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April 3, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Iraq Claims Victory over Islamic State in Tikrit (Reuters)
    The Iraqi government claimed victory over Islamic State insurgents in Tikrit on Wednesday after a month-long battle for the city supported by Shi'ite militiamen and U.S.-led air strikes, saying that only small pockets of resistance remained.
    State television showed Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, accompanied by leaders of the army and police, and Shi'ite paramilitary leaders, parading through Tikrit and raising an Iraqi flag.

Rebels Advance to the Center of Aden, Yemen's Second-Largest City - Ali al-Mujahed and Brian Murphy (Washington Post)
    Shiite rebel forces pushed into the heart of Aden, Yemen's second-largest city, and seized the presidential palace Thursday, scoring another major advance and exposing the limitations of Saudi-led airstrikes seeking to restore the country's president.

22 Dead in Attacks on Egyptian Army Checkpoints in Sinai (Al-Masry Al-Youm-Egypt)
    Attacks on five army checkpoints along the El-Arish-Rafah road in northern Sinai have left 22 dead, including 18 soldiers and four civilians, and more than 30 others wounded, a medical source said Thursday.
    Four vehicles with over 20 gunmen attacked the recently-erected checkpoints with RPGs and mortars.

Jihad Mughniyah Headed Iranian-Backed Anti-Israel Terror Taskforce - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    Three months after an airstrike in January attributed to Israel killed Jihad Mughniyeh, new details reveal the Hizbullah commander headed an Iranian-backed taskforce aimed at undertaking high-profile attacks against the IDF in the Golan Heights.
    According to a Kuwaiti paper, Mughniyeh headed a special taskforce which planned and carried out terror attacks against Israel last summer including four rocket launches and a number of mortar attacks.

Does Iran Have Secret Nukes in North Korea? - Gordon G. Chang (Daily Beast)
    In October 2012, Iran began stationing personnel at a military base in North Korea close to the Chinese border. The Iranians reportedly are working on both missiles and nuclear weapons.
    Inspections inside Iran will not give the international community access to any nuclear weapons efforts in North Korea.
    Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, thought to be Tehran's chief nuclear scientist, was almost certainly in North Korea in February 2013 to witness its third atomic test. Reports put Iranian technicians on hand for the first two detonations as well.
    The North Koreans have also sold Iran material for bomb cores. The Telegraph reported that in 2002 a barrel of North Korean uranium cracked open and contaminated the tarmac of Tehran airport.
    Iran could still continue developing its bomb in North Korea, conducting research there or buying North Korean technology and plans. With the removal of sanctions, Iran will have the cash to accelerate the building of its nuclear arsenal.
    In other words, Iran could be one day away from a bomb - the flight time from Pyongyang to Tehran - not one year as America hopes.

Anti-Semitism in U.S. Spikes after Nearly a Decade of Decline - Lauren Markoe (Washington Post)
    Anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. spiked 21% last year, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
    The ADL counted 912 incidents in 2014, up from 751 the previous year. The report shows 36 assaults, up from 31 in 2013; 363 incidents of vandalism in 2014, compared with 315 in 2013; and 513 incidents of threats and harassment in 2014, contrasted with 405 in 2013.
    ADL researchers correlate the rise in anti-Semitism to last summer's war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. 2014 also included the fatal shootings at a Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kan.

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Security Firm Says New Spy Software in Ten Countries Came from Lebanon - Joseph Menn (Reuters)
    Israeli-based computer security firm Check Point Software Technologies has discovered a computer spying campaign that it said "likely" originated with a government agency or political group in Lebanon.
    The effort targeted telecommunications and networking companies, military contractors, media organizations and other institutions in Lebanon, Israel, Turkey and seven other countries.
    The campaign dates back at least three years and deploys hand-crafted software with some of the hallmarks of state-sponsored computer espionage.

UN: 25,000 Foreigners Fight with Terrorists - Edith M. Lederer (AP-Washington Post)
    More than 25,000 fighters have left home to join al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria and other countries, according to a new UN report.
    The panel of experts monitoring UN sanctions against al-Qaeda said Wednesday that the number of foreign terrorist fighters worldwide increased by 71% between mid-2014 and March 2015.
    Thousands of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq are living and working in "a veritable international finishing school for extremists," the panel said.

