Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 16, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

American Jihadist Arrested in Wichita Airport Bomb Plot - Roxana Hegeman (AP-ABC News)
    The FBI arrested Terry Lee Loewen, 58, as part of an FBI sting after he drove a vehicle loaded with what he thought were explosives to a Wichita airport.
    Loewen, who worked at the airport, had been under investigation for about six months after making online statements about wanting to commit "violent jihad" against the U.S.
    Loewen planned to die in the explosion, a fate that he said was inevitable in his quest to become a martyr in a jihad against America.
    Investigators said Loewen frequently expressed admiration for Anwar Al-Awlaki, the American-born al-Qaeda leader who was killed in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen.

Plundered Syrian Torah Scrolls Said Held by Al-Qaeda-Linked Rebels - Elhanan Miller (Times of Israel)
    Torah scrolls and other Judaica plundered from the millennia-old Jobar Synagogue in Damascus are being held by an Islamist group inside Syria, which is demanding the release of prisoners captured by the Assad regime in return for the items.

Photos: Holy Land in White (Ynet News)
    The beautiful side of Israel's recent snowstorm.
    See also More Snow Photos (Times of Israel)

How Widespread Is Islamic Fundamentalism in Western Europe? - Erik Voeten (Washington Post)
    Ruud Koopmans from the Wissenschafts-zentrum in Berlin conducted a telephone survey of 9,000 respondents in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Austria, and Sweden in 2008.
    He found that majorities of Muslim immigrants believe that there is only one interpretation of the Koran possible to which every Muslim should stick (75%), and that religious rules are more important than the laws of the country in which they live (65%).
    Moreover, these views are as widespread among younger Muslims as among older generations.
    He found that 45% think that Jews cannot be trusted, and 54% believe that the West is out to destroy Muslim culture.
    The writer is Associate Professor of Geopolitics and Justice in World Affairs at Georgetown University.

