Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 10, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Says No Inspection of Parchin Military Site in IAEA Deal (Press TV-Iran)
    Iran says inspection of the Parchin military site is not included in its new agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
    Iran has vehemently dismissed allegations about clandestine nuclear activities at its Parchin military site.
    See also UN Agency Says Iran Probe Needs More Work (Reuters)
    Iran and the UN nuclear agency have made progress in talks on the country's disputed nuclear program, but there are still many outstanding issues, the IAEA's chief inspector, Tero Varjoranta, said on Monday.

Israel Boycotters Making a "Mistake," Sending Bad Message to Palestinians, Says Israel's UK Ambassador - Mick Krever (CNN)
    Proponents of a boycott on Israeli goods are making a "mistake," Israeli Ambassador to the UK Daniel Taub told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.
    "They're sending a message to the Palestinians...that you don't need to be sitting at the negotiating table."
    The ambassador denied that divestment was going "mainstream," citing tech giants like Google and Microsoft "straining at the leash" to work in Israel.

The Israeli-Made Security System at Sochi (GlobalPost)
    An Israeli company, NICE Systems, has deployed a network of security platforms at the Sochi Olympic Games that "takes points of data - video images, radio communications, phone calls, access control alarms - and blends it all into a single operating system that interacts with all of that," according to Bill Besse, a security specialist.
    The company specifies that "Sochi law enforcement authorities will be able to automatically detect overcrowding, unattended baggage and perimeter intrusions."
    NICE was founded by seven Israeli ex-army friends.

Jordanian Parliament Rejects Recognition of Israel as "Jewish State" - Khaled Neimat (Jordan Times)
    The Lower House of Jordan's parliament on Saturday reiterated its rejection of any Mideast peace deal that could lead to the recognition of Israel as a "Jewish state."

PA Forces Arrest Scores of Radical Islamists in West Bank Dragnet - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Palestinian Authority security forces arrested over the weekend scores of members of the radical group Hizb-ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation) in the West Bank.
    Hizb-ut-Tahrir is a pan-Islamic political group whose goal is to unify all Muslim countries under an Islamic caliphate.

