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June 27, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

ISIS Allies Turn on Jihadists in Iraq (Telegraph-UK)
    Sunni militants who fought together to capture swathes of Iraqi territory have turned their weapons on each other during clashes in Kirkuk province that cost 17 lives.
    The fighting erupted last Friday between ISIS and the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandiyah Order (JRTN) in Hawija, sources told AFP.
    Witnesses said the clashes were over who would take over multiple fuel tankers in the area.
    See also The War between ISIS and al-Qaeda for Supremacy of the Global Jihadist Movement - Aaron Y. Zelin (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

Iraq's Christian Minority Feels Militant Threat - Maria Abi-Habib (Wall Street Journal)
    The ranks of Iraq's Christian community have shrunk by half in the past decade, as they flee sectarian violence.
    At the Syriac Catholic Our Lady of Salvation Church in downtown Baghdad, a 35-year-old armed guard said that the country's largest religious communities - Sunni Muslims and Shiites - have often been too busy fighting each other to hunt Christians, but as Sunni militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, sweep through the country, it is different this time.
    "Now all these terrorists are here from across the Middle East, and they want to cleanse the Christians," he said.
    "The youth have left. There's no one left to defend the church, and if I had the chance, I'd leave, too."
    See also Iraqi Christians Live in Fear of ISIS - Katrin Kuntz (Der Spiegel-Germany)

    See also Christians in Iraq Weigh Autonomous Christian Region near Kurdistan - Michael Carl (WND)
    As ISIS continues its drive to Baghdad, writer Amir George declares that something "we never believed could be possible is coming out of this."
    "A Christian area on the Nineveh plain is forming, and it looks like it may be a safe, self-governing area where Christians can live freely."
    He said the autonomous Christian region, near Kurdistan, is now being protected by a 5,000-member security force of Christians and Kurds, and will likely be self-sustaining.

House Increases Funding for Israel's Missile Defense (JTA-New York Jewish Week)
    Included in the U.S. House of Representatives' Defense Appropriations bill approved last week is $351 million for the Iron Dome anti-missile system, which is $175 million more than was requested in President Obama's 2015 budget and $131 million more than funding in the 2014 fiscal year.
    The bill also included $270 million for the Arrow 3 and David's Sling systems, an increase of $172 million over both the Obama administration's request and fiscal year 2014 funding.
    Iron Dome intercepts short-range rockets. The Arrow weapons system defends against medium-range ballistic missiles, and the Arrow 3 and David's Sling target multi-range ballistic and cruise missiles.
    "With missiles regularly fired at Israel from Gaza, and the ongoing threat of Iran and its proxies Hamas and Hizbullah, it is critical that the United States continue its commitment to stand by our ally Israel," said Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY).

Long Absent, Nuclear Expert Still Has Hold on Iran Talks - David E. Sanger (New York Times)
    Mohsen Fakhrizadeh is considered by Western intelligence officials to be the force behind programs to design a nuclear warhead that could fit atop one of Iran's long-range missiles.
    As the keeper of Iran's greatest nuclear secrets, he looms over the talks that he never attends.

Zambia President Receives Medical Treatment in Israel (Reuters)
    Zambian President Michael Sata, 76, was receiving medical treatment in Israel, an Israeli official said on Thursday.

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Hamas Summer Camps for Kids Include Military Training - Hazem Balousha (Al-Monitor)
    In the streets surrounding the Saraya neighborhood in central Gaza City, boys are lined up in groups like military battalions, wearing paramilitary clothes and surrounded by supervisors in full uniform and carrying weapons, while loudspeakers chant fiery Hamas anthems calling for jihad.
    About 100,000 students joined the "Pioneers of Liberation" summer camps organized this year by Hamas.
    See also Hamas Summer Camps: Liberating Palestine with Rockets, Rifles, and Pistols (MEMRI)
    Hamas summer camp coordinator Mussa Al-Samak explained that the camps are aimed at enhancing the campers' awareness of the liberation of "all of Palestine."
    He said the camps are seeking "to sow the love of the homeland and the liberation of Palestine in the souls of the youth, so that this generation brings us to the stage of liberation," building a generation that could liberate Jerusalem and bring the refugees back to their homes.
    The logo for the camps features a map of Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
    View 25 photos from the camps.

