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August 7, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Former Argentine President on Trial for Bombing Cover-Up - Debora Rey and Peter Prengaman (AP)
    In Buenos Aires, ex-President Carlos Menem, a former top judge and several other officials went on trial Thursday for allegedly derailing the investigation into the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association, the nation's worst terrorist attack, which killed 85 and left hundreds more injured.
    The men on trial include two former prosecutors, a former top intelligence official, former police officers, and a mechanic who owned the truck carrying the explosives.
    Argentine authorities long have accused Iran and Hizbullah of being behind the attack.

Egypt Unveils Suez Canal Extension - Brian Rohan and Hamza Hendawi (AP-ABC News)
    Egyptian President el-Sissi presided Thursday over the unveiling of a major extension of the Suez Canal, saying its completion was the first step toward economic recovery.
    The new Suez Canal extension involved digging and dredging along 45 miles of the 120-mile canal, making a parallel waterway to facilitate two-way traffic.
    The project was funded entirely by Egyptians, millions of whom bought canal bonds.

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American and Israeli Vets with PTSD Join Together to Overcome Trauma - Alan Zeitlin (Algemeiner)
    American and Israeli veterans who suffer from PTSD met in New York to discuss their experiences.
    There are differences between veterans of the two countries. They speak about how military service is mandatory in Israel but voluntary in America. The Americans sport tattoos and don't understand why the Israelis have none.
    The Israelis are jealous at the size of the American soldier's paycheck and, more importantly, the luxury of not having to fight in one's own backyard. The Americans are jealous of the respect that Israeli soldiers get in their country.
    In Israel, the death of one soldier is a national tragedy. In America, the death of a soldier might not make the evening news.
    There are also similarities between the two groups. They have trouble communicating with their families. A sudden loud noise may jar them. And they say they've battled the same enemy: radicalized Muslims who see America and Israel as the enemy that must be destroyed.

For These Druze Refugees from Syria, Help Comes from an Unexpected Source - Ruth Eglash (Washington Post)
    The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, headed by American-born rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, is helping Syrian Druze refugees in Jordan.
    Eckstein is supporting the establishment of an infrastructure in Jordan to distribute food vouchers and possibly bring some of those injured in the Syrian conflict to Israel for medical treatment.

Israel Rights Group Tries to Collect Money from North Korea after Winning Judgment (AP-Japan Times)
    The Israel-based Shurat HaDin law center won a $330 million U.S. District Court judgment in April over the abduction of a South Korean-born pastor in China and his presumed torture and killing in North Korea 15 years ago.
    Now, in an effort to collect damages, the center has focused on the Mu Du Bong, a North Korean cargo ship that accidentally ran aground off Mexico last July and has been held in a Mexican port for the past year.
    The plan is to sell the ship to the highest bidder, with the money going to the South Korean pastor's family.

Photos: UFO Spotted in Turkey Revealed as Israeli Balloon (Hurriyet-Turkey)
    Locals in the central Turkish province of Malatya were concerned over possible espionage when they spotted a balloon depicting an Israeli flag.
    The balloon, which fell into a resident's garden, displayed the message: "Welcome to Israel," Cihan news agency reported on Aug. 6.

