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November 22, 2013
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In-Depth Issues:

New IAEA Report: Iran Laying Groundwork for 2,000 Advanced Centrifuges - Dore Gold (Israel Hayom)
    While press reports claimed that Iran had virtually frozen its nuclear program in the last few months, they missed a key point made in the IAEA's latest report.
    The report states that "preparatory installation work" had been completed for another 12 IR-2m cascades at Natanz. A "cascade" contains 164 centrifuges.
    That means Iran has laid the groundwork for another nearly 2,000 advanced centrifuges.
    Thus, not only has Iran been enriching more uranium, it has also been quietly working on a big expansion of its Natanz facility.
    A sharp increase in the number of fast centrifuges totally changes the scenario regarding the importance of 20%-enriched uranium.
    As Gary Samore, who served on the U.S. National Security Council during President Obama's first term, has recently warned: "Ending production of 20%-enriched uranium is not sufficient to prevent breakout because Iran can produce nuclear weapons using low-enriched uranium and a large number of centrifuge machines."

Egyptian Army Chief Sisi Does Not Rule Out Presidential Bid (Reuters-Daily News-Egypt)
    Egyptian army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who led the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi, held open the possibility he might run for the presidency in an interview published on Thursday in the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Seyassah.
    It is widely assumed Sisi would win an election. His public profile has grown since he ousted Morsi and he is lionized by state media.
    On foreign affairs, he said a shift in Egypt's alliances was "out of the question" in response to speculation that Cairo was distancing itself from the U.S.
    In a sign that the U.S. wants to mend fences with Cairo, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood had "stolen" the Egyptian revolution - a view in line with the Egyptian government's.

Azerbaijan Arrests Iranian Suspected of Planning Attack on Israeli Embassy - Eli Leon (Israel Hayom)
    Azerbaijani security forces arrested Iranian national Hassan Faraji, 31, earlier this month on suspicion he was planning to carry out a terrorist attack on the Israeli Embassy in the capital, Baku.
    A search of his apartment revealed numerous notes and photographs leading investigators to believe he was planning to carry out attacks against Israeli targets.

FBI Video Shows Al-Qaeda in Kentucky Handling Heavy Weapons - James Gordon Meek (ABC News)
    An al-Qaeda-linked terrorist, who was resettled in the U.S. as an Iraq War refugee after allegedly killing American soldiers, was caught on camera in Kentucky handling heavy weapons that the FBI said he believed would be sent to insurgents back in Iraq.
    The 2010 video was part of a broader ABC News investigation into the flawed refugee vetting program, which officials said may have let "dozens" of terrorists into the country.
    In the video, Waad Ramadan Alwan is seen expertly field stripping what the FBI identified as a Russian PKM machine gun.
    Other still images provided by the FBI show Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi handling a Stinger missile launcher and a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher.
    The weapons seen in the video were supplied by the FBI as part of a sting operation after being rendered inoperable.

Syracuse Follows Brandeis in Halting Ties with Al-Quds U. - Henry Rome (Jerusalem Post)
    Syracuse University "indefinitely" suspended its relationship with Al-Quds University in east Jerusalem on Thursday after Islamic Jihad held a Nazi-style demonstration on the Palestinian university's campus.
    The decision came three days after Brandeis University severed its relationship with Al-Quds.

Philosopher-General in Israel: Peace Is the Time to Prepare for War - Jodi Rudoren (New York Times)
    Outgoing Brig. Gen. Herzl Halevi, commander of the northern Galilee region, is convinced Israel's next war with Lebanon will break out on his successor's tour.
    "The interesting issue is how you create a longer gap between the wars....We are ready to pay this price to make a very decisive and strong war to make the gap as long as possible."
    Hizbullah is seen as Iran's proxy and the boots on the ground in global terrorist attacks.
    Israeli military officials talk about the group's swelling arsenal of more than 100,000 rockets - and about Israel's meticulous preparation for a quick, intense campaign in Lebanese cities and villages where, as one recently put it, "houses consist of a living room and a missile room."

