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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 23, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Libya Militias Capture Chemical Weapons - Abdul Sattar Hatita (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Militias in Libya have seized chemical weapons from arsenals that used to belong to former leader Muammar Gaddafi, military sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.
    A Libyan military official warned that the caches, which contain deadly chemicals such as mustard gas and the nerve agent sarin, may fall into the hands of the Islamic State.
    An armed group guarding a chemical factory located in Jufra District, 600 km. southeast of Tripoli, has transferred unknown quantities of deadly mustard gas to the Mediterranean city of Misrata, locals said.
    A video purportedly shows militants conducting chemical weapons tests near the town of Mizda.

Poll: 7 in 10 Americans Continue to View Israel Favorably - Lydia Saad (Gallup Poll)
    Israel has retained its broadly favorable image in the U.S. over the past year.
    70% of Americans now view that country favorably, and 62% say they sympathize more with the Israelis than the Palestinians in the Mideast conflict.
    By contrast, 17% currently view the PA favorably, and 16% sympathize more with the Palestinians.

Israel Cooperated with U.S. and Britain to Surveil Iran, New Snowden Leak Reveals - Amir Oren (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli intelligence cooperated with the U.S. and Britain to surveil Iran's leaders, according to a memo written in April 2013 by the head of the Iranian department at the U.S. National Security Agency's signals intelligence unit.
    The document was leaked this month by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
    In January 2013, specialists from the NSA and the Israeli army's signals intelligence unit discussed the Iranian leadership in detail during a video conference.

Syrian Kurds Attack Islamic State in Northeast - Tom Perry (Reuters)
    Syrian Kurdish forces advanced against Islamic State fighters in two separate attacks in northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border on Sunday.
    The Kurdish YPG militia was giving the coordinates of Islamic State targets to the U.S.-led coalition - the same method used to call in air strikes in the battle for Kobani, Kurdish official Nasir Haj Mansour said.
    See also New ISIS Video Shows Kurdish Fighters in Cages (AFP-Al Arabiya)
    ISIS released a video on Sunday showing captured Kurdish Peshmerga fighters paraded through Iraqi streets in cages, dressed in orange jumpsuits.

