Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
December 18, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Egypt Democratically Adopts an Anti-Western Dictatorship - Barry Rubin (PJ Media)
    The victory in the referendum on the constitution is the latest Muslim Brotherhood success in the process of transforming Egypt into a radical Islamist state.
    It isn't that the constitution explicitly mandates a revolutionary Sharia state. Rather, the constitution sets up a framework that will allow the Brotherhood to do so.
    What is most disturbing is not that the U.S. is supporting this regime, but that it is not even suspicious of the Egyptian government's intentions and behavior.
    It thinks the Brotherhood is going to curb the Salafists, while it actually uses them as storm troops.
    If the U.S. gives it money and support, the Brotherhood will use that to consolidate its rule while mobilizing the people against the United States.
    If Washington doesn't, the Brotherhood will then mobilize the people even more effectively against the U.S.

Mashal's Visit to Gaza and the Future of Hamas - Benedetta Berti (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
    The recent visit to Gaza by Khaled Mashal, the Chairman of Hamas' Political Bureau, confirms the internal shift in the group's balance of power.
    The role and status of the political bureau in the diaspora acquired additional power and relevance after Israel's assassinations of Gaza-based leaders Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abd al-Aziz Rantisi in March 2004.
    However, following Hamas' electoral victory in January 2006 and, most importantly, after the June 2007 armed takeover of Gaza, the center of power has been slowly shifting back to Gaza.
    Mashal's visit de facto recognizes the rise of the Gaza leadership.
    By paying a visit to Gaza, Mashal is outwardly falling in line with Hamas' investment on keeping power in the Strip.
    Yet behind the scenes, it is likely that the pre-existing disagreements continue, especially when it comes to internal reconciliation with Fatah.

