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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
May 8, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Ex-ICC Prosecutor Warns Palestinians on Anti-Israel War Crimes Effort (AP)
    Former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Wednesday in Jerusalem that Palestinians should proceed with caution as they consider pursuing war crimes against Israel at the ICC.
    He said the Palestinians are indeed eligible to join the court. But he said if they accepted its jurisdiction, Gaza's Islamic Hamas rulers also could be investigated for rocket fire and suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.

Hamas Executes Two Men Accused of Aiding Israel - Fares Akram and Jodi Rudoren (New York Times)
    The Hamas government on Wednesday executed two men convicted of collaborating with Israel.
    The killings brought to 23 the number of people given the death penalty in Gaza since 2007.

Poll: 2/3 of Israelis Support Freezing Peace Talks - Gil Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
    68% of Israeli Jews support the government's decision to suspend negotiations with the PA after Fatah and Hamas signed a unity deal, according to the monthly Peace Index poll published Wednesday by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University. 27% disagree with the move.
    At the same time, 73% said they were optimistic about Israel's future in the coming years, while 24% were pessimistic.
    See also Peace Index Results - April 2014 (

In Jerusalem, an Effort to Quiet the Call to Prayer - Michele Chabin (USA Today)
    Five times a day, loudspeakers at the top of nearly 200 minarets in Jerusalem call to Muslims to pray. They begin before dawn, and can be heard for miles, a Middle East tradition that goes back centuries.
    In March, the Jerusalem municipality announced plans to measure the volume of Muslim prayers broadcast via loudspeakers to check whether it exceeds noise pollution standards that the law says all residents must abide by.
    It was initiated after years of complaints from neighbors who say the prayers are loud enough to wake them from a sound sleep.
    The same issue has cropped up elsewhere, including India, England and Germany.
    Yael Saltoun, who lives in the Jewish neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv, says neighborliness means not imposing one's religious practices on others.

