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December 27, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Says It Is Developing New Centrifuges (AP-Washington Post)
    Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said Thursday the country is building a new generation of centrifuges for uranium enrichment but that they need further tests before they can be operational.
    Under the nuclear deal reached last month at Geneva, Iran promised not to bring new centrifuges into operation for six months. But the deal does not stop it from developing centrifuges.

Turkey: Are Erdogan's Days Numbered? - Harold Rhode (Gatestone Institute)
    Turkey's once seemingly-invincible prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seems in a tailspin.
    Erdogan's faction identifies and allies itself with the [Arab] Muslim Brotherhood. This faction was strongly supportive of ousted Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi, and also of Syria's fundamentalists.
    Supporters of the U.S.-based conservative Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen look down upon "Arab Islam." To them, "real" Islam is the Islam of the Turks - meaning the people who live in Turkey, Central Asia, and Western China.
    For Turks, these differences are seismic: Do they belong to the Middle Eastern Arab and Muslim political camp, or do they belong to the wider Turkish world?
    At least for the moment, the Islamist Gulenists seem to have forged an alliance of convenience with Turkey's secularists. The beneficiaries of this political upheaval could well be the West, the U.S., NATO, and Israel.
    The writer, former Advisor on Islamic Affairs in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, worked as an analyst at the Pentagon for 28 years.
    See also Turkish Corruption Investigations Mark AKP-Gulen Power Struggle - Umut Uras (Al-Jazeera)

Hizbullah Agents Use Foreign Passports, Train in Cyprus - Adiv Sterman (Times of Israel)
    Hizbullah operatives have obtained European, Australian, and Canadian passports and used them to travel to various locations to attack Israeli civilians and Jewish population centers, according to a senior Western intelligence official quoted by the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai on Thursday.
    In most cases, the passports had belonged to Lebanese dual citizens residing in Europe. "They recruited Lebanese Europeans in order to allow simple and free international movement," the official said.
    He added that attacks had been planned by Hizbullah in a number of major European cities including Paris and Amsterdam.

Israelis Play Chess in Abu Dhabi Anonymously (Algemeiner)
    The Israeli under-18 chess team currently competing in the World Youth Chess Championship in Abu Dhabi has been forced to do so without national identification.
    The tournament's official website removed the Israeli flags that had been initially posted and changed the country listing to FIDE - an acronym for the World Chess Federation - for all Israeli players.

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China to Share Content with Israeli TV (China Central Television)
    China's national broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) signed a series of agreements with Israeli TV stations on Wednesday.
    Israeli National Television (Channel 1) will broadcast the Chinese language program "Growing up with Chinese," while Israel's Channel 10 will broadcast CCTV documentary programs weekly.

Israel's Elbit to Supply Australia with Battle Management System (Reuters)
    Israeli defense electronics firm Elbit Systems said Sunday it was awarded follow-on contracts worth $229 million to supply battle management systems to Australia's Department of Defense.

Warren Buffett Donates $10M to Rambam Hospital (Globes)
    U.S. billionaire Warren Buffet has donated $10 million to Rambam Hospital in Haifa.
    The contribution was announced by Eitan Wertheimer, whose family's precision tool manufacturer Iscar Ltd. was purchased by Buffet for $6 billion.

Lebanon Media Council: Seeking Israeli Comments Is Illegal (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    Lebanese media outlets are not allowed to seek comments from Israeli officials, Abdul-Hadi Mahfouz, the head of the National Media Council, said last Friday.
    Mahfouz was referring to the border shooting that left an Israeli soldier dead earlier this month, and a report that appeared on local station MTV quoting an Israeli military source.
    Mahfouz said that seeking a statement from Israeli military officials was against the law and is considered "promotion of the enemy."

Azerbaijan: A Shiite Nation Embraces Its Jews - Rob Eshman (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
    Azerbaijan is a former Soviet country of 9 million people on the Caspian Sea. A Shiite nation that borders Iran, Azerbaijan is Israel's largest supplier of oil and a major purchaser of Israeli defense technology.
    About 4,000 people live in Red Village in northeast Azerbaijan, every one of them Jewish - an entirely Jewish town in an almost entirely Muslim country.