Web Preaches Jihad to China's Muslim Uighurs - Jeremy Page and Ned Levin (Wall Street Journal)
    A video posted online last month looks much like ones from Middle East jihadist groups, but it is an appeal to China's 10 million Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group from the northwestern region of Xinjiang, some of whom have resisted Chinese rule for decades.
    The video was posted after a knife-and-bomb attack at a train station in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital.
    In the video, a speaker of Uighur congratulates the train-station bombers, declaring: "In this blessed jihadist act, many Chinese migrant aggressors were killed and wounded. As for those remaining, it put terror into their hearts."
    "The Web changed how we see things," says a young Uighur in Urumqi. "We know there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and we are among them."

Israeli Mini-Farm Could Feed Third-World Hungry - David Shamah (Times of Israel)
    An Israeli-developed mini-farm that can grow vegetables anywhere has won a prize as the most promising project to help developing countries improve their economies.
    Project co-creator Nitzan Solan says the Livingbox "is the perfect system, because it lets anyone anywhere grow vegetables without the need for fertile soil, or running water and electricity, and with minimal farming skills."
    "The five square meter size is perfect for a family of four or five."
    Livingbox is based on hydroponics - the science of growing vegetables in water. Vegetables can take root in water when the right nutrients are added. Once it's set up, the system is self-sustaining, requiring nothing more than household waste.
    "We can grow vegetables using three types of organic waste - from fish waste, with leftover organic waste like rotten vegetables or peels, and even using (animal) waste." All three systems generate the nitrogen plants need to thrive, said Solan.

Good vs Evil: Israeli Intel Exec Pioneers Hi-Tech with Palestinians. His Nephew, a U.S. Citizen, Is Abducted by Terrorists - Richard Behar (Forbes)
    Last year I published a Forbes magazine cover story about Israeli-Palestinian joint ventures in high-tech, and had interviewed Yishai Fraenkel, general manager of the design and development center at Intel's headquarters in Jerusalem.
    Intel - the world's #1 chipmaker - is Israel's largest private employer (9,855), as well as the country's largest-single industrial exporter ($3.8 billion).
    When I spoke to him by phone on Thursday, I had just learned that his 16-year-old nephew Naftali - a dual Israeli-American citizen - was one of the three Israeli boys kidnapped a week before on his way home from school.

