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November 8, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian TV Airs Animated Strike on Tel Aviv, Dimona - Haviv Rettig Gur (Times of Israel)
    Iranian state television aired a computer-animated video that showed an imagined Iranian missile strike on Israel, including IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, the Dimona nuclear installation in the Negev, the Azrieli Mall and Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Israel Says Did Not Poison Arafat (Reuters)
    Israel said on Thursday it did not poison Yasser Arafat.
    "We never made a decision to harm him physically," Energy Minister Silvan Shalom, who in 2004 served as foreign minister and as a member of Israel's security cabinet, told Israel Radio.
    See also Arafat Polonium - Junk Science - Brian Thomas (Times of Israel)
    The entire resurrection of the Arafat poisoned by Polonium-210 story is complete junk science.
    Polonium-210 has a half life of 138 days. With the most amazing measuring equipment, you couldn't find a piece of radioactive Polonium-210 eight years after it was made.

Palestinians Aren't Paying Israel for Electricity - Niv Elis and Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom on Thursday threatened to cut off Israel's electric supply to the Palestinian Authority if it did not pay its massive debts.
    "They have over a billion shekels [$282 million] of debt and they'll need to pay them," he said. "We sent them a letter this week and if they don't give the right response, we will be forced to act."

Palestinian Leader: Unlike Other Arab Countries, Allah Blessed the Palestinian People with a Clear Enemy (MEMRI)
    Ya'qub Qarash, a member of the Palestinian National Council, said on Palestinian Authority TV on November 1, 2013:
    "Allah be praised, we, the Palestinian people in this age, were honored by God, who opened the passage to Paradise, by opening the gates of martyrdom to us."
    "Our Palestinian people is fighting a clear and overt enemy, and those of us who are killed in this fighting are martyrs indeed. We are not engaged in civil strife, as in Egypt or Syria, or some other Arab countries."
    "Allah blessed the Palestinian people with a clear and well-known enemy, against whom the fighting is an undeniable right. Anyone killed by this enemy is a martyr beyond any doubt."
    "Allah absolves the martyr of his sins with the first drop of his blood....He is welcomed by the angels....He is married off to the black-eyed virgins."

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Wishful Thinking on U.S.-Iran Nuclear Deal - Ariel Ben Solomon (Jerusalem Post)
    Michael Rubin, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official, told the Jerusalem Post:
    "The chances that Iran will come in from the cold are between zero and nil."
    "First of all, let's not scapegoat Israel for a demand of zero enrichment. That is what four unanimous or near-unanimous Security Council resolutions demand of Iran."
    "There's a lot of wishful thinking going on as diplomats and politicians substitute advocacy for analysis." It is clear that the regime is signaling "a change in tactics, not policy."

Smuggling into Gaza by Sea on the Rise (Israel Defense Forces)
    Lt. Col. Eli Soholitzky, commander of the naval squadron in charge of security in Gaza, said there has been significant growth in the number of smuggling attempts into Gaza from the sea in recent months.
    "There are several smuggling attempts that happen each week....As the process of closing tunnels from Egypt to Gaza becomes more efficient, the smuggling attempts by sea increase."
    At the top of the list of items smuggled are various types of weapons, such as rockets and firearms.

BBC Rapped over Six-Day War Documentary (BBC News)
    The BBC Trust has upheld a complaint against Dan Snow's "History of Syria," in which the presenter implied that Israel had started the Six-Day War.
    Snow stated that: "In 1967, Assad was Minister of Defense when Israel launched a series of strikes against Egypt, Jordan and Syria."
    The trust concluded: "particularly given the evidence that Jordan launched attacks on Israel before Israel's forces were engaged, it was not duly accurate to describe the events on 5 June 1967 in the way this program did."