Israeli Pop Star: "No Quarrel" between Iranian and Israeli People - Mick Krever (CNN)
    There is "no quarrel" between the Iranian and Israeli people, Iranian-born Rita Jahanforuz, one of Israel's most popular singers, told CNN's Christiane Amanpour last Friday.
    Known to her fans simply as "Rita," she took many by surprise when last year she released an album of songs in Farsi.
    It went gold in just three weeks - and in Iran, where Western music is officially banned, Rita's album is reportedly quite popular.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Egypt Broadens Crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood - Kareem Fahim and Mayy El Sheikh
    A day after Egypt's military-backed government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, a more aggressive crackdown was already emerging Thursday, as the authorities announced dozens of arrests and the seizure of land, stocks and vehicles belonging to the Islamist movement's members. The Egyptian government also sought to deny the Brotherhood foreign help or shelter, urging other Arab governments to honor an anti-terrorism agreement and shun the organization. (New York Times)
  • Prominent Scholars, Citing Importance of Academic Freedom, Denounce Israeli Boycott - Tamar Lewin
    The American Studies Association's endorsement this month of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions continues to stir passions, with four colleges and universities announcing their withdrawal from the association, a second leading higher-education association denouncing the boycott and a rising tide of college presidents speaking out against it. One after the other, prominent university presidents and academic leaders have issued condemnations over the last week that emphasize the importance of academic freedom.
        The executive committee of the American Association of Universities, an organization of the most prestigious research institutions, joined the American Association of University Professors in opposing the boycott. Lawrence H. Summers, a former president of Harvard, suggested an informal counterboycott in which university administrators would refuse to pay for professors to go to ASA meetings. (New York Times)
  • Beirut Bomb Kills Former Ambassador to U.S., 4 Others - Ahmed Ramadan
    Muhammed Chatah, who served as former Prime Minister Saad Hariri's finance minister and was Lebanon's ambassador to the U.S. from 1997 to 2000, was killed in a bombing in downtown Beirut on Friday. Lebanon's Ministry of Health reported five people died in the blast and 71 were injured. (Washington Post)
  • Islamic Charity Gave Millions to Al-Qaeda, U.S. Says - Joby Warrick and Tik Root
    According to U.S. officials, Professor Abd al-Rahman al-Nu'aymi, 59, who had years of experience working with international human rights groups, also worked secretly as a financier for al-Qaeda, funneling millions of dollars to the terrorist group's affiliates in Syria and Iraq even as he led campaigns in Europe for greater freedoms for Muslims. In recent years, Nu'aymi served as president of Alkarama, a Geneva-based human rights organization that works closely with the UN and major international activist groups to advocate for Muslims' civil rights.
        Nu'aymi was one of two men identified by Treasury Department officials last week as major financial backers of al-Qaeda and its regional chapters across the Middle East. The second man, a Yemeni, is heavily involved in his country's U.S.-backed political transition. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Responds to Continued Rocket Fire from Gaza - Yaakov Lappin
    In response to rocket fire on southern Israel on Thursday evening for the second time in 24 hours, the Israel Air Force struck a weapons manufacturing site and a weapons storage site in Gaza. Prime Minister Netanyahu said Thursday that Israel holds Hamas responsible for the recent string of attacks from Gaza. "We will strike those who attack us along with those who sponsor them," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Defense Minister Ya'alon: We Don't Have a Partner on the Palestinian Side for a Two-State Solution - Barak Ravid
    Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told Israeli business leaders last week, "Don't delude yourselves. We don't have a partner on the Palestinian side for a two-state solution." "I encourage business ties with the Palestinian Authority and believe in a long process of building from the bottom up, but an agreement shouldn't be pushed that in my opinion won't happen in the foreseeable future."
        Regarding the security arrangements proposed by the Americans, Ya'alon said, "If we lose freedom of military action, the West Bank will turn into Hamastan, missiles will be fired at Tel Aviv and the economy will be destroyed." Ya'alon wants the army to have freedom of movement in the West Bank, and control in the Jordan Valley, border crossings, and air space. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Arrests Gazan Suspected of Planning Sniper Attack on IDF - Gili Cohen
    Mohammed Abu Amsa, 32, a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, was arrested recently for planning a sniper attack against Israeli forces patrolling the security fence on the Gaza border. He was detained when he requested to pass through Israel to reach Ramallah in the West Bank for medical treatment for an eye injury. He confessed during interrogation that he gathered intelligence on IDF movements and trained in sniper marksmanship. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Iran's Delays and Deceptions: The Mullahs Are Acting in Bad Faith - Clifford D. May
    Consider the current state of play with Iran. The Joint Plan of Action was concluded on Nov. 24. On the Iranian side, the agreement "has yet to be implemented," a State Department spokesman said last week. In the meantime, Iran's centrifuges continue to spin, turning out 20% enriched uranium. Construction is ongoing at the Arak heavy-water reactor, a facility that will be able to produce weapons-grade plutonium. Weaponization and ballistic-missile development have not been halted.
        We too often assume that those across the table are, like us, seeking common ground and sincerely open to compromise. In reality, the rulers of such nations as North Korea, Russia, Syria, and Iran regard negotiations as warfare. Their goal is not "conflict resolution." It is victory. The writer is president of the FDD. (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
  • The Geneva Deal Is Designed to Circumvent UN Resolutions - Amir Taheri
    Iran has already crossed the threshold after which it would be able to build a bomb. Even if Iran were to carry out all its commitments under the Geneva deal it would still not revert to its pre-threshold position. The six resolutions passed by the UN Security Council were designed to dismantle the Iranian nuclear program, not to freeze things at the current high level.
        I am not against talking to the mullahs and trying to find a diplomatic solution. What matters is what the talks are about. The talks should be about implementing the UN resolutions. The Geneva format is designed to circumvent the UN resolutions. The writer was the executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)