Israeli Cyber Exports 2nd Only to U.S. - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
    Israeli exports of cyber-related products and services last year reached $3 billion, some 5% of the global market and more than all other nations combined apart from the U.S., according to Israel's National Cyber Bureau (NCB).
    Earlier this month, Prime Minister Netanyahu noted that Israel is "a land flowing with milk and cyber."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Armed U.S. Drones Start Flights Over Iraq - Rod Nordland, Eric Schmitt and Suadad Al-Salhy
    The first armed American drones began flying over Iraq on Thursday, a Pentagon official in Washington said, in an operation meant to offer added protection to the first American military assessment teams that are fanning out in and around Baghdad to help the Iraqi military combat the insurgents. The Predators, equipped with Hellfire missiles, will augment the 40 unarmed reconnaissance flights flown by American aircraft over Iraq each day. The armed drones depart from an air base in Kuwait, the official said.
        Senior American officials say President Obama has not ruled out airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq or Syria, but is waiting for the military teams to complete their assessments on both the Iraqi security forces and the Sunni militants that have swept across northern and western Iraq, before taking any further military action. (New York Times)
  • Obama to Seek More Aid for Moderate Rebels in Syria - Greg Botelho and Becky Brittain
    The Obama administration will seek $500 million from Congress to help "train and equip appropriately vetted elements of the moderate Syrian armed opposition," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden announced Thursday. "This request marks another step toward helping the Syrian people defend themselves against regime attacks, [and] push back against the growing number of extremists like ISIL," she said. (CNN)
  • Israel Tells U.S. Kurdish Independence Is a "Foregone Conclusion" - Dan Williams
    Israel told the U.S. on Thursday Kurdish independence in northern Iraq was a "foregone conclusion" and Israeli experts predicted the Jewish state would be quick to recognize a Kurdish state, should it emerge. Israel has maintained discreet military, intelligence and business ties with the Kurds since the 1960s, seeing in the minority ethnic group a buffer against shared Arab adversaries. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the Iraqi crisis with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Paris on Thursday. Israel last Friday took its first delivery of the disputed crude from Iraqi Kurdistan's new pipeline. (Reuters)
        See also Lieberman to Kerry: Mideast Ripe for Regional Deal - Barak Ravid
    A peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians is unattainable and Israel should therefore seek a regional arrangement, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday in Paris. Lieberman said that for the first time the strategic interests of the moderate Arab world and Israel have aligned. Both sides are facing the threats of Iran, global Jihad and al-Qaeda, as well as the spillover of the conflict in Syria and Iraq to neighboring countries. There is now a basis for creating a new diplomatic structure in the Middle East. He added that Israel can be an effective and trustworthy assistant to moderate Arab states facing extremists in the Arab world. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Tests New Counter-Abduction Strategy in Ongoing West Bank Operation - Barbara Opall-Rome
    Israel is leveraging its ongoing West Bank operation against Hamas, the Islamic organization it blames for the June 12 abduction of three Israeli teens, to test a new strategy for deterring terrorist trade in Israeli captives, security sources say. Through mass arrests and sweeping raids of affiliated social, charitable and financial institutions, Israel is targeting the organization's operational capacity and political incentive for seizing soldiers and civilians as bargaining chips in future prisoner-exchange deals.
        After 12 days of meticulous operations, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claims 371 arrests and a treasure trove of documents, weaponry and $233,000 seized from 1,095 sites throughout the West Bank. "We're sending a clear message that abducting civilians or soldiers is not worthwhile," said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an IDF spokesman. "They need to feel pursued at the operative level and paralyzed to a significant extent at the organizational level...and that includes their leadership."
        Of those arrested suspects, 57 were Hamas members released in a 2011 deal for a single Israeli soldier, and will now be forced to complete their original sentence. "We're taking that card away from them," Lerner said. "They must no longer view kidnapped Israelis as trophies."  (Defense News)
        See also Search for Kidnapped Teens Shifts to Intelligence - Amos Harel
    So far as is known, there has not been any communication between the Hamas cell and Israel. The Shalit deal led his kidnappers to conclude that Israel can be pressured, and that patience pays off, driving up the price Israel is willing to pay. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to reshuffle this deck by declaring an absolute refusal to negotiate and favoring a military solution.
