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May 8, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian General: Iran Has Made World Powers Kneel Down before the Islamic Republic - Stuart Winer (Times of Israel)
    The commander of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Maj.-Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, proclaimed Thursday:
    "Today, the Islamic Iran's pride and might has made the world's biggest materialistic and military powers kneel down before the Islamic Republic."
    Brig.-Gen. Hossein Salami, the deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, said in an interview Thursday on state-run television:
    "We welcome war with the U.S., as we do believe that it will be the scene for our success to display the real potentials of our power."
    "We have prepared ourselves for the most dangerous scenarios and this is no big deal."

FBI: There May Be Thousands of Online ISIS Followers Inside U.S. - Pierre Thomas (ABC News)
    There may be thousands of people inside the U.S. consuming online "poison" from ISIS, FBI director James Comey warned Thursday.
    It is challenging for the FBI to determine whether someone seeking jihadist propaganda online or even promoting themselves is "a talker or a doer."
    See also U.S. Offers $20 Million Bounty for ISIS Leaders - Samantha Laine (Christian Science Monitor)
    On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department offered rewards ranging from $3 million to $7 million for information about four ISIS leaders.
    See also Reward Offers for Information on Islamic State Terrorists (State Department)

Anti-Israel UK MP George Galloway Loses Seat (Jerusalem Post)
    George Galloway, a vehemently anti-Israel British politician, lost his seat in parliament following the UK's national elections on Thursday.
    Last year, standing in front of a Palestinian flag, Galloway declared the city of Bradford an "Israel-free zone."

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No One Jailed in Iran for Their Opinions? Many Disagree - Golnaz Esfandiari (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
    "We do not jail people for their opinions," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told PBS host Charlie Rose in April.
    Yet former political prisoners and others were quick to take to social media to dismiss Zarif's claim as a "lie," pointing out that dozens of political prisoners - including journalists, bloggers, and political activists - are languishing in Iranian prisons.

Hamas-Fatah Face-Off Continues - Nidal al-Mughrabi and Luke Baker (Reuters)
    Nearly a year since Hamas and Fatah signed a "national reconciliation" agreement, the two are no nearer to bridging their differences.
    Fatah is convinced Hamas is trying to carve out an Islamist fiefdom in Gaza. Hamas goads Fatah about its unwillingness to hold elections out of fear it will lose and Hamas will end up in full control.
    Such deep internal divisions are in part the reason why Israel repeats that it has no Palestinian partner to deal with, making a return to peace negotiations near impossible.

The IDF as an Example of Racial Equality - Yossi Yehoshua (Ynet News)
    The Israel Defense Forces is an institution in which members of the Ethiopian immigrant community in Israel fit in as equals.
    There's already an Ethiopian battalion commander, three officers with the rank of lieutenant colonel, and 44 with the rank of major.
    Ethiopians serve in elite special-forces units and their participation in officers' training courses is on the rise.
    Some 88% of Ethiopian youth enlist in the IDF, with 40% volunteering for combat duty.

