Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 11, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Hizbullah-Related Newspaper Intimidates Witnesses for International Tribunal Case in Lebanon - Marlise Simons (New York Times)
    The Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar, which is close to Hizbullah, published two confidential lists of 17 witnesses and 15 possible witnesses who may testify in the murder trial of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri - showing their names, passport pictures, dates of birth and where they work.
    The witnesses' names "were clearly published with the idea of scaring people and preventing any cooperation with the court," said a lawyer linked to the trial.

Germany, Turkey Nab Iranian Nuclear Smuggling Network (Ynet News)
    Security forces in Germany and Turkey apprehended smugglers suspected of moving nuclear materials purchased in India and Germany to a nuclear facility in the Iranian city of Arak, the Turkish newspaper Haberturk reported.
    Turkey detained two Iranian suspects, while Germany arrested five.

Palestinians Plan "Warm" Welcome for Obama - Khaled Abu Toameh (Gatestone Institute)
    When U.S. President Barack Obama comes to the Middle East later this month, Palestinian activists are planning anti-U.S. demonstrations in Palestinian cities, particularly outside the place in Ramallah where Obama is scheduled to meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
    Activists said they would try to block the roads leading to the location of the meeting to protest against U.S. "bias in favor of Israel."
    Some activists have even prepared American flags and portraits of Obama that would be set on fire in front of TV crews covering the visit.
    Through protests against Obama, Palestinians are hoping to bring their issue back to the top of the U.S. list of priorities. They are also hoping to humiliate Obama for not being supportive enough of the Palestinians.

Syrian Rebels Free 21 UN Peacekeepers - Ben Hubbard (AP)
    Rebels in southern Syria freed 21 UN peacekeepers on Saturday after holding them hostage for four days.

    See also Eight UN Peacekeepers in Syria Flee to Israel - Daniel Siryoti (Israel Hayom)
    Eight UN peacekeepers stationed on the Golan Heights crossed into Israel Thursday night to escape the ongoing exchange of fire between Syrian regime forces and rebels near the Syrian village of Jamlah.

