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November 16, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Dozens of Rockets Hit Israel During Egyptian PM's Visit - Yoav Zitun and Roi Kais (Ynet News)
    Dozens of rockets continued to hit Israeli communities during Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil's visit to Gaza on Friday, nixing hopes for a lull.
    See also Israel Holds Fire During Egyptian PM's Visit to Gaza - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
    Israel agreed to suspend military action in Gaza on Friday during a three-hour visit by Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil to explore the possibility of brokering a ceasefire.

Israel Terror Relief Fund (Jewish Federations of North America)
    The Jewish Federations of North America started a new Israel Terror Relief Fund, to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel at this critical time.
    The fund will help support more than 1 million residents of Israel who have been living in siege, under rocket fire from terrorists in Gaza.

New eBook - Israel's Right of Self-Defense: International Law and Gaza (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Israel gives more thought to upholding the laws of war during its military operations than any other nation in history.
    This new eBook reviews Israel's unprecedented consideration of international law when forced to go to war to defend its civilian population from attack, with a particular focus on the Gaza war of 2008-2009.
    View Contents
    Download at no charge for Amazon-Kindle - ePUB - PDF

IDF Resources for Pro-Israel Activists (Israel Defense Forces)
    The official Tumblr blog of the IDF.

Nasrallah's Demons - Ronen Bergman (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew-16Nov12)
    With Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah's back to the wall, it appears he is planning a military coup in Lebanon or a war with Israel.
    Hizbullah completed an exercise two months ago - the largest in its history - whose purpose was to signal its strength.
    The exercise demonstrated how Hizbullah might occupy the Upper Galilee.
    According to data gathered by a team headed by Dr. Shimon Shapira at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the Hizbullah exercise lasted for three days and involved more than 10,000 men at arms.
    Hizbullah announced that Nasrallah himself commanded part of the exercise.

Growing Ties between Egypt, Turkey May Signal New Regional Order - Jeffrey Fleishman (Los Angeles Times)
    Egypt and Turkey are forging an alliance that showcases two Islamist leaders maneuvering to reshape a Middle East gripped by political upheaval and passionate battles over how deeply the Koran should penetrate public life.
    The relationship may foreshadow an emerging regional order in which the sway of the U.S. gradually fades against Islamist voices no longer contained by militaries and pro-Western autocrats.

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U.S. Aid to Israel Helps American Defense Firms - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
    U.S. military aid to Israel means Jerusalem will remain a hot market for American defense firms for years to come.
    Under U.S. law, Israel must spend 73.7% of congressionally appropriated foreign military financing (FMF) funding in the U.S.
    The Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter leads the big-ticket programs funded by annual FMF, followed by ongoing purchases of the firm's C-130J and a $735 million contract for Honeywell engines used to power Israel's new fleet of Alenia Aermacchi M-346 trainer jets.
    General Dynamics will produce hulls and materiel kit sets for up to 600 Israeli Namer troop carriers over the next eight years at its Lima, Ohio, facility.

Saudi Man Gets Life in Prison in U.S. Bomb Plot (AP)
    Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, a Saudi-born college student, was sentenced to life in prison in the U.S. on Tuesday for trying to make a bomb to carry out jihad.
    Prosecutors said Aldawsari collected bomb-making material and researched possible targets, including the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush.
    Court records show that Aldawsari had successfully ordered 30 liters of nitric acid and 11 liters of concentrated sulfuric acid in December 2010.
    Aldawsari wrote in his journal that he had been planning a terror attack in the U.S. for years, even before he came to the country, and that it was "time for jihad."

Syria Only Ruled the Golan for 20 Years - Reuven Ben-Shalom (Jerusalem Post)
    Why do we say "give back" referring to the Golan? Who really owns it? Perhaps it should go to Turkey, for it once belonged to the Ottoman Empire.
    The Golan was allocated to the British Mandate at the San Remo Peace Conference in 1920, but was later arbitrarily placed under a French Mandate in 1923.
    It was then made part of Syria upon its independence in 1947. Syria held the plateau for 20 years but lost it during the Six-Day War, after years of aggression.
    With Jewish presence on the Golan beginning 2,000 ago, and after the past 45 years under Israeli rule, I believe that a country that held it for 20 years, but lost it fair and square due to acts of aggression, has absolutely no ownership claims.