        Hamas scored points with the Palestinian public for hurting Israel with the kidnapping. But the kidnapping also halted Hamas' journey toward international legitimacy, which had been precipitated by the establishment of the unity government. (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Names Two Hamas Members as West Bank Kidnappers - Gili Cohen
    The Israel Security Agency on Thursday revealed the names of the two Hamas members who kidnapped three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank two weeks ago: Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha, two known operatives in the Hebron area. Both are known figures within Hamas and have been imprisoned both by the PA and Israel in the past. The two men have been missing since the day of the abduction two weeks ago. A number of other suspects from their cell have been arrested and are undergoing interrogation. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Publication of Kidnappers' Names May Aid Capture - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The assumption by the Israel Security Agency that the Hamas network in Hebron was responsible for the kidnapping has been confirmed. The abductors are probably still in hiding and looking for a way to escape. The ISA is publishing their names and photos in the hope that someone on the Palestinian side will step up and give them away.
        On the Palestinian street it is well known that information on the whereabouts of the kidnappers would be generously rewarded. Palestinians with a family member detained in Israel who want better conditions for him and for themselves may be tempted to come forward and provide information.
        Publishing the names and photos of the kidnappers also proves it was Hamas that is responsible for the abduction, and not some Palestinians who acted on impulse. (Ynet News)
        See also Hamas Confirms Two Suspects Were Its Members - Lazar Berman
    Hamas officials in Hebron confirmed the two abductors, Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha, were members of the group. A senior Palestinian intelligence official said the fact that the two men have been missing since the kidnapping is "clear evidence they have links to the abduction."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Israel Reveals Identity of Hamas Kidnappers (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Netanyahu Urges Abbas to Dismantle Unity Pact with Hamas - Adiv Sterman
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged PA President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday to dismantle the Hamas-Fatah unity government, after Israel published the names of two Hamas members who carried out the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank two weeks ago. Abbas spoke out against the kidnapping during a recent meeting in Saudi Arabia.
        "I now expect President Abbas, who said important things in Saudi Arabia, to stand by those words and to break his pact with the Hamas terrorist organization that kidnaps children and calls for the destruction of Israel," Netanyahu said. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Israeli President Shimon Peres Addresses U.S. Congress
    Israeli President Shimon Peres addressed the U.S. Congress on June 26, 2014: "You helped Israel overcome our small size in a tough neighborhood....Whether through military assistance and security cooperation or through diplomatic and moral support, you sent us a clear message: That we are not alone. On behalf of all the people of Israel, I want to thank my friend and Israel's friend, President Barack Obama, for standing by our side with an unshakeable commitment to Israel's security. I want to thank each and every one of you, the American Congress, for your unwavering, bipartisan and generous support."
        "The challenges we face are considerable. Together, we must fight terrorism, advance peace, prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. Like President Obama, Israel hopes that the issue of Iran will be resolved peacefully. And like President Obama, we believe that Iran should be judged by actions, not words."
        "Arabs are not Israel's enemies. The terrorists are the enemies of both of us. Terrorists spread danger over the entire region. The region must come together to stop them. The time is ripe to do so."  (Algemeiner)
        See also Video: President Peres Addresses Congress (YouTube)
        See also Shimon Peres, Israel's Dreamer and Doer - David Ignatius
    Israeli President Shimon Peres, at 90, is the last iconic figure of Israel's founding generation. Peres has been a public servant in Israel for nearly 67 years, including two stints as prime minister, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer told a gathering at the Israeli Embassy in Washington on Wednesday at a farewell dinner. What has marked Peres throughout his career has been a liberal optimism about Israel and its place in the world. He spoke openly, perpetually, about his yearning for peace. (Washington Post)

