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August 9, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Egypt's Islamists Turn Violent - Bel Trew (Foreign Policy)
    On July 26, during clashes with supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, Ahmed Sabet, 22, who is part of the April 6 Youth Movement that opposes the former leader, was a victim of an armed assault by an Islamist mob. He was dragged by pro-Morsi protesters to a nearby mosque, where a dozen other individuals were being held. There, he says, they tortured him for 14 hours.
    "He has three stab wounds, a bullet hole through his leg and stick marks all over his body," said his cousin, Aly al-Masry, 20, who told Sabet's story from his bedside as he drifted in and out of consciousness.
    There is now mounting evidence that some Brotherhood loyalists within the pro-Morsi sit-ins are indeed armed, and have committed what some human rights groups describe as torture against their political opponents.
    Amnesty International released a report on Aug. 2 in which anti-Morsi protesters recount being "captured, beaten, subjected to electric shocks or stabbed" at the Islamists' two encampments in the Cairo districts of Nasr City and Giza.

    See also Dissenting Voices Emerge within Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MEMRI)
    The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) rank and file have begun calling for a revolt against the movement's leadership, and are accusing MB leaders of inciting to violence and bloodshed.
    Hundreds of MB activists, primarily from the movement's younger generation, have renounced their movement membership in protest against the demonstrations and sit-down strikes that the MB is holding in an attempt to restore Morsi to the presidency.
    The splinter groups are calling for the ouster of MB General Guide Dr. Muhammad Badi, and demanding early elections to choose a more "enlightened" leadership.

Hamas Opponents Fear Crackdown in Gaza - Robert Tait (Telegraph-UK)
    The organizers of Ya Felistini Tamarod (Palestinian, Rebel!), a group set up in Gaza following the overthrow of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, say they are unhappy with the continued division between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank.
    They want to emulate the Egyptian experience by organizing a petition demanding immediate presidential and parliamentary elections across both territories.
    The group has drawn fierce scrutiny from Hamas' security services. Its first public demonstration last week - against Israel - was broken up by uniformed Hamas officers.
    "Even though Hamas is always talking about resistance against Israel, they thought people might use this campaign against them. Their thinking was affected by what's happened in Egypt," said Ouroula Othman, Tamarod's spokesperson.

West Bank Palestinians Celebrate End of Ramadan at Tel Aviv Beach - Hadas Parush (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli Arabs and Palestinians from the West Bank Thursday celebrated the first day of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, by bringing their families to enjoy the beaches of Tel Aviv.

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U.S. to Admit 2,000 Syrian Refugees - John Hudson and Noah Shachtman (Foreign Policy)
    The Obama administration has agreed for the first time to admit 2,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S., a significant increase from the 90 Syrian refugees who have been permanently admitted in the last two years.

Fatah Celebrates Murder - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    One of Fatah's official Facebook pages displays a series of facts about Fatah terror attacks in which dozens of Israelis were murdered, presenting these killings as heroic achievements.
    "Did you know? The operation with the most casualties was Fatah's. Martyrs Abd Al-Rahman and Samer Imad carried it out in January 2003 [at Tel Aviv's central bus station]. It killed more than 30 and wounded more than 200."
    "Did you know? The first operation against an Israeli target outside...Arab territory was the Munich operation" [when 11 Israeli athletes were murdered at the 1972 Olympic Games].
    "Did you know? The first female martyrdom-seeker to carry out a military operation during the Palestinian Intifada was under the command of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade. It was carried out by Wafa Idris." Idris worked for the Palestinian Red Crescent in Ramallah. She crossed the checkpoint into Israel wearing a Red Crescent uniform and carrying the bomb with her in the ambulance.

Irish EU Parliamentarian Urges Palestinian Intifada - Paul Fallon (Al Jazeera)
    A socialist MEP from Ireland, Paul Murphy, called for the Palestinians to start an intifada against Israel during a recent TV interview.
    Murphy has been lambasted by several of his colleagues in the European Parliament. Irish MEP Sean Kelly said, "In a region already beset with conflict, it is abhorrent to call for violence as a tool to achieve collective goals."

Bayer Enters Cancer Research Deal with Israel's Compugen (Reuters)
    German pharmaceuticals company Bayer AG has entered a new cancer partnership with Israel's Compugen Ltd. to research, develop and commercialize antibody-based therapies.
    Under the deal, Compugen is eligible to receive over $500 million in potential milestone payments.
    Antibody-based immunotherapy aims at combating cancer by stimulating the body's own immune cells.
    Compugen said it has discovered two novel immune checkpoint regulators. Its researchers are developing specific therapeutic antibodies to reactivate the patient's anti-tumor immune response in order to fight cancer.
    See also Apple to Significantly Expand Its Israel Operations - Raz Smolsky and Inbal Orpaz (Ha'aretz)
    Apple is expanding its operations in Israel, with massive office space being rented in a new Herzliya project.

