Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
February 12, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Can Hit Tel Aviv, Jerusalem with Dozens of Rockets - David Horovitz (Times of Israel)
    Hamas has substantially bolstered its capacity to fire on Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the rest of central Israel, the Times of Israel has learned.
    Hamas has invested heavily in producing M-75 rockets with a range of 75 km. and more. They have dozens of these rockets and will have dozens more by the end of this year.
    In November 2012, only 10 M-75 rockets were launched at central Israel and Jerusalem, so the current threat is seen as many times more serious.
    At the same time, Hamas has committed considerable resources to the construction of a substantial network of tunnels which will immensely complicate future military confrontations for Israel.
    Israel's military assessment is that another round of conflict is simply a matter of time.

Egyptian Army Chief in Russia for Arms Talks (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
    Egyptian army chief and defense minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is on an official visit to Russia.
    Military sources told Al-Ahram on Wednesday that El-Sisi was visiting Moscow to finalize a deal on the purchase of weapons.
    Egypt sees Russia as a new potential ally after the U.S. suspended part of its annual military aid to Egypt.

Syrian Crisis Overshadows Aid to Palestinians, UN Says (DPA-Ha'aretz)
    The Syrian crisis has caused the reduction of funds to assist Palestinians in Gaza, UNRWA Commissioner General Filippo Grandi said Tuesday in New York.

Israel Joins Western States at UN Human Rights Forum (Times of Israel)
    Israel's UN delegation on Tuesday participated for the first time in a meeting of the JUSCANZ group at the UN's Third Committee, one of the main groups coordinating human rights at the UN.
    See also Israel Granted Observer Status in Pacific Alliance - Gavriel Fiske (Times of Israel)
    Israel has been granted observer status in the Pacific Alliance, an economic trade organization of several major Latin and Central American countries, the Prime Minister's Office announced on Tuesday.

Presbyterian Church Group Condemns Zionism - Lazar Berman (Times of Israel)
    The Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) released a new study guide on Israel in January that condemns Zionism.
    One of the discussion questions reads: "What kinds of Palestinian resistance to Jewish expansionism and oppression do you feel are justified?"

