Report: Nasrallah Secretly Visited Iran to Discuss Syria War - Ariel Ben Solomon (Jerusalem Post)
Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah made a secret visit to Iran last month to request full financial and military backing for the fighting in Syria in a meeting with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the Iraqi paper Azzaman reported on Monday.
Hizbullah sources said the Iranian leader spoke of the option of sending full units of the Revolutionary Guard to a military base in Syria which is currently being established.
The source said that Hizbullah elite units are helping to protect the headquarters of Assad's regime in Damascus.
Iran's Foreign Legion: Iraqi Shiite Militias in Syria - Michael Knights (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
One of the most significant international brigades currently fighting on the Assad regime's side is Damascus-based Liwa Abu Fadl al-Abbas (LAFA), a collection of predominantly Iraqi Shiite fighters organized and supported by the Qods Force, an elite branch of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
LAFA appears to have soaked up a large proportion of the hardened, Iranian-supported militant cadres that harassed the U.S. military in Iraq.
According to expert Phillip Smyth, the number of Iraqi Shiite militants in Syria fluctuates between 800 and 2,000, drawn from three Iraqi groups.
The main contributor is Asaib Ahl al-Haqq (AAH), a group that splintered from Muqtada al-Sadr's movement in 2006 with support from the Qods Force. The second is Kataib Hezbollah (KH), an elite 400-man cadre of experienced Iraqi Shiite fighters reporting directly to the Qods Force leadership. The third is Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS), a 200-man force led by Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani, an Iraqi Shiite who has worked under the Qods Force since the late 1980s.
How Hizbullah Funds Its Terror (Israel Defense Forces)
Hizbullah finances its terrorism using a sophisticated drug-trafficking operation.
Hizbullah primarily earns its profits through drug sales in Latin America, but its activities have been traced across multiple continents.
The group uses the proceeds from legitimate used-car sales in West Africa for global money-laundering that effectively masks Hizbullah's earnings.
In 2011, the U.S. government seized drug profits linked to Ayman Joumaa, a drug trafficker and money launderer linked to Hizbullah. His network was earning as much as $200 million per month.
More than 100 Wounded Syrians Receive Medical Care in Israel - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
Two boys, 9 and 15, who were wounded in the Syrian civil war, entered Israel Wednesday night for medical care, raising the number of Syrian wounded treated in Israel to around 100.
Muslims Trying to Islamize Spain - Soeren Kern
Spanish police on the island of Mallorca arrested a German national of Tunisian descent on June 13 after he repeatedly threatened to carry out terror attacks in the name of Allah.
On June 12, police in Barcelona arrested five Tunisian jihadists for "inciting Islamist terrorism" after they shared 400 videos on social networks of speeches of al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as well as footage of summary executions, terrorist attacks and tutorials on bomb-making.
On May 10, police in Gibraltar deported to Spain a Turkish member of al-Qaeda, Cengiz Yalcin, who had been arrested in Spain in August 2012 for plotting to drop explosives from remote-controlled airplanes onto a shopping mall in Gibraltar during the 2012 London Olympics.
A police raid on Yalcin's apartment in 2012 yielded enough explosives "to blow up a bus," as well as three motorized para-gliders.
Parts of Spain, Portugal and France were occupied by Muslim conquerors (also known as the Moors) from 711 to 1492.
Many Muslims believe that these territories still belong to them, and that they have every right to return and establish their rule there.
Women's Rights and Islamism - Iqbal Al-Ahmad (Asharq al-Awsat-UK)
In the Arab world, the recent "Arab Spring" soon became the "Women's Autumn." Many of the gains of recent years have been lost.
Arab women were the first victims of the ascension of Islamists to power in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia.
We see with our own eyes how Egyptian women have lost a lot since the Muslim Brotherhood's rise to power, which reduced the number of women ministers from four to only one.
Two-Thousand-Year-Old Cooking Pots Found in Jerusalem (Israel Antiquities Authority)
Three complete cooking pots and a small ceramic oil lamp that date to the time of the Great Revolt against the Romans were uncovered in Jerusalem inside a small cistern in a drainage channel that runs from the Shiloah Pool in the City of David to Robinson's Arch.
Give Peace a Chance - Emily Amrousi (Israel Hayom)
I recently received a promotional pamphlet called "The Judea and Samaria Housing Magazine," a free publication distributed to settlers as junk mail.
