Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
October 17, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

New Video: Why Israel Opposes International Forces in the Jordan Valley (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Israel's national ethos is one of self-reliance. International peacekeepers have been proven unreliable in the Middle East in every instance.
    The Israeli army has been deployed along the steep slopes of the Jordan Valley since 1967, allowing it to thwart terrorist infiltration and deter potential attacks.
    This critical zone cannot be turned over to international forces with an abysmal track record in Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. Israel must defend itself by itself.

Iran's Bloody Clampdown Continues at Home - Lisa Daftari (Fox News)
    While the new Iranian regime is busy trying to convince the outside world it is moderate, Tehran has clamped down even harder on human rights and stepped up public executions in recent weeks.
    An estimated 560 people have been executed in Iran this year, including as many as 250 since President Rouhani took office in August, according to human rights advocates.
    Between Sept. 11 and Sept. 25, Iranian officials hanged 50 people, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
    Iran's prisons are filled with journalists, bloggers, political activists, Christians and Bahais.
    See also Iranian Man Who Survived Execution Must Be Hanged Again, Judges Say - Saeed Kamali Dehghan (Guardian-UK)

Arabs Boycott Jerusalem Municipal Elections - Khaled Abu Toameh (Gatestone Institute)
    As Israelis prepare to cast their ballots in municipal elections next week, tens of thousands of eligible Arab voters in Jerusalem will once again boycott the democratic process at the urging of the PLO.
    The boycott has severely harmed the interests of the Arab residents, who have been denied the chance to have representatives on the municipal council who would fight for better services and the improvement of their living conditions.
    Arabs make up 25-30% of the city's eligible voters, which means that they could have 7-8 representatives in the 31-seat municipal council.
    The boycott has denied Arabs the opportunity to be directly involved in the planning of their neighborhoods.

