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February 27, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Harassment of Jews Worldwide Reaches Seven-Year High (Pew Research Center)
    In 2013, harassment of Jews was found in 77 countries (39%) - a seven-year high, according to the Pew Research Center's latest annual study on global restrictions on religion.
    In Europe, Jews were harassed by individuals or social groups in 34 of the region's 45 countries (76%).

Israel Embassy Tweets NY Times Front Page Ten Years After Iran Deal - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    Israel's Washington embassy on Thursday tweeted a fake New York Times front page, dated March 31, 2025, "reporting" how Iran had hoodwinked the world on the nuclear deal.
    Future headlines include: "P5+1: We Have Regrets"; "Despite Inspectors, Iran Completes Arak Plutonium Reactor"; and "IRGC Test New Generation ICBM, Range to SF, LA."
    See also Headlines from the Future: "How We Duped the West," Iran Pres. Declares (Embassy of Israel-Washington-Twitter)

Islamic State Selling Looted Syrian Art in London - Daniela Deane (Washington Post)
    Almost 100 Syrian artifacts looted by the Islamic State have been smuggled into Britain and sold to raise money for the extremist group's activities, art crime experts and archaeologists have warned.
    The items include gold and silver Byzantine coins as well as Roman pottery and glass worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, the London Times reported Wednesday.
    See also New ISIS Video Shows Militants Smashing Ancient Iraq Artifacts (NBC News)
    The Islamic State released a video on Thursday showing militants using sledgehammers to smash ancient artifacts at the Mosul Museum in northern Iraq.
    The artifacts destroyed included several large Assyrian statues which date back to as early as the 7th century.

Will Egypt Bomb Gaza? - Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-Hebrew)
    Fears are growing within Hamas that Egypt will bomb targets of its Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza, just as it attacked Islamic State targets in eastern Libya last week in response to the beheadings by IS of 21 Egyptian workers.
    Last week Egyptian media reported that a unit of "an extremist Islamist group" entered northern Sinai from Gaza in order to participate in attacks against the Egyptian army.
    A spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Gaza said the TV station reporting the incident had reported the previous week that a member of Hamas' military wing had been killed in northern Sinai in an attack by the Egyptian army.
    Hamas also has reported on Egyptian aircraft flying above the border and photographing areas in Rafiah and Khan Yunis, possibly to prepare targets.

Saudi Convicted in 1998 Bombings of U.S. Embassies (Reuters-Guardian-UK)
    Khalid al-Fawwaz, 52, a Saudi man described by prosecutors as one of Osama bin Laden's most trusted lieutenants, was convicted in a federal court in New York on Thursday in connection with the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
    Prosecutors said Fawwaz, while living in London, disseminated the al-Qaeda leader's declarations of war to the media and sent equipment to al-Qaeda members in Africa.
    He was also accused of operating an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan in the early 1990s and helping lead an al-Qaeda cell in Nairobi that later conducted surveillance ahead of the embassy bombing there.

U.S. Spy Chief: Fighting Islamic State Not a Priority for Turkey (AFP-Hurriyet-Turkey)
    Turkey does not place a high priority on fighting the Islamic State and as a result foreign fighters are able to travel through the country into Syria, U.S. director of national intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Feb. 26.
    "Public opinion polls show in Turkey they don't see ISIL as a primary threat," he said. The effect of Turkey's approach was to allow a "permissive" climate.
    "So somewhere in the neighborhood of 60% of those foreign fighters find their way to Syria through Turkey."

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Jordan, Israel Sign Deal to Help Save Dead Sea - Sharon Udasin (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli and Jordanian government officials on Thursday signed a bilateral agreement to jointly funnel Red Sea water to the shrinking Dead Sea.
    In the $800 million project, Jordan and Israel will share the water produced by a future desalination plant in Aqaba, while a pipeline will carry saltwater from the plant to the Dead Sea.
    In return for the desalinated water, Israel will double its supply of water to Jordan from the Sea of Galilee.