Israelis Subsidize Palestinians' Water (NGO Monitor)
    "Close cooperation between all parties can ensure equitable, maximal access to clean and safe water and help create a more peaceful environment," said Professor Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor.
    "Unfortunately, NGOs would rather politicize this issue and demonize Israel than improve Palestinian access to clean water."
    The major factor in the water shortage in Gaza is the poor maintenance of the water and sewage infrastructure, resulting in losses of more than 40% (compared to 3% in the Israeli system).
    NGOs have accused the Israeli national water company, Mekorot, of profiting from "Israeli control over a Palestinian captive market under occupation."
    Yet, in 2013 Mekorot sold water to the Palestinians at a loss (at a price of NIS 2.85 per MCM). In contrast, Israelis pay NIS 8.89 per MCM, in effect subsidizing the Palestinians' water.
    See also Israel a World Leader in Treating Wastewater - Zafrir Rinat (Ha'aretz)
    Israel produces 500 million cubic meters of wastewater every year, more than 90% of which reaches treatment plants.
    In the West Bank, only 1/4 of the wastewater produced by Palestinian communities is connected to a sewage collection system, and only 1/10 reaches treatment plants.

Guardian Appoints Anti-Israel Propagandist as New Editor-in-Chief - Adam Levick (UK Media Watch)
    The Guardian announced that Katharine Viner was appointed their new editor-in-chief.
    Viner was the co-creator of an anti-Israel play called "My Name is Rachel Corrie," a piece of theatrical agitprop about the International Solidarity Movement activist killed in March 2003 while attempting to stop an IDF anti-terror operation in Gaza.
    In 2001 Viner interviewed the Palestinian terrorist Leila Khaled, opening her article with words which seem to glorify terrorism.

Israeli Patents in U.S. Jump 21% - Niv Elis (Jerusalem Post)
    The number of Israeli patents in the U.S. jumped 21% in 2014, putting it third on a list of foreign countries filing patents there (by population) after Japan and Taiwan, according to a study by BdiCoface.