  • ISIS - The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

  • Redrawn Lines Seen as No Cure in Iraq Conflict - Robert F. Worth
    Over the past two weeks, the specter that has haunted Iraq since its founding 93 years ago appears to have become a reality: the de facto partition of the country into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish cantons. Across the Middle East, centrifugal forces unleashed by the Arab uprisings of 2011 continue to erode political structures and borders that have prevailed since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago.
        Iraqi analyst Zaid al-Ali warned that "any effort to make [the partition of Iraq] official would likely lead to an even greater disaster - not least because of the many mixed areas of the country, including Baghdad, where blood baths would surely ensue as different groups tried to establish facts on the ground."
        The Pentagon has quietly hinted it could live with Iraq's current division, despite the dangers posed by a potential new terrorist sanctuary in the deserts linking Syria and Iraq.
        Many ordinary Sunnis describe the seizing of Mosul and other cities as a popular revolution against a Shiite-led government, not a terrorist onslaught. With Iran, their historic enemy, now lining up drones and other military supplies to help the government of al-Maliki retake the north - and protect the south - many Sunnis may become further alienated from the state.
        Last week, ISIS issued an 8-page report denouncing the Middle Eastern border system as a colonialist imposition, and included photographs of its fighters destroying "crusader partitions" between Iraq and Syria.
        The ISIS onslaught has made the formal secession of Iraqi Kurdistan far more plausible. Across the border in Syria, a Kurdish region in the country's north is also effectively independent of Damascus, with its own military and provisional government. And Turkey, which in the past strongly opposed an independent Kurdish state on its border, now sees the Kurds as a stable buffer between itself and the extremists of ISIS. Division is now largely a fait accompli. Reversing it would take enormous resources. (New York Times)
        See also The Future of Kurdistan: Between Turkey, the Iraq War, and the Syrian Revolt - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also The Map that Shows How to Save Iraq - David Francis (Fiscal Times)
  • After Opening Way to Rebels, Turkey Is Paying Heavy Price - Ben Hubbard and Ceylan Yeginsu
    Once the Turkish-Iraqi border was wide open, as Turkey allowed rebel groups of any stripe easy access to the battlefields in Syria in an effort to topple President Bashar al-Assad. But that created fertile ground in Syria for the development of the Sunni militant group that launched a blitzkrieg in Iraq this month, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Suddenly, all cross-border trade has all but halted, locked up by the insurgent offensive in Iraq and the kidnapping of 80 Turkish citizens. With the rise of ISIS, the Turkish government is paying a steep price for the chaos it helped create. (New York Times)
  • Confronting the Islamic Threat to the West - Michael Curtis
    Indifference to the threat of Islamic terrorism, let alone acquiescence, is not an option for Western survival. With the military advances of the army of ISIS, now more than just a band of terrorists, and the capture of the towns of Mosul, Falluja, and Tikrit, the Western world is aware that an Islamic state, a modern-day caliphate, is rapidly being created in parts of Iraq and Syria.
        The brutal nature of that caliphate has been immediately evident with its murder of large numbers of Iraqi soldiers and its callous treatment of women. While the impetus for the war is against the Iraqi regime of President al-Maliki, more important is its potential strategic use of the captured territory as a base for Islamic jihad against the West. Its victory will doubtless attract even more individuals committed to Islamist values. The writer is Distinguished Professor Emeritus in political science at Rutgers University. (Commentator-UK)
  • Experts Downplay Jihadist Threat to Jordan - Ariel Ben Solomon
    The ISIS takeover of the Iraqi border crossing to Jordan has set off alarm bells. However, experts are downplaying the chances of the Iraqi scenario repeating itself in that country. David Schenker, the director of the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former official dealing with the Middle East for the Pentagon, said Monday that Jordan has enough firepower to prevent a replay of the northern Iraq scenario.
        Prof. Hillel Frisch, of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, said, "on paper the ISIS should be no match for the Jordanian army." However, the Jordanian army has not fought an extensive campaign since the Black September civil war against the Palestinians (1970-71). Also, the army remains dependent on the Bedouin, who "are not as blindly loyal as they used to be."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Understanding the Mind of Jihad - Clifford D. May
    In The Mind of Jihad, written seven years agofor the Pentagon's director of net assessment, Laurent Murawiec explained that jihad implies "warfare with spiritual significance," and thus cannot be seen as "a response to 'colonial aggression,' 'imperialist encroachments,' 'Zionist intrusion' or 'American crimes.'" Jihad was the primary means by which the great Islamic empires of antiquity expanded their borders.
        Within the Muslim world, "sizable groups and schools of thought" view the West as weakening, in decline, unwilling and maybe unable to defend itself. They further believe that Muslims have a religious obligation to exploit this opportunity to expand "the writ and word of Allah." "Modern jihad erupted in full force with the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 in both the Shiite and the Sunni world." Thousands of jihadist attacks have followed over the years since.
        Jihadists of the Sunni variety are now fighting on more battlefields than ever, and the Shia rulers of the Islamic republic of Iran, with their eyes on future jihad, have spent an estimated $100 billion to develop a nuclear weapons capability. If they achieve it, our grandchildren will live in a very different world. It's amazing how many people still don't grasp that. The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Washington Times)

