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December 6, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Nelson Mandela and Zionism - Ben Cohen (
    There is a widespread misapprehension that Nelson Mandela was an opponent of Zionism and Israel. Mandela's memoirs are full of positive references to Jews and Israel.
    He recalls that he learned about guerilla warfare from Arthur Goldreich, a South African Jew who fought with the Palmach during Israel's War of Independence.
    He relates that the only airline willing to fly his friend, Walter Sisulu, to Europe without a passport was Israel's El Al.

Israel Seeks to Buy German Missile Boats to Protect Offshore Gas - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    Israel is seeking to buy advanced missile boats from Germany to protect drilling operations in its offshore natural gas fields.
    A senior Israeli official said Israel needs three or four missile boats to protect the gas fields.

Palestinians Seek to Cancel Half of Debt Owed to Israel Electric Corp. - Avi Bar-Eli (Ha'aretz)
    In a letter to the Israeli government, PA Finance Minister Shukri Bishara requested that half of its $300 million debt to the Israel Electric Corporation be forgiven, with repayment of the remaining $150 million spread over a period of 20 years.
    The Palestinians' debt to the IEC has ballooned over the years because the PA fails to collect money from customers. In addition, many users steal electricity through illegal hookups.
    As a result, according to Israeli sources, Palestinians have grown accustomed to not paying for electricity.

UN Passes Israeli-Sponsored Resolution - Maya Shwayder (Jerusalem Post)
    The UN on Tuesday passed an Israeli resolution on "agricultural technology for development," regarding sustainable agricultural advancement in developing countries.
    This is the third time an Israeli resolution has passed at the UN.
    The resolution had 105 cosponsors and 138 states voted in favor. The Arab group led the 34 abstentions to the vote.
    "Where Israel works to bring repair to the world, Arab countries are putting up walls," UN Ambassador Ron Prosor said. "The technologies developing in Israel are now at the forefront of the global fight to eradicate poverty and hunger."

IsraAID Continues to Provide Relief to Philippines (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    While the IDF aid mission to the Philippines has returned to Israel, the IsraAID delegation continues to provide relief to the typhoon victims.
    IsraAID's current team includes 12 medical and psychosocial professionals in Ormoc.
    IsraAID's team has treated well over 1,500 patients, conducting 1-2 day mobile clinics in each of the neighborhoods in the Ipil district.

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Regional Particle Accelerator Project Has Israeli VP (AFP)
    Scientists from states participating in the SESAME project to build a particle accelerator near Al-Balqa University west of Amman, Jordan, have chosen Eliezer Rabinovici, a physics professor at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, as vice president.
    Members of the scientific research project include Iran and the Palestinian Authority.

Israeli Hacking School Trains Cyber Warriors - John Davison (AFP)
    The Israel Electric Corp (IEC) is subjected to some 10,000 cyber attacks per hour, said CEO Eli Glickman.
    At IEC's new state-of-the-art "Cyber Gym," IT and infrastructure company employees train to defend against cyber attacks.
    "Israel, we believe, is the most-attacked country," said Cyber Gym director Ofir Hason.
    "And as the most-attacked civilian company in Israel, this gives us the unique capabilities to train other companies around the world" to defend against system hacking.

New Israel App a Boon for Tourists - Anat Katz (South African Jewish Report)
    The new Israel App is a virtual tour guide, travel companion and digital guidebook that brings to life some 400 sites and the history behind them with stunning visuals, crisp audio, and fascinating interactive articles.
    The software engineers behind the scenes are over 30 Israeli religious female programmers.
    The App includes GPS-based guided tours and navigation functions to allow travelers to discover dozens of lesser-known sites around them instantly.