Woodside to Invest Up to $2.6 Billion in Israeli Gas Venture - James Paton (Bloomberg)
    Woodside Petroleum, Australia's second-largest oil producer, plans to buy a quarter of Israel's biggest natural gas field for as much as $2.6 billion.
    Woodside agreed to pay Noble Energy and its partners in the Leviathan venture an initial $850 million when the deal is completed, due by the end of next month, the company said Friday.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Supreme Leader Khamenei Dismisses Any Compromise with U.S. - Morgane Lapeyre and Indira A.R. Lakshmanan
    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the U.S. of hypocrisy and of seeking to undermine his country's independence in a speech to air force commanders in Tehran, the state-run Fars news agency reported. "The Iranian nation should pay attention to the recent negotiations and the rude remarks of the Americans so that everyone gets to know the enemy well," Khamenei said. (Bloomberg)
        See also Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister: U.S. Still the Great Satan - Thomas Erdbrink
    In an interview with state television, one of Iran's top negotiators, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, emphasized that a nuclear deal would in no way mean a normalization of ties with the U.S. "We have problems with the USA over dozens of issues," he said. "All these are still there. Nothing has changed. The USA is still the Great Satan in our view."  (New York Times)
        See also Iranian TV Airs Simulated Bombing of Tel Aviv, U.S. Aircraft Carrier - Ilan Ben Zion
    Iranian state TV on Friday ran a documentary featuring a computerized video of Iran's drones and missiles bombing Tel Aviv, Haifa, Ben-Gurion Airport and the Dimona nuclear reactor in a hypothetical retaliation for an Israeli or American strike on the Islamic Republic. Iranian drones and missiles are also shown carrying out simulated strikes on the American aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, downing American aircraft and striking American military targets in the Persian Gulf.
        The clip was broadcast amid a clear escalation of anti-American rhetoric by Iran: On Saturday, an Iranian admiral announced that Iran had dispatched warships to the North Atlantic, while Iran's leader Ayatollah Khamenei said it was "amusing" that the U.S. thought Iran would reduce its "defensive capabilities."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Top Iranian Official: Israel a "Cancer" in the Middle East
    Addressing a Friday ceremony in Tunisia, Iranian Majlis (Parliament) Speaker Ali Larijani called Israel the "cancer" of the region. The U.S. delegation walked out in protest. (Press TV-Iran)
  • U.S. "Casts Doubt" on Report of Iranian Ships Approaching U.S.
    Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad, commander of the Iranian navy's northern fleet, said, "Iran's military fleet is approaching the United States' maritime borders, and this move has a message," the Iranian Fars news agency reported Saturday. In Washington, a U.S. defense official cast doubt on the claims, adding that "ships are free to operate in international waters."  (Reuters)
        See also Iranian "Fleet": Destroyer and Supply Ship
    Iran's northern navy fleet, consisting of a destroyer and a helicopter-carrying supply ship, began a voyage last month from the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas. The vessels have entered the Atlantic Ocean after passing near South Africa. (AP-USA Today)
  • Among Iran's "True Believers," an Enduring Faith in Martyrdom - Scott Peterson
    "Today, if we can stand firm against the U.S. and the excessive demands of the U.S., it is because of the culture of martyrdom and culture of jihad," said Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, the Tehran mayor and two-time conservative presidential candidate, at a memorial service attended by the commander of Iran's Qods Force, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
        Soleimani is credited with turning Lebanon's Shiite Hizbullah into one of the most potent fighting forces in the Middle East; wielding low-profile but effective pressure for years on U.S. forces in Iraq; and coming to the rescue of Syrian ally Bashar al-Assad in that country's civil war.
        The eulogy for Hassan Shateri, a Qods Force general killed in Syria last year, was delivered at the Museum of Holy Defense and Spreading the Culture of Resistance. Inside, the columns were decorated with shiny tin-plated AK-47 assault rifles. Outside, life-size replicas of each of Iran's ballistic missile designs are lined up on a hillside and old tanks and military vehicles line the roads. (Christian Science Monitor)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians Riot on Temple Mount after Friday Prayers - Daniel K. Eisenbud
    Minutes after concluding Friday prayers, hundreds of Palestinians attacked Israel Police officers with rocks on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. On Thursday police had closed the holy site to Jews to avert a riot, following numerous threats from Arabs of violence should any Jews ascend.
        Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, "Police responded immediately by entering the Temple Mount area and dispersing the rioters." Seven rioters were arrested. Rosenfeld noted that the police had preemptively heightened security in the area upon receiving intelligence that the Arabs intended to riot after praying. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Jordan Condemns Israeli Assault on Palestinians at Al-Aqsa Mosque (Petra-Jordan)
  • Israel Targets "Rebel" Terrorists in Gaza - Amos Harel
    Israel targeted and seriously wounded jihadi terrorist Abdallah Kharti in Gaza on Sunday, the third such effort in two weeks aimed at members of independent cells that do not answer to the Hamas government. Since these terrorists are not part of Hamas, the Hamas leadership generally responds with restraint when they are attacked.
        The Israel Security Agency said Kharti provided assistance to Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the main jihadist faction in Sinai fighting against the Egyptian regime. Ansar operatives claimed responsibility for firing Katyusha rockets at Eilat last month. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • John Kerry, a Secretary on a Mission - David Ignatius
    Secretary of State John Kerry was trying to choose his words carefully in talking about his negotiations for a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran and a "framework agreement" between Israelis and Palestinians. As recent experience has shown, one loose statement from Kerry - say, about the risk of a boycott of Israel if the peace talks fail - can mean days of damage control. But Kerry answered some questions even after saying he shouldn't. It was an example of an impetuosity that has propelled him across diplomatic minefields many thought were impassable. Kerry may yet stumble, but he's clearly enjoying his hour as "the man in the arena," in Theodore Roosevelt's phrase.
        Kerry explained that as part of his Israeli-Palestinian framework, he wants to allow each side to express its reservations about the U.S.-drafted parameters. He argues that for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, such caveats are "the only way for them to politically be able to keep the negotiations moving."
        When asked about Abbas' recent statements that he would allow a phased withdrawal of Israeli troops over five years and accept NATO troops as a buffer after the Israelis leave, Kerry says, "Netanyahu has made it clear he doesn't want NATO."
        On the Iran negotiations, Kerry seems to share President Obama's view that the odds are against a comprehensive deal.
        At another point, he said with relish that critics who argue he's been too involved in his Middle East mission should realize: "It's my job. I'm secretary of state."  (Washington Post)
        See also Israeli Foreign Minister Defends Peacemaker Kerry - Dan Williams
    Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Friday defended U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. "I want to make clear - Kerry is a true friend of Israel," Lieberman told business leaders in Tel Aviv, praising Kerry for handling the negotiations "in the proper manner."  (Reuters)
        See also U.S. Welcomes Lieberman's Backing of Kerry, Peace Process - Shlomo Cesana and Yoni Hirsh (Israel Hayom)
  • Kerry's Israel Boycott Talk Will Backfire - Jeffrey Goldberg
    John Kerry is quite obviously a friend of Israel. He was a friend in the Senate, and he is one as U.S. secretary of state. His work on behalf of a two-state solution seems motivated by a deep love for Israel. Kerry's strategy in the Middle East is quite clever; he is systematically addressing every worry articulated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an effort to neutralize Israeli anxiety.
        But I think Kerry has been making one mistake. His need to publicly invoke the specter of an international campaign to boycott Israel is not helping advance his cause. By publicly discussing this possibility of new and intensified boycott pressure if peace talks fail, he is providing fuel to the forces aligned against Israel.
        I find the idea of a modern-day economic boycott that targets Jews viscerally offensive. If the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement had any targets other than Israel - and Israel, of course, has one of the best human rights records in the Middle East, so there are certainly candidates for boycott in its immediate vicinity - then it might be possible to ascribe more benevolent intentions to its leaders. But this movement only has one scapegoat. (Bloomberg)