Israel Specializes in Unusually Shaped Diamonds - Claire Adler (Financial Times-UK)
    In a global market experiencing the pressures of recession, one area is stable for the companies that specialize in it - the niche for unusually shaped diamonds on watches.
    While the companies specializing in small round stones are largely based in India, the diamond manufacturers focusing on alternative shapes are mostly located in Israel.
    A coterie of Israeli companies supplies the highest echelons of the Swiss watch industry, using technology often developed by Israel-headquartered Sarin Technologies, to cut unusually shaped diamonds with meticulous precision and generate design options electronically.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Hamas Rockets Target Tel Aviv - Ibrahim Barzak and Karin Laub
    Palestinian militants targeted densely populated Tel Aviv in Israel's heartland with rockets Thursday, part of an unprecedented barrage. Air raid sirens wailed and residents ran for cover in Israel's commercial and cultural capital. Hamas acknowledged it has Iranian-made Fajr-5 rockets capable of hitting targets some 47 miles (75 km.) away. Tel Aviv is 40 miles (70 km.) from Gaza. By nightfall Thursday, Hamas said it had fired more than 350 rockets into Israel. In the southern Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Lezion, a Hamas rocket landed in an empty field. (AP)
        See also More Hamas Rockets Fired at Tel Aviv on Friday (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Asks Egypt to Use Sway to End Gaza Violence
    "We ask Egypt to use its influence in the region to help de-escalate the situation," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said Thursday, adding that Hamas must stop its rocket attacks on Israel. "This is a situation that they've created by firing rockets on innocent Israeli civilians. You know, we obviously mourn civilian deaths on both sides. But the onus is on Hamas to stop its rocket attacks," Toner said. (AFP)
        See also below Observations: Israel's Military Action on Gaza a Test for Egypt's Brotherhood - Shounaz Mekky (Al Arabiya)
  • Britain: Hamas to Blame for Gaza Crisis with Israel
    The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas "bears principal responsibility" for escalating tension in Gaza and Israel, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has said. "I utterly condemn rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel by Hamas and other armed groups." Rocket attacks from Gaza create "an intolerable situation for Israeli civilians in southern Israel, who have the right to live without fear of attack." "Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza should cease attacks against Israel immediately. I call on those in the region with influence over Hamas to use that influence to bring about an end to the attacks."  (BBC News)
  • U.S. Senate Backs Israel's Actions in Gaza
    The U.S. Senate passed a resolution on Thursday expressing support for Israel's "inherent right to act in self-defense." The resolution, cosponsored by 64 of the 100 senators, "expresses unwavering commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders, and recognizes and strongly supports its inherent right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism."  (JTA)
  • Iran on Threshold of Creating Weapons-Grade Uranium - George Jahn
    Iran is on the threshold of being able to create weapons-grade uranium, diplomats said Thursday. One of three diplomats who discussed the issue said Iran was now technically ready within days to ramp up its production of 20%-enriched uranium at its heavily fortified Fordo facility by nearly 700 centrifuges. That would double present output, and cut in half the time it would take to acquire enough of the substance needed to make a nuclear weapon, reducing it to just over three months. All three diplomats are from member nations of the IAEA, which is scheduled to release its latest report on Iran's nuclear program as early as Friday. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Carries Out Widespread Attack on Gaza Terror Sites
    Since Wednesday, over 422 rockets fired from Gaza have struck Israel. Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile defense system has successfully intercepted over 130 rockets launched from Gaza. The Israel Air Force has targeted 450 terror activity sites in Gaza. (Israel Defense Forces)
        See also Israel Seeks to Minimize Casualties by Warning Gaza's Civilians
    On Thursday the IDF dispersed leaflets above several locations in Gaza warning residents to stay away from Hamas' and other terror organizations' operatives and facilities that pose a risk to their safety. In addition, over 20,000 phone calls have been made to warn Gaza residents to vacate areas that may be targeted in the near future. The IDF is making every effort to minimize the collateral damage to Gaza's civilians. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Netanyahu: World Leaders Understand Israel's Need to Defend Itself
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday in a statement: "No government would tolerate a situation where nearly a fifth of its people live under a constant barrage of rockets and missile fire, and Israel will not tolerate this situation." "Seven years ago, Israel withdrew from every square inch of Gaza....Rather than build a better future for the residents of Gaza, the Hamas leadership, backed by Iran, turned Gaza into a terrorist stronghold."
        "I want to express my appreciation once again to President Obama for his unequivocal, clear support for Israel's right to defend itself. I also want to express my appreciation to the other world leaders I've had a chance to speak to in the last 24 hours: to President Hollande of France, to UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, to EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton and to Quartet representative Tony Blair. I want to thank them for their understanding of Israel's need to defend itself, and Israel's right to defend itself."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Israel: Where Is the High Commissioner for Human Rights?
