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June 13, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Netanyahu Extends Condolences to Victims of Orlando Attack (Prime Minister's Office)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday: "On behalf of the people and government of Israel, I extend our deepest condolences to the American people following last night’s horrific attack on the LGBT community in Orlando."
    "Israel stands shoulder to shoulder with the United States at this moment of tragic loss."

Islamic State Backers Cheer Orlando Attack, Urge New Assaults - Maria Abi-Habib (Wall Street Journal)
    Across social-media outlets, Islamic State supporters cheered Sunday's mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, while calling for more attacks on the West.

Canadian Court Awards $13M in Frozen Assets to "Iran Terror" Victims (RT-Russia)
    A Canadian court has awarded $13 million in assets seized from Iran to the families of Americans who died in several attacks globally between 1983 and 2002, which had been sponsored by Tehran.
    The judgment by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, obtained by AFP on Friday, found Tehran responsible for financing and training Hamas and Hizbullah operatives who carried out eight bombings or hostage-takings in Buenos Aires, Israel, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
    Ontario Superior Court Justice Glenn Hainey said in his decision, "The broad issue before the court is whether Iran is entitled to immunity from the jurisdiction of Canadian courts for its support of terrorism."
    In Canada, Iran is designated a sponsor of terrorism.

Islamic State Blows Up Ancient Assyrian Temple in Northern Iraq (Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty)
    Islamic State posted a video that shows it blowing up a 3,000-year-old temple in the Assyrian city of Nimrud in northern Iraq - the group's latest assault on a priceless archaeological treasure.
    The UN confirmed on June 9 that satellite imagery showed "extensive damage to the main entrance" of the temple of Nabu, the Babylonian god of wisdom.
    The group considers all pre-Islamic culture idolatrous.