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The Real Water Situation in Israel - Uri Resnick (Los Angeles Times)
    Saree Makdisi attacked Israel on Monday in a Los Angeles Times op-ed over the water situation in Israel and the West Bank.
    On the eve of the Six-Day War in 1967, the Palestinians had at their disposal 65 million cubic meters of natural freshwater per year. By 2006, because of intensive Israeli investment in water infrastructure in Palestinian areas and increased access to Israel's supply, the figure was 180 million cubic meters.
    In 1995, as part of the Oslo Accords, Israel and the Palestinians signed a water agreement, which is still in force. Israel has scrupulously abided by the agreement and has over the years even gone significantly beyond it in the Palestinians' favor.
    The sad truth is that Israel's efforts to assist the Palestinians in improving the water and sewage systems in the West Bank and Gaza have largely been met with politically motivated refusal, causing severe damage to the environment shared by both sides.
    A combination of proper pipe maintenance, introduction of water reclamation technologies and desalination could have an enormously positive effect on the Palestinians' water use.
    Imagine if even a fraction of the energy devoted to making misleading claims about Israel were devoted to cooperation on water infrastructure.
    The writer is the deputy consul general of Israel in Los Angeles.

In Israel, Water Where There Was None - Erin Ailworth (Boston Globe)
    On the chalky lower slopes of the Hebron Hills, in an area that gets less rainfall than most parts of Texas, Yatir forest - a man-made forest of more than 4 million trees - and the vineyards it surrounds are potent symbols of Israel's battle with nature.
    With science, technology, and a good amount of chutzpah, the arid country has figured out how to squeeze enough water from a parched landscape to sustain a nation.
    As spreading deserts, growing populations, and pollution make water an increasingly precious commodity around the world, Israeli companies are investing, relocating, and seeking partnerships in Massachusetts to build a U.S. platform from which to launch their global ambitions.
    State officials and entrepreneurs see collaboration with Israel as an opportunity to build another world-class technology sector, one that will create potable water from the ocean; nurture crops with treated sewage; manage water quality with software; and mine for water in much the same way precious gems are unearthed.
    If water consumption continues to grow at its current pace, demand will outstrip available resources by 40% within the next 20 years, according to a study by the global consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

More Palestinians Working in Israel - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
    The number of Palestinians employed in Israel and the West Bank settlements increased in the third quarter of 2013 over the second, to 103,000 from 96,000, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics reported Thursday.
    Of that total, 51,000 Palestinians had work permits; another 34,600 were working without permits, and 17,600 had an Israeli identity card or foreign passport.
    Some 20,000 were working in West Bank settlements, the rest in Israel.

Apple Buys Israel's PrimeSense for $345M (Reuters)
    Apple has bought PrimeSense, an Israeli maker of chips that enable 3D machine vision, for $345 million, the Calcalist financial newspaper reported Sunday.

Hamas in Comics: Terror and Tyranny in Gaza (Israel Defense Forces)
    The IDF spokesperson's unit has published a short comic book on Hamas.

