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August 14, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Anti-Defamation League Opposes Iran Deal (JTA)
    The Anti-Defamation League counseled Congress to reject the Iran nuclear deal.
    "Given the outstanding questions and our deep reservations about the agreement, we believe Congress should vote no on the deal," Barry Curtiss-Lusher, ADL's national chairman, and Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL's national director, said Thursday.
    See also American Jewish Committee Opposes Iran Deal (AJC)
    AJC Executive Director David Harris said in a statement on Aug. 5: "We listened carefully to the arguments of those in favor of the deal...and we listened to the opponents....In the end, AJC's leadership concluded overwhelmingly that we must oppose this deal."
    "Until recently, we were told by P5+1 negotiators: 'The alternative to a bad deal is no deal.' What happened to that formulation, and why did it suddenly change?"

Israel Delivers Aid to Flood Victims in Myanmar (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    Some 590,000 people have been severely affected by the monsoonal floods across 12 of Myanmar's 14 states and regions since mid-July.
    Israel's Ambassador to Myanmar, Daniel Zonshine, in cooperation with MASHAV - Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation, delivered a relief cargo of dry food, hygiene kits, bed nets and medicines to a local hospital and to flood victims in the Bago region.

Report: Israeli Fuel Tankers Accompany Jordanian Fighter Jets En Route to U.S. (Jerusalem Post)
    The military aviation website Foxtrot Alpha reported on a group of five Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16s flying alongside Israel Air Force KC-707 fuel tankers heading toward Lajes Field in the Azores, a common transit point in the Atlantic Ocean for military aircraft.
    The aircraft were heading to Nellis Air Force base in Nevada to take part in the Red Flag air-to-air combat training exercises.

Iran, Hizbullah Linked to Bombing in Bahrain - Habib Toumi (Gulf News-Dubai)
    Bahrain's Interior Ministry has confirmed the arrest of five people suspected of orchestrating a deadly bomb attack in the country on July 28 that killed two policemen and injured six others.
  "Police investigations have found that those arrested had connections to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, as well as Hizbullah" Chief of Police Maj.-Gen. Tariq Al Hassan said.

    See also Kuwait Seizes Arms Cache Linked to Hizbullah (Reuters)
    Kuwait authorities seized 19,000 kg. of ammunition, 144 kg. of explosives, 68 weapons and 204 grenades.
    Kuwait's al-Anba reported that the weapons cache had been smuggled from Iraq and stored by members of a cell linked to Iranian-backed Hizbullah.

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Palestinian Rights Group Files Lawsuit Against PA Torture (Ma'an News-PA)
    The Palestinian rights group Istiqlal filed a civil lawsuit against the Palestinian Authority requesting $1 million in compensation for Ahmad Bilal Abd al-Malak al-Deek, a Palestinian who was allegedly tortured while in PA custody, the group said Thursday.
    Al-Deek was detained for five days in July after he criticized the local government on his personal social media. He said Palestinian investigators tortured and beat him.

PA Dedicates Another Square to Terrorist Murderer - Itamar Marcus (Palestinian Media Watch)
    The Palestinian Authority has dedicated a city square in Nablus to the memory of a terrorist murderer responsible for the deaths of Israeli civilians.
    The square was named after the Nablus commander of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Naif Abu Sharakh, who was involved in many terror attacks including a double suicide bombing in Tel Aviv on Jan. 5, 2003, which killed 23 people and injured dozens more.
    The monument in the square is shaped as a map of "Palestine" that includes all of Israel.

Hamas Concludes All-Female Military Training Camp - Rasha Abou Jalal (Al-Monitor)
    Hamas' women's wing completed a ten-day training camp on Aug. 10 to prepare academically exceptional girls aged 12-18 for the battle to liberate Palestine.
    Camp director Rajaa al-Halabi said training includes how to raise a new generation that embraces the culture of liberation and strengthening participants' sense of patriotism.
    Wafaa al-Sharbassi, 16, added, "We learn about weapons and how to handle them."

The Race for the Development of Defensive Measures Against Mortar Fire - Ami Rojkes Dombe (Israel Defense)
    During the Second Lebanon War and 2014 Gaza war, mortar fire caused a high number of casualties among IDF troop concentrations in assembly areas, and defense industries in Israel and abroad are currently endeavoring to find a solution.
    The development of defensive laser systems capable of intercepting mortar bombs in mid-air is one possibility.
    Rafael in Israel and Boeing in the U.S. are working on such systems.