Survey: Palestinians Working for Israelis Earn Double Those in the West Bank and Triple Those in Gaza - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    A survey conducted by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in Oct.-Dec. 2014, funded by the EU, shows that in Israel and Israeli settlements, the average daily wage for Palestinians was 194.2 shekels, while Palestinians working in the PA in the West Bank earned 91.4 shekels, and those in Gaza made 66.1 shekels daily.
    The survey said 105,200 Palestinians were employed by Israelis at the end of 2014, 20,200 in settlements.

Egypt Acquits Ex-Minister over Israel Gas Deal (AFP)
    A Cairo court on Saturday acquitted former oil minister Sameh Fahmi along with five other petroleum officials who served under Hosni Mubarak in a retrial after a 2012 conviction for selling Israel natural gas at below market price.

ISIS Chops Off Hands of Convicted Thieves in Northern Syria (Jerusalem Post)
    Islamic State henchmen recently chopped off the right hand of two men who were said to have committed theft in Aleppo province, MEMRI reported.

Arab Israelis Volunteering for Israel's National Service - Linda Gradstein (Media Line-Ynet News)
    While most Jewish citizens of Israel are conscripted into the Israel Defense Forces (women for two years, men for three), Arab citizens of Israel are exempt.
    While the Arab leadership has discouraged national service for civilian tasks, because the program is run by Israel's Defense Ministry, more and more young Arabs are joining the ranks, seeing it as a way to get ahead in Israeli society.
    The number of Arabs volunteering for national service in local Arab communities, schools and hospitals has jumped 30% in the past year to more than 4,000.
    When they finish, they receive the same benefits as anyone who has served in the army.

Israeli Judoka Tops World Rankings (Times of Israel)
    Israel's Yarden Gerbi has been ranked number one on the International Judo Federation's most recent world ranking list, it was announced Monday.
    In November, she won first place in an international judo competition in China after winning all four of her matches in less than four minutes.

