Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
March 2, 2011

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IDF Armor-Defense System Foils Attack on Tank for First Time - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    The IDF's new Trophy armor-defense system defended a tank from an anti-tank missile attack on the Gaza border for the first time on Tuesday.
    Produced by Rafael, Trophy is an active armor defense system that employs sensors and radar to identify an incoming missile, and dispatches interceptor missiles which neutralize the hostile weapon before it can strike the tank.
    The system was developed following the Second Lebanon War, when a number of tanks were damaged by advanced anti-tank missiles fired by Hizbullah.
    See also IDF Armored Corps Makes History - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    The IDF stressed that this is an unprecedented and historic event in Israel's Armored Corps and around the world.
    It represents "a change in the equation in the southern sector and in the northern sector against the Hizbullah's anti-tank threat."

Mystery Deepens on Status of Iran Opposition Leaders - Neil MacFarquhar (New York Times)
    The two main Iranian opposition leaders, Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, have not been seen in public or by their adult children since just before the Feb. 14 protests which they called for, ostensibly in solidarity with Arab uprisings but which quickly transformed into antigovernment rallies.
    The Web site Kaleme said both men and their wives were now incarcerated at Heshmatieh prison in Tehran.
    "Moussavi and Karroubi may actually prove to be more effective opposition symbols in jail," said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington. "Their release will now likely become an international cause celebre."
    See also Iranian Security Forces Clash with Protesters Backing Detained Opposition Leaders - Thomas Erdbrink (Washington Post)

Arab League Head Amr Moussa Running for Egyptian President; Adopts Harsher Tone on Israel - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
    Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa announced on Tuesday that he was running for president of Egypt.
    In an interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm, Moussa, who served as Egyptian foreign minister from 1991 until 2001, recalled his disagreements with ousted President Hosni Mubarak regarding Israel.
    "I thought we should be honest with the Israelis and take firm measures against them." He also referred to diplomatic measures he thought should have been taken as a means of curtailing Israel's nuclear program.
    "I've read that Israel is currently trying to maneuver between the political forces (in Egypt) in a bid to thwart my candidacy...but I don't think the national political forces will cooperate with Israel to block the candidacy of an Egyptian citizen," he added.

