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October 13, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Americans Abroad at "High Risk" of ISIS Kidnappings, Terrorist Attacks, U.S. Warns - Meg Wagner (New York Daily News)
    The U.S. State Department on Friday urged Americans to be on high alert when they're traveling abroad, fearing ISIS and other extremist groups have "increased attempts to finance their operations through kidnapping for ransom."

Islamic State Says It Is Selling Yazidi Women for Use as Concubines - Loveday Morris (Washington Post)
    An English-language propaganda magazine for the Islamic State boasted Sunday that it had enslaved captured Yazidi women to use as concubines, selling them to fighters for as little as $1,000.

What Does ISIS Spell for Security in Asia? - Zakir Hussain, Nur Asyiqin, and Mohamad Salleh (Straits Times-Singapore)
    Individuals from Singapore who joined ISIS, together with an estimated 50 Malaysians, 100 Indonesians, and 100 from the Philippines, have become a pressing concern for security agencies in the region.
    Jemaah Islamiah (JI) members who got battle experience in Afghanistan two decades ago, then returned home to plan terror attacks like the 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 people.
    "ISIS gained traction in the region precisely because previous extremist movements like JI have spread radical Islamist ideology in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore," said Navhat Nuraniyah of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Singapore.
    The Darul Islam group in West Java, for instance, has been trying to set up an Islamic state in Indonesia since the 1940s.
    "If one has an ideological affinity for the idea of an uncompromising, puritanical, jihadi Islamic State, then there is no group that has more successfully tried to realize that fantasy than ISIS," said Dr. Fanar Haddad of the National University of Singapore.

What the U.S. Can Learn from Israel about Cybersecurity - Eli Sugarman (Forbes)
    Since its founding, Israel has placed a premium on ingenuity and creative ways to stretch its limited resources.
    Its government has also fostered a sense of individual responsibility among its citizens - including by requiring mandatory military service - to confront the national security threats facing the country.

Israeli Relay Sextet Set World Record in Cyprus-to-Israel Swim (Reuters)
    Six Israeli swimmers, ranging between 44 and 66, have claimed a world record of 380 km. (236 miles) for open-water relay distance swimming after crossing the eastern Mediterranean from Cyprus to Israel.
    The swim was completed in 123 hours 10 minutes, the World Open Water Swimming Association said.

