Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
June 17, 2015


In-Depth Issues:

IDF Sees Growing Support for Islamic State in Gaza - Jonathan Lis (Ha'aretz-Jerusalem Post)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday that support for the Islamic State in Gaza is growing stronger and is estimated at about 14%.
He added that organizations affiliated with IS have also been growing stronger in Sinai, and are operating in cooperation with the terrorist organizations in Gaza.
Eisenkot also said Hizbullah was in strategic distress, having lost hundreds of fighters in the Syrian war - 100 in the last month alone.




Hamas Smuggling Cement into Gaza through Egypt - Yossi Yehoshua (Ynet News)
Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Sinai on Saturday and Palestinian sources reported that some 4,000 tons a day of cement has passed through unsupervised.
Hamas is reconstructing its tunnels by taking over the cement that comes in from Israel for the reconstruction of homes in Gaza, IDF Southern Command head Maj.-Gen. Sami Turgeman confirmed.




Israeli Veterinarians Arrive in Tbilisi to Help Salvage Devastated Zoo - Sharon Udasin (Jerusalem Post)
A day after severe floods ravaged the Tbilisi Zoo, a team of Israeli veterinarians arrived in the Georgian capital to lend a hand to zoo officials.
The team includes Dr. Igal Horowitz, head veterinarian of the Ramat Gan Safari and director of the Israeli Wildlife Hospital, and Dr. Nili Avni-Magen, head veterinarian at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, who brought with them medicines and other medical supplies.




French Immigration to Israel Surges - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
The number of French Jews who have made or are making aliyah to Israel between January and August 2015 rose from 4,000 in 2014 to 5,100 in the same period in 2015, an increase of 25%.
The Immigrant Absorption Ministry estimates that in 2015 the total number of immigrants from France will reach 9,000, compared to 7,200 in 2014.




Ancient Inscription from the Time of King David Uncovered in Israel (i24 News)
A rare inscription from the time of King David was discovered at Khirbet Qeiyafa in the Valley of Elah, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Tuesday.
A restored ceramic jar about 3,000 years old was found incised with the inscription: "Eshba'al Ben (son of) Bada."
According to Prof. Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the IAA, "Until about five years ago we knew of no inscriptions dating to the tenth century BCE from the Kingdom of Judah. In recent years four inscriptions have been published: two from Khirbet Qeiyafa, one from Jerusalem and one from Bet Shemesh."