The Fabricated Palestinian History - Nadav Shragai (Israel Hayom)

  • Saeb Erekat, the head of the Palestinian negotiating team, last week lectured to Justice Minister Tzipi Livni that he and his Canaanite forefathers lived in Jericho 3,000 years ago before the arrival of Joshua and his Sons of Israel. The Palestinians have invented thousands of years of a new history of their own. All of a sudden, the biblical Canaanites are Arabs, Jesus is a Palestinian, and Moses is a Muslim.
  • Fathi Hamad, the interior minister in the Hamas government in Gaza, said recently: "We all have Arab roots and every Palestinian in Gaza and all over Palestine can prove their Arab roots, whether they be in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, or anywhere else....Speaking personally, half of my family is Egyptian."
  • Prof. Rafi Israeli, an expert on Islam from Hebrew University, says the link that the Palestinians have tried to create with the ancient Canaanites is "absurd." "The early origins of the Arabs who came to this country are in the Arabian peninsula....The Palestinians don't really have roots here. They know this very well, so they are trying to invent origins for themselves."
  • "Whenever you offer historic or archaeological criticism of this nonsense, learned scholars the world over immediately insist that you 'respect the narrative.' It doesn't matter one bit to them whether there is historical truth there. If we do not debunk this, it will be accepted as fact. If you repeat a lie thousands of times, it eventually becomes accepted as true, so we mustn't keep quiet."
  • Prof. Nissim Dana of Ariel University adds: "In the Koran...there are 10 passages which state that Allah bequeathed the land to the Jewish people. In all of these instances, it is written that there is not only the right but the obligation placed on the Sons of Israel to inherit the land. On the other hand, there is no mention in the Koran of bequeathing the land to Muslims, Arabs, Palestinians, or any other nation not called the Jewish people."
  • As for the claim that the Palestinians are the descendants of the Canaanites, Dana notes that "the Koran says the Canaanites were ordered expelled from the holy land by Allah after they had defiled the land."

    The writer was a reporter for Ha'aretz between 1983 and 2009 and currently writes for Israel Hayom.

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