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Calls for Armed Revolution Against Al-Sisi (MEMRI)
    The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has recently called for using terrorism and violence against the Egyptian regime and even for assassinating President al-Sisi.
    An MB communique called on movement activists to prepare for a lengthy and uncompromising jihad and warned foreign diplomats to leave Egypt by Feb. 28, or else be targeted for attack.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Obama Parries Questions on Iran Deal from Arabs - Jay Solomon
    Arab governments are privately expressing their concern to Washington about the emerging terms of a potential deal aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program, according to Arab and U.S. officials. The direction of U.S. diplomacy with Tehran has added fuel to fears in some Arab states of a nuclear arms race in the region. The major Sunni states, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, have said that a final agreement could allow Shiite-dominated Iran to keep the technologies needed to produce nuclear weapons.
        "At this stage, we prefer a collapse of the diplomatic process to a bad deal," said an Arab official who has discussed Iran with the Obama administration and Saudi Arabia in recent weeks. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Homeland Security Chief: Threat to U.S. Malls "A New Phase" For Terrorists - Scott Neuman
    Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson told CNN a video released by the Somali-based group al-Shabab "reflects [a] new phase" in which terrorist networks publicly call "for independent actors in their homelands to carry out attacks."
        Focusing on the deadly 2013 assault on a mall in Nairobi, the video says: "If just a handful of mujahedeen fighters could bring Kenya to a complete stand-still for nearly a week, then imagine what a dedicated mujahedeen in the West could do to the American or Jewish-owned shopping centers across the world....What if such an attack was to occur in the Mall of America in Minnesota, or the West Edmonton Mall in Canada, or in London's Oxford Street, or any of the hundred or so Jewish-owned Westfield shopping centers dotted right across the Western world?"  (NPR)
        See also Expert: Threat Against Jewish-Owned Malls Shows Increased Jihadi Focus on Jewish Targets - Dovid Efune (Algemeiner)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: "Astonishing" that Talks Continue with Iran Despite It Hiding Info from IAEA - Herb Keinon
    Referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency's recent report expressing concern that Iran is hiding possible military elements of its nuclear program, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet Sunday it was "astonishing" that the talks with Tehran are still continuing. "Therefore, the coming month is critical for the nuclear talks between Iran and the major powers because a framework agreement is liable to be signed that will allow Iran to develop the nuclear capabilities that threaten our existence."
        The fact that Iran "continues its murderous terror activities around the region and the world does not, unfortunately, bother the international community, which is continuing to talk with Iran about a nuclear accord that will allow it to build an industrial capacity to develop nuclear arms."
        In addition to Iran's direct involvement with Hizbullah in the north and Hamas in the south, Tehran is now trying to open a third front against Israel on the Golan Heights under its direct command, Netanyahu said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Jerusalem Mayor, Bodyguard Subdue Jerusalem Terrorist - Roy Yanovski
    Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and his security guard helped subdue a Palestinian terrorist who stabbed a Jewish man in the city. Security footage of the event shows Barkat lunging at the terrorist. Barkat said he had been on his way to the office when "We saw a terrorist with a knife standing and looking for the next thing to do." The security guard, Asaf Na'amani, cocked his weapon, causing the attacker to drop his knife and allowing Barkat and the guard to overpower him. Barkat, 55, served as an officer in the paratroopers. (Ynet News)
  • Israel: PA Is Not on Verge of Collapse - Herb Keinon
    Assertions that the Palestinian Authority is on the verge of collapse because Israel is withholding monthly tax revenues are exaggerated, Israeli officials said Sunday, responding to claims from top U.S. and EU officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry. Israel has held up two monthly payments and the transfer of some $200 million in response to the PA joining the International Criminal Court and initiating proceedings against Israel.
        "We believe that people should focus on what brought about this situation, which is the PA breaking fundamental commitments to the peace process by going to the UN Security Council and the ICC," one Israeli official said. He added that Israel could not be expected to sit idly by as the PA wages "diplomatic warfare" against it. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • An American About-Face, into the Arms of Iran - Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror
    During my visit to the U.S. two weeks ago I heard from several people that senior State Department officials were trying to sell Washington on the idea that a nuclear agreement with Iran will contribute to regional stability in the Middle East, and that future relations between Iran and the U.S. will advance U.S. interests; an American U-turn, heading toward a special relationship with Iran. If this relationship materializes, it is clear the U.S. would be jeopardizing Israel's security for the sake of a sudden experimental partnership with a country that openly declares its intention to harm and even destroy Israel. None of the people I spoke with mentioned the White House or the president as the ones promoting the idea.
        If the rumor is indeed true, this perception is based on a misunderstanding of Iran's intentions and its way of thinking about the Muslim world and its place in it. This misunderstanding stems from ignoring the Islamic republic's political culture, its negotiation methods and its willingness to peddle illusions to its adversary (as a religious imperative). This miscalculation is compounded by the inexplicable and historically unfounded optimism over the ability of any type of deal to change the Iranian attitude.
        There are quite a few people in the U.S. who think a deal, in and of itself, is more important than its substance. This is a completely illogical approach. The decision to alter the course with Iran means that America is effectively choosing a side in favor of the Shiite minority, scaring the Sunni majority. By doing so, the Americans are encouraging the Shiites, the most dynamically negative force in the Middle East, a force which reaches far and wide via its terrorist group proxies.
        If the rumor about the new U.S. approach toward Iran is true, then just as Henry Kissinger predicted recently, the important Sunni states (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey) will begin a nuclear arms race because they do not believe in stability predicated upon a Shiite country that, with America's support, will become the most influential power in the region. The writer is a former Israeli national security advisor. (Israel Hayom)
  • The U.S.-Israel Divide on Iran - Dennis Ross
    President Obama is clearly prepared to accept a deal that would limit the Iranian nuclear program for perhaps the next 15 years and in a way that ensures the Iranians would be a year away from being able to produce weapons-grade uranium. Iran, however, would not be required to dismantle any nuclear facilities or infrastructure - and, after the agreement expires, would be permitted to have an industrial-size nuclear program.
        In Prime Minister Netanyahu's view, however, that means leaving Iran as a nuclear-threshold state. My conversations with Israelis suggest that they could, in fact, live with an agreement that permits Iran a small enrichment capability. Their view is that, in return for a rollback of sanctions, there must be a serious rollback of the Iranian nuclear program. By contrast, the deal reportedly under consideration would limit the Iranian nuclear program, not meaningfully diminish it, in return for a rollback of sanctions.
        The Israelis argue that if Iran is permitted to have an industrial-size nuclear energy program, it would be able to become a nuclear weapons state at a time of its choosing. Indeed, the transparency or verification system needed to detect a breakout by a small program is unlikely to work for a very large one. The writer, a counselor and fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was a special assistant to President Obama from 2009 to 2011. (Washington Post)

Hear Out Israel's Leader - Joseph I. Lieberman (Washington Post)

  • I appeal to members of Congress to go hear what the prime minister of Israel has to say. Go because this is about determining how best to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons and not just another Washington test of partisan and political loyalty.
  • Go because you know that the Constitution gives you, as a member of Congress, the power to "regulate commerce with foreign nations," "define and punish...offenses against the law of nations," "declare war," and "raise and support armies," and Netanyahu might say some things that will inform your exercise of those great powers.
  • Go because you know that Israel is one of our closest and most steadfast allies and you feel a responsibility to listen to its leader speak about developments that he believes could threaten the safety, independence and even existence of his country, as well as that of our closest allies in the Arab world.
  • Go because you worry that it is not just the security of Israel and the Arab nations but the security of the United States that will be threatened if a bad agreement is made with Iran that enables it to build nuclear weapons it could put on its increasingly capable long-range missiles.
  • Go because you are concerned about nuclear weapons proliferation and believe that a faulty deal with Iran will not only put it on the road to becoming a nuclear power but will also lead some of Iran's Arab neighbors to acquire nuclear weapons as soon as possible.
  • At this very unstable moment in history, we cannot and must not avert our attention from what remains the greatest threat to the security of America and the world.

    The writer is a former U.S. Senator from Connecticut.

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