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June 13, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

ISIS Just Stole $425 Million - Terrence McCoy (Washington Post)
    The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria just got extremely rich. This week the group made off with 500 billion Iraqi dinars from Mosul's central bank - $425 million.
    The provincial governor of Nineveh, Atheel al-Nujaifi, said that the radical Islamists had lifted additional millions from numerous banks across Mosul, as well as a "large quantity of gold bullion."
    According to the intelligence consultancy Soufan Group, ISIS has attracted 12,000 militants from abroad, 3,000 of whom are from the West.

ISIS, Beheadings and the Success of Horrifying Violence - Terrence McCoy (Washington Post)
    A video shows Islamic militants knocking at a policeman's door in the middle of the night. He's blindfolded and cuffed, then decapitated with a knife.
    In another ISIS video, hundreds of boys and Iraqi soldiers are herded down a highway to an unknown fate.
    In terms of impact, the acts of terror have been wildly successful, with ISIS becoming the most feared terrorist group in the Middle East.

A Terrorist Army Marching on Baghdad - Jessica Lewis (Wall Street Journal)
    The assault force in Mosul reportedly involved between 500 and 800 fighters, traveling in 150 vehicles.
    ISIS is moving like a conventional army fighting an expeditionary war, heading toward Baghdad along three parallel lines, dividing the country and moving very fast.
    The writer, research director at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, is an Army veteran with service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Iraqi Army Was Crumbling Long Before Its Collapse, U.S. Officials Say - Eric Schmitt and Michael R. Gordon (New York Times)
    The stunning collapse of Iraq's army in the north reflects poor leadership, declining troop morale, broken equipment and a sharp decline in training since the last American advisers left the country in 2011, American military and intelligence officials said Thursday.
    Four of Iraq's 14 army divisions virtually abandoned their posts, stripped off their uniforms and fled when confronted by militant groups.
    The divisions that collapsed were made up of Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish troops. Other units made up of mainly Shiite troops and stationed closer to Baghdad were believed to be more loyal to the government of Prime Minister Maliki, a Shiite, and would most likely put up greater resistance.
    The U.S. spent $25 billion to train and equip Iraq's security forces and provide installations for them.
    "This is not about ISIS strength, but the Iraqi security forces' weakness," said a former senior American officer who served in Iraq. "Since the U.S. left in 2011, the training and readiness of the Iraqi security forces has plummeted precipitously."

Fearing Jihadi Attack on Israeli Planes, Egypt Sends Troops to Border - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    The Egyptian military has deployed a battalion of several hundred men near the border crossing with Israel at Taba in order to prevent rocket attacks on Israel, and especially on Israeli civilian airplanes, in a move coordinated with Israel.

Israel's Newest Spy Satellite Sees Its 1,000th Dawn - Dave Bender (Algemeiner)
    Israel's Ofek 10 surveillance satellite is operating at "100 percent success," two months after its launch, Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Amnon Harari, who heads the Israel Ministry of Defense Space Directorate, said Thursday.
    Ofek 10 "has already completed 1,000 orbits around the earth."
    See also Video: Watch the Launch of the Ofek 10 Spy Satellite (Israel Ministry of Defense)

Video: Israeli UAV Can Fly for Hours before Exploding on Target - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    Harop, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) produced by Israel Aerospace Industries, is one of the most advanced and accurate weapons systems in the world. It has the ability to fly for hours before crashing into its target much as a conventional missile would.
    Several foreign militaries have reported a number of successful operations using the UAV, which can receive orders from as far as 1,000 km. away.

