Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
October 4, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Turkey Retaliates after Shelling from Syria Kills Five - Seyhmus Cakan and Kadir Celikcan (Reuters)
    Turkish artillery hit targets inside Syria on Wednesday, killing several Syrian soldiers, after a mortar fired from Syria hit a residential neighborhood in Turkey, killing five Turkish civilians.
    A ruling party deputy told Turkish television that Turkey's parliament is planning to extend the authorization for its military to carry out cross-border operations to include operations in Syria, in addition to allowing strikes on Kurdish militant bases in northern Iraq.

Away from Cities, a Life Laced with Violence for Syrians - C. J. Chivers (New York Times)
    The Syrian rebels' campaign of ambushes and roadside bombs has cleared swaths of territory and forced army and militia convoys to avoid most roads.
    Even the M5 highway linking many of Syria's largest cities has long stretches that are in rebel hands.
    Unable to pursue the rebels on the ground in northern Syria, Assad's forces drop bombs from aircraft and shell villages where rebels are active.
    See also Syria Rebels Press Harder to Gain More Fighters - Kareem Fahim and Hwaida Saad (New York Times)
    Opposition commanders say defections from the Syrian military have slowed to a trickle.
    In a shift in strategy, the government has preferred to attack towns and neighborhoods from a distance using artillery and air power, preserving its resources and distancing its soldiers from rebel fighters.

Muslim Brotherhood Targeting United Arab Emirates? - Mudar Zahran (Gatestone Institute)
    Last April, the United Arab Emirates started cracking down on Islamists operating there, arresting 60. Dhai Khalfan, Dubai's police chief, started publicly warning of an "international plot" to overthrow the governments of Gulf states, saying the region needs to be prepared to encounter any threat from Islamist dissidents as well as Syria and Iran.
    Is the Muslim Brotherhood now ready to expand its dominance to oil-rich Arab nations after taking control of Egypt?