Israeli TV Series Coming to U.S. - Li-or Averbach (Globes)
    NBC has ordered an American version of the spy drama "Allegiance," based on the Israeli series "The Gordin Cell."
    In addition, Ellen DeGeneres' production company has bought the rights to "The Gran Plan," starring three grandmothers who use their rich life experiences to help the younger generation deal with personal crises.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Obama: "Speak Out Against Threats to the Jewish Homeland"
    Speaking at the 20th anniversary of Steven Spielberg's USC Shoah Foundation in Los Angeles on Wednesday, President Barack Obama offered a staunch defense of Israel. "It's up to us to speak out against rhetoric that threatens the existence of a Jewish homeland and to sustain America's unshakable commitment to Israel's security."  (AP-Washington Post)
  • U.S. National Security Advisor in Israel to Discuss Iran, Peace Process
    U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday in Jerusalem where they discussed a wide range of issues, including the U.S. and Israel's close security cooperation. On Iran, Ambassador Rice emphasized the critical importance of pursuing a comprehensive solution that assures the international community that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively peaceful. She reiterated that the U.S. will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.
        On Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Rice noted that, while we have come to a pause in the parties' talks, the U.S. remains convinced that lasting peace can only be secured through direct negotiations that lead to two viable, independent states living side-by-side in peace and security. (White House)
        See also Israel, U.S. Divided over Iranian Nuclear Enrichment Deal - Dan Williams
    Israel insists Iran be denied uranium enrichment capabilities under any nuclear deal, officials said on Wednesday. "Are we going to agree on enrichment? No," said an Israeli government adviser briefed on National Security Advisor Susan Rice's visit.
        Last month U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry suggested cautious openness to a nuclear deal that would keep Iran 6 to 12 months from the nuclear weapons threshold. However, the Israeli adviser said that "less than a year would be unacceptable."  (Reuters)
  • Iran Guards Suspected of Keeping Secret Funds in Asia
    An elite Iranian group is suspected of keeping secret funds in various parts of the world including South Korea and Malaysia, dodging internationally coordinated economic sanctions, sources said Sunday. The U.S. Treasury Department is probing money laundering by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, with a view to sanctioning another of the group's affiliated companies.
        Petrosina Arya, a Tehran-based company under the IRGC, allegedly has savings worth more than $1 billion in an account at a major South Korean bank. It also has accounts in Malaysia and former Soviet republics. Iran may be funneling funds to Asian and other countries to evade close monitoring by U.S. and European financial authorities. (Kyodo News-Japan)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Countering U.S. Narrative, Israeli Sources Insist PM Negotiated Sincerely - Raphael Ahren
    According to Israeli sources familiar with the peace talks, Prime Minister Netanyahu genuinely considered all the issues raised by the negotiators, weighing earnestly the pros and cons of every idea brought to his desk. They said the prime minister spent several hours every day pouring over the matters raised in the negotiating room, asking himself which positions Israel could allow itself to adopt in order to advance toward an agreement.
        As he said January: "We do not want to annex the Palestinians as citizens of the State of Israel and we do not want to control them." Nonetheless, Netanyahu stressed this week, if we're talking about two nation-states for two peoples, it needs to be guaranteed that Israel is recognized by the Palestinians as the nation-state of the Jewish people - something PA President Mahmoud Abbas' refused to even discuss.
        Even the unnamed American official who spoke to Yediot Ahronot's Nahum Barnea acknowledged Abbas' obdurate position on this issue. The U.S. official said: "We couldn't understand why it bothered him so much. For us, the Americans, the Jewish identity of Israel is obvious."  (Times of Israel)
  • Do the Palestinians Really Want Their Own State? - Treasury Minister Yair Lapid interviewed by David Horovitz
    "There is a question that is haunting me which is whether the Palestinians really want to have their own state. I'm not sure about it."
        "The Palestinians are the first nation in history that are treating independence as a zero-sum game. They say either you give us 100% of what we want or we don't want it at all. The United States was established as a shaky confederation of 13 states....Modern Italy was formed without Rome."
        "Look at the UN Resolution about the establishment of Israel: 55% of the territory, without the Western Wall, without big chunks of Jerusalem. But we acted according to the basic principles of nations that really want independence. We said, whatever they give us we're going to take, and then we're going to struggle over the details. This is what nations really do when they really want to go there."
        "But the Palestinians are saying: They've only offered us 94% of what we want territorially. We're not going to take it. They've only offered us 94% of the self-government that we've asked for. We're not going to take it. It's either 100% or we're not taking it at all."
        "You look at this and you ask yourself, maybe they don't want it so much."  (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian in Ramallah Fires on Israelis in Psagot - Yaakov Lappin
    A gunman from Ramallah opened fire Wednesday on the nearby Israeli town of Psagot in the West Bank, striking a home, the IDF said. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Stopping a Nuclear Iran - Clifford D. May
    Iran's rulers are determined to acquire the ability to develop nuclear weapons and deliver them to targets anywhere in the world. Can America stop them? "The fear," a former senior intelligence official told me, "is that the Iranians are going to pretend to give up their nuclear-weapons program - and we're going to pretend to believe them."
        While during the Cold War even the most hard-core Soviets understood that "mutually assured destruction" would not be in their interest, Iran's theocrats may seriously believe that "martyrs" killed fighting "infidels" reap rewards in the afterlife. In other words: Deterrence is a dubious policy against those whose religious duty is to defeat the enemies of God. The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Washington Times)
  • Palestinian Magical Thinking - Jonathan Spyer
    Palestinian nationalism in both its Fatah and Hamas variants rejects the possibility of accepting the permanence of Jewish statehood in any part of the area west of the Jordan River. For the Palestinian Authority, the nine-month period of negotiations came as an unwelcome interruption to a very different strategy to which it will now return: attempting to isolate and delegitimize Israel at international forums to induce it to make concessions in return for nothing.
        This strategy is unlikely to bear fruit, but its adoption follows a notable pattern in Palestinian politics - namely, the constant attempt to find an alternative to a negotiated peace based on compromise. The Palestinians see themselves as part of the local majority Arabic-speaking Sunni Muslim culture. From this point of view, the establishment of a non-Muslim sovereignty in Israel is not only an injustice, but also an anomaly, bound eventually to be defeated and disappear. So there is no need to reconcile to it.
        The campaign to place pressure on Israel through activism on the international stage is the latest example of this Palestinian magical thinking. So expect more furious and pathos-filled denunciations of Israeli crimes from various UN committees largely staffed by the representatives of various dictatorships. The writer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum. (PJ Media)

An Indisputable Historical Fact: Decisions by Palestinian Leadership Led to "Nakba" - Shlomo Avineri (Ha'aretz)

  • Some facts of history really ought not to be left to historians, and any attempt to ignore them is morally flawed. It is a fact that on December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the U.S. and not vice versa.
  • It is also true that what is called the Nakba ("disaster") is the result of a political decision by the Palestinian leadership and the Arab states to reject the UN partition resolution, to try to prevent its implementation by force and to attack the Jewish community in the Land of Israel before and after the state's establishment.
  • Usually, Arab discourse simply never mentions the partition resolution, just as it never mentions the violent opposition to its implementation. I suggest going to the newspaper archives and reading the headlines following the UN partition resolution.
  • They are full of reports of Arab violence and the beginnings of armed Arab resistance to the establishment of the State of Israel, first by the Arab militias inside the country and later via the coordinated invasion by Arab armies when the British Mandate ended on May 15, 1948. Arab discourse prefers simply to wipe those historical facts from memory.
  • The Nakba was the tragic result of an Arab political decision to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state in the portion of the Land of Israel that had been under the British Mandate, just as the expulsion of 12 million ethnic Germans from Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary after 1945 was the tragic result of German aggression in 1939.
  • In both cases, masses of innocent civilians paid the price of their leaders' aggression. But if anyone today tried to describe the expulsion of millions of Germans from Eastern Europe as a "disaster" that had nothing to do with the Third Reich's aggression, he would rightly be called a neo-Nazi.

    The writer, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, served as director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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