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Hamas Groups Run Brutal Summer Camps for Palestinian Kids (
    Thousands of Palestinian kids are taking part in semi-military summer camps organized by Hamas in Gaza.
    Pictures from inside these camps show children climbing bars above open flames.
    The children also learn to shoot with a Kalashnikov rifle and anti-tank weapons.
    See also Inside the Summer Camp for Child Terrorists - Sophia Rosenbaum (New York Post)

Two Stonings and a Beheading - Witnessing Islamic Justice - Tom Stacey (Spectator-UK)
    Attending public executions, whether beheadings or stonings, is not my predilection, yet one does come across them in the course of life in Arabia and Pakistan.
    Beheading and stoning are the accepted penalties for a range of presumed offenses in much of the Muslim world, and the all-male crowd - especially the old men - push and shove outside Riyadh's main mosque after Friday morning prayer for a better view of offenders losing their heads by the ceremonial sword.
    Outside a much smaller mosque in the desert near Hofuf, the miscreants were two women adjudged to be adulterers, and due to be judicially stoned.
    In Pakistan last week, the stoning to death of Farzana Parveen, married and pregnant, took place in front of the High Court in Lahore. It was done at the behest of her father, who regarded as adultery his daughter's marriage to a man other than the one he had chosen.

Photos: Syria's Oldest Synagogue, Destroyed by Assad - Josh Rogin (Daily Beast)
    Syrian Army forces flattened the over 400-year-old Eliyahu Hanabi Synagogue in Damascus last month.
    Shlomo Bolts, an official at the Syrian American Council and a Jew of Syrian ancestry, said: "This is hardly the only place of worship to be destroyed by the Assad regime. The Umm al-Zinar Church [in Homs, that locals say dates back to the first centuries of Christianity], the [1,400-year-old] Khalid Ibn Walid Mosque, and countless other irreplaceable cultural sites are now lost."
    Activists estimate that at least 33 churches and hundreds of mosques have been destroyed by the Assad regime since the start of the Syrian civil war, as well as six UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Israeli Expert Saves Gmail from "Killer" Hack - David Shamah (Times of Israel)
    Oren Hafif, an Israeli "white hat" hacker, discovered a serious security flaw in Gmail which could have compromised all 500 million accounts.
    He documented the vulnerability and told Google about it.

Israel Will Help Build Nyandarua County Assembly Chambers in Kenya - Wanjohi Gakio (The Star-Kenya)
    The government of Israel has pledged to support the Nyandarua County Assembly put up ultramodern chambers.
  Israel's ambassador to Kenya Gil Haskel said Nyandarua has potential for development and Israel will share skills and experience in agro technology, water management and dairy farming.

SCiO: A Pocket Molecular Sensor (Kickstarter)
    An Israeli-invented device called SCiO is a scanner that can determine the composition of physical objects, including food and medicines.
    Produced by Consumer Physics, SCiO is a tiny spectrometer that fits in the palm of your hand and allows you to get instant relevant information about the chemical make-up of just about anything around you, sent directly to your smartphone.

The Little Israeli Rocketship Gearing Up to Win $20 Million from Google - Zack Miller (Forbes)
    An Israeli team, SpaceIL, is shooting to win Google's Lunar XPrize, and the $20 million that accompanies it, to become the first team to safely land a private craft on the surface of the Moon.
    The SpaceIL spacecraft isn't much larger than a dishwasher and will weigh in at 300 pounds at lift off.
    SpaceIL's volunteer team is made up of all-stars from the Israeli tech industry.