Canada, Israel Join Forces to Aid Ukrainian Agriculture - Paul Lungen (Canadian Jewish News)
    Last month, representatives of Canada and Israel met in Kiev, Ukraine, to sign a memorandum of understanding to assist farmers and small and medium-sized business owners in a "Ukraine Horticulture Business Development Project" to provide equipment and training by Canadian and Israeli experts to Ukrainian farmers.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Agrees to Nuclear Restrictions in Framework Deal with World Powers - Carol Morello
    Iran agreed in principle to accept significant restrictions on its nuclear facilities for at least a decade and submit to international inspections under a framework deal announced Thursday. In return, international sanctions would be lifted in phases if Iran meets its commitments, meaning it could take a year or less for relief from the penalties to kick in.
        The framework agreement is not a final deal. But it creates parameters for three more months of negotiations. Iran would not have to close any of its three nuclear facilities. Iran's heavy-water reactor in Arak would be rebuilt so it could not produce weapons-grade plutonium. Iran's underground uranium-enrichment plant at Fordow would be converted into a nuclear physics and technology center. (Washington Post)
        See also Text: President Obama Announces a "Framework" for a Nuclear Deal with Iran (Washington Post)
        See also Description of Nuclear Framework Deal with Iran (White House)
        See also Obama Discusses Iran Framework with Netanyahu
    President Obama called Prime Minister Netanyahu on Thursday to discuss the political framework reached regarding Iran's nuclear program. The President underscored that progress on the nuclear issue in no way diminishes U.S. concerns with respect to Iran's sponsorship of terrorism and threats towards Israel. (White House)
  • Iran Brags about Nuke Concessions - Jordan Fabian
    Iranian officials quickly declared victory, arguing the deal would lift all international sanctions on the regime while allowing it to continue to develop nuclear power. "All Security Council resolutions will be terminated, all U.S. nuclear-related secondary sanctions as well as EU sanctions will be terminated" during the term of the agreement, Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a press conference.
        "None of those measures include closing our facilities. The proud people of Iran would never accept that. Our facilities will continue. We will continue enriching, we will continue research and development, our heavy water reactor will be modernized and we will continue the Fordow facility," Zarif said. (The Hill)
        See also Iran Accuses U.S. of Lying about New Nuke Agreement - Adam Kredo (Washington Free Beacon)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu to Obama: Iran Nuclear Deal Threatens Israel - Itamar Eichner
    Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to U.S. President Obama early Friday and voiced Israel's strong opposition to the framework agreement reached between Iran and world powers. "A deal based on this framework would threaten the survival of Israel," Netanyahu said. "This deal would legitimize Iran's nuclear program, bolsters Iran's economy, and increase Iran's aggression....Such a deal would not block Iran's path to the bomb. It would pave it....The alternative is standing firm and increasing the pressure on Iran until a better deal is achieved."  (Ynet News)
        See also below Observations - Netanyahu: Iran Must Stop Its Aggression in the Region and Stop Threating to Annihilate Israel (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also The Flawed Underpinnings of the New Nuclear Understandings with Iran - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • IDF: On Iran, "Israel Will Do Whatever Is Best for Israel" - Yoav Limor
    Head of the IDF Planning Directorate Maj. Gen. Nimrod Sheffer warned of the perils of the nuclear deal currently being negotiated with Iran. "The agreement, the way it is coming together at this time, will not be good for Israel. If ultimately an agreement is in fact signed, we will have to ask ourselves, 'Okay, what are we going to do with this?' If someone builds a bomb and at the same time declares that Israel has no right to exist, we have to think about how to respond....Where Israel feels its existence depends on action, we will take it."
        "The Iranians are unequivocally playing a game....There is no doubt that the idea is to get their hands on nuclear capability."  (Israel Hayom)
        See also Israel: All Options Including Military Action Open on Iran
    Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said Thursday that in the face of the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, "if we have no choice, we have no choice...the military option is on the table." Asked about possible U.S. objections to Israeli military action, Steinitz pointed to Israel's unilateral attack against the Osirak nuclear reactor in Saddam Hussein's Iraq in 1981. "This operation was not carried out in agreement with the United States," he said. "The prime minister has said clearly that Israel will not allow Iran to become a nuclear power."  (AFP)
