may also explain why so many leading Islamists - including Morsi himself - have been arrested and held by the military, on the charge of inciting Muslims against anti-Morsi demonstrators, by portraying them as "apostates" who must be fought and killed for trying to resist the implementation of the Sharia of Allah.
    It may be that they are also being held as hostages to dissuade al-Qaeda from waging an all-out jihad.
    It is folly to think that Morsi, the Brotherhood, and all their Islamist and jihadi allies are going to go peacefully.
    Now that the Islamists have tasted power, it is unlikely that they will quietly release the reins of power without a fight.

Syria Is Jihad Central: 6,000 Terrorists Flood New Al-Qaeda Training Ground - Bill Gertz (Washington Times)
    Thousands of foreign terrorists traveled to Syria over the past several months to wage jihad in what U.S. officials say is fast becoming a new international terror training ground.
    Most of the foreign terrorists are fighting for the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front and are coming mainly from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya, and Tunisia, by crossing the Syrian border with Turkey.
    The large numbers have increased fears among security officials that the terrorists will use their experience to spread terror to their home countries.
    Of particular concern are reports that the Islamist rebels are receiving significant numbers of Russian-made SA-7 anti-aircraft missiles that could be used against commercial airliners.

Abbas Honors Palestinian Terror Leader - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Gatestone Institute)
    PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has awarded the "highest order of the Star of Honor" to arch-terrorist Nayef Hawatmeh, leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).
    The DFLP carried out many deadly terror attacks in the 1970s, including the killing of 22 schoolchildren and 4 adults in Ma'alot, the killing of 9 children and 3 adults in an attack on a school bus, the killing of 7 in a Jerusalem bombing, and the killing of 4 hostages in an apartment building in Beit Shean.
    Abbas praised Hawatmeh's "efforts to raise the flag of Palestine since the launch of the Palestinian revolution."

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German Newspaper Expresses Regret over Anti-Israel Cartoon (AP-Washington Post)
    The Munich-based Sueddeutsche Zeitung has expressed regret after publishing a cartoon that appeared to depict the State of Israel as a ravenous monster, calling its publication "a mistake."
    Israel's ambassador in Berlin criticized the picture and Jewish groups denounced it as anti-Semitic.

Lockheed to Build Technology Hub in Israel (UPI)
    Lockheed Martin plans to set up a technology development center in Israel, underlining the defense ties between Israel and the U.S.
    "The intention is to establish a local branch of Lockheed Martin in Israel in the field of information systems," said Lockheed Martin's Vice President for Global Solutions, Robert Eastman.
    Israel's military intelligence is currently fast-tracking its cyber warfare capabilities to meet a growing threat, primarily from Iran.
    Lockheed Martin has extensive cyber defenses of its own. "We have about 30 attacks a day," Eastman said.

Israeli Internet Startups Poised for the Spotlight (AP-Washington Post)
    The billion-dollar sale of navigation company Waze to Google may finally be putting Israel on the map as a major player in consumer Internet innovation.
    Israel's high-tech sector has been dominated by firms that made products for other businesses, like computer chips or communications gear. But in recent years Internet and mobile companies have emerged as the majority of Israeli startups.
    The Israeli way is "doing things simple when you need a complicated result because you don't have the money and the resources," said Michal Adam of the IVC Research Center, which tracks statistics on Israeli venture capital.
    "There's always a special Israeli take, and the take is 'Let's go crazy, let's bring something that's completely off the charts.'"

In Israel's Negev Desert, a Budding Wine Boom - Charlie Osborne (SmartPlanet)
    To most eyes, Israel's Negev desert is the worst place to choose to plant anything, much less a vineyard. But 20 years ago Israelis chose the arid Negev to foster a fledgling winemaking industry, with more than two dozen wineries now in operation.
    Pedro Berliner, director of the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, said drought conditions and the use of water with a high concentration of salt and low level of oxygen produce a sweeter wine.
    "Plants under stress produce more carbohydrates and so more sugar, which changes the taste of the grape."