Artwork by Autistic Israeli Children Displayed at UN (Times of Israel)
    Alut - the Israeli Society for Autistic Children - and the Israeli delegation to the UN on Tuesday hosted an exhibit of artwork by autistic Israeli children.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Scrambles to Help Iraq Fight Off Militants as Baghdad Is Threatened - Mark Landler and Eric Schmitt
    The White House scrambled Thursday to reassure Iraq that it would help fend off militants who have overrun much of the country and now threaten Baghdad. A senior official said the president was actively considering American airstrikes against militant groups. President Obama said, "We do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria, for that matter." Obama has steadfastly resisted being drawn into sectarian strife in Iraq or Syria.
        In Congress, most lawmakers expressed caution in committing to American airstrikes against militant targets. But some said it might be the only way to give the Iraqi security services time to reorganize and blunt the militants' offensive. (New York Times)
  • Iraqi Kurds "Fully Control Kirkuk" as Army Flees
    Iraqi Kurdish forces say they have taken full control of the northern oil city of Kirkuk as the army flees before an Islamist offensive nearby. Iraq's Kurds have long sought to incorporate Kirkuk into their autonomous region in the north. (BBC News)
  • Iran Deploys Revolutionary Guard Forces to Help Iraq: 1 - Farnaz Fassihi and Ali A. Nabhan
    Iraq's government girded to protect the capital from advancing insurgents, as Iranian security officials said their forces had joined the battle on Baghdad's side. Faced with the threat of Sunni extremists eclipsing the power of Iraq's Shiite-dominated rulers, Shiite Iran sprang into action to aid its besieged Arab ally. At least three battalions of the Quds Forces, the overseas branch of the Revolutionary Guards, were dispatched to Iraq, Iranian security officials said.
        They helped reclaim most of the city of Tikrit on Thursday, the security officials said. Two units, dispatched from Iran on Wednesday, were tasked with protecting Baghdad and the holy Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf. Gen. Qasem Sulaimani, the commander of the Quds Forces and one of the region's most powerful military figures, traveled to Baghdad this week to help manage the swelling crisis. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Iran Deploys Revolutionary Guard Forces to Help Iraq: 2 - Farnaz Fassihi
    Iran has positioned troops on full alert along its border with Iraq and has given clearance to its air force to bomb ISIS rebel forces if they come within 60 miles of Iran's border, according to an Iranian army general. Iran was also considering the transfer to Iraq of Shiite volunteer troops in Syria. Iran's chief of police, Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam, said the National Security Council would consider intervening in Iraq to "protect Shiite shrines and cities."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • Rouhani Says Iran Ready to "Fight and Combat" Terrorists in Iraq - Ali Hashem
    The rapid advance of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) forces and the quick fall of Mosul on June 10 has become a matter of concern in Tehran, as the Iraqi army showed shocking weakness in this first serious encounter since the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
        A senior Iranian National and Regional Security Affairs official told Al-Monitor, "Iran is ready to help, if the Iraqis ask....We will deal with Iraq like Syria. In Syria, they [the opposition] failed because of the Syrian government's determination and because of Damascus' allies' genuine help. In Iraq, the same will happen. As Syria emerged victorious, Iraq will [do the same]."
        Iran wants to invest in the Iraqi crisis to help end the Syrian war. It hopes to do so by bringing together states fighting each other via proxy in Syria in a unified front in Iraq. (Al-Monitor)
  • 88 Senators Question Continued U.S. Aid after Hamas-PLO Pact - Bridget Johnson
    Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) led a letter to President Obama signed by 88 senators expressing "strong reservations" about U.S. policy toward the new Palestinian unity government. "We are gravely concerned that the formation of this government and President Abbas' renewed effort to upgrade the status of the Palestinians within international organizations will jeopardize direct negotiations with Israel to achieve a two-state solution," the letter states. "Hamas has demonstrated it is not a partner for peace."
        "Recent events have consequences as to U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority as provided for in the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 and restrictions contained in the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2014, including prohibiting foreign assistance to Hamas or any power-sharing government of which Hamas is a member or over which Hamas has undue influence. These troubling developments, including the role played by Hamas in the formation of the government, have undermined Congressional support for U.S. assistance to the Palestinians. Any assistance should only be provided when we have confidence that this new government is in full compliance with the restrictions contained in current law."  (PJ Media)
        See also Text of Letter to President Obama (AIPAC)
  • U.S., Iranian Negotiators Fail to Break Impasse - Anne Gearan