  • Palestinians

  • Why We Need to Hear the Palestinians Recognize a Jewish State - Zalman Shoval
    Those who question why Netanyahu insists on receiving recognition of a Jewish state from the Palestinians do not understand the real reasons behind the all-out war they are waging. The Islamic world in general and the Palestinians in particular reject the very notion of the Jews as a nation or people, and because in their view Judaism is only a religion, the Jews do not deserve their own state.
        The Palestinians say: "There is indeed a state called Israel, which for lack of any other choice we were forced to recognize as an existing fact because it is stronger than us militarily and because it has an ally like America. But if the day comes when these basic variables change, we will know how to deal with this illegitimate state, which settled in our midst and which the nations of the world created at our expense to compensate the Jews for what they did to them in the Holocaust."
        Even if we reach an agreement with the Palestinians, this would not necessarily guarantee an end to the conflict. The recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people is the real test for the Palestinians and whether they truly are serious about peace. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. (Israel Hayom)
  • PA Has Neither Desire or Capability to Deal with Extremism - Zvika Fogel
    Israel finds itself in the eye of the Islamic storm, surrounded by Arab countries going through revolutions and internal strife. Neighboring countries have become fertile ground for terrorist groups that seek to conduct attacks against the Jews.
        The more than one hundred terror incidents in the West Bank each month are definitive proof that even when we choose the path of reconciliation and compromise, there remains on the ground an ongoing extremist ideological belief among the Palestinians against our right to live here. The Palestinian Authority, with which we conduct negotiations about coexistence, does not have the desire or capability to deal with extremism among its people. Brig.-Gen. (res.) Zvika Fogel is a former head of the IDF Southern Command. (Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinians Erasing Christian History - Evelyn Gordon
    When the Palestinians claim that Jesus was a Palestinian, it's not only Jewish history and the Jewish religion Palestinians thereby erase. They are also erasing Christian history and the Christian religion. What becomes of the famous scene of Jesus evicting money-changers from the Temple if, as Palestinian officials claim, the Temple never existed? What becomes of Mary's husband Joseph, who was "of the house and lineage of David" (Luke 2:4), if, as Palestinians claim, the Davidic kingdom never existed?
        The entire story of Jesus as related in the Gospels takes place in a Jewish state with a largely autonomous Jewish political and religious leadership. If no Jewish state ever existed, how did these foundational Christian stories ever occur? Absent the historic Jewish kingdom of the Gospels, there quite literally is no Jesus. (Commentary)