Israeli Firm to Develop Windfarm in Ireland - Paul O'Donoghue (Irish Independent)
    An Israeli renewable energy company has just closed a 24 million euro deal to develop a 14 megawatt windfarm in Ireland, to be completed in the second half of 2016.
    Enlight Renewable Energy specializes in clean electricity production projects from renewable energy sources, and has solar and windfarms in Israel and abroad.

Israeli Teen Entrepreneurs Take Third Place in European Contest - Shlomi Balbul (Ynet News)
    Israeli teenagers won third place at a competition for young entrepreneurs held by the Junior Achievement organization in Berlin last week.
    The teens presented Sit Up, a safety harness allowing children aged seven and younger to be carried on one's shoulders.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Believes ISIS Used Mustard Gas on Kurds - Adam Entous
    Islamic State militants likely used mustard gas against Kurdish forces in Iraq this week, senior U.S. officials said Thursday. The officials said Islamic State could have obtained the mustard agent in Syria, though it is possible it came from old stockpiles that belonged to Saddam Hussein in Iraq. The attack took place on Wednesday, about 40 miles southwest of Erbil. A German Defense Ministry spokesman said about 60 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters suffered injuries to their throats consistent with a chemical attack while fighting Islamic State. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Assad's Stockpiles Weren't Destroyed, and the Jihadists Have Them - Editorial
    Recently U.S. intelligence has said it believes the Assad government hid some caches of chemical weapons from international inspectors. Don't expect arms control to stop the spread of WMD in Syria or Iran. The only effective arms control is deposing those who would use the arms. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Rockets Hit Assad's Alawite Heartland - Louisa Loveluck, Nabih Bulos, and Magdy Samaan
    Syrian rebels launched a deadly rocket attack on Latakia, the coastal heartland of President Bashar al-Assad, on Thursday. Two people were killed and 14 injured in the attack, which hit Latakia's city center and waterfront. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Iranians Calling the Shots in Syria - Hugh Naylor
    Forces battling for control of three Syrian towns were observing a temporary cease-fire Thursday after a push by Iran to explore diplomatic solutions to end Syria's civil war. The truce was a product of talks in Turkey between Iranian officials and Ahrar al-Sham, a Syrian rebel group. Iran negotiated on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad's government.
        "These negotiations with Iran show that the Iranians are calling the shots, 100 percent, in Syria," said former Syrian diplomat Bassam Barabandi. On Wednesday, Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, visited Syria for talks with Assad.
        The diplomatic initiative reflects fatigue among Assad's allies in the four-year-old conflict. It also may reflect a growing recognition by Hizbullah and Iran that Syria's rebels cannot be defeated militarily and, in particular, that Hizbullah cannot sustain its engagement in Syria indefinitely. The group has suffered significant losses in recent fighting.
        "As Hizbullah deaths mount, it becomes ever clearer that Shiites and Alawites are too few to hold the line against Sunni-Salafist rebel groups that are becoming ever more lethal, organized and well-armed," said Joshua Landis, director of the University of Oklahoma's Center for Middle East Studies. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • House Majority Leader McCarthy: I Share Netanyahu's Concerns about Iran Deal - Tovah Lazaroff
    On Sunday, President Obama told CNN that Prime Minister Netanyahu has interjected himself into Washington politics more forcibly than any other foreign leader. But on Thursday, U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that Netanyahu was simply doing his job as Israel's leader. "I do not see where Benjamin Netanyahu was interfering with anything," said McCarthy, just one day after he and 35 other visiting Republican congressmen met with Netanyahu. "He is elected by the State of Israel and voices the opinion of the state on security," McCarthy said.
        Netanyahu "did not tell us how to vote. Much like every other leader of any other country, he conveyed what he sees," McCarthy said. "I think from concerns that he has about the agreement the majority of the room has the same concerns."
        "My wife and I have a son and a daughter. They have a lifetime in front of them. I will not walk away and make the world more unsafe and more dangerous because I wanted someone to say we captured peace for this moment but jeopardized freedom for the future," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel to European Governments: Stop Funding Illegal Palestinian Building - Tovah Lazaroff
