Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at
Daily Alert Mobile
Search Back Issues
December 4, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Kremlin Confirms Russia Started Supplying S-300 Missile Systems to Iran (TAAS-Russia)
    Russia has begun the supply of S-300 air defense systems to Iran, Russian presidential aide for military-technical cooperation Vladimir Kozhin has told TASS.
    "The contract is in action. They've begun," Kozhin said. Iran will get the S-300PMU-2 configuration.

Israel's Air Superiority Clouded by New Russian Missiles in Syria - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    The Israel Air Force's unquestioned supremacy has kept neighboring air forces almost entirely out of Israeli airspace in the country's wars, but with the recent deployment of the Russian S-400 missile defense system in Syria, that absolute primacy is now in question.
    The S-400 anti-aircraft system can track and shoot down targets 400 km. away, a range that encompasses half of Israel including Ben-Gurion Airport.
    Nonetheless, the people with their finger on the trigger are not enemies, said Yiftah Shapir, a military technology research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
    In the years following the 1973 war, when Soviet surface-to-air missiles had neutralized IAF attacks, Israel invested heavily in developing weaponry to counteract those anti-aircraft batteries.
    For years, Israel has been preparing for the deployment of the S-300 in enemy territory. The S-400 system is simply a more advanced form of the S-300.
    "From my understanding of our capabilities, if we wanted to operate in the area protected by the S-400, we could do it. It wouldn't be easy, but possible," said Shapir, who served as a lieutenant colonel in the IAF.

Assad Still Controls Most of Syria's Population - Fabrice Balanche (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    Mainstream media report that the Syrian army controls less than 17% of the country, and IS over 50%.
    Yet the Assad regime controls the largest share of Syria's residential areas: 10.1 million people live in the government zone (63%).
    The areas controlled by the Kurds, IS, and other rebels have about 2 million each.
    The large-scale population movements have not been a simple byproduct of war. Rather, they represent conscious strategies of ethnic cleansing by each faction.
    Despite the departure of disproportionately Christian and Sunni Arab refugees, Syria's current population is 61% Sunni.
    The writer is an associate professor and research director at the University of Lyon 2.

Syrians Linked to Islamic State in Thailand "to Attack Russian Interests" - Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Panarat Thepgumpanat (Reuters)
    Ten Syrians linked to Islamic State entered Thailand in October to attack Russian interests, Thai police said citing information from the Russian Federal Security Service.

Follow the Jerusalem Center on:

Internal Palestinian Feuds Keep Key Gaza Crossings Closed Indefinitely - Saud Abu Ramadan (Xinhua-China)
    Feuds between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Islamic Hamas movement on who will be in charge of operating the Rafah crossing point on the Gaza-Egypt border has kept the key crossing point indefinitely closed.
    Azzam el-Ahmed, an aide to Abbas, announced last week that the Palestinians are holding intensive contacts with the Egyptians on a new mechanism for operating the crossing to ease life in Gaza.
    However, leaders of Hamas, which rules Gaza, announced that they oppose any new mechanism to operate the crossing without having Hamas involved.

Reuters Corrects Role Reversing Headline (CAMERA)
    A recent Reuters headline, "Palestinian Dies in Ramming Attack," turns the perpetrator of the "ramming" attack into the victim. Following written complaints, it was changed to, "Palestinian rams car into Israeli soldiers, is shot dead."
    See also Guardian Headline on Knifing of Israeli Leads with Death of Palestinian Terrorist - Adam Levick (UK Media Watch)

Palestinian Labor Union Warns of Unemployment after PA Call to Quit Jobs in West Bank - Nasouh Nazzal (Gulf News-Dubai)
    The Palestinian Labor Ministry has urged Palestinian workers in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem to quit their jobs.
    However, an official of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, Workers and Laborers said this "is not feasible because the PA cannot offer alternatives."
    "It is not an easy task to persuade or instruct tens of thousands of workers to quit their well-paid jobs and end up unemployed."

Video: American Paratroopers Train with IDF Special Forces in Israel - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    A large-scale training exercise was held in Israel this week with 173 American paratroopers and hundreds of fighters from the IDF's elite Egoz guerilla warfare unit.

Israel Boycott Motion Defeated at Lancaster University (Jewish News-UK)
    A referendum to boycott Israel has been defeated at the University of Lancaster with 752 votes for, 545 against and 787 abstaining.
    Russell Langer, Campaigns Director at the Union of Jewish Students, said, "the high number of abstentions show that students do not feel that their students' union should be taking this divisive and ineffective stance on the conflict."