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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Could Lift Sanctions Before Iran Accounting - Michael R. Gordon and David E. Sanger
    Secretary of State John Kerry signaled for the first time on Tuesday that the U.S. was prepared to ease economic sanctions on Iran without fully resolving evidence suggesting that Iran's scientists have been involved in secret work on nuclear weapons. "We're not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another," said Kerry. (New York Times)
    See also U.S. Shifts View over Iran's Past Nuclear Work - Jay Solomon and Felicia Schwartz
    Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that confronting Iran about its past atomic weapons work isn't crucial to reaching a nuclear deal, a shift of the U.S. position. U.S. and European negotiators have for months said a full accounting of Iran's past nuclear activities would be critical to sealing a final deal and guarding against Iran cheating in the future.
    "It's a mistake to think of the PMD [possible military dimensions] issue as simply dealing with the past, or as tantamount to requiring that Iran 'confess' to nuclear transgressions," said Michael Singh, a senior member of President George W. Bush's National Security Council. "Unless Iran addresses these questions, inspectors cannot be certain how much Iran knows about constructing a nuclear weapon." (Wall Street Journal)
  • Kerry: "Patience Wearing Thin" on Syria's Assad - Lesley Wroughton
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday he had discussed Syria's use of chemical weapons with Russia. Kerry said he was confident Assad's government was responsible for a "preponderance" of chemical attacks against his own people and that "everyone's patience is wearing thin with respect to the extraordinary depravity of the weaponry and mechanisms for delivery which Assad has used against his own people." (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Eases West Bank, Gaza Restrictions for Ramadan - Elhanan Miller
    The IDF on Tuesday announced a series of measures aimed at easing movement for Palestinians during the month of Ramadan, which begins Wednesday. Palestinians will be able to enter Israel for family visits, while hundreds of other will be allowed to leave the country through Ben-Gurion Airport instead of going through Jordan.
    "These are very significant measures taken based on [positive] assessments by the IDF Central Command," said IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai. "They are conditioned on security calm." "For the first time in many years, Gazans will be able to celebrate with their family members in the West Bank," Mordechai said. "But if Hamas takes advantage of the easing for terror activities, our response will be harsh." (Times of Israel)
    See also IDF Eases Life for Palestinians for Ramadan - Herb Keinon and Tovah Lazaroff
    Some Palestinian shop-owners on the Israeli side of Hebron will be able to re-open their stores for the first time since the start of the second intifada in 2000, as part of a series of gestures Israel is making for the Ramadan holiday. Also, for the first time, Muslim worshipers will be permitted to take shuttle buses from West Bank cities directly to the Al-Aksa mosque at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
    A government official said the pre-Ramadan gestures show Israel is trying to create positive momentum on the Palestinian track and that tangible change on the ground will come only through measures taken by the parties themselves, and not by efforts to force through resolutions at the UN Security Council. The official added that there have not been any reciprocal measures from the Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Arrested for Vehicle Attack on Israelis - Yaakov Lappin
    Muhammad Arfaya, 22, an Islamic Jihad member from Hebron, was taken into custody for running over and injuring three Israelis at the Alon Shvut Junction in Gush Etzion on May 14, Israeli security forces announced on Tuesday. He told interrogators he had set out on past occasions with a knife to stab Israelis, but his efforts were unsuccessful. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Snap-Back Fantasy on Iran - Editorial
    President Obama likes to say that sanctions on Iran can be "snapped back" into place should Tehran violate any nuclear deal it might sign. At this year's World National Oil Companies Congress, held in London, briefings on Monday were devoted to exploring energy-industry opportunities in Iran after sanctions vanish. Chevron, Siemens, Australia's Woodside Energy and Singapore's Yug-Neftegaz were among the industry players at the briefings. "We think that the enthusiasm is there," said Elham Hassanzadeh, the main workshop presenter. "And the fact that the whole sanctions structure is weakened is true, because everybody's just ready that once it really crumbles to go back to the country and put down the money." (Wall Street Journal)
  • Challenges to U.S.-Israel Relations - Michael B. Oren
    From the moment he entered office, President Obama promoted an agenda of championing the Palestinian cause and achieving a nuclear accord with Iran. Such policies would have put him at odds with any Israeli leader. But Obama posed a fundamental challenge by abandoning a core principle of Israel's alliance with America: "no daylight." The U.S. and Israel always could disagree but never openly. Doing so would encourage common enemies and render Israel vulnerable.
    Obama also voided President George W. Bush's commitment to include the major settlement blocs and Jewish Jerusalem within Israel's borders in any peace agreement. Yet Obama was never anti-Israel and, to his credit, he significantly strengthened security cooperation with the Jewish state.
    Palestinian President Abbas boycotted negotiations, reconciled with Hamas and sought statehood in the UN - all in violation of his commitments to the U.S. - but he never paid a price. By contrast, the White House routinely condemned Netanyahu for building in areas that even Palestinian negotiators had agreed would remain part of Israel.
    Israel has no alternative to America as a source of security aid, diplomatic backing and overwhelming popular support. The U.S. has no substitute for the state that, though small, remains democratic, militarily and technologically robust, strategically located and unreservedly pro-American. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. (Wall Street Journal)
    See also No Way to Treat an Ally - Gary Rosenblatt
    In January 2011, with the U.S. trying to convince the Palestinians to withdraw or moderate a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, President Obama called PA President Mahmoud Abbas to make a deal. Obama offered to support a UN investigation regarding settlements, renew a U.S. demand for a full-scale freeze on Israeli construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and was prepared to declare a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with mutually agreed swaps.
    All without prior consultation with Israel, according to former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, as described in his new memoir, Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide. "By endorsing the Palestinian position on the 1967 lines," writes Oren, "the White House had overnight altered more than 40 years of American policy."
    Oren, charged with maintaining a positive public facade, is privately seething over the administration's treatment of his country as less ally than obstacle. Repeatedly, he describes how Israel is blamed for the lack of progress on the peace front while the Palestinians are given a pass.
    In an interview, Oren explained that on the vital issue of the nuclear agreement with Iran, "they're saying 'trust us.'" "First they [the administration] told us all options are on the table, and now they're saying there never was a military option. This deal is not just a bad one, it is singularly dangerous, and it is our duty and right to speak out. And as an IDF war veteran whose son [in the IDF] was wounded, I am deeply offended when we are cast as warmongers." (New York Jewish Week)
Observations:

Western Anti-Semitism May Drive Israel toward Asia - Julien Bauer (National Post-Canada)

  • Contrary to what Western societies would like to believe, Western anti-Semitism is not a phenomenon of the past. It is very well alive. How can we understand the interest, if not the obsession, of the West for anything Jewish? Israel, the Jews' national expression, is treated as the archetype of anything bad and evil in the world. No word is strong enough to condemn Israel.
  • Why threaten to impose special labelling for Israeli products manufactured in the West Bank, when such a treatment is not even considered for products from Chinese-occupied Tibet or Turkish-occupied (half of) Cyprus? How can we understand the French proposition, encouraged by many EU members, to impose a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and declare that Jerusalem - the Holy City of Judaism before there was Christianity or Islam - is Palestinian?
  • Asian countries - where the religions are Confucianism, Buddhism, and Hinduism - are not obsessed by Jews. Today, Israel's second-largest trading partner is China and India is coming close
  • South Korea estimated that the intellectual ability encouraged by the study of Talmud was one of the explanations for Israel's economic success and so decided to introduce Talmudic studies in the schools. It has nothing to do with religion but was considered a tool for the specific goal of enhancing Korea's place in the field of knowledge. The mere idea of a Western country doing the same is ludicrous.
  • The West is unconsciously encouraging Israel, and its high technology sector, to be increasingly linked with Asian countries.

    The writer is professor of political science at Universite du Quebec a Montreal and a fellow of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

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