    Five weeks before a deadline to broker limits on Iran's nuclear program, Iranian and American negotiators are far apart on crucial issues and digging in their heels. A sense of pessimism hangs over the talks after a high-level U.S. delegation met with Iranian negotiators this week in Switzerland. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday warned that the talks were deadlocked over restrictions that international negotiators want to apply to Iran's centrifuges. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Jihadist Advances in Iraq Send Shock Waves through Mideast - Amos Harel
    Jordan is already inundated with about a million refugees from the civil war in Syria, and is anxious about an influx of Iraqi Shi'ites into its land and attacks by Sunni jihadists from the Iraqi border. Israel has to do all it can to continue to bolster Jordan. The survival of the Hashemite kingdom is an Israeli interest of the highest order.
        Another point of concern has to do with the nature of the security arrangements the Americans are leaving behind. The Iraqi army's collapse is the second of its kind on the part of an Arab army that was established by the U.S. in recent years. It was preceded in June 2007 by the collapse of the Palestinian Authority forces and their hasty retreat from Gaza after a few days of Hamas-led attacks.
        What would happen in the West Bank without an American (and, de facto, Israeli) security umbrella if the PA is finally left to conduct affairs entirely on its own. Interestingly, the Iraqi army and PA security mechanisms share a common denominator: The same American officer, Gen. (ret.) James L. Jones, participated in the preparations of the operational plans for both these forces. (Ha'aretz)
  • Top Palestinian Negotiator Recorded Criticizing Abbas - Elhanan Miller
    In an audio recording leaked Wednesday on YouTube, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat harshly criticizes PA President Mahmoud Abbas, saying Abbas has lost his credibility, slamming his "useless" approach, and comparing him to Saddam Hussein and Bashar Assad. Moreover, Erekat accused the president of acting autocratically against the will of a majority of the Palestinian leadership, which voted for a harsher stance against Israel.
        Erekat also calls Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a war criminal who isn't "worth the bullet" to shoot him. (Times of Israel)
  • UNESCO Deletes "Israel" from Title of Exhibit on Jewish Ties to Israel - Raphael Ahren
    Six months ago, UNESCO canceled an exhibition about the Jewish people's connection to the Land of Israel just before its scheduled opening, following Arab pressure. The exhibition finally opened Wednesday at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Yet the exhibition's title has been changed to delete the word "Israel." Initially called "The 3,500 year relationship of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel," the exhibit is now titled "The 3,500 year relationship of the Jewish People with the Holy Land."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • The Prospect of Iraq's Disintegration - Editorial
    ISIS's ambition is to establish a Muslim caliphate in the heart of the Persian Gulf, which would mean a safe haven for Islamic terrorism that would surely target the U.S. The danger to Iraq's oil exports of three million barrels a day is already sending prices up. The threat to Baghdad is real and more imminent than is widely understood. Four Iraqi divisions have melted away before the 3,000-5,000 ISIS force, which is gaining deadlier weapons as it advances. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Battle for Iraq Is a Saudi War on Iran - Simon Henderson
    Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has for years regarded Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as little more than an Iranian stooge. He has no doubt realized that - with his policy of delivering a strategic setback to Iran by orchestrating the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus showing little sign of any imminent success - events in Iraq offer a new opportunity.
        When the revolt against Bashar al-Assad grew in 2011 - and Riyadh's concern at Iran's nuclear program mounted - Saudi intelligence started supporting the Sunni opposition, particularly its more radical elements. The writer is director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Foreign Policy)
  • Who Lost Iraq? The Iraqis Did - Fareed Zakaria
    From 2003 onward, Iraq faced a Sunni insurgency that was finally tamped down by Gen. David Petraeus, who said explicitly at the time that the core element of his strategy was political, bringing Sunni tribes and militias into the fold. A senior official closely involved with Iraq in the Bush administration told me, "Not only did [Iraqi Prime Minister] Maliki not try to do broad power-sharing, he reneged on all the deals that had been made, stopped paying the Sunni tribes and militias, and started persecuting key Sunni officials."  (Washington Post)
  • At Some Point, Regional Powers Will Intervene to Block a Restored Caliphate - Lee Smith
    ISIS claims it is in the process of restoring the caliphate, and erasing the Sykes-Picot lines drawn by the Great Powers in 1916. Long before ISIS planted its flag to claim a caliphate, the Muslim Brotherhood was there first, promising its adherents a political order that would unite Arabs from North Africa to the Persian Gulf under the banner of Islam. Nonetheless, Muslim Brotherhood chapters around the region, and even sometimes within states, are in constant competition with each other.
        The Sykes-Picot lines were drawn in the full knowledge that Arab unity was a myth. Arab efforts to redraw Sykes-Picot, like Saddam's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, have been rebuffed by the Western powers. It is likely that at some point, regional as well as international powers will intervene and send everyone back to their corners - the states established by the Sykes-Picot lines. (Tablet)