IDF Releases Updated Rocket Alert Map - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    The IDF Home Front Command released an updated version of its rocket alert map on Sunday, showing people how long they have in a given area to seek shelter from rocket attacks.
    The new map is based on lessons drawn from the 2014 conflict with Hamas in Gaza, said Lt.-Col. Tal Michaelovich.
    Residents of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have 1.5 minutes to take cover, residents of Haifa have 1 minute, while those near the border with Gaza, Lebanon, or Syria have 15 seconds.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Senate Votes 98-1 for Congressional Iran Review - Paul Kane and Mike DeBonis
    The Senate, in a 98-to-1 vote on Thursday, approved legislation that would establish a congressional review for a proposed nuclear deal with Iran. The measure - which the House is likely to approve next week - would allow for a 30-day review of any final deal with Iran, giving a congressional voice to the process. (Washington Post)
        See also Jewish Groups Applaud Senate Passage of Iran Oversight Bill - Rebecca Shimoni Stoil (Times of Israel)
  • Saudi Arabia Considers Nuclear Weapons to Offset Iran - Yaroslav Trofimov
    In Saudi Arabia, there are widespread public calls to match Iran's nuclear quest. "Our leaders will never allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon while we don't," said Ibrahim al-Marie, a retired Saudi colonel and a security analyst in Riyadh. "If Iran declares a nuclear weapon, we can't afford to wait 30 years more for our own - we should be able to declare ours within a week." Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Arab allies are increasingly battling Shiite Iran in proxy conflicts across the region, from Syria to Yemen.
        "If I am basing my judgment on the track record and our experience with Iran, I will say they will do anything in their power to get a nuclear weapon. A delay of 10 years is not going to satiate anything," said Prince Faisal bin Saud bin Abdulmohsen, a scholar at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Report: New Chlorine Attacks in Syria - Sarah El Deeb
    Mohammed Tennari, a doctor who testified before the UN Security Council last month about chemical attacks, reported Thursday on three new chemical attacks in the province of Idlib that injured nearly 80 people. Government helicopters dropped barrel bombs containing chlorine on the villages of Janoudieh, Kansafrah, and Kafr Batiekh on Thursday. (AP-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: New Alliances Forming in Mideast that May Make Peace Progress Possible - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at a ceremony Thursday marking 70 years since the Allied victory over the Nazis, said his new government would examine ways of leveraging the shifting alliances in the Middle East to possibly move the peace process forward.
        "The biggest challenge is Iran's attempts to arm itself with nuclear weapons, and in parallel to open fronts of terrorism and occupation throughout the Middle East around our borders," he said. Israel knows that it is not the only country in the region threatened by Iran. "This creates joint interests and also perhaps creates opportunities to develop alliances and possibly move peace forward."
        Some 1.5 million Jews fought in Allied armies and in the Resistance against the Nazis in World War II, and some 250,000 Jewish soldiers were killed. Hundreds of veterans took part in the ceremony. Netanyahu said the first lesson learned from the days of the Holocaust "was that we must be capable, prepared and able to defend ourselves by ourselves against any threat."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Signs Deal to Produce Advanced APC Platforms in U.S. - Yaakov Lappin
    In light of last summer's Gaza war and the growing need for advanced armored personnel carriers, Israel has signed a $310 million contract with U.S. firm General Dynamics for the production of additional Namer APCs, the Israel Defense Ministry announced Tuesday. The American company will also produce Namer engines in a deal worth $250 million. The Namer will come with Rafael's Trophy active protection system, offering defenses against shoulder-held missile and mortar attacks. The Namer's frame will be produced in the U.S. with American military aid money. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Assuring Uneasy Gulf Allies: The Military Dimension - Michael Eisenstadt
    The U.S. currently has a credibility deficit that threatens its interests and endangers its allies. The steps it has taken to assure Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) allies - arms transfers, forward presence, and redlines - have failed to allay their doubts and fears. Only by pushing back against Iran's efforts to expand its regional influence can Washington hope to restore its credibility.
        To this end, the U.S. should ramp up support for the opposition in Syria, more proactively interdict Iran's arms shipments to allies and proxies in the region, strengthen support for those partners engaged in conflicts with Tehran's allies and proxies, and sharpen redlines regarding Iran's nuclear program to more clearly spell out the price Tehran would pay if it attempts a breakout.
        There is no reason that such a policy cannot go hand-in-hand with engaging Iran, just as the U.S. pushed back against Soviet aggression while engaging Moscow during the Cold War. As much as it may be in the American interest to conclude a long-term nuclear accord with Tehran, it is also a U.S. interest to curb Iranian activities that threaten the stability and security of U.S. allies in the region. The writer is director of the Military and Security Studies Program at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Iran Is Lying, and We Know It - Harold Rhode and Joseph Raskas
    There is little doubt that Iran is lying, and will continue to lie, but that doesn't seem to matter to those negotiating with it. The White House and its negotiating partners first eased the sanctions that had been compelling Tehran to negotiate and then effectively tabled the military option. Since then, they have made a seemingly unending catalog of tangible and irreversible concessions, to which the Iranians have responded with increased hostility.
        Given that Iran has for decades refused to come into compliance with its international obligations, has sought to destabilize the Middle East, and has waged a deadly war against America and its allies when pressure was in place, it stands to reason that when that pressure is removed, Iran will ramp up its illicit nuclear activity, tighten its grip on the Middle East, and intensify its attacks against Western targets.
        The White House has become captive to its own desire to achieve a deal, and that has caused Iran to make even greater demands. Harold Rhode served for 28 years as an analyst covering Iranian and Middle Eastern affairs at the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense. Joseph Raskas is a combat veteran of the Israel Defense Forces. (National Review)

  • Palestinians

  • The Media and Civilian Casualties in Gaza
    During the 2009 and 2014 conflicts in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, the media accepted without hesitation the fatality tallies provided by the UN, even though the UN relied on information provided by Hamas, a party to the conflict that has an obvious interest in misrepresenting the fatalities. It is a curious thing that so much credence is given to figures provided by a terrorist organization with a poor record of accountability, while contradictory figures from Israel, a country with a proven record of conducting independent investigations, are dismissed.
        A detailed, name-by-name study by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center found that more than half of those killed in the 2014 conflict were members of terrorist organizations or participants in the hostilities. The Center's report exhaustively catalogs each individual, showing evidence of their participation in the hostilities and terrorist affiliation.
        Yet on April 28, 2015, when major news organizations carried the story of a released UN report investigating the deaths occurring in and around shelters administered by UN agencies, virtually every story cited the UN figure that 70% of the deaths were civilians, or established that civilians made up most of the dead. (CAMERA)
  • Palestinians Need Reforms, Not Elections - Khaled Abu Toameh
    On May 2, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and members of the "Elders Group" met in Ramallah with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and urged him to work toward holding presidential and parliamentary elections, ignoring the possibility that Hamas will once again win the vote. In an interview with Israel's Channel 2 TV, Carter declared that Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal was a strong proponent of the peace process and had accepted the two-state solution, even as Hamas and its leaders continue to talk about their plans and wishes to destroy Israel.
        Elections are the last thing the Palestinians need now. Such elections would only pave the way for a Hamas takeover of the Palestinian Authority. Instead of pressuring the Palestinians to hold new elections, world leaders should be demanding accountability and transparency from the PA, and that it get rid of all the corrupt old-guard representatives who have been in power for decades. (Gatestone Institute)