Iran Objects to London 2012 Olympics Logo - Ali Akbar Dareini (AP)
    Iran objects to the logo for the 2012 London Olympics, contending the numbers "2012" in four jagged figures resemble the word "Zion."
    The official IRNA news agency Monday reported that the secretary general of Iran's National Olympic Committee, Bahram Afsharzadeh, sent a complaint to the International Olympic Committee and urged other Muslim states to oppose the "racist logo."
    The IOC responded: "The London 2012 logo represents the figure 2012, nothing else." The design was launched in 2007.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Clinton Sees U.S. Competition with Iran - Nicole Gaouette
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the House Foreign Affairs Committee Tuesday how foreign aid served as a way to maintain U.S. influence overseas. The close ties between the U.S. and Egyptian militaries are due in large part to State Department programs, she said. "Iran is competing with us," she added. If the U.S. reduces foreign aid, "we have no lack of people who would step forward to fill the void."  (Bloomberg)
        See also Clinton Warns of Iranian Efforts to Fill Middle East Power Vacuum - Hilary Leila Krieger
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Tuesday that Iran is aggressively trying to take advantage of the domestic upheavals across the Arab world and warned that the U.S. needs to maintain robust aid and involvement in the region to keep Tehran from succeeding. Clinton described Iran as working "every single day with as many assets as they can muster trying to take hold of this legitimate movement for democracy." "There's no doubt in my mind, if we are not present, and present in resources, not just in rhetoric, not just saying what we're for but being able to deliver on that, others will fill that vacuum....We are in a competition. I just stress over and over again, we've got to be there. We've got to fight back."
        Clinton also indicated that the U.S. was trying to take the initiative in ensuring that the implementation of more democratic governments would not be exploited by groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. "We are trying to suggest certain guidelines that should be used for determining whether a political party or any organization should be included in elections, included in government," she noted, adding that when it came to whether the Muslim Brotherhood could abide by democratic institutions, "the jury is out."
        Clinton also underscored that the U.S. remained committed to ratcheting up the pressure of sanctions against Iran, "constantly looking to improve them, to strengthen them, to tighten them."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Yemeni Cleric Joins Revolt, Urges Islamic State - Laura Kasinof and Scott Shane
    Prominent radical cleric Abd al-Majid Zindani, a onetime mentor of Osama bin Laden, told several thousand antigovernment protesters in Yemen on Tuesday, "An Islamic state is coming." Zindani has long supported Yemen's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and his defection, which followed that of tribal leaders, was a sign of how quickly the president's support is dissolving, a senior administration official said. Since 2004, Zindani has been named a "specially designated global terrorist" by the U.S. Treasury Department, which accused him of a role in financing terrorism. (New York Times)
        See also The Expansion of Al-Qaeda-Affiliated Jihadi Groups in Gaza: Diplomatic Implications - Dore Gold
    In February 2004, the U.S. designated Sheikh Abd al-Majid Zindani, president of Iman University in Yemen, as a "loyalist to Osama bin Laden." On March 20, 2006, Zindani, who recruited volunteers for al-Qaeda, sponsored a major fundraising event for Hamas in Yemen. (ICA-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Yemen's President Lashes Out at U.S., Israel - Haley Sweetland Edwards and Garrett Therolf (Los Angeles Times)
  • Despite Sanctions, Libya Holds Extensive Reserves - Howard Schneider and Steven Mufson
    As its oil receipts slow and international sanctions take hold, the Libyan regime of Moammar Gaddafi can fall back on as much as $110 billion in foreign reserve holdings to fund its operations. Despite the freeze on Libyan assets imposed by the U.S., the UN and Britain, and being debated by the EU, at least in the foreseeable future, the effect on Gaddafi's regime may be limited. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Obama Talks Mideast Peace with Jewish Leaders at White House - Natasha Mozgovaya
    President Barack Obama met Tuesday at the White House with a 50-member delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. A White House statement said the president emphasized "America's unshakable support for Israel's security, opposition to any effort to delegitimize it or single it out for criticism, and commitment to achieve a peace that will secure the future for Arabs and Israelis alike."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Netanyahu: West Must Respond Vigorously towards Libya and Iran
    Prime Minister Netanyahu said Tuesday: "Libya is a systematic violator of human rights and does not deserve any immunity. I think that Iran is also a systematic violator of human rights that does not deserve any immunity. If the international community exerts special pressure on Libya and warns its rulers and soldiers against human rights violations, the same exact warning must also be directed to the rulers and troops of Iran. If the international community is considering very assertive steps against Libya, the same steps must be directed against Iran as well."
        "While Gaddafi slaughters his opponents, the ayatollahs' regime in Iran is systematically executing its opponents. Therefore, the West's response must be very resolute towards both places. I believe that such a vigorous response will send a very clear message of hope and encouragement to the Iranian people, that they have not been forgotten and that we are all cognizant of their struggle for freedom and liberty."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Israel Weighing New Diplomatic Initiative - Herb Keinon
    Senior Israeli government officials said Tuesday that Prime Minister Netanyahu was contemplating a new diplomatic initiative in light of the continued refusal of the Palestinians to negotiate. It is believed that the initiative has been coordinated with the U.S. Israeli government circles feel such a move would take some of the international pressure off Israel and preempt world recognition of a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines. While Netanyahu would prefer a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians, there was no choice but for Israel to initiate its own steps because the "current diplomatic and political status quo is not sustainable."
        The officials said that the recent unrest in the Arab world had pushed negotiations further away. Unlike a month ago, when Hosni Mubarak was still president of Egypt, there is currently no one in the Arab world with the authority to give PA leader Abbas a green light to negotiate with Israel, even if he wanted to. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Cairo Viewed from Gaza: Too Soon to Celebrate - Mark A. Heller
    Under Mubarak, Egypt actively repressed its own Islamists and cooperated with Israel in trying to enforce tight controls over movement of people, goods, weapons, and money into and out of Gaza, while simultaneously serving as a patron for Hamas' Fatah rivals in the West Bank. An Islamist takeover in Egypt is not the only scenario that could work to Hamas' advantage. It might also benefit indirectly from general Egyptian sympathy for the Palestinians, which a post-Mubarak government, regardless of its ideological complexion, might feel obliged to accommodate.
        Finally, there is the possibility of continuing political disorder, exacerbated by the economic demands of newly-empowered labor and professional organizations. Weak government control, particularly in eastern Sinai where there is traditional Bedouin resentment of domination by Cairo, would facilitate large-scale smuggling of weapons and the provision of training and other support from Iran and elsewhere. The writer is Principal Research Fellow at INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Arab Democracy and the Return of the Mediterranean World - Robert D. Kaplan
    Some have euphorically announced the arrival of democracy in the Middle East. But something more subtle may develop. The regimes that emerge may call themselves democracies and the world may go along with the lie, but the test of a system is how the power relationships work behind the scenes. Young people, while savvy in the ways of social media and willing to defy bullets, can bring down a system, but they cannot necessarily govern.
        America's influence is likely to be maintained less by the emergence of democracy than by continued military assistance to many Arab states and by the threat of a nuclearized, Shiite Iran. Mitigating the loss of American power will be the geopolitical weakening of the Arab world itself. As Arab societies turn inward to rectify long-ignored social and economic grievances and their leaders battle each other to consolidate power domestically, they will have less energy for foreign policy concerns. The writer is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. (Washington Post)
  • My Optimism on the New Arab Revolt - Daniel Pipes
    The revolts over the past two months have been largely constructive, patriotic, and open in spirit. Political extremism has been largely absent. Conspiracy theories have been the refuge of decayed rulers, not exuberant crowds. One has the sense that the past century's extremism has run its course, that populations seek something more mundane and consumable than rhetoric, rejectionism, and backwardness. With due hesitation, I see changes that could augur a new era, one in which infantilized Arabic speakers mature into adults. The time has come to discard the soft bigotry of low expectations. The writer is director of the Middle East Forum and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. (National Review)