Hizbullah Claims Capture of Israeli Spy-Bird - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
    Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV has published images of an eagle which it claimed had an external transmitter attached to its body and an internal transmitter planted in its body.
    It claimed that using birds as spies is a well-known Israeli practice, and that wiretapped fowl have been found in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt.
    Israel's Nature and Parks Authority said the captured raptor is a Bonelli's Eagle, a rare and endangered bird that was born in an Israeli breeding center and was released into the wild two years ago.
    Tagging birds is a common practice in ornithology as it helps scientists track bird migration routes.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran, World Powers Report Progress in Nuclear Talks, Agree to Further Meetings - Joby Warrick
    Iranian and U.S. officials cited significant progress Wednesday in international talks on Iran's nuclear program, agreeing to hold the next round of formal talks on Nov. 7. The two days of talks in Geneva produced a rare direct meeting between U.S. and Iranian officials.
        At the meeting, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif laid out what Iranian officials described as a "road map" that called for resolving the nuclear dispute over several stages within a year. White House spokesman Jay Carney said the Iranian proposal "was new and represents a level of seriousness and substance we have not seen before," though he cautioned that "no one should expect a breakthrough overnight."
        U.S. officials described the Iranian proposal as extremely detailed and said there were numerous areas of disagreement. White House officials acknowledge that they face a significant challenge in selling any agreement to a skeptical Congress, which is threatening to impose even tougher sanctions on Iran unless it freezes uranium enrichment. (Washington Post)
  • Turkey Blows Israel's Cover for Iranian Spy Ring - David Ignatius
    The Turkish government of Prime Minister Erdogan last year disclosed to Iranian intelligence the identities of up to 10 Iranians who had been meeting inside Turkey with their Mossad case officers. Knowledgeable sources describe the Turkish action as a "significant" loss of intelligence and "an effort to slap the Israelis."
        Israeli intelligence officers are said to have described Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan to CIA officials as "the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security station chief in Ankara." The U.S. continued to deal with Fidan on sensitive matters, however. (Washington Post)
  • Disposal of Chemical Arms in Syria Progresses
    Inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have reached 11 of Syria's 20 sites, the agency said Wednesday, and had verified their contents and begun destroying equipment at six. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • EU Cooperating with Israel to Bypass West Bank Sanctions - Eli Bardenstein
    The EU is cooperating with Israel in an attempt to find a solution to bypass the EU's new regulations regarding Israeli activities in the territories. The main reason behind the move is the EU wish to see Israel as part of its "Horizon 2020" scientific project. Europe will not cancel the sanctions, so the two sides are seeking creative solutions to bypass them. (Maariv-Hebrew)
  • Netanyahu: Iran the Main Obstacle to Peace with Palestinians - Haviv Rettig Gur
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday: "Iran is a large empire. Its offshoots are arrayed throughout the Middle East. It sends them against us. It is in de facto control of Syria, it controls Lebanon, it controls half the Palestinians through Hamas."
        Iran's leaders "have no interest in compromise or an agreement," Netanyahu added. "They have the power to control any territory we withdraw from. Their goal is to remove us from here." "We want a real, sustainable peace, not a temporary one. This peace will have to take into account the real forces that surround us: Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, [Islamic] Jihad, al-Qaeda." "If we don't secure the areas from which we withdraw, there won't be peace."  (Times of Israel)
  • Israel, Arab States Work Together to Battle Iran's Nuclear Plan - Attila Somfalvi
    Israel is becoming a beacon in the eyes of Arab and Gulf states in the region who see it as a steady and reliable ally against Iran's nuclear threat. The countries also cooperate in the matter of terror and the spread of al-Qaeda-linked groups in Sinai, Syria, and Africa, and in the struggle against the Iran-Syria axis. "Common interests were created within regional instability," explained an Israeli source. (Ynet News)
  • Incitement Against Israel Part of Palestinian Culture - Lahav Harkov
    Palestinian incitement is ruining the chances of ending the conflict, Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Wednesday as he presented his ministry's report on incitement to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. The report gave dozens of examples from Palestinian curricula, television programs and official PA websites to show the level of incitement. "Incitement is a widespread phenomenon that is an inseparable part of the Palestinian culture and is not just among lone extremists," Steinitz said. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • How Iran Will Play the West on Nukes - Amir Taheri
    Iran and the P5+1 group have been engaged in talks in one form or another for almost two decades without even agreeing on what they were talking about. The core issue, once again spelled out by Iran's Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei last week, is this: The Islamic Republic sees itself as successor to the Soviet Union in the role of chief challenger to "American global hegemony." It hopes to dominate the Middle East, and beyond it the Muslim world, with a narrative of jihad and eventual triumph of Islam.
        To that end, Iran needs to champion the destruction of Israel to attract support from "Arab masses." The Islamic Republic also needs, in Khamenei's words, "complete mastery of nuclear science and technology." Rouhani's aim is to achieve recognition by the international community of Iran's right to enrich uranium and produce plutonium. (New York Post)
  • In Syria: The Bad Against the Bad - Udi Dekel and Orit Perlov
    The diplomatic agreement for dismantlement of Syria's chemical weapons has granted President Assad new legitimacy. At the same time, the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, and the Free Syrian Army, have lost their legitimacy as leaders of the opposition. Once again, the U.S. is seen as a superpower that abandons its allies - this time, the National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Egypt's New Pharaoh: Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi - Raymond Stock
    In his year of study at the U.S. Army War College in 2006, al-Sisi produced a brief thesis on his views of Islam and the state. In it, al-Sisi declares, "There is hope for democracy in the Middle East over the long term; however, it may not be a model that follows a Western template." Those who know al-Sisi say that he grew up in a family that was religiously conservative - not radical - and extremely nationalistic. Indeed, it is that sense of nationalism which seems to have the upper hand in motivating the actions he's taken thus far.
        Al-Sisi has returned to direct and confident military cooperation with Israel in order to prevent al-Qaeda-affiliated groups (believed to have cooperated with the Muslim Brotherhood) from staging deadly incidents along the sensitive border. (Foreign Policy Research Institute)
  • No One in Israel Would Prefer Assad to Jihadists - Mordechai Kedar
    Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam at Bar-Ilan University, said in an interview: "No one in Israel would prefer Assad to jihadists. Even jihadists from al-Qaeda pose no strategic threat to Israel's existence." "Certainly, there is no love lost between jihadists and the Zionist movement....But those organizations have no weapons of mass destruction. They have no ballistic missiles or powerful anti-aircraft systems, whereas the Syrian government has them."  (Voice of Russia)

America's Aid and Egypt's Indifference - Dina Khayat (Wall Street Journal Europe)

  • The State Department released a statement on Oct. 9 saying that it would be "recalibrating" its assistance provided to Egypt, while it would continue working with the interim Egyptian government to help it move toward democracy and inclusiveness.
  • However, what the millions of Egyptians who protested Morsi's rule on June 30 heard was that the Obama Administration stands firmly behind the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • To call the curtailing of U.S. aid a prod to the Egyptian government toward democracy is disingenuous. There was neither outrage nor threats from Washington last November, when Morsi issued a constitutional declaration that effectively put him above the law.
  • When Gen. Sisi appeared on television on July 3, the day Morsi was ousted, he was flanked by the Sheikh of Al Azhar University, the Coptic Pope, women, youth, politicians left and right, and representatives of Salafist groups.
  • That contrasts starkly with Morsi, who surrounded himself solely with members of the Brotherhood. Calls by the Obama administration for inclusiveness should have begun then.

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