Revealed: The Middle East's Secret Army of Nazis - Allan Hall (Scotsman-UK)
    Chilling details of a secret army of Nazis emigrating to the Middle East after the Second World War to become the nucleus of an Arab-led force to crush Israel have been revealed in Germany.
    Intelligence officers, SS generals, propaganda specialists and even Holocaust functionaries went to Egypt after the collapse of the Third Reich to continue to persecute Jews after a covert recruitment drive that was the brainchild of Egypt's King Farouk.
    "He commissioned a confidant to build a new army," researcher Geraldine Schwarz told Die Welt.
    The king's man was Adel Sabit, entrusted to build the anti-Israel force along with former Afrika Korps Lt.-Gen. Artur Schmitt.
    Schmitt had been living after the war in a Cairo hotel under the name of Goldstein. His orders were to recruit his countrymen with the aim of building a million-strong army.
    In addition, Mahmout Sabit, the cousin of Adel Sabit, said Syria hired 50 Nazis between 1948-9, including many former SS soldiers, to help mold its army and intelligence service.
    One of the men brought to Syria was Walter Rauff, who at war's end was the SS security chief for northern Italy. He was a wanted war criminal who helped develop mobile gas-wagons to kill Jews.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Gen. Allen: Islamic State Has Lost Half of Its Leaders in Iraq - Dan Lamothe
    U.S. intelligence shows that half of the Islamic State's leaders in Iraq have been killed, Gen. John Allen told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. Allen said the last six months "have amply demonstrated that ISIL is little more than a criminal gang and death cult, which now finds itself under increasing pressure, sending naive and gullible recruits to die by the hundreds." However, the belief is still there that a caliphate run by the militants will be created, Allen said. Turning the tide will require showing that the Islamic State does not have the capacity to hold territory, he said. (Washington Post)
  • "Jihadi John" Identified as London-Raised College Grad - Jill Lawless
    "Jihadi John," the masked, knife-wielding militant in videos showing Western hostages being beheaded by the Islamic State group, was identified on Thursday as a London-raised university graduate known to British intelligence for more than five years. Mohammed Emwazi, in his mid-20s, was born in Kuwait, raised in west London, and studied computer programming at the University of Westminster, graduating in 2009.
        Shiraz Maher of the King's College radicalization center said Emwazi's background was similar to other British jihadis, and disproved the idea "that these guys are all impoverished, that they're coming from deprived backgrounds. They are by and large upwardly mobile people, well educated."  (AP-San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Inside Gaza's Tunnels, Militants Get Ready for the Next War - Quentin Sommerville
    In an olive grove close to houses in southern Gaza, a deep pit contains a 120mm mortar tube, and three fighters from Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Fully armed and in combat fatigues, the men practice loading and unloading the tube from a stack of mortars at the back of their position. This is a show of readiness, a show of strength, for the next war with Israel. Viewed as a terrorist group in the West, Islamic Jihad is committed to Israel's destruction.
        At the back of the firing position is a small curtain that leads into a tunnel cut through the earth. It turns a corner and enters a larger, even deeper tunnel, perhaps 20m down. Its reinforced concrete walls have an arched roof, tall enough for the men to stand up and run through it. This is their escape route, running for hundreds of meters. (BBC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Abbas Rejects Western Push to Restore PA Rule over Gaza - Yasser Okbi
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas rejected an international effort to impose his government's rule on Gaza, it was learned on Thursday. Western governments sought to advance a UN Security Council resolution that would confer upon the Ramallah administration a mandate to rule Gaza, which is currently in the hands of Hamas. After they were presented with a draft of the resolution, the PA rejected the document out of hand.
        The draft, formulated last September immediately following the 2014 Gaza war, stipulates that Gaza and its border crossings must be effectively returned to administrative rule of the PA, headed by Abbas. (Maariv Hashavua-Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel to Use Frozen Palestinian Tax Funds to Offset PA Electricity Debt; New Palestinian City to Get Water Hook-Up - Barak Ravid
    The Israel Electric Corporation has agreed to stop cutting power to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for the Israeli government's promise to use some of the Palestinian tax revenues it has been withholding to partially defray the PA's debt, a senior Israeli official said Thursday.
        In addition, Prime Minister Netanyahu has approved a compromise stipulating that both the new Palestinian city of Rawabi and several neighborhoods in nearby settlements will be connected to the water system. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Security Forces Uncover Two Palestinian Terror Cells in West Bank - Yaakov Lappin
    Security forces uncovered two terrorist cells in December and January that carried out shooting attacks on Israeli targets, the Israel Security Agency announced Thursday. One cell belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) carried out a shooting attack on Israeli vehicles in the Benjamin region, targeted an IDF position in Nabi Salih, and took part in fire bombings and pipe bomb incidents directed at IDF units in the West Bank. Security forces seized four firearms used to shoot at Israelis.
        "The members of the cell confessed to their intention to carry out more attacks, including a combined gun and pipe bomb attack on an IDF base, stabbings against soldiers, and kidnapping a soldier," the ISA added.
        A second cell from Bani Naim near Hebron carried out several shootings at Israeli vehicles on Route 60 near Kiryat Arba. During one gun attack, bullets were lodged in an Israeli vehicle. "The suspects turned in a gun, a rifle, and ammunition hidden in one of the suspect's homes," the ISA said. A PFLP operative in Hebron confessed to providing some of the cell's weapons. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • A Deal with Iran Must Not Come at Any Price - Editorial
    Sadly, the straws in the wind suggest that a bad deal on Iran's nuclear ambitions is a real possibility. A leak to the Associated Press raises the possibility that America would phase out all sanctions if Iran were to accept temporary constraints on its nuclear program for the next 10 or 15 years.
        If the West lifts sanctions and allows Iran's leaders to fill their coffers with oil revenues, in return for graciously agreeing to defer their ambition to be a nuclear threshold state until somewhere between 2025 and 2030, then that would not be good enough. The whole point of this immense diplomatic effort was to remove the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iran for the foreseeable future. Simply deferring that possibility by a decade or so - and then leaving the future leaders of the West to deal with the consequences - would be cowardly and unconscionable.
        That is particularly true when Iran's own difficulties are weighed in the balance. Sanctions and a collapsing oil price have combined to crush the Iranian economy. The result is that Iran's morally bankrupt "Supreme Leader," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, needs a nuclear deal far more than we do. Now is exactly the moment for the West to show more steel. (Telegraph-UK)
