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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
November 13, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Security Guards Thwart Somali Pirate Attack - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    Armed Israeli security guards thwarted an attempt by Somali pirates to a hijack a ship that was sailing to Israel on Tuesday. The incident occurred at the entrance to the Red Sea, at the Strait of Bab el Mandeb.
    Three armed pirate ships began to sail close to the cargo ship. When the pirates noticed the armed Israeli security guards onboard, they called for reinforcements.
    Another pirate ship arrived and the pirates made a second attempt to sail close and board the ship, at which point the Israeli security guards threatened to use their weapons and the pirates retreated.
    Today, hundreds of former IDF combat fighters secure foreign ships from the threat of pirates.

Police: Not Clear Who Was Behind Burned West Bank Mosque (Times of Israel)
    A mosque burning Tuesday in al-Mughayir near Ramallah in the West Bank may not have been the work of Jews, Israeli police assessed Wednesday.
    According to a police source, the incident occurred in the center of the village, unlike previous extremist attacks. Moreover, no graffiti was found at the scene, contradicting earlier Palestinian news reports.
    Palestinian authorities refused to allow Israeli police to enter the village to conduct a wide-scale investigation.

U.S. Sailors Attacked in Istanbul by Turkish Mob - Dan Lamothe (Washington Post)
    A group of about 20 anti-American Turks attacked three U.S. sailors in Istanbul on Wednesday, shouting "Yankee, go home," hurling objects at them, chasing them and briefly putting a bag over one of the sailors' heads. The incident was publicized in an online video.

Poll: Arab Opinion Strongly Negative on Islamic State - Howard LaFranchi (Christian Science Monitor)
    A clear majority of Arabs support the goal of the U.S.-led coalition to "degrade and destroy" the Islamic State, says Khalil Jahshan, executive director of the Arab Center of Washington, which conducted a poll in seven Arab countries.
    More than 8 in 10 said they have a negative view of IS, while nearly a quarter of Palestinians had a positive view of the group.
    About 6 in 10 support the objectives of the U.S.-led war on IS. Nevertheless, 73% describe U.S. policies in the region as "negative."