    The Israel Foreign Ministry has warned European governments against flouting Israeli law by funding illegal Palestinian building in Area C of the West Bank and has already razed such structures. Aviv Shir-On, Deputy Director General for European Affairs in the Foreign Ministry, told a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee subcommittee on Tuesday that both individual European governments and the EU were funding illegal Palestinian projects. "We won't accept illegal building," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egypt to Expand Buffer Zone Opposite Gaza
    North Sinai Governor Abdel Fattah Harhour announced Tuesday that buildings and facilities located in the area of the Gaza buffer zone's third phase have been completely surveyed in preparation for evacuation. The first and second phases have been completed, with each phase covering 500 meters. It is believed that the third phase will cover an additional 500 meters. Harhour said that the new Rafah city will be constructed behind the buffer zone, which is set to be 5 km. in depth along the border with Gaza. (Daily News-Egypt )
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • The Truth about Iran and Israel - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Coming to grips with the reality of the anti-Semitism and hate that is at the heart of Iranian foreign policy is a difficult problem for the administration. It has struck an agreement with Iran that, at best, merely postpones the moment when the Islamist regime will get a nuclear bomb while granting its nuclear program international approval. It also gives it a lucrative cash bonus in the form of perhaps $100 billion in unfrozen assets and the relaxation of sanctions that will enrich the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism.
        The fact that this deal will give material aid to Iran's terrorist campaign against Israel while leaving open the door to it eventually gaining the ability to wipe out the Jewish state with a nuclear weapon ought to be troubling.
        Far from undermining the theocratic regime, the influx of cash and business will strengthen its leaders and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and their support for terror far more than it will enrich its people. That is why the nuclear deal is dangerous and why the push for detente, that is the real point of administration policy, is based on a misunderstanding about the nature of the Islamist state. (Commentary)
  • Iran Gets Money that Should Be Used to Pay Its Terror Victims - Editorial
    Over two decades U.S. federal courts have found the Iranian government liable for orchestrating or supporting the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut, the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers U.S. Air Force facility in Saudi Arabia, and multiple shootings and suicide bombings in Israel, among other attacks. Judges have awarded some $45 billion in damages to hundreds of plaintiffs such as Embassy bombing survivor Anne Dammarell and the widow and orphaned children of Hamas bombing victim Ira Weinstein.
        Iran has refused to pay a cent. Yet U.S. law provides for the victims to be able to get compensation under the 2002 Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. In negotiating Libya's nuclear disarmament a decade ago, the U.S. secured an agreement for the Gadhafi regime to compensate victims of attacks such as the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The 1981 Algiers Accord resolving the Iranian hostage crisis included a claims tribunal that ordered $2.5 billion in payments from Tehran.
        In federal court in New York City last week, two dozen victims of Iranian terror sued to block the Iran deal for disregarding U.S. laws meant to enforce just compensation. "It would be outrageous to release the $100 billion in frozen Iranian funds when these American families have unpaid court judgments against the terror-sponsoring regime in Tehran," said lawyer Nitsana Darshan-Leitner. By ignoring the $45 billion owed to Iran's terror victims, the U.S. erodes a deterrent to foreign state sponsorship of terrorism. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Forward's Dispatch from Iran - Michael J. Totten
    The Jewish newspaper The Forward just published a dispatch from Iran by Larry Cohler-Esses. Reporters should never take what police state apparatchiks say at face value, but Cohler-Esses does so more than once. He reports: "Pressed as to whether it was Israel's policies or its very existence to which they objected, several were adamant: It's Israel's policies."
        It makes no sense that Iran only objects to Israeli policy. Iranian leaders routinely scream "Death to Israel" and "Death to America." Hizbullah in Lebanon likewise shouts "Death to Israel" and "Death to America," and Hizbullah likewise says it's just objecting to American policies, but come on. The U.S. objects to plenty of Mexico's policies, but no politicians begin meetings by screaming "Death to Mexico" or appear at any "Death to Mexico" rallies. The U.S. doesn't even have "Death to Mexico" rallies.
        "We believe that the State of Israel must be changed, corrected and improved," Ayatollah Ardebili told Cohler-Esses, "and if that is not possible, and if the nature of the state does not allow for improvement, then the state must be destroyed."  (World Affairs)