  • The Fatal Flaw in the Iran Deal - Charles Krauthammer
    News leaked Monday that President Obama had accepted the Iranian demand that any restrictions on its program be time-limited. After which, the mullahs can crank up their nuclear program at will and produce as much enriched uranium as they want. Sanctions lifted. Restrictions gone. Nuclear development legitimized. A few years of good behavior and Iran would be home free. The agreement thus would provide a predictable path to an Iranian bomb. Indeed, a flourishing path, with trade resumed, oil pumping and foreign investment pouring into a restored economy.
        Meanwhile, Iran's intercontinental ballistic missile program is subject to no restrictions at all. Why is Iran building them? Their only purpose is to carry nuclear warheads. Such an agreement also means the end of nonproliferation. When a rogue state defies the world, continues illegal enrichment and then gets the world to bless an eventual unrestricted industrial-level enrichment program, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is dead and regional hyperproliferation becomes inevitable.
        The deal now on offer to the ayatollah would confer legitimacy on the nuclearization of the most rogue of rogue regimes: radically anti-American, deeply jihadist, purveyor of terrorism from Argentina to Bulgaria, puppeteer of a Syrian regime. In fact, the Iranian regime just this week, at the apex of these nuclear talks, staged a spectacular attack on a replica U.S. carrier near the Strait of Hormuz.
        There is a third choice in addition to appeasement or war. Don't give away the store. Keep the pressure, keep the sanctions. Indeed, increase them. After all, previous sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table, and that was before the collapse of oil prices, which would now vastly magnify the economic effect of heightened sanctions. Congress is proposing precisely that. We are on the cusp of an epic capitulation. History will not be kind. (Washington Post)
  • Converting the Ayatollahs - David Brooks
    Western diplomats have continually projected pragmatism onto their ideological opponents. They have often assumed that our enemies are driven by the same sort of national interest calculations that motivate most regimes. They have assumed that economic interests would trump ideology and religion - that prudent calculation and statecraft would trump megalomania. They assumed that Islamic radicals could not really want to send their region back into the 12th century.
        The Obama administration is making a similar projection today. It is betting that Iran can turn into a fundamentally normal regime, which can be counted upon to put GDP over ideology and religion and do the pragmatic thing.
        Obama has made a series of stunning sacrifices in order to get a nuclear agreement. All of this might be defensible if Iran is really willing to switch teams, if religion and ideology played no role in the regime's thinking. But it could be that Iran finances terrorist groups and destabilizes regimes like Yemen's and Morocco's for a reason. It could be that Iranian leaders are as apocalyptically motivated, paranoid and dogmatically anti-American as their pronouncements suggest they are. Do we really want a nuclear-capable Iran in the midst of all that?
        If the Iranian leaders believe what they say, then U.S. policy should be exactly the opposite of the one now being pursued. Instead of embracing and enriching Iran, sanctions should be toughened to further isolate and weaken it. Instead of accepting a nuclear capacity, eliminating that capacity should be restored as the centerpiece of American policy. Instead of a condominium with Iran that offends traditional allies like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel, the U.S. should build a regional strategy around strengthening relations with those historic pillars. (New York Times)
  • Why Israel Is Fighting Obama's Iran Deal - Michael Crowley
    Concerns that a final deal restricting Iran's nuclear program will "sunset" any agreement as early as 2025 have thrown a new jolt into Israeli officials. "Ten years is nothing. It's tomorrow from our point of view," said Yaakov Amidror, who served as national security adviser to Netanyahu. "It's a license for Iran to be a threshold nuclear state." "When do bad people become good people? When a time is over - or when they change?"
        Critics say that after the expiration of any deal, Iran would be free to produce as much fuel for nuclear weapons as it likes. Citing reports of a 10-15-year sunset period at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Tuesday, the panel's top Democrat, Robert Menendez, called that "a matter of time that is far less than anyone envisioned." Obama officials deny that any specific sunset clause has been agreed to in the talks.
        "We certainly can't know what Iran will look like in 10 to 15 years," said Gary Samore, who handled the Iran nuclear portfolio in the Obama White House until 2013. A 10-year time frame would be a "catastrophic mistake," said Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations. Iran is "a system permeated by ideology, so Khamenei dying tomorrow is not likely to change the system dramatically."  (Politico)
  • Deterring an Iranian Nuclear Breakout - Robert Einhorn
    To deter Iran's leaders from making the decision to break out of an agreement and produce nuclear weapons, any deal should meet three requirements. First, it should have rigorous monitoring measures to convince Iran that any attempt to violate and break out of the agreement at either declared or covert sites would be detected very quickly. This would require intrusive verification provisions that go beyond the measures contained in the International Atomic Energy Agency's additional protocol, including frequent access to centrifuge production facilities, detailed reporting of nuclear-related procurement and robust inspection procedures.
        Second, the accord should ensure that the time Iranians would need to produce one bomb's-worth of weapons-grade uranium would be long enough to enable the U.S. to intervene decisively to stop them. The Obama administration is seeking to increase this "breakout time" from the current two-to-three months to at least one year. Getting to one year would depend on a package of interrelated constraints, including on the number and type of operating centrifuges and the amount of enriched uranium Iran would be allowed to retain.
        Third, it is necessary to convince Iran's leaders not only that breakout would be detected promptly, but also that they would face a harsh international response that would prevent their breakout from succeeding. To supplement any agreement, the Obama administration should collaborate with its international partners and the Congress on contingency plans - including both economic and military options - to ensure that the threat of a decisive response to a breakout attempt is credible. The writer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, served on the U.S. delegation to the Iran nuclear negotiations from 2009 to 2013. (New York Times)
  • Nuclear Deal Would Allow Revolutionary Guards to Continue Terrorist Activities - Prof. Abraham Ben-Zvi
    The future nuclear deal is about to grant Iran entry back into the heart of the international theater, without having to meet even minimal admission requirements outside the nuclear context. It will allow the Revolutionary Guards to continue their extensive terrorist activities, without inhibitions, restrictions, or supervision by any international forum. The writer is a professor of international relations at the University of Haifa. (Israel Hayom)