Photos: The Cowboys of the Golan Heights (Daily Mail-UK)
    It looks like a scene from a Wild West film, with cattle being herded across vast plains by cowboys.
    Israeli cowboys have been growing beef cattle at Merom Golan on the Golan Heights for over 30 years.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Nuclear Talks Stumble - Joby Warrick and Anne Gearan
    Optimism for a nuclear deal with Iran seemed to wane Thursday as diplomats in Geneva struggled to find common ground on how to scale back Iran's atomic energy program. The negotiators' earlier confidence appeared to have faded as diplomats traded barbs in television interviews and warned of significant gaps between the sides. A deal to satisfy international doubts about Iran's program will turn largely on whether it can limit Iranian uranium enrichment to levels far below those used to make weapons. (Washington Post)
        See also Good Cop, Bad Cop at Geneva - Anshel Pfeffer
    Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is in charge of projecting the friendly face of "new" Iran under President Hassan Rouhani. His deputy and chief nuclear negotiator, Abbas Araghchi, is the "bad cop" who insists on major points of contention with the West. Araghchi told Iranian reporters in Geneva that Iran's demand to be allowed to continue enriching uranium was a "red line" and that the first stage of the talks would be about reducing the international sanctions on Iran's oil trade and banking system.
        Two of the main principles of the Western powers at the talks are no mention of Iran's right to enrich uranium in the interim agreement and no reduction of the banking and oil sanctions before the signing of a comprehensive and final agreement. (Ha'aretz)
  • Putin, Netanyahu Discuss Iran Nuclear Agreement - Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber
    Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Kremlin on Wednesday to discuss Israel's disapproval of a potential international nuclear agreement with Iran. Netanyahu decided to take his concerns to Putin in a bid to secure tougher terms. But Putin may be a hard sell, as Russia - which built Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant - has generally been less suspicious of Iran's nuclear ambitions.
        Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the Moscow-based Institute of the Middle East, said the chances of Putin being moved by Netanyahu's outreach were slim, although "it is 100% certain that Putin will listen to Netanyahu and even tell him he agrees with him."
        Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu were in Cairo to discuss the expansion of Russo-Egyptian defense cooperation. But according to Satanovsky, "Russia has no real interest in the Middle East." "Russian trade with the Arab world is a quarter of what it is with Finland. But in the end, it is better that profit goes into your pocket rather than into your friend's."  (Moscow Times-Russia)
        See also Russia to Design Two Space Probes for Israel
    Russia will design two space probes for Israel, President Putin said Wednesday after talks with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. "Our countries are actively cooperating in space research," Putin said. "On September 1, a Russian rocket brought an Israeli satellite into orbit."  (ITAR-TASS-Russia)
  • Khamenei: "We Fight Against the Arrogance. The U.S. Is on the Top of the Arrogance in the World"
    BBC translation of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's speech to Basij commanders on Nov. 20:
        "We are against the arrogance. We fight against the arrogance. Arrogance is a word in the Koran. It is used in the Koran for people like Pharaoh, malevolent groups which are hostile to truth and righteousness....The government of the United States of America is on the top of the arrogance in the world." [The audience repeatedly chants: "Death to America."]
        "The Zionist regime is doomed to oblivion. The Zionist regime is an imposed regime which is formed by force. None of the formations or creatures which are formed by force is durable, and neither is this one....Unfortunately, some European countries cringe before this creature which is not worthy of the name of a human being, before these leaders of the Zionist regime, who look like beasts and who cannot be called human."  (BBC)
        See also Decoding Khamenei's "Heroic Flexibility" - Michael Rubin
    Much of the optimism that Iran is sincere in its desire to reach a nuclear accord is based on the assumption that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei backs President Hassan Rouhani's diplomatic initiative. But the notion that Khamenei's call for "heroic flexibility" equates with endorsement of a diplomatic solution misreads Khamenei.
        Khamenei clarified the meaning of "heroic flexibility," telling Basij commanders on Nov. 20: "Some interpreted 'heroic flexibility' as letting go of the system's principles and ideals....These claims are contrary to reality and are an incorrect understanding." "Heroic flexibility means an artful maneuver and utilizing various methods to achieve the various goals and ideals of the Islamic system."  (Commentary)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: The Real Iran Is Chanting "Death to America, Death to Israel"