  • Iraq and Iran

  • No One Should Mistake Iran for a Friend - Reuel Marc Gerecht
    The triumph of Sunni militants in the north of Iraq doesn't weaken Tehran's position in that country; it fortifies it. Sunni numbers and weaponry are still woefully insufficient for urban combat in hostile territory such as Baghdad. The certain increase of Sunni terrorism in Baghdad and elsewhere will inevitably tighten the ties between the Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force and Iraqi security and intelligence services, which is an enormous, long-term plus for Khamenei's regime.
        The Iranians will probably double down on their militant Sunni outreach, and reflexively try to find common ground with jihadists in anti-American rhetoric. While both sides kill each other, Sunni and Shiite radicals will surely try to outbid each other over who is the staunchest enemy of the United States. The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Weekly Standard)
  • U.S. and Iran Have Different Strategic Objectives - Ephraim Kam
    The success by ISIS is also a failure for Iran. Iran's goal in Iraq was to build a weak and non-threatening but stable and unified country, dependent on Iran and led by a Shiite majority connected to Iran. The ISIS takeover of parts of Iraqi territory is a serious cause for worry for Iran, which perceives it as a part of the greater Sunni-Shiite struggle. The Sunni success hurts the Shiites, who are the basis of Iran's influence in Iraq.
        While both the U.S. and Iran are eager to curb and eliminate the jihadi stronghold in Iraq, their respective strategic objectives are different, if not contradictory. Washington seeks to build a democratic government in Iraq that will be linked to the U.S., reduce Iranian influence, and reassure the Sunnis in the country. Iran, on the other hand, seeks to expand its influence in Iraq, strengthen the Shiites there, and distance the country from the U.S.
        Given the geographical proximity and ties to the Shiites, who represent 60% of the population in Iraq, Iran has a considerable advantage over the U.S. in building influence there. An attempt by the U.S. to cooperate with Iran on Iraq when the objectives of the two countries are contradictory could prove to be a serious mistake. Moreover, ultimately, Iran will want compensation for cooperating with the U.S., primarily in the form of an acceptable deal regarding the nuclear issue. The writer was a colonel in the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

  • Other Issues

  • Pollard's Release Is a Matter of Justice - Alan Dershowitz and Irwin Cotler
    President Barack Obama's response to President Shimon Peres's request for executive clemency for Jonathan Pollard was to refer the matter to U.S. Attorney-General Eric Holder. A group of American constitutional and criminal law scholars and practitioners, including six Harvard law school professors, Obama's alma mater, have written to the president requesting the commutation of Pollard's sentence to time served. In our letter we argue that "such commutation is more than warranted if the ends of justice are to be served, the rules of law respected and simple humanity secured."
        Pollard was charged with, and pleaded guilty to, one count of conveying classified information to a foreign government, in this instance, Israel, an ally of the U.S. The usual sentence for this offense is no more than six or eight years, with actual jail time before release averaging two to four years. Pollard is now serving his 29th year of an unprecedented life sentence.
        The sentence of life imprisonment was itself a breach of the plea bargain wherein the prosecution agreed not to seek life imprisonment in return for Pollard's guilty plea, his cooperation with the authorities and his agreement to waive his right to trial by jury. Judge Stephen F. Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First District later referred to the government's breach of the plea bargain as a "complete and gross miscarriage of justice."
        Pollard was also falsely accused of having compromised U.S. security and American lives in Eastern Europe, when it was Aldridge Ames, the head of the CIA's Soviet/Eastern Europe Division, who had himself been both the architect of those treasonable acts, and the original source of the false allegations against Pollard. Irwin Cotler, a member of the Canadian parliament and emeritus law professor (McGill University), is a former minister of justice and attorney-general of Canada. Alan Dershowitz is Professor of Law at Harvard University. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Hostage Crisis and Palestinian Manipulation - Alan Baker
    The capture of three Israeli youths by a Palestinian terror organization doesn't really seem to bother or interest anyone outside Israel. Moreover, Palestinian propaganda has repeatedly instilled the idea that any action by Israel is wrong.
        A new book recently published under the auspices of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs exposes the extent to which the Palestinian leadership and institutions are continuously and systematically manipulating the international community, with the aim of advancing the very selective, partisan, misleading and patently false narrative that lies at the root of the present apathy. The writer is a former legal adviser to the Israel Foreign Ministry and former Israeli ambassador to Canada. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinian Manipulation of the International Community - Alan Baker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Facts on the Ground: Inside Israel's Settlement Slowdown - Elliott Abrams and Uri Sadot
    On May 29, Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics reported that in the first quarter of 2014, the Israeli government had approved only 232 residential units for construction in the West Bank. That rate is roughly half that of the last decade, which saw an average of 1,687 units built each year, and a rate of construction that can hardly sustain even natural population growth. Under Netanyahu's current government, construction outside the major settlement blocs has steadily decreased.
        The 1,500 units that Israel announced plans for earlier this month were in the major blocs and in east Jerusalem. Netanyahu's government has unilaterally reduced Israeli settlement construction and largely constrained it to a narrow segment of territory....Israel is still constructing, but not in a way that will prevent a realistic peace settlement. (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • If Israeli Jews Were the Weaker of the Two Peoples - Alexander Yakobson
    Ha'aretz columnist Sayed Kashua asks Israeli Jews to imagine a situation in which they were the weaker party. That's actually a very important, if hypothetical question. But the one who asks it has to be prepared to hear an honest answer.
        Kashua apparently believes that Israeli Jews' apathy to Palestinian suffering stems from the fact that they never ask themselves what would happen if the roles were reversed. But I think just the opposite is true: This apathy is to a great extent the result of dwelling on this question too much. Because the answer the Jewish public gives itself when it imagines a military defeat and Arab conquest is that in such a case there will no longer be two peoples in this land.
        Moreover, when a Jewish Israeli remembers what the Hamas takeover of Gaza looked like, there's no reason for optimism. Is there in the entire Middle East an Arab fighter who wouldn't prefer, if he could choose, to fall into the hands of the Israelis rather than into the hands of a rival Arab faction? (Ha'aretz)
  • Christian Firewall Against 21st Century Anti-Semitism - Samuel Rodriguez and Robert Gittelson
    We feel that the actions of the Presbyterian Church can best be described as misguided, reprehensible and insensitive to the fact that violence against Israel is part and parcel of the underlying problem that deters a meaningful peace agreement between Palestine and Israel. How can Israel in good faith continue in what seems a unilateral attempt to forge a two-state peace solution between themselves and the Palestinian Authority, when the PA operates in partnership with Hamas, a certifiable terrorist organization bent on the destruction of Israel, and everything that Israel stands for?
        How can Israel make peace with a people that cannot and will not agree that the State of Israel has even a right to exist? Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and Hispanic Evangelical Association, where Robert Gittelson is Sr. Advisor on Immigration. (Christian Post)