  • Palestinians

  • No Palestinian Leader Will Agree to End the Conflict - David Samuels interviews Gen. Uzi Dayan
    Former Deputy Commander of the IDF and national security adviser Uzi Dayan said: "We offered Abu Mazen [PA leader Mahmoud Abbas] a two-states for two-peoples process, and he ran away at the critical moment of truth. I'm not surprised by that. I was the head of the security committees for the negotiating processes with the Palestinians, the Jordanians, and the Syrians, so I know Abu Mazen pretty well....He has escaped from this process many times, at least three, four times, whenever it gets serious. The reason that he runs away is that he is not ready to sign an end-of-conflict agreement....There is no Palestinian leader today who will sign a peace agreement that will mean the end of our conflict."  (Tablet)
  • World Must Oppose Hamas-Backed Government - Ronald S. Lauder
    The peace process foundered because Abbas signaled that he does not want a negotiated peace with Israel; he wants the international community to hand him a state of Palestine on a platter.
        Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas government in Gaza, said: "Palestinian reconciliation aims to unite the Palestinian people against the prime enemy, the Zionist enemy. It aims to pursue the choice of resistance."
        While the new Palestinian government supposedly consists of technocrats and not the armed radicals who dominate Palestinian politics, it will only serve to strengthen Hamas. The regime in Gaza rules by terror, exports terror (including attacks on American and Western targets), and rains down rockets on Israel.
        The United States and all other peace-loving nations should refuse to work with and fund this terrorist-backed entity. The writer is president of the World Jewish Congress. (Algemeiner)
  • The Hamas-Fatah Consensus on Israel - Dan Diker and Harold Rhode
    Hamas and Fatah are competing for Palestinian public support. That's why both organizations rejected U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's peace plan. Hamas still calls openly for jihad, while the Fatah leadership, at its last Congress in Bethlehem in 2009, called for an "armed popular revolution" to liberate "Palestine."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Even the Palestinian Authority Opposes the Boycott of Israel - Jake Wallis Simons
    In April, four Palestinian protesters - activists in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement - were arrested by the Palestinian police after disrupting a performance by an Indian dance troupe at the Al-Qasaba theatre in Ramallah because the dancers had previously performed in Israel. On May 28 they were formally charged with "provoking riots and the breach of public tranquility."
        The irony is tangible. All over Britain, the U.S., Europe and Australia, campaigners for the BDS movement are lauded as champions of the Palestinian cause. But the Palestinian leadership views BDS activists as little more than embarrassing troublemakers, and wishes to suppress them.
        Even a boycott of settlement businesses makes little economic sense for Palestinians. There are 14 Israeli industrial parks in the West Bank containing 788 factories. These businesses employ 11,000 Palestinians who are paid in accordance with Israeli labor laws, work side-by-side with 6,000 Israelis, and receive two or three times the average Palestinian salary. (Telegraph-UK)
  • The Knowledge Constituency Versus the Ignorance Lobby - Hussein Ibish
    Prof. Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi, who runs the Al-Quds University Department of American Studies, has been allowed to resign his position following the uproar over a trip he led of Palestinian university students to Auschwitz-Birkenau. But the whole squalid affair is redolent with Palestinian, and broader Arab, collective neurotic symptoms about others. What, after all, do Palestinians have to gain by insisting their students remain ignorant of the Holocaust? Prof. Dajani argued from the outset that it is essential to understand the Israeli mentality and the Jewish experiences that inform it.
        There is a broader conflict throughout Arab culture between those who want to embrace the world, in all its complexity and challenges, versus those who want to rely on nostalgic fantasies about former periods of greatness. For the past century at least, the majority trend in the Arab world has been to try to shut out knowledge of and engagement with outsiders, except for commercial purposes.
        Prof. Dajani has done something noble and constructive. If the Arab world continues to allow the stupidity and ignorance lobby to insist on cultural insularity, chauvinism, and deafness to the outside world, it will remain utterly stuck and unable to successfully join and compete in a globalizing world. (Now-Lebanon)