Israel's Network of Bike Trails Is Growing - Mark Stratton (Independent-UK)
    Israel has a mushrooming network of popular and well-signed bike trails, combined with improving urban cycleways.
    Within five years, it will be possible to cycle the entire length of Israel along a proposed 1,000 km. national bike trail.
    I also cycled part of a new 40 km. cycleway that will encircle Jerusalem when completed.

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Israel Campus Beat
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks to Resume in Jerusalem on Aug. 14 - Michael R. Gordon
    Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will resume peace talks in Jerusalem next Wednesday, the State Department said Thursday. The negotiators will hold another session in Jericho in the West Bank. (New York Times)
        See also Kerry Briefs U.S. Jewish Leaders on Peace Talks
    Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice briefed Jewish leaders on resumed Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. The meeting Thursday in the White House was characterized mostly by Kerry's enthusiasm for the resumed talks, participants said. Kerry said there was a "strategic imperative" to arrive at a deal soon and expressed frustration with the EU for its new policy regarding settlements. Kerry is planning on holding a similar meeting on Friday with representatives of Arab American groups. (JTA)
  • Anti-U.S. Hostility Ramps Up in Egypt - Maria Abi-Habib and Adam Entous
    Posters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, a center of pro-government rallies, depict President Barack Obama with a beard and turban, exclaiming his "support for terrorism." Egypt's state and privately owned media outlets, already no strangers to demonizing the U.S., have embarked on a particularly critical campaign. The moves highlight the depth of public distrust of U.S. policies, and draw from a "reservoir of anti-Americanism and conspiratorial theories," said Vali Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and a former senior Obama administration adviser.
        "The Mubarak people are unhappy with the way he was shoved off without a thank you. The military thinks we coddled the Brotherhood and didn't intervene to control them. And the Brotherhood thinks that we never supported them when they needed support, and then gave the green light to the military," Nasr said.
        According to several observers, Egypt's new military-backed government is using the same playbook as the Mubarak regime, with state-owned media fixated on what they call U.S. meddling in Egyptian affairs in a bid to rally the nation and divert attention from government shortcomings. (Wall Street Journal)
  • UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Wary of EU Ban on Hizbullah Military - Abigail Fielding-Smith
    Last month, the EU designated Hizbullah's military wing a terrorist organization, a mostly symbolic move unlikely to have much practical impact but one that further isolates the group internationally. However, almost a third of UNIFIL's 10,000 peacekeepers in southern Lebanon are from European countries and most people living in the hills they patrol are staunch Hizbullah supporters. "People are not going to accept you living among them and calling them terrorists," a Hizbullah official told the Financial Times shortly after the designation.
        An editorial in Al Akhbar, a newspaper associated with the Lebanese political bloc that Hizbullah leads, said the troops were no longer welcome: "From now on, Europe must realize that its soldiers serving under the UN flag in southern Lebanon are operating behind enemy lines." UNIFIL has been keen to stress that its troops are there as representatives of the UN, not of individual countries, and officials say so far there has been no sign of a backlash.
        European countries with troops in south Lebanon are likely to have received indirect assurances that their security would not be affected before taking the decision, said Timur Goksel, of the American University of Beirut, a former UNIFIL spokesman. "UNIFIL's presence serves Hizbullah in multiple ways, for their own security and for the benefit of their people economically."  (Financial Times-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel to Tell EU: We Won't Sign Agreements Based on Settlement Guidelines - Barak Ravid
    Israel will make it clear to the EU that it will not sign any future agreements that restrict European assistance, grants or investments in Israeli entities with a direct or indirect connection to the West Bank, east Jerusalem or the Golan Heights. Nor will Israel agree to include in agreements with the EU a territorial clause that requires it to acknowledge the fact that its sovereignty does not extend beyond the 1967 lines. The Israeli decision was made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday after extensive consultations with Cabinet members. The new EU guidelines regarding settlements will take effect beginning on Jan. 1.
        "We will not sign the guidelines in their present form," said a senior Israeli official. "On the other hand, we want to conduct negotiations with the EU so that the Horizon 2020 agreement for scientific cooperation, as well as other agreements, can in fact be implemented. If nothing changes it will be impossible to sign. We want to find a creative solution."  (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Bases in Negev Within Range of Al-Qaeda in Sinai
