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,
February 29, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Can Defend Itself Against Iranian Missiles - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's Arrow missile defense system could intercept barrages of Iranian long-range missiles, Arieh Herzog, who recently stepped down as head of the Defense Ministry's Homa Missile Defense Agency, has told the Jerusalem Post.
    While there "is no such thing as 100% defense," the Arrow was fully operational and capable of providing an adequate defense against Iran's Shahab and Sajil ballistic missiles, Herzog said.
    Israel has two operational Arrow 2 missile batteries and is establishing a third battery in the coming months. It is also developing the Arrow 3 that will become operational in 2015.

A Year into Syrian Uprising, Damascus Is Transformed (AP-Washington Post)
    Shops and restaurants close early in Damascus these days. Blast walls and checkpoints ring government buildings to guard against car bombs. Residents struggle with spiraling prices and power outages.
    Damascus, once considered one of the safest cities in the world, is now grim with fears for the future.
    Electricity outages lasting up to 12 hours a day have forced residents to buy private generators.
    Prices have tripled in the past few months, and companies have begun laying off employees or slashing salaries.
    Life in upscale Damascus areas seems relatively normal. But lower-class neighborhoods dominated by Sunni Muslims, who have been the backbone of the revolt, see frequent, small-scale anti-Assad rallies.

Muslim Brotherhood Lawmaker: Arab Spring Headed to Iran - Zvi Bar'el (Ha'aretz)
    Essam al-Arian, the head of the Foreign Affairs committee in the new Egyptian parliament and a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, said that Egypt must examine how it could lead the changes in the Middle East known as the Arab Spring, which he said would also reach Iran.
    This position fits with the Muslim Brotherhood's ideological stance, which sees Shia Islam as an unwanted denomination.
    Amr Moussa, who is expected to run for the Egyptian presidency, also joined the anti-Iranian stance when he declared this week that the "Arab Middle East will not be run by Iran or Turkey."

Iran Public Executions Up 400 Percent in 2011 (AP-Washington Post)
    "There were around four times as many public executions in 2011 than in 2010 [in Iran], and hundreds of people are believed to have been sentenced to death in the past year," Amnesty International said Monday in a new report.
    Amnesty's Iran specialist Elise Auerbach said there were 50 public executions in 2011, compared to 14 in 2010.
    At the same time, the total number of executions reported in Iranian state media increased from 253 to 600, although Auerbach stressed that "the true number was quite a bit higher."