The Tranquil Jerusalem Bird Observatory - Michael McCarthy (Independent-UK)
    The Jerusalem Bird Observatory, a tiny urban oasis near the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, has recorded more than 200 bird species in the 20 years of its existence.
    The reason is that Jerusalem is on the edge of one of the world's great bird-migration routes - the Great Rift Valley.
    Twice yearly, millions of birds crossing between Europe and Africa are funneled up and down this flyway at the eastern end of the Mediterranean.
    The Israeli warden, Alena Kacal, says: "People leave their religious and political differences at the gate. We're here for nature."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Crackdown on Morsi Backers Deepens Divide in Egypt - Ben Hubbard, David Kirkpatrick and Mayy El Sheikh
    Backers of ousted Islamic Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi called Thursday for nationwide demonstrations on Friday, within hours of the military ouster of the country's first freely elected president, in a crackdown that left scores of his Muslim Brotherhood backers under arrest. (New York Times)
  • For Islamists, Dire Lessons on Politics and Power - David Kirkpatrick and Ben Hubbard
    Islamists are drawing lessons from Egyptian President Morsi's ouster that could shape political Islam for a generation. For some, it demonstrated the futility of democracy in a world dominated by Western powers and their client states. But others, acknowledging that the coup accompanied a broad popular backlash, faulted the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood for reaching too fast for so many levers of power.
        "The message will resonate throughout the Muslim world loud and clear: democracy is not for Muslims," Essam el-Haddad, Morsi's foreign policy adviser, warned shortly before the military detained him. The overthrow of an elected Islamist government in Egypt, Haddad wrote, would fuel more violent terrorism. In Egyptian Sinai, thousands of Islamists rallied under the black flag of jihad and cheered widely at calls for "a war council" to roll back Morsi's ouster. "The age of peacefulness is over," the speaker declared. (New York Times)
        See also Islamist Gunmen Attack Egyptian Security Forces in Sinai
    Islamist gunmen staged multiple attacks on Egyptian security forces in Sinai early on Friday. A soldier was killed and two were wounded when a police station in Rafah on the border with Gaza came under rocket fire. Earlier, attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades at army checkpoints guarding El Arish airport. (Reuters)
  • A Coup? Or Something Else? $1.5 Billion in U.S. Aid Is on the Line - Peter Baker
    By all accounts, the generals removed the democratically-elected president, put him in detention, arrested his allies and suspended the constitution. But was it a military coup d'etat? Under U.S. law, President Obama has no choice but to cut off financial assistance to Egypt if he determines that Morsi was deposed in a military coup. Egyptian officials quickly argued that what happened was not a coup but a popular uprising. "It's not a coup because the military did not take power," said Mohamed Tawfik, the Egyptian ambassador in Washington. "The military did not initiate it. It was a popular uprising. The military stepped in in order to avoid violence."
        As one of the largest recipients of American aid, Egypt has long depended on Washington's beneficence, and the Obama administration, like its predecessors, has been reluctant to shut off the spigot, to keep the country committed to its longstanding peace agreement with Israel. As a practical matter, there would be little immediate impact if Obama concluded that the crisis constituted a coup, because Washington disbursed this year's military aid in May and presumably would not deliver more until next winter or spring.
        "The law by its terms dictates one thing, and sensible policy dictates that we don't do that," said Howard Berman, a former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "That's why the executive branch gets to decide whether it's a coup or not."  (New York Times)
        See also U.S. Must Suspend Aid after Egypt's Coup - Editorial (Washington Post)
        See also The U.S. Shouldn't Cut Off Aid to a New Egyptian Government - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Morsi's Overthrow Hurts Hamas in Gaza - Elior Levy
    A source close to the Gaza government told Ynet that Hamas "is in complete and utter shock" after Egyptian President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were ousted from power. For more than a month, Egypt's army has been hard at work battling the tunnels connecting Gaza to Egyptian Sinai. For more than a week all tunnel movement has come to a complete standstill except for the transfer of small quantities of diesel fuel.
        The Rafah crossing into Egypt is open, but last week only 600 people were permitted to pass daily into Sinai, as opposed to 1,200 usually allowed. In addition, the last few days have seen an influx in Palestinians returning from Egypt to Gaza, fearing for their safety. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Arrests Palestinian Security Officer Involved in Drive-By Shooting
    Israel arrested a Palestinian security officer who was involved in a drive-by shooting which wounded an Israeli at a bus stop near Kedumim in the West Bank on March 13, the Israel Security Agency announced Wednesday. Ayad Adnan Daoud, 30, a PA policeman from Kalkilya, was apprehended in May, together with his brothers Baha'a and Mohammed. Daoud confessed to the shooting and his brothers admitted to assisting him. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Dog Finds Concealed Weapon - Yoav Zitun
    During a military operation conducted Wednesday in the Palestinian village of Bita Al Fuka near Nablus, a soldier in the IDF's Oketz Unit discovered - with the aid of her military canine - a firearm concealed in the house of a Palestinian suspected of terrorist activities. After soldiers took the man into custody, the dog refused to budge, prompting his master to search the suspect's bed and reveal the concealed arms hidden in the mattress. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Egypt's Revolution Part II - Thomas L. Friedman