British Islamist Jailed for Threatening to Kill Prince Harry - Estelle Shirbon (Independent-UK)
    Ashraf Islam, 31, a British Muslim convert who told police he wanted to kill Prince Harry, has been jailed for three years after pleading guilty to threatening murder.
    Islam made the threat on the day after soldier Lee Rigby was murdered by two British Muslim converts in London.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Obama: Diplomacy Is Failing in Syria - Anne Gearan
    The Obama administration acknowledged Tuesday that diplomacy is failing in Syria. Negotiations between the Syrian government and parts of the opposition are "far from achieving" a peaceful end to the conflict, President Obama said. "The state of Syria itself is crumbling," Obama said. "There are extremists who have moved into the vacuum in certain portions of Syria in a way that could threaten us over the long term."
        At the peace talks in Geneva, which resumed Monday, negotiators are talking past one another and cannot even agree on what the main goal of the talks should be. Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN envoy for Syria, said in Geneva, "We are not making much progress."  (Washington Post)
        See also In Peace Talks, Assad Plays for Time (AP-Washington Post)
  • Palestinian Forces Raid West Bank Refugee Camps - Mel Frykberg
    In recent weeks, Palestinian security forces have searched refugee camps for militants and sparked gunfights that have ended with the deaths of two people, injuries to several security personnel and local residents, and the arrest of dozens, as the Palestinian Authority tries to establish security among its increasingly restless populace.
        "Israel is worried about the deteriorating security situation in the West Bank. This is the reason it wants to maintain a security presence in a future Palestinian state. The [PA] will not be able to take care of Israel's security needs," said Pinhas Inbari, a security analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
        Inbari said the PA appears to have lost control over several of the camps, including Balata near Nablus, Jenin, and Kalandia near Jerusalem. "The PA tried the diplomatic approach, first by trying to reason with the gunmen and the residents, but that has failed. They then tried launching military assaults, but those, too, are not working," he said. (Washington Times)
  • Iranians Celebrate Islamic Revolution, Denounce U.S. Leaders - Thomas Erdbrink
    Iran celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution on Tuesday, and the state news media said millions had exuberantly participated. Wendy R. Sherman, the lead American negotiator in the nuclear talks, was singled out for particular denunciation, with many rally participants shouting, "Death to Sherman," the Iranian Students' News Agency reported. Some protesters also shouted, "Death to Obama!" and "Death to Kerry!"
        As the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps band played songs from the 1979 revolution, one cleric, Mohammad Moshabarati, 28, marched by, holding an Islamic flag. He said, "Our slogan is, 'Death to the U.S.,' and it will be so forever, no matter what President Rouhani agrees with the Americans."  (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • EU Parliament Head: "We're Not Boycotting Israel" - Tovah Lazaroff
    The European Union is not talking about boycotting Israel, the president of its parliament Martin Schulz said after receiving an honorary doctorate at Hebrew University in Jerusalem on Tuesday. "There is no boycott. In the European Parliament there is for sure not a majority for a potential boycott," Schulz said. "There is no concrete position of the European Union or its institutions for a boycott of Israel or Israeli products....My personal view is that a boycott is not a solution for anything."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Future EU Sanctions Against Israel? Real, Imagined, and Somewhere in Between
    Is the scenario of a full-scale EU boycott of Israel at all realistic? This study provides policy-makers with a "Brussels insiders" perspective on the prospects for future sanctions by the EU against Israel. It remains unlikely for the EU to adopt a formal, new sanctions regime against Israel, regardless of the precedent set by the Horizon 2020 research project and the European Commission's guidelines on it. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Turkey: No Reconciliation with Israel until It Ends Gaza Blockade - Barak Ravid
    Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said on Tuesday that he demands a "written protocol" from Israel pledging it will lift the siege over Gaza as a condition for signing a reconciliation agreement and normalizing relations between the two countries. "Nothing will happen without lifting the siege on Gaza," he said. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Why Does the EU Continue to Fund Anti-Peace NGOs? - Gerald Steinberg
    For years, the EU has been providing millions of euros to radical political advocacy NGOs that promote the images of Palestinian victimization and Israeli oppression. In many cases, the reports and lobbying efforts of these NGOs are central to EU policy formation, forming a closed circle in which biased anti-Israel narratives are reinforced.
        These EU funding policies actively promote boycott and isolation of Israel. And as a result, the Palestinians have an easy alternative to the "painful compromises" necessary for peace. The writer, a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, heads NGO Monitor. (Jerusalem Post)
  • SodaStream and Scarlett Johansson - Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch
    Scarlett Johansson has given a clinic on how to stand up to bullies. Boycotts of Israel are absurd. The reason many Palestinians became refugees was that the Palestinian Arabs joined surrounding Arab states in a war of extermination against the infant State of Israel in 1948, a war that they lost. Israel came into possession of the West Bank because of a war of extermination that three Arab states launched against Israel in 1967 and lost.
        The PLO rejected President Clinton's Camp David proposals and launched a vicious war against Israeli civilians that killed a thousand and maimed ten thousand - and lost. Every day Palestinians try to inflict terror on Israel.
        The Middle East is burning with the fires of anti-Western, anti-democratic, anti-humanitarian savagery, torture and anarchy, and SodaStream is the primary preoccupation of those who supposedly advocate for truth, human rights and love? (Huffington Post)
  • The Poet Iran Executed - David Keyes
    As Iranian poet Hashem Shaabani was dangling from a noose two weeks ago, one wonders what he would have thought about Western leaders who call President Hassan Rouhani a moderate. Shaabani criticized the regime by speaking out against repression of ethnic Arabs in Khuzestan province, but since the regime sees itself as the representative of God on Earth, his fate was sealed. It's not called a theocracy for nothing.
        Islamic scholar and former Iraqi parliamentarian Iyad Jamal al Din once told me of Iran's Supreme Leader: "Ayatollah Khamenei is a man just like me. He's a cleric and I'm a cleric. But he says, 'I am the representative of God.' From him, these words make me sleepless. You all [in America] sleep normally because you don't know what that means. I know what it means. He means that he is right and the others are wrong. And wrong must not live. You should be defeated and destroyed."
        Can the world trust a government which doesn't even trust its own people? Can the West rely on a regime which so fears dissidents that it puts them to death? Shaabani, and the more than 300 Iranians executed since Rouhani took power, are powerful reminders that the Iranian government remains as fanatic as it is dangerous. The writer is executive director of Advancing Human Rights. (Daily Beast)
  • Jewish-Arab Coexistence in Jerusalem - Matti Friedman
    In recent years, Jerusalem has seen new infrastructure projects like a light-rail line serving Jewish and Arab neighborhoods. State-funded health care in Arab neighborhoods is improving. One hears more Arabic than ever spoken in predominantly Jewish commercial areas. More Arab residents are requesting Israeli citizenship and taking the Israeli high-school matriculation exams.
        There are many thousands of interactions between Jews and Arabs each day, nearly all of them uneventful. What we have here is not peace but peacefulness - a budding, imperfect coexistence obvious to anyone. According to a poll published in January 2014 by Ha'aretz, when Arab Israelis were asked if they were "generally satisfied" with their lives in Israel, 79% said yes. (Tablet)

West Bank Boycott: A Political Act or Prejudice? - Jodi Rudoren (New York Times)

  • For many Israelis, the word "boycott" recalls the Nazi-led one of Jewish-owned businesses that spread in the 1930s from Germany across Europe.
  • "The politically correct way to be anti-Semitic is not to say, 'I hate the Jews,' but to say, 'I hate Israel,'" said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
  • Mark Regev, Prime Minister Netanyahu's spokesman, said Israel is unfairly singled out, while human rights violations elsewhere in the world - and other states' occupation of land claimed by other ethnic groups - are ignored.
  • "It's of dubious morality to hold the Jewish state to a standard to which you hold no one else," Regev said. "Are you boycotting any other place of disputed sovereignty on the planet, or are you picking and choosing your moral outrage?" Some people "are being very selective with their indignation, and it fits into certain cultural prejudices."

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