  • Iran and the Arab State System

  • Regional Implications of a Nuclear Deal with Iran - Dennis Ross
    Amb. Dennis Ross told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 12, 2014: America's readiness to negotiate a deal with the Islamic Republic on its nuclear program is a source of deep concern among our traditional friends in the Middle East. For the Arabs, the fear is that the deal with come at their expense, with the United States increasingly seeing Iran as a partner. For the Israelis, the worry is that we will conclude a deal that leaves the Iranians as a threshold nuclear state - capable of breaking out to nuclear weapons at a time when we might be distracted by another international crisis.
        I still believe the prospects of an agreement are probably less than the 50% figure President Obama cited late last year. Basic conceptual gaps remain, with the Iranians still believing that their limited offers of transparency should be sufficient to satisfy our concerns about the peaceful character of their nuclear program.
        Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei does not appear to understand that there can be no roll-back in sanctions without a roll-back and deep reduction in the Iranian nuclear program - meaning Iranian centrifuges must be dramatically reduced in number, much of the accumulated enriched uranium must be shipped out of the country, Fordow must be shut down or completely disabled, and the Arak heavy water plant must be converted so it cannot produce plutonium.
        For the Saudis, Iran already represents an existential threat even without nuclear weapons. The Saudis, Emiratis, and others see an aggressive Iranian pursuit of regional hegemony. From a Saudi standpoint, the Iranians are encircling them - seeking to gain dominance in, and the ability to threaten them overtly and covertly from, Bahrain, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • In Iran, Clerical Rule, Luxury Lifestyle - Shahrzad Elghanayan
    The nouveaux riches in Tehran drive Porsches, Ferraris and Maseratis and live in multimillion-dollar luxury apartments. I caught a glimpse of what Iran's mega-rich can afford on a program on Press TV, an English-language news organization sponsored by the Iranian state.
        35 years after a revolution that promised an egalitarian utopia and vowed to root out the modern Westernized lifestyles of Iran's cosmopolitans, how have some people become so rich? Hard-line clerical leaders, together with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, have engineered a system where it is largely they, their family members and their loyal cronies who prosper.
        The corps runs large parts of the economy. Since 2006, it has been awarded at least 11,000 development projects, from construction and aerospace to oil and gas. In addition, according to the Heritage Foundation, "The hard-line clerical establishment has gained great wealth through control of tax-exempt foundations that dominate many economic sectors."  (New York Times)
  • Dysfunction of Arab States Puts Stress on Colonial Borders - Michael Young
    In the past week, two prominent Arab figures expressed doubt that Syria would remain as it was, with its war into its fourth year. Lebanese politician Walid Jumblatt told AP: "We are still at the beginning of the war in Syria. In the long term, the map of the Middle East will be redrawn." Meanwhile, the former UN envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, declared to Der Spiegel that Syria would "become another Somalia."
        President Assad's staunchest ally, Iran, appears to have the following medium-term agenda: to consolidate the Syrian regime's hold over "vital Syria" - Damascus, the border with Lebanon, the Syrian coast, and communication lines in between, through the city and province of Homs. Unable to impose its allies' control over large swathes of Sunni-dominated areas in Syria and Iraq, a hegemonic Tehran may prefer fragmentation, allowing it to dominate digestible components of disintegrating Arab states.
        The Syrian state as we knew it is not likely to return in the foreseeable future, if ever. But if anything helps achieve this, it's the efforts of regional powers to accelerate the breakup of Syria - or Iraq, for that matter - in order to better exploit the aftermath. The writer is opinion editor of the Daily Star newspaper in Beirut. (The National-UAE)
  • Blame the State for Sham Arab Democracy - Rami G. Khouri
    The recent string of "elections" across the Arab world in Algeria, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq raises profound questions about that world's apparent difficulty in adopting institutions and practices of liberal pluralistic democracies. The Egyptian, Syrian and Algerian cases repeat the modern Arab tradition of family-run security states and dictatorships that put on a show of voting to secure approval ratings of 87 or 93 or 97%, complete with adoring crowds of supporters of the "Great Leader."
        Nowhere in the normal world do elections result in victories of such magnitude as routinely occur in Arab "elections." Yet we have had glimpses of democratic transitions that include more credible elements, such as the Tunisian elections in recent years, or the 2012 Egyptian presidential election that saw one candidate win by just a few percentage points. We also see credible elections taking place all over the region in professional associations or student groups. So the idea that Arabs cannot behave democratically is nonsense. (Daily Star-Lebanon)