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian Jewish community leaders in Moscow on Thursday: The Iranians deny our past and repeat their commitment to wipe the State of Israel off the map. This reminds us of the dark regimes of the past that plotted against us first and then against all of humanity.
        They have now created a propaganda film in which a piano is being played and the Foreign Minister is seen talking about the need for peace. This is not the real Iran. The real Iran is what the leader of Iran, Khamenei, said yesterday. He called Jews "rabid dogs" and said that they were not human. The public responded to him with calls of "Death to America! Death to Israel!"
        Doesn't this sound familiar to you? This is the real Iran! We are not confused. They must not have nuclear weapons. And I promise you that they will not have nuclear weapons. (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Ya'alon: A Stronger Iran Means a Stronger Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad
    Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said in Ottawa on Thursday that the Iranian regime "is involved in every conflict in the Middle East and has also set up terror bases in Africa, Asia and South America. They want to defeat Western culture, and are prepared to sacrifice to achieve this."
        "The Iranians want, under the cover of the nuclear umbrella that they will have, to advance their terror activities, such as using a 'dirty bomb' at various targets in the Western world. Therefore, we must not tolerate the possibility of a nuclear Iran. One way or another, Iran's military nuclear project must be stopped."
        "We stand before the signing of a bad deal with Iran, which will allow the regime in Tehran to preserve its [uranium] enrichment capabilities and operate without pressure," he warned. "If Iran gets stronger, Hizbullah and the Islamic Jihad will get stronger. These are forces that will challenge both the West and us."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Why Netanyahu Won't Yield - Michael Oren
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been labeled a warmonger, a wolf-crier and an opponent of peace at any price because of his policies on Iran. Why would he risk international isolation and friction with crucial allies? And why, as some commentators assert, would Netanyahu jeopardize a peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear threat and drag his country - and perhaps not only his - into war?
        The answers to these questions are simple. Netanyahu is acting out of a deep sense of duty to defend Israel against an existential threat. Such dangers are rare in most countries' experience but are traumatically common in Israel's, and they render the price of ridicule irrelevant.
        When formulating policies vital to Israel's survival, the prime minister consults with Israel's renowned intelligence community. Israeli experts agree that for hegemonic purposes and internal security, the Iranian regime wants and needs the bomb. Consequently, it will employ any ruse to preserve the ability to produce a weapon in a matter of weeks while obtaining some relief from sanctions.
        Iranian leaders know - and Israel's analysts agree - that lessening the economic pressure on Iran will send an incontrovertible message to foreign companies that the sanctions are ending.
        Knowing that, Netanyahu is duty-bound to warn of Iranian subterfuge, to insist that Iran cede its centrifuges, cease enrichment, close its heavy-water plant and transfer its nuclear stockpiles abroad. He has a responsibility to explain that although Israel has the most to gain from diplomacy, it also has the most to lose from its failure. Critics can call him militant or intransigent, but Netanyahu is merely doing his job. The writer served as Israel's ambassador to the United States from 2009 to 2013. (Los Angeles Times)
  • How Bush Let Iran Go Nuclear - Ari Shavit
    If a deal on Iran's nuclear program is signed, it would represent an Iranian victory - and an American defeat. The Iranians would be able to maintain their nuclear program and continue to enrich uranium, while the Americans and their allies would loosen the economic siege on Iran and allow Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the economic oxygen needed to sustain his autocratic regime.
        Yes, Iran's race to the bomb would be slowed down - but an accord would guarantee that it would eventually cross the finish line. The Geneva mind-set resembles a Munich mind-set: It would create the illusion of peace-in-our-time while paving the way to a nuclear-Iran-in-our-time.
        The Bush administration's decision to go after Iraq rather than Iran was a fatal one. By doing so, it created a climate that made it very difficult to target Iran today. By the time American resolve was needed to fend off a genuine global threat, the necessary determination had been wasted on the wrong cause. After Iraq, America is a traumatized nation, with a limited attention span for problems in the Middle East. It has lost the ardor and wisdom needed to deal with the most dangerous of the world's evil powers. The writer is a senior columnist at Ha'aretz. (New York Times)
        See also How Obama Let Iran Go Nuclear - Rick Richman (Commentary)