Jihadist Groups Launch Missile in Sinai (Ma'an News-PA)
    Jihadist groups operating in Egypt's Sinai peninsula on Sunday fired a missile during a military drill, Egyptian security sources said.
    The missile, believed to have a range of 45 km., was fired from central Sinai in the direction of Suez. It landed in a desert area and left a crater three meters deep and two meters wide.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran-North Korea Pact Draws Concern - Jay Solomon
    Obama administration officials are raising alarms about a scientific-cooperation pact between North Korea and Iran that officials said could advance the nuclear and missile programs of both countries. The agreement, reached in September, bears a close resemblance to one North Korea signed with Syria in 2002. Washington is concerned that the two military allies will seek to use the agreement to advance their nuclear capabilities, just as they have jointly developed missile systems, according to U.S. and UN officials.
        North Korea has emerged as a principal supplier of missile components to Tehran. Iran's medium-range Shahab-3 missile is based on the design of North Korea's Nodong-1. North Korea could provide Iran with a range of supplies for its nuclear program, including uranium ore, centrifuge machines and enriched uranium. Pyongyang also is seen as being ahead of Iran in developing the technologies needed to place an atomic warhead on a missile. (Wall Street Journal)
  • West Training Syrian Rebels in Jordan - Julian Borger and Nick Hopkins
    Western training of Syrian rebels is under way in Jordan in an effort to strengthen secular elements in the opposition as a bulwark against Islamic extremism. Jordanian security sources say the training effort is led by the U.S., but involves British and French instructors. British and French officials say new EU rules have given the green light to start providing military training for rebel fighters as long as the ultimate aim is "the protection of civilians." The Western training in Jordan has been going on since last year and is focused on senior Syrian army officers who defected. A Jordanian source said there had so far been no "green light" for the rebel forces being trained to be sent into Syria. (Guardian-UK)
        See also Report: U.S. and Europe in "Major Airlift of Arms to Syrian Rebels through Zagreb" - Richard Spencer
    The U.S. has coordinated a massive airlift of arms to Syrian rebels from Croatia with the help of Britain and other European states, according to the Croat newspaper Jutarnji List. It claimed 3,000 tons of former Yugoslav weapons have been sent in 75 planeloads from Zagreb airport to the rebels, largely via Jordan since November. Jordanian International Air Cargo's Russian-made Ilyushin jets have been seen regularly at Zaghreb airport in recent months. Ex-Yugoslav weapons have been seen in growing numbers in rebel hands in online videos. The shipments were allegedly paid for by Saudi Arabia. (Telegraph-UK)
  • France: "The International Community, Not Israel, Will Bear the Responsibility to Stop" Iran from Obtaining Nuclear Weapons
    French President Francois Hollande told Israeli President Shimon Peres on Friday: "If Iran continues to develop nuclear weapons, the international community, not Israel, will bear the responsibility to stop it. Iran is not just a danger to Israel but a danger to the Gulf region, to Europe and to the whole world."  (Algemeiner)
        See also History Will Never Forgive Us If We Allow Iran to Get Nuclear Weapons - MP James Morris (Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • UN Clears Israel of Charge It Killed Baby in Gaza - Raphael Ahren
    A UN report cleared Israel in the death of the infant son of a BBC employee during Operation Pillar of Defense in November, instead fingering a misfired Palestinian rocket for the tragedy. The Nov. 14 strike left 11-month-old Omar Jihad al-Mishrawi and Hiba Aadel Fadel al-Mishrawi, 19, dead. Images of BBC Arabic journalist Jihad al-Mishrawi tearfully holding the corpse of his 11-month-old baby went around the world, with Israel blamed for the death. The report released by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Wednesday suggests the two were hit by shrapnel from a rocket fired by Palestinians that was aimed at Israel, but missed its mark. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinians Throw Firebombs at Police from Inside Al-Aqsa Mosque
    Israeli police entered Jerusalem's Temple Mount compound on Friday to disperse hundreds of Palestinians who, for the second Friday in succession, emerged from prayers to throw rocks at security forces. Palestinian rioters also threw two firebombs at police from inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel Criticizes Dutch Move to Label Settlement Products - Shlomo Cesana
    Israel on Thursday sharply condemned a new initiative in The Netherlands directing businesses to label products originating in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as separate from those produced in Israel. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Thursday: "If the Europeans claim that labeling products made in the settlements is intended only to inform the consumer that the product comes from a disputed area, they should also be consistent and mark any product from disputed territories in Europe and around the world. But if the move denigrates Israel, and only Israel, it is clearly a manifestation of blatant discrimination and thus inherently wrong."
        Interior Minister Eli Yishai said Thursday: "Products from the settlements beyond the Green Line, just like those made within the Green Line, are proud blue and white products. The State of Israel will stand as one entity against any attempt to boycott its products."  (Israel Hayom)
  • French City Grants Honorary Citizenship to Murderer of Israeli Minister - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
    Terrorist Majdi al-Rimawi, a member of the terrorist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 80 years for participating in the planning and murder of Israeli Minister Rechavam Zeevi in Jerusalem in 2001. A few weeks ago, the city of Bezons in France granted al-Rimawi "honorary citizenship." The inscription on the plaque prepared by the municipality referred to al-Rimawi as a "political prisoner."  (Palestinian Media Watch)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Immediate Impact on the Middle East of U.S. Budget Sequestration - Oded Eran
    Sequestration in the U.S. budget is a process of across-the-board, mandated spending cuts to control the deficit. Immediate steps announced by the Secretary of Defense that impact on the Middle East include cutting by half the number of days at sea of ships in the area, and cutting the number of hours of flight operations by a quarter. One aircraft carrier, USS Harry S Truman, will not be deployed as planned in the Gulf. The Amphibious Ready Group, which previously took part in various activities, including against terrorism threats in Africa, will not be deployed in 2014. The writer is a senior research associate and former director of INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Obama May Just Want to Manage Middle East Conflict - Jonathan S. Tobin
    During President Obama's upcoming visit to Israel, the notion that he would try to impose terms of a peace plan on Israel that the Palestinians are not interested in is absurd. After four years, the president seems to have arrived at a similar conclusion as his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu. At least for now, he's done trying to solve the conflict and only wants to manage it as well as possible. Right now, Obama has higher priorities.
        The Palestinians have made it clear that they have no intention of signing a peace agreement that would recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders would be drawn. That means a solution to the conflict is impossible in the foreseeable future and that the only logical approach is one that seeks to manage it while preventing conflagrations. (Commentary)
  • Israeli Envoys Promote Anti-Incitement Accord at UN - Sam Sokol
    Several current and former Israeli envoys convened a meeting of diplomats and UN officials at UN headquarters in New York at the end of February to propose an international convention for the prevention of incitement to terror, written by Alan Baker, a former ambassador to Canada and chief legal adviser at the Foreign Ministry. Dore Gold, a former Israeli UN ambassador and president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, which organized the event, said he believed there was a global interest in "creating an international consensus and convention which would address the problem of incitement to terrorism."
        He recalled that two of the biggest failures of the international community during the 1990s were the genocide in Rwanda and the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia. In both conflicts, "incitement was cited as a trigger for the wars that broke out." "The war in Bosnia began with a deliberate policy of incitement against Bosnian Muslims by Serbian media."  (Jerusalem Post)

When an Arab Kills an Arab It Is Not News - Douglas Murray (Gatestone Institute)

  • It has been estimated that the number of people killed in Syria since the uprising began now stands at more than 90,000.
  • Estimates suggest that Israel's War of Independence in 1948 cost around 20,000 casualties in total on all sides - the highest figure for all the wars in which Israel has been involved throughout its history. Casualty estimates of the wars of 1967 and 1973 are similar: another 20,000 and 15,000 respectively. The smaller wars in Lebanon and Gaza in the years since add several thousand more to this sad total. But something is striking here.
  • All the wars involving Israel, throughout its history, have caused at least 30,000 fewer deaths than have been caused in Syria in the last couple of years alone.
  • Air and ground incursions in Gaza in recent years have on each occasion led to deaths that are a fraction of the number in Syria. Yet the world, and the world's press, and the world's protest movements have on every occasion mobilized in a way which seemed to demonstrate an obsession which is probably at best unhealthy, and at worst the expression of straightforward bigotry.
  • All those people who claim that small incursions into Gaza were in fact a "holocaust," where are they now? If the death of a hundred people is a "holocaust," what is the death of 90,000?
  • With Israel, every death is investigated, every movement protested against. Yet when it comes to the wholesale slaughter in Syria, there is just a single global shrug. We are forced to conclude yet again that when an Arab kills an Arab it is not news. Only if a Jew is involved does it make the cut.

    The writer is an associate director of the London-based Henry Jackson Society.

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