  • Arab World

  • Sudan's Split with Iran Boosts Saudi Camp - Yaroslav Trofimov
    The compound that once housed Iran's cultural center in Khartoum, Sudan, has overgrown with weeds. The Iranian diplomats have departed. For more than two decades, Sudan was the Iranian regime's best friend in the Sunni Arab world. Now, that friendship between two rogue states has unraveled.
        In late 2014, President Omar al-Bashir ordered the network of Iran's cultural centers shut down, ostensibly on the grounds that they were propagating Shiite Islam in a country that has virtually no Shiites. Then, in April, he unexpectedly joined Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen, sending Sudanese warplanes to bomb pro-Iranian Houthi forces, and sought to nurture close ties with Egypt's new ruler, President al-Sisi.
        "This regime cannot really survive without the support of the rich Arab countries," explained Abdel Ghaffar Ahmed, a professor at the University of Khartoum. Sudan lost three-quarters of its oil income after the 2011 secession of South Sudan. It is reliant on billions of dollars in remittances by Sudanese workers in Saudi Arabia and other GCC monarchies. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians in Arab Countries - Khaled Abu Toameh
    In Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Syria, Palestinians are treated as second- and third-class citizens. After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, the Palestinians were the first to "congratulate" Saddam Hussein. When Kuwait was liberated the following year by a U.S.-led coalition, 200,000 Palestinians were expelled from the emirate in retaliation.
        Since 2003, the number of Palestinians in Iraq has dropped from 25,000 to 6,000 due to systematic attacks and intimidation by Shiite militias. Palestinians captured by Shiite militias have been brutally tortured and forced to "confess" to their alleged involvement in terrorism. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have also fled Syria.
        What is most interesting is the complete indifference displayed by international human rights organizations, the media and the Palestinian Authority toward the mistreatment of Palestinians in Arab countries. PA leaders say they want to press "war crimes" charges against Israel with the International Criminal Court. However, when it comes to ethnic cleansing and torture of Palestinians in Arab countries, the Palestinian leadership chooses to look the other way. Western journalists don't care about the Palestinians in the Arab world because this is not a story that can be blamed on Israel. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Kuwaiti Columnist: Israel Is a Friendly Country
    Writing in the Kuwaiti government daily Al-Watan on Aug. 1, 2015, columnist 'Abdallah Al-Hadlaq argued that if Iran attains nuclear weapons it will not hesitate to use them against the Gulf states, whereas Israel, which has possessed such weapons for years, has never used them in its wars against the Arabs. Al-Hadlaq called upon the Gulf states to sever their ties with Iran and form an alliance with Israel, strengthening political, commercial and even military ties.
        "I anticipate that the servants and agents of Iran in the region, who have Persian blood running in their veins...will accuse me of 'Zionism, collaborating with Israel.'...[But] the scales have dropped from the eyes of the Arab and Muslim peoples, and they have realized...that their only bitter enemies are the Persian Iranians, not the friendly State of Israel."  (MEMRI)
  • Israeli Druze: The Israel that the Arabs Call "a False Entity" Is the Region's Most Stable, Advanced Country
    Israeli Druze poet and writer Salman Masalha wrote in Al-Hayat: "The mere mention of Israel's name in the Arab arena arouses many emotions....So much ink has been spilled, and so many hours of broadcast have been devoted to discussion of the so-called 'primary problem of the Arabs.'"
        "While the propagators of this Arab discourse kept their heads buried in the sand, Israel continued to deepen its roots in the region....Here we are some seven decades later...and what do we see around us?...Today, decades later, the Palestinians are finding that their problem is no longer 'the primary Arab problem' and that their Nakba is no greater than other Arab Nakbas, because Greater Syria [for example] has experienced a far greater Nakba that overshadows their own."
        "If we look at what is happening around us in this region, we will see that the most stable entities are not Arab, and that they are strong and developed entities - from Iran through Turkey....Therefore, how should we describe our situation? Perhaps in this way: 'Our troubles come from us.'"  (MEMRI)
        See also Almost Quarter of a Million People Dead in Syria War (Al Jazeera)
  • I Am a Zionist Because I Am an Arab - Fred Maroun
    The reason I support Israel is because I want good things to happen in the whole Middle East. Israel is a role model that we can emulate. Israel gives a prominent role to religion together with innovation, liberalism, and democracy. It resolves differences without civil wars, insurrections, or military coups. In Israel terrorists are widely condemned, and the government, police, and religious authorities stand unambiguously against them regardless of their religion or the religion of their victims.
        I know that I represent a small minority among Arabs, but I would be in the majority if we Arabs took our blinders off. The writer is a Canadian of Arab origin. (Times of Israel)

