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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 20, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Israel: Russian S-300s Encourage Iran's Aggression (Times of Israel)
    Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Gilad, head of the Israel Defense Ministry's political-security division, said Saturday that the S-300 missile system Tehran is shortly to acquire from Russia is an offensive, not a defensive, weapon since it encourages Iranian aggression in the region.
    Russian President Putin reportedly told Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in a phone conversation last week that the S-300 served defensive purposes only and didn't constitute a threat to Israel's security.
    See also Israel: We Can Target Russian-Made Weapons Transferred to Our Region - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
    Israeli officials have reiterated Israel's right to target S-300 missile batteries or any other high-end Russian arms transferred to regional terrorist organizations via Iran or Syria.

Islamic State Shoots and Beheads 30 Ethiopian Christians in Libya - Sylvia Westall (Reuters)
    A video made by Islamic State and posted Sunday appeared to show militants shooting and beheading about 30 Ethiopian Christians in Libya.
    The men are referred to in a subtitle as "worshippers of the cross belonging to the hostile Ethiopian church."

Holocaust Denial Is Alive and Well in Iran - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Iran will host the Second International Holocaust Cartoon Contest on May 9. So far more than 800 works have been submitted.
    The exhibition gives Iran an opportunity to confront the West in response to cartoons mocking Muhammad.

Doctors Credit Israeli Stem Cell Therapy for Saving Girl's Life - Jim Drury (Reuters)
    An experimental stem cell treatment has saved the life of a Romanian girl with a deadly bone marrow disease after two bone marrow transplants failed.
    Bianca, 7, suffers from aplastic anemia - a deadly condition where bone marrow produces insufficient cells to replenish blood cells - and doctors gave her just months to live.
    Bianca traveled to Jerusalem's Hadassah Medical Center to receive PLacental eXpanded cells therapy - PLX.
    Prof. Reuven Or, Director of Bone Marrow Transplantation at Hadassah, explained:
    "We use here human cells that are universal, that can be given to patients regardless of typing or matching, and they can induce in the body probably many important things, including supporting bone marrow function."
    Cells extracted from human placenta were processed in a laboratory before being injected into Bianca. Within ten days of the final round of treatment, her body restarted its production of red and white blood cells and blood platelets.
    Zami Aberman, Chairman and CEO of Pluristem, the company behind the therapy, believes it could treat a wide range of conditions.
    "We have animal studies that demonstrate that our cells can be good to treat patients with multiple sclerosis or inflammatory bowel disease....We have evidence that we can use the cell for orthopedic use in repetitive injuries, like sport injuries."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Top Commander: Iran Never to Allow Foreigners to Inspect Military Sites
    Brig.-Gen. Hossein Salami, the second-in-command of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), said Saturday: "Not only will we not grant foreigners the permission to inspect our military sites, we will not even give them permission to think about such a subject....They will not even be permitted to inspect the most normal military site in their dreams....Visiting a military base by a foreign inspector would mean the occupation of our land because all our defense secrets are there. Even talking about the subject means national humiliation."  (Press TV-Iran)
  • Iranians Chant "Death to Israel, U.S." during Military Parade - Doug G. Ware
    Thousands of Iranians celebrated their nation's annual Army Day on Saturday with a full military parade. A military truck in the convoy displayed a large banner that read, "Death to Israel," while hundreds of parade attendees chanted, "death to Israel" and "death to America."  (UPI)
        See also Netanyahu: Iran Still Calls for "Death to Israel"
    Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Cabinet on Sunday: "Israel views with utmost gravity the supply of S-300 missiles from Russia to Iran, especially at a time when Iran is stepping up its aggression in the region and around the borders of the State of Israel. Israel also views with utmost gravity the fact that there is no reference to this aggression in the agreement being made between the major powers and Iran."
        "Yesterday we saw the military parade in Tehran and Iran's exhibition of weapons to the world. Every year the missiles are bigger and enhanced in accuracy, strength and deadliness; however, one thing does not change...the inscription 'Death to Israel' on the missiles."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • U.S. Has Seven Combat Ships around Yemen - Dan Lamothe
    The U.S. Navy has seven combat ships in the waters around Yemen as the Saudi-led bombing campaign there continues, U.S. military officials said Friday. The ships include two destroyers, two minesweepers, and three amphibious ships carrying 2,200 Marines. Iran, which has been accused of arming the Houthi rebels, responded by sending navy vessels of its own into the region this week. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel, Palestinian Authority Reach Compromise over Frozen Tax Revenue - Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury
    Israel and the Palestinian Authority reached a compromise agreement on Friday that will end the crisis regarding the tax revenues withheld by Israel in response to the Palestinian effort to join the International Criminal Court. The initial transfer of 1.5 billion shekels - minus 500 million shekels to pay Palestinian debts to the Israel Electric Company - represents the tax revenues collected for the months of December, January and February. Tax revenue during March and April amounts to an additional 1 billion shekels, 850 million of which will be transferred to the PA, with the rest used to further offset Palestinian electricity debt. (Ha'aretz)
  • Two Arabs Sentenced in Hamas Plot to Attack Jerusalem Mall - Yonah Jeremy Bob and Yaakov Lappin
    Hamas members Ahmad Rishek, 23, and Ismail Abu Mfalfal, 27, of eastern Jerusalem were sentenced to 10 and 8 years respectively at the Jerusalem District Court on Sunday for planning a massive terror attack at Jerusalem's outdoor Mamilla mall during the High Holidays in 2013. They were to smuggle a bomb into Israel making use of their Israeli ID cards. They and other Hamas members from Ramallah and Jerusalem were led by Hamdi Romana, in whose Ramallah home an explosives lab was uncovered, the Israel Security Agency said.
        Rishak and Mfalfal were employed as maintenance workers at the mall. Mfalfal assisted in providing iron balls for the bomb in order to increase its lethality. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The U.S. Can Bring Iran's Nuclear Program to a Halt. It Simply Chooses Not to Do So - Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror
    The U.S. changed its policy mid-negotiations, going from demanding that Iran be stripped of its nuclear weapons production capabilities, to discussing the nature of the limitations and supervision placed on these capabilities. The framework deal clearly indicates that the U.S. has come to accept that Iran will one day possess military nuclear capabilities.
        The hope that the agreement will somehow breed a positive process in Iran has no hold in reality. In fact, there is no debate within the Iranian leadership on whether or not such capabilities are necessary, only about the best way to go about achieving them.
        The argument that any military strike would result in only a short-term setback in Iran's nuclear endeavors is wrong because it fails to account for the effect a successful strike would have on Tehran's willingness to invest in rehabilitating a program that could be destroyed in a matter of several nights, which is how long the U.S. said it would take to strike all of Iran's nuclear facilities.
        I believe that Iran would not rush to resuscitate its nuclear program in the event it was destroyed by the U.S. It also stands to reason that Iran's actual ability to retaliate over such a strike, other than by putting Hizbullah in play, would be limited. The U.S. can forcibly bring the Iranian nuclear program to a halt, it simply chooses not to do so. The writer, former Israeli National Security Advisor and head of the National Security Council, served 36 years in senior IDF posts. (Israel Hayom)
  • Accommodating Iran and Risking Israel's Future - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    Never would Iran be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. That was the pledge of the Clinton and Bush administrations. Flash forward to the Obama administration. "Never" has been slimmed down to 13 years - at best.
        The Iranians have secured enough nuclear fuel to make the first generation bomb small enough to be dropped from a transport plane. On almost every key issue, the Iranians won the day as the Obama administration folded. The entire infrastructure of the Iranian nuclear weapons program remains intact.
        What would an acceptable deal look like? We need an end to all R&D activity on advanced centrifuges; a significant decrease in the number of operational centrifuges; the closing of the Fordow facility; an agreement to ship Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country; a commitment to accept intense international inspections; a willingness to limit enrichment of uranium at its Natanz facility to a level needed only for civilian purposes; to cut back installed centrifuges by about two-thirds; as well as modifying its Arak heavy-water reactor to render it incapable of producing plutonium for a bomb. (U.S. News)
  • Iran's First Acquisition after the Deal - Abdulrahman al-Rashed
    Iran's first acquisition after signing the draft nuclear deal, amid promises to lift sanctions, were long-range, S-300 missiles. The deal, even before finally being sealed, has already led to further militarization of the region and increasing tensions. Many Arab groups considered the missile deal as evidence that the nuclear deal "has increased Iran's aggressiveness and has not brought it closer to peace."
        The Gulf states have different calculations than Israel. Israel has the nuclear and conventional power that can destroy Iran in a day in the event of any war. Gulf countries primarily rely on air power, which had been significantly better than Iran's previous missiles. The S-300 missiles may weaken the ability of the Gulf's main force in the event of any external threat.
        Some may wonder: Why don't we have a peaceful outlook and hope that Iran, after gaining military confidence with the nuclear and Russian missile deals, will be more relaxed and stop spreading turmoil in the region? Because realities on the ground are different. Tehran's appetite for chaos will surge because it has realized it has neutralized Western countries from intervening. Tehran's leaders believe that the region has become an open map for the first time since the Sykes-Picot agreement, and the borders can be adjusted to suit Iran's own interests. (Al Arabiya)

