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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
August 6, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Syria Rebels Capture Four Villages in Assad's Territory (AP-CBS News)
    Syrian rebels captured four Alawite villages in Latakia province on the Mediterranean coast on Monday in one of President Bashar Assad's strongholds, activists said.
    At least 32 government troops and militiamen and at least 19 rebels, including foreign fighters, died in Sunday's fighting.
    See also Rebels Gain Control of Government Air Base in Syria - Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad (New York Times)
    Rebel fighters on Monday swept into a government air base in northern Syria where Assad's troops had fought off their attacks for nearly a year, seizing several tanks and other munitions and taking soldiers prisoner, rebel groups said.
    If it holds, the rebels' seizure of the Minakh base in Aleppo province will challenge the government's assertion that it is rolling to victory.

Turkey's Former Military Chief Convicted of Trying to Overthrow Erdogan - Raja Abdulrahim (Los Angeles Times)
    Turkey's former military chief, Gen. Ilker Basbug, was sentenced to life in prison on Monday, convicted along with 253 others of trying to overthrow the government of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan.
    The defendants included other military officers, politicians, academics and journalists.

In the Arab Middle East, Science Lags Behind the West - Lee Smith (Tablet)
    "Between 1980 and 2000," writes Hillel Ofek in The New Atlantis, "Korea granted 16,328 patents, while nine Arab countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, granted a combined total of only 370, many of them registered by foreigners."
    "A study in 1989 found that in one year, the United States published 10,481 scientific papers that were frequently cited, while the entire Arab world published only four."
    According to Pakistani physics professor Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy, the 57 Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries "have 8.5 scientists, engineers, and technicians per 1,000 population, compared with a world average of 40.7, and 139.3 for countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development."
    "46 Muslim countries contributed 1.17% of the world's science literature, whereas 1.66% came from India alone and 1.48% from Spain. 20 Arab countries contributed 0.55%, compared with 0.89% by Israel alone."
    Iranians believe that the mastery of the nuclear field of science - rather than any other field of science - will pave the way for Iran's triumphant re-entry into the community of nations.
    Not a new microchip, or the cure for cancer, but a nuclear bomb - a weapon of mass destruction, meant to kill tens of thousands of people.
    A wise man once said never judge a man by his mistakes, but rather by his dreams.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Across Forbidden Border, Doctors in Israel Quietly Tend to Syria's Wounded - Isabel Kershner
    Scores of Syrian casualties from the civil war have been discreetly spirited across the frontier for what is often lifesaving treatment in Israel. Most are men in their 20s or 30s, many with gunshot wounds. But in recent weeks there have been more civilians with blast wounds, among them women and children who have arrived alone and traumatized.
        Israel has repeatedly declared a policy of nonintervention in the Syrian civil war, but has sanctioned this small, low-profile humanitarian response to the tragedy taking place in Syria. Like many Israeli hospitals, Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya serves a mixed population of Jews and Arabs; its staff includes Arabic-speaking doctors, nurses and social workers. Its director general, Dr. Masad Barhoum, is an Arab Christian citizen of Israel. (New York Times)
  • Iran's Economic Crisis Deepens - Joby Warrick and Jason Rezaian
    A welter of new data on Iran's economy shows accelerated financial hemorrhaging across multiple sectors, from plummeting hard-currency reserves to steadily falling oil exports, Iran's main source of foreign cash, as Western sanctions cut ever deeper into the Islamic republic's financial lifelines and increase pressure for a nuclear deal.
        Iranian officials last month reported an inflation rate of 45% - compared with 32% earlier in the summer - while also acknowledging that the economy is set to contract for the first time in three decades. (Washington Post)
  • Fleeing Syria, Palestinians Find Little Support from their Brethren in Lebanon - Claire Duffett
    As the number of Palestinian refugees from Syria swells, competition for the jobs available to Palestinians in Lebanon intensifies, undercutting already abysmal wages, driving up housing costs, and aggravating tensions. Palestinians in Lebanon simply can't absorb the unprecedented number of refugees arriving. The PLO estimates the number of Palestinian refugees from Syria may reach 100,000 by the end of 2013 - joining the 450,000 Palestinians in Lebanon before the Syrian war began.
        In Syria the Palestinians had many of the same rights as citizens. This is not the case in Lebanon, where Palestinians are banned from working in the public sector and in many professional fields and are barred from owning property.
        On the other hand, Palestinian refugees from Syria have access to more benefits than Syrian refugees. Palestinian children can attend UNRWA schools, while cash grants and other services from UNRWA tend to be higher and more comprehensive than those from UNHCR, the refugee agency responsible for Syrian nationals.
        Watching these handouts being distributed causes further division, since the grants are not available to Palestinians who have been living in Lebanon for decades. "They're thinking: 'We're getting nothing while that other family is getting support from the international community," said Yasser Daoud, who works with Palestinians in Lebanon. (Christian Science Monitor)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Poll: Israeli Jews Pessimistic about Peace Process - Gil Hoffman
    Jewish Israelis have low expectations for the diplomatic talks between Israelis and Palestinians that were launched in Washington last week, according to the monthly Peace Index poll by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University released Tuesday. 79% of Israeli Jews think the negotiations have a low chance of success, while 18% believe they have a high chance of succeeding. 63% of Israeli Jews oppose withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders with land swaps, while 79% oppose recognition of a Palestinian "right of return."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also The July Peace Index (Israel Democracy Institute-Tel Aviv University)
  • 1,000 Jurists to EU: Settlements Are Legal - Edna Adato
    A petition signed by 1,100 jurists, rabbis and diplomats was sent on July 29 to EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Catherine Ashton and EU foreign ministers, urging them to rescind Brussels' decision to impose financial sanctions on Israeli settlements. The petition deemed the EU's decision "legally flawed," saying it was based on interpretations of international law that do not coincide with the reality on the ground. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Palestinians Dismiss Prisoner Release as a "Bribe" - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The argument that the release of Palestinian prisoners boosts the standing of PA President Mahmoud Abbas and facilitates the resumption of peace talks with Israel is not necessarily true. Many Palestinians regard the Israeli move as something that Israel was supposed to have done anyway, many years ago. So the PA does not see the release of prisoners as a conciliatory move on the part of the Israeli government.
        Of course Abbas and Fatah will present the prisoner release as a "huge achievement" by Abbas. But some Palestinians, including Abbas loyalists, see the release as a "bribe" to entice Abbas to return to the talks. There are also Palestinians who see the release of 100 prisoners as a "minor" achievement compared to Hamas' success in securing the release of more than 1,000 inmates in return for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Hizbullah's Partial EU Isolation - Ron Prosor
    It is for good reason that the U.S., Canada, Australia and the Netherlands long ago labeled Hizbullah a terrorist group - without distinguishing between the political and military wings. Until Sept. 11, 2001, Hizbullah held the distinction of being responsible for more American deaths than any other terrorist organization. In 1983, Hizbullah orchestrated the truck bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon which resulted in the death of 241 U.S. servicemen, mostly Marines.
        To Israel, Hizbullah is an interconnected organization that should be judged by the totality of its actions. Criminal and terrorist activities shouldn't be given any allowance to hide behind a facade of political pursuits. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the UN. (New York Daily News)
  • Recognize Muslim Brotherhood for the Hate Group It Is - Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper
    The world may have acquiesced to President Morsi's escalating authoritarianism - but Egyptians did not. Morsi reneged on appointing a Christian woman as vice president, blocked a constitutional amendment limiting presidential power, and precipitated a walkout from Egypt's Constituent Assembly by barring the Supreme Court from "interfering" while authorizing himself to take any measures "to protect the revolution."
        The Brotherhood's 80-year vendetta against Jews inside and outside the Holy Land ranges from its WWII alliance with Hitler to creating genocidal Hamas. (The Hill)