  • Christians in the Middle East

  • Christians Are Under Siege in the Middle East - Christa Case Bryant
    The First Baptist Church of Bethlehem was bombed 14 times during the first intifada, and is now facing a legal battle with the Palestinian Authority, which doesn't recognize it as a church. It was founded three decades ago by the Rev. Naim Khoury, who survived a bullet to the shoulder from a sniper while in the church parking lot five years ago.
        Christianity is under assault across the entire Middle East. Iraq has lost at least half of its Christians over the past decade. Egypt has seen the worst spate of anti-Christian violence in 700 years. In Syria, jihadists are killing Christians and burying them in mass graves. Christians now make up only 5% of the population of the Middle East, down from 20% a century ago. As political Islam gains support, Christians can no longer find refuge in a shared Arab identity with their Muslim neighbors. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Can Muslim Lands Learn to Tolerate Christianity? - Michael Gerson
    On Christmas Day in Iraq, 37 people were killed in bomb attacks in Christian districts of Baghdad. In recent months, we've seen Coptic Christians gunned down in Cairo and churches burned. Thousands of Syrian Christians have fled to Turkey. "Where we live," said one refugee, "10 churches have been burned down....When the local priest was executed, we decided to leave."  (Washington Post)
  • Arab Spring Turns into Christian Winter in Middle East - William Dalrymple
    Long before the Assads came to power, Syria was a reliable refuge for the Christians of the Middle East. Syria took in many Christians driven out of Iraq a decade ago. Now those Iraqi refugees face a second displacement, while their Syrian hosts themselves live in daily fear of having to flee for their lives. (BBC News)
  • IDF Sees Rise in Number of Christian Recruits - Yaakov Lappin
    Since June, 84 Christians have volunteered for the IDF. Recruitment from the community has averaged 50 annually. "The last recruitment cycle is the largest observed in recent years," an army source said Tuesday. A total of 140 Christian Arabs are currently on active service, while 400 are in the reserves.
        Earlier this week, 90 active and reserve Christian soldiers gathered in Nazareth for a conference organized by the Forum for Enlisting Christians, led by Greek Orthodox priest Father Gabriel Naddaf. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Other Issues

  • Book Review: Separating Fact from Propaganda - Ruth R. Wisse
    Ari Shavit's best-seller, My Promised Land, recasts the creation of the State of Israel as naqba, the "catastrophe" that is the founding myth of Arab Palestinians. Researcher Alex Safian has taken the trouble to separate fact from propaganda in Shavit's description of an alleged massacre in the battle over the Palestinian Arab town of Lydda (Lod) during the 1948 War of Independence. The Arab inhabitants of Lydda first surrendered to Jewish soldiers and then, having retracted their surrender when it seemed that Jordanian forces had gained the upper hand, went about killing and mutilating Israeli fighters. Once the Israelis secured the town, they let the Arabs leave, something both sides recognized would never have happened had victory gone the other way.
        Shavit fails to distinguish the triumph of Israel from the tragedy of the Arab and Muslim war against it - a war that began before 1948 and that has always been indifferent to concessionary adjustments of Israel's boundaries or policies. The only harm Israelis ever did to Arabs - and I emphasize only - was to impose on the Palestinians a terrorist leader, Yasir Arafat, whom Israelis would never have allowed to rule over themselves. The writer is professor of Yiddish and comparative literature at Harvard. (Mosaic)
  • Kerry's Security Arrangements in the Jordan Valley - Caroline B. Glick
    When Israel withdrew from the international border between Gaza and Egypt, it assumed that the regime of Hosni Mubarak would always be in power, and that Mubarak's regime would secure the border. According to then Israel Security Agency director Yuval Diskin, in the three months after Israel withdrew from Gaza in August 2005, the Palestinians smuggled more weapons into Gaza from Egypt than they had in the previous 38 years, when Israel controlled the border.
        Secretary of State John Kerry's security arrangements along the Jordan Valley are predicated on similar notions - that the Hashemite regime will remain in power forever, and that the Hashemites will want to protect the border forever. This ignores the instability of the Arab world as a whole and the fact that the overwhelming majority of Jordanians are Palestinians.
        Even if King Abdullah II manages to remain in power, his children are half Palestinian. So even if the Hashemites remain in power, there is no reason to believe that their commitment to peace with Israel will be maintained over time. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Presumption of Innocence: Difficulties in Bringing Suspected Terrorists to Trial - Robin Simcox
    While the criminal justice system may be the ideal or preferred method to eliminate terrorist threats, it is not always the most realistic. In an era of mass casualty terrorism, the notion that all terror suspects can be tried in court is outdated. Prosecution of suspected terrorists is not always in the public interest. They risk disclosing classified information in court that hinders ongoing investigations, revealing sensitive sources, or exposing intelligence-gathering methods.
        The report The Presumption of Innocence attempts to show the significant difficulties in prosecuting suspected terrorists, and how these difficulties have been circumvented by a range of measures - including detention and drone strikes. (Henry Jackson Society-UK)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israeli Doctors Perform Life-Saving Heart Surgery on Syrian Refugee Child - Adi Rubenstein
    Four-year-old Mahmoud runs up and down the corridor of the Pediatric Cardiology Unit at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer. He was born with a rare, life-threatening heart defect - his right and left ventricles were reversed - and had not been expected to live more than a few years.
        His father says, "We always heard in the Arab media how children from Gaza and the West Bank were receiving medical treatment in Israel." With the help of a Christian organization called Shevet Achim, Mahmoud was taken to Israel for surgery. "The operation is called a double switch because we use a highly complex procedure to change the direction of the ventricles and the arteries," said Dr. Dudi Mishali, director of pediatric cardiac surgery at the hospital.
        During the eight-hour operation, a state-of-the-art pacemaker was implanted with a battery that will last much longer than other pacemakers, since no one knows when Mahmoud will be able to receive regular follow-up medical treatment. He was supposed to stay under observation for two weeks in the intensive-care unit. But just two days afterward, he amazed everyone by jumping out of bed and running among the hospital units.
        Mahmoud's father says every day he is here, he is surprised by the treatment he and his son receive. "All our lives, we were taught to love one person and hate another. Now the one we learned to love is trying to kill us, and the one that is supposed to be my enemy has saved my son's life."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli Doctors Save Palestinian 4-Year-Old - Ilan Ben Zion
    Muath Abu Danash, 4, from Hebron, was brought to Wolfson Medical Center in Holon for surgery this week to enable him to live a normal life. He was diagnosed with a congenital anomaly of the pulmonary veins by Dr. Rula Awwad, a Palestinian pediatric cardiologist trained through Save A Child's Heart (SACH) at Wolfson. SACH has provided a three-to-five year training program for over 100 physicians and nurses from around the world, including dozens of Palestinians.
        To date, SACH has treated and saved the lives of 3,300 children from 48 countries. Half were Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza. "We bring children because of their medical condition, not because of their family connection," SACH Executive Director Simon Fisher said. "Whether it's Hamas, Fatah or Islamic Jihad, it really doesn't matter." In the room alongside Muath were five other children: from Gaza, Hebron, Ghana, Tanzania and Israel. (Times of Israel)