    The Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN in Geneva said Thursday in a statement: "Since the beginning of 2012, more than 800 rockets were launched from Hamas-controlled Gaza into Israeli cities, over 200 of them in the past week....This morning, three Israeli civilians were killed in their home in the town of Kiryat Malachi, when a Hamas rocket hit their building....And yet the High Commissioner has gone mute. Not a word of sympathy, not a word of concern for the violation of the human rights of Israeli citizens. Just a ringing silence. Israelis do have human rights. The High Commissioner simply does not care about them."  (Israel's UN Mission in Geneva)
  • The Victims of the Kiryat Malachi Attack - Ben Hartman
    A Gaza rocket killed three Israelis in Kiryat Malachi on Thursday: Mirah Scharf, 25, Aharon Smadja, 49, and Itzik Amsalem, 27. Scharf, whose husband, Shmuel, is an emissary to New Dehli, had been visiting Israel for the memorial service of Gabi and Rivka Holtzberg, the Habad emissaries who were killed in the terrorist massacre in Mumbai. Scharf was the mother of three children; her husband was wounded in the attack.
        Smadja was the father three; his eight-month-old daughter was wounded by the rocket. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Trying to Restore Shattered Morale - Khaled Abu Toameh
    There were no signs whatsoever on Thursday that Hamas was interested in a cease-fire with Israel at this stage. The assassination of Ahmed Jabari, commander of Hamas' armed wing, has hurt the Islamist movement so badly that it feels the urgent need to restore not only its lost dignity, but also the shattered morale of its members and supporters. Hamas feels that with the killing of such a senior figure, it has lost its balance of power vis-a-vis Israel, and will agree to a cease-fire only after it extracts a heavy price from Israel. Failure to do so will undermine Hamas' credibility in the eyes of many Arabs and Muslims. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Time to Get Tough - Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie
    The government of Israel has launched a military operation in the Gaza Strip. It is an operation that is justified, and in fact overdue. American Jews across the political spectrum should be offering their support.
        It would be hard to imagine a case where Israel has been more patient than in Gaza. Sderot and the surrounding communities have been subjected to missile fire from Gaza for 11 years. With sickening regularity, rockets fall on civilian centers and hundreds of thousands of Israel's citizens flee to shelters. A single rocket aimed at an American city would likely provoke a far more drastic response than anything Israel has attempted or even contemplated.
        In short, I support a real "get tough" policy in Gaza. Common sense dictates that there must be a high, ongoing price exacted for every attack originating from Gaza. Israel came into being so that Jewish children would never again have to huddle together in fear, terrorized by enemies of the Jewish people, while their parents stood by helplessly. The writer served as president of the Union for Reform Judaism from 1996 to 2012. (Ha'aretz)
  • Why Israel Attacked Gaza - Jonathan Schanzer
    During his tenure, Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas' military wing in Gaza, was credited with "professionalizing" Hamas' paramilitary operations. He presided over the organization's shift away from suicide bombings (largely prompted by Israel's building of a separation barrier) to increasingly deadly rocket attacks that have reached deeper and deeper into Israel's heartland. He was also an architect of Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza in 2007, during which the group waged a short but bloody war against its rival Fatah faction. But Jabari is perhaps best known for the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. The writer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (National Post-Canada)
  • The Debate over Gaza Tactics - David French
    According to the Law of Armed Conflict, every Hamas rocket attack - which is aimed directly at Israeli civilians - is a war crime. Furthermore, Hamas' use of civilian buildings changes their status from civilian to military since a civilian object can be converted to a legitimate military target when used for military purposes. Even buildings specially protected under international law - including mosques and hospitals - lose their protected status when used for military purposes.
        Hamas is responsible for the civilian deaths that result from its decision to wear civilian clothes and launch rockets from civilian buildings. But for Hamas' decision to use human shields, those civilians would not be in the zone of conflict or subject to military targeting. Even in the fog of war there can still be legal clarity, and it is clear that the criminal entity in Gaza is Hamas, not the Israel Defense Forces. (National Review)
  • Restoring Israeli Deterrence - Gerald Steinberg
    Israel owes its survival to effective and continuous deterrence. Confronted with uniquely narrow borders and destructive threats from all directions, the threat of large-scale response has been Israel's most effective insurance policy. When the IDF has acted effectively to deter the threats of conventional attacks from large armies, mass terror campaigns and missiles aimed at cities, Israeli citizens have been protected. But when the deterrence image has faded, and Israel was seen as unable to use its military force, partly due to international political restraints, attacks resumed. The writer is professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Has Every Right to Take Action Against Terror - Peter Mullen
    Imagine what it's like to be a little boy or girl in small Israeli towns such as Sderot, where they have half a minute's warning to sprint to the air-raid shelters, and where the schools are closed for weeks at a time. To have to live under such a threat is to know the meaning of terror.
        No doubt the Palestinians have legitimate grievances coupled with territorial aspirations. Israel has generally understood these grievances, and time and again tried to meet its opponents halfway. To be sure, this is a labyrinthine mess, but wouldn't any sovereign state take strong action in response to the relentless terror meted out to its civilian population? The writer is a priest of the Church of England. (Telegraph-UK)