Israel's Unemployment Rate at 32-Year Low - Moti Bassok and Ruth Schuster (Ha'aretz)
    Unemployment in Israel in 2011 fell to its lowest level since 1978, averaging 5.6% of the adult workforce, compared with 6.6% the year before, according to the latest figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics.
    The number of people officially considered "unemployed" and actively seeking work fell by 14% from the year before.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • 13 Syrians Die Attempting to Rescue Foreign Journalists from Homs - Liz Sly
    Thirteen Syrian opposition activists were killed during an attempt to smuggle four foreign journalists out of the besieged Homs neighborhood of Baba Amr after Syrian security forces ambushed the group, the advocacy group Avaaz, which helped coordinate the rescue attempt, said Tuesday. The 13 were among 102 people killed across Syria on Tuesday, according to the Local Coordination Committees.
        Wissam Tarif, a Lebanon-based activist with Avaaz, said, "They are just ordinary guys who did not pick up weapons but decided to evacuate injured people....They've been doing this for a year, and hundreds of them have been killed." Tarif said 23 members engaged in ferrying medical supplies and injured victims between Homs and Lebanon have been killed since last Wednesday. In the process, they have evacuated 40 injured civilians from Homs. (Washington Post)
        See also U.S. Drafts New UN Syria Resolution - Louis Charbonneau
    The U.S. has drafted an outline for a new UN Security Council resolution demanding access for humanitarian aid workers in besieged Syrian towns and an end to the violence there, Western envoys said on Tuesday. By focusing on the humanitarian situation, Western and Arab powers hoped to make it difficult for Moscow and Beijing to veto council action on Damascus a third time. Diplomats confirmed that the idea for such a resolution came out of last week's "Friends of Syria" meeting in Tunis. (Reuters)
  • U.S. General Defends Remarks on Israel - Jeremy Herb
    The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told a Senate panel on Tuesday he did not counsel Israel against attacking Iran over its nuclear program. Gen. Martin Dempsey told lawmakers on the Senate Budget Committee, "We've had a conversation with them about time, the issue of time."
        Dempsey also defended his comment that Iran is a "rational actor." Dempsey said that he doesn't mistake Iran's rhetoric for a lack of reason, and said that even Iran's actions that are unacceptable to the U.S. fit the country's pattern over the past 30 years. "We can't afford to underestimate our potential adversaries by writing them off as irrational," Dempsey said.
        When Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) asked Dempsey whether a military strike by the U.S. was off the table, Dempsey responded, "Absolutely not."  (The Hill)
  • Egyptian Judges Withdraw from Trial of Pro-Democracy Activists
    Egypt's state news agency MENA said Tuesday that all three judges handling the trial of 43 pro-democracy activists have recused themselves. Chief Judge Mohammed Shoukry sent a notice to Egypt's appeals court declaring he and his two colleagues cannot continue with the trial. (VOA News)
        See also U.S. and Egypt in Talks to End Prosecution of Americans - Steven Lee Myers (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Protests UN Silence on Palestinian Rocket Fire - Yitzhak Benhorin
    Israel's Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor sent a stern letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressing outrage over the UN's failure to condemn the firing of rockets from Gaza at Israel. Prosor wrote: "Since I last wrote to you ten days ago, ten more rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli communities. Ten days. Ten rockets. Not one word of condemnation from the Security Council....It is time for the Council to speak with one voice and act with one purpose against the terrorists that operate with impunity in the Gaza Strip."  (Ynet News)
  • Syria Opposition Leader: Assad's Fall Does Not Mean End of Ties with Hizbullah - Zvi Bar'el
    Dr. Burhan Ghalioun, head of the Syrian National Council, told the Algerian newspaper El-Shorouk: "Hizbullah is not our enemy. On the contrary - the greatest support in the Arab world for Hizbullah came from the Syrians because it performed a noble deed when it stood up to Israel and blocked an Israeli attack. However, today people are suspicious of Hizbullah because it has clearly supported the regime which acts with all forms of violence against its citizens."
        Thus, the premise that the fall of the Assad regime will bring about the end of Syria's relationship with Iran or Hizbullah does not reflect Ghalioun or his organization's worldview. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Syrian WMD: Counter-Proliferation Contingency Planning Needed - James Phillips and James Jay Carafano
    Syria's Baathist dictatorship developed and stockpiled a lethal arsenal of chemical weapons including blister agents such as mustard gas and even more dangerous nerve agents. U.S. officials believe that there are at least 50 chemical weapon production and storage facilities inside Syria. As the situation inside Syria deteriorates, there is a growing possibility that the regime could lose control over these facilities. Those initially at risk would probably be local populations exposed to the haphazard handling of hazardous materials. The most significant danger is that these materials might be removed from the country and fashioned into improvised explosive devices elsewhere.
        Washington should make it clear to all Syrian opposition groups that they will be held responsible for any chemical weapons, radioactive materials, or shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles that fall into their hands. They should know that they will be rewarded if they turn these over to the U.S. or allied governments and punished if they retain them or pass them on to terrorists. The U.S., its allies, and the "Friends of Syria" contact group should establish an intelligence-sharing mechanism to monitor Syrian WMD sites and track the movement of loose weapons in an effort to intercept them before they can be transferred to terrorist groups. James Phillips is a Senior Research Fellow and James Jay Carafano is Deputy Director of the Davis Institute for International Studies and Director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. (Heritage Foundation)
        See also More on Syria's Weapons of Mass Destruction - Lenny Ben-David (Times of Israel)
  • The Counter-Revolutionary Phase of the Arab/Muslim Awakening - Thomas L. Friedman
    Recently, looking honestly at the Middle East, one has to conclude that the prospects for stable transitions to democracy anytime soon are dimming. This is because the staying power and mendacity of the entrenched old guards and old ideas in these countries is much deeper than most people realize and the frailty or absence of democratic institutions, traditions and examples much greater. So when the iron lid of autocracy comes off, most of the Arab-Muslim world falls back, not on liberalism, but Islamism, sectarianism, tribalism or military rule.
        In Egypt, every day it becomes clearer that the Army has used the Tahrir uprising to get rid of its main long-term rival for succession - President Mubarak's son, Gamal. Now, having gotten rid of both father and son, the Army is showing its real hand by prosecuting American, European and Egyptian democracy workers for allegedly working with "foreign agents" - the CIA, Israel and the Jewish lobby - to destabilize Egypt. This is a patently fraudulent charge, but one meant to undermine the democrats demanding that the Army step aside.
        The Arab/Muslim awakening phase is over. Now we are deep into the counter-revolutionary phase, as the dead hands of the past try to strangle the future. (New York Times)
  • Washington and Cairo - America's Bitter Awakening - Zvi Mazel
    Since Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979, it has received $70 billion from the U.S. in military and civilian grants. Yet it took only one week of violent street demonstrations in Cairo for America to abandon its ally of 43 years and for President Barack Obama to tell Mubarak to go.
        He probably thought that freed of the chains of dictatorship, a new regime would turn to democracy and strengthen its ties with America. Yet there was an outpouring of hatred towards the U.S.; worse, extremist Islamic parties won 75% of the seats of the new parliament. The Muslim Brotherhood defeated democracy by a knock-out.
        The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) now ruling Egypt has apparently concluded that it is a sound political move to channel the frustration of the increasingly disillusioned masses against the hated Americans. Both the Muslim Brothers and the Salafists, who view American democracy as their most dangerous enemy, support them. The Muslim Brothers see in democratic America a major stumbling block on the road to setting up an Islamic regime in Egypt and doing away with the peace treaty with Israel. The writer is a former ambassador to Egypt and a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)