The 2013 Municipal Elections in the Israeli Arab Communities - Nadia Hilou (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
    There are 257 local authorities in Israel, 85 of which are in the Arab sector.
    The campaigns for the Oct. 22, 2013, municipal elections were generally shaped by the traditional culture, with the elections decided on the basis of family clans, not party politics.
    Public discussion did not concern the primary issues affecting Arab residents in their daily lives.
    For the first time in 30 years, the Islamic Movement announced that it would not take part in the local elections.
    165 Arab women from all ethnic groups - Druze, Christian, and Muslim - were on the election lists in 44 Arab local authorities.
    The writer served as a member of the Knesset (Labor) during 2006-09.

Israel Trained Tanzania's First Heart Surgeon for Kids - Stephanie L. Freid (Ha'aretz)
    The Israel-based Save a Child's Heart program has been providing cardiac care to children in Tanzania since 2008, performing hundreds of procedures each year.
    A team of 20 Israeli operating-room and intensive-care nurses, anesthesiologists, perfusionists and intensive-care doctors has traveled to Mwanza, led by Dr. Lior Sasson, the head cardiothoracic surgeon at Israel's Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, to back up Godwin Godfrey, Tanzania's first and only pediatric heart surgeon.
    The team was with him during his specialization training in Israel, and they've brought a ton and half of medical gear - most of which they'll leave behind.