  • Assessing the P5+1 Talks with Iran - Michael Herzog and Emily Landau
    Michael Herzog: The buzz in the region is about lack of U.S. resolve, that the U.S. is not sufficiently reliable here, and that the international community is eager to go for a deal, even if it is a problematic deal. This leads to two main developments.
        First, Gulf states are reaching out to Israel for dialogue because they fear not only Iran's nuclear program, but Iran being allowed to continue with its hegemonic ambitions, even being emboldened by the deal, and that they will be left alone to deal with it.
        Second, you see regional states now reaching out to other international actors aside from the U.S. You see Egypt talking with Russia about a major arms deal; you see Turkey considering China for a major air defense system; you Saudi Arabia developing ties with France.
        If there is an endgame deal after six months, Israel will evaluate it and make its decisions. If there is no deal after six months, Israel will be in a position to say it gave the process a chance but it failed, and that it can rely on diplomacy no longer.
        Emily Landau: The P5+1 have leverage over Iran, which has not been the case for years. Iran needs a negotiated deal and it cannot get sanctions relief without international cooperation. This is a transformation in the negotiations dynamic and it is important the P5+1 realizes this.
        Before the French intervention during the last round of talks, the Arak clause was problematic, proposing that Iran could not commission the facility but could continue construction in the next six months. This was no concession at all for Iran; they never planned to commission the facility within six months.
        One of the P5+1's stated goals was to freeze the situation for six months. It is therefore strange they are not insisting on a freeze on enrichment of uranium up to 3.5%, as they are insisting on a freeze up to 20%. Brig. Gen. (res.) Michael Herzog was chief of staff and senior aide to four former Israeli ministers of defense. Dr. Emily Landau is director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Project at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv. (BICOM)
  • U.S. Should Be Wary of Iran's Goal to Dominate the Middle East - Joseph Lieberman and Vance Serchuk
    The prospect of an agreement with Tehran, rather than reassure the countries most directly threatened by an Iranian nuclear weapon, is provoking unprecedented anxiety among America's Arab and Israeli allies. These countries worry the White House will accept a flawed agreement that ultimately will not prevent Iran's nuclear breakout.
        But the uneasiness of our Middle Eastern allies is also rooted in the recognition that Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is the most alarming manifestation of a much more profound strategic problem: a perceived long-standing hegemonic ambition by Iran's rulers to dominate the Middle East.
        None of this is to say that the U.S. shouldn't pursue a nuclear deal with Iran - provided the deal verifiably closes and locks the door against Tehran achieving a breakout capability. Joseph Lieberman is a former senator from Connecticut. Vance Serchuk is an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. (Washington Post)
  • The Big Truths Shaping the Iran Talks - Philip Stephens
    Tehran's acquisition of a bomb would be more than dangerous for the Middle East and for wider international security. It would most likely set off a nuclear arms race that would see Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt signing up to the nuclear club. The nuclear non-proliferation treaty would be shattered. A future regional conflict could draw Israel into launching a pre-emptive nuclear strike. This is not a region obviously susceptible to cold war disciplines of deterrence.
        Iran has mastered the nuclear cycle and has been seeking what diplomats call a breakout capability - the capacity to dash to a bomb before the international community could effectively mobilize against it. It should be possible to construct a deal that acts as a plausible restraint - and extends the timeframe for any breakout - but no amount of restrictions or intrusive monitoring can offer a certain guarantee against Tehran's future intentions. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Israel Has Concluded There Is No Credible American Military Option - David Horovitz
    Israel always knew the Obama Administration was all about "engagement" and that it would keep open the door to a diplomatic arrangement with Iran almost indefinitely. But there were those in Jerusalem who did not rule out an American resort to force, under certain circumstances, until the Syrian chemical weapons crisis over the summer. At that juncture, the horrified American public and Congressional reaction to the prospect of imminent conflict with Syria further hardened the Administration's determination to do whatever it could to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis without resorting to force. Since then, Israel has broadly concluded that there is no credible American military option.