    Tarek Fahmy, head of Israel Studies at Egypt's National Center for Middle Eastern Studies, said in an interview: The real danger comes from Gaza. Salafi jihadist groups gained a foothold in Sinai, and the Egyptian authorities unfortunately overlooked them. Now they are a threat to our national security, and the Israeli army camps [in the Negev] are within the reach of their arms.
        The theory of Israel's absolute security no longer exists, for it is threatened from the north, where Hizbullah is stationed, and the south, as well as from Syria, Jordan, and Gaza. What Israel fears most are missiles targeting vital institutions, as Hizbullah has previously launched. Israeli intelligence services believe calm will not prevail in Egypt for some time.
        The U.S. believes it is in Israel's interest to secretly support the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood because, although the group has not supported terrorism until now, its very founding principles are based on terrorism, and they will eventually carry out terrorist acts against Israel. (Al-Masry Al-Youm-Egypt)
        See also Seven IDF Training Bases Moving to Negev - Gili Cohen (Ha'aretz)
  • Sinai Jihadists Have Eilat in Sights - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The temporary closure of Eilat's airport on Thursday stemmed from a terror threat emanating from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, apparently related to the possibility that Islamists will fire shoulder-launched missiles at airplanes. Bedouin Salafist groups in Sinai have received large amounts of weapons from Iran and Libya over the past two years, mainly for transferring to Gaza. Some of the weapons remained in Sinai and are used by Islamist groups to carry out terror attacks against the Egyptian authorities and military, as well as against Israel. (Ynet News)
        See also IDF Closes Eilat Airport for Two Hours over Security Concerns - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
  • The Deceptive Quiet of the Lebanon Border - Mitch Ginsburg
    On a recent tour of Israel's northern border, an IDF company commander was pointing out the thick vegetation in the deep valley of Wadi al-Ranab when, across the border, a red Isuzu jeep loaded with at least three burly and bearded men rolled into view. They stopped menacingly opposite the officer and began to take video footage of the soldiers and the civilian guests. "Hizbullah," the officer said, noting that the civilian-clad guerrillas "operate in all of these bushy areas." Their appearance in this instance was likely part intelligence work and part psychological warfare.
        He described the current situation as "a deceptive quiet" and said he had drilled into his soldiers the need to "go from 0-100 in a second," meaning his men understood that the situation could turn into war in an instant. "Our company's motto is War Tomorrow," he said. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Iran's Plan B for the Bomb - Amos Yadlin and Avner Golov
    Whoever negotiates with Iran must acknowledge that the enrichment of uranium from a low level (3.5% to 19.75%) to weapons-grade level (90%) is only one of three dimensions of Iran's nuclear strategy. A second dimension is Iran's progress toward a quick "breakout capability" through the stockpiling of large quantities of low-enriched uranium that could be further enriched rapidly to provide weapons-grade fuel. Third, Iran also appears to be pursuing a parallel track to a nuclear capability through the production of plutonium. If there is going to be a nuclear deal with Iran, all three parts of its strategy must be addressed.
        Western experts like Olli Heinonen estimate that if Iran decided to develop a bomb today, it could do so within three to five months. But a recent report from the Institute for Science and International Security estimates that at its current pace of centrifuge installation, Iran could reduce its breakout time to just one month by the end of this year and, by mid-2014, Iran could reduce the breakout time to less than two weeks. Moderate messages from Tehran should not be allowed to camouflage Iran's continuing progress toward a bomb. Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, a former chief of Israeli military intelligence, is the director of Israel's Institute for National Security Studies, where Avner Golov is a researcher. (New York Times)
  • Iran's Mounting Malaise - Jamsheed K. Choks
    Iranians must struggle with restrictions on what they wear, hear, say and with who they interact. Yet more than 30% of Iranians have access to satellite television and 61% to the Internet, circumventing government constraints on communications with the rest of the world. Thus Iranians are well aware that living standards are much higher in the Gulf countries to their south. They see European and North American nations providing not only a comfortable life but sociopolitical liberties as well.
        Iran's fertility rate has plummeted and is 1.64 births per woman. Tehran responded in August 2012 by scrapping family-planning programs and diverting those funds to encourage larger families, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling upon women to have more children.
        In 2011, 35% of Iranian students were reported to have dropped out from school, with many assuming there's little career value to be gained from an ideologically-driven educational system. An estimated 60% of Iranian workers have slipped below the poverty line, up 40% from a decade ago; unemployment has risen to 24% overall and to 67% among women. Inflation rose 200% between 2009 and 2012. Housing costs were up 220% over the past eight years. Food prices have spiked 57% over the past year. The writer is professor of Iranian Studies at Indiana University. (Yale Global)

