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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
May 14, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Newseum Reverses Decision to Honor Hamas-Linked Journalists - Michael Calderone (Huffington Post)
    The Newseum announced Monday that it will not honor two cameramen killed while working for Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV, reversing a decision to include them on a memorial for fallen journalists.
    "Serious questions have been raised as to whether two of the individuals...were truly journalists or whether they were engaged in terrorist activities," a Newseum spokesman said.
    Critics of the plan to honor the men noted that the U.S. has designated Al-Aqsa a terrorist organization, given its ties to Hamas.

Arab League Chief Says No Changes to Arab Peace Initiative (Ma'an News-PA)
    No amendments have been made to the Arab peace initiative proposed in 2002, Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby said Sunday.

IDF Arrests Two Fatah Members in West Bank Raid - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
    Israel Defense Forces troops arrested two members of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in Jenin in the West Bank on Monday.
    The two had been granted parole in an agreement between Israel and the PA in 2007. IDF soldiers and armed Palestinians exchanged fire during the arrest operation.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Empty Chair - Michael J. Totten (World Affairs)
    The Washington Institute for Near East Policy invited senior Muslim Brotherhood official Helmy el-Gazzar to its annual conference in the U.S., booked him on a business class flight from Cairo, and put him up in the luxurious Ritz Carlton.
    El-Gazzar made it to Washington and checked into his room, but he refused to show up at the conference because Israelis - or "Zionists" as he called them - were also going to be there.

Israeli Heart Surgeons Save Syrian Girl - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    A four-year-old girl from Syria underwent successful lifesaving heart surgery at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon on Monday as part of its voluntary Save a Child's Heart (SACH) program.
    SACH, founded by the late pediatric heart surgeon Dr. Amiram Cohen, has treated more than 3,000 children from 44 developing nations at no charge.