Malawi: 32 Students Leave on Scholarship to Israel - Mary Makhiringa (Malawi News Agency)
    Four female and 28 male students from Bunda College of Agriculture and the Natural Resources have gone to Israel for 11 months of intensive training in livestock and crop production.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Is Offered Temporary Relief from Some Sanctions If It Freezes Uranium Enrichment - Joby Warrick and William Booth
    A deal that would give Iran limited relief from economic sanctions in exchange for a temporary freeze of some of its nuclear activities was near completion Thursday, and Secretary of State John Kerry was preparing to fly to Geneva on Friday for an announcement.
        Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he understood "the Iranians are walking around very satisfied in Geneva, as well they should be, because they got everything and paid nothing. Everything they wanted. They wanted relief of sanctions after years of a grueling sanctions regime. They got that. They are paying nothing because they are not reducing in any way their nuclear enrichment capability....Israel is not obliged by this agreement, and Israel will do everything it needs to defend itself and the security of its people."  (Washington Post)
        See also Powers Seek "First-Step" Nuclear Deal with Iran in Geneva Talks - Justyna Pawlak and Fredrik Dahl
    A senior aide to a U.S. senator briefed by the White House and State Department said Washington would offer to work with Iran in a six-month confidence-building period. During that time, Washington would offer Tehran relaxed restrictions on Iran's funds held in overseas accounts. The Obama administration could also ease sanctions on trade in gold and petrochemicals.
        In exchange, Iran would stop enriching uranium to 20% and convert its existing stockpile of 20% uranium to an oxide form suitable for processing into reactor fuel and take other measures to slow the program.
        The aide said the concessions being sought would "neither freeze nor set back" Iran's nuclear program and that the Senate would have to act immediately to impose further sanctions on Iran. (Reuters)
        See also Iranian Foreign Minister: Agreement on Nuclear Crisis Possible on Friday - Mick Krever
    An "understanding or agreement" on Iran's nuclear program may be possible as soon as Friday, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Thursday. "There won't be a suspension of our enrichment program in its entirety," Zarif said. "Iran suspended its entire enrichment program from 2003 to 2005. So we've tested that. And it didn't produce positive results. We're not going to test that again."  (CNN)
  • Netanyahu Slams U.S. Offer on Iran Nukes - Josh Gerstein
    During a meeting in Jerusalem Thursday with a visiting delegation of U.S. lawmakers, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the offer is a "grievous historic error" that could be "the deal of the century for Iran."
        "Iran is essentially giving nothing and it's getting all the air taken out - the air begins to be taken out of the pressure cooker that it took years to build in the sanctions regime. What we're having today is a situation that Iran is giving up, at best, a few days of enrichment time, but the whole international regime's sanctions policy has the air taken out of it."
        White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed Thursday that the U.S. is proposing a limited and "easily reversible" easing of some economic sanctions, if Iran agrees to freeze its nuclear efforts. "There is no daylight between Israel and the United States, between the president and the prime minister, when it comes to the objective of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon," Carney said. (Politico)
        See also Netanyahu: Easing Pressure on Iran an Historic Mistake
    At a strategic planning summit with Jewish leaders from abroad, Prime Minister Netanyahu said Thursday: "Israel understands that there are proposals on the table in Geneva today that would ease the pressure on Iran for concessions that are not concessions at all. This proposal would allow Iran to retain the capabilities to make nuclear weapons. Israel totally opposes these proposals. I believe that adopting them would be a mistake of historic proportions."
        "They must be rejected outright. The sanctions regime has brought the Iranian economy to the edge of the abyss and the P5+1 can compel Iran to fully dismantle its nuclear weapons program. This means ending all enrichment and stopping all work on the heavy water plutonium reactor. Anything less will make a peaceful solution less likely."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Jews in Europe Report a Surge in Anti-Semitism - Andrew Higgins
    Fear of rising anti-Semitism in Europe has prompted nearly a third of European Jews to consider emigration because they do not feel safe in their home country, according to a detailed survey of Jewish perceptions by the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency that monitors discrimination. 66% of respondents said they considered anti-Semitism to be a major problem in their countries, while 76% said the situation had become more acute over the past five years. More than three-quarters of Jews with experience of anti-Semitic harassment said they had not reported the incidents to the police.
        27% said the perpetrators of anti-Semitic harassment had "Muslim extremist views," 22% said they had "left-wing political views" and 19% blamed people with "right-wing views."  (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Attacks Israelis at West Bank Bus Stop - Yoav Zitun
    "A Palestinian opened fire at a civilian bus stop at Tapuah Junction near Ariel, using an improvised weapon" on Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement. "In order to prevent casualties, IDF soldiers in the area opened fire towards the terrorist." The shooter was killed. Five Israeli civilians were at the bus stop. (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinians Throw Firebomb at Car, Wound Israeli Couple