Israeli ALS Treatment Gets "Fast-Track" FDA Designation (JNS-Algemeiner)
    Stem cell treatment developed by Israeli company BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics has been designated by the U.S. FDA as a "fast-track" treatment of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, which sees 5,600 new cases in the U.S. each year.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Warns of Risk to Israel Should U.S. Seek Overthrow of Assad
    Iran's deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said Saturday that his country has exchanged messages with the U.S. about the fight against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq. Iranian media quoted him as saying Iran had warned Washington that Israel would be at risk should the U.S. and its allies seek to topple Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, while fighting the extremist group. (Guardian-UK)
  • U.S. Troops to Use Bases in Turkey - Eric Schmitt and Kirk Semple
    Turkey will allow American and coalition troops to use its bases, including Incirlik, a key installation within 100 miles of the Syrian border, for operations against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, U.S. Defense Department officials said Sunday. (New York Times)
  • Obama's Top Military Adviser Warns of Possible ISIS Attacks in Baghdad - Brian Knowlton
    Fighters for the Islamic State were blending in with disenfranchised Sunni populations in Iraqi towns near the capital, raising the chances of militant attacks against targets in Baghdad, President Obama's top military adviser, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, told ABC on Sunday. While an outright assault on Baghdad remains unlikely, the use of mortars, rockets or artillery was possible, he said. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Only Half of Pledged Funds to Go toward Gaza Reconstruction
    Donors at an international conference in Cairo on Sunday promised $2.7 billion to rebuild war-ravaged Gaza, but all of the key participants said their efforts would be futile without a permanent peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende, who co-chaired the meeting, said pledges of $5.4 billion have been made, but that only half of that money would be "dedicated" to reconstruction.
        While Israel's demand that Hamas give up its arms as a condition for overseas funding did not prevail, an Israeli official told Channel 2 TV that the funding would flow only so long as the ceasefire was maintained. Further development of Gaza after reconstruction, the official said, would be contingent on the demilitarization of the Strip. (Times of Israel)
  • Report: UN Had Qatar Pay Off Al-Qaeda Fighters for Release of Fiji Peacekeepers
    The UN had Qatar pay a $25 million ransom to an al-Qaeda-affiliated Syrian group to release 45 Fijian peacekeepers kidnapped on the Syrian Golan Heights, Israel Channel 2 TV reported on Friday. Video footage showed the transaction between the UN and the Nusra Front taking place near the Israel-Syria border on Sep. 11. A Nusra Front member, equipped with a laptop computer, is seen presumably checking if the $25 million in Qatari money has been deposited. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Is Shifting towards Conflict Management with Palestinians - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The heavy fighting during the Gaza conflict serves as testimony to what happens in areas from which Israel withdraws. Regarding the option of renewed negotiations with Abbas, the assumption in Jerusalem is that it will only end in a stalemate. Therefore, instead of striving towards a two-state solution that would see the Palestinians receiving sovereign territory - which Hamas could then take over and use to fire rockets at Israel - Jerusalem is shifting towards a "conflict management" approach, at least until the current wave of radical Islamism passes.
        On the ground, this means economic benefits and restriction easing for residents of the West Bank, and eventually for Gazans as well, including freedom of movement between the two Palestinian territories. In addition, Israel will assist as much as possible with reconstruction efforts in Gaza in an attempt to create an incentive for the population to demand that Hamas not drag it into another devastating war.
        Egypt and Israel will not allow the transfer of metal pipes, which could also be used for rockets, into Gaza. All of the pipes transferred into Gaza for reconstruction projects will be made of plastic. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Having to Rebuild Gaza, Again - Editorial
    As Secretary of State John Kerry and other officials convene in Cairo for an international conference of prospective donors to discuss the reconstruction challenge in Gaza, one question arises over and over: What is the point of raising and spending many millions of dollars (the Palestinians say $4 billion is required) to rebuild the Gaza Strip just so it can be destroyed in the next war? Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in the last six years.
        Ending this depressing cycle will require a durable solution, not just short-term emergency aid and a temporary cease-fire until bombs start falling again. That, in turn, requires imaginative diplomacy to make sure any rebuilding program is linked to a permanent cease-fire.
        Israel has a right to insist that Gaza not be used as a launchpad for attacks against Israelis. To that end, it has demanded that Hamas be disarmed. But it is not at all clear how that can be achieved. (New York Times)
  • Israel Simply Is Not Equally at Fault - Steve Huntley
    Western donor nations that have given so much money to Palestinian causes are expressing hesitancy about funding the reconstruction of Gaza because they fear another war may be not that far off. These nations ponied up huge sums for rebuilding after Hamas terrorism from Gaza provoked Israeli military operations in 2009 and 2012. This year Hamas launched another conflict by kidnapping and murdering three Israeli teens and firing rockets and mortars into Israel. The 50-day war that Hamas caused claimed more than 2,000 Palestinian lives, many of them cruelly and illegally wasted as human shields by Hamas.
        An attitude prevalent in many European capitals is that Israel is the obstacle to peace. The EU threatens to impose sanctions against Israel unless Prime Minister Netanyahu makes progress toward a two-state solution and stops construction in the disputed territories of the West Bank, the Times of Israel reports. What about the responsibility of the Palestinians to at last help accomplish peace?
        The actual obstacle to peace remains the hostility to Israel of the Arab world, including from the Palestinians. Hamas remains committed to unending war against the Jewish state and still has an arsenal of thousands of rockets and mortars in Gaza. Getting those weapons out of the Strip and imposing measures to prevent future rearming would be the best guarantee against another Gaza conflict. Again, no Palestinian attacks, no Israeli reprisal. (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • The Significance of the First Hizbullah Attack against Israeli Forces since 2006 - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira
    For the first time since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Hizbullah claimed responsibility for an attack against Israeli forces - in the Shabaa Farms region of the Israeli-Syrian-Lebanese border. It appears that at this stage neither Iran nor Hizbullah are interested in changing the balance of forces with Israel.
        It should be stressed that Hizbullah's restraint in confronting Israel comes primarily from an Iranian decision and not because of any Israeli deterrence. Iran's policy on the use of force by Hizbullah, based on providing clear targets for Hizbullah's long-range and short-range missiles, is meant to deter Israel from attacking Iran's nuclear facilities. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Report: Iran Ordered Hizbullah to Bomb IDF Troops
    Tuesday's bomb attack on Israel Defense Forces troops on the Lebanese border was ordered by Iran in retaliation for a mysterious fire at the Parchin military research complex in Iran, the Kuwaiti A-Rai newspaper reported on Friday. (Ha'aretz)

Netanyahu Sends a Message on Jerusalem - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)

  • During his recent visit to the U.S., Prime Minister Netanyahu, referring to the move by a number of Jewish families into Jewish-bought property in the City of David in Jerusalem, strongly rejected the premise that Arabs have the right to buy property throughout the capital, but Jews do not.
  • Referring to the news that another bureaucratic hurdle in building a new development in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Hamatos had been passed, he said that a large chunk of the development is reserved for Arabs, and that it was not a new settlement, but rather a neighborhood within the municipal boundaries of the capital.
  • He recommended that American officials commenting on the matter learn the facts before issuing responses. Why did Netanyahu not shy away from going toe-to-toe with the White House?
  • Because this is Jerusalem. Because he wanted to send an unmistakable message that Jerusalem is different, that Jerusalem is the heart and soul of the Jewish people.
  • This was Netanyahu making clear that when he says that Jerusalem will remain the undivided capital of Israel, he actually means it. This was Netanyahu telling the American people that Israel does not intend to apologize for the "Judaizing" - as the Palestinians have often referred to it - of Jerusalem.
  • Netanyahu felt able to forcefully stress this point because he feels he has the backing of the vast majority of the Jewish Israeli public on this issue.
    See also Hitting a Nerve - Shlomo Cesana (Israel Hayom)
  • On CBS' "Face the Nation," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the administration's condemnations of Jews moving into apartments purchased in Silwan, an Arab neighborhood located in the City of David, as being "against the American values. And it doesn't bode well for peace. The idea that we'd have this ethnic purification as a condition for peace, I think it's anti-peace."
  • The White House officially condemned Netanyahu's comments. He struck a nerve - American values reject discrimination and racism, which prohibit a person from buying a home, wherever that may be, due to his or her ethnicity or skin color. The terminology employed by Netanyahu was easy for Americans to understand.
  • Like many others in Israel, Netanyahu, a Jerusalemite, does not accept the Americans and Europeans re-drawing the Green Line inside the capital city of Israel. From his perspective, doing so is blatant intervention, and on this principle, as he proved in the past with the establishment of the Har Homa neighborhood, he is willing to go all the way despite the criticism.

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