Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 19, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Gulf States Want Israel's Iron Dome as a Shield from Iran - Bel Trew (The Times-UK)
    Gulf countries fearful of attack from Iran are in talks to acquire a bigger version of Israel's powerful Iron Dome anti-missile system, with the U.S. playing the middleman, the foreign minister of Bahrain, Khalid bin Muhammad al-Khalifa, has said.

U.S. Military Intensifies Cooperation with Israel - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
    USMC Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, began meetings in Tel Aviv Sunday.
    Dozens of U.S. Air Force personnel have joined the Israel Air Force in a two-week multinational exercise at Israel's Uvda Air Base in the Arava desert.
    At a desert training school, officers from the U.S. Army and four other countries are winding up a one-month course focusing on ground tactics and ethics in urban combat.
    Members of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are enjoying rest and relaxation in the Red Sea resort town of Eilat, where the USS Anchorage is docked.

Shi'ite Militias Reinforce Assad - Jonathan Spyer (Jerusalem Post)
    According to the Kuwaiti Al-Rai newspaper, 2,000 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps have arrived in Latakia, Syria, along with 2,000 Iraqi Shi'a militiamen, 2,000 Afghan Shi'a fighters and 1,000 men from Hizbullah - all to be deployed against the rebels in an upcoming offensive in northwest Syria.

Argentina Issues Arrest Warrants for Two Hizbullah Suspects in 1992 Israeli Embassy Bombing - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    Argentina's Supreme Court issued international arrest warrants for two Hizbullah operatives - Hussein Muhammad Ibrahim Suliman and Jose Selan al-Ridah - for involvement in the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires that killed 29 and wounded 250.
    The warrants were issued after Israel gave Argentina intelligence about the two suspects, leading to their official classification as terrorists.
    Israel's Foreign Ministry said the Argentine decision to issue the warrants was important, even if it's doubtful the suspects will be caught.

Israelis Save Drowning Syrian and Iraqi Refugees - Assaf Kamar (Ynet News)
    A group of Israelis sailing near the Greek shore on Sunday rescued and provided first aid to 11 Syrian and Iraqi refugees, including four children.
    Shlomo Asban, the Israeli yacht captain, said: "We heard cries for help from the water, stopped the boat and found a teenage refugee with a life vest. We pulled him out of the water."
    A few minutes later they spotted other refugees in the water alongside a rubber boat that had sunk.
    "We gave them water and cell phones to talk with their families. After we told them that we were Jews from Israel, they kissed us and thanked us."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Obama Orders U.S. to Prepare to Lift Sanctions on Iran - Pamela Dockins and Ken Schwartz
    President Obama Sunday ordered the U.S. government to start preparing to lift sanctions against Iran on what was called Adoption Day - the day all parties who signed the nuclear deal in July take the first steps towards implementing it. German Foreign Minister Steinmeier predicted the sanctions will remain until Iran proves it is living up to its side of the bargain. "That definitely won't be the case before the end of January," he said Sunday. (VOA News)
        See also Khamenei, Iranian Officials Speak Out Against Approval of Nuclear Deal
    In the past few days, Iranian officials have clarified that Iran's Majlis, Supreme National Security Council, and Guardian Council have not approved the nuclear deal (JCPOA); Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei tweeted and posted on his Facebook page an announcement titled: "Negotiation With America Is Forbidden"; and other Iranian officials have stated that Iran is expecting the U.S. to announce that the sanctions have been terminated, not suspended as the JCPOA stipulates. (MEMRI)
  • Israel Rejects French Call for International Observers on Temple Mount in Jerusalem - Calev Ben-David and Jonathan Ferziger
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a French proposal for placing international observers at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. "Israel cannot accept the French draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council," Netanyahu told the Cabinet on Sunday. "It doesn't mention Palestinian incitement; it doesn't mention Palestinian terrorism; and it calls for the internationalization of the Temple Mount."  (Bloomberg)
        See also Kerry: Foreign Presence Not Needed at Jerusalem Holy Site - Matthew Lee (AP)
  • Israel, U.S. Resume Defense Aid Talks - Phil Stewart and Dan Williams
    Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the U.S., said in a Facebook post on Sunday: "Discussions over a new Memorandum of Understanding between Israel and the United States, which had been on hold for some time, resumed this past week in Washington," referring to a defense-aid agreement. "Israel hopes that the discussions we are now engaged in will culminate in a long-term agreement that will dramatically upgrade Israel's ability to defend itself by itself." Prime Minister Netanyahu is due to meet President Obama at the White House next month. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Terrorist Kills IDF Soldier at Beersheba Bus Station - Almog Ben Zikri
    AnIsraeli soldier, Sgt. Omri Levy, 19, was killed and 11 otherswere wounded at the Central Bus Station in Beersheba on Sunday evening. Thesouthern district chief of police, Deputy CommissionerYoram Levi, said: "One armed terrorist entered the central bus station and shot at a soldier and killed him. He continued his shooting spree, took the soldier's gun and continued shooting" until the terrorist was shot and killed. An Eritrean asylum seeker was shot and killed during the incident after a security guard misidentified him as a terrorist. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Police: Beersheba Terrorist Was Israeli Bedouin - Adiv Sterman (Times of Israel)
  • Five Stabbing Attacks by Palestinians on Saturday - Elisha Ben Kimon
    An IDF soldier was wounded in a stabbing attack in Hebron Saturday evening. The Palestinian attacker was shot and wounded by two other soldiers. A Border Policeman was nearly stabbed at a checkpoint in Qalandia in the West Bank. The attacker was killed. Two more stabbing attacks were foiled in Hebron and another in Jerusalem in the morning, two of them against Border Police forces and one against an Israeli civilian. The attackers were killed in all three incidents. (Ynet News)
  • Joseph's Tomb Arson Demonstrates Fate of Holy Sites in Palestinian Hands
    Responding to the Palestinian attack on Joseph's Tomb on Thursday night, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director-General Dore Gold said: "The Palestinian attack on Joseph's Tomb reminds us of the actions of the most extreme Islamist elements, from Afghanistan to Libya. Israel condemns in the strongest terms the attack, perpetrated just because it is a place in which Jews pray. The Joseph's Tomb arson demonstrates clearly what would happen if the holy sites in Jerusalem were in the hands of the Palestinian leadership. Only Israel can protect the sites holy for all religions in Jerusalem."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also Abbas Condemns Joseph's Tomb Burning - Calls for Immediate Repair (IMRA-Wafa-PA)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Israel to UN: Islamist Militants Use Al-Aqsa Mosque as a Weapons Depot
    Israel's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Amb. David Roet, addressed an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday: "Israel is facing an onslaught of terrorism; men, women and children are being stabbed to death on the streets on a daily basis. Yet for them there has been no demand for an emergency session at the Security Council; no calls for the Palestinian leadership to stop their incitement; and not even a whisper of condemnation of these acts in this hall....Over the course of the last month, 24 terror attacks have claimed the lives of eight Israelis, and injured 70. Fifteen of them are still hospitalized."
        "Israel is firmly committed to the status quo which protects the right of Muslims to pray in the mosque, as well as the freedom of all people, Muslims, Christians, Jews and others, to visit the Temple Mount....In contrast, militant Islamist agitators have used the al-Aqsa Mosque as a staging grounds for a calculated, violent provocation. On the Eve of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, radical Islamists stockpiled rocks, planks, wooden sheets and fireworks, as well as firebombs and explosive devices, to prevent Jews and Christians from visiting the Temple Mount....Islamist militants desecrated al-Aqsa by using it as a weapons depot."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • The Roots of the Stabbing Intifada in Jerusalem - Jeffrey Goldberg
    In September 1928, a group of Jewish residents of Jerusalem placed a bench in front of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount for the comfort of elderly worshipers. Jerusalem's Muslim leaders treated this as a provocation, part of a Jewish conspiracy to take control of the Temple Mount. The spiritual leader of Palestine's Muslims, the mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, incited Arabs in Palestine against their Jewish neighbors by arguing that Islam itself was under threat. By next summer, violence by Arab rioters took the lives of 133 Jews. The current quasi-uprising in which young Palestinians have been trying, and occasionally succeeding, to kill Jews with knives is prompted in good part by the same set of manipulated emotions that sparked the anti-Jewish riots of the 1920s.
        Many of today's Palestinian leaders actively market rumors that the Israeli government is seeking to establish a permanent Jewish presence atop the Temple Mount. The comments of the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas - by general consensus the most moderate leader in the brief history of the Palestinian national movement - have been particularly harsh and his rhetoric has inflamed tensions.
        The actual root cause of the Middle East conflict may be the unwillingness of many Muslim Palestinians to accept the notion that Jews are a people who are indigenous to the land Palestinians believe to be exclusively their own, and that the third-holiest site in Islam is also the holiest site of another religion. (Atlantic)

No Country for Jews? - Daniel Gordis (New York Daily News)

  • We have a young language instructor at Shalem College in Jerusalem. She's a religious Muslim who wears a hijab, lives in an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem and is a graduate student at Hebrew University. She's fun and warm, and a great teacher - the students like her a lot.
  • Last spring, when things in Israel were quiet, some of the students asked her how she thought we would one day settle the conflict. "It's our land," she replied. "You're just here for now." There are many Palestinians who believe that.
  • What upset the students was that she - an educated woman, getting a graduate degree (which would never happen in a Muslim country) at a world class university and working at a college filled with Jews who admire her, like her and treat her as they would any other colleague - still believes that when it's all over, the situation will get resolved by our being tossed out of here once again.
  • This latest round of violence is simply the newest battle in the War of Independence that Israel has been fighting for 68 years now. The basic goal of Israel's enemies remains the destruction of the Jewish state. While for us this is a conflict that can be settled by adjusting borders and guaranteeing security for both sides, for our enemies this is an all-or-nothing battle in which the only end would be for Israel to disappear.
  • When Secretary of State John Kerry said that he would not "point fingers from afar" at who was responsible for the violence, and called the latest attacks part of a "revolving cycle that damages the future for everybody," he convinced Israelis once again that the present American administration has abandoned any ability to distinguish right from wrong, just from unjust, wise from destructive.
  • For our enemies, this is a conflict not about borders but about our very right to be here. We know that, overwhelmingly, the Arab world is still committed to driving us out of this land. So we'll stay, and tough it out - whatever the world thinks of the steps we have to take - for as long as it takes. For as Golda Meir put it decades ago, "Israelis have a secret weapon - we have nowhere else to go."

    The writer is a senior vice president at Shalem College in Jerusalem.

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