    Palestinians threw a firebomb at a passing car traveling east of Efrat in the West Bank on Friday, injuring an Israeli woman and her husband. Three children, who were also in the car, managed to get out before the car caught fire. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinian Tries to Stab Border Policeman at Checkpoint
    A Palestinian man who brandished a knife at a West Bank checkpoint near Jerusalem and ignored calls from Border Police officers to stop was shot and killed on Friday, a police spokesman said. (Reuters-Jerusalem Post)
  • Defense Minister Ya'alon: Palestinian Claims Don't End at the 1967 Lines - Mitch Ginsburg
    Regarding the prospect of solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Thursday, "We are handling an open-ended and ongoing conflict, which from the Palestinian perspective does not end with the 1967 borders." Depicting Palestinian society as unwaveringly attached to Sheikh Munis and Majdal - the Arab names for the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Ashkelon - and Palestinian youth as educated to believe that Akko and Haifa are Palestinian ports, he said, "There's a situation here that does not have a solution now, but in the long term."
        "There are those who know and explain to us what the solution is, and they know how to reach it in a short period of time. There are some who say this conflict is only territorial, that it began in '67 and will end along the '67 lines, but I haven't heard any Palestinian leadership, including [Abbas], say that it is willing to consider any territorial concession as an end to the conflict and a culmination of claims, and to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people."  (Times of Israel)
  • Kerry Blames Israel for Lack of Progress in Peace Talks - Raphael Ahren
    On Thursday, we all got a much better look at what John Kerry really thinks about progress - and blame - in the new peace effort he worked so strenuously to revive. In a joint interview with Israel's Channel 2 TV and the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, Kerry basically blamed the Israeli government for stealing the Palestinians' land.
        Kerry seemed to place the blame for the failure to make rapid and major progress in negotiations overwhelmingly on Israel, with no acknowledgement of two intifadas, relentless anti-Israel incitement in the Palestinian territories, the Hamas takeover of Gaza and the constant rocket fire from the Strip.
        In lamenting the IDF's presence in the West Bank, Kerry positioned himself directly opposite Netanyahu, for whom an ongoing Israeli security presence in the Jordan Valley is a stated crucial condition for an agreement. He showed no evident concern over the danger of a Hamas takeover in the West Bank were the IDF to withdraw.
        His line of thinking reflects much international conventional wisdom on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - the assumption that Israel could attain peace with the Palestinians if only it wanted to, but that it just doesn't want to enough. Many Israelis would counter that Israel cannot impose terms on a Palestinian leadership that still demands a "right of return" that would constitute suicide for the Jewish state.
        Israel is only too aware of how easily the relative calm could deteriorate, and thus is wary of relinquishing territory to a Palestinian leadership that might not be in a position to retain power and honor any accord amid sweeping regional instability. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • A Korean Ghost Lurks at U.S.-Iran Nuclear Talks - John Bolton
    Are Iran and North Korea cooperating on their nuclear-weapons programs? If so, their efforts undermine, and may preclude, Barack Obama's diplomatic attempts to address these threats separately. The issue is especially timely now as Mr. Obama's negotiators rush to make a deal with Iran.
        Back in North Korea, the Kim regime has been enriching uranium for more than a decade, as Washington concluded in 2002 and Pyongyang admitted shortly thereafter. The enrichment program significantly expanded in 2010, in full public view at Yongbyon, unlike earlier efforts which were concealed at a still-unknown location.
        The U.S. and its allies clearly have significant gaps in their knowledge about nuclear cooperation between Iran and North Korea. But the implications of any such cooperation are profound. Given the closed nature of both rogue states, Washington is long overdue in increasing its relevant intelligence-collection efforts and re-examining whether Russia or China are also involved. The writer is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. (Wall Street Journal)
  • How to Test Iran's Strategy - Avner Golov
    Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei would support an early agreement with the West only if Rouhani can reach a deal that will preserve Iranian nuclear capabilities. Otherwise, Khamenei might prefer to drag out the talks indefinitely before they are pronounced a failure, thereby further advancing Iran's nuclear capabilities and reducing the threat of a Western assault on its nuclear infrastructure.
        To test Iran's strategy, the U.S. must shorten the timetable for reaching an agreement in order to create a final, comprehensive package deal that will resolve all the aspects of the Iranian nuclear issue. This will allow the West to determine whether the Iranians are dragging their feet or not. Confidence-building measures must be made conditional on significant concessions at the end of a short, predetermined period of time.
        Sanctions against Iran must not be lifted until the implementation of the final agreement; removing them sooner could result in their collapse and the loss of the West's principal leverage against Iran before the end of the talks. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • The Shape of an Iran Deal - David Ignatius
    Israeli experts have insisted that Iran must show it doesn't have "breakout" capability by mothballing centrifuges (especially the newer, more efficient models) and by refraining from bringing online a planned heavy-water nuclear reactor at Arak. Otherwise, say the Israelis, the Iranians could continue to creep closer to breakout capability under the cover of negotiations. (Washington Post)