  • Other Issues

  • Clinic in a Backpack Brings Israeli Relief to Remote Nepal Areas - Melanie Lidman
    The entire field clinic for a team of Israeli and Nepali doctors setting up temporary facilities in remote mountain villages across Nepal fits into ten large orange backpacks and three duffel bags. The medical team from IsraAID includes ten doctors, nurses, and midwives who left their jobs in Israel for two weeks to volunteer in Nepal.
        IsraAID's medical team set out for the hard-hit Sidhulpalchowk district immediately upon landing in Nepal on May 2, arriving after a seven-hour drive from Kathmandu and then a three-hour walk. As word spread of the mobile clinic, crowds began to arrive. People came with injuries wrapped in rags, limbs frozen at strange angles, and infections that had festered. Elderly people hobbled in with makeshift crutches.
        A lot of creativity was required as doctors came up against logistical and cultural challenges. Many of the villagers were illiterate, so writing out instructions for how to take medicine was useless. Nepali numbers are also different from Roman numerals. To solve this problem, doctors gave out pictorial prescriptions, a line with circles to illustrate how many times the pill should be taken each day. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Is an Economic Miracle - Dror Eydar
    Thirty years ago, in 1984, Israel's population was 4.1 million. By 2014 the population had doubled to 8.2 million. In 1984, the number of vehicles per 1,000 people was 157; in 2014 it's 364. In 1984 the gross national product was $30 billion; today it's $307 billion. In 1984, the GNP per capita was $7,000; in 2014 it climbed to $36,000.
        In 1984, Israel's foreign currency reserves were $3 billion; today it's $90 billion. The national debt was 280% of the GNP in 1984; by 2014 it had dropped to 66%. In 1984, security expenditures comprised 20% of the GNP, and only 5% today. American aid was 10% of GNP and is now only 1%.
        In 1984, Israel's exports were valued at $10 billion; today it's $96 billion. In 1984, the public sector employed 75% of the working public, while today that figure is 43%. Employment of women was 34% and by 2014 had risen to 54%. Israel is blessed with a high birthrate that is unique in the Western world and mortality rates among the lowest in the world.
        This data indicates where we were 30 years ago. The truth is that we should actually measure our current situation against what we had 70 years ago - in 1945 - to understand how miraculous this country is. (Israel Hayom)
  • Anti-Semitism on American College Campuses Is Worsening - Ruth Wisse
    On three successive days last summer, Boston police had to protect a student rally for Israel from pro-Palestinian mobs shouting "Jews back to Birkenau!" At the University of California-Irvine, this year's Israel Independence Day festivities were blocked and shouted down by anti-Israel demonstrators. Every year, some 200 campuses host a hate-the-Jews fest: "Israel Apartheid Week."
        At UCLA and Stanford, Jewish students running for election to the student government were challenged on the grounds that their "strong Jewish identity," manifested by travel to Israel, made them untrustworthy candidates for office. This move to place Jewish students under automatic suspicion for being Jewish made it impossible to maintain any longer the distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. The writer is a research professor in Yiddish and comparative literature at Harvard. (Mosaic)
  • Jordan's Secret Jews - Avi Lewis
    Since a peace treaty was signed between Israel and Jordan, no restrictions exist on Jewish travelers to the Hashemite Kingdom, but every person I spoke to told me that they were discreet about revealing their identities. No Jewish community in recent memory ever resided within the borders of the kingdom. Today, the Jews of Jordan include a trickle of American aid workers in Amman who hide their identities, alongside Israeli officials at the local embassy.
        From late 2014, Jordan began turning away individual Israeli tourists at the border - ostensibly to safeguard their security, amid last summer's Gaza war and a small but growing number of ISIS sympathizers threatening to attack sensitive targets. Organized expeditions led by local tour guides continue to be permitted. (Times of Israel)

If an Enemy Says He Seeks to Destroy Us, Believe Him - Amb. Ron Prosor (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II:

  • For Israel and the Jewish people, World War II is synonymous with the Holocaust. Families were torn apart, vibrant communities destroyed, and one third of the Jewish people - including one million children - were murdered.
  • We are still haunted by the devastation. The responsibility falls to us to ensure that the lessons of history are passed to future generations.
  • Freedom is once again under attack. The radical Islamists marching across the Middle East and North Africa are every bit as determined and dangerous as the Nazi forces that marched across Europe.
  • The writing is on the wall. Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin once said, "If an enemy...says he seeks to destroy us, believe him. Don't doubt him for a moment."
  • History has taught us that Jewish lives can never be entrusted to another people or another nation. We must always be able to defend ourselves by ourselves.
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