  • Other Issues

  • Who Will Block Abbas at the UN? - Dore Gold
    Abbas is seeking that his proposed Palestinian state include Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. The UN Charter plainly states in Article 4 that "Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations." Abbas' Palestinian state is not seeking full membership yet. But for the UN to vote on Palestinian statehood, when the Gaza portion of his proposed state is firing rockets at Israeli cities, places it at odds with the fundamental obligation in the UN Charter that all states refrain from the use of force in their relations (as opposed to the right of self-defense).
        In the 1990s when the states of the former Yugoslavia sought recognition and admission to international organizations, this issue was raised by European states. In the Bosnian War, the Balkan states were firing at each other's civilians and trying to unilaterally alter their borders. In the Palestinian case, Abbas himself does not condemn Hamas rocket fire and does not demonstrate to anyone that he is "able or willing" - to use the language of the UN Charter - to do anything about it. Regardless of the arguments that Israel raises, the EU will be critical in any strategy to block the Palestinian UN initiative at the end of November. (Israel Hayom)
  • Why U.S. and Israeli Perspectives Differ on Iran - Amos Yadlin
    The U.S. is more than 440 times the size of Israel, with a population that is more than 40 times as large. Washington lies about 10,000 km. away from Tehran - well out of Iranian missile range - compared with the roughly 1,500 km. between Tehran and Tel Aviv - well within Iranian missile range.
        The U.S., the world's only superpower, is armed with an exponentially larger military, has the largest economy in the world, and wields much greater diplomatic clout. These drastically different parameters not only generate different perceptions of the Iranian threat, but also provide the U.S. with significantly more deterrence. Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin is former head of military intelligence for the Israel Defense Forces. (Globe and Mail-Canada)
  • Policy Implications of the Arab Spring - Michael Herzog
    The most important developments of the "Arab Spring" include: the growing importance of the Arab street; the rising power of political Islam; the emergence of Salafists and militant Jihadists; the heating up of sectarian, ethnic, religious and tribal fault lines which cross national borders; the increase of fractured, weakened, dysfunctional or failed states; and the negative impact on non-Muslim communities.
        While the regional upheaval has demonstrated the limits of Western influence, the U.S., UK and other Western powers still have military, economic and political leverage, which if used correctly could tilt the balance in the crises with Iran and Syria, direct Islamist governments away from undermining Western interests, and help strengthen Western allies. Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog, a fellow of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, served as chief of staff to Israel's minister of defense. (BICOM)
  • Ignoring the Warning Lights on Hizbullah: The Case for a European Ban - Matthew Levitt
    Hizbullah's activity as a terrorist group is often thought to be limited to its war against Israel. This is a great mistake. From its killing of 58 French peace-keepers in 1983 to the current day, Hizbullah has repeatedly sought out, killed and been implicated in the killing of numerous European targets. The writer directs the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Henry Jackson Society)
  • Human Rights and the Palestinians - Natan Sharansky
    Hussein Ibish, a Senior Fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, accused me of deploying the "rhetoric" of human rights in order to "rationalize Israel's occupation and denial of Palestinian human rights." After the signing of the 1993 Oslo agreements with Yasir Arafat, I wrote in the Jerusalem Report (October 21, 1993): "The Palestinian society that will emerge...will inevitably be based on fear and on unlimited totalitarian authority. Totalitarian regimes cannot maintain stability without an enemy."
        Over the next seven years, Western democracies were united as one in helping Arafat to construct one of the world's most corrupt and primitive dictatorships - all in the name of bringing peace and preventing the emergence of Hamas. In the end, inevitably, Hamas prevailed.
        Throughout the years, my position vis-a-vis the Palestinians has been simple. I do not want to control their lives. I want them to have all the rights in the world, except for the right to destroy me. And that is precisely why I believe that the road to peace lies not through agreements imposed from the top down but through the creation and nurturing of the institutions of a free society. The writer, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, spent nine years as a political prisoner in the Soviet Gulag. (Daily Beast)
  • Why Anti-Zionists Are Racists - Geoffrey Alderman
    Last week marked the 95th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, in which the British Foreign Secretary stated that the government viewed "with favor" the establishment in Palestine of "a national home for the Jewish people." The idea has been floated that the Declaration was a way of thanking the chemist Chaim Weizmann for his wartime work assisting in the manufacture of explosives. This is fanciful nonsense. The Balfour Declaration was born out of religious sentiment. Arthur Balfour was a Christian mystic who believed in restoring the Jews to their ancient homeland.
        At the 1919 peace conference after World War I, the principle of national self-determination was endorsed by the victorious allies. Among the ethnic groups that benefited were the Jews. The Declaration was approved by the League of Nations and again by its successor, the United Nations.
        We cannot argue that the Jews - alone amongst the nationalities - are not entitled to a state, without inviting the description, "racist," to apply to us. A racist is someone who privileges some ethnic groups above others purely on the grounds of race, or racial or ethnic origins. Apologists for anti-Zionist racism argue that they support the right of Jewish self-determination, but not in "Palestine." But that's precisely where the international community has decreed that the state of the Jews shall be located, and where it is located. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)

