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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 1, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Baghdadi's Gamble - Yoram Schweitzer (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
    While it is true that the Islamic State has managed to establish control over the locations it has conquered and attract tens of thousands of Muslim volunteers from all over the world, it also seems that the intervention of coalition forces, which is still in the early stages, has already succeeded in stopping the rapid spread of ISIS.
    Israel must view Baghdadi's rhetoric against "the Judeo-Crusader alliance," and especially his explicit reference to the help Israel is extending to the coalition dedicated to his demise, as a warning of a possible change in IS priorities.
    In the not-too-distant future, IS may act, directly or via its like-minded partners, against Israeli and Jewish targets in Israel and abroad.
    The writer is head of the INSS Program on Terrorism and Low Intensity Conflict, following a distinguished career in the Israeli intelligence community.

Egyptian Judges Drop All Charges Against Mubarak - David D. Kirkpatrick and Merna Thomas (New York Times)
    An Egyptian court dropped all remaining criminal charges against former President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday in a sweeping repudiation of the Arab Spring uprising that forced him from power.
    The court dismissed murder charges against Mubarak in the killing of protesters demanding an end to his 30-year rule.
    The court also acquitted Mubarak, his two sons and a wealthy business associate of corruption charges.

Investigation Finds 50,000 "Ghost" Soldiers in Iraqi Army - Loveday Morris (Washington Post)
    The Iraqi army has been paying salaries to at least 50,000 soldiers who don't exist, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Sunday, an indication of the level of corruption that permeates an institution the U.S. has spent billions equipping and arming.
    The corrupt practice is often perpetrated by officers who pretend to have more soldiers on their books in order to pocket their salaries, experts say.

Egyptian Jihadis Claim Killing of American Oil Worker (AP-Telegraph-UK)
    Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, an Egyptian militant group allied with the Islamic State, on Sunday claimed responsibility for killing American oil worker William Henderson in August.
    The Texas-based energy company Apache Corp. said at the time that one of its supervisors had been killed in an apparent carjacking in Egypt's Western Desert.