  • U.S. Jewish Leaders Urge "Safeguards" to Ensure Iran's Compliance
    The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called Thursday for "safeguards" to ensure Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal, highlighting Iran's "past record" of "obfuscation and evasion." The Jewish leaders said they "strongly believe that Congress must have an active role and be given the opportunity to review any potential final agreement. We also urge the administration to work with Congress in agreeing on and preparing for immediate implementation of legislation which would impose new and severe sanctions in the event that a detailed accord cannot be reached or that Iran violates the terms of any accord."
        "Both the United States and Israel, and their leaders, are committed to a peaceful solution of the Iranian nuclear issue. However, any solution must provide long-term assurance that Iran will not be able to acquire a nuclear weapons capability."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Jewish Federations of North America Skeptical over Nuclear Deal (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Obama's Iran Deal Falls Far Short of His Own Goals - Editorial
    The "key parameters" for an agreement on Iran's nuclear program released Thursday fall well short of the goals originally set by the Obama administration. None of Iran's nuclear facilities - including the Fordow center buried under a mountain - will be closed. Not one of the country's 19,000 centrifuges will be dismantled. Tehran's existing stockpile of enriched uranium will be "reduced" but not necessarily shipped out of the country. In effect, Iran's nuclear infrastructure will remain intact. When the accord lapses, the Islamic republic will instantly become a threshold nuclear state.
        That's a long way from the standard set by President Obama in 2012 when he declared that "the deal we'll accept" with Iran "is that they end their nuclear program" and "abide by the UN resolutions that have been in place." Those resolutions call for Iran to suspend the enrichment of uranium.
        The proposed accord will provide Iran a huge economic boost that will allow it to wage more aggressively the wars it is already fighting or sponsoring across the region. (Washington Post)
  • Obama's Iran "Framework" - Editorial
    The framework is only an "understanding" among Iran and the six powers because many of the specifics are still being negotiated. But Mr. Obama wanted to announce some agreement near his self-imposed March 31 deadline, lest Congress ratchet up sanctions on Iran.
        The general outline of the accord includes some useful limits on Iran, if it chooses to abide by them. All this would be somewhat reassuring if the U.S. were negotiating a nuclear deal with Holland or Costa Rica - that is, a law-abiding state with no history of cheating on nuclear agreements. But that's not Iran. The framework lacks the crucial "anywhere, anytime" inspections provision, even as Mr. Obama calls it the most intrusive ever.
        It was dispiriting to hear Mr. Obama resort to his usual false dilemma gambit that Americans have only two choices - his agreement or war. The truth is that the critics of his Iran framework do not want war. But they also don't want a phony peace to lead to a nuclear Middle East that leads to a far more horrific war a decade from now. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Why the Iran Deal Is Irrelevant - Daniel Henninger
    Iran knows it has nuclear negotiators' immunity: No matter how or when Iran debauches any agreement, the West will request more talks. Iran's nuclear-bomb and ballistic-missile programs will go forward, as North Korea's did, no matter what. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Iran Deal's Fatal Flaw - Charles Duelfer
    Any acceptable final Iran deal will depend on a strong weapons inspection element. Yet weapons inspectors can be no tougher than the body that empowers them - in this instance the UN Security Council. And herein lies the agreement's fundamental weakness - and perhaps its fatal flaw. Do we really want to depend on Vladimir Putin?
        The authorities that the Security Council mandated for UNSCOM and IAEA inspectors to verify Iraq's disarmament were extraordinary and probably well beyond anything Iran will accept. Yet UNSCOM and the IAEA after more than seven years of operations inside Iraq could not verify that Saddam had completely disarmed. The writer served as special advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and led the Iraq Survey Group, which conducted the investigation of the scope of Iraq's WMD. (Politico)