  • Palestinians

  • Mahmoud Abbas' Minority Report - Emmanuel Navon
    Shortly after negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians resumed, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas declared that he wouldn't tolerate the presence of a single Jew in the future Palestinian state. Imagine if Scotland, which is supposed to hold a referendum on its independence next year, would declare that it shall not tolerate any Englishman (or Jew, for that matter) on its sovereign territory.
        The partition (or two-state) model has been applied to partially solve conflicts in other parts of the world, but nowhere does this model entail the absence of minorities. Since the Second World War, there have been many cases of partition and of territorial withdrawal. But in most cases, minorities were not asked to leave as part of a peace deal.
        With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, newly independent countries such as Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania asked the Russian settlers to leave, but the EU took the side of the Russian minorities, claiming that their forced transfer would constitute a human rights violation. In the end, the Russian minority was allowed to stay.
        So why should the Arab-Israeli conflict be an exception? If there is true peace, why should there be an Arab minority in the Jewish state, but no Jewish minority in the Arab state? The writer teaches international relations at Tel Aviv University and at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center. (i24 News)
  • Egypt Blockades Gaza: Where Are the Flotillas? - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Ghazi Hamad, a senior official with the Hamas foreign ministry, said this week that Egypt (and not Israel) had turned Gaza into a "big prison as a result of the continued closure of the Rafah border crossing by the Egyptian authorities since June 30." Now that the charge is being made against Egypt, most international journalists, human rights organizations and "pro-Palestine" groups have chosen to look the other way. Residents of Gaza are asking these days: Why haven't foreign activists tried to organize another flotilla aid convoy to break the Egyptian blockade?
        While the Egyptian authorities are tightening the blockade on Gaza, this week more than 500 truckloads of goods and construction material entered the area from Israel. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Some Israelis Dread Peace Talks - Einat Wilf
    The renewal of talks between Israelis and Palestinians fills me with dread. For more than 20 years, peace talks meant more terrorism and more death. The more serious the talks got, the greater the number of violent deaths. The closer the negotiations came to addressing the core issues, the worse the violence became. In the 1990s, victims of terrorism were called "victims of peace." But peace should have no victims, and neither should the road to achieving it.
        The fact remains that the longer the stalemate continued, the less we were killing each other. During the last few years without negotiations, the number of Israelis and Palestinians killed has been the lowest in decades. True, a stalemate is not heroic, but for Israelis, as well as Palestinians, the stalemate of the past few years has meant life. The aphorism that trying and failing is better than not trying at all does not apply, because trying and failing means going back to a time when there was fear in going to cafes and buying pizzas and terror in getting stuck in traffic behind a bus.
        I know that the right thing to do is to applaud the renewed negotiations, but I wanted to share the feelings of one citizen who dreads their renewal and feels that this time around, if she has to choose between peace and life, she will choose life. The writer was a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the 18th Knesset. (Al-Monitor)
  • Are Jews the Most Incompetent "Ethnic Cleansers" in the World? - Adam Levick
    The "question" of whether Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians can be easily refuted by a few population statistics. The Palestinian population in the West Bank increased from 462,000 in 1949 to more than 2.5 million today. In Gaza, the population increased from 82,000 in 1949 to 1.7 million today. Additionally, the number of Arabs killed (since 1920) in Arab-Israeli wars is less than the number of Arabs killed by Arabs in Syria alone since 2011.
        In the territory where Jews rule or have ruled in some manner since 1948, the Arab population has increased dramatically, while in territories where Arabs rule, the Jewish population has decreased from over 850,000 in 1949 to less than 5,000 today. (CIF Watch)

