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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
January 21, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Sanctions Eased, Iran Gets Feelers from Old Trading Partners - Thomas Erdbrink (New York Times)
    Parliamentary missions from old European trading partners like Germany, Italy, and Finland have arrived in Tehran in recent weeks eager to renew contacts.
    Critics of Iran in the U.S. Congress and elsewhere have expressed dismay over the European trade missions.
    They see them as a signal that Iran is open for business, leading to an end of the Islamic republic's international isolation, which they say is what brought the Iranians to the negotiating table in the first place.
    "As we have warned, and I say this with regret, the sanctions regime has started to weaken and very quickly," Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said Sunday in Italy.
    "If tangible steps are not taken soon, it is liable to collapse, and the efforts of years will vanish without anything in exchange." 

Arab TV Host Touts Israel's Humanity (Times of Israel)
    In an Al Jazeera Arabic clip that was translated and posted to YouTube on Tuesday, TV presenter Dr. Faisal Al-Qassem asks of Syrian President Assad and his allies:
    "Why don't they learn from the Israeli army which tries, through great efforts, to avoid shelling areas populated by civilians in Lebanon and Palestine? Didn't Hizbullah take shelter in areas populated by civilians because it knows that the Israeli air force doesn't bomb those areas?"
    "The Israeli army, if it wanted to break up a demonstration, would have used water cannons or rubber bullets, not rockets or explosive barrels as happens in Aleppo today."
    See also Al-Jazeera: Why Can't Arab Armies Be More Humane Like Israel's? - Tom Gross (Mideast Dispatch Archive)

Poll: Israelis Doubt Obama Will Prevent Iran Nukes - Stephan Miller (Times of Israel)
    Asked if they trust U.S. President Obama "to ensure that Iran does not achieve a nuclear weapon," 22% of Israelis said yes, while 64% said no, according to a new survey conducted for the Times of Israel.

UAE-Iran Islands Deal Would Face Major Obstacles - Awad Mustafa (Defense News)
    Experts and analysts are expressing skepticism of a reported deal to transfer islands near the Strait of Hormuz from Iran to the UAE.
    The Iranian Foreign Ministry denied any accord over the disputed islands.