Media's Lexicon Poisons Public Perceptions of Israel - Lee S. Bender and Jerome R. Verlin (Algemeiner)

  • Western media participates in the delegitimization campaign against Israel by lacing its reporting with loaded terms:
  • "Palestinian" - UN Resolution 181 in 1947 did not attempt to partition Palestine "between Palestinians and Jews." It referred to "the Jewish State" and "the Arab State," and expressed hope for cooperation "between the two Palestinian peoples."
  • "East Jerusalem" - The Jewish connection with "East Jerusalem" extends back to King David. Over the ensuing 3,000 years, the city has been the capital of three native states - Judah, Judea, and Israel. The two Jewish temples stood as Jerusalem centerpieces for a millennium. Throughout two millennia of foreign rule, Jews relentlessly returned to Jerusalem whenever the foreign invaders exiled them, again becoming Jerusalem's majority during 19th century Ottoman rule. Throughout those millennia, nobody called Jews in Jerusalem "settlers."
  • "West Bank" - Judea and Samaria are not the biblical names for the West Bank. These Hebrew-origin names remained in use all through post-biblical times. It was invading Jordan that renamed Judea-Samaria as "the West Bank" in 1950 to expunge its connection with Jews. Jordan is the "East Bank."
  • "Settlements" - Israel has strong historical and, under the 1922 San Remo Conference which enshrined the 1917 Balfour Declaration, compelling legal claims to this hill country heartland, which it captured in a defensive war in 1967, not from a nation with internationally recognized title but from the 1948 invader Transjordan. Given Israel's undeniable historical and legal claims to Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem, it is offensive to state that Jews who live there are in "settlements," while Arabs live in nearby "neighborhoods, towns, and villages."
  • "War of Independence" - The 1948 war was a multi-nation invasion by partition-rejecting Arab states aimed at Israel's destruction, not the media's "war that followed Israel's creation."
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