  • Other Issues

  • Instant Amnesia When Israel Is Discussed - Israeli Ambassador Boaz Modai
    It is 20 years since the signing of the second phase of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO. Under this 1995 agreement, the most populated areas of Judea-Samaria [the West Bank], containing 96% of the Palestinian Arabs, are now under the autonomous government of the PA. It is often necessary to remind people of this fact when mantras like "Israeli-occupied West Bank" are recited.
        An uninformed person might think that Israel, one day last summer, inexplicably decided to launch an unprovoked assault on defenseless people in Gaza. In fact, 4,258 rockets and countless mortars fired by Hamas into Israel over 50 days plus 32 terror tunnels prepared for the massacre and abduction of Israeli civilians were met with Israeli air strikes targeting rocket launch sites and Hamas infrastructure, plus a limited ground invasion to destroy the tunnels.
        Those who wish to demonize my country find it easy to get a platform in the media to speak of "genocide." Has amnesia progressed so far that some people have forgotten the meaning of a word like "genocide"? One-third of the world's Jews wiped out in the Holocaust - that was genocide. Palestinian Arabs, on the contrary, enjoy the highest life expectancy and the lowest infant mortality in the Arab world. When they did live under Israeli occupation, the number of their universities increased from one to nine; and the diseases of polio, tetanus, whooping cough and measles were eradicated. (Sunday Independent-Ireland)
  • Shadow of Israel's Pullout from Gaza Hangs Heavy 10 Years On - Luke Baker
    A decade on from Israel's unilateral withdrawal of 8,500 of its Jewish citizens from Gaza, the legacy of that August 2005 "disengagement" has seen a civil war between Palestinian factions and four wars with Israel.
        According to the World Bank, Gaza now has 43% unemployment. Since 1994, real per capita income has fallen by nearly a third. Manufacturing has shriveled by 60%. The pullout is also seen as a disaster by Israelis, with thousands of rockets from Gaza having rained down on Israel since 2005.
        The disengagement "created a new reality that contributed to the Hamas takeover of Gaza, a steep rise in weapons smuggling, the strengthening of terrorism, and the ensuing cycle of escalation," wrote Shmuel Even, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies. A recent survey by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies showed 63% now think the move was a mistake.
        Even opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who supported the withdrawal at the time, says demographically it was the right thing to do, but "without a doubt, from a security perspective, the disengagement was a mistake." "We failed in our assessment that post-withdrawal Gaza would become the Hong Kong of the Middle East. Instead, it has become one big rocket base."  (Reuters)

Why We Must Fight Against the Iran Deal - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Ha'aretz-Hebrew)

  • In the effort to convince the American Congress to approve the agreement with Iran, President Obama has marshaled a series of claims. Some of them are groundless (all the paths to a bomb are blocked, the alternative is war or an Iranian breakout to the bomb, a military action will have only limited effect), some are strange (the Iranian government will moderate in the wake of the deal), and some are intentionally misleading, on the assumption that no one will check the facts (the experts sharply criticize the agreement).
  • Given the details of the deal, Iran will need only six months to obtain enough material for a bomb during the first ten years, since the centrifuges are being preserved in the facility at Natanz, where they can be reactivated quickly. In addition, there is nothing to prevent Iranian nuclear cooperation with North Korea.
  • Moreover, the deal does nothing to block Iran from achieving regional hegemony. Nuclear weapons are just a tool to achieve this goal. The agreement paves the way for Iran to achieve its strategic goal without the bomb, as it shows how weak Western opposition is to the transfer of control of the region into the hands of Iran.
  • In the eyes of the West, conflict with Iran is a disaster that must be prevented by every means, including through surrender (which arises from the entire agreement).
  • Thus, the struggle against the agreement is necessary. If the effort ends in failure, we will know that we did everything to prevent it, and if in the future we are required to use force to defend ourselves, everyone will know that we tried every other possibility. The struggle will also make it clear to our neighbors that Israel has not lost its willingness to defend itself.

    Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser was formerly Director General of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research and Analysis and Production Division of IDF Military Intelligence.
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