  • The Revival of Anti-Semitism

  • A War Against the Jews - Moshe Arens
    After September 11, al-Qaeda joined the ranks of terrorist organizations targeting Jews around the world. On April 12, 2002, an explosives-filled truck detonated in front of the synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba, killing 19 people and injuring more than 30. On May 16, 2003, in attacks on Jewish targets in Casablanca, Morocco, 33 people were killed and more than 100 were wounded. On November 15, 2003, trucks carrying explosives slammed into the Bet Israel and Neve Shalom synagogues in Istanbul, Turkey, killing 27 and injuring more than 300. All these attacks were carried out by units associated with al-Qaeda.
        It is estimated that 2,000 citizens of Western European countries have traveled to Syria to join one of the jihadist militias, as have hundreds of American citizens. Upon their return, after being indoctrinated in fanatical Islam and receiving weapons training, they constitute a danger to Jews wherever they go, stalking Jewish targets of opportunity.
        Israeli intelligence and intelligence organizations throughout the world keep a close watch on the activities of Hizbullah, al-Qaeda and Palestinian terrorists. The information they have collected has foiled a number of planned attacks on Jewish targets. It is quite a different matter when the attacks are launched by individuals on their own initiative.
        It is next to impossible for the intelligence community to obtain advance information on what are almost random acts by single individuals. That is the challenge facing police and security agencies now, if further murders are to be avoided in this war against the Jews that the jihadists have declared. The writer served as Israel's Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Ha'aretz)
  • Do Jews Have a Future in Europe? - Simone Rodan-Benzaquen and Daniel Schwammenthal
    Europe's Jews face almost daily attacks - both verbal and physical. In France, 170 anti-Semitic acts were reported by the Paris-based Jewish Community Protection Service (SPCJ) and the French Ministry of the Interior in the first trimester of 2014 alone. According to the French League of Human Rights, nearly 50% of all racist acts in France are anti-Semitic, even though Jews represent only 1% of the population.
        This environment leaves many in the Jewish community fearing once again for their security and future. Anti-Semitism is always symptomatic of a more profound problem in society, something that might start with Jews but will not stop there. Mrs. Rodan-Benzaquen is the director of the AJC Paris office and Mr. Schwammenthal is the director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute in Brussels. (Wall Street Journal Europe)