Israel Bans European School Trips over Security Fears - Anshel Pfeffer (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    The Israel Education Ministry this week banned most school trips to Europe over fears of further operations by Islamic State.
    A directive specifically warned against visits to large cities such as Paris and Berlin, but does not include Israeli school delegations to Poland, where tens of thousands of young Israelis annually visit Holocaust sites, because there is an extensive security set-up there protecting the groups.
    El Al Israel Airlines has changed its security regulations for air crew staying overnight in European destinations, directing them not to move around in uniform and not to stay overnight in Brussels.

Search the Recent History of Israel and the Middle East
    Explore all back issues of Daily Alert - since May 2002.

Send the Daily Alert to a Friend
    If you are viewing the email version of the Daily Alert - and want to share it with friends - please click Forward in your email program and enter their address.

RSS Feed 
Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Archives Portal 
Fair Use/Privacy 

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Feds Probe Possible Terrorism Links in San Bernardino Massacre - Jack Dolan
    Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the heavily armed couple who unleashed volleys of gunfire on a holiday party in San Bernardino on Wednesday which left 14 dead and 21 injured, had amassed an armory of weapons and explosives in their Redlands home, including a dozen pipe bombs and thousands of rounds of ammunition, officials said Thursday. The arsenal suggested that the shootings were far more than a spontaneous response to a workplace dispute.
        A senior federal government official said Farook was in contact with a number of suspected extremists and had communicated with at least one person who is currently being monitored as a potential terror suspect. The source said the link suggests there may be a "deeper terror matrix."  (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Netanyahu: "The People of Israel Stand with the American People" in Mourning San Bernardino Victims (Times of Israel)
  • Germany Rejects EU's Labeling of Israeli Settlement Products, Says Bundestag President - Maureen Shamee
    Germany rejects the recent decision of the EU to label Israeli products made beyond the Green Line, said Norbert Lammert, president of the Bundestag, the German parliament. "Germany not only didn't agree to the decision, it rejected it," he told a joint press conference with visiting Israeli Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. He said he understood "Israel's anger" over the fact that the EU did not label products from other disputed territories in the world like Tibet, Crimea, or the Western Sahara. "Because it's specifically against Israel, I repeat that it is unnecessary and not very smart."
        Edelstein said the BDS movement acts under the pretense of humanitarian concern but is really motivated by "blind hatred" for Israel. He added that Palestinian workers would be the first to feel the brunt of measures like labeling settlement products. "Ironically, the boycott will actually bring about more damage to Palestinians," he said. (European Jewish Press)
  • U.S. Eliminates a Mid- to High-Level ISIS Figure Every 2 Days, Official Says - Karen DeYoung
    The U.S. has been eliminating a mid- to high-level Islamic State figure every two days, on average, contributing to President Obama's decision to send a new Special Operations force to Iraq to intensify efforts to locate and kill militant leaders there and in Syria, a senior administration official said Thursday. The template for new U.S. ground operations, officials have said, was the raid inside Syria in May in which Abu Sayyaf, a key Islamic State commander, was killed and voluminous intelligence was seized on the militant group's economic structure. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Islamic State's Sinai Commander Visits Gaza to Coordinate with Hamas
    The commander of Islamic State forces in Sinai, Shadi al-Menei, is currently on a secret visit to Gaza, meeting with Hamas leaders to widen cooperation and coordinate attacks on Egyptian and Israeli targets, Israel Channel 2 TV reported Thursday. Hamas has smuggled weaponry from Gaza to Sinai, including Cornet anti-tank missiles, which have caused heavy losses to Egypt.
        Al-Menei is responsible for occasional rocket fire from Sinai at the Israeli southern resort town of Eilat. He was also behind a 2011 terrorist attack in southern Israel which targeted a bus and several Israeli army vehicles, killing six Israeli civilians, two Israeli soldiers and several Egyptian soldiers. The close interaction between Hamas and IS in Sinai is "one of the most carefully guarded secrets of the Hamas military wing in recent months," the Times of Israel's Avi Issacharoff reported in July. (Times of Israel)
  • In Washington, Ya'alon Says Iran Still the Focus of Israel's Concerns - Michael Wilner
    In Washington, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Wednesday, "We are very worried about Iran's presence in Syria. Iran's Quds Force is currently the only source actively working in Syria to attack us, trying to smuggle weapons and run messengers....The Iranian regime is perceived as one of the key sources of stability for the Middle East, but we would argue that it is the heart of the problem. This regime generates terrorism and undermines many of the regimes in the Middle East, and this is not good news for the region, not only Israel. The Iranian terror network is active across the world, including the U.S."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Police Officer Stabbed in Jerusalem Thursday - Adiv Sterman
    An Israeli police officer was stabbed outside the Old City of Jerusalem on Thursday by a Palestinian from Tulkarem in the West Bank. The assailant was shot dead after he approached a police car and stabbed the officer. (Times of Israel)
        See also West Bank Shooter Identified as PA Intelligence Officer - Tamar Pileggi
    Palestinian security sources have identified the man who carried out a shooting attack at a checkpoint north of Jerusalem Thursday morning as Mazen Aribe, 37, a member of the Palestinian Authority security forces. Aribe was shot dead by Israeli soldiers after he opened fire at the Hizme checkpoint, the IDF said. (Times of Israel)
        See also Israeli Soldier Stabbed in Hebron Thursday - Gili Cohen
    An Israeli soldier was stabbed at a military post near Tel Rumeida in the West Bank city of Hebron late on Thursday. Two Palestinian assailants were shot dead. (Ha'aretz)
  • Netanyahu: There Will Be Peace "Eventually" - Raphael Ahren
    Israelis and Palestinians will "eventually" make peace, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday. "Eventually there will be, I believe, a Palestinian leadership that will emerge and will embrace a genuine peace," he told a group of young German leaders visiting Israel. "Not a false peace. Not a tactical peace, but a genuine peace." He blamed Palestinian refusal to recognize a Jewish state "in any boundaries" for the ongoing conflict. "We want to know that we have a partner that accepts our right to exist," he said.
        Until that moment, Israelis will continue building their state, he said, "and forge those links with those Arab states who want to see the defeat of medievalism and the triumph of modernity." The current wave of Islamic terrorism terrorizing Western liberal democracies is not a clash of civilizations, but a "clash against civilization," Netanyahu said.
        He dismissed the notion of Israel as a colonial intruder. "We're not Belgians in the Congo. Nor are we the French in Algeria or for that matter the Spaniards in Mexico. We've been around here a long time. And we recognize that there is another people here, even though they came thousands of years later. They still live here and we have to coexist."  (Times of Israel)
  • Egypt, Israel Negotiate on QIZ Trade Issues
    Egypt's Trade Ministry is negotiating with Israel to not permanently remove 68 Egyptian companies that were suspended for forging invoices documenting inputs made in Israel as required by the Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZ) agreement, an official source said Thursday. QIZ products have duty-free status with the U.S. as long as they contain Israeli components. The companies in question have agreed to purchase Israeli inputs. The source noted that there are 150 garment factories in Egypt that benefit from the QIZ, and Egypt is planning to enroll 18 food industry companies. (Cairo Post-Egypt)
  • Israel to Expand Number of Jordanian Day Workers at Eilat Hotels - Ariel Ben Solomon
    There are currently 150 Jordanian workers working at hotels in Eilat and by the end of the month there will be 500. The target is to eventually reach 1,500 Jordanian workers in Eilat. The Jordanian workers stay in Israel for eight hours and return home at the end of each day. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Leaving Iran's Nuclear Past a Mystery - David E. Sanger
    The Iranian nuclear crisis began a decade ago when Tehran's leaders refused to answer questions from international inspectors about evidence that a secret team of scientists, working in military and university laboratories, was experimenting with the technology to build a nuclear weapon.
        Ten years later, as the final report of the International Atomic Energy Agency on the "possible military dimensions" of the Iranian nuclear program made clear on Wednesday, Iran's rulers are unwilling to give much more insight into evidence of their nuclear experimentation than they were before the nuclear deal this summer. And for now at least, the Obama administration sees little need to force Tehran to provide answers to questions that, like the Bush administration before it, it once insisted could not remain unaddressed.
        The decision to essentially close the file raises questions over whether the world's nuclear watchdog has lost its ability to strike fear into nations secretly pursuing the bomb. If Iran could avoid fully answering many of the questions about 12 different technologies it was pursuing, will it be emboldened to stiff-arm inspectors as they seek to enforce the nuclear deal? "We have no way to force states to come clean, and never have," said one senior agency official. (New York Times)