  • Netanyahu's Speech to Congress

  • Speech of the Year - Editorial
    Speeches by foreign leaders to Joint Meetings of Congress are routine events, and often among the more forgettable. So it might have been with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to Congress next Tuesday. But leave it to the political wizards of the Obama Administration to turn it into the global diplomatic event of the year.
        This week the Administration unleashed a withering personal and political attack that is unprecedented against a close ally. National Security Adviser Susan Rice even said the speech is "destructive of the fabric of the relationship" between Washington and Jerusalem. That's some claim against one speech, and it's worth asking why the Administration has gone to such extraordinary lengths to squelch it. Mr. Netanyahu is expected to make the case against President Obama's looming nuclear deal with Iran, and perhaps the Administration knows how vulnerable it is to such a critique.
        The Prime Minister did nothing more than accept an invitation from a co-equal branch of government, with its own important foreign-policy role. If there is partisanship here, it is from a president whose Iran policy is no longer trusted by much of his own party.
        Israelis are naturally wary of becoming estranged from their most important ally. Then again, Israelis are even more wary of a nuclear Iran. The trashing of Mr. Netanyahu has done nothing but increase public interest in his speech. Recent polling finds Americans overwhelmingly in favor of giving the Israeli leader a fair hearing in Congress. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Rumsfeld: I'm Amazed at How the White House Is Handling Netanayu's Invitation to Speak to Congress - Boaz Bismuth
    Former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Israel Hayom that the focus on Netanyahu's visit rather than on his message is an "unfortunate distraction" from the important issue - the Iranian threat. "Iran is a critical issue and Israel is an important ally, and there is nothing inappropriate at all for the speaker to invite the prime minister or for the prime minister to come over. Historically he is a good friend of the U.S....and I find it stunning to see the comments out of the White House on this issue."
        "They have said things that are undiplomatic and inconsistent with the relationship between our two countries and its importance, and I can't imagine that, among the American people, it will affect our relationship adversely in any way. I'm really amazed at the rudeness, at the undiplomatic way this administration is handling this issue."
        "It is unfortunate because it damages, or appears to damage, the relationship with an important ally for the United States. I think it is exactly what the Iranians are happy to hear - it has to be encouraging for them. But it is also unprofessional."  (Israel Hayom)