Israel's Drive for Energy Independence Creating Wave of Sustainable Start-Ups - Claudia Cahalane (Guardian-UK)
    Muv-e, a portable, lightweight, electric scooter designed to travel at up to 25mph., was one of a dozen sustainable transport options exhibited at the fuel choices summit in Tel Aviv on Nov. 12-13.
    There were solar-powered overhead transport pods for cities, cars running on a battery powered by fresh air, and a detachable electric battery which can be fixed to any bicycle.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Palestinians Reject U.S. Security Ideas for Peace with Israel - David Brunnstrom
    The Palestinians rejected ideas raised by visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday for security arrangements under a possible future peace accord with Israel, a Palestinian official said. Israeli media have reported that Kerry's proposals included security arrangements for the Jordan Valley, between the West Bank and Jordan. (Reuters)
        See also U.S. to Present Bridging Proposal on Israeli-Palestinian Peace - Barak Ravid
    U.S. Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations Martin Indyk is devoting all his efforts these days to an American bridging proposal that will be presented in January. It will be an expansion on what Kerry proposed to Netanyahu Thursday regarding security arrangements for Israel alongside a Palestinian state. It will include American proposals regarding borders, settlements, refugees, Jerusalem, water and other crucial topics. Indyk has set up a large team of advisers and assistants, most of whom are in Washington, devoting their time to the formulation of this proposal. (Ha'aretz)
  • Iran Seeking Better Relations with Arab States - Jason Rezaian
    After reaching an interim nuclear deal with major world powers, Iran's government is turning its attention to mending strained relations with its Arab neighbors. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spent the past week crisscrossing the Persian Gulf region to ease Iranian-Arab hostility. "These countries, as a whole, are very interested in opening a new chapter in their ties with the Islamic Republic," Zarif said Monday after meeting with counterparts from Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Kerry, Netanyahu Discuss Iran, Palestinians
    After a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Jerusalem on Thursday, Netanyahu said: "We discussed the danger to the world posed by Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability. We believe that, in a final deal, unlike the interim deal, it is crucial to bring about a final agreement about the termination of Iran's military nuclear capability."
        "On the Palestinian issue, I want to say that Israel is ready for a historic peace....It's a peace that Israel can and must be able to defend by itself with our own forces against any foreseeable threat."
        Kerry said: "I join with President Obama in expressing to the people of Israel our deep, deep commitment to the security of Israel and to the need to find a peace that recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, recognizes Israel as a country that can defend itself, by itself."
        "The United States will do everything in our power to make certain that Iran's nuclear program, a program of weaponization possibilities, is terminated. We agree on what the goal of the final status agreement ought to be. And in the days and weeks ahead, we will consult very closely and continually with our Israeli friends in order to bring about a comprehensive agreement that can withstand everybody's test."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • The U.S. Plan for Israel's Safety - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The security issue is the matter which has sent the current Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations into a deadlock. At the heart of the issue is Israel's demand that after the establishment of a Palestinian state, Israel's citizens will have the same level of national security as they enjoy today. The Americans, Europeans, and in fact the entire international community acknowledge the legitimacy and validity of Israel's demand.
        Israel, and rightfully so, is unprepared to discuss the borders of the Palestinian state and all the other subjects which have to do with territory before an agreement is reached on the security issue.
        Only thanks to Israeli control over the border crossings between the West Bank and Jordan has it been possible to prevent a massive spillover of al-Qaeda activists and explosive devices into the West Bank and Israel. Israel also notes that the attempt to place European inspectors at the border crossings between Gaza and Egypt failed miserably, and that following the Hamas coup in 2007 the supervisors ran for their lives.
        Even more important is thwarting terror in the West Bank by collecting intelligence and conducting arrests. Israel says that it is only thanks to the operational and intelligence freedom of action that the IDF and Israel Security Agency have throughout the territories, including those under Palestinian control, has it been possible to foil more than 80% of the acts of terror which threaten not only Jews but also the survival of the Palestinian Authority.
        Moreover, what will happen in case of a coup in the Palestinian country or in Jordan, or in both at the same time, and radical Islamist groups rise to power there? Until an answer to these issues is found, the security issue will not be solved. (Ynet News)
        See also Israel's Critical Security Requirements for Defensible Borders: The Foundation for a Viable Peace
    Five Israeli generals present Israel's critical security requirements. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • How the Iran Deal Affects the Palestinian Peace Talks - Herb Keinon