  • Is the U.S. Too Desperate for an Iran Deal? - Frida Ghitis
    There is a reason one gets the feeling that it is the U.S. and not Iran that is the more eager, even desperate, side in these talks, even though Iran is the country whose economy was sent into a deep chill by international sanctions; the country whose only significant export, oil, lost more than half of its value in recent months. America's Arab friends hold the view that Iran is running circles around the U.S. and outplayed Obama. As the writer David Rothkopf put it, "Iran is having a great Obama administration."
        Iran has a well-established record of lying and concealing the elements of its nuclear program. The world only learned about Iran's secret facilities at Arak and Natanz after dissidents raised the alarm. Iran officially, legally, becomes a nuclear threshold state, with the capability to make the final dash to a bomb. International sanctions lifting will begin almost immediately. The deal so far looks like (another) win for Iran. (CNN)
  • How France Became an Iran Hawk - Joseph Bahout and Benjamin Haddad
    While the White House has been pushing hard for consensus on the framework for a deal ahead of a March 31 deadline, Paris has been pushing back. "France wants an agreement, but a robust one that really guarantees that Iran can have access to civilian nuclear power, but not the atomic bomb," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius declared.
        The lifting of sanctions, the scope of inspections, research and development capacities, the number of centrifuges Iran will be allowed to maintain, and how long the agreement will last are all areas in which Paris and Washington differ. In Lausanne, France rejected Iran's demand to immediately lift UN Security Council sanctions linked to proliferation after an agreement, arguing that this can only come progressively, with verifications.
        French negotiators want to ensure that Iran's agreed-upon breakout time will last the entire duration of the deal - and after. They also want a deal that lasts as long as possible. "Ten years is short when you talk about nuclear issues," one diplomat said. Another diplomat noted: "We spent more than 10 years talking, slowly setting an architecture of sanctions, of pressure, defining principles of negotiations. Once we dismantle this, it won't come back up. So we better get the best possible deal."
        For a decade, European countries have worked on trying to rein in Iran's nuclear program. France has taken an economic hit in this effort, thanks to the sanctions regime. Now the view from Paris is of a Washington that seems to lack empathy and trust for its longtime friends and partners - more interested in making nice with Iran than looking out for its old allies. (Foreign Policy)
  • The Iran Nuclear Talks: Still Work to Be Done to Convince the Skeptics
    At the nuclear talks, the Iranians would prefer a fuzzy declaration of principles while the Americans need a more detailed framework agreement to persuade a skeptical Congress to postpone a vote on new sanctions. The Americans want precise numbers on how many uranium enrichment centrifuges Iran can spin, how much uranium it can hold and how much plutonium can come out of a reactor at Arak. The Iranians want to avoid specifics on nuclear limits at this stage, while securing firm commitments on the lifting of sanctions. All this makes it unlikely that whatever comes of these negotiations will be seen as historic.
        Iran has a long history of lying about its nuclear program. It only declared its two enrichment facilities, Natanz and Fordow, after Western intelligence agencies found out about them. A highly intrusive inspection and verification regime is thus essential, and it would have to continue long after other elements of an agreement expire. Inspectors from the IAEA would have to be able to inspect any facility, declared or otherwise, civil or military, on demand.
        For a deal to be done in June, Iran will have to consent to such an inspection regime. It will also have to address about a dozen questions posed by the IAEA over the "possible military dimensions" of its nuclear program. (Economist-UK)
  • U.S. Foreign Policy Detached from Reality - Alex Fishman
    The agreement with Iran is nothing more than a sad joke at Israel's expense. The Iranians will never meet the Security Council's demands not to supply weapons to the rebels in Yemen and to Hizbullah, Syria, Iraq or Hamas. It's unclear what makes Obama believe that after an agreement is signed they will change direction and fulfill their obligations this time - rather than disregard the entire world as they have been doing in recent years.
        The bottom line is that the Americans have a bad political agreement in their hands which may give the Obama administration industrial peace until the end of its term, but leaves the nuclear cloud in the Middle East for many years to come. (Ynet News)