Microsoft to Buy Israeli Cybersecurity Start-Up Aorato - Orr Hirschauge (Wall Street Journal Europe)
    Microsoft Corp. has agreed to buy Israeli cybersecurity start-up Aorato Ltd. for around $200 million.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Obama Seeks New Syria Strategy Review to Deal with ISIS, Assad - Elise Labott
    President Barack Obama has asked his national security team for another review of U.S. policy toward Syria after realizing that ISIS may not be defeated without a political transition in Syria and the removal of President Bashar al-Assad, senior U.S. officials and diplomats said. "The long-running Syria problem is now compounded by the reality that to genuinely defeat ISIL [ISIS], we need not only a defeat in Iraq but a defeat in Syria," one senior official said.
        "Developments on the ground have caused the national security team to collectively conclude we may not have time for Iraq first. In an ideal world you would drive ISIL out of Iraq and pivot to Syria. But if by then the moderate opposition has been smacked and ISIL is still there, that doesn't help," a senior administration official said. "It has been pretty clear for some time that supporting the moderate opposition in the hopes of toppling Assad isn't going to work," another senior official said. (CNN)
  • Some Alawites Question Support for Syria's Assad - Hugh Naylor
    Members of the Alawite minority group, who number about 12% of the population and serve as the backbone of President Bashar al-Assad's regime, have become more critical of the regime's handling of Syria's civil war on social media and during rare protests. Alawites, who form the core of Assad's security forces, increasingly have avoided compulsory military service after their community has sustained huge casualties. The rising tension signals exhaustion in a community that is crucial for Assad's ability to confront a revolt that shows little sign of ending. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Will Not Cooperate with UN Human Rights Council's Gaza Investigation - Itamar Eichner
    Israel denied entry on Wednesday to members of a commission appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate possible war crimes committed during the Gaza war. After members of the commission arrived in Amman, Jerusalem refused their request to enter Israel and announced that Israel would not cooperate with the commission. Foreign ministry officials stress that the Human Rights Council had already decided to convict Israel in its report and have decided to treat the panel as a "rigged game."  (Ynet News)
  • U.S. Again Slams Israel for Advancing Housing Plans in Jerusalem - Daniel K. Eisenbud and Tovah Lazaroff
    U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki warned on Wednesday that approval of an initial plan to build 200 housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot could be harmful to the peace process. In response, an Israeli official asked: "Does anyone really believe that building in Ramot is an obstacle to peace?" Just last week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "The neighborhoods where Jews live and where we are building have been in the hands of Israeli governments for the last 50 years. Everyone knows they will remain part of Israel in any peace arrangement."
        A senior official at the Jerusalem Municipality said objections to building in Ramot were based on a double standard. America "forbids discrimination based on religion, race or sex. In the U.S. no one would prohibit a private contractor from building just because he is Jewish or black."  (Jerusalem Post-Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran's Diplomatic Path to the Bomb - Reuel Marc Gerecht and Mark Dubowitz
    The Nov. 24 deadline is approaching with dwindling hope for a deal in part because Iran has already gotten so much that it wants. During the 2012 negotiations leading to the interim deal, the White House accommodated Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's red lines against reducing enrichment capacity and foreclosing an industrial-size program.
        Iran thus got its wish to continue programs for uranium enrichment, long-range ballistic missiles and centrifuge development. Iran further refused to accept intrusive UN or other inspections, balked at dismantling the heavy-water reactor at Arak, and declined to discuss past weaponization research. It also won agreement that any restrictions on its nuclear program would be of limited duration. Tehran has treated the U.S. concessions to its demands as permanent - effectively making further diplomatic advances contingent on greater Western "flexibility."
        Ayatollah Khamenei has no intention of "freezing" Iran's nuclear advance. The weapons program has developed massively on his watch, and in his eyes it is probably essential for the survival of the revolution. Mr. Gerecht, a former CIA Iranian-targets officer, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Mr. Dubowitz is executive director. (Wall Street Journal Europe)
  • Iran's Vested Interest in Nuclear Talks - Ray Takeyh
    The Islamic Republic today is an aggressive state on the march in the Middle East. Through its proxies and aid it is propping up the Bashar Assad government in Syria and enabling its genocidal war against its citizens. Iran is the most consequential external actor in Iraq and has been instrumental in pressing its Shiite Muslim allies to reject substantial inclusion of Sunni Muslims in Iraq's governing structure.
        In the Persian Gulf, Tehran continues to press for eviction of the U.S. presence, appreciating that only America's armada stands in the way of its hegemonic ambitions. Terrorism remains an instrument of Iran's statecraft, particularly against Israel. Yet, there is a reluctance to push back on Iran in the increasingly chaotic Middle East for the fear that such a move would undermine the nuclear talks. The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Los Angeles Times)
  • In the War Against IS, Iran Is Already Getting All the American Help It Needs - Bobby Ghosh
    Iran is already getting all the American cooperation it needs: the U.S.-led Operation Inherent Resolve has helped to halt the IS advance in Syria and Iraq; Western governments are expending great resources to train Iraqi forces and the Syrian opposition to take the fight to the Sunni extremists; international sanctions have been directed at the terrorist organization's finances. Meanwhile, Qassem Suleimani, commander of Iran's Quds Force, is able to roam freely in Iraq, pulling the strings with Shia militias and elements of the Iraqi army, as well as helping Assad in Syria. Why, exactly, would Iran need more U.S. help? (Quartz)
  • Why Abbas Will Not Condemn Terror Attacks - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The recent spate of terror attacks in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the West Bank did not come as a surprise to those who have been following the ongoing incitement campaign waged by Palestinians against Israel. This campaign escalated immediately after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's last failed "peace process" between Israel and the Palestinians.
        What Kerry and other Western leaders do not want to understand is that Abbas is not authorized to make any concessions for peace with Israel, and has even repeatedly promised his people that he would not make any concessions. By refusing to denounce the attacks, and even praising the perpetrators as heroes and martyrs, Abbas is indicating his tacit approval of the violence, such as the stabbing murder of a 26-year-old woman or ramming a car into a three-month-old infant. Abbas knows very well that the people he has radicalized would turn against him if he dared to speak out against the killing of Jews. (Gatestone Institute)

The "Status Quo" on the Temple Mount - Nadav Shragai (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Since July 2, 2014, an upsurge in Palestinian violence has been occurring in Jerusalem, and the number of attacks on Israelis has escalated. The Temple Mount is one of the focal points of this renewed conflict.
  • The Temple Mount, site of the ancient First and Second Temples, is the holiest place in the world for the Jewish people. Two Muslim shrines - the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock - stand on it today, and it is the third holiest place for Muslims.
  • The recent events on the Temple Mount are instigated by operatives of Hamas and the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel (both of which are part of the Muslim Brotherhood network) and Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other government officials have repeatedly stated that there will be no change in the status quo on the Temple Mount, and Jewish prayer will not be permitted there.
  • In July 1967, Israel extended Israeli law to east Jerusalem, including the Old City and the Temple Mount, which came under Israeli sovereignty. In granting Jews the right to visit the Temple Mount, Moshe Dayan sought to mitigate the power of Jewish demands for organized worship and religious control at the site. In granting administrative control to Muslims on the Temple Mount, he believed he was mitigating the power of the site as a center for Palestinian nationalism.
  • However, the old status quo has been greatly degraded, increasing Muslim control and status on the Mount and greatly undermining the status of Jews and the State of Israel on the Mount.

        See also The "Al-Aksa Is in Danger" Libel: The History of a Lie - Nadav Shragai (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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