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New eBook: Winning the War of Words - Essays on Zionism and Israel - Einat Wilf (
    Dr. Einat Wilf, a senior fellow with the Jewish People Policy Institute and adjunct fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, served as foreign policy advisor to Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres.
    Since leaving the Knesset in 2013, Wilf has traveled the world as a "roving ambassador" for Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Sen. Charles Schumer Announces Opposition to Nuclear Pact with Iran - Paul Kane
    The likely next leader of Senate Democrats, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), announced his opposition Thursday to President Obama's nuclear pact with Iran. Schumer said his three-week reading of the proposal left him unconvinced. "There is a strong case that we are better off without an agreement than with one," he said.
        "Supporters argue that after ten years, a future president would be in no weaker a position than we are today to prevent Iran from racing to the bomb. That argument discounts the current sanctions regime. After fifteen years of relief from sanctions, Iran would be stronger financially and better able to advance a robust nuclear program."  (Washington Post)
        See also Text: Why I Will Vote to Disapprove the Iran Agreement - Sen. Charles Schumer
    In the first ten years of the deal, there are serious weaknesses in the agreement. First, inspections are not "anywhere, anytime"; the 24-day delay before we can inspect is troubling. Even more troubling is the fact that the U.S. cannot demand inspections unilaterally. Additionally, the "snapback" provisions in the agreement seem cumbersome and difficult to use.
        After ten years, if Iran is the same nation as it is today, we will be worse off with this agreement than without it. If one thinks Iran will moderate, one should approve the agreement.
        But if one feels that Iranian leaders will not moderate and their unstated but very real goal is to get relief from the onerous sanctions, while still retaining their nuclear ambitions and their ability to increase belligerent activities in the Middle East and elsewhere, then one should conclude that it would be better not to approve this agreement. To me, the very real risk that Iran will not moderate and will, instead, use the agreement to pursue its nefarious goals is too great. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Top U.S. House Foreign Affairs Democrat Will Vote Against Iran Nuclear Deal
    Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Thursday he will vote to reject the nuclear deal with Iran. "The answers I've received simply don't convince me that this deal will keep a nuclear weapon out of Iran's hands, and may in fact strengthen Iran's position as a destabilizing and destructive influence across the Middle East," Engel said. (Reuters)
        See also Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) to Support Iran Deal - Deirdre Walsh (CNN)
  • Iran Quds Force Commander Soleimani Visited Moscow in Defiance of Sanctions - Jennifer Griffin and Lucas Tomlinson
    Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani visited Moscow on July 24 to meet with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and President Vladimir Putin, according to two Western intelligence sources, despite a travel ban and UN Security Council resolutions barring him from leaving Iran. UN sanctions have not yet been lifted against Iran and Soleimani is sanctioned as part of Security Council Resolution 1747.
        Outgoing U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said: "Qassem Soleimani is the one who has been exporting malign activities throughout the Middle East for some time now. He's absolutely responsible for killing many Americans; in fact, I would say the last two years I was there the majority of our casualties came from his surrogates, not Sunni or al-Qaeda."  (Fox News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Three Israeli Soldiers Wounded in West Bank Terrorist Attack - Gili Cohen and Jack Khoury
    Three Israeli soldiers were wounded on Thursday in a hit-and-run terror attack near the village of Sinjil in the West Bank. The driver of the vehicle was shot and wounded.
        Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said shortly after the incident, "I want to congratulate the soldiers who reacted quickly to neutralize the terrorist and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded....I find it puzzling that those who were so quick to denounce terror against Palestinians are silent when the terror is aimed at Jews."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Hamas and Islamic Jihad Praise West Bank Terror Attack as "Heroic Act" - Yasser Okbi
    Hamas and Islamic Jihad praised the attack Thursday in which a Palestinian driver struck and injured three soldiers in the West Bank, calling it an "act of heroism." Hamas spokesperson Abad Arahim Shadid said, "We call upon the members of our people in the West Bank to carry out more terror attacks."  (Maariv Hashavua-Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Jewish Leader: Several EU PMs, Including from P5+1, Very Unhappy with Iran Deal - Raphael Ahren
    European leaders have reservations and concerns about the Iran nuclear deal, but have reluctantly followed Washington's enthusiastic lead, according to Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Hoenlein told the Israel Diplomatic Correspondents Association on Thursday that he knows first-hand that Israel and the Gulf states are not alone in their apprehension over the Iran deal. European prime ministers and foreign ministers - including from countries that negotiated the accord - are "very uncomfortable with this deal," he said.
        President Obama on Wednesday said Israel was the only country in the world to publicly oppose the deal. (Times of Israel)
        See also Arabs Eye Iran Nuclear Deal with Distrust, Disapproval - Brennan Weiss
    Mideast analysts say most Arabs are worried about the implications of the deal and whether Iran will ramp up its involvement in regional conflicts. "Most people in the Arab world are very skeptical about Iran and mistrustful, especially along sectarian lines. Iran is not popular these days in the Sunni-Arab world," said Hussein Ibish, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institutes in Washington. "I think this is one instance in which public opinion and the opinion of the governments, which often do diverge, are actually fairly closely in sync."
        "What drives suspicion of the Iranian deal in the Arab streets is Iranian behavior of funding of wars in the region," Joyce Karam, an expert on U.S. policy in the Middle East and a correspondent for Al-Hayat, said Wednesday at the Middle East Institute in Washington. "What is Iran doing fighting Syrians? What is Hizbullah doing in Yemen? What is Iran doing in Saddam [Husseins] town of Tikrit? These are all questions that are being raised by Arab youth and by average people."  (Washington Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Iran Agreement - a U.S. Defeat - David Brooks