  • Palestinians

  • Hamas Leader Khaled Mashal Has Blood on His Hands
    Amb. Dore Gold, a former adviser to the Israeli prime minister, told BBC News on Wednesday: "Khaled Mashaal heads a jihadist organization, and the best proof of that is what fellow Arab states are saying about Hamas. Hamas in the Gaza Strip is allied with Ansar Beit al-Maqdis that is the jihadist movement in the Sinai Peninsula. They work together and now that organization is part of ISIS. So you can tell what an organization is by the friends it keeps and Hamas is clearly in the jihadist category."
        "During the last Gaza war, it's public knowledge that on July 15, Egypt offered a ceasefire to end the war and Israel accepted it. Khaled Mashal, sitting in the luxury of his Qatar home, refused that ceasefire and that war continued from July 15 almost to the end of August. As a result, [PA leader] Mahmoud Abbas has admitted that instead of 200 Palestinians dying, 2,000 died, and the blood of those Palestinians is on the hands of Khaled Mashal."
        "President Netanyahu said: 'Given the multiple security threats now that are emerging on Israel's doorstep, with the Revolutionary Guards of Iran in Syria, with ISIS spreading in the Sunni center, and with the fact that Mahmoud Abbas has now, out of weakness, embraced Hamas as a partner, this makes it very difficult to envision the implementation of the principle of 'two states for two peoples.'" The prime minister still supports that principle. He hopes we can change the security environment of the Middle East so we can implement a reasonable, fair deal between Israel and the Palestinians."
        Q: But by saying he would not have a Palestinian state - the twin state solution has been the thrust of the international community, of America, for over the last decade or so - he has undercut that, hasn't he?
        Gold: "You're not hearing what I said. He's said, "For now." You have to read the Hebrew text of what he said. A lot of people have either misrepresented him or didn't do their homework or don't know Hebrew. But the fact is, he has said: 'Not now. Not now when these threats are multiplying.' And Israel knows that withdrawal from territory under present conditions will lead to the filling of the vacuum left by Israel pulling back by Iran or by an al-Qaeda affiliate. That is what happened to us in Gaza. That is what happened to us in southern Lebanon. We're not going to repeat that mistake again."  (BBC News)
        See also The Gaza War 2014: The War Israel Did Not Want and the Disaster It Averted (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Where Is the Palestinian Sadat? - Rabbi Abraham Cooper
    The continued terrorism and genocidal hate of Hamas and the celebration by leaders of the Palestinian Authority of terrorist murderers of Jews leaves many Israelis believing that Mahmoud Abbas has neither the inclination nor the ability to reach a final settlement. However much the U.S. administration and the EU want to push a quick peace deal, even a Herzog-led [Israeli government] coalition would need a Palestinian partner ready to tell his constituents in Arabic that their Jewish neighbors are there to stay and that they too have every right to be in the Holy Land. In other words, any "two-state solution" awaits a Palestinian Sadat. For now, none is on the horizon.
        The trial balloon floated about possible U.S. backing for a UN Security resolution that would force a shotgun marriage between Jerusalem and Ramallah is a non-starter. Such a move will only backfire, emboldening Hamas and Hizbullah to ramp up terror attacks against a Jewish state that may no longer have the U.S. in its corner.
        Israelis know that if and when a viable partner emerges from the Palestinian camp, any elected prime minister would rush to the table in a flash. If the Obama administration really wants to impact on Israelis, denouncing the democratic results decided upon by the Israeli electorate is not the way to go. The writer is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. (Times of Israel)
  • The Rise and Fall of the Palestinian State - David K. Shipler
    In the past decade, Israeli Jewish support for a Palestinian state has usually hovered near 50%. But support drops off sharply as soon as the actual contours and characteristics of a Palestinian state are defined as Palestinians desire. For example, a strong majority of Israeli Jews oppose making east Jerusalem the capital of a Palestinian state: Since Oslo, only one-quarter to one-third have agreed to such an arrangement. Polls have shown both Israeli Jews and Palestinians seriously dissatisfied with a state defined in ways that the other side would accept.
        Israelis will not forget the suicide bombers sent by Palestinians into Israel during the second intifada, from 2000 to 2004, or the rockets from Hamas since Israel's unilateral departure from Gaza in 2005. The Palestinians have given Netanyahu his credible argument that a state on the West Bank would become a Hamas-dominated threat. Who can deny that possibility? The writer is a veteran New York Times correspondent. (Shipler Report)
  • Palestinians, Arabs, and the Holocaust - Joseph Spoerl
    Palestinians insist that the Holocaust is a purely Western and Christian crime that has nothing to do with them or other Arabs. In fact, Arab and Palestinian leaders played a significant role in aiding and abetting the Nazi plan to exterminate the Jews in Europe and they hoped to implement the genocide in the Middle East. The Arab-Israel War of 19479 was a war of self-defense against a ruthless, pro-Nazi, and openly genocidal Palestinian leadership that enjoyed enormous popularity among the Arab and Palestinian masses.
        In October 1947, Arab League Secretary General Abd al-Rahman Azzam was quoted in an Egyptian newspaper as predicting that the impending war over Palestine "will be a war of extermination and momentous massacre." Azzam elsewhere predicted, "We will sweep them into the sea," a phrase also used by Arab Higher Committee representative Izzedine Shawa.
        The Jews of Palestine were outnumbered by Arabs two-to-one within Palestine and by a much larger factor if Arabs outside of Palestine are counted. About 1% of the Jewish population was killed and 2% seriously wounded. For the U.S. today, comparable casualties in a war would mean about 9 1/2 million Americans killed or maimed.
        Palestinian Arab hostility to the Zionist project was not based simply on a principled defense of the right of national self-determination but on a visceral hatred for Jews. The persistence of such hatred in Palestinian society has done much to undermine efforts at reconciliation and the "peace process" and has persuaded many Israeli Jews that they have no real partner for peace on the Palestinian side. The writer teaches in the Department of Philosophy, Saint Anselm College, Manchester, New Hampshire. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
  • Restarting the U.S.-Israel Relationship Depends on Palestinians Too - Abraham Foxman
    I am troubled by statements now coming out of the White House calling for a reassessment of policy toward Israel, including a reconsideration of the historic American veto in the UN Security Council. The Palestinian Authority has found every excuse to avoid negotiations, making it clear to Israelis that Palestinian leaders are far more interested in turning the international community against Israel than in resolving their internal problems and the conflict with Israel. Or put another way, they seemed interested in achieving a Palestinian state only if it meant not having to end the struggle against Israel.
        The answer lies not in the U.S. distancing itself from Israel, which will encourage Palestinians in their belief that they can achieve a state without accepting the legitimacy of the Jewish state. Rather, it lies in pressuring the Palestinians into finally accepting the legitimacy of the Jewish state. This alone could truly change the dynamic of the conflict. The writer is national director of the Anti-Defamation League. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also No to a UN-Imposed Settlement - Daniel S. Mariaschin
    The UN is hardly a neutral arbiter when it comes to Israel. In fact, the UN's anti-Israel views routinely border on hysteria. In recent days the White House has publicly stated that it might consider having the UN Security Council take center stage on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Internationalizing the conflict through the UN is an inherently misguided idea that seems to be gaining traction.
        The UN is inhospitable territory for Israel, and attempts to impose any kind of arrangement will find few willing partners in Israel. The writer is executive vice president of B'nai B'rith International. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Other Issues

