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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
May 12, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Canada Threatens Hate Crime Charges Against Those Who Boycott Israel - Neil Macdonald (CBC News-Canada)
    The Canadian government is signaling its intention to use hate crime laws against advocacy groups that encourage boycotts of Israel.
    At the UN, Canadian Public Security Minister Steven Blaney conflated boycotts of Israel with anti-Semitic hate speech and violence, saying the government is taking a "zero tolerance" approach to BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel).
    Asked what "zero tolerance" of BDS means, Blaney aide Josee Sirois told CBC, "Canada has one of the most comprehensive sets of laws against hate crime anywhere in the world."
    She highlighted what she termed "hate propaganda" provisions in the Criminal Code criminalizing the promotion of hatred against an identifiable group, and further noted that "identifiable group" now includes any section of the public distinguished by, "among other characteristics, religion or national or ethnic origin."
    "We will not allow hate crimes to undermine our way of life, which is based on diversity and inclusion."
    In France, the law has for years criminalized hate speech based on national origin, and authorities there have in recent years been using it to prosecute BDS advocates. To date, more than 20 have been convicted.

Hamas Lets Shiite Group Operate in Gaza - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    The Shiite Islamist movement A-Sabrin has began operating in Gaza with full Iranian sponsorship.
    A-Sabrin runs several Shiite charity organizations supported by Iran to encourage the spread of Shiite Islam.
    The Sunni Hamas movement apparently tolerates its presence due to the financial support it receives from Shiite Iran.
    According to Palestinian sources, while Hamas has been unable to pay most of its civil servants their normal wages, it has received money from Iran to pay its military personnel.
    See also Unpaid Hamas Civil Servants Go on Strike in Gaza (Ma'an News-PA)

Netherlands to Publish New Policy on Pension Payments to Citizens Living in Settlements - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    The Netherlands will not cut the pension of a Dutch Holocaust survivor living in an Israeli settlement, a spokesman for the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment clarified Monday.
    Dutch authorities said this "very unfortunate" incident "should have been prevented."