  • Palestinians

  • Trial Provides Glimpse into PA Funding for Terrorists - Stewart Ain
    Monday's decision by a Manhattan federal jury ordering the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization to pay $655.5 million in damages for their part in terror attacks came after six weeks of testimony that shined a light on how the PA used financial rewards to encourage suicide bombings in Israel.
        Expert witnesses, among them Israel Shrenzel, a former supervisor in the Israel Security Agency, testified that there were "close links" between the PA and the Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigade, the group that carried out the attacks. "All of them get paid by the PA," he said. "Some of them get promotions and the promotions are very impressive. Two of them are colonels." Evidence was presented showing that one suicide bomber, Wafa Idris, obtained the bomb she used from Arafat's compound at the Mukata in Ramallah.
        Evidence was presented showing that terrorists who were arrested and convicted continued to receive their salaries - and even promotions - as PA employees. And the families of those killed in those attacks received what were called "martyrs" payments. Kent Yalowitz, an attorney for the victims, argued that this practice of payments in effect says: "Come on, we'll put you on the payroll when you commit a crime, and the longer you're in jail the more money we will pay you."  (New York Jewish Week)
        See also The Palestinian Authority's Bad Day in Court - Jessica Kasmer-Jacobs (Wall Street Journal)
  • Boycott Israel Movement Stunts the Palestinian Economy - Carrie Sheffield
    A push to "boycott, divest and sanction" (BDS) Israeli companies has limited impact on the credit profile of Israel, yet it directly harms its intended beneficiaries, the Palestinians. "The impact of BDS is more psychological than real so far and has had no discernible impact on Israeli trade or the broader economy," said Kristin Lindow, senior vice president at Moody's and its lead analyst for Israel. "The sanctions do run the risk of hurting the Palestinian seen in the case of SodaStream."
        Israel (population 8.3 million) has a GDP of $291 billion, the Palestinian territories (population 4.1 million) $11.3 billion. Such asymmetry shows the Palestinians needs Israel, economically speaking. Yet the BDS crowd would impair economic ties, despite evidence that trade between peoples lessens the outbreak of war.
        Israel employs 110,000 Palestinians and has built 16 industrial parks in the West Bank and east Jerusalem hosting 1,000 facilities where Jews and Arabs work shoulder-to-shoulder. (Forbes)