    Morsi narrowly won the presidency by 51% because he managed to persuade many secular and pious but non-Islamist Egyptians that he would govern from the center, focus on the economy and be inclusive. The Muslim Brotherhood never could have won with just its base alone. Many centrist Egyptian urban elites chose to vote for Morsi because they could not bring themselves to vote for his opponent, Ahmed Shafik, a holdover from the regime of Hosni Mubarak.
        Then the Muslim Brotherhood became much more focused on locking themselves and their cronies in power than fixing Egypt's economy and making its government more representative. The rural and urban poor resented the fact that instead of delivering jobs and bread, as promised, Morsi delivered gas lines and electricity cuts. Egypt's Coptic Christians, some of whom were key supporters of the revolution against Mubarak, never trusted Morsi, who seemed to turn a blind eye to attacks on Christians.
        The Muslim Brotherhood has always been a Leninist-like party, with a very strict hierarchy and a conspiratorial view of political life honed from long years in the underground. The very characteristics that enabled it to survive repeated arrests for 80 years worked against any spirit of inclusiveness once it was in power.
        Egypt will never be stable unless it has a government that represents all the main political forces in the country - and that still includes the Muslim Brotherhood, which probably still enjoys support from at least 25% of the voting public. (New York Times)
  • Morsi's Downfall Is a Blessing for Egypt - Zvi Mazel
    For many in the Arab world, the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood was an unmitigated disaster. For 85 years, the Brotherhood plotted and fought throughout the Arab countries, using every available means, terror included, to achieve their goal: the establishment of Islamic regimes based on Shari'a (Islamic law) in all Arab nations and, ultimately, the restoration of the caliphate. Their radical ideology, tainted with a hefty dose of anti-Semitism, gave rise to even more extremist movements such as al-Qaeda, al-Gama'a al- Islamiyya, Islamic Jihad and many others.
        With the Arab Spring, the Brothers in Egypt and in Tunisia were elected through free elections and handed the opportunity to rule. But they failed to deliver. They forgot about the economy and focused on imposing their brand of radical Islam. While the economic situation went from bad to worse, they were busy drafting an Islamic constitution severely curtailing civil rights and discriminating against women. In Egypt, President Mohamed Morsi even tried to grant himself powers far exceeding those of the overthrown Hosni Mubarak.
        Morsi's downfall is undoubtedly a blessing for Egypt. Though there was a military coup, it was in answer to the will of the people. Muslims make up 80% of the population, but most of them do not want to live under Shari'a. They want a better life and are not interested in a revival of the caliphate. Meanwhile in Egypt, the fight is not over and the Brothers and their allies will try to claw their way back. The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Reckoning with Morsi's Failure - Nathan Brown
    The Brotherhood made bad decisions. The organization went from wishing to be a leading political actor to being the dominant party. I saw the evolution of the Brotherhood's thinking in a series of meetings with Brotherhood leader (and reputed chief strategist) Khairat al-Shatir. In March 2011, he spoke of governing as something that might be in the Brotherhood's future after he had retired; by the following January he was beginning to edge toward his own presidential bid (one that he was forced to cede to his colleague Mohamed Morsi).
        For those Brotherhood members who wish to return to the political game but play it a bit more cautiously, it will be a long road back since the Morsi presidency will leave a residue of profound distrust. The writer is professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University and nonresident senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for international Peace. (New Republic)
  • Still Wrong about Egypt - and the World - Walter Russell Mead
    We need a fundamental rethink of our approach to the promotion of democracy abroad. It is neither racist nor orientalist to say that different societies around the world are at different degrees of readiness for the rise of genuine democratic institutions. China seems closer to building a stable and working democracy than Egypt is.
        Many people who came of age politically in the late 1980s and 1990s have a warped sense of history. They lived at a time of rapid democratic advance: East Asia, Latin America, South Africa and above all Central and Eastern Europe hosted a galaxy of new democratic stars.
        One belief uniting the administrations of Presidents Clinton, Bush 2, and Obama is that this democratic revolution would irresistibly sweep the rest of the world. But it didn't and it won't, at least not anytime soon. The low-hanging fruit has been picked; the fruit higher up in the tree isn't ripe. (American Interest)
  • Israeli Government Quiet as Events Unfold in Egypt - Ruth Eglash
    Israel's government remained conspicuously quiet Thursday about the Egyptian military's ouster of Mohamed Morsi. "Israel is trying to keep its distance from what is going on Egypt and not say too much, because anything it says on this issue will be used as a weapon against one side or the other," commented Eli Shaked, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt.
        "For us it does not matter if it's the Islamists or liberals in power," he said. "What is important is that Egypt restores law and order and that stability is returned to all of Egypt, especially in the Sinai." "Cairo has lost most of its sovereignty over the Sinai, and the peninsula has become a jumping board for terrorists."  (Washington Post)

