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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
May 22, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Radical Muslim Separatists Blamed for Attack in Western China that Killed 31 and Injured 90 (Fox News)
    At least 31 people have died and 90 have been injured in an attack on an open-air market in the capital of Xinjiang province in western China Thursday, the latest in a series of violent incidents that the Chinese government has blamed on radical Muslim separatists from the Turkic Uighur minority.
    Xinhua News Agency said that the attackers plowed through crowds of shoppers in off-road vehicles and threw explosives out the window before crashing head-on in the attack in the city of Urumqi.

Radical Islamists Destroy Syrian Artifacts - Ilan Ben Zion (Times of Israel)
    Fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, that controls a large swath of eastern Syria, destroyed antiquities from an ancient Mesopotamian site in an act of cultural genocide strikingly similar to the Taliban's demolition of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in 2001.
    Pictures on the Internet show ISIL fighters smashing a 3,000-year-old Neo-Assyrian statue.
    In January 2014, the radical Islamist ISIL destroyed a sixth-century Byzantine mosaic near the city of Raqqa.

In Palestinian Authority, Protesters, Onlookers Beaten, Charged (Human Rights Watch)
    Multiple witnesses said Palestinian Authority police used unnecessary and disproportionate force against two men who were involved in a peaceful protest at a theater in the West Bank city of Ramallah and two other men and a woman who tried to help them on April 12, 2014.
    Police detained the four men overnight, and they were charged the next day with "disturbing the peace" and "provoking a riot."
    "It's absurd that the Palestinian justice system is prosecuting the victims of police brutality rather than their attackers," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

China Buys Israeli Food Conglomerate Tnuva - Lazar Berman (Times of Israel)
    The Chinese government's Bright Food Group, China's second-largest food company, bought a controlling stake in Israeli dairy conglomerate Tnuva on Wednesday for $2.5 billion.
    Tnuva, which controls more than 70% of the dairy market in Israel, started out 80 years ago as a cooperative owned by kibbutz dairy farmers.

