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,
May 21, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Menendez Blocks Linking Iran Sanctions to Pro-Israel Bill - Kaveh Waddell (National Journal)
    Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez on Monday removed a pro-Israel bill from the committee's agenda after a proposed amendment threatened to split Democrats' allegiances.
    The U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act would strengthen ties between the two countries in a number of arenas. But an amendment from the committee's top Republican, Sen. Bob Corker, would force President Obama to present any nuclear deal with Iran to Congress within three days of its signature.

U.S.-Armed Syrian Rebel Group Seeks Israel's Golan Heights - Adam Kredo (Washington Free Beacon)
    The leader of a Syrian rebel group in possession of sophisticated U.S. arms, Ahmad Al-Sa'oud, who heads Division 13, said in an interview published over the weekend that he is seeking "the return of all Syrian land occupied by Israel," referring to the Golan Heights.
    The Obama administration is said to have carefully vetted each of the rebel factions receiving American arms.
    "This is precisely the problem we've faced in arming the Syrian opposition," said terrorism analyst Patrick Poole.
    "Despite repeated promises that we would only arm 'vetted rebels,' there's no confidence that anyone in the U.S. government has any idea who they're dealing with or what their agenda might be."
    Al-Sa'oud "would like to retake the Golan Heights from Israel - our closest ally in the region - and would use weapons we provided to do it," Poole said.

German Probe Finds 20 Former Majdanek Death Camp Guards - David Rising (AP-Miami Herald)
    20 former guards at the Majdanek death camp who live in Germany could face charges following a widespread probe of the Nazi SS men and women who served there during World War II, Federal prosecutor Kurt Schrimm, who heads Germany's special Nazi war crimes office, said Tuesday.
    Some 220 others are still being investigated for possible charges but have not been located.

Video: Inside Iran's Nuclear Weapons Plan (Diaspora Affairs Ministry-Israel)
    Iran's nuclear program poses a threat to the entire world and needs to be stopped.
    This video reveals Iran's true intentions and why the worldneedsto insist that Iran dismantle its uranium-enrichment capabilities before a deal is signed.