  • Other Issues

  • Is Israel Doomed? - Aaron David Miller
    Secretary of State John Kerry repeatedly talks about "last chances" for a two-state solution. This narrative assumes that if Israel makes the right choices, then a conflict-ending solution to the Palestinian issue and Israel's acceptance in the region can be assured. And then everyone will live happily ever after.
        But there's another narrative too. That Israel, despite all the challenges it has confronted and the odds arrayed against it, has managed to cope, survive, and prosper. Political Zionism was always a defiance of history, and will continue to be. This narrative suggests that it's a cruel and unforgiving world when it comes to Israelis and Jews.
        It posits the notion that there are no truly happy endings, only imperfect ones: That ending the conflict with the Palestinians will be hard, if not impossible, to do; that at best only a temporary solution to the Iranian nuclear issue can be found (and even that could lead to military confrontation); and that the Arab world - far from turning into a land of functioning democracies - will be filled with dysfunction and uncertainty for many years to come. So, while Israel's actions make a difference, solutions to all these problems may well prove elusive and imperfect, regardless of what Israel does or doesn't do.
        This line of thinking holds out the possibility that what's in store for Israel is a difficult path of maneuver in a harsh world. But by no means is it a course that will lead to its ruin. The writer is vice president at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. (Foreign Policy)
  • Saudi Arabia's Shadow War to Topple the Assad Regime - David Kenner
    Saudi Arabia, having largely abandoned hope that the U.S. will spearhead international efforts to topple the Assad regime, is embarking on a major new effort to train Syrian rebel forces with the help of Pakistani instructors. Saudis described the effort as having two goals: toppling the Assad regime and weakening al-Qaeda-linked groups in Syria.
        Carnegie Middle East Center fellow Yezid Sayigh first noted the use of Pakistani instructors, writing that the Saudis were planning to build a Syrian rebel army of roughly 40,000 to 50,000 soldiers. The effort relies on a network of Saudi allies in addition to Pakistan, such as Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and France. Sayigh wrote that Saudi Arabia is attempting to build "a new national army" for the rebels - a force with an "avowedly Sunni ideology." In addition to its training program in Jordan, Saudi Arabia also helped organize the unification of 50 rebel brigades into "the Army of Islam" under the leadership of Zahran Alloush, a Salafist commander whose father is a Saudi-based cleric.
        Saudi Arabia has given more aid to Pakistan than to any non-Arab country, according to former CIA officer Bruce Riedel, and also allegedly helped fund Islamabad's nuclear program.
        "The biggest problem facing the Saudis now is the same one facing the U.S., France, and anyone else interested in helping the rebels: the fragmentation of the rebels into groups fighting each other for local and regional dominance rather than cooperating to overthrow Assad," said David Ottaway, a scholar at the Wilson Center. (Foreign Policy)
  • Nothing Like It in Human History - Hillel Halkin
    There's been nothing like it in human history. A small and ancient people loses its land and forgets how to speak its language; wanders defenselessly for hundreds, thousands, of years throughout the world with its God and its sacred books; meets with persecution, violence, dispossession, banishment, mass murder; refuses to give up; refuses to surrender its faith; continues to believe that it will one day be restored to the land it lost; manages in the end, by dint of its own efforts, against all odds, to gather itself from the four corners of the earth and return to that land; learns again to speak the language of its old books; learns again to bear arms and defend itself; wrests its new-old home from the people who had replaced it; entrenches itself; builds; fructifies; fortifies; repulses the enemies surrounding it; grows and prospers in the face of all threats. (Mosaic)