IDF Ground Forces Undergo Communications Revolution - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    A communications system being introduced into the IDF's ground forces will revolutionize the way the army engages the enemy and interacts with its units on the battlefield.
    The system, called Digital Ground Army (DGA), generates a map, updated in real time, of all forces - friendly and hostile - in a battle arena.
    DGA is linked to the computers of tanks and cannons, and displays every shell and mortar fired at targets.
    DGA will also warn of impending friendly-fire incidents.
    Such a system does not currently exist in any other Western military.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Will Not Stop Higher Grade Uranium Enrichment - Nuclear Chief
    Iran will not stop higher grade enrichment of uranium due to external demands, Tehran's top nuclear official was quoted as saying on Tuesday. Western powers want Iran to halt enrichment of uranium to a fissile concentration of 20%. "The Islamic Republic of Iran will not suspend 20% uranium enrichment because of the demands of others," said Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, according to the Iranian Students' News Agency. (Reuters)
  • Syria Rebels Raid Assad's Arsenals - Peter Apps
    Syrian rebel success in capturing government armories is rendering increasingly irrelevant Western efforts to limit supplies from abroad and avoid sophisticated arms reaching Islamist militants. Western nations, particularly the U.S., remain highly nervous of weapons falling into the wrong hands, while even Saudi Arabia and Qatar - the two most enthusiastic rebel backers - appear to have cut back support in recent weeks.
        However, the capture of a growing number of bases from forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad increasingly obviates the need for outside support. "With or without the U.S. arming the rebels, the jihadis are gaining greater influence on the ground," says Mona Yacoubian, a former State Department official and now Syria expert at the Stimson Center in Washington. (Reuters)
        See also Rebels Fight Pro-Assad Palestinians in Damascus Suburb
    Fighting between Syrian rebels and an armed group of Palestinians loyal to President Bashar Assad is raging inside the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, in southern Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday. Palestinians and Syrians in Yarmouk are fleeing the camp. While most Palestinians backed the rebels, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command has been fighting on the government side. (AP-Fox News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Ya'alon: Iran Threat Still Top Priority - Gabe Fisher
    The Iranian threat remains of primary importance to the government, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon said on Tuesday. "The media silence on Iran should not lead anyone astray," Ya'alon told Army Radio. "This issue is still our top priority."
        Ya'alon said that Israel's "red line" regarding Iran's nuclear weapons program remains the spring of 2013. "In the meantime, there are interesting things happening in Iran, such as worms, viruses and explosions."
        Earlier this month, top U.S. foreign policy officials said that if diplomacy does not succeed in halting Iran's drive to acquire nuclear weapons technology, the Obama administration was prepared to "use force" by the end of 2013. (Times of Israel)
  • In Israel, a Privilege - But No Right - to Bear Arms - Mitch Ginsburg
    Only 2.5% of Israelis can legally carry a firearm, compared to 47% in America. Of those in Israel, 40,000 are security guards who work in supermarkets, malls and schools. But those who are licensed have proved capable of acting swiftly and effectively time and again to neutralize attackers during acts of terrorism.
        "In 40-50 cases over the past 10 years, armed Israeli citizens have intervened during terror attacks," said Dr. Shlomo Shapiro, a senior research fellow at Bar-Ilan University's BESA Center. "In 70% of those cases, their intervention was crucial."
        The two critical factors explaining Israeli civilians' relatively effective responses are training and an embedded sense of responsibility for one another. The training begins with the military, where combat soldiers are taught from day one to charge the enemy. (Times of Israel)
  • A Palestinian Boycott of Israeli Goods Won't Hurt Israel - Amira Hass
    PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad called upon Palestinians on Saturday to boycott Israeli products and said he was examining ways to bring about an official boycott that would obligate all inhabitants. However, the economic damage that a Palestinian boycott would cause Israel is trivial. According to a study by the Bank of Israel in 2010, Israeli sales to the PA constituted only 0.9 percent of the revenues in the Israeli economy.
        Some of these Israeli products include water and electricity, but it is doubtful that Fayyad is suggesting to the Palestinians that they decrease their consumption of these essentials. As the Bank of Israel notes, 38% of Israeli exports to the Palestinians are transfer sales, in which Israeli commercial firms transfer products originating abroad. Another 20% are fuels originating abroad. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Chuck Hagel's Jewish Problem - Bret Stephens
    Chuck Hagel, the former GOP senator from Nebraska who is now a front-runner to be the next Secretary of Defense, carried on about how "the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here." The word "intimidates" ascribes to the so-called Jewish lobby powers that are at once vast, invisible and malevolent; and suggests that legislators who adopt positions friendly to that lobby are doing so not from political conviction but out of personal fear.
        In 2002, a year in which 457 Israelis were killed in terrorist attacks (a figure proportionately equivalent to more than 20,000 fatalities in the U.S., or seven 9/11s), Hagel weighed in with the advice that "Israel must take steps to show its commitment to peace."
        In 2006, Hagel described Israel's war against Hizbullah as "the systematic destruction of an American friend, the country and people of Lebanon." He later refused to sign a letter calling on the EU to designate Hizbullah as a terrorist organization. In 2007, he voted against designating Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Chuck Hagel Does Not Like Sanctions - Josh Rogin (Foreign Policy)
  • The Economic Cost of a Nuclear Iran - Charles Robb, Dennis Ross And Michael Makovsky
    Living with a nuclear Iran is strategically untenable. Like the fiscal cliff, this is a matter of both economic and national security. We led a Bipartisan Policy Center task force that examined the energy-related costs of inaction. A nuclear Iran would raise the likelihood of instability, nuclear proliferation, terrorism and war - and could thus drive oil prices up.
        As policy makers contemplate what it will take to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions, they must not dwell exclusively on the potential short-term impacts of economic pressure or military action. Over the medium and long term, the economic costs of a nuclear Iran may be no less real and far more enduring. (Wall Street Journal)

Did Iran Bomb AMIA in Argentina? The Evidence Is Clear - Matthew Levitt (Jewish Chronicle-UK)

  • Iran and Argentina recently concluded a first round of negotiations over the 1994 bombing of the Israeli-Argentine Mutual Aid Association (AMIA) in Buenos Aires that killed 85 and wounded 300.
  • Argentina has long sought the extradition of eight Iranians - including current Defense Minister Ahmed Vahidi and former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani - for their roles in the bombing. The Argentinean state investigation into the bombing has concluded that Iran and Hizbullah were behind the attack.
  • Abolghasem Mesbahi, a defector from the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), testified to Argentine investigators that the AMIA building was picked from a list of targets at a meeting of senior Iranian officials in Mashaad, Iran, on August 14, 1993.
  • The list was supplied by Moshen Rabbani, who officially served as a representative of the Iranian Ministry of Agriculture in Buenos Aires and is described by Argentinean prosecutors as "the driving force" behind an Iranian intelligence network in Argentina.
  • Rabbani organized the logistics for the attack and liaised with Hizbullah operatives on the ground. Much of the funding for the operation flowed through bank accounts controlled by Rabbani. Rabbani was assisted by an array of diplomats at Iran's embassy in Buenos Aires.
  • To deny Iran's role in the bombing looks like suspending reality. Iran's goal in these negotiations is clear: to press Argentina to bury its probe in favor of improved diplomatic relations. Which begs the question: what is there for Argentina to discuss?

    The writer directs Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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