    Over the past several years the U.S. has engaged in an economic, clandestine and political war against Iran to force it to give up its nuclear program. Wars, military or economic, are measured by whether you achieved your stated objectives. By this standard the U.S. lost the war against Iran.
        As a report from the Foreign Policy Initiative exhaustively details, the Iran agreement delays but does not end Iran's nuclear program. It legitimizes Iran's status as a nuclear state. Iran will mothball some of its centrifuges, but it will not dismantle or close any of its nuclear facilities. Nuclear research and development will continue. Iran wins the right to enrich uranium. The agreement does not include "anywhere, anytime" inspections; some inspections would require a 24-day waiting period, giving the Iranians plenty of time to clean things up. After eight years, all restrictions on ballistic missiles are lifted.
        Why did we lose? Why did the combined powers of the Western world lose to a ragtag regime with a crippled economy and without much popular support? The first answer is that the Iranians just wanted victory more than we did.
        Iran is a fanatical, hegemonic, hate-filled regime. If you think its radicalism is going to be softened by a few global trade opportunities, you really haven't been paying attention to the Middle East over the past four decades.
        Iran will use its $150 billion windfall to spread terror around the region and exert its power. It will incrementally but dangerously cheat on the accord. Armed with money, ballistic weapons and an eventual nuclear breakout, it will become more aggressive. Sometimes when you surrender to a tyranny, you lay the groundwork for a more cataclysmic conflict to come. (New York Times)
  • Who Is Helping Iran's Hard-Liners? - Charles Krauthammer
    Everyone now knows that "anytime, anywhere" inspections - indispensable for a clandestine nuclear program in a country twice the size of Texas with a long history of hiding and cheating - has been changed to "You've got 24 days and then we're coming in for a surprise visit." Snapback sanctions? Everyone knows that once the international sanctions are lifted, they are never coming back.
        The Death-to-America Iranian hard-liners are the government, for God's sake - the entire state apparatus of the Islamic Republic from the Revolutionary Guards to supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei - who for decades have propagated, encouraged and applauded those "Death to America" chants. With this agreement, this repressive, intolerant, aggressive, supremely anti-American regime - the chief exporter of terror in the world - is stronger and more entrenched than it has ever been. (Washington Post)
  • Implications of the Iran Agreement for U.S. Policy in the Middle East - Michael Singh
    The agreement will permit Iran to retain the option to build a nuclear weapon in the future. Indeed, the agreement could be seen as a means by which Iran buys time to perfect, in some cases with international assistance, advanced centrifuges, weaponization, and long-range ballistic missiles. Iran's "redlines" seem to have been designed to shape this outcome, implying that Iran's purpose in the talks has been to obtain sanctions relief while retaining or even improving its nuclear weapons capability.
        The strength of the agreement must rest on our ability to detect and deter any such weapons-development effort, whether covert or overt. Unfortunately, the inspection mechanism in the accord does not appear up to this task. While robust monitoring will be in place at declared sites, the U.S. intelligence community assessed in 2007 that Iran "probably would use covert facilities - rather than its declared nuclear sites - for the production of highly-enriched uranium for a weapon." The agreement does not, however, permit inspectors anything approaching unfettered access to suspect sites. The writer is managing director at The Washington Institute. This excerpt is from his testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Aug. 5, 2015. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • How the Nuclear Deal Will Fund Iran's Imperialism - Michael Gerson
    Over the past few decades, Iran has pursued a highly effective, asymmetrical campaign to spread its influence and destabilize its enemies. Iranian operatives have set out to exploit local grievances and export their version of anti-American, anti-Semitic, revolutionary Islamism. Iran's first and best success was the creation of Lebanese Hizbullah. Through it, Iran changed the regional balance of power by positioning 100,000 rockets in Lebanon aimed at Israel.
        Tehran is responsible for the survival of Bashar al-Assad's murderous regime, propped up at key moments by Iranian money and Hizbullah ground forces. Iran has also gained effective control of Iraq's public institutions, since Shiite militias (many allied with Iran) seem to be the only effective fighting forces in the country other than the Islamic State and the Kurds.
        With the nuclear deal, Iran will have more money to purchase weapons from Russia to challenge U.S. military access to the Persian Gulf, and to purchase a great deal of regional chaos. While administration officials talk of pushing back against Iranian influence, "They have no answer to the subversive activities of Iran in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen," said Michael Doran of the Hudson Institute. (Washington Post)
  • Arabs View the Nuclear Deal as a U.S. Shift towards Iran - Hisham Melhem
    The nuclear deal is seen by many Arabs as signifying the beginning of an American strategic shift towards Iran as the regional influential, at a time when they are locked in what they and the Iranians see as an epochal geo-political struggle. In a region where perception usually trumps reality, the nuclear deal comes at a time when many people in the region believe that America's influence in the Middle East and beyond is declining, and that Iran is a rising power.
        The nuclear deal, as touted by Iranian officials and their allies, is seen as a validation of Iran's narrative of its indispensable regional role, even for the U.S., as demonstrated in the tacit alliance between Iran and the U.S. against ISIS in Iraq. President Obama himself reinforced this Iranian narrative, by his talk of Iran becoming "a very successful regional power" without conditioning his recognition of this status on a shift in Iran's behavior. One can understand Arab concern that the U.S. is gradually lowering its profile in the Middle East-Gulf region, and pushing it further under Iran's shadow. (Al Arabiya)