Israel's Military Action on Gaza a Test for Egypt's Brotherhood - Shounaz Mekky (Al Arabiya)

  • Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood finds itself in a weak position to stand by its brethren in Gaza. Contrary to its pre-power rhetoric, the Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsi are expected to exercise caution and self-restraint. Ali Abdel Rehim, an Egyptian political analyst, said, "We don't see any reaction. And most probably, there will be no action from the Brotherhood."
  • The country's weak economy, incessant labor strikes, and severe social and political crises are all factors that will likely restrain the Brotherhood's reaction. Even the idea of fabricating an external conflict to drive away attention on domestic issues "will not come to the minds of Egypt's Brotherhood," he said.
  • Any attempts to interfere in the Israeli-Gaza relationship would make the Brotherhood appear as if abandoning its earlier agreements with the U.S., he added. "America is closely watching Egypt's reaction."
  • Egyptian journalist Abdel Sattar Hatata said the Brotherhood will not be able to take any different stand on Gaza than the Mubarak regime did due to the country's weak economy, unstable internal political conditions and tangled regional ties. "The new regime will not be able to take effective measures towards Israel" or stop the offensive on Gaza.

        See also Egypt Islamist Leader Cautious on Gaza Crisis - Hamza Hendawi
    Egypt's Islamist president may hail from the fiercely anti-Israeli Muslim Brotherhood, an ally of Gaza's Hamas rulers. But in his first major crisis over Israel, he is adopting a stance not unlike that of his ousted predecessor Hosni Mubarak. Morsi is facing calls at home to take stronger action. But he is just as wary as Mubarak about straining ties with the U.S. Moreover, powerful parts of the Egyptian ruling establishment - particularly in the military and the security forces - deeply oppose Hamas.
        In his first public comments on the crisis, Morsi on Thursday was subdued and avoided sharp condemnations of Israel. He expressed support for Palestinians in Gaza, but made no reference to Hamas. Morsi also said he spoke Thursday with President Barack Obama on how "peace and security could be achieved for everyone."  (AP)
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