Palestinian Collaborators Sentenced to Death - Nasouh Nazzal (Gulf News-UAE)
    The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) has condemned the death sentence passed by the Gaza Military Court on a Palestinian who was found guilty of collaborating with Israel, the second verdict of its kind this year.
    A total of 134 death verdicts had been passed since the PA was set up in 1994, 107 in Gaza and 27 in the West Bank. 25 death sentences have been executed in Gaza and two in the West Bank.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Putin, Netanyahu to Discuss Russian Arms to Syria
    President Vladimir Putin's talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Russia on Tuesday will focus on growing concerns that Moscow is on the verge of selling S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Syria, considered by Israel as "game-changing" weapons. (AP-Washington Post)
  • Iran to Chair UN Conference on Disarmament, U.S. Won't Attend
    The Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament is to open on May 27, chaired by Iran. The U.S. said Monday it will refuse to send its ambassador to any UN meeting chaired by Iran. Erin Pelton, spokesperson for the U.S. Mission to the UN, said that a country "in flagrant violation" of UN Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency obligations stemming from its suspect nuclear program should be barred from any formal or ceremonial positions in UN bodies.
        Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said, "Iran is an international outlaw state that illegally supplies rockets to Syria, Hizbullah, and Hamas, aiding and abetting mass murder and terrorism....To make this rogue regime head of world arms control is simply an outrage."  (AP-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Plans 1,140 Palestinian Homes near Jericho - Tovah Lazaroff
    Israel's Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria has proposed a plan to build 1,140 Palestinian homes on Israeli state land in Area C of the West Bank near the city of Jericho. The project would provide a legal housing solution for Palestinians living in illegal homes that are not properly connected to utilities. The plan was prepared "with the understanding" of the heads of the Palestinian villages and the involvement of the PA. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Trauma Experts Train Boston Locals to Deal with Terror Attacks - Dina Kraft
    Talia Levanon, director of the Israel Trauma Coalition, and a team from Israel spent last week in the Boston area sharing their expertise in training sessions about recovery, resilience and crisis planning with educators, first-responders, parents, community leaders, and health professionals. "We bring with us methods developed in Israel of a community approach, as opposed to only an individual approach, as we view this as something that impacted an entire community, and in doing so hopefully help the individual cope better as well." They have taken their knowledge abroad in the past, including to Japan after the 2011 tsunami and to hospitals in India. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Why Syria Could Turn Out to Be Iran's Vietnam - Thanassis Cambanis
    Lebanese Hizbullah infantry fighters crisscross the "Shiite villages" surrounding the city of Qusayr in Syria. Their rocket and mortar teams target Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters. The thunder of artillery fire in the mountains flanking the Beqaa Valley, like the spate of no-longer-hidden Hizbullah funerals, make clear that Hizbullah and its Iranian sponsors are now fully vested in the Syrian civil war, and they're committed to an open and escalating fight.
        Today, Iran's involvement in Syria has all the makings of a quagmire. Iran is spending hundreds of millions of dollars propping up Bashar al-Assad's regime. As foreign aid to the rebels escalates, Iran will have to pour in more and more resources simply to maintain a stalemate.
        In addition, Iran has had to sacrifice most of its other Arab allies on the Syrian altar. Gone are the days when Iran held the mantle of popular resistance. Iran's mullahs finally look to the Arabs as they long have appeared at home - repressive, authoritarian, and fierce defenders of the status quo.
        Perhaps most importantly, Iran's commitment to Assad has put the crown jewel of its assets in the Arab world, Hizbullah, in danger. Just a few years ago, Nasrallah was the most popular leader in the Arab world. Today, however, Hizbullah has enraged Sunnis across the Arab world by siding with a merciless dictator.  The writer is a fellow at The Century Foundation. (Foreign Policy)
  • Sheikh Qaradawi's Visit to Gaza - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi
    Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, visited Gaza on May 7-10. In the past, Qaradawi was a candidate for leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, and has acquired the status of spiritual leader of the movement and of its Palestinian branch, Hamas.
        During his visit, Qaradawi denied any Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, and assigned to the Palestinians the religious responsibility for liberating Palestine in the name of Islam. The only strategy to liberate Palestine, Qaradawi asserted, is "jihad in the way of Allah."
        The visit of Qaradawi, the premier religious scholar of the Sunni Muslim world, is of great significance for Hamas, which wins further legitimacy. The visit also indicates that Hamas' jihad approach is preferable to that of political negotiations.
        In the West, Qaradawi has been portrayed as representing moderate, political Islam. Yet his approach is similar to that of al-Qaeda, differing only in terms of the phases of implementation. The writer is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Iran and Its Apologists - Reuel Marc Gerecht
    Why do so many foreign-policy types, after 34 years of seeing the revolution in action - seeing Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his successor Ali Khamenei endlessly vent their loathing of the U.S. in the most sincere religious terms - stubbornly cling to the idea that the Islamic Republic and the U.S. ought to be able to work out their differences? A thorough examination of Khamenei's words and actions reveals a tirelessly anti-American, terrorism-addicted Muslim paladin, chosen by divine fate.
        In 2009 Obama extended his hand. He dreamed of direct, unconditional U.S.-Iranian talks. He kept quiet when the Green Revolution erupted on Tehran's streets. There was no "missed opportunity" with this president. How did Khamenei respond to Obama's entreaties? He called America "Satan incarnate." The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former Iranian targets officer in the CIA's clandestine service. (Weekly Standard)
  • Attack of the Body-Snatchers - Amir Taheri
    Hajar bin Udai, a companion of Prophet Muhammad, is regarded as the first Shiite martyr. Before the current conflict in Syria, more than a million Shiite pilgrims a year, mostly from Iran, visited the sumptuous Iranian-built shrine in the Damascus suburb Marj Arda where Hajar was said to be buried. Last week, Sunni militants operating under the name of Jabhat al-Nusra attacked the shrine, dismantled the gilded fence around the grave and claimed to have disinterred the corpse.
        The militants are followers of Ibn Taymiyyah, the medieval Islamic theologian whose work inspired Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab, the founder of the Wahhabi movement, which opposes the building of shrines at places of burial on the grounds that this is a diversion from exclusive attention to God. Over the centuries, its followers have destroyed thousands of shrines and graveyards in the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, Jordan and Syria. Radical Sunni groups across the Muslim world have been celebrating the demolition of Hajar's shrine. (New York Post)

Jordan and the Faltering Fortunes of the Arab Spring - Asher Susser (Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies-Tel Aviv University)

  • The Arab Spring initially emboldened the opposition in Jordan to demand sweeping reform. In early 2011, a seemingly unstoppable revolutionary tide was bowling over regimes one after the other.
  • But the longer-term outcomes of the revolutions in Egypt and Libya, and especially the sectarian bloodbath in Syria, were horrifying to most Jordanians.
  • More than 400,000 Syrians are currently seeking refuge in Jordan, as did about 500,000 Iraqis before them. Spokespersons for the regime could ask with considerable justification what it was that Jordanians had to complain about in their oasis of stability which, moreover, did not share their neighboring regimes' reputation for brutal repression.
  • Indeed, less than a handful of protesters have been killed by the security forces in over two years of demonstrations in Jordan, due to the strict orders of the king not to use excessive force.
  • While these demonstrations reflect the perseverance of the opposition and the depth of popular disaffection, they also indicate the staying power of the regime. Protests still take place, but at less regular intervals and with dwindling participation.

    The writer, a professor in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University, is a senior research fellow at the Dayan Center.

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