Hizbullah Prepared for the Wrong War - Basem Shabb (Middle East Institute)
    Hizbullah's involvement in Syria means that jihadis with light weapons and mobile anti-tank missiles are facing Hizbullah fighters with similar weapons.
    Hizbullah's long-range missiles and short-range Katyusha rockets designed for a war against Israel are of little use.
    Chinese anti-ship missiles as well as concealed anti-tank missiles in south Lebanon facing Israel seemed of little military value when the real threat to Hizbullah came from across the long and ragged border with Syria.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Khamenei Tells Iran Armed Forces to Build Up "Irrespective" of Diplomacy - Mehrdad Balali
    Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Sunday for the armed forces to increase their combat capability. "Given our vast maritime borders and the enemy's huge investments in this area, our armed forces should continuously improve their (combat) readiness, irrespective of political calculations," Khamenei said. "Peacetime offers great opportunities for our armed forces up on preemptive capacities," said Khamenei.
        Generals appointed by Khamenei are maintaining a relentless war rhetoric and unveil on an almost daily basis what they say are new innovations in weaponry. "The range of (our) missiles covers all of Israel today," the chief of the Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said last week. "That means the fall of the Zionist regime, which will certainly come soon."  (Reuters)
  • Israel Remembers Plight of Jews Who Fled Arab World - Steve Weizman
    Israel on Sunday marked the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war with a state ceremony under a new law naming Nov. 30 as the anniversary of their plight. Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC), an international umbrella group of Jewish community organizations, says 856,000 Jews from 10 Arab countries fled or were expelled in 1948 and after, while violent Arab riots left many Jews dead or injured. "Nearly 800,000 came here" to Israel, said Meir Kahlon, chairman of the Central Organization for Jews from Arab Countries and Iran. (AFP)
        See also Israel Recognizes Nov. 30 as National Day of Commemoration of Plight of Jewish Refugees from Arab Lands - Greer Fay Cashman
    The day after the Nov. 29, 1947, UN resolution on the partition of Palestine, there was an immediate flare up of anti-Jewish action in Arab states, with the killing, persecution, humiliation, oppression and expulsion of Jews and the sequestration of Jewish property. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also below Observations: What about the Jewish Nakba? - Ben-Dror Yemini (Ynet News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hamas Says Palestinian Unity Government Is Over - Ariel Ben Solomon
    Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri announced on Sunday that the unity government established with Fatah over the summer has ended - that its six-month term has expired. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said earlier that Hamas is completely responsible for Gaza, and not the joint Fatah-Hamas unity government. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Internal Hamas Debate about Rethinking Policies - Yoni Ben Menachem
    The results of the Gaza war have caused Hamas serious distress, something its leadership did not foresee before launching the war with Israel. Hamas now appears to be in a process of stocktaking and reassessment in light of its situation, including the difficulties in rehabilitating Gaza, the bitter rift with the Palestinian Authority, and the deterioration in relations with Egypt. Among other things, Egypt has been constraining Hamas' ability to arm itself.
        To this must be added the effects of the weakening of the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent-movement of Hamas, and the strengthening of the Islamic State that, in the name of Islam, acts to establish the Islamic Caliphate - the goal to which Hamas also aspires.
        Dr. Khaled al-Hroub, a researcher at Cambridge University, published in Al-Ayam several ideas of Sheikh Ahmed Yusuf of Gaza, a prominent Hamas leader. Al-Hroub presented several main points from Yusuf's recommendations to the Hamas leadership:
      - Halt military activity for up to five years and thereby enable the recovery and rehabilitation of Gaza and the attainment of a national consensus.
      - Give the highest priority to the achievement of stability and security in the Sinai Peninsula so that relations with Egypt can be improved.
      - Hamas and Fatah will run in the coming elections on a single agreed list.
      - Consideration must be given to changing the Hamas Charter of 1987, which is exploited by Israel, especially the articles that are viewed as "anti-Semitic" and are exploited by Israel to attack the valid Palestinian problem.
        It is doubtful whether the Hamas leadership will adopt most of Yusuf's proposals. The writer, a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center, is former director general and chief editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Palestinian Woman Stabs Israeli in Gush Etzion
    An Israeli civilian was lightly injured after being stabbed by a Palestinian woman near the Gush Etzion junction on Monday. Israeli security forces opened fire at the attacker, injuring her. The IDF was searching for the vehicle that dropped off the attacker at the junction. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Extending Negotiations with Iran - Reuel Marc Gerecht
    Olli Heinonen, the former number two at the IAEA, is convinced Iran has illicitly imported enough carbon fiber to manufacture 5,000 advanced IR-2 centrifuges, more than enough for a rapid, clandestine nuclear "sneak-out." The IAEA doesn't know where this carbon fiber is; the regime refuses to reveal verifiably its location and use. Without an Additional Protocol Plus married to full disclosure by Tehran of its research and development into the militarization of its nuclear work, the U.S. is simply incapable of ascertaining whether and how Tehran may be cheating.
        In his memoirs, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tells us that during his time as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator between 2003 and 2005, the Western threat of sanctions and the Iranian fear of war with the U.S. spooked Tehran, rendering the clerical regime amenable to negotiations and a pause in its push for nuclear weapons. Congress and the president need to follow Rouhani's advice. Increase the pressure. Don't be scared of Ali Khamenei. We still hold the high ground. Use it or lose it. The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Weekly Standard)
  • What the Media Gets Wrong about Israel - Matti Friedman
    Based on my experiences between 2006 and 2011 as a reporter and editor in the Jerusalem bureau of the Associated Press, I wrote for Tablet of the disproportionate media attention devoted to the conflict between Jews and Arabs relative to other stories, and gave examples of editorial decisions that appeared to be driven by ideological considerations rather than journalistic ones.
        Last November at Al-Quds University, a mainstream Palestinian institution in east Jerusalem, a rally in support of the armed fundamentalist group Islamic Jihad featured a row of masked men whose stiff-armed salute was returned by some of the hundreds of students in attendance. The rally is interesting for the connection it makes between radical Islam here and elsewhere in the region. It could help explain why many perfectly rational Israelis fear withdrawing their military from east Jerusalem or the West Bank. The images from the demonstration were, as photo editors like to say, "strong." The rally had all the necessary elements of a powerful news story.
        The Jerusalem bureau of the Associated Press was in possession of photos of the event a day later. Jerusalem editors decided that the images, and the rally, were not newsworthy. I mention such instances to show the way in which the pipeline of information is intentionally plugged.
        Mark Lavie, who has reported from the region since 1972 until his retirement last year, recently told me the AP Jerusalem bureau's editorial line was still that the conflict was Israel's fault, and the Palestinians and the Arab world were blameless.
        The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office - and AP wouldn't report it, not even in articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas. Hamas fighters would burst into the AP's Gaza bureau and threaten the staff - and AP wouldn't report it. Cameramen waiting outside Shifa Hospital in Gaza City would film the arrival of civilian casualties and then, at a signal from an official, turn off their cameras when wounded and dead fighters came in, helping Hamas maintain the illusion that only civilians were dying. (Atlantic)

What about the Jewish Nakba? - Ben-Dror Yemini (Ynet News)

  • "If the Jewish state becomes a fact, and this is realized by the Arab peoples, they will drive the Jews who live in their midst into the sea." This statement was made by Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, about a month and a half after Israel's declaration of the independence.
  • The Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, explained in his memoirs: "Our fundamental condition for cooperating with [Nazi] Germany was a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world."
  • And the Arab League at the time also adopted two decisions, which materialized into a bill designed to seize the bank accounts of Jews and strip them of their possessions, which was subsequently put into practice among well-established and wealthy Jewish communities in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Iraq. Entire communities were destroyed.
  • According to economist Sidney Zabludoff, assets abandoned by Arab refugees amount to $3.9 billion, as opposed to $6 billion in assets abandoned by Jewish refugees (in 2007 terms).
  • There were huge waves of population transfers, beginning in 1912 and through to the years following World War II. Around 52 million people underwent the experience, including tens of millions in the period after the war. These population exchanges also saw hundreds of thousands of Jews expelled and dispossessed.
  • We need to know that overplaying the Palestinian Nakba has actually become a factor that is holding back the chance for an agreement and understanding, and that recognizing the broad picture will make it clear to all that there's no turning back the clock.

        See also It's Time to Remember the Jewish Refugees - Irwin Cotler
    Had the Arabs accepted the UN Partition Resolution, there would have been no 1948 Arab-Israeli war and no refugees. Regrettably, the pain and plight of 850,000 Jews uprooted and displaced from Arab countries has been expunged from both the Middle East peace and justice agenda for 67 years. It is a truth that must now be affirmed and acknowledged in the interests of peace, justice and history. The writer is a former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada. (Times of Israel)

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