  • Other Issues

  • Trying to Kick-Start a Middle East Peace Process - Oren Kessler
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up a four-day Mideast peace push on June 30 in the most sustained U.S. bid at reviving Israeli-Palestinian talks in half a decade. Yet in Israel, Kerry's dogged do-goodery was met primarily with bemusement.
        "One wonders why the secretary of state would, as a first step in his foreign policy, embark on a very complicated issue that seems to many here to be unsolvable," said Zvi Rafiah, a former diplomat closely involved with U.S.-Israel relations for four decades. "If he succeeds, most Israelis would say, 'God bless.' But the chances he succeeds where his colleagues have failed are dim."
        "The whole Middle East is boiling, and you're concentrating on Israeli-Palestinian talks that will have no impact on the killings in Syria, Iran, or the crisis in Egypt. We're a bit bewildered, but we wish you well."  (Foreign Policy)
  • Kerry's Bid for Mideast Peace - Jeffrey Goldberg
    Both the Palestinians and Israelis know that Kerry's proposed negotiations won't work, but neither party wants to upset Kerry by saying so, and neither wants to be perceived as uninterested in compromise. So they may meet, and then maybe they will meet again and maybe they will even meet after that. But peace, and a Palestinian state that would be the byproduct of peace, won't happen, not now and not in the foreseeable future.
        The delusion at hand is that Kerry will succeed where numerous secretaries of state have failed, and succeed in what might be the most inauspicious moment in years to start new negotiations: The Middle East is erupting all around Israel, which makes Israelis fear the idea of tangible territorial concessions; the Palestinian Authority is weaker than ever; the two territories that would make up the future state of Palestine (the West Bank and Gaza) are divided.
        Israeli columnist Ari Shavit [of Ha'aretz] told me: "I think the right approach is to learn from the failures of the past and to do something practical that relates to the realities on the ground rather than reach for something that is totally unrealistic. There is no serious Israeli or Palestinian who thinks that the Kerry approach would work."  (Bloomberg)
  • Are Bedouin Palestinians? - Moshe Arens
    While Israeli Arab Knesset members, who consider themselves to be Palestinians, have decided to adopt the Negev Bedouin into the Palestinian fold, the first loyalty of the Bedouin living in the Negev is believed to be to their tribe. But in recent years they have been subjected to a campaign by the Islamic League in northern Israel, which is trying to convince the Bedouin to turn to Islam, be hostile to the State of Israel, and consider themselves to be Palestinians. The obvious political purpose is to spread the "Palestinian" umbrella over all Arabic-speaking citizens of the State of Israel. The writer served as Israel's Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Ha'aretz)
  • Dreaming of a Lebanon at Peace with Its Neighbors - Michael J. Totten
    I've been working in Lebanon for eight years, and I've noticed that things have changed since the Syrian revolution broke out in 2011. Except for the usual warmongering rhetoric from Hizbullah, I sense more moderation and sanity than I used to.
        Mosbah Ahdab, a Sunni politician and former member of parliament, told me that with the Assad family out of power in Syria, "Hizbullah will be cut down to a more realistic size....There will be the real possibility of development....We could have train service all the way down to Cairo." Look at a map: The only way a train can travel from Beirut to Cairo is by passing through Israel.
        Samy Gemayel, a member of the Lebanese parliament, told me, "There is no excuse why Egypt is allowed to have a peace treaty with Israel while we cannot negotiate for an armistice. Why can Jordan have a peace treaty while we also cannot negotiate for an armistice? Even Syria, without a peace treaty, has had peaceful relations with Israel since 1974. Why can't we? More, why can Hizbullah, a paramilitary group, negotiate with Israel twice through German mediators in 2004 and 2009 to release its prisoners, and the official Lebanese state is not allowed to?"
        Lokman Slim is the Shia community's most prominent anti-Hizbullah activist. "Go to the south," Slim said, "and ask people if they want a new war, another divine victory." I have, and they say no. Lebanon's Shia are simply not interested in war any more. The Second Lebanon War in 2006 was the high water mark in support for Hizbullah aggression. (The Tower)