Bernard Lewis: Arab Upheaval a Mass Expression of Outrage Against Injustice - David Horovitz (Jerusalem Post)

    In an interview, historian Bernard Lewis diagnoses the fundamental cause of the region-wide explosion of protest, and dismisses Western notions of a quick fix.

  • "The Arab masses certainly want change. And they want improvement. But when you say do they want democracy, that's...a political concept that has no history, no record whatever in the Arab, Islamic world." "We, in the Western world particularly, tend to think of democracy in our own mean periodic elections in our style. But I think it's a great mistake to try and think of the Middle East in those terms and that can only lead to disastrous results, as you've already seen in various places. They are simply not ready for free and fair elections."
  • "In genuinely fair and free elections, [the Muslim parties] are very likely to win and I think that would be a disaster. A much better course would be a gradual development of democracy, not through general elections, but rather through local self-governing institutions. For that, there is a real tradition in the region." "You have this traditional system of consultation with groups....I think we should let them do it their way by consultative groups....It's happening now in Iraq."
  • "I don't think [the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt] is in any sense benign. I think it is a very dangerous, radical Islamic movement. If they obtain power, the consequences would be disastrous for Egypt....I don't know how one could get the impression that the Muslim Brotherhood is relatively benign unless you mean relatively as compared with the Nazi party."

    Bernard Lewis, a British-American historian, is Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, specializing in the history of Islam and the interaction between Islam and the West.

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