        There is a fundamental contradiction between Secretary of State John Kerry's assurances that Israel has been kept fully updated and his insistence that Israel should not critique a deal about which it is less than fully informed.
        History would suggest that Israel is entirely capable of defying the international community to act militarily if it regards itself to be facing an existential threat. It has defied the international community in the past.
        The U.S. is a big country, war wary, a long way from Iran, and not threatened with annihilation. Israel is a small country, relatively close to Iran, potentially threatened with annihilation and with different military capabilities. If Israel's leaders find themselves faced with, on the one hand, the imperative to protect eight million Israelis and the existence of the state and, on the other, the danger of enraging the international community, the choice would actually be quite straightforward. (Times of Israel)
  • Desperate for a Deal - John Bolton
    Beyond whatever specific terms emerge this week in Geneva, the West's efforts to negotiate with Iran are doomed to failure because the parties' objectives are utterly incompatible. Obama sees negotiations as deflecting the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons. Iran sees them as helping ensure success for that very weapons program.
        Iran's nuclear program has never been peaceful. Evaluating the terms of the upcoming interim deal is beside the point. The negotiation process itself buys Iran both time to continue its nuclear-weapons activities and international legitimacy. (New York Post)
  • Why Saudi Arabia Hates the Iran Deal - David Kenner
    Saudi Arabia sees any realistic deal as American acquiescence to Tehran's hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East, analysts and former U.S. officials say. "[Saudi officials] don't think this leads to a deal that leads to peace, they think this leads to Iranian domination of the Gulf," said Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "To their minds it doesn't do anything about Iranian ambitions, it just takes the United States out of the equation as a force that's helping box Iran in."
        Top Saudi officials were also angered by the U.S. decision to cancel a planned strike against Syrian President Assad's regime, as well as what they perceived as Washington's hostile attitude toward the governments in Egypt and Bahrain. Saudi royals see potential threats in a range of Iranian activities, such as its support for the Assad regime, its patronage of Hizbullah, and what they perceive as its intent to use Shia communities to stoke unrest in the Arab Gulf. Only two years ago, Riyadh spearheaded an intervention into Bahrain to put down what they viewed as a pro-Iranian uprising against the ruling Sunni regime. (Foreign Policy)
        See also Why Hizbullah Loves the U.S.-Iran Nuke Deal - David Kenner (Foreign Policy)
  • U.S.-Israel Discord Actually Helps the Nuclear Negotiations - Tom Rogan
    Here's one reason why the present U.S.-Israeli discord could help the nuclear negotiators reach a good, enforceable deal. The Israel Defense Forces have an uncanny knack for appearing out of nowhere and making things disintegrate. In the context of a prospective nuclear deal, this means the Iranians can fully comply with a deal that prevents weaponized nuclear capabilities, or they can gamble. The Iranians know that if they play games, they'll be risking military action. In the face of Iranian post-deal non-compliance, the Israelis could honestly assert that they gave peace a chance and Iran's leaders invited their fate. Israel's skepticism of the inherent enforceability of a Geneva deal, in other words, makes it more enforceable. (National Review)
  • Hizbullah - Outpost of the Iranian Revolution - Tony Badran
    Hizbullah and the Islamic Republic of Iran have been joined at the hip even before the 1979 Iranian revolution. Thanks to the efforts of Israeli Hizbullah expert Shimon Shapira, we now know that one of the men responsible for the Oct. 23, 1983, attack on the barracks of the U.S Marines and French paratroopers stationed in Beirut, killing 241 U.S. and 58 French servicemen, was an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander named Hossein Dehghan - the man Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently tapped to be his defense minister.
        For Iranian revolutionary activists, Lebanon in the early to mid-1970s was a free zone in which to pursue their anti-shah activity. The Palestine Liberation Organization ran military training camps in Lebanon where the anti-shah opposition could operate and organize freely, acquire military training and weapons, make contacts with other revolutionary organizations, and establish networks of support for their fight against the Pahlavi regime.
        One faction of Iranian revolutionaries operating in Lebanon was made up of devotees of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. After the Iranian revolution, many members of this faction became top commanders in the IRGC and the Office of Liberation Movements (OLM), the precursor of the Quds Force, the IRGC's overseas operations arm. By the time of the 1983 Beirut attack, the Khomeinists had been active in Lebanon for over a decade. The writer is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Weekly Standard)