For Palestinians, Throwing Stones at Israelis Is a Rite of Passage - Jodi Rudoren (New York Times)

  • As Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed peace talks last week in Washington, the stone throwers of Beit Omar are a reminder of the abiding tensions. The Israeli Army commander in the area counts 5 to 15 stone-throwing incidents per week.
  • Some 45 Beit Omar residents have been taken into custody since the beginning of 2013, 35 of them ages 13 to 19. "Here, it is as if the intifada never stopped," said Musa Abu Hashhash, a field worker for an Israeli human rights group.
See also A Palestinian Culture of Violence - Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary)
  • Violence directed at Jews isn't just a troubling trend, it is something that has become more or less the national Palestinian sport. Children, adolescents, and even adults treat flinging lethal rocks at any passing car with Israeli license plates as acceptable behavior.
  • What this tells us about contemporary Palestinian culture and its glorification of violence, as well as the rejection of alternate means of dealing with the Jewish presence in their midst, speaks volumes about how difficult it will be to ever achieve peace.
  • Flinging a large rock at an individual or a moving vehicle is not a game. It is a form of terrorism. Such actions are felonious assaults by any definition of the law. The purpose of the stone throwing is not making a political statement but to inflict injury and even death.
  • The longer Palestinians condone routine violence and train new generations of children to take part in this mayhem, the longer they are putting off the day when peace will arrive.

    See also Arabs Stone Israeli Ambulance in Jerusalem - Lazar Berman (Times of Israel)

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