Economist Removes Anti-Semitic Cartoon after Criticism - Yoel Goldman (Times of Israel)
    The British Economist on Monday removed a cartoon it had published two days earlier which observers blasted as anti-Semitic.
    The cartoon depicted President Obama, shackled by a seal of Congress overlaid with Stars of David, trying to shake the hand of Iranian President Rouhani.
    The implication was that Jews control the U.S. Congress.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Evidence of "Industrial-Scale Killing" by Syria Spurs Call for War Crimes Charges - Ian Black
    Syrian government officials could face war crimes charges in the light of a huge cache of evidence smuggled out of the country showing the "systematic killing" of about 11,000 detainees, according to three eminent international lawyers. The three, former prosecutors at the criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone, examined thousands of Syrian government photographs and files recording deaths in the custody of regime security forces from March 2011 to last August. (Guardian-UK)
        See also Gruesome Syria Photos May Prove Torture by Assad Regime - Mick Krever and Schams Elwazer (CNN)
  • UN Withdraws Iran Invitation to Syria Talks - Liz Sly and Anne Gearan
    The UN on Monday revoked an invitation to Iran to attend a peace conference on Syria in Switzerland, after loud U.S. objections to Iran's participation and a threat by the Syrian opposition to boycott the talks. (Washington Post)
        See also Syrian Peace Talks a Tacit Admission that Assad Won't Leave Soon - Anne Gearan
    U.S. policy toward Syria is tacitly acknowledging that President Assad will remain in power, at least for a while. The Obama administration has narrowed its policy to two main efforts: the eradication of Syria's chemical weapons and the staging of a peace conference scheduled for this week. Both need Assad's cooperation to succeed.
        Many opponents of Assad understand that the upcoming peace talks in Geneva are "about recognizing that Assad remains undefeated, and that no great power is willing to dislodge him as they did Gaddafi," said Joshua M. Landis, a Syria expert and professor at the University of Oklahoma. There is little chance that the nominal goal of a transitional government to replace Assad will emerge quickly, if ever. (Washington Post)
  • Palestinians Divided Over Boycott of Israeli Universities - Matthew Kalman
    Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi, director of American studies at Al-Quds University in eastern Jerusalem, said, "I believe that you should not have a general boycott against Israel, or a boycott against Israeli universities.... Don't target those Israelis and those universities and those institutions which actually are your partner."
        A professor in the College of Pharmacy at Al-Quds said more than 50 Palestinian professors were engaged in joint research projects with Israeli universities, funded by international agencies. He said that, without those grants, Palestinian academic research would collapse.
        Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, denied that Israel is interfering in Palestinians' academic freedom and said that Israel has provided much support for Palestinian universities over the decades. "The Palestinians can teach anything, conduct research, use whatever textbooks they like." Moreover, "there is no ban on the entry to the West Bank of any lecturer, professor, or researcher. There never was."  (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians in Gaza Fire Three Rockets at Israel on Tuesday, Bomb Detonates on Gaza Border, Rockets Fired at Eilat from Sinai - Yaakov Lappin
    Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired three rockets at Israel early Tuesday. They also detonated a bomb on the border in an attempt to kill IDF soldiers in the area. On Monday evening, two Grad rockets were fired at Eilat from Sinai. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Sharpens Response to Palestinian Rocket Fire - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The preventive attack launched on Sunday in Gaza against an Islamic Jihad terrorist is a move up the scale of Israel's response ladder. When launchings from Gaza are being carried out once a day on average, Israel decided to move to preventive targeted killings. This means that until stability prevails, the IDF will use every operational opportunity to execute preventive attacks.
        Since Hamas has, in the last two years, lost nearly all of its patrons, funders, and donors, Israel is the one keeping Hamas in power, out of cold calculation. The alternatives are the Salafis, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad which takes its orders from Iran, and even Fatah sects in Gaza that are far more extreme than Hamas.
        Moreover, the bottom ranks of Palestinian Islamic Jihad have recently begun operating of their own accord, challenging not only the Hamas regime but their own leadership. A similar phenomenon is occurring in the West Bank, where Fatah operatives in several refugee camps have recently been disregarding orders from the Palestinian Authority at an increasing rate, even to the extent of exchanging gunfire with PA security forces. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Critics of Israel Silent as Arabs Starve Palestinians - Walter Russell Mead
    Silence reigns among Israel's critics as Palestinians suffer brutality at the hands of pro-Assad forces in Syria. In the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus, residents are undergoing a campaign of forced starvation, as pro-regime forces are blocking the flow of food and medicine. Yarmouk's population has dwindled from 160,000 to 18,000 since the civil war began.
        Of course if Israel did anything even remotely this heinous, everyone including the UN General Assembly would be screaming in righteous wrath. The total silence among Israel-bashers while Palestinians are starved and murdered tells us that the suffering of Palestinians only becomes visible when Israelis do something to them. (American Interest)
  • Egypt's Constitutional Referendum - Zvi Mazel
    98% of Egyptian voters approved the new constitution in a referendum, giving Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi the legitimacy he needed, not only in Egypt but in the West that had claimed getting rid of the Muslim Brotherhood regime and its elected president was an unacceptable military coup. The overwhelming "yes" vote was a clarion call for Sisi to run for president.
        However, Sisi has good reason to worry. He had hoped for a bigger turnout to demonstrate the broad basis of his popular support. He got 38.6%. That is better than the 32.8% who came out for the referendum held on the Muslim Brothers' constitution two years ago, a constitution that was approved by 62%. The Brotherhood and its allies boycotted the referendum, while the al-Dawa al-Salafiya movement, which through its Nour party garnered 23% of the vote in the 2012 parliamentary elections, called on Egyptians to vote "yes" in the referendum.
        Meanwhile, in the Sinai Peninsula, the army is slowly gaining the upper hand, though it will probably not be able to eradicate the terrorists. In recent months the army has inflicted heavy losses on the insurgents. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Still Weighing Options to Block Iran Nukes - Amir Rapaport
    Almost to the last minute, Israel tried to convince the Americans that the agreement with Iran was a historic mistake. The perception of Israeli policymakers and Israeli intelligence is that the chance that Iran would actually give up its nuclear program is negligible, and the agreement is just a scam designed to ease the sanctions on Iran while it continues to develop its first bomb far from the eyes of IAEA inspectors.
        After the signing of the agreement of principles, the Iranians were quick to announce they will continue to develop a new generation of centrifuges, to enrich uranium more efficiently and faster. As expected, the West folded on this point in the Interim Agreement that came into force this week. (Israel Defense)

"Canada Supports Israel Because It Is Right to Do So" - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Prime Minister of Canada)

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed Israel's Knesset on Monday:

  • Canada and Israel are the greatest of friends, and the most natural of allies. Our military establishments share information and technology to our mutual benefit. For example, during Canada's mission to Afghanistan, the use of Israeli-built reconnaissance equipment saved the lives of many Canadian soldiers.
  • We share the understanding that it is right to support Israel because, after generations of persecution, the Jewish people deserve their own homeland and deserve to live safely and peacefully in that homeland.
  • Canada supports Israel fundamentally because it is right to do so. It is a Canadian tradition to stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is convenient or popular.
  • Those forces which have threatened the State of Israel every single day of its existence threaten all of us. We either stand up for our values and our interests here in Israel, stand up for the existence of a free, democratic and distinctively Jewish state, or the retreat of our values and our interests in the world will begin.
  • Canada finds it deplorable that some in the international community still question the legitimacy of the existence of the State of Israel. We refuse to single out Israel for criticism on the international stage.
  • The new anti-Semitism targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel and attempts to make the old bigotry acceptable to a new generation. What else can we call criticism that selectively condemns only the Jewish state and effectively denies its right to exist, to defend itself, while systematically ignoring or excusing the violence and oppression all around it?

        See also Arab Knesset Members Heckle Canadian Prime Minister - Michelle Zilio
    During his address to the Israeli Knesset Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was heckled by Arab Israeli politicians Ahmad Tibi and Talab Abu Arar. Yelling in Arabic, the two also interrupted the speeches of Israeli leaders.
        After Harper said, "Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state. Think about that. Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that," the pair started yelling and waving their hands, then stormed out of the Knesset. The remaining Knesset members then rose in a lengthy standing ovation for Harper. (iPolitics-Canada)

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