  • Weekend Features

  • 75 Years after Kristallnacht
    Daniel Heiman was just shy of 12 years old when the Nazis broke into the building in Nuremburg where he lived with his family. They destroyed his aunt's home. They threw a neighbor out the window to his death.
        The family had lived in Germany at least 200 years. Many served as officers in the German army in World War I including his father Max and uncle Leopold, who lost an arm. Another uncle, a pilot in the German air force, fell in the war. All Heiman's uncles were arrested on Kristallnacht and taken to the Dachau concentration camp. (Ha'aretz)
        See also The Shadow of Kristallnacht - Mark Hetfield
    This year, the German Film Awards were dominated by "Oh Boy." In the movie, an elderly stranger confesses to a young Berliner he meets in a bar that, as a boy, he watched his father join a mob to smash the windows of Jewish-owned businesses, including that very bar.
        The old man was recalling Kristallnacht, a Nazi-instigated overnight rampage in which some 1,000 synagogues and 7,000 Jewish-owned businesses were destroyed in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. At least 91 Jews were killed. Instead of arresting the perpetrators, the Nazis rounded up 30,000 Jews and sent them to concentration camps. The night of Nov. 9, 1938, marked the Nazis' transition from discrimination to genocide. (Los Angeles Times)
  • The Devil That Never Dies: Global Antisemitism by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen - David Nirenberg
    Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's first book, Hitler's Willing Executioners (1996), had the blunt thesis: Inspired by a uniquely German "eliminationist anti-Semitism" inherited from the Middle Ages, ordinary Germans killed millions of Jews during the Holocaust because they wanted to.
        "Eliminationist anti-Semitism" is also the subject of Goldhagen's new book, The Devil That Never Dies, but now the entire world is in its grip, with the possible exception of the U.S. Goldhagen offers numerous examples of individuals - from human rights advocates and French ambassadors to any number of Muslim politicians - who openly advocate the elimination of the State of Israel and its people. Today it seems acceptable, even praiseworthy in many circles, to move from criticizing Israel to suggesting its disappearance.
        That move seldom occurs in our thinking about other nations, no matter when they were founded or how loathsome we find them. But many apparently express the wish that Israel would disappear, although it is (by Goldhagen's creative reckoning) the sixth-oldest continuous democracy in the world.
        In many parts of the Muslim world, surveys suggest that more than 95% of the population has a "very unfavorable" view of Jews. The one notable exception is among Muslims who are citizens of Israel, for whom the rate is 35%. (Washington Post)
  • Responding to Pro-Palestinian Solidarity Tours - Ardie Geldman
    As a member of the Efrat Town Council, I have spoken with nearly 4,000, mostly non-Jewish, visitors to Efrat, a community of some 10,000 residents that looks a lot like a middle-class American suburb. Their tour itinerary is designed by one of the many pro-Palestinian NGOs and includes a brief stopover in a "settlement," though all the visitors are clearly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.
        A critical stop is a pre-arranged tour of the Dheisheh and/or Aida refugee camps, both adjacent to Bethlehem. Dheisheh is operated under the auspices of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). When a stopover in Efrat follows a visit to Dheisheh or Aida, the questions the visitors ask convey the mistaken assumption that Israel forcibly interred the original Palestinian residents in these camps in 1948 and that Israel remains responsible for the camps' continued existence and their current squalid conditions. Yet UNRWA has resisted any contraction of its operations, and responsibility for services to the camps' Palestinian residents were never transferred to the Palestinian Authority, with which it competes for funds and responsibilities.
        The western edge of the Dheisheh refugee camp lies directly across the road from Ducha, a section of the Palestinian town of Beit Ja'alah. Ducha is noted for its large and ornate homes, not a few with expensive cars parked in their driveways. Years ago, some residents of Dheisheh began building homes in Ducha while retaining their homes in Dheisheh. The camp home, typically a small slum, is the only home that foreign visitors are taken to see; they remain unaware of Ducha. Even wealthy Ducha families still receive UNRWA financial support and services as long as they officially retain residency in Dheisheh. (New English Review)

How Iran Is Winning the War of Words - Emily B. Landau (Ha'aretz)

  • Iranian spokesmen incessantly repeat certain messages until they begin to sound like accepted common knowledge. This tactic has been employed regarding statements that Iran has an "inalienable right" to enrich uranium; that the international community accuses Iran of working on a military program but has never come up with evidence to support this; that Iran has answered all outstanding questions to the satisfaction of the IAEA; and that Iran has no intention of developing nuclear weapons.
  • These statements are either untrue or only partially true, but by incessantly repeating them, Iran intends to make them sound absolutely true.
  • When demands are directed at Iran, Iran simply turns them around and fires them right back at the international community. So, if the international community says it needs to have confidence in Iran, Iran says it needs to have confidence in the international community. And if Iran needs to show its seriousness in the negotiation, Iran says the international community must demonstrate that it is serious.
  • Iran violated its commitment to the international community not to work on a military nuclear program, leading to the imposition of sanctions. The negotiations should be about compelling Iran to return to its commitments. Yet today they appear to be about both sides having to make concessions, as if both sides are equally at fault.

    The writer is a senior research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.
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