Israel Trips Offered to Christian College Students - Anav Silverman (Tazpit-Ynet News)
    Covenant Journey, a program of trips to Israel for Christian college student leaders modeled after Birthright Israel trips, was unveiled during the Israeli Embassy in Washington's annual Christian solidarity event on Friday.
    "There's one thing better than standing with Israel, and that's standing in Israel. It is critical to bring the next generation of leaders in the Christian community to Israel," said Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer.
    "If they walk in the places where the patriarchs and the prophets and the kings and that young rabbi from the Galilee walked, then they will stand with Israel here and they will strengthen their Christian identity."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Blacklisted Iranian Airline Buys Planes - Rick Gladstone
    Iranian news media reported Sunday that Mahan Air, blacklisted under U.S. sanctions, has bought nine used Airbus passenger planes that were placed into service last week. Mahan Air was sanctioned in October 2011 by the Treasury Department over the airline's support for Iran's Revolutionary Guards Quds Force and Hizbullah militants. Congressional critics of the nuclear talks contend that Iran cannot be trusted and is already openly flouting the sanctions. (New York Times)
        See also With Plane Delivery, Iran Sanctions Collapsing Already - Eli Lake
    The U.S. has threatened to sanction Western companies that sell planes to Iran, although a prohibition against Iran acquiring airplane spare parts was lifted in an interim agreement signed with Iran at the end of 2013. Abbas Akhoundi, Iran's transportation minister, said Sunday that 15 planes had been acquired by Iran since February. Iranian media reported that the nine planes that arrived for Mahan Air used to be part of the Virgin Atlantic fleet. On Monday, the Financial Times reported that Western governments suspect Iraq's Al-Naser Airlines to have been a front for Mahan to acquire the planes.
        Some analysts said the transaction showed how the sanctions against Iran were collapsing. "Mahan Air's case shows that U.S. sanctions no longer deter Western companies from doing big business with Iran," said Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. "The administration must move quickly to punish those companies involved in this blatant breach of U.S. sanctions. Otherwise, the argument that sanctions are still largely intact and can always be snapped back in the future loses all credibility."
        Avi Jorisch, a former Treasury Department official who is now a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, said the purchase of the airplanes was a "gross violation" of the interim agreement. "Such moves weaken the U.S. government's ability to negotiate and make a credible case that if a good deal is not signed, Iran's economy will continue to suffer."  (Bloomberg)
  • U.S. Says Absences Won't Deter Arab Talks - Carol E. Lee and Jay Solomon
    The White House sought to salvage expectations for President Barack Obama's summit this week with Persian Gulf states after the majority of rulers, including the king of Saudi Arabia, declined to attend. The Obama administration insisted that the summit Wednesday and Thursday would yield substantive security and arms agreements.
        The White House said Obama spoke by phone with King Salman of Saudi Arabia on Monday. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Salman decided to stay in Riyadh to focus on the crisis in Yemen. "I think the idea this is a snub is really off-base," he said. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel to Purchase Four Patrol Boats from Germany to Defend Gas Rigs - Yaakov Lappin
    The Israeli Defense Ministry on Monday announced the signing of a contract with German shipmakers ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems to purchase four patrol corvettes. A third of the 430 million euro cost is to be funded by a special German government grant. The corvettes are to arrive in Israel in the coming five years, and they are to be equipped with Israeli combat systems. Their mission is to defend the gas drilling rigs off the Israeli coastline. Maj.-Gen. (res.) Dan Harel of the Defense Ministry said the deal represents "a dramatic improvement in the navy's ability to protect strategic sites."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Germany Transfers Four Patriot Missile Batteries to Israel - Gili Cohen
    Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Monday that Germany has transferred four Patriot missile batteries to Israel as part of a military aid program. Israel received the PAC-2 batteries over the past few years as part of a surplus deal between the two countries. (Ha'aretz)
  • Lies and Deception about the Bedouins in Israel - Ben-Dror Yemini
    Last week, Israel's Supreme Court decided to approve the evacuation of Bedouins from Umm al-Hiran to allow the construction of the new town of Hiran. The facts are, first of all, that the Bedouin expansion to the land allotted to Hiran began only after the decision was made by the state to build there. There are aerial photos that prove it.
        Second, most of the Bedouins in the area willingly accepted the arrangement proposed by the state, which included allotments of land nearby without cost, no payment for infrastructure, and additional compensation for the transfer. Bedouin families are not being thrown out on the street but are receiving a generous arrangement from the state. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Limits of Saudi-Israeli Convergence - Mark A. Heller
    Saudi Arabia is increasingly apprehensive about Iran, increasingly distrustful of the Obama administration's ability or willingness to contain Iran's hegemonial ambitions, and increasingly bent on confronting Iran itself - with or without American approval. The most plausible explanation for more forward-leaning Saudi behavior is the conviction, cemented by the course of nuclear negotiations with Iran, that America is determined to reach a broad accommodation with Iran, apparently extending to other regional issues, as well.
        Israel also sees Iran as its most dangerous adversary, and also has serious doubts whether the U.S. is still a reliable reed on which to lean. It may well be the case that convergent threat assessments do facilitate some covert contact between the security echelons of Israel and some of the Arab states concerned about the shadow of Iranian hegemony, and the potential may exist for expanded ties. But while Iran is feared and loathed in many Sunni Arab countries, Israel, though perhaps less feared, is no less loathed. The writer is Principal Research Associate at INSS and editor of its Strategic Assessment. (Institute for National Security Studies)
  • The Status of Western Military Aid to Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga Forces - Lazar Berman
    The Kurdish peshmerga forces (literally, "those who confront death") have proven willing and able to stand up to the Islamic State on the battlefield. There are two separate Kurdish party militias that distrust each other. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) peshmerga fought a bloody civil war in the 1990s.
        The peshmerga in Iraq are woefully unequipped to provide the logistical support needed to reliably field sustained offensive armored operations, and have no ground maneuver capabilities. Despite their storied reputation, the peshmerga glory days were in a bygone era. Training in recent years has been inadequate, and it had become a border guard and counter-terrorism force, untrained to fight mobile IS insurgents on open terrain.
        The Islamic State's August 2014 offensive against northern Iraq spurred a commitment for arms and other aid from Western countries. Dozens of military advisers from the U.S., UK, France, Italy, and other countries have been training peshmerga fighters in the use of weaponry and intelligence. Kurdish fighters have also flown to Germany to train on weapon systems there.
        Iran has established itself as the peshmerga's primary artillery provider, especially BM-14 and BM-21 truck-mounted rocket launchers. Iran sends daily shipments to the Kurds and is especially close with the PUK peshmerga. At some point, the Kurds will increasingly look toward Iran if the West is not more forthcoming with training and weapons. The writer taught at Salahuddin University in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2012-2013. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Publication of Israeli Soldiers' Accounts Clouded by Political Agenda - Gerald Steinberg (Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)

  • The Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence published anonymous allegations from Israel Defense Forces soldiers about the fighting in Gaza during summer 2014. Naming sources is a basic prerequisite for making legal claims, allowing accounts to be verified and witnesses to be questioned. Dates must be provided and locations cited to understand the broader context in which events were alleged to have taken place.
  • Without this information, verification by competent authorities is impossible and we are left with a radical political agenda that exploits the language of international law.
  • Many of the statements include very leading questions asked by interviewers, often constructed so as to elicit answers that falsely magnify the appearance of wrongdoing.
  • In one instance, a soldier's statement carried the sensationalist header: "I really, really wanted to shoot her in the knees," but the text describes the young Israeli's fear that an approaching woman could potentially be carrying explosives that would kill him. IDF soldiers in Gaza have been targeted by suicide bombers, including women, making the fear of such an attack credible. The deceiving headline also hides the essential fact that the soldiers fired near her feet, scaring her off and successfully resolving the situation in a non-lethal manner.
  • Breaking the Silence receives substantial funding from radical Europeans, who link their donations to the number of statements that are collected. The Dutch church organization ICCO demanded at least 90 incriminating interviews. Such arrangements highlight the clear financial interest in presenting as many negative testimonies as possible.

    The writer is president of NGO Monitor and professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University.

         See also A Manipulation of Human Rights - Ben-Dror Yemini
    The report released by Breaking the Silence is another piece of major deception. Every comparative review definitively shows that Israel causes less civilian casualties than those witnessed on other similar battlefields. But no one has run around university campuses to distribute horror stories about anomalous incidents involving British, American or NATO forces. (Ynet News)

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