All of the ads inside were from Palestinian businesses. Diesel Fuel Abdullah, Hassan Car Repair, Al-Mukhtar Minimarket, Issa's Nursery, Yasser's Tiles, Ahmed and Ismail Will Build You a Home.
There was even a note promoting handmade kippot ("For the husband, for holidays, for Sabbath, for special occasions") sold by Hassan and Alaa ("It will arrive at your doorstep").
New Israel Air Force Pilot from New Jersey - Sigal Arbitman (Israel Hayom)
The Israel Air Force's newest group of pilots, Class 166, received their pilot's wings on Thursday, including Lt. B., 21, who made aliyah from New Jersey in 2009 to serve in the Israel Defense Forces.
His mother is Israeli and he speaks Hebrew, but he was born in the U.S. and went to school there, though he had summer visits in Israel.
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- In Egypt, Skepticism over Religion in Politics - Maggie Michael
There are growing signs in Egypt that, after a year of Morsi's presidency and two years of growing Islamist political power in general, religiosity is not the political selling point it once was among Egyptians. Increasingly, Egyptians denounce "wrapping politics in the cloak of religion," even in rural areas seen as the heartland of the conservative voter.
The disillusionment is a factor fueling support for massive protests to demand Morsi's removal, planned for Sunday. Egyptians are hardly becoming less religious. But more are losing their belief that someone who touts his religiosity is necessarily a trustworthy, clean and effective politician. A poll released this week by the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research, or Basserah, found Morsi's approval rating at 32%, compared to 78% after his first 100 days in office.
See also Egypt Will Erupt Again on June 30 - Eric Trager
The anti-Brotherhood backlash is the product of mounting popular frustrations regarding the organization's failed governance of Egypt during Morsi's first year in office. Rising food prices, hours-long auto fuel lines, and multiple-times-daily electricity cuts have set many Egyptians on edge, with clashes between Brotherhood and anti-Brotherhood activists now a common feature of Egyptian political life. On June 30, the anniversary of Morsi's presidential inauguration, opposition activists will launch nationwide protests under the banner of "Tamarod," or "Rebellion." The writer is a Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
See also Morsi Blames Corruption, Conspiracy for Egypt's Problems - Abigail Hauslohner
In a defiant speech on Wednesday ahead of planned anti-government protests, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi blamed his opponents for the bulk of the nation's problems. He accused the media of spreading false information and promised to "stop" enemies of the state.
- U.S. Ospreys and Air Tankers Put Iran in Israel's Reach - Oren Dorell
The U.S. plans to give Israel weapons that would enable it to send ground forces against Iranian nuclear facilities that it can't penetrate from the air.
The deal includes air-refueling aircraft, advanced radars for F-15 fighter jets, and up to eight V-22 Ospreys, an aircraft that can land like a helicopter and carry two dozen special operations forces with their gear over long distances at aircraft speeds.
The Osprey "is the ideal platform for sending Israeli special forces into Iran," says Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst now at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy. The Boeing KC-135 "Stratotanker" can refuel Ospreys and other aircraft while airborne and extend their range almost indefinitely.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu, Kerry Meet in Jerusalem - Attila Somfalvi
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem Thursday to discuss a renewal of the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians. A political source said Thursday that, according to intelligence information, Abbas is willing to sit down with Netanyahu, but doesn't intend to go forward with talks. "He wants to talk, and then reintroduce Palestinian demands," the source added. "They want to pursue the unilateral track with the UN, with no intention of making any hard or concrete decisions." (Ynet News)
- Netanyahu: Without Security, Any Peace Will Unravel - Mati Tuchfeld
At a ceremony in Jerusalem commemorating the 109th anniversary of the death of the father of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday: "Peace is founded on security, not goodwill. Without security we will not be able to defend ourselves and any peace we have will unravel."
"We remain faithful to Herzl's vision: to establish here an exemplary state, a modern state, a state that is rooted in our land, the Land of Israel, but also a state that above all is able to give the Jews what was lost to them in their years of exile - the ability to defend themselves, by themselves, against any threat."