  • Arab World

  • Egypt Left to Fight Alone Against Islamist Terrorism - Zvi Mazel
    Egypt's Al-Ahram published a lengthy article on Feb. 12 accusing the U.S., Qatar and Turkey of acting in a hostile manner toward Egypt through its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, and of ignoring the plight of Egypt which is under attack in Sinai and from Libya by Islamist terrorism. Should nothing be done to block the progress of Islamist militias, Libya will turn into the forward base of Islamic State.
        While Jordan's attacks on Islamic State after the horrific murder of its pilot met with understanding from the West, Egypt received no such support when Egyptian planes struck in Libya after the massacre there of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians. Yet Cairo cannot afford to sit back and wait for a political solution while Islamic State's advance outposts in Libya and other Islamist militias affiliated with the Brotherhood pursue their relentless attacks to weaken Egypt and hamper its economic recovery. The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt, and Sweden. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egypt Sees Changes in Saudi Foreign Policy - Dina Ezzat
    Last Thursday, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) issued a statement criticizing statements made by the Egyptian representative to the Arab League in which he accused Qatar of supporting terror groups in Libya. The Qatari ambassador accused Egypt of having compromised the life of innocent Libyan citizens by conducting air strikes against Islamic State-allied targets in the eastern Libya city of Derna.
        Later on Thursday, the GCC issued another statement saying, "GCC countries totally support Egypt in all the military procedures that it has been taking to fight the terrorist groups in Libya," with GCC secretary-general Abdel-Lateif El-Zeiyani saying he was misquoted by the media in the first account.
        One diplomatic source in Cairo stated, "We have noticed an improvement in relations between the Saudis and Qataris following the demise of King Abdullah [of Saudi Arabia]." Egyptian officials noted that the hostility of King Salman to the Muslim Brotherhood is not as sharp as his predecessor. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
  • Is ISIS the Champion of the Downtrodden? - Amir Taheri
    The recent three-day White House conference on "violent extremism" exposed an unwillingness to understand the challenge of Islamist terrorism. At the conference, President Obama said: "If we are going to prevent people from being susceptible to false promises of extremism, then the international community has to offer something better" - specifically, "economic growth."
        This is painfully naive. The "Caliphate" isn't recruiting among the world's downtrodden. Its administration is run by highly-educated individuals, many from wealthy families in Arab countries. Its army does not consist of poverty-stricken individuals protesting against Western imperialism. They all seem fairly well-fed and stylishly dressed, bearing smartphones and expensive Swiss watches. (New York Post)
  • Islamist Realities - Efraim Karsh
    The depiction of Muslims as hapless victims of the aggressive encroachments of others, too dim to be accountable for their own fate, is not only patronizing but the inverse of the truth.
        The story of Islam has been the story of the rise and fall of an often-astonishing imperial aggressiveness and of never quiescent imperialist dreams that haunt Islamic and Middle Eastern politics into the 21st century. Even as these dreams have repeatedly frustrated any possibility for the peaceful social and political development of the Arab-Muslim world, they have given rise to repeated fantasies of revenge and restoration and to murderous efforts to transform fantasy into fact.
        If, today, America is reviled in the Muslim world, it is not because of its specific policies but because, as the preeminent world power, it blocks the final realization of this same age-old dream of regaining the lost glory of the caliphate. The writer is professor emeritus of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King's College London and professor of Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University. (Jerusalem Post)

    Other Issues

  • Key Document in Jonathan Pollard Case Declassified - Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman
    On Nov. 13, 2014, after years of litigation, the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP) granted our appeal and ordered the declassification of significant portions of a declaration submitted to the court in 1987 by then-secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger in connection with Jonathan Pollard's sentencing. As a result, longstanding government assertions that this document contains proof that Pollard caused unprecedented harm to the U.S. have now been exposed as utter falsehoods.
        In 1987, Pollard was sentenced to life in prison, largely on the basis of the Weinberger declaration. Since then, the government has invoked the Weinberger declaration, as recently as Pollard's parole hearing in July 2014, as its basis to oppose executive clemency or parole. The newly disclosed material shows that any harm that may have been caused by Pollard was in the form of short-term disruption in foreign relations between the U.S. and certain Arab countries. That is not the same as harm to U.S. national security.
        While the phrase "damage to the national security" is used as a section heading, what appears below it is, once again, in the nature of potential impact on foreign relations. For example, Weinberger bemoans the fact that Pollard provided information that enabled Israel to conduct a "successful strike on PLO headquarters in Tunisia."
        Another recently declassified document, a 1987 CIA study of the Pollard case, concludes that Pollard supplied Israel with information regarding Arab and Pakistani nuclear intelligence, Arab military capability and weaponry (including biological and chemical weapons), Soviet advisers in Syria and Soviet training of Syrian personnel, the PLO's Force 17, and a radio signal notation manual requested by Israel to help in the decryption of intercepted communications of Soviet military advisers in Damascus. The writers have been Jonathan Pollard's pro bono attorneys since 2000. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Doles Out Mock Oscars: Iran Awarded Best Actor, Hizbullah Supporting Role - Vasudevan Sridharan
    Israel has doled out mock Academy Awards for the geo-political drama. The Israeli foreign ministry gave Iran the Oscar for "best actor" - "For acting like a peace loving country while developing nuclear capabilities, denying the Holocaust and threatening the destruction of another member state."
        The ministry bestowed the "supporting actor" award to Hizbullah, often seen as a long arm of Iran, "for its unrelenting support to the Assad regime in killing thousands of civilians." Israel also awarded the "best editing" award to the Palestinian Authority for "rewriting history."  (International Business Times)
        See also Behind the Curtain at the Theater of the Absurd - Ron Prosor
    As Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, I have a front row seat to the world's foremost theater of the absurd. At the General Assembly, the very nations undermining international peace were elected to the UN bodies responsible for maintaining global security. The world's most notorious human rights abusers commandeered the Human Rights Council. The inmates have taken over the asylum. (Huffington Post)