The Vienna Accord Only Postpones Confrontation with Iran - Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

  • It is clear that the agreement with Iran was signed in order to delay the Iranian nuclear bomb program, not to end it. Thus, when the program rears its head again, it will be a problem several times more serious and far harder to deal with. There is no cause for hysteria. The agreement will not bring about Israel's downfall, and in the best-case scenario may even buy Israel some time to better prepare for confronting the Iranian challenge.
  • It is a bad agreement. The reality facing Israel (and the world) following its signing is significantly more threatening than before. Iran gets to keep its (military) nuclear program, while sanctions against Iran are lifted.
  • At some stage the U.S. decided to move from a policy aimed at dismantling Iran's nuclear capability, to a policy aimed at delaying Iran's ability to achieve nuclear weapons. As soon as the U.S. decided to make do with delaying Iran's getting the bomb, then Israel was left on the outside - not because of strained relations between the president and the prime minister, but because of significant differences of opinion.
  • The fact that the powers signed an agreement must not be allowed to paralyze Israel. The country's security is at stake. As the current president of the U.S. has said: "Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself."
  • Governments do not like to be put in the position of having to make difficult decisions. In 1995 Israel presented a great deal of high-quality, well-analyzed intelligence information to the U.S., to show our friends in Washington that the Iranian administration had begun a military nuclear program. The Americans appointed a team headed by a senior official to examine it. At the end, this official let us know that we had "failed completely in our efforts to create a new enemy." A further two years passed before my successor was able to persuade the Americans that the Iranian enemy was real and that its nuclear military program was dangerous.
  • It is not difficult to imagine U.S. intelligence staff presenting information about Iranian violations and being rebuffed by decision-makers, using learned explanations, until it is simply too late. If the Iranians make an effort to cheat and to hide the evidence, it is almost certain that they will be able to develop their first nuclear device before the West can respond.
  • There is little chance that America will follow through on its promise that, after signing the agreement, it will be more determined in its efforts to contain Iran. Once a rival state becomes a partner to an agreement, one does not increase efforts taken against it in other realms. No one in the West will now be interested in jeopardizing either the agreement or trade relations with Iran. It is therefore likely that Iran will become much stronger internally, regionally, economically, and militarily, with little opposition from the U.S.
  • This agreement will likely and necessarily lead to the use of force against Iran, at some stage or other, in order to halt its race toward nuclear weapons. This, however, will take place in far worse conditions than before the agreement, against a far stronger Iran.

    The writer served as National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister, head of the National Security Council, and head of the research division of IDF Intelligence.
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