    Despite the efforts of Kerry and Netanyahu to paper over differences on Thursday, there was deep, deep disappointment in Israel over how the Obama administration, and Kerry, handled the Iranian dossier. The agreement Kerry is pushing with the Palestinians will necessitate Israel taking calculated security risks. But with Iran suddenly emboldened and enjoying newfound international legitimacy as a result of the recent accord in Geneva, Israel is likely to be less willing to take those security risks.
        Moreover, any possible future agreement with the Palestinians would undoubtedly necessitate ironclad security guarantees from the U.S. An Israeli willingness to place its security in the hands of American guarantees has decreased as a result of Washington's handling of the Iranian file. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Iran and the West: Is the Talk about Rapprochement Warranted? - Dore Gold
    A central question raised by all the talk about a U.S.-Iranian rapprochement is whether such a dramatic shift in their relations would be warranted at this stage, if it was at all being contemplated by anyone. Looking at the rapprochement between the U.S. and the Soviet Union as a model, there were important developments that occurred before Washington was prepared to declare in 1991 that the Cold War was over.
        It wasn't the rise to power of Michael Gorbachev or his reforms, known as perestroika, that caused the West to rethink its approach to Moscow, but rather the modification of the Soviet Union's external behavior that made the difference - starting, in particular, with the withdrawal of the Red Army from Afghanistan in 1988. Soviet adventurism in places like Angola, the Horn of Africa, and Central America ended and Soviet forces even stopped intervening against the anti-Communist revolts that were began in Eastern Europe.
        Looking at the Iranian case today, there is no sign that Tehran is fundamentally changing its footprint in the Middle East as a result of Hassan Rouhani's election or the more recent Geneva understandings. Iran's Revolutionary Guards are on the ground in Syria, not only helping as advisors, but actually taking part in combat operations against the Sunni Arab population and in the bloodbath they have created. The writer, a former Israeli UN ambassador, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Israel Hayom)
  • Iran Deal Validates Nuclear Blackmail - Ephraim Sneh
    In May 2003 I attended a closed international conference on Middle East security after the fall of Saddam Hussein. To the participants' surprise, a special guest joined the meeting: Muhssein Rizai, the former commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, and an influential insider of the regime in Tehran. Rizai sent a clear message to the U.S. administration: If you, the Americans, want to stabilize the Middle East, talk to the hegemonic power - us, the Iranians. He effectively offered to partition the Middle East into two zones of influence: Iranian and American. The U.S. rejected his offer. Until now.
        With the deal in Geneva last month, the Iranian regime stands on the verge of getting exactly what it wants, thanks to nuclear blackmail. The P5+1 seems ready to give to the ayatollah's regime not only a comprehensive insurance policy for its survival, but also a license for its imperial ambitions and a permit to use the blackmail leverages of missiles and terror to undermine governments in the Persian Gulf and Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian territories.
        Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's harsh criticism of the Geneva deal is correct. The eagerness of the P5+1 to strike a deal with the ayatollah's regime seems to stem not only from an aversion to standing up against evil, but also from a lack of understanding of the Islamist challenge and from a blurred distinction between allies and foes in the region. Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Ephraim Sneh, a Labor Knesset member (1992-2008), twice served as Israel's deputy minister of defense and is chair of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Strategic Dialogue at Netanya Academic College. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Woe to U.S. Allies - Charles Krauthammer
    There is a collapse of confidence of U.S. allies in the Middle East as America romances Iran. In the nuclear negotiations with Iran, the U.S. has overthrown seven years of Security Council resolutions prohibiting uranium enrichment and effectively recognized Iran as a threshold nuclear state. This follows our near-abandonment of the Syrian revolution and de facto recognition of both the Assad regime and Iran's "Shiite Crescent" of client states stretching to the Mediterranean.
        The Israelis are now trapped by an agreement designed less to stop the Iranian nuclear program than to prevent the Israeli Air Force from stopping the Iranian nuclear program. Neither Arab nor Israeli can quite fathom a strategic condominium with a regime that defines its very purpose as overthrowing American power and expelling it from the region.
        Better diplomacy than war, say some, a response implying that all diplomacy is the same, as if a diplomacy of capitulation is no different from a diplomacy of pressure. (Washington Post)
  • Ignoring a History of Mullah Duplicity - Ken Allard
    Retired Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the former head of the National Security Agency and the CIA, said the Iran agreement "hit the pause rather than the delete button....Now [Iran becomes] a nuclear-capable state." This means an Iranian nuclear weapon is now a matter of when, not if. Even for those whose only exposure to the Persian mindset was viewing the recent film "Argo," it shouldn't be hard to understand why Iran's neighbors - based on several millennia of historical experience - have an understandable skepticism about White House assurances. (Washington Times)