  • Other Issues

  • Russia Cannot Replace America in the Middle East - David Gardner
    The hardening conviction among America's Arab and Israeli allies that the U.S. is no longer a reliable partner in the Middle East is prompting speculation about a Russian comeback there, 41 years after President Anwar Sadat kicked 20,000 Soviet military advisers out of Egypt.
        The U.S. moment in the Middle East may be ending, but it is hard to believe Russia can replace it. Even in the Soviet era, Russia never managed to be much more than a spoiler. Now, with its economy built on little more than oil and in the second division of technology, it is a subprime power. And nobody prefers Russian to U.S. weapon systems. The U.S., moreover, is finding it cannot just disengage. John Kerry, its top diplomat, does not get to pivot to Asia much these days. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Egypt's Turn to Russia - Jacques Neriah
    Russia is considering selling some major weapon systems to Egypt. A representative of Russia's state arms exporter spoke about supplying helicopter gunships, air defense systems, Kornet anti-tank missiles, and about refurbishing and modernizing previously purchased military equipment delivered by the then-Soviet Union to Egypt. (Other leaked information mentioned selling Mig-29M/M2 fighter jets and even submarines.) This arms deal would be possibly funded by Saudi Arabia or through a loan provided by Russia.
        In fact, military and technical cooperation between Moscow and Cairo, which was stopped at Egypt's initiative in the 1970s after Sadat decided to reorient procurement towards the U.S., was resumed back in the 2000s. Between 2005 and 2012, military trade between Russia and Egypt amounted to $1.852 billion, already making Russia Egypt's second largest weapons supplier. Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah was foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and deputy head for assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Why Abbas Never Refers to "the Jewish People" - Yossi Kuperwasser
    Indirect incitement is someone saying, "This guy really should be killed. I am not telling you to do it, but he should be killed, and killing him is a really noble deed." The Palestinians are very strong in indirect incitement, building the atmosphere that promotes violence and terror.
        Abbas never refers to "the Jewish people" because in his mind there is no such thing. If there is no such thing as the Jewish people, they cannot claim any historic connection to the Holy Land. Thus, to the Palestinians, Israel has no right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people.
        Yes, the Quran tells stories of the Children of Israel, but according to the Palestinians, they are not the Jewish people that live today and they do not have any right to a state in this place. Because the Jews do not have a right to a state, everything you do to deny them this right is justifiable. Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser is Director General of Israel's Ministry for Strategic Affairs. (BICOM)
        See also Israel Calls for Symmetrical Concessions in Peace Talks
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, "It's time to talk about Palestinian concessions, too. Like recognizing the Jewish state. You want us to recognize the Palestinian state for the Palestinian people. How about recognizing the Jewish state for the Jewish people?"  (AFP)
  • Israel Is Among the Few States in the World Facing Existential Danger - Yehezkel Dror
    Due to the fierce opposition to its existence among many in the Arab and Islamic worlds, the possibility exists of a lethal attack against Israel - in the event that a fanatical enemy gets its hands on nuclear or more innovative biological weapons. Therefore, minimizing this risk to the greatest extent possible is Israel's top priority.
        Achieving this requires four grand strategies: Preventing hostile groups from acquiring means that could endanger our existence; maintaining total deterrence - including sending an unequivocal message that anyone threatening Israel's existence will be annihilated; preserving and strengthening Israel's special relationship with the U.S.; and reducing the reasons for such threats against Israel, mainly by advancing real peace with our neighbors. The writer is professor of political science (emeritus) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and founding president of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute. (Ha'aretz)
  • Why Has the UN Given Assad a Free Pass on Mass Murder? - Colum Lynch
    During the past year, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) - which oversees international relief efforts in Syria - has routinely withheld from the public vital details of the Assad regime's systematic campaign to block humanitarian assistance to Syrian civilians. OCHA's low-key, behind-the-scenes diplomacy to quietly persuade the Syrian regime to open the aid floodgates has so far been ineffective. Worse, it provides a measure of political cover to the Assad regime as it carries out mass starvation and slaughter, critics contend. (Foreign Policy)
  • The Failure of U.S. Policy toward Damascus - Eyal Zisser
    What Arabs resent most is not the U.S. invasion of Iraq or even support for Israel: The Arabs are most angry at the U.S. because it is the most convenient "other." To the Arabs, Washington's international success and status is a constant reminder of Arab decline from its glorious past. The U.S. is seen as the successor to Britain and other colonial powers and, therefore, shall be an enemy forever. As long as the only explanation offered for the decline remains a U.S.-Zionist conspiracy, rejection of good-faith efforts by the West will remain as it is. Curiously, the dream of the average Arab individual is to immigrate to the States or experience the American way of life.
        If the world's leading superpower does not believe in its power and looks regularly for excuses not to exercise it, it is bound to be perceived as a paper tiger. If George W. Bush was not liked in the region, he was at least feared. Barack Obama is neither liked nor feared. The writer is dean of the faculty of humanities and professor of contemporary Middle Eastern history at Tel Aviv University. (Middle East Quarterly)
  • The EU Makes Up Its Own Rules for Engaging with Occupied Territories - Eugene Kontorovich
    Morocco invaded Western Sahara in 1975 and has occupied it since, claiming it as its own territory. The Security Council has condemned Morocco's presence and demanded a complete withdrawal. Morocco initiated an aggressive settlement policy and, as a result, Moroccan settlers may now be the majority in the territory.
        The EU recently affirmed that there is no international legal problem in signing a deal with an occupying power that extends to the territory it occupies, or from foreign companies doing business in occupied territory, when it provisionally approved a fisheries agreement earlier this month with Morocco that extends into the territory of occupied Western Sahara. Moreover, the European Parliament's legal advisor issued a formal opinion earlier this month making it clear that the EU's treatment of Morocco accords with international law.
        The EU does not recognize Western Sahara as part of Morocco, but this has not stopped the EU from extending its agreements with Morocco to cover Western Sahara. Yet in its approach to Israel and the West Bank, the EU says that any application of agreements to the occupied territories would violate international law. The writer is a professor of international law at Northwestern University School of Law. (GlobalPost)