Why the Arab World Is Lost in an Emotional Nakba - Richard Landes (Tablet)

  • Anthropologists and legal historians have long identified certain tribal cultures - warrior, nomadic - with a specific set of honor codes whose violation brings debilitating shame. Arab political culture tends to favor ascendancy through aggression, the politics of the "strong horse," which combine to produce a Middle East caught between Sisi's Egypt and al-Assad's Syria.
  • For the 13 centuries before Zionism, Jews had been subject to a political status in Muslim lands specifically designed around issues of honor (to Muslims) and shame (to Jews). Jews were dhimmi, "protected" from Muslim violence by their acceptance of daily public degradation and legal inferiority.
  • To the honor-driven Arab and Muslim political player, the very prospect of an autonomous Jewish political entity is a blasphemy against Islam. While some Arabs in 1948 Palestine may have viewed the prospect of Jewish sovereignty as a valuable opportunity, the Arab leadership and "street" agreed that for the sake of Arab honor Israel must be destroyed and that those who disagreed were traitors to the Arab cause.
  • Damaging the Israeli "other" became paramount, no matter how much that effort might hurt Arabs, especially Palestinians. Sooner leave millions of Muslims under Jewish rule than negotiate a solution. Sooner commit suicide to kill Jews than make peace with them.
  • Current peace plans assume that both sides will make the necessary concessions for peace, and that compromise can lead to an acceptable win-win for both sides. As one baffled BBC announcer exclaimed, "Good grief, this is so simple it could be resolved with an email." But it's only simple if you assume that Arabs no longer feel it's a hard zero-sum game, that any win for Israel is an unacceptable loss of honor for them, that any Israeli "win" no matter how small, is an insult to Islam.
  • Ahmed Sheikh, editor in chief of Al Jazeera, explained: "It gnaws at the people in the Middle East that such a small country as Israel, with only about 7 million inhabitants, can defeat the Arab nation with its 350 million. That hurts our collective ego. The Palestinian problem is in the genes of every Arab. The West's problem is that it does not understand this."

    The writer is a professor of history at Boston University.
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