The Struggle over the Iranian Nuclear Program - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

  • The current Iranian nuclear program is the result of 27 years of Iranian investment. Over these decades, Iran's scientists have successfully overcome a raft of technical hurdles, often with the help of foreign experts, and have accumulated essential knowledge in missile technology and nuclear enrichment, as well as apparently acquiring a significant proportion of the technologies necessary for creating a warhead and fitting it to the Shahab 3 missile.
  • Throughout this period, Iran's leaders have taken advantage of Western laxity to create a previously unthinkable reality in which the international community, and in particular the United States, is prepared to accept the existence of an active Iranian nuclear program, one that supports a leap to nuclear weaponization, and thus to accept - and even grant formal legitimacy to - the reality of Iran as a nuclear threshold state.
  • Iran continues to hold some 7.5 tons of enriched uranium to a level of 3.5% (which represents around half the investment in enrichment required for military-grade material). Once brought up to a 90% enrichment level, this would be sufficient fissionable material to make four or five atomic bombs. The practical upshot of this is that Iran is today only several months away from producing sufficient fissionable material for the creation of its first nuclear warhead device, and maintains the capabilities required to develop nuclear weapons.
  • The leaders of Iran, who are driven by a sense of mission that is both Islamic and revolutionary Iranian-nationalist, believe it is their duty to bring about a wholesale change in the world order, using a combination of cunning, force, and daring, and making the most of the freedom of action afforded to them by the reined-in West. As a result, the talks between the powers and Iran are not conducted in a manner reflecting the true balance of power, but rather the exact opposite. It is Iran that dictates the agenda, while America and the West attempt to placate the other side, and are hesitant about bringing up issues that they fear Iran will refuse to discuss.
  • Consequently, according to the agreement being drawn up, and contrary to American declarations that its intent is to keep Iran at least a year away from acquiring military-grade fissionable material, in actual fact Iran will be able to achieve that goal in very short period of time, if its infrastructure remains untouched.
  • Israel's view is that Iran under the current regime seeks, through a variety of ways, to bring about the destruction of the national state of the Jewish people. This is a central component of its broader efforts to form a new Middle East, controlled by extremist forces aligned with it and under its influence, from which basis it can go on to change the entire world order. Nuclear weapons are directly essential to this scheme.
  • Is the prime minister acting correctly? Having been closely involved in the campaign against the Iranian nuclear program from the beginning, I believe that the advantages of this course of action outweigh its disadvantages. Certainly the intervention in the decision-making processes of Congress represents a last resort, but in light of the seriousness and urgency of the threat, it would seem that the use of irregular means is justified. There is not likely to be a second chance to get things right.

    Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser was chief of the research division in IDF Military Intelligence, and until recently, director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs.
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