When Did America Forget that It's America? - Natan Sharansky (Washington Post)

  • On a number of occasions during the negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, the Israeli government has appealed to the U.S. to demand a change in Tehran's aggressive behavior. If Iran wishes to be treated as a normal state, Israel has said, then it should start acting like one. Unfortunately, these appeals have been summarily dismissed.
  • Compare this approach to that of the U.S. during its decades-long negotiations with the Soviet Union, which at the time was a global superpower and an existential threat to the free world. The Soviet regime felt obliged to abandon its doctrine of fomenting a worldwide communist revolution simply to enter into negotiations with the U.S. about economic cooperation.
  • Yet today, Iran feels no need to tone down its rhetoric calling for the death of America and wiping Israel off the map. By contrast, apparently no amount of belligerence on Iran's part can convince the free world that Tehran has disqualified itself from the negotiations or the benefits being offered.
  • When American negotiations with the Soviets reached the issue of trade, the Senate, led by Democrat Henry Jackson, insisted on linking economic normalization to Moscow's allowing freedom of emigration. The White House joined Congress in making the Soviets' treatment of dissidents a central issue in nearly every negotiation. Iran's dismal human rights record, by contrast, has gone entirely unmentioned in the recent negotiations.
  • Even this superficial comparison shows that what the U.S. saw fit to demand back then from the most powerful and dangerous competitor it had ever known is now considered beyond the pale in its dealings with Iran. The U.S. appears to have lost the courage of its convictions.

    The writer, a human rights activist and former political prisoner in the Soviet Union, is chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel.

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