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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
May 16, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

IOC Rejects Silence for Munich Victims at London Olympics - Harriet Sherwood (Guardian-UK)
    The International Olympic Committee has rejected an Israeli call for a minute's silence at the London Games to mark the 40th anniversary of the Munich terrorist attack in which 11 Israeli athletes were killed.
    Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry, said, "The IOC is treating this as an internal Israeli matter but [the Munich massacre] is of concern to the whole Olympic family, it was an onslaught on the whole Olympic ideal."
    The Munich attack occurred on 5 September 1972 when eight members of the Palestinian Black September infiltrated the Olympic village and took 11 members of the Israeli team hostage.

Iranian Oil Sales Stymied by Sanctions - David Blair (Telegraph-UK)
    Tighter sanctions have paralyzed Iran's tanker fleet, forcing more than half of the country's vessels to lie idle in the Gulf because of an absence of buyers for their oil.
    19 of the National Iranian Tanker Company's 34 ships are thought to be stationary, used only for "floating storage."
    The fact that Iran appears unable to sell this oil shows how much economic pressure the country faces on the eve of negotiations on its nuclear ambitions.

IDF to Boost Surveillance on Jordanian Border - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    An advanced surveillance system is to be deployed along the border with Jordan as Israeli defense officials fear growing infiltration attempts.
    Such a system, which incorporates observation, photography and radar capabilities, is currently being deployed along the Egyptian border.

Israel to Send Fighter Jets for Joint Exercises in U.S. - Greg Tepper (Times of Israel)
    The Israeli Air Force is soon to send fighter jets to take part in joint military exercises in the U.S., Israel Channel 2 TV reported Tuesday.
    In addition, Israeli and U.S. air defense forces will take part in a major drill later this summer in Israel.
    In Israel on Tuesday, American National Guard and Israeli Home Front Command forces conducted search and rescue drills.