After $1.6 Billion in U.S. Aid, Iraq's Army Still Struggles - Loveday Morris and Missy Ryan (Washington Post)
    More than $1.6 billion in U.S. arms and training have flowed to the Iraqi army over the past two years. After disbanding the Iraqi army following the 2003 invasion, the U.S. spent more than $20 billion to rebuild the Iraqi military.
    Logistics remain a major problem, getting water, food, spare tires and gasoline to advancing troops as Iraqi forces push toward Mosul, 250 miles northwest of Baghdad.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • 50 Killed, 53 Wounded in Orlando by Gunman Who Swore Allegiance to Islamic State - Ralph Ellis
    Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce, Florida, who'd pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, gunned down 50 people early Sunday at a gay nightclub in Orlando in the nation's worst terror attack since 9/11, authorities said. Mateen called 911 during the attack to pledge allegiance to ISIS before he was shot and killed by Orlando police. Mateen was born in New York to parents from Afghanistan and worked as a security officer at a private security company. (CNN)
  • Islamic State Retreats from Libya Bastion - Rami Musa and Maggie Michael
    Islamic State militants were retreating Thursday from their main bastion in Sirte, Libya, as militiamen allied to a UN-brokered government pushed into the city, officials said. Sirte was the only major IS-held city outside Syria and Iraq. According to parliamentarian Ziad Hadia, more than 2,000 IS fighters are thought to remain in the city, 85% of whom are foreigners. (AP)
  • Foreign Minister Zarif: Iran Never Trusts the U.S.
    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blasted Washington while speaking in the parliament in Tehran on Sunday. "We never trust the U.S.," he said. In April, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei said, "The Americans cannot be trusted and, in addition to the Americans, certain other Western states are also the same."  (Fars-Iran)
  • Democrats Weigh "Occupation" in Israel Platform Plank - Ron Kampeas
    The Democratic Party's platform drafting committee held two days of hearings in Washington, with a focus Thursday on whether the committee should describe Israel's presence in the West Bank as an "occupation." Howard Berman, a former congressman from California with extensive foreign affairs experience who serves on the committee, said listing the grievances of both sides would bog down the platform. "I could come up with a list, if we want this platform to get into it, of issues of (Palestinian) incitement," he said.
        Robert Wexler, a former Florida congressman, said that to include the word "occupation" would prejudge the outcome of negotiations, which is not the role of the party. Wexler also said the platform should reject bids to delegitimate Israel, including through the BDS movement. (JTA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Attempts to Stab IDF Soldiers Friday - Elisha Ben Kimon
    A Palestinian attacker attempted to stab IDF soldiers in the northern West Bank on Friday night. The attacker was shot and wounded. (Ynet News)
  • How the Palestinian Gunmen Got to Tel Aviv
    The two Palestinians who perpetrated the attack in central Tel Aviv on Wednesday arrived in the city by taxi from Beersheba, security authorities said Friday. Muhammad and Khalid Muhamra from the West Bank town of Yatta made their way to the Israeli town of Meitar through a wide gap in the security barrier. From Meitar they were driven by a Palestinian working illegally in Israel to the Bedouin town of Segev Shalom, southeast of Beersheba, where they changed into suits and ties and then took a taxi to Beersheba. The two had purchased their weapons in their hometown through an intermediary who was reportedly arrested by Israeli security forces. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Public Opinion Is Behind Tel Aviv Terror Attack - Dr. Daniel Polisar
    After Wednesday's shooting attack in Tel Aviv, in which Palestinian terrorists killed four Israelis and wounded several more, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) published a poll on Thursday based on responses of 1,270 Arab residents of the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza.
        Asked whether they supported or opposed the April suicide bombing on a Jerusalem bus which injured more than 20 Israelis, Palestinians expressed their support by a margin of more than two to one (65% to 31%). Since August 2014, PSR has on eight occasions asked Palestinians about their attitudes regarding "attacks against Israeli civilians within Israel," and each time a majority expressed support.
        Would-be terrorists contemplating an attack can be reasonably confident that if they succeed in killing or injuring Israeli civilians, their actions will earn support and praise in their society - for themselves, their families, and the militant group to which they belong, whether or not they live to enjoy it personally. They will be seen as heroes in the minds of most Palestinians. The writer is provost of Shalem College in Israel. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Jihad in Orlando - Editorial
    A young American Muslim pledging allegiance to Islamic State is now responsible for the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. Can we finally drop the illusion that the jihadist fires that burn in the Middle East don't pose an urgent and deadly threat to the American homeland? The killer was heard shouting "allahu Akbar" (God is great) as he fired away.
        The distressing truth is that no amount of domestic vigilance can stop every ISIS-inspired act of terror. That's why the only real solution is to destroy Islamic State in its havens abroad so young Muslims around the world won't see it as the vanguard of the future. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Israeli Resilience - Editorial
    Margalit Bergman had been eating at the Benedict restaurant in the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv with a group of friends on Wednesday night, when she saw two "wealthy Italian-looking businessmen in fancy suits and skinny ties" sitting in the common dining area near the neighboring Max Brenner cafe. They turned out to be Palestinians out to commit mass murder. On Thursday morning, Bergman returned to the very same table where she sat the night before. It was her way of overcoming her fear.
        Israelis are particularly adept at picking up the pieces and moving on very quickly after nihilistic Islamists carry out a barbaric and pointless attack. Perhaps it has something to do with the Jews' rich experience with overcoming adversity. After all, the Jews are no strangers to murderous enmity. It is no exaggeration to refer to anti-Semitism as "the oldest hatred."
        By refusing to be pulled down by their many detractors, Jews offer an alternative to death and destruction. As former chief rabbi of Britain Jonathan Sacks put it, "The Jewish people in its very being constitutes a living protest against a world of hatred, violence and war."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hizbullah under Fire in Syria - Matthew Levitt and Nadav Pollak
    The death of senior Hizbullah commander Mustafa Badreddine in Syria in May left the group reeling because fellow Arabs and Muslims were responsible. Hizbullah has lost more fighters in battles against Sunni rebels in Syria since 2012 than it has in all its battles and wars with Israel. While in recent years a few Hizbullah personnel were reportedly killed by Israel, most senior Hizbullah leaders have been killed by Sunni rebels. For a group founded on the basis of "resistance" against Israel, Hizbullah has to cope with the difficult reality that it has lost well over 1,000 fighters in battles against fellow Arabs and Muslims, not Israelis. Matthew Levitt is director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute, where Nadav Pollak is a fellow. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

In Britain, Anti-Semitism Endures - George F. Will (Washington Post)

  • When Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, asks his audiences if Britain's government can be criticized, everyone says yes. But when they are asked, "Do you believe Britain should not exist?" no one says yes. Then Sacks tells his audiences: "Now you know the difference" [in attitudes toward Jews and Israel].
  • In the Middle Ages, says Sacks, Jews were hated for their religion. In the 19th and 20th centuries, they were hated for their race. Now they are hated for their nation.
  • The new anti-Semitism remains, Sacks says, "essentially eliminationist." It disguises its genocidal viciousness, insisting that it seeks the destruction not of a people but only of the state formed as a haven for this people that has had a uniquely hazardous history.
  • The international "boycott, divestment and sanctions" movement, supported by many American academics, aims not to pressure Israel to change policies, as South Africa was pressured to abandon apartheid, but rather to de-legitimize Israel's existence as a nation.

        See also Antisemitism Embedded in British Culture - Prof. Robert S. Wistrich
    The writer was Professor of European and Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and head of its Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2008)

Today's issue of Daily Alert was prepared in Israel on Isru Chag.
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