  • Weekend Features

  • Pro-Palestinian Students Bring Hate, Intimidation to Campus - Perry Chiaramonte
    Students for Justice in Palestine have become the bullies of the quad at college campuses around the nation, shouting down speakers, terrorizing Jewish students and intimidating those who disagree with them. Individual members have been accused of assaulting students, vandalizing property and hurling anti-Semitic slurs at Jewish students, all in the name of their cause.
        Boston's Northeastern University suspended the group in March after repeated calls for the destruction of Israel and a 2011 disruption at a Holocaust Awareness Week event. (Scholars For Peace in the Middle East)
  • Western Washington U. Passes Anti-BDS Resolution
    The student government at Western Washington University in Bellingham on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution against boycotts, divestment and sanctions targeting Israel.
        The board stated that "to maintain a safe and inclusive campus environment, tensions between students related to foreign conflicts should be managed in a healthy and collaborative manner rather than be exacerbated," and that "boycott, divestment, and sanction measures rooted in national origin or other identity-based features can cause students to be targeted on the basis of nationality." It is the first university student government to vote for a resolution against BDS, according to StandWithUs, an Israel advocacy organization.
        WWU student Alysa Kipersztok, who brought the anti-BDS resolution to the student government, explained: "BDS has been a source of disconnect and resentment among students, creating a hostile environment. It divides students, marginalizing those who support Israel."  (JTA)

Pejorative Words Will Not Give Peace a Chance - Colin Rubenstein (Brisbane Times-Australia)

  • Australia's Attorney-General George Brandis has been attacked for announcing that the Australian government will not refer to east Jerusalem as "occupied." Yet the use of the pejorative term "occupied" prejudges the issues in dispute and amounts to taking the Palestinian side. By contrast, adopting more neutral terminology - such as calling the area "disputed" - is a more constructive approach because it acknowledges that the issues need to be negotiated.
  • East Jerusalem includes the old city of Jerusalem, with its ancient Jewish quarter and the holiest site in Judaism, the Western Wall. Israel captured it in its defensive 1967 Six-Day War, from Jordan, which had occupied it since 1948. Prior to that, there had been a substantial Jewish population there for thousands of years, but Jordanians had ethnically cleansed it of its entire Jewish population, destroyed all of the dozens of synagogues, and closed the holy places to all Jewish worshippers. Since Israel recaptured the area, people of all religions have had access to and control over their holy sites.
  • Legally, it is far from settled that any party has a stronger claim to the area than Israel. The term "occupation" is generally used in international law to denote the presence of one country in sovereign territory that belongs to another. But the West Bank and east Jerusalem are not sovereign "Palestinian territory" since no sovereign Palestinian state has ever existed there.

    Dr. Colin Rubenstein is executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.
    See also Australian Ambassador: We Wouldn't Use the Term "Occupied" - Yair Rosenberg (Tablet)
  • The Australian government caused a stir when it issued a statement declaring that it would no longer refer to east Jerusalem as "occupied east Jerusalem." Australia's Ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma explained: "Our position on this is that all the final status issues as identified by Oslo - and that includes the status of Jerusalem, borders, right of return - are all amenable only to political negotiations and a political solution. And so a third country taking positions on the legal merits of each party's plans, if you like, is not helpful and not constructive and ultimately not what's needed."
  • "The term 'occupied east Jerusalem' implied a legal view of the respective claims of the parties and we didn't think it was helpful to be doing that." In other words, Australia's policy is to maintain neutrality and avoid prejudging the outcome of negotiations. It maintains a similar policy in other territorial conflicts like those over Western Sahara and East Timor.
  • In January, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop came to Israel and suggested that the country's settlements might not be illegal under international law, and stated that she didn't want to "prejudge the fundamental issues in the peace negotiations." Sharma noted, "She didn't want to buy in to a characterization of the settlements being 'legal' or 'illegal'."
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