Arafat Aide Suspected of Stealing Millions (AP-Washington Post)
    Mohammed Rashid, the shadowy financial adviser of the late Yasser Arafat, is being sought on suspicion he stole millions of dollars in public funds, the chief of the PA's Anti-Corruption Commission, Rafik Natche, said Wednesday.
    Rashid, who left the Palestinian territories after Arafat's death in 2004, is suspected of transferring millions of dollars out of the Palestinian Investment Fund and setting up fake companies, Natche said.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Syrian Rebels Get Arms with Gulf Money, U.S. Coordination - Karen DeYoung and Liz Sly
    Syrian rebels battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad have begun receiving significantly more and better weapons in recent weeks including antitank weaponry, an effort paid for by Persian Gulf nations and coordinated in part by the U.S., according to opposition activists and U.S. and foreign officials. U.S. contacts with the rebel military and information-sharing with Gulf nations mark a shift in Obama administration policy as hopes dim for a political solution. Many officials now consider an expanding military confrontation in Syria to be inevitable.
        The flow of weapons significantly increased after a decision by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf states to provide millions of dollars in funding each month. Syria's Muslim Brotherhood said it has opened its own supply channel to the rebels, using resources from wealthy private individuals and money from Gulf states. "Large shipments have got through," said one opposition figure. "Some areas are loaded with weapons."  (Washington Post)
  • Iran's Foreign Minister Was Involved in Clandestine Nuclear Program - Tabassum Zakaria
    Communications from the 1990s suggest Iran's current foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, had knowledge of a program to procure goods for a clandestine nuclear program, U.S. nuclear expert David Albright, founder of the Institute for Science and International Security, said Tuesday. A letter signed by Salehi as head of Sharif University in 1991 served as an end-user guarantee to a European supplier of materials that could have a dual purpose for use in a nuclear program. Sharif University was acting essentially as a front for Iran's military procurement network, Albright said. "Salehi knew about or was involved in efforts to create an alleged parallel military nuclear program that is of great interest to the IAEA now," Albright said. (Reuters)
  • Israeli Group Wins $323 Million Suit in U.S. Against Iran and Syria for Restaurant Bombing
    A U.S. court awarded a $323 million judgment against Iran and Syria for supporting Palestinian militants that killed an American teenager and ten others in a 2006 bombing, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of the Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center, that represents victims of Palestinian violence, said Tuesday. Daniel Wultz, 16, of Florida was killed when an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber set off his explosives at a Tel Aviv restaurant.
        U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth said in the Monday ruling, "When a state chooses to use terror as a policy tool - as Iran and Syria continue to do - that state forfeits its sovereign immunity and deserves unadorned condemnation. Barbaric acts like the April 17, 2006, suicide bombing have no place in civilized society and present a moral depravity that knows no bounds."  (AP-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians Riot on Nakba Day - Khaled Abu Toameh and Tovah Lazaroff
    One Israeli soldier, three border policemen and 270 Palestinians were lightly hurt, mostly from tear gas inhalation, in clashes in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem Tuesday as Palestinians marked the "Nakba," meaning "catastrophe," their loss to Israel in 1948. In Ramallah, children marched into Martyr Yasser Arafat Square beating drums and wearing black T-shirts that read "1948." PA representatives including Prime Minister Salam Fayyad led the rally. "The right of return is sacred and cannot be compromised," Fayyad told the crowd. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Nakba Day Defanged - Mitch Ginsburg
    On May 15, "Nakba Day" demonstrations were limited to the West Bank. Bassem Eid, a Palestinian human rights worker, attributed the relative calm to the state of Palestinian society, which he described as frustrated, fractured, tired and hopeless. "The back of Palestinian society has been broken by the Hamas-Fatah separation," he said, noting that within the West Bank, the rifts within Fatah were so deep there was no hope of any coordinated uprising. "There cannot be an intifada so long as we have an intrafada," he said. (Times of Israel)
        See also Israel: Palestinians Should Direct Anger at Their Own Leaders - Herb Keinon
    Rather than demonstrating against Israel, the Palestinians should be directing their "Nakba Day" anger at the extremist Palestinian leadership that 64 years ago rejected any accommodation, Prime Minister Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev said Tuesday. "The Palestinian leadership in 1947 and 1948 adopted an extremist and maximalist position. Unlike the Jewish leadership, they rejected partition and refused to accept a Jewish state even in truncated borders."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Intelligence: Assad's Fate Is Sealed, Hizbullah Is Strengthening in South Lebanon - Barak Ravid
    IDF Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi made a secret visit two weeks ago to Washington and to UN headquarters in New York, where he discussed the Iranian nuclear program, the Syria crisis and Hizbullah's increasing power in Lebanon, a senior Israeli official has said. A European diplomat who was briefed on the content of Kochavi's talks in New York said that Israel believes Assad's fate is sealed, and the only question is how long it will be before his regime is toppled. A senior Israeli official said Kochavi also warned against Hizbullah's increasing strength in south Lebanon.
        Israel is worried about changes that have taken place recently in the makeup of UNIFIL's forces in southern Lebanon. Nearly half of the force's soldiers, some 6,000 of 13,000, come from large European countries - France, Spain and Italy. But in recent months, because of the economic crisis in Europe, these countries have started to cut their defense budgets and have reduced the number of their soldiers in UNIFIL. The European soldiers are increasingly being replaced by soldiers from Muslim countries such as Indonesia. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Meaning of Nakba Day - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Nakba is an Arabic word which means disaster, and that is what those who participated in the protests consider the founding of the State of Israel on May 15, 1948. The focus on 1948 is significant. For those who claim the Middle East conflict is about borders or Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the prominence given Nakba commemorations ought to be an embarrassment. It highlights that the goal of the Palestinians isn't an independent state alongside Israel. Their goal is to eradicate Israel and replace it with yet another Arab majority country.
        The Nakba narrative draws no distinction between the pre- and post-1967 borders. The Jewish presence within the internationally recognized borders of the State of Israel is treated as just as illegitimate as that of the settlers in the territories. This is not a minor point, because for the Palestinians, the desire for the descendants of the 1948 refugees to "return" to Israel is tantamount to demanding the dismantling of the Jewish state.
        The war that created the refugees was one started by Arabs whose goal was not to share the land but to prevent Jewish sovereignty on any part of it. That they and their descendants still regret this reversal of fortune may be understandable, but it is not a point on which they have any right to demand the world's sympathy. (Commentary)
  • For Jews from Arab Lands, a Different History of Displacement and Loss - Matti Friedman
    I have spent a great deal of time in the past four years interviewing people born and raised in Aleppo, Syria. Some are descended from families with roots in Aleppo going back more than two millennia, to Roman times. None of them lives there now. On November 30, 1947, a day after the UN voted to partition Palestine into two states, one for Arabs and one for Jews, mobs in Aleppo stalked Jewish neighborhoods, looting houses and burning synagogues.
        One man I interviewed remembered fleeing his home, a barefoot nine-year-old, moments before it was set on fire. Abetted by the government, the rioters burned 50 Jewish shops, five schools, 18 synagogues and an unknown number of homes. In Damascus, rioters killed 13 Jews, including eight children, in August 1948, and there were similar events in other Arab cities.
        At the time of the UN vote, there were about 10,000 Jews in Aleppo. By the mid-1950s there were 2,000, living in fear. Today there are none. Similar scripts played out across the Islamic world as some 850,000 Jews were forced from their homes. In Aleppo, Tripoli, Baghdad and elsewhere, the people who live in or around the Jews' old homes still know who used to own them and how they left.
        Roughly half of the 6 million Jews in Israel today came from the Muslim world or are descended from people who did. The simple narrative of Nakba Day conveniently erases the uncomfortable truth that half of Israel's Jews are there not because of the Nazis but because of the Arabs themselves. (Times of Israel)

Israel and Iran - Elliott Abrams (World Affairs)

  • The dangers of a nuclear Iran do not affect all nations equally. In fact, they are a matter of principle but not much of a danger to many countries, while of much greater interest to Iran's immediate neighbors and to the United States.
  • And then there is Israel. The dangers it faces from an Iranian nuclear weapon are unique and are dangers no nation should be asked to accept.
  • The only case today in which a UN member country is calling for the destruction of another member is Tehran's repeated threats to obliterate Israel, and there is no reason to believe the Iranians don't mean it. Official Iranian comments about Israel are continually genocidal in nature.
  • The recent attacks on Israeli Embassy officers in India and Georgia and the bombing of the Israeli Embassy and Jewish community headquarters in Buenos Aires in the 1990s were all conducted when Iran did not have the added protection of a nuclear weapon. Similarly, Hizbullah and Hamas rocket attacks and terrorist bombings and kidnappings have all occurred when their benefactors in Tehran did not yet have the bomb. How much more aggressive would the mullahs be if the threat of retaliation against such attacks were neutralized by nuclear warheads?
  • Israel would be taking a very great gamble to think that the U.S. will save it from Iran's nukes. We might, under this president or the next, or we might not. Iranian nuclear weapons are, after all, an existential threat to Israel, not to the U.S. It is not America that is regularly threatened with genocide by Tehran, however much its rulers may believe it the Great Satan.

    The writer, who served as U.S. deputy national security adviser from 2005 to 2009, is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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