Israel Is the World's Largest Exporter of Drones - Peter Bergen (CNN)
    11 years ago, the Pentagon had fewer than 50 drone unmanned aircraft. Now, it has around 7,500.
    The first U.S. armed drone attack took place in November 2001 and killed the military commander of al-Qaeda, Mohammed Atef, in Afghanistan. Since then, the CIA has used drones hundreds of times to target militants in Pakistan and Yemen.
    Israel is the world's largest exporter of drones and drone technology, and the state-owned Israeli Aerospace Industries has sold to countries as varied as Nigeria, Russia and Mexico.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Currency Crisis Sparks Tehran Protests - Ramin Mostaghim and Patrick J. McDonnell
    Iranian police and demonstrators clashed Wednesday in Tehran during street protests linked to rising prices and the plunging value of the national currency. The protesters decried what they termed "inefficient government," and some marchers chanted "Leave Syria! Think about us!" Iran is believed to be providing huge subsidies to Syria to help keep Assad's government afloat amid a rebellion.
        Mark Dubowitz, a sanctions expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said the rial's fall may be a sign that Iran doesn't have the foreign exchange reserves needed to prop up the currency, or at least can't access reserves that might be in accounts abroad that have been frozen by sanctions. "You'd think that if the regime had sufficient reserves, and access to them, they could be intervening to prevent the rial from plummeting further," he said. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Rights Group Criticizes Hamas-Run Justice System in Gaza - Fares Akram
    Human Rights Watch on Wednesday accused Hamas in Gaza of running a criminal justice system rife with arbitrary arrests, torture and unfair trials. The group documented at least three cases in which Palestinians accused of collaboration with Israel were executed after confessions obtained through torture. (New York Times)
        See also Hamas Accused of Routine Torture of Detainees in Gaza - Harriet Sherwood (Guardian-UK)
        See also Report: Abusive System - Failures of Criminal Justice in Gaza (Human Rights Watch)
  • Three Hizbullah Men Killed in Weapons Depot Explosions in Lebanon
    Hizbullah has announced the deaths of three of its fighters in a series of blasts at a weapons-storage depot in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. A Lebanese security official had previously said that at least nine people were killed in Wednesday's explosions, including four Syrian workers. (Al Jazeera)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF: Syria Violence Getting Closer - Yoav Zitun
    As fighting between Syrian rebels and Assad's forces has moved closer to the Israeli border, "the army's intelligence forecasts according to which the (Syrian) Golan Heights would become a loosely governed area are proving true," IDF Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi said Wednesday. "The weakening of the Syrian regime's grip and the increasing infiltration of global jihad elements pose a new threat, which the army is preparing for," Kochavi said. On Wednesday, about 50 Syrians, including armed individuals, approached the border with Israel in the Mount Hermon area. (Ynet News)
  • Israeli Engineer May Have Been Followed by Iranian Agents on Trip Abroad
    The Israeli security establishment suspects that Iranian agents followed an Israeli engineer employed in the country's security industry while he was abroad for a conference, Channel 10 TV News reported on Wednesday. The engineer noticed that he was being followed and photographed by people he didn't recognize. He turned to the local Israeli security envoy to apprise him of the surveillance, and was transferred to another hotel. (Times of Israel)
  • Sharp Increase in West Bank Terrorist Attacks - Philip Podolsky
    Terror attacks against Israeli targets in the West Bank and Jerusalem increased sharply in September, the Israel Security Agency reported Wednesday. There were 91 attacks in September, compared to 51 in August. The majority of the incidents were Molotov cocktail attacks. In addition, during September, terrorists in Gaza fired 17 rockets and eight mortar shells at Israel in 25 separate incidents, compared to 21 rockets and three mortar shells in 16 incidents in August.
        "The potential for another uprising exists and we have to prepare ourselves for such an eventuality," the commander of the IDF's elite Duvdevan undercover unit told Israel's Channel 10 TV. (Times of Israel)
  • Israeli Exports to EU and U.S. Down; Exports to Asia, Africa, and Latin America Up
    According to figures published Tuesday by the Israel Export Institute, during the first half of 2012 exports to the EU decreased 4%, while exports to Asia rose 14%, exports to Latin America grew by 9% and exports to Africa increased 6%. While exports to the U.S. fell 20%, this drop is accounted for by a sharp decrease in the export of pharmaceuticals (as a result of a change in Teva's target markets). Excluding this sector, exports to the U.S. increased by 3%. Israel's exports to Brazil grew 31%, exports to Russia rose 23%, and exports to Nigeria leaped 149%. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Is Iran's Currency Crisis Evidence that Sanctions Are Working? - Michael Singh
    Sanctions are only partly to blame for Iran's economic travails. The regime's maladroit domestic response to the sanctions and its loose monetary and fiscal policies have made matters far worse. This is arguably the result of years of economic mismanagement in Iran, particularly under Ahmadinejad.
        However, the Iranian regime is relatively sheltered from the present crisis. Oil exports remain high at 1.2 to 1.5 million barrels per day, meaning that the regime's foreign exchange income is considerable. And in any event its oil income is dollar-denominated, protecting it from exchange rate risk. As a result, Iran's economic crisis is unlikely to directly cause the regime to change its nuclear calculus.
        By implication, the U.S. and our allies should be careful not to count on the current sanctions to resolve the nuclear crisis by themselves. Rather than hoping that giving current sanctions "time to work" will force Iran back to the negotiating table, the U.S. and our allies should add further pressure to the regime and the elites who comprise it, including through additional targeted economic sanctions, diplomatic isolation, bolstering the credibility of our military threat to the regime, and support for the Iranian opposition. The writer is managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Foreign Policy)
  • Is the Fall of the Iranian Regime Imminent? - Jonathan S. Tobin
    The latest clashes in Tehran must not be interpreted as a sign that the fall of the Iranian regime is imminent. It is an iron rule of history that tyrants fall only when they lose their will to shed blood. The mere fact of opposition in the streets of Tehran is no more of an indicator that the end of the Islamist nightmare is near than it was in the summer of 2009, when a stolen presidential election set off an even greater response than the collapse of the rial.
        If a shaky government like that of Syria, whose power base is a minority group, can persist so long as the government retains the loyalty of the armed forces and security apparatus and is able to fight back, how much more solid is that of its Iranian ally, which can still count on the backing of the religious establishment as well as the military. (Commentary)
  • Criminal Connections: Hizbullah's Global Illicit Financing Activities - Matthew Levitt
    Hizbullah's use of criminal activity to raise funds, procure arms, and provide logistics is part of the secret to the success of its military and terrorist activities. Hizbullah's illicit activities have become even more critical as Iran and Syria deal with internal financial and political turmoil. Its illicit activities include document fraud, arms and drugs smuggling, money laundering, and the procurement of dual-use items, among other pursuits. The writer directs the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (IHS Jane's)
  • Palestinian Authority Continues to Promote the Al-Aqsa Libel - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
    Between Sep. 14 and 20, 2012, the official newspaper of the Palestinian Authority, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, ran five stories repeating the libel that Israel plans to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque. "Israeli occupation forces plan to damage the blessed mosque's foundation and weaken them, so that they will easily collapse at the first opportunity."  (Palestinian Media Watch)
        See also The "Al-Aksa Is in Danger" Libel: The History of a Lie - Nadav Shragai (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Abbas and the Jews - Shmuel Rosner (New York Times)

  • Just days before his UN speech, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met a small number of American Jewish leaders, though many leaders of the major American Jewish organizations declined to attend, claiming that negotiating with them was no substitute for negotiating with the government of Israel - and all the more so since Abbas has for four years now refused to resume peace talks with Israel.
  • One of those who participated asked, why won't Abbas acknowledge the Jews' ties to Jerusalem? In response, Abbas made a pledge to show more sensitivity. And he invited the group to watch his address to the UN General Assembly, hinting that they would find in it a remedy to their complaints.
  • In his speech, Abbas noted that the "land of peace" was "the birthplace of Jesus, [the place of] ascension of the Prophet Muhammad, and the final resting place of Abraham - the land of the three monotheistic religions."
  • This would seem to be a subtle acknowledgment that Judaism, being one of the three monotheistic religions, has some vague connection to the Land of Israel. But that's a bit too subtle for most Jews. Note Abbas' shrewd choice of characters: Abraham, as the father of all three monotheistic religions, is a much safer pick than Moses, Jacob or King David.
  • This part of Abbas' speech was not about being sensitive to Jewish claims. It was a rhetorical trick. If after asking Jewish leaders to watch his speech, Abbas could only give them this meek acknowledgment of their ties to Israel, the long road to peace may be very long indeed.

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