  • Palestinians

  • Does the World Need a Weak or Failing Palestinian State? - Aaron David Miller
    Henry Kissinger recently asked an intriguing and politically incorrect question: With the state structure weakened in several Arab states and having collapsed in others, with Iran and Islamic State rising, and amid general instability in the Arab world, why create another potentially weak, dysfunctional Arab state in Palestine?
        The region will be unstable for years to come, thanks to widespread dysfunction and/or plain bad governance, lack of respect for human rights, systemic corruption, and the absence representative institutions. And there is little in the history of the Palestinian national movement or the Palestinian Authority's governance style to suggest anything but disruptive politics, much less a smooth transition to functional statehood. The writer is a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Israel, the Designated Villain, Never Gets an Even Break - Editorial
    The outbreak of knife attacks this fall, often against Israeli civilians, was clearly terrorism by the Palestinians. Presenting these episodes by identifying the Palestinian dead as victims - as is done often in the international media - distorts reality. The attack on Pearl Harbor might have been headlined: "Americans slay two Jap pilots taking Sunday-morning flight over Pearl Harbor."
        "You'd be hard pressed to find an example of terror in the world - outside of Israel - where mainstream media outlets prioritize the fate of the perpetrators over that of their victims," concludes UK Media Watch. (Washington Times)