Harvard's Latest Assault on Israel - Ruth Wisse (Wall Street Journal)

  • In 1948, when the Arab League declared war on Israel, no one imagined that six decades later American universities would become its overseas agency. A conference at Harvard next week called "Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution" is but the latest aggression in an escalating campaign against the Jewish state.
  • The roster of speakers and subjects makes their hostile agenda indisputable. A featured speaker is Ali Abunimah, creator of the website Electronic Intifada, who opposes the existence of a "Jewish state" as racist by virtue of being Jewish. He also keynoted a recent University of Pennsylvania conference urging "Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions" (BDS) of, from and against Israel.
  • The economic war on Israel did not start with BDS. In 1945, before the founding of Israel, the Arab League declared a boycott of "Jewish products and manufactured goods." Ever since, the Damascus-based Central Boycott Office has tried to enforce a boycott prohibiting importation of Israeli-origin goods and services, trade with any entity that does business in Israel, and engagement with any company or individual that does business with firms on the Arab League blacklist.
  • Freedom of speech grants all Americans the right to prosecute the verbal war against Israel. But let's differentiate toleration from abetting. Harvard may tolerate smoking, but its medical school wouldn't sponsor a conference touting the benefits of cigarettes.
  • Students who are inculcated with hatred of Israel may want to express their national, religious or political identity by urging its annihilation. But universities that condone their efforts are triple offenders - against their mission, against the Jewish people, and perhaps most especially against the maligners themselves. Smoking is less fatal to smokers than anti-Jewish politics is to its users.

    The writer is a professor of Yiddish and comparative literature at Harvard University.

        See also Should Harvard Sponsor a One-Sided Conference Seeking the End of Israel? - Alan M. Dershowitz
    Ask yourself what Harvard would do if a group of students and faculty decided to convene a conference on the topic, "Are the Palestinians Really a People?," and invited as speakers only academics who answered that question in the negative?
        Let there be no doubt that the call for a single state solution is a euphemism for ending the existence of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. Many of those speaking at the Harvard conference are on record opposing the existence of Israel. Many of the speakers at this conference will rail against "a Jewish state." But they will not protest the Palestinian Constitution which establishes Islam as the only "official religion" and requires that "the principles of Islamic Sharia shall be the main source of legislation." The writer is a professor at Harvard Law School. (Stonegate Institute)
        See also Students and Alumni Protest HKS Conference on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Aisling H. Crane and Melanie A. Guzman
    More than 2,000 Harvard students and alumni have signed an online petition calling on the University to withdraw all financial support and distance itself from a conference considering a one-state solution to the Israeli and Palestinian conflict at the Harvard Kennedy School next week. The petition opposing the conference accused the event of propagating a manifestation of "new anti-Semitism." The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs have both removed their logos from the conference website since the petition went up. (Harvard Crimson)
        See also A Destructive "Solution" - Joshua Lipson and Beth Drucker (Harvard Political Review)

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