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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 29, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Gen. Dempsey Arrives in Israel to Oversee Joint Air Defense Drill - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    The Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, arrived in Israel on Sunday to oversee the joint U.S.-Israel air defense drill.
    One of the objectives of the drill is to facilitate the rapid deployment of U.S. missile defense systems to Israel and to test their ability to work with Israeli systems during a conflict.

Airstrikes, Casualties Leave Syrian Truce in Shambles - Hamdi Alkhshali (CNN)
    Syrian government airstrikes pounded opposition stronghold neighborhoods on the outskirts of Damascus on Sunday, leaving a temporary truce between President Assad's forces and rebels in shambles.
    Widespread fighting across Syria left at least 128 people dead.
    About 40 soldiers loyal to the Syrian regime surrendered to rebels who had laid siege to their checkpoint in Al-Alaneh in Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sunday.

Iraqi Shiite Fighters Heading to Syria to Fight for Assad - Yasir Ghazi and Tim Arango (New York Times)
    Iraqi Shiites have been going to Syria in increasing numbers to fight for President Assad.
    Some are traveling to Tehran first, where the Iranian government flies them to Damascus. Others take tour buses from Najaf, Iraq, on the pretext of making a pilgrimage to an important Shiite shrine in Damascus.
    Iraqi Shiite leaders say the buses also ferry weapons, supplies and fighters to aid the Syrian government.
    The Iraqi Shiites are joining forces with Shiite fighters from Lebanon and Iran.

A Jihadist Group Prospers in Syria - Jackson Diehl (Washington Post)
    In the spring, the jihadist terror movement Jabhat al-Nusra had maybe 50 adherents in Syria. Now it may have close to 1,000 core followers, and fighting units around Syria have begun openly claiming to belong to it.
    Its bearded, baggy-pantalooned fighters are at the forefront of the critical battle for the city of Aleppo.