The IDF's Bedouin Trackers - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    Just south of the Red Sea resort city of Eilat, al-Qaeda-affiliated terror cells gather arms and plot their next move.
    Even if these potential intruders manage to get past the new security barrier, they would still have to overcome another formidable obstacle: the highly experienced IDF Bedouin trackers.
    Maj. Waleed Swaled, the deputy commander of the IDF Bedouin Tracker's Unit, and his men work every day - and night - using their finely tuned natural sensors. "We'll see every sign that hints someone was here."
    In an era of unprecedented hi-tech surveillance and intelligence capabilities, the trackers continue to play a key role in border security.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Lebanese Army Sniper Kills IDF Soldier - Henry Austin and Lawahez Jabari
    An Israeli soldier was shot dead by a sniper from the Lebanese Armed Forces on Sunday. The IDF said the soldier was driving along the Israel-Lebanon border near Rosh Hanikra when the shots were fired. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said he "deplores" the shooting. (NBC News)
        See also Name of IDF Soldier Killed by Lebanese Sniper Released - Yoav Zitun
    Petty Officer 1st Class Shlomi Cohen, 31, was the IDF soldier killed near the Lebanese border on Sunday. (Ynet News)
  • Kerry: Israeli-Palestinian Peace Deal by Spring Remains the Goal - William Booth and Anne Gearan
    A full and final peace agreement is still possible within the nine-month calendar set for U.S.-brokered talks, Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday following two days of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He rejected persistent speculation that the U.S. would settle for a partial or interim agreement and a continuation of talks.
        He said the core framework under discussion centers on the critical issues: "borders, security, refugees, Jerusalem, mutual recognition and an end to conflict and to all claims." Yet there are no tangible signs of progress as talks reach the halfway mark. Kerry's visit was complicated by a rare blizzard across the Middle East that dumped almost two feet of snow on Jerusalem and Ramallah. (Washington Post)
  • Syrian Bombing Raid on Aleppo Kills 76
    76 people, including 28 children, were killed on Sunday when Syrian army helicopters dropped explosive-filled "barrel bombs" on the city of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Has Reason to Worry about Eastern Border with Jordan - Amos Harel
    A central issue that the Americans dealt with recently in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks concerns the security arrangements in the Jordan Valley. Netanyahu has good reasons to be worried about Israel's eastern border, all surrounding the longevity of the Hashemite Kingdom in Jordan. Jordan now has to deal with a million and a half refugees from Iraq and Syria, a huge number of people for a population of six million, while containing the constant tension with the Palestinian population and the Muslim Brotherhood.
        This does not sound like a recipe for long-term stability, and it comes as no surprise that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon are wary of the possibility that a hostile regime might rule Jordan in the future, despite today's current close military cooperation between the two states.
        The gaps between Israel and the Palestinians on core issues remain intact. But even more important is the huge gap in trust. (Ha'aretz)
  • PA Officials: No Progress on Peace Deal in Latest Abbas-Kerry Meeting - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The latest meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and PA President Mahmoud Abbas did not achieve a breakthrough, Palestinian officials said over the weekend. A PA official told AFP that Abbas rejected the American security ideas.
        The official said that Abbas delivered a letter to Kerry informing him of his opposition to the ideas. In the letter, Abbas also reiterated his complete opposition to demands to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The letter also outlined Palestinian opposition to any Israeli military presence on the border with Jordan. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Transfers Water Pumps to Gaza after Flooding - Yoav Zitun
    Israel set up a joint command center with Palestinian security forces in the West Bank to handle storm-related traffic and electricity problems. Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said the Mekorot water company transferred water pumps to Gaza to help deal with heavy flooding. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran Now Unhindered in Obtaining Nuclear Weapons, Experts Warn - Maria Kelso
    The nuclear deal with Iran is flawed by the premature easing of sanctions in return for easily reversed Iranian pledges that do not substantially set back Iran's nuclear weapons program. According to Fred Fleitz, a chief analyst of the Langley Intelligence Group Network, the deal "assumes Rouhani is a relative moderate. It also assumes Iran has a legitimate right to uranium enrichment."
        Patrick Clawson, director of research at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, explained that while the deal is initially set for a six-month period, it can be renewed indefinitely, effectively allowing Iran to go on for years without the world stopping them from obtaining nuclear weapons. "This agreement is likely not to be the elements of a 'first step,' but instead the details of a last step."  (Heritage Foundation)
  • Raining on Hamas' Parade - Avi Issacharoff
    A lot has happened since Hamas' huge victory parade after the last round of fighting with Israel in November 2012. Hamas' Muslim Brotherhood allies were forced out of power in Egypt, the Egyptian army closed most of the tunnels to Gaza, and Hamas was officially designated a terrorist organization by Egypt. In the indictment against ousted Egyptian president Mohammad Morsi, the exact charge against him is "cooperation with the terror organization Hamas."
        Moreover, over the weekend there were floods in almost every Gaza neighborhood. Today, Hamas is a ruling entity that employs more than 50,000 people in Gaza and is responsible for paying their salaries (which were delayed again this month). (Times of Israel)
        See also Hamas Hangs On - Josh Nason (Tablet)
  • The Palestinian Issue - Core Data - Yoram Ettinger
    According to a Ford Foundation report, by 1950 the majority of the Palestinian refugees began evacuating the refugee camps and non-refugees moved in to benefit from UNRWA's services.
        Before the 1948-1949 War of Independence, 800,000 Arabs (per inflated numbers) resided within the boundaries of "pre-1967 Israel." At the end of that war, 170,000 Arabs stayed in Israel. Of the remaining 630,000 Arabs, 100,000 were absorbed by Israel's family reunification gesture; 100,000 middle- and upper-class Arabs left before the beginning of the war and were absorbed by neighboring Arab states; 50,000 migrant laborers returned to their Arab countries of origin; 50,000 Bedouins joined their brethren-tribes in Jordan and Sinai; and 10,000 were war fatalities. Thus, the actual total number of Palestinian refugees was 320,000.
        Most of the refugees followed their political, economic and social leadership, which left before the eruption of the war. Many were enticed to depart by Arab leaders, who promised a quick devastation of the Jewish state that would provide the evacuees with Jewish property. British authorities influenced others, pressuring the minority in mixed Jewish-Arab towns to evacuate: Arabs evacuated but Jews did not. (Israel Hayom)

Israel's Legal Case in the West Bank - Nadav Shragai (Israel Hayom)

  • While Judea and Samaria - the West Bank - is the cradle of Jewish civilization and peoplehood, the world has adopted the Palestinian narrative as it relates to the legal status of the territories. Nevertheless, for months now a counterattack has been waged over "the historical, legal truth" by hundreds of jurists from Israel and abroad.
  • These jurists note that the State of Israel did indeed conquer the West Bank in 1967 as the result of a war of self-defense, but from a legal standpoint these territories are not occupied since the foreign power that held these territories between 1948 and 1967 - Jordan - did so illegally. Therefore, from the standpoint of international law, the legal status of these territories is in dispute.
  • Col. (res.) Daniel Reisner, an expert in international law and the former head of the international law department in the Military Advocate General's Corps, wrote: "Since the territories of Judea and Samaria were never a legitimate part of any Arab state, including the Kingdom of Jordan, it is impossible to determine that Israel is an occupier in Judea and Samaria in the accepted legal definition. What's more is that the Jewish people have a historic, legal, and physical link to Judea and Samaria."
  • "If Israeli control over Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem in 1967 was illegal because of the illegality of taking over a territory by force, then the Jordanian occupation of that same complex in 1948 suffers from exactly the same problem."
  • Alan Baker, a former legal advisor in the Foreign Ministry who also served as ambassador to Canada, said, "The right thing to do was to operate out of a sense of advancing our rights, the rights of the Jewish people as an indigenous nation in its land. The Jews are the oldest nation here....There is something called 'rights,' and we need to speak up about it."
  • "It is inconceivable that the entire world will repeat the mantra about Judea and Samaria being occupied territory when from a factual standpoint there is no legal basis for this."

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