  • Other Issues

  • Special Relationships - Martin Kramer
    What compels the U.S. openly to acknowledge two "special relationships" - with Britain and Israel - is that these two foreign states embody old cultures to which the American public feels profoundly and uniquely indebted.
        Given that debt, the U.S. government assumes the obligation to show a bit of respect and work a little harder to make its case when its policies impinge on the interests of those two states. When they dissent, as Britain did over Syria and Israel now does over Iran, it's their privilege to do so and still win American praise as "special" friends who are entitled to speak their minds freely. The writer is president of Shalem College in Jerusalem. (Commentary)
  • Middle East Mess Isn't about Settlements - Jeffrey Goldberg
    In an interview in Politico, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served as national security adviser to Jimmy Carter, appeared to worship at the Church of Linkage, which holds that Israel's settlement policy on the West Bank is the primary cause of Middle East instability and of the U.S.'s troubles in the Muslim world.
        Yet Israeli settlements did not provoke Iranian leaders to build the infrastructure of a nuclear weapons program. The Syrian civil war is not traceable to Israel's West Bank settlement policy. The region-wide schism between Sunni and Shia Muslims was not caused by settlements. Continued political instability and violence in Egypt was not triggered by settlements, nor was Libya's descent into gangsterism and chaos.
        The willingness of esteemed foreign-policy thinkers such as Brzezinski to scapegoat the Jewish state for problems it did not cause is myopic and dangerous. (Bloomberg)
  • Will British Jihadists Bring the War Home? - Con Coughlin
    It is easy to understand why so many young men and women in the West, incensed by the Assad regime's disregard for human life, would want to offer their services to help overthrow this vile regime. But the objectives of some of the more extreme factions within the Syrian opposition are hardly benign. In towns such as Raqqa that are now under the control of Islamist militias, inhabitants claim they have suffered severe beatings for committing minor transgressions, such as spraying graffiti, while captured pro-Assad fighters are regularly beheaded in public.
        So it is hardly surprising that the presence of hundreds of Western volunteers within the ranks of the Syrian opposition movement is increasingly viewed with grave concern by security officials, who fear the conflict is being turned into a fertile breeding ground for a new generation of Islamist terrorists.
        British intelligence estimates that more than 300 British Muslims are now actively engaged in fighting for al-Qaeda-linked groups, such as the Nusra Front. Scotland Yard warned that British jihadists as young as 16 were traveling to take up arms in the Syrian conflict. Richard Walton, the head of counter-terrorism command, warned there were signs of returnees being ordered by militants associated with al-Qaeda to carry out attacks in Britain. (Telegraph-UK)

  • Weekend Features

  • "Brain Drain" Brings Israel Closer to the World - Orly Lobel
    A new report from the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies shows that Israelis are disproportionately represented in academic institutions abroad. However, according to a report I recently co-authored for the UN Industrial Development Organization, "brain circulation" - the flip side of the dreaded brain drain - describes a country's connectedness, which directly influences its economic development. Skilled emigration is significantly and positively correlated with foreign investment in the country of departure.
        Regions that encourage open circulation of talent win the most. The real analysis of "brain drain" should take into account not only the costs of skilled nationals living abroad but also the benefits of diaspora networks. Israelis aren't the only ones playing in this field. Silicon Valley's Taiwanese and Indian engineering communities also show how this connectivity operates. The result is a global network between the sending and receiving country that enhances opportunities for both countries. The writer is Professor of Law at the University of San Diego and founding faculty member of the university's Center for Intellectual Property and Markets. (Tablet)
  • Firms Linked to Israel Prospering in Massachusetts - Erin Ailworth
    At least 200 businesses in Massachusetts with ties to Israel employ 6,700 people and generated $6.2 billion in revenues in 2012, according to a new study for the New England-Israel Business Council released Thursday. A previous study found 78 companies generating $2.4 billion in revenues in 2009.
        Businesses in the report - involving information technology, medical device, and software firms - include those founded in Israel with offices or headquarters in Massachusetts, Israeli firms acquired by Massachusetts companies, and local companies founded by Israelis or based on Israeli intellectual property. (Boston Globe)

On Being Taken to the Cleaners by Iran - Hirsh Goodman (Jerusalem Post)

  • Iran already has the infrastructure, raw materials, scientific know-how, manpower, resources and now, new trading partners and cash, to become a nuclear power virtually at the drop of a hat.
  • Possessing a military nuclear capacity is a cornerstone of this Iranian regime's thinking. They have starved their country and invested billions to get it. They want it for reasons of regional dominance, control of the Gulf and, primarily, to negate the world's ability to tell it what to do. It gives them deterrence, incredible leverage on the international stage, and strategic parity with the world powers.
  • Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was at the table when Iran decided to go nuclear and has navigated the process ever since. Khamenei will not throw his baby into the fire, of that you can be absolutely sure. He will do everything he can to save it, even if requires a bit of duplicity along the way.
  • If a final agreement is not reached within the six-month deadline, there will almost surely be an extension to "allow diplomacy to take its course." Then there will be another extension, and another. The Geneva deal has relieved the economic stranglehold on Iran; it has made a mockery of UN Security Council resolutions, and, above all, it has left Khamenei with a nuclear option that is as easy to unfreeze as a TV dinner in a microwave.
  • America and the rest of the free world had waited for years for the yoke of the ayatollahs to be lifted from the Iranian people. This move ensures that it will remain in place for a long time to come. The wrong people have come away strengthened. This has not been a defeat for Israel. It has been a defeat for democracy and world peace.
  • Netanyahu is right to be screaming. So would you, if you saw your best friend and ally taken to the cleaners by so obvious a conman, and a provably dangerous one at that.
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