  • Islam's Improbable Reformer - Bret Stephens interviews Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi
    Egyptian President Sisi is emerging as perhaps the world's most significant advocate for Islamic moderation and reform. He says: "The real Islamic religion grants absolute freedom for the whole people to believe or not believe. Never does Islam dictate to kill others because they do not believe in Islam. Never does it dictate that [Muslims] have the right to dictate [their beliefs] to the whole world. Never does Islam say that only Muslims will go to paradise and others go to hell."
        Sisi goes out of his way to stress that he has no intention of altering the pro-American tilt of Egyptian foreign policy, despite suggestions that he is flirting with Russia for potential arms purchases and the construction of Egypt's first nuclear power plant. "A country like Egypt will never be mischievous with bilateral relations" with America, he insists. "We are keen on a strategic relationship with the U.S. above everything else. And we will never turn our backs on you - even if you turn your backs on us."
        Egypt's security cooperation with Israel has never been closer, and Sisi has moved aggressively to close the tunnels beneath Egypt's border with Gaza, through which Hamas has obtained its weapons. (Wall Street Journal)
  • UK: Whatever Happened to that Muslim Brotherhood Review? - Douglas Murray
    A "review" into the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK was announced by Prime Minister David Cameron almost a year ago. The findings of this review have still not been published. Last year, the Financial Times quoted a "senior government figure," saying that the investigation "risks turning supporters of a moderate, non-violent organization that campaigns for democracy into radicals." It showed that there were people at the very top of government who think that the Muslim Brotherhood is a harmless, pro-democracy group that is being unfairly and unhelpfully maligned. This is not the view of the former head of MI6, Richard Dearlove, who has described the Muslim Brotherhood as "at heart a terrorist organization."  (Gatestone Institute)

Netanyahu: Iran Must Stop Its Aggression in the Region and Stop Threating to Annihilate Israel (Prime Minister's Office)

Prime Minister Netanyahu said Wednesday:

  • "Yesterday an Iranian general brazenly declared: 'Israel's destruction is non-negotiable.' But evidently giving Iran's murderous regime a clear path to the bomb is negotiable. This is unconscionable.
  • I agree with those who have said that Iran's claim that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes doesn't square with Iran's insistence on keeping underground nuclear facilities, advanced centrifuges and a heavy water reactor.
  • Nor does it square with Iran's insistence on developing ICBMs and its refusal to come clean with the IAEA on its past weaponization efforts. At the same time, Iran is accelerating its campaign of terror, subjugation and conquest throughout the region, most recently in Yemen.
  • The concessions offered to Iran in Lausanne would ensure a bad deal that would endanger Israel, the Middle East and the peace of the world.
  • Now is the time for the international community to insist on a better deal. A better deal would significantly roll back Iran's nuclear infrastructure. A better deal would link the eventual lifting of the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program to a change in Iran's behavior: Iran must stop its aggression in the region, stop its terrorism throughout the world and stop its threats to annihilate Israel.
  • That should be non-negotiable. And that's the deal that the world powers must insist upon.
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