"The tarnishing of Israel, the description of us as rejecters of peace, as pursuers of war, as a dark state that aspires to conquest, rather than as an enlightened state that fights like no other democracy in the world, a state that fights like no other state in the world in the most enlightened way imaginable against the desires to destroy it. All the charges against us are overdone, exaggerated and absurd, but they still take hold."
See also Text of Netanyahu's Speech (Prime Minister's Office)
- Israel Demands UN Condemn Gaza Rocket Fire - Stuart Winer
Israel called on the UN on Monday to categorically denounce rockets fired by terrorists in Gaza at Israel's civilian population after a barrage of rockets slammed into southern Israel.
"Unequivocally condemn the rocket fire," Israeli envoy to the UN Ron Proser urged in a letter this week to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council. "The usual statements calling for mutual restraint are not enough. This is not a matter of two sides, but one side and one side only that continues to repeatedly impose terror on innocent civilians."
"There is no place to equate between a terror group that makes civilians its target and a state that wants to protect its residents....After seven years it's about time that the Security Council unanimously condemned these attacks, which are not based on any provocation from Israel." (Times of Israel)
- UN Holds Israel-Led Panel on Entrepreneurship - Ron Friedman
The UN General Assembly on Wednesday hosted an Israel-led conference on entrepreneurship attended by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and representatives from around the world, including Kuwait, Tunisia, and Bahrain. The result of an Israeli resolution calling on states to promote entrepreneurship
that was passed in December 2012 by a 141 to 31 vote, the conference is part of an effort by Israel to promote innovation as a means of battling poverty, creating jobs, and increasing growth.
"It is important that the whole world can enjoy Israel's knowledge, technology, and innovation," said Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor. "The spirit of entrepreneurship is to challenge conventional wisdom, break the status quo, and persevere until you've changed the world." (Times of Israel)
- In Arab Israel, a Battle over Christian Conscription - Elhanan Miller
The Forum for Drafting the Christian Community in Israel was launched in October 2012 by a number of mid-ranking IDF officers, mostly belonging to the Maronite denomination. On its Facebook page, the group defined itself as "Christian Israelis who speak Arabic." Israeli Arabs are exempted by law from military service, but the Christian minority within Arab society has been shaken by the Arab Spring and its Islamist undercurrents.
Some 90 Christian high school graduates have joined the IDF in recent months, a threefold increase compared to 2010. The IDF has recently made Christian conscription easier at its Tiberias office, and a special adviser was appointed by the Defense Ministry to deal exclusively with Christians.
Father Gabriel Naddaf, a Greek Orthodox priest from Yafia near Nazareth, may be fired from his church position for his positive view of Christian recruitment. "We all live in the same home [in Israel] which we must defend. Our future depends on the state we live in," he said. Dozens of young Christian men and women from across the country have called and emailed Naddaf, asking for his advice. "Participate, and have no fear," he tells them.
(Times of Israel)
- Farewell, Ataturk - Amir Taheri
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish republic, adopted the Latin alphabet, purged Turkish of Arabic words and brought mosques and religious endowments under state control.
For decades, Turkey's Islamists tried to undo as much of Ataturk's "reforms" as possible but failed because a majority of Turks would not vote for a party with an Islamist agenda. Erdogan solved that problem by uniting some 20 different Islamist groups into a new party that made no mention of Islam. His Justice and Development Party (AKP) won three successive general elections on a platform of fighting corruption and ensuring economic growth.
As for fighting corruption, if one regards favoritism as a form of corruption, the AKP administration emerges as the most corrupt since the fall of the Caliphate.
Almost all major new building projects, expected to be worth $100 billion over a decade, have been granted to individuals or corporations controlled by Islamists close to the AKP.
(New York Post)
See also Erdogan's War on Ataturk's Legacy - Hillel Fradkin and Lewis Libby
Erdogan hopes to bulldoze the modern legacy of Ataturk, amend Turkey's constitution to create a presidency more powerful than even Ataturk ever held and then restore the glory of Ottoman Turkey and the caliphate that once bound the Sunni Islamic world together.
Erdogan and his AK Party's leadership invoke their neo-Ottoman aims regularly.
Hillel Fradkin is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, where Lewis Libby is a senior vice president.
- Syria: Religious Civil Wars Last Longer - Nicole Bibbins Sedaca
Syria is experiencing a religious civil war in which combatants identify with different faith traditions. In Religion and International Relations Theory, Monica Duffy Toft notes that religious civil wars last an average of 105 months. Non-religious civil wars last an average of 81 months.