  • Other Issues

  • Israel: West Bank Settlements Are Legal
    The construction and establishment of Jewish settlements in the West Bank is legal under both Israeli and international law, as well as justified on historical and ethical grounds, according to a new document by Israel's Foreign Ministry. It states that Israel has "valid property claims" to West Bank territory, as "Jewish affinity" with the region and in cities such as Hebron is thousands of years old.
        "These are not new communities, and not 'colonization.'" "Never at any point of time in history were Jerusalem or the West Bank under Palestinian Arab sovereignty." Moreover, Jewish communities beyond the Green Line "were established in a judicial proceeding under the supervision of [Israel's] Supreme Court."
        However, Israel "recognizes that the Palestinians also have claims in the area," and that for that reason, "the two parties expressed an explicit agreement to settle all outstanding disputes, including the future of the settlements, within the framework of direct bilateral negotiations."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Israeli Settlements and International Law
    Jewish communities in ancient Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) have existed from time immemorial and express the deep connection of the Jewish people to land which is the cradle of their civilization. Moreover, bilateral Israeli-Palestinian agreements do not prohibit settlement activity.
        The prohibition against the forcible transfer of civilians to territory of an occupied state under the Fourth Geneva Convention was not intended to relate to the circumstances of voluntary Jewish settlement in the West Bank on legitimately acquired land which did not belong to a previous lawful sovereign and which was designated as part of the Jewish state under the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Arab Upward Mobility in Israeli Society - Ariel Ben Solomon
    Israeli-Arab MK Esawi Frej (Meretz) told the Ambassadors' Forum at Bar-Ilan University on Thursday that the fact that "we are part of the Palestinian nation" is compatible with playing "an active part in the Israeli state." It can be just like in any European country, he said, where a minority is integrated into the state.
        Prof. Hillel Frisch of Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies said that despite all of the complaints by the Arab community, it has "opted to work within the system rather than without it." Frisch asserted that a participatory Arab minority is good for everyone.
        After the conference, Frisch noted that Frej himself, the son of a laborer, is a brilliant example of Arab upward mobility in Israel, who became an accountant after studying at Hebrew University. "His personal life reflects a degree of social mobility few European states could match," said Frisch.
        One of the main obstacles to increasing Arab family income, argued Frisch, is due to cultural attitudes. Whereas 56% of Jewish women work, only 18% of Arab women do so. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Islamic State's Crusade Against Music - Steven Stalinsky
    Following the Nov. 13 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, the Islamic State (ISIS) released a statement claiming responsibility, and warned that it was only the "first rain." ISIS wrote that the Bataclan concert hall had been packed with hundreds of "polytheists" at a party of "debauchery." Thanks to Allah, it said, the simultaneous attacks had killed more than "200 Crusaders."
        Since ISIS came to power, it has targeted areas in its control in Iraq, Syria, and Libya where music was played, publicly flogging musicians and burning their instruments. It has posted signs warning that music is haram (forbidden in Islam) and outlining the crimes involved in listening to and performing music, or even owning musical instruments. On Jan. 21, 2014, Al-Hayat reported that ISIS had issued a statement banning music and songs in cars, at parties, in shops, and in public in Syria's Raqqa province. The writer is Executive Director of MEMRI. (MEMRI)
  • How to Stop Mass Casualty Terror Attacks: Take Violence Against Jews Seriously - Liel Leibovitz
    Some are willing to accept the indiscriminate slaughtering of Jews as somehow understandable, the consequence of some ancient blood feud having to do with a land and a faith far removed from the daily realities of most Westerners. To that crowd, the murder of a Jew is deplorable but rarely surprising; real shock is expressed only when the very same terrorists who have orchestrated the killing of Jews turn their guns on other Belgians or Parisians or New Yorkers.
        To those in government, in the media, in academia who endanger the well-being of us all by failing to seriously investigate and prosecute attacks on Jews because these can somehow be explained away by some imaginary rationale, understand this: The very same people who are coming for the Jews will soon come for you, too. (Tablet)
  • How Jihadists Link Paris and Jerusalem - Dan Diker
    Palestinian jihadists say that Western observers have misunderstood radical Islamic Palestinian terrorism. Westerners condemn Palestinian terrorism conditionally. They rationalize deadly assaults by superimposing Western "root causes" invariably linking Palestinian terrorism to accusations of Israeli "occupation" and settlement building.
        Western leaders, policy-makers, and media pundits should listen carefully to radical Islamic jihadists' declared motivations to murder, whether in Paris, Brussels, Bamako (Mali) or Jerusalem. Jihadists share the same end: the elