Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 21, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Boosted by Nuke Deal, Iran Ups Funding to Hizbullah, Hamas - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    Since the nuclear deal was signed, Iran has significantly increased its financial support for Hamas and Hizbullah.
    In the years before the deal, this support had significantly diminished along with Iran's economy.
    Al-Rai, a Kuwaiti newspaper, reported Saturday that Hizbullah has received all the advanced weaponry that Syria has obtained from the Russians.
    Moreover, Iran has decided to dispatch sizable forces to the Syrian front and is attempting to build terror cells to fight Israel on the Golan Heights.
    In addition, in the past two months Iran has sent suitcases of cash - literally - to Hamas in Gaza.

Islamic Militants Kill 56 Captive Syrian Soldiers - Ben Hubbard (New York Times)
    At least 56 Syrian government soldiers taken prisoner during the takeover of the Abu Duhur airbase in Idlib Province this month were killed in recent days by the Nusra Front, the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday.  

Report: Russian Troops Refusing Deployment to Syria - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    The Russian newspaper on Saturday published interviews with Russian soldiers who refused to deploy to Syria due to their fear of ISIS.

Counting Rock and Firebomb Attacks in Jerusalem - Nadav Shragai (Israel Hayom)
    Israel's security services assess that since the start of 2015, more than 5,000 cases of rock throwing have taken place in Jerusalem.
    The statistic doesn't document the moments of fear and threat, or the trauma caused to the Jewish population in the city's border neighborhoods or in the Old City.
    Fourteen Israelis have been murdered by rock throwers in recent decades.
    In Jerusalem last week, 25 firebombs were thrown at homes in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood, not far from where Alexander Levlovitz was murdered.
    In the first eight months of 2015, nearly 300 firebombs were aimed at Jewish targets in Jerusalem, with 200 between May and August.
    See also Israeli Parents, Baby Survive Ambush by Palestinian Rock-Throwers - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)

Iceland Walks Back Boycott on Israeli Goods - Kellan Howell (Washington Times)
    Reykjavik Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson said Saturday that Iceland's Capital City Council will retract a controversial ban it had passed last Tuesday on Israeli goods.
    Eggertsson says the proposal will be amended to specify to only boycott goods produced in "occupied areas," the Iceland Monitor reported.
    On Thursday, Iceland's Foreign Ministry said the move was "not in line" with the country's foreign policy.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel to Voice Concerns about Russian Deployment in Syria - Joel Greenberg
    Israel joined the U.S. in expressing concerns about Russia's military buildup in Syria ahead of a meeting in Moscow on Monday between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Once we understand exactly what Russia intends to do in the arena and exactly what it plans to move into it, whether infantry or air forces, or others...we'll know what needs to be done," Yossi Cohen, Netanyahu's national security adviser, told Israel Radio on Friday. Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concern that advanced Russian weapons supplied to Syria could end up in the hands of militant groups.
        In a major military escalation, Russia has moved jet fighters to a base in Syria for the first time, U.S. defense officials said on Friday. Israel is worried the positioning of Russian fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles in Syria could lead to inadvertent confrontations with its own missions over Lebanon and Syria. Israeli aircraft have bombed convoys of advanced weapons in Syria including sophisticated Russian-made, surface-to-air missiles thought to have been destined for Hizbullah. Israeli officials have described the advanced antiaircraft systems as "game-changing" because they would challenge Israel's air superiority in the region. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Experts Urge Release of Details of IAEA Inspection at Iran Site - Louis Charbonneau and John Irish
    Several nuclear security experts with long experience in international weapons inspections are urging the UN nuclear watchdog to release details of how the sensitive Parchin military site will be inspected as part of the nuclear deal with Iran. David Albright, head of the Institute for Science and International Security, said details "should be released because it's undermining the IAEA's credibility." "Whatever the outcome of the sampling, the secrecy makes it harder to determine whether it's a credible sampling approach."
        Former IAEA deputy director-general Olli Heinonen said, "This is a very unusual IAEA verification approach, which has no reason to be confidential unless a very special reason - proprietary, economic or security - calls for it."   (Reuters)
        See also Iranian Experts Did Sampling from Parchin Without IAEA Presence
    The spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Behruz Kamalvandi, said Monday that sampling of specific points at the Parchin military site was done by Iranian experts in the absence of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He said the samplings were then handed to the IAEA experts. (IRNA-Iran)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians in Gaza Fire Rockets at Sderot and Ashkelon - Yaakov Lappin
    The Israel Air Force struck three terrorist targets in Gaza on Saturday following rocket attacks on the cities of Sderot and Ashkelon on Friday night. One Palestinian rocket slammed into a residential area of Sderot, exploding and damaging a home and a nearby bus. A few hours later, an IDF Iron Dome anti-rocket battery shot down a Gazan rocket over Ashkelon. The Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade, a Salafist organization affiliated with Islamic State, claimed credit for both attacks. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egypt Floods Smuggling Tunnels into Gaza - Dan Lavie
    Egypt on Friday intensified its fight against the vast network of underground smuggling tunnels connecting Sinai and Gaza, flooding tunnels in the Rafah area with water pumped from the Mediterranean Sea. Tunnel worker Ahid Zanon said, "Without notifying us, they flooded water, and the tunnels started to collapse. The water flooded us. The water pressure started to hit us and throw us out. Some of my relatives started drowning....We make a living from the tunnels and now we won't because of the water."  (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Russia in Syria: Threats and Opportunities for Israel - Ron Ben-Yishai
    At the weekend, 27 Sukhoi fighter jets and other types of military aircraft landed in Syria, flown directly from the south of Russia via Iran and Iraq. The Russian soldiers and weaponry, intended to protect the Assad regime against Islamist rebels, are hampering Israel's freedom of action in Syria and Lebanon. On the other hand, the Russian military presence may also increase stability in the region and prevent a confrontation between Israel and the radical Shiite axis led by Iran. This is precisely why Netanyahu sought a meeting with President Putin: to ensure and even increase the stability north of Israel's border.
        Netanyahu's goal is preventing unwanted encounters between Russian fighter jets and Israeli anti-aircraft missiles and aircraft, or the crossing of Israel's border in the Golan Heights by Russian aircraft in the service of Assad's army. (i24News-Ynet-Hebrew)
  • Escalation in Jerusalem - Kobi Michael and Oded Eran
    More than any other single issue, the Temple Mount embodies the dispute at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel faces a dilemma between its desire to maintain order on the site and prevent violent Palestinian groups from gaining control over it, and concern over the recourse to increased force and the subsequent effect on international relations. The escalation also damages the formal Palestinian leadership, i.e., Fatah and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and plays into the hands of Hamas and the northern faction of the Islamic movement in Israel. Any effort by the PA to lower tensions on the Temple Mount is severely criticized by Hamas.
        Israel should try to refashion the existing situation on the Temple Mount, with a focus on excluding inciters, headed by Hamas and the northern faction of the Islamic Movement, while reinforcing the presence and influence of the Jordanian Waqf on the site. In his upcoming speech to the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Netanyahu should underscore the importance of the Temple Mount in the Jewish ethos. At the same time, he should express willingness to conduct a dialogue with key responsible players in the Muslim world, headed by Jordan's King Abdullah, who have no interest in the escalation that Islamic groups are trying to effect.
        Dr. Kobi Michael, a senior research fellow at INSS, was deputy director general and head of the Palestinian desk at the Israel Ministry for Strategic Affairs. Oded Eran, Israel's former ambassador to Jordan and the EU, is a senior researcher at INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv)
  • Basic Protection - Editorial
    Alexander Levlovitz, 64, was murdered in cold-blood by Arab stone-throwers in Jerusalem last week. Stone-throwers are terrorists in every sense of the word. Hurling rocks at moving vehicles is invariably an extreme act of malice aforethought. There are no pacifist and compassionate stoners. An act of intentional premeditated violence cannot be downplayed as nonviolent.
        The tendency internationally is often to belittle the crime of stone-throwing and regard it as an expression of youthful exuberance, which is how the Arab communities which send out brainwashed youths to target Jewish traffic like to present things. Unthinkably, stoning Jews has become a popular sport which is glorified in Arab society as heroic.
        Attacks on innocent travelers mustn't be belittled merely because the weapon of choice isn't a firearm. Often large rocks are hurled, heavy cement blocks and even outright boulders - and stoning attacks have claimed many lives over the years. (Jerusalem Post)

Conference of Presidents Deplores UN Security Council's "Denial and Denigration" of Jewish Ties to Temple Mount in Jerusalem (Times of Israel)

  • The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Friday lambasted the UN Security Council's statement about violence on the Temple Mount issued Thursday. The compound is the holiest site in Judaism, the site of the biblical temples. Under long-standing regulations introduced by Israel after the 1967 war, Jews are allowed to visit but cannot pray there.
  • Stephen Greenberg, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, CEO of the Conference of Presidents, said it was "unacceptable that the members of the United Nations Security Council continue to lend themselves to the denial and denigration of the Jewish connection to its holiest site as well as the historic associations of Christians to the Temple Mount." They criticized the Security Council for neglecting to mention "that the violence was organized and initiated by Palestinians."
  • "President Abbas' declaration that 'we cannot allow the filthy feet of the Jews to desecrate al-Aqsa,' is outrageous and an invitation to further escalation of the assaults. The Security Council did not find it worthwhile to mention, let alone condemn, these instigations by the head of the Palestinian Authority."
  • "His periodic resorting to bigoted and charged statements, including fraudulent charges on the internet, that al-Aqsa is under siege, arouses passions, not only in Jerusalem but throughout the Arab and Muslim world. Abbas knows full well that this is a baseless charge and can result in injuries and death. Yet he is never held to account by the same people who regularly condemn Israel on any pretext."
  • The COP leaders called on the Security Council "to end its biased approach" and give more accurate accounts of events by "ascribing responsibility to the parties who initiate and exploit violence and hatred for political and extremist ends."

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