Israeli Startup Touts a Credit-Card-Hack Warning System - Amir Mizroch (Wall Street Journal)
    With credit-card fraud and financial-data theft rising alarmingly around the world, an Israeli fraud-watchdog startup says it can tell you when your credit-card details have been stolen by hackers - pretty much in real time.
    BillGuard, which makes a monitoring app that surfaces erroneous or disputed merchant charges on consumers' credit cards, is adding a hacker-breach notification system.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Hamas Leader: Fight Against Israel to Continue
    Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said on Tuesday the Islamist group was close to mending rifts with Mahmoud Abbas' Palestine Liberation Organization and vowed resistance against Israel will continue. Meshaal views the reconciliation as "opening new options" for attaining the Palestinians' common goals. "The reconciliation does not mean an end to our resistance against the invaders, resistance will continue."  (Reuters)
  • Iranian Analyst: "Who Entrusted Iran with Destroying Israel?" - Arash Karami
    "Iran has explicitly stated many times that it wants to destroy Israel," said Tehran University professor Sadegh Zibakalam. "None of the other countries that have a nuclear program have stated that they want to destroy a country."
        "I don't know who entrusted Iran with destroying Israel," Zibakalam said. "Has the United Nations given this mission to Iran?" At a speech at Islamic Azad University in Mashhad, he stated that international opposition to Iran's nuclear program is directly related to its rhetoric on Israel.
        During a June 2013 debate, hard-line parliament member Mehdi Koochakzadeh asked how Zibakalam could question not fighting Israel. Zibakalam said he is not committed to Israel's destruction and that Israel is a member of the UN. (Al-Monitor)
  • Islamic Extremism on Rise in Jordan - Jean Aziz
    So many weapons are coming into Jordan through the Syrian border that the price of a Kalashnikov rifle has fallen to less than $500. Two years ago, a Kalashnikov cost $2,000. Convoys cross the border to Jordan from near Daraa in Syria loaded with large quantities of weapons of all types. Sunni Islamist fundamentalists are behind these operations.
        Since April 23, the southern Jordanian Maan province has seen a complete security breakdown and serious armed unrest. The events began with the killing of a fundamentalist by the state's security forces as they were trying to arrest him. Local people closed roads and attacked government buildings and centers, both civilian and military. (Al-Monitor)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Ya'alon: Troops in Nakba Day Killings Were in Danger, Acted as Needed
    Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Israeli troops who allegedly shot dead two Palestinian teenagers during Nakba Day protests near Ofer Prison in Beitunia in the West Bank last Thursday acted "as appropriate," given that "they were in a situation where their lives were in danger." An NGO, Defense for Children International Palestine, released video footage which it said showed that the two were unarmed and posing no threat.
        Ya'alon said the troops were facing violent protests and had firebombs thrown at them. "I've seen lots of films that were edited [to distort what had happened]. This film I've not yet seen, but I know the system."  (Times of Israel)
        See also IDF: Video Showing Soldiers Killing Palestinians Was "Edited in a Tendentious Manner" - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Soldiers Targeted by IED near Gaza
    An IED damaged an IDF vehicle near the security fence in southern Gaza early Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also IDF Unit Comes under Fire in West Bank
    An IDF unit conducting a counterterrorism mission in Jenin came under fire before dawn on Tuesday. Palestinians also hurled firebombs and explosives at the soldiers. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Official: Concerns over Boycotts Are Overblown - David Shamah
    Concerns over boycotts of Israel by countries in Europe and elsewhere are overblown, Avi Hasson, Israel's Economy Ministry's chief scientist, said Tuesday. "We are building ties with countries in Asia, Latin America and elsewhere. Our trade with Europe is robust, and trade with Turkey has grown in recent years, despite the crisis in relations between our countries. Israeli tech is an international phenomenon, and will not be stopped by politics," Hasson said.
        "We have over 300 multinational companies with Israeli R&D labs here, from Cisco to IBM to Intel to Deutsche Telekom, and many others," said Hasson. Politics has not affected those companies' decisions to locate in Israel. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Israel's New Friend in New Delhi - Vijeta Uniyal
    Narendra Modi is the next Prime Minister of India. As Chief Minister of Gujarat State (2002-14), with a population of 60 million, he turned the economy around and today Gujarat's per-capita GDP is much higher than India's average.
        Every year more than 2,000 farmers from Gujarat visit Israel to be trained in advanced farming techniques - at their own expense. He welcomed Israeli companies to enter the water management and recycling sector in fifty cities in Gujarat. He created an industrial fund to promote joint ventures between Israeli and Gujarat-based companies.
        Modi is a friend of Israel, the likes of whom India has not seen before. He is the first Indian leader to have actually visited Israel and has often expressed admiration for Israel's achievements. Ideologically, Modi is sympathetic to the notion of the Jewish homeland. (Times of Israel)
        See also India's Modi Is a Strong Supporter of Israel - Owen Alterman and Hriday Sarma (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • The Muslim Brotherhood Thinks It's Winning - Eric Trager
    Nearly a year after the uprising-cum-coup that ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi last summer, and despite an unrelenting crackdown that has claimed over 2,500 lives and jailed over 16,000 Egyptians, the Muslim Brotherhood insists that Morsi must return, and those who removed him - particularly General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who is expected to win the presidential election next week - must be executed. They insist they are winning and see little reason to compromise.
        The Brotherhood isn't winning at all - in fact, it's at its weakest point in nearly four decades. But "reconciliation" won't happen: Many Muslim Brothers would rather die fighting the current regime than sit with it. The writer is a Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (New Republic)
        See also Muslim Brotherhood "Will No Longer Exist" If Sisi Wins Egyptian Elections - Heba Saleh (Financial Times-UK)
  • Syrian Fighting Gives Hizbullah New Purpose - Ben Hubbard
    While the civil war in Syria remains a grinding battle of attrition, for Hizbullah more than a year of combat has produced a new sense of purpose that extends beyond battling Israel. Although its victories have come at a great cost in lives and resources, it has also earned new battlefield experience. But the fighting has also alienated large segments of the majority Sunni population who once embraced Hizbullah. Some Sunnis now openly refer to the "the party of God" - Hizbullah's name in Arabic - as "the party of Satan."
        Ely Karmon, a senior researcher at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel, said Hizbullah was overextended in Syria and was in a weaker position against Israel because it must continue to dedicate resources until there is a solid victory for Assad. And every man killed there gives Hizbullah one more family to support. (New York Times)

Why the Peace Process Will Continue - Michael Doran (Mosaic)

  • It is obvious that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is hardly the most pressing problem in the Middle East. Conservative estimates now put the total number killed in the Syrian civil war at more than the number the Arab-Jewish conflict has caused over almost a century.
  • The 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars produced, together, approximately a million Arab refugees. In the case of Syria, the UN has already registered 2.7 million refugees, and this figure does not include people who have been driven from their homes but who have found refuge inside Syria. Those numbers would more than double the UN's count.
  • Yet, if the last five years are anything to go by, the American president will not abandon his quest to broker a peace agreement between Palestinians and Israelis. Why?
  • One purpose of the peace process is to mitigate damage to American interests by broadcasting the good intentions of America toward all Muslims. Even if it is destined to fail, the show must go on, for merely by existing it refutes the allegation that the U.S. is partial to Jews and prejudiced against Muslims.
  • John Kerry recently expressed his deep concern that Israel is at risk of becoming an "apartheid state." On another occasion, he voiced his fear that Israeli policies are laying the groundwork for a third intifada. On still another, he worried about the strength of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS). The message in each case is that Israel is on the road to ruin, and its best friends are those who understand it, who love it, and who will rush to save it - from itself.
  • On one level, this neatly sidesteps the commonsensical observation that peacemaking in the current circumstances is nonsensical by generating a sense of urgency to forge ahead; after all, no one blames the fireman who rushes, against all odds, to save a burning house.
  • On another level, it helps keep Netanyahu distracted and tied up; the tighter he is wrapped around the Palestinian axle, the more freedom of movement Obama will enjoy on Iran. And so, the very special brand of love that prompts the Obama administration to rescue Israel from itself is likely to be increasingly on display as the debate over the Iran negotiations heats up.

    The writer, a senior fellow of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and a former senior director of the National Security Council in the George W. Bush administration.

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