  • Weekend Feature

  • Duluth Nurse Joins Israelis to Offer Aid to Filipinos Recovering from Typhoon - Julie Pearce
    I originally had intended to establish a field clinic elsewhere. Then I learned that the Israel Defense Forces had established a sophisticated field hospital in Bogo, and I figured it would be better to combine resources than to reinvent the wheel. After some discussion, the colonel at the IDF compound welcomed me as a collaborating force.
        I am the only non-Israeli medical team member here. It's an honor, not only to serve alongside them but to learn from them as well. They've treated me entirely as one of their own. I work, eat and sleep alongside them. We are two separate nations working side by side with a common goal at heart: to reach out and help the victims of the typhoon.
        The IDF has essentially turned a developing world, rural hospital into a fairly modern-day medical facility in just 48 hours, all in the context of a major disaster. They have integrated electronic records, ultrasound, digital x-ray, a fairly sophisticated laboratory, an active surgery suite and incredible medical staff with varying specialty backgrounds. These specialists are also offering treatment for chronic conditions that the rural health system here would never have been able to support, such as removal of tumors. (Duluth News Tribune)

"Sucker's Deal": A Rescue Package for the Mullahs - Charles Krauthammer (Washington Post)

  • The only reason Iran has come to the table after a decade of contemptuous stonewalling is that economic sanctions have cut so deeply - Iran's currency has collapsed, inflation is rampant - that the regime fears a threat to its very survival.
  • Regime survival is the only thing the mullahs value above nuclear weapons. And yet precisely at the point of maximum leverage, the West would weaken sanctions in exchange for cosmetic changes that do absolutely nothing to weaken Iran's nuclear infrastructure.
  • If at this point of maximum economic pressure we can't get Iran to accept a final deal that shuts down its nuclear program, how in God's name do we expect to get such a deal when we have radically reduced that pressure?
  • The deal is a rescue package for the mullahs. It widens permissible trade in oil, gold, and auto parts. It releases frozen Iranian assets, increasing Iran's foreign-exchange reserves by 25% while doubling its fully accessible foreign-exchange reserves. The prospective deal is already changing economic expectations. Foreign oil and other interests are reportedly preparing to reopen negotiations for a resumption of trade in anticipation of the full lifting of sanctions.
  • And for what? You'd offer such relief in return for Iran's giving up its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Yet this deal does nothing of the sort. It leaves Iran's nuclear infrastructure intact. Not a single centrifuge is dismantled. In Syria, the first thing the weapons inspectors did was to destroy the machines that make the chemical weapons.
  • Unless you dismantle the centrifuges and prevent the manufacture of new ones, Iran will be perpetually just a few months away from going nuclear. This agreement constitutes the West legitimizing Iran's status as a threshold nuclear state.
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