  • Other Issues

  • Israel's Security Paradox: Never Safer and Never More Uncertain - Frida Ghitis
    Israel's enemies have, for the moment, set aside the obsessive attention they normally expend on the Jewish state and have focused on more urgent matters of revolution and civil war. Israel is the quietest, most stable, safest country in the region. For its foes, Israel is a secondary issue right now. That provides a measure of security, however temporary.
        The shape, attitude, and ideology of the Arab states that will emerge in the coming years is unknowable today. Syria, which holds massive stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, may come apart. It could become a failed state, with jihadi enclaves dominated by ideologues with sharply anti-Western, anti-Israel views, just across the border. Hizbullah continues to desire Israel's destruction, Egypt is still in play, and Jordan is hardly a sea of tranquility.
        Israel's greatest security worry, however, lies in Iran. Uranium-enriching Iran may have just bought itself more time to move ahead with its banned program. (The Atlantic)
  • The Future of European Jewry - Michel Gurfinkiel
    European Judaism looks healthy and secure. Religious and cultural activities are everywhere on the rise. Many European capitals now harbor major Jewish museums or Holocaust memorials. Yet, despite all their success and achievement, the majority of European Jews, seconded by many Jewish and non-Jewish experts, insist that catastrophe may lie ahead.
        A large-scale survey commissioned by the EU's Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) tells a tale of widespread and persistent anti-Semitism. More than one in four Jews report experiencing anti-Semitic harassment at least once in the twelve months preceding the survey; and between two-fifths and one-half in France, Belgium, and Hungary have considered emigrating because they feel unsafe. In France, since 2000, 7,650 anti-Semitic incidents have been reliably reported. All over Europe, with exceptions here and there, the story is much the same.
        Robert Wistrich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, author of definitive works on the history and dynamics of anti-Semitism, has concluded that although the final endpoint of European Jewry may be decades in coming, "any clear-sighted and sensible Jew who has a sense of history would understand that this is the time to get out."  The writer is the founder and president of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute in Paris. (Mosaic)
  • International NGOs: "Global Conscience" or Powerful Political Actors? - Dr. Rephael Ben-Ari
    Nearly 40,000 international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) are active in the world today. INGOs are not elected bodies and are not accountable to the public. Without any international mechanism of accreditation and regulation of INGOs under international law, these organizations enjoy complete freedom of action.
        As a result, anyone, anywhere can establish an INGO and start issuing reports that would then be relied on by the media, or by national courts and international tribunals. The writer, former legal adviser to the Israel Mission in the Netherlands, teaches public and criminal international law. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israelis Create "Super Plants" that Resist Drought
    Researchers in Israel have grown genetically engineered plants that can live longer and resist long periods without water and can yield more produce. Scientists from the Faculty of Biology at the Technion in Haifa have created "super plants" by modifying the longevity hormone zytokinin. Technion biology professor Simon Gepstein explained that in plants, ageing comes when zytokinin levels drops. Researchers prevented the breakdown of the hormone and made it stay higher for a longer period, preventing ageing.
        "The vegetables and fruits now last double and sometimes three times more after they are cut if they come from the genetically modified plants. I took a modified lettuce home and it took 21 days for it to start getting brown, whereas normal lettuce goes bad in five or six days." Moreover, they only need 30% of the water normal plants need. "Our plants are not dangerous for human health because we have altered them using their own components. They have nothing added to them."  (IANS)
  • President Awards Prizes for Volunteerism - Greer Fay Cashman
    David Shporer, 94, and Hannah Laor, 89, were among the recipients of the President's Prize for Volunteerism at a ceremony held on Wednesday in Jerusalem. Shporer founded, funded and developed various projects to help young people with learning disabilities go to university; enable young people from difficult socioeconomic backgrounds find jobs; create a special playground for physically challenged children; and generally care for the poor and the infirm.
        Hannah Laor, one of the founders of Ilan, the Foundation for Handicapped Children, still personally deals with the disabled and their families, visiting them in their homes. Laor has been a volunteer for 75 years. (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian Leaders Must Halt the Hatred - Andrea Levin (Boston Globe)

  • As renewed negotiations get underway between Israelis and Palestinians, it's vital for the success of the endeavor to identify what went wrong in earlier discussions.
  • Secretary of State John Kerry wisely stressed on July 30 the central aim of "ending the conflict" and the "end of claims" against Israel. These are basic tenets of any rational definition of peace and would mean, finally, the end of the drive to remove the Jewish state.
  • They would mean genuine acceptance by Palestinian Arabs of the sovereign rights of a Jewish nation in what is an overwhelmingly Muslim-dominated region.
  • Yet the Palestinian leadership over the two decades since the signing of the landmark Oslo Accords in 1993 has failed to prepare the Palestinian people for peace with their Jewish neighbors.
  • Official Palestinian media regularly glorify terrorist violence, deny Jewish ties to the Land of Israel, denigrate Jews in crude stereotypes, vow expulsion of the Jews, and claim all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea as Palestine.
  • The cycle of indoctrination and violence cannot be broken without the Palestinians' own leadership acting to halt the hatred and declare clearly in Arabic to Arab audiences that Israel and its people have a rightful place in the Middle East.

    The writer is executive director and president of CAMERA, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
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