  • Weekend Features

  • Mandela and the Jews - David Saks
    With the life of South Africa's former president Nelson Mandela drawing to a close, it should be recalled that many Jewish individuals played a valuable part in his life and career. After his arrival in Johannesburg in the early 1940s, it was Lazer Sidelsky that gave him his start as an articled clerk in his law firm at a time when it was unheard of for young blacks to be taken on in such a capacity. Mandela went on to study law at the University of the Witwatersrand, where he established enduring friendships with fellow students Jules Browde and Harry Schwarz.
        Thirteen of his fellow defendants in the 1956-1961 Treason Trial were Jews, among them Lionel Bernstein, Joe Slovo and Ruth First. Among the founders of the underground military wing of the African National Congress were Dennis Goldberg, Harold Wolpe and Arthur Goldreich. Jewish lawyers were prominently involved in defending Mandela in various political trials, among them Isie Maisels, Arthur Chaskalson, Joel Joffe and Sidney Kentridge. The writer is associate director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and author of Jewish Memories of Mandela (2011). (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Startup's Seeing Aid for the Blind Sees Big Demand - Gwen Ackerman
    OrCam makes a small gizmo that hooks onto a pair of glasses and tells the wearer what's in front of him. It can read the text of a book aloud, or announce the names of friends and family in a room. The Israeli company began taking orders for the $2,500 seeing-aid device on June 4, and within a few weeks the first run of 600 units was sold out. Since then, the company's backlog of orders has ballooned to more than 1,000.
        Liat Negrin, 37, who was born visually impaired, has been testing early prototypes at OrCam. "It helps you be independent and helps overcome fears," she said. "It helps you keep your orientation, and you always know where you are." OrCam can recognize a wide array of objects including street signs, newspaper articles, money and products on supermarket shelves. (Bloomberg)
  • Legs for Paraplegics, and Other Startups from Israel's "Silicon Wadi" - Michele Chabin
    When President Obama visited Israel in March, he met with seven groups of inventors whose products exemplify the best of Israeli innovation. A paraplegic, strapped into ReWalk, a battery-operated exoskeleton suit, walked confidently around the room. Students from the Technion operated the Robotic Snake, a miniaturized camera-equipped robot that can slither into hard-to-access disaster sites. And scientists from Mobileye showed their collision-prevention system.
        Israel is ranked 26th of 144 countries by the World Economic Forum's 2012-2013 Global Competitiveness Report. It's also third in innovation, fifth in investor protection and 17th in financial market development. Since 2008, investors have paid roughly $17 billion for almost 300 startups.
        The Library of Congress uses Ex Libris Israeli software, Arab countries and the FBI use Israeli video intelligence products, and BriefCam, an image-processing system that summarizes hours of video, helped authorities find the Boston Marathon bomber. (Globe and Mail-Canada)

Egypt's Revolution Strikes Back - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)

  • Orit Perlov, who studies social networks in the Arab world at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, explains that three primary groups who were not at the 2011 protests joined the demonstrations this time: "One, young people aged 18-22. Two, Mubarak's people - the National Democratic Party members and its government apparatus....Three, the urban poor....For these people, the revival promised by Morsi never materialized, there is no democracy but theocracy in its place, and everyday problems of electricity, fuel and money intensify the despair."
  • If another presidential election were held today, the Muslim Brotherhood would still have the best chance to win. "The opposition is not unified and the traditional forces are still alive and functioning," said Professor Asher Susser of Tel Aviv University. "The religious motif in Egypt is still there. However, the institution of a strong and sovereign Arab state is disappearing."
  • "What has emerged from the Arab Spring, not only in Egypt, is that the countries that experience a revolution are failed or on the way to failing, with social and economic problems that have no imminent solution. This means that the Middle East will be unstable for an extended period. Citizens' personal security disappears and the central government is weakened."
  • "We tend to focus too much on dangers and less on opportunities," Susser says. "Here Arab weakness can actually help. But beyond that, we are no longer surrounded by strong Arab countries. Our problem in Israel lies ostensibly today in the weakness of the states and not in their strength."
  • "This is almost the complete opposite of what our founding fathers worried about, the fear of existential threats....We shuddered in fear of what the Arab countries will do to us. Now we are afraid of their dissolution."
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