Cow Tramples Palestinian at Gaza Muslim Feast - Diaa Hadid (AP)
    A spooked cow killed a Palestinian man who was trying to slaughter it on Saturday during the Muslim celebration of the Eid al-Adha festival, said Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra.
    Accidents are common as people frequently buy animals to slaughter themselves. The festive atmosphere also tends to make the animals fidgety.
    In all, he said some 150 people were hospitalized in Gaza with knife wounds or other injuries caused by animals trying to break away.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Urges Europe to Label Hizbullah a Terrorist Group - Karen DeYoung
    White House counterterrorism chief John O. Brennan said Friday that European failure to join the U.S. in designating Hizbullah a terrorist organization is undermining international counterterrorism efforts, making "it harder to defend our countries and protect our citizens." Brennan listed Hizbullah at the top of a list of joint U.S. and European security challenges. In addition to its alliance with terrorist activities by Iran, he said, "we have seen Hizbullah training militants in Yemen and Syria."  (Washington Post)
  • Report: Hizbullah Debates Dropping Support for Syria's Assad - Nick Meo, Ruth Sherlock, and Carol Malouf
    The Sunday Telegraph has been told of secret arguments raging inside Hizbullah's ranks about whether the time has come to stop backing the Assad regime in Syria. "There are different points of view, with some saying that we should push for a settlement within Syria and not bank on Assad staying," said one Lebanese with connections to senior Hizbullah circles.
        Some Hizbullah members, including clerics, fear that their support for Assad is dragging them into a dangerous fight with Sunni Arabs in Syria and Lebanon. They say it is now urgent to end their support for Assad, so that a new relationship can be formed with whoever comes to power in Syria next. "The future of Hizbullah and the Shia is directly related to the future of Syria. If Bashar is to be sacrificed, let's sacrifice him and not Syria," the source said.
        Disagreement is said to be strongest between civilian Hizbullah members, who are more likely to favor cutting links with Damascus, and its powerful military wing, still fiercely loyal to the Syrian regime. (Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • 20 Gaza Rockets Hit Israel Overnight - Elior Levy
    20 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel on Sunday night and Monday morning. Hamas claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. At least seven rockets were fired from Gaza at the Beersheba area on Saturday night. (Ynet News)
  • Anti-Semitic Party Wins 12 Percent of Seats in Ukraine Parliament - Eli Shvidler
    The anti-Semitic party Svoboda will be well-represented in Ukraine's parliament after winning 12.3% in Sunday's parliamentary elections. Svoboda got only 0.7% during the previous elections. Several complaints were filed against the party's leader, Oleg Tyahnybok, for incitement and racist and anti-Semitic remarks, such as saying Ukraine was being run by a "Muscovite-Jewish mafia" and calling to "stop Jewish expansion."
        Party members, who tend to be young, have been linked to several anti-Semitic attacks, including the torching of synagogues and Jewish cultural centers and the desecration of Jewish cemeteries. The party also opposes the mass visits of Breslov Hasidim to the grave of Rabbi Nahman of Breslov in Uman, and has in the past tried to "defend Ukrainian rights" at the site. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Svoboda Party Wins Three Provinces, Takes Second Place in Kiev - Katya Gorchinskaya (Kiev Post-Ukraine)
  • Wounded IDF Officer: I Won't Give Up - Ilana Curiel
    IDF Captain Ziv Shilon, a Givati brigade company commander, was seriously injured when a bomb went off on the Gaza border fence. One week later he told reporters: "I remember losing one hand and then seeing the other one crushed. I held one hand with the other. I got myself into the vehicle and told the paramedic to use a tourniquet....It's not easy losing your hands but I won't give up. If I can completely restore the use of my hand, I will return to the army."
        Shortly after his surgery, Shilon sent a message to the soldiers serving in his unit, saying that he loved them and that he was feeling great. "There is nothing to fear. The IDF is strong and will prevail in any situation. This kind of thing happens. Part of the job is to risk our lives in order to protect the citizens of Israel," he added. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Gaza's New Look - Nicolas Pelham
    Arab governments across the region, like Qatar's, have been shifting hundreds of millions of dollars in aid money from the PA to Hamas, signaling what may be a historic shift in Palestinian politics. According to World Bank figures, construction starts in the first half of 2011 grew by 220%. So great is the demand that Gazans complain builders have to be booked months in advance, and decorators are never available.
        The Gazan economy grew by 20% in 2010 and a whopping 27% last year. Turkey and the Gulf powers have shifted funding southward from the PA in the West Bank. Turkey has contributed $300 million to Gaza; Saudi Arabia $250 million. The new Gaza offices of the IHH - the Islamist charity in Turkey that spearheaded the 2010 aid flotilla to Gaza intercepted by Israel - dominate Gaza City's Katiba Square, newly grassed with turf hauled through the smuggling tunnels. The Islamic University has added Turkish to its curriculum. (New York Review of Books)
  • Debating Israel - Shmuel Rosner
    At the end of the third U.S. presidential debate on foreign policy issues, I had to reconcile two competing feelings. As an Israeli, I can't help but have a childish glee over the frequent mention of my country, a reminder of its important place in U.S. foreign policy. At the same time, I can't help but wonder: Is this attention not a bit too much?
        There were more than 30 mentions of Israel. Giving Israel such prominence in a discussion of U.S. foreign affairs makes the country stronger and seem larger than it really is, thereby deterring enemies who notice how far American leaders are willing to go in stating their allegiance to an old ally. But all this support has a down side as well: It can make Israel a target for all those wanting to hurt America without actually making war against the U.S. (New York Times)
  • Revamped Education System Needed to Fight Growing Unemployment in Egypt - Zvi Bar'el
    As the resources for fighting unemployment are spread thin over all the collapsing Egyptian industries, jobs are becoming even more scarce. A World Bank report earlier this month concluded that a key obstacle to job growth is the gap between market demands and the training young people receive in Arab schools. But will a theocratic Egyptian government agree to drop several hours of Koran classes from the schedule and replace them with time in the lab? (Ha'aretz)

Israel and Gaza - Elliott Abrams (Council on Foreign Relations)

  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland thinks the visit to Gaza by the Emir of Qatar, who pledged $400 million in aid, was perfectly acceptable. He does not believe Israel has any particular interest in reuniting the West Bank and Gaza, rather than seeking a greater integration of Gaza with Egypt. He also notes that efforts by Israel to strengthen the PA and its leader, President Abbas, against Hamas quite often have the opposite effect.
  • He also believes that weakening Hamas does not strengthen Abbas and Fatah in Gaza because they are so weak there and unable to improve their situation. Instead, weakening Hamas strengthens even more extreme salafist and jihadi groups. He argues that to the extent that Hamas comes to be more like a stable government for Gaza, with a decent economy, it will have that much more to lose from confrontations with Israel.
  • Eiland says Israel's only real interest in Gaza is security. He therefore urges a different policy:
    • The first element is to respond extremely strongly to any attack that does come out of Gaza. No slow escalation, no signaling and messaging, just very quick and very tough responses that make Hamas pay a heavy price.
    • Second, after every incident close the border completely and cut off electricity for a while. Again, that is treating Hamas like the government of Gaza and punishing it and its constituents for mortars, rockets, and border attacks.
    • Third, don't worry about visits by foreign leaders like the Emir of Qatar and the money they bring.
  • Missing in Eiland's proposal are additional, simultaneous moves to strengthen the West Bank economy, encourage rich Arab leaders to visit there, and take actions that lead (and enable) the PA to act more like a government that is responsible for maintaining security.

        See also Why Is Qatar Mucking Around in Gaza? - David B. Roberts (Foreign Policy)

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