Israel's Natural Gas Royalties Increasing - Amiram Barkat (Globes)
    Government revenues from natural gas royalties amounted to $66 million in 2012 and $155 million in 2013.
    Israel's Ministry of National Infrastructures forecasts that royalties will reach $600 million annually by 2020.
    A sharp rise in state revenue is expected in 2018 when gas starts flowing from the Leviathan field.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Syrian Al-Qaeda Reach Foothills of Israeli Golan - Suleiman al-Khalidi
    Last month, Syrian Islamist fighters of the Nusra Front captured the hill of Tel Ahmar, just a few kilometers from Israeli forces on the Golan Heights, and hoisted the al-Qaeda flag. Nearly 2,000 Nusra Front fighters operate in the area, manning dozens of checkpoints across the Hauran Plain, from the Golan Heights frontier in the west to Deraa in the east. "These Islamist groups have become the main actors on the ground. The Free Syrian Army has disintegrated," said former Jordanian army general and military analyst Fayez Dwairi. (Reuters)
  • Israel Makes Headway in Cyber Security - Matthew Kalman
    In a quiet corner of an Israeli farming village, Tanya sits at her computer and chats online with some of the most skilled hackers in cyber space. None of them knows who they are talking to, or indeed that they are all interacting with the same person - Tanya juggles more than 20 different identities and screen names, each with its own avatar, full background history and social media accounts. Welcome to the world of the modern-day corporate cyber spy.
        Tanya works for SenseCy, an Israeli cyber intelligence service that aims to unearth - and warn clients about - cyber attacks before they happen. By engaging with the hackers on their own turf Tanya learns who will be targeted next, and how. Instead of using firewalls or other automated cyber defenses, SenseCy and its rivals run private intelligence services that serve as a proactive form of cyber security.
        SenseCy was established in February by parent company Terrogence, which has used such techniques for the past decade to expose potential real-world terror and criminal plots. "We are teaching governments how to do this," said Assaf Keren, vice-president of Cyber Solutions at SenseCy and the former head of the Israeli government's cyber security unit. (Financial Times-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Prime Minister Netanyahu Welcomes Bulgarian Prime Minister Oresharski
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski on Tuesday: We will never forget the courageous role played by so many in Bulgaria during the Holocaust at the height of our tragedy, when teachers, priests, intellectuals and others stood in the middle of Sofia and said: we refuse to cooperate in the mass murder of Jews.
        A telegram sent by the Nazi representative in Sofia said: "The Bulgarian people have not yet advanced to the necessary level to be able to cooperate with Nazism." Precisely. They retained their humanity and showed extraordinary heroism at the most dire times for the Jewish people.
        The terrorist attack in Burgas in which Israeli citizens and Bulgarian citizens were killed, they were killed by Hizbullah, which is a sub-contractor of Iran, and Iran is the world's foremost terrorist state. We cannot allow the world's foremost terrorist state to get nuclear weapons capability, and if the Ayatollahs have their fingers on the nuclear trigger, this will endanger the entire world. (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Steinitz: Jordan Valley Is Critical to Israel's Survival - Tovah Lazaroff
    "The Jordan Valley is the only possible reasonable defense line in the east, vis-a-vis Iran and its proxies," Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said Wednesday during a tour of the Jordan Valley. "If we pull out from the Jordan Valley we will really risk Israel's security and its very existence," he said.
        Moreover, only the IDF can perform the vital mission of securing the valley, Steinitz said. This task can't be left to an international security force. Any final-status agreement with the Palestinians must leave the Jordan Valley in Israel's hands, Steinitz said. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Open a Middle Road to Mideast Peace - Dennis B. Ross
    Secretary of State Kerry should privately go to Palestinian Authority and Israeli leaders and tell them he's planning to issue the following public statement: "I am prepared to work with both sides to produce a permanent status agreement provided I know that each of you is ready to take on the political opposition that you will surely encounter. If you are not, I won't force the issue. Nor will I walk away. Rather, I will focus with both sides on conflict management, instead of conflict resolution."
        A conflict-management approach would not focus on producing formal agreements, which may be too difficult for both sides. Rather, it would concentrate on brokering smaller understandings and getting the two sides to take parallel or coordinated steps that could improve the reality on the ground. The writer was the chief U.S. negotiator for the Arab-Israeli conflict from 1993 to 2001 and a special assistant to the president for the Middle East and South Asia from 2009 to 2011. (New York Times)
  • Why Israel Fears Containment of a Nuclear Iran - Avner Golov and Uri Sadot
    While scholars and policy-makers in Western capitals contemplate containment scenarios in Iran, Israeli leaders defiantly state: before containment, we will choose preemption. Israelis are predisposed to believe that their enemies are irrationally bent on destroying the Jewish state, even in the face of nuclear retaliation. For Israelis, their country is too small to comply with existing mutual-deterrence models because only two or three bombs are what it would take to wipe out their entire country.
        Israelis see themselves as faced with not a single enemy that can be deterred, but rather with a broad league of states and nonstate entities who are out to get them. Such a quantitative asymmetry can only be balanced by securing an overwhelming qualitative advantage. A nuclear-capable Iran would unravel the existing balance and would leave Israel defenseless against various types of provocation.
        In 1981, Israel attacked Iraq's nuclear program for precisely those reasons. Polls show two-thirds support among Jewish Israelis for a "preemptive" strike as a final resort. Avner Golov is a researcher at Israel's Institute for National Security Studies. Uri Sadot is a Research Associate at the Council on Foreign Relations' program for Middle East Studies. (National Interest)
  • Lebanese Journalist Takes on Hizbullah - Smadar Perry
    Journalist Hanin Ghaddar, managing editor of Lebanon's news website NOW, told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on May 8 that Hizbullah was to blame for the wretched condition of the two million Syrian refugees who fled to camps in Lebanon. Now the Arabic-language press is waging a smear campaign against Ghaddar because she appeared at the same event, though not at the same time, as former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. (Ynet News)
        See also The Campaign to Silence Hanin Ghaddar - Hisham Melhem
    Hanin Ghaddar dared to criticize Hizbullah's disastrous military intervention in Syria, and had the temerity to call out Iran's malevolent role in Syria and Lebanon, during a conference in Washington. An attack on Ghaddar is being waged by members of the thuggish journalist militia that serves Hizbullah and its masters in Iran as the premier thought control and mythmaking instrument in Lebanon.
        These journalists weave a complex web of myths around Hizbullah's supposed invincibility and deterrence. They created a new parlance designed to make Hizbullah untouchable and above criticism, elevating it to a status equal, if not more important, than the Lebanese state.
        Hizbullah's mythmaking and thought control was so successful in the past that they controlled and influenced almost the whole political class. In 2008 Hizbullah brought the whole political class in Lebanon to the airport to give a hero's welcome to a Lebanese prisoner released by Israel after many years of incarceration following his conviction of shooting in cold blood a 28-year-old Israeli civilian and smashing the head of his 4-year-old daughter with the butt of his rifle. (Al-Arabiya)

Fixing UNRWA - James G. Lindsay (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

  • In its first years, UNRWA undoubtedly saved the lives of many destitute Palestinian refugees. Since that time, it has provided its beneficiaries with education, health, welfare, microfinancing, and housing services.
  • At the same time, UNRWA has gradually adopted a distinctive political viewpoint that favors the Palestinian and Arab narrative of events in the Middle East. In particular, it seems to favor the strain of Palestinian political thought espoused by those who are intent on a "return" to the land that is now Israel.
  • UNRWA's adoption of any political viewpoint is undesirable, but the one it has chosen to emphasize is especially regrettable. In addition to clashing with the objectives of the U.S., this view has encouraged Palestinians who favor refighting long-lost wars and discouraged those who favor moving toward peace.
  • Palestinian refugees are provided with assistance not because they have an inherent right to the resources of Western taxpayers, but because 60 years ago the West (principally the U.S. and Britain) chose to provide it.
  • Changing from refugee status to citizen status will discomfit many Palestinians, for whom UNRWA has become a reliable safety net. But it is time for the U.S. to demand changes in UNRWA that will allow the agency to meet its original mission: to fully "reintegrate" Palestinian refugees into the economy of the Middle East, to bring direct UN assistance to an end, and to allow Palestinians to take responsibility for their own futures.

    The writer served as legal advisor and general counsel of UNRWA from 2000 to 2007.

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