Religious civil wars are twice as likely to recur: 26% of the time compared to 12% for non-religious wars.
Religious civil wars are twice as deadly to noncombatants as civil wars in which religion is peripheral. The writer, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, is Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Global Engagement.
(Georgetown Journal of International Affairs)
- Is the Arab-Israeli Conflict Really about Economics? - Alexander Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky
Palestinians are by far the world's largest per capita recipients of international foreign aid, having received more than $12 billion over the past 15 years. The international community also provides another $500 million a year to support Palestinian health, education and welfare services.
But, as a new report from the World Bank notes, Western largesse has predictably bred Palestinian dependence and under-development rather than prosperity. The Palestinians reject economic investment and the possibility of self-reliance because it would require a negotiated settlement. Instead they demand welfare.
UNRWA is part of the Palestinian welfare system that supports rejectionism and encourages dependency. Its almost 30,000 Palestinian employees, who perform tasks that rightfully belong to the Palestinian Authority, are paid for by the West.
Alexander Joffe is a fellow and Asaf Romirowsky is an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Forum.
- Jordan May Be More Resilient than People Think - Clifford D. May
A visitor to Amman, Jordan's capital, cannot help but be struck by how normal - even relaxed - Jordanians appear. Jordanians look around their neighborhood and ask themselves: "Is what we have so bad? And if we throw it away, what will replace it?" What they have is King Abdullah II, coronated 14 years ago. The king descends from the Prophet Mohammed, and it was his clan, the Hashemites, that for a millennium served as the custodians of Mecca and Medina, Islam's holiest places, until the Saudis deposed them.
King Abdullah, 51, is a faithful Muslim, but he is decidedly not an Islamist. He does not believe it is the mission of Muslims of the 21st century to resurrect the seventh century, when a religion born in Arabia gave rise to armies that went on to conquer and colonize the lands of Christians and polytheists.
He also understands that democratic institutions and habits must evolve - they cannot be imposed overnight in cultures where the power of ancient tribal allegiances trumps the power of new ideas.
The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
- Educating Gaza's Children for Hatred - Seth Mandell
In Gaza, Islamic Jihad is running camps for kids featuring lessons on how to shoot an AK-47 and how to kidnap an Israeli soldier. In an Agence France Presse YouTube video, the commander of the children's camp says, "We have full confidence that they [the children] will be able to carry weapons and open fire against the enemy because we have planted hatred of the enemy in their hearts." Tens of thousands of young boys ages 6 to 16 will be indoctrinated into this mindset this summer.
When the UN partitioned Palestine, the Jews, tempered by a couple of thousand years in the diaspora and influenced by the European enlightenment, decided to compromise and accept part of what they considered their rightful homeland. The Arabs couldn't relate to the concept of compromise at all. They have never given up on their certainty that Israel's very presence in Palestine is unjust, and they have never given up their desire to drive the Jews into the sea. But without the ability and will to compromise, whether they know it or not, they have no hope.
Even assuming that PA President Mahmoud Abbas and moderate Palestinians are committed to peace, the Palestinian people as a whole still believe that the Jews stole their land - that a Jewish state has no place in the Middle East.
One can only imagine the psychological impact of having "hatred of the enemy planted in the hearts" of children as young as six. You won't find such deliberate poisoning of a youngster's mind in any program in Israel. And if you did, the organization and its leadership would be run out of town. As Golda Meir once said, "We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us."
The author is a rabbi and co-founder of The Koby Mandell Foundation.
- Israeli Holocaust Memorial Exhibit Honors Those Who Risked Their Lives to Save Jews in WWII
On Wednesday, Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and memorial unveiled a new exhibition that marked 50 years of recognizing non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during World War II, dedicated to the 24,811 people from 47 countries who have been honored as "Righteous Among the Nations." A special committee, chaired by a retired Supreme Court Justice, is responsible for vetting every case. Following a lengthy process, between 400 and 500 are typically recognized a year.
Former chief rabbi Israel Meir Lau, who credits non-Jewish Russian Feodor Mikhailichenko with saving him as a child in the Buchenwald concentration camp, said that those who experienced the worst evil of man also know they could not have survived without the goodness of man, either.
- Meet the President of Israel Aerospace Industries - Barbara Opall-Rome
In his first weeks as President and CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries, Joseph "Yossi" Weiss inked nearly $1 billion in contracts with Italy for a spy satellite and early warning and control planes. IAI has a record backlog of orders exceeding $10 billion. "IAI is a center of knowledge for aeronautical development and applied engineering projects, with the capacity to shift people from commercial, military and space sectors according to need," Weiss said.
"The export market...today accounts for nearly 80% of our business activities....When our customers and partners know that our capabilities and operational concepts are combat-proven by the Israel Defense Forces or are being developed for our forces, it gives us a clear advantage." (Defense News)
- Israel's Ethiopian-Born Beauty Queen Wows a New York Audience - Chemi Shalev
Israeli beauty queen Yityish "Titi" Aynaw seemed completely at ease as she mingled with the assembled guests on Tuesday in Manhattan, conducting herself with poise and self-confidence. "I am not putting on an act," she says. "I was head of the student council in my high school, I commanded over 90 soldiers in the army. You get a lot of experience, and with the experience comes the self-confidence."
Born in Gondar Province in Ethiopia, her father died when she was two and her mother died when she was ten. She came to Israel at age 12 with her grandparents, was an honors graduate at high school, lieutenant in the IDF Military Police, and in February became Israel's first Ethiopian beauty queen. She plans to study international relations at Netanya College next year.
- Volunteerism and Charity in Israel - Uri Resnick
A study that ranked countries based on international giving left the misleading impression that Israelis are not generous with their charity dollars.
Israel has a heavy defense burden and spends roughly 7% of its gross domestic product on defense, almost four times the average of 1.8% of other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries. As a consequence, Israel is left with fewer resources to allocate for civilian purposes.
At the same time, volunteerism is deeply ingrained in Israeli society. Israel's Perach ["Flower"] tutoring project engages nearly 60,000 disadvantaged children a year and involves nearly 15% of Israel's university student body. On a per-capita basis, this is more than 30 times the size of the largest comparable mentoring organization in the U.S.
Yad Sarah, which provides free medical and rehabilitative equipment to anyone in need, is run by more than 6,000 volunteers.
The writer is Israel's deputy consul general in Los Angeles.
(Los Angeles Times)
- There's No Stopping This Song - Sigal Arbitman
When musicians come under attack by boycott groups and get cold feet about performing in Israel, Adam Shay, 37, a researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is there to encourage them. If an artist gets 600 emails saying that he's going to be killed if he performs in Israel, "he can do nothing but be frightened. Artists complain of massive attacks, to the point where their websites crash, before they perform in Israel."
"Unfortunately very few artists have the guts to get up and say, 'I got death threats, but I'm coming anyway.' Paul McCartney did it. He went to the media and said: 'I got explicit death threats, but I have no intention of surrendering. I refuse to cancel my performances in Israel.'...But most artists just don't want to deal with it. It's much easier for them to release a statement that they won't be appearing in Israel 'for reasons of conscience' rather than to say their lives are being threatened and they're frightened."
As a hard-core music fan, Shay also works to cancel the cancellations. He is full of stories about bands he succeeded in bringing to Israel despite the threats and attacks of BDS.
See also Successes and Failures of the BDS Campaign - Adam Shay (ICA-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Where Are the Palestinian Concessions? - Elliott Abrams (Council on Foreign Relations)
- News reports make it clear that the Palestinians are seeking various concessions as the price of returning to the negotiating table.
- The Palestinians should be jumping at the chance for serious negotiations, not creating obstacles for their resumption - yet PLO and PA head Abbas does not appear anxious for talks to start.
- It is also striking that as has almost always been the case in the so-called "peace process," all the concessions are being sought on the Israeli side.
- The U.S. has not, for example, demanded an end to Palestinian glorification of terrorism or incitement against Israel in official media as the price for starting new negotiations.
- It's as if the Palestinians are doing Israel and the U.S. a great favor by entering into negotiations that are the only route to their stated goal of an independent state.
- Secretary Kerry has said he seeks progress by September. Progress is more likely if he tells the PA and PLO officials that he will judge them by their conduct, and that "incitement" - including anti-Semitic attacks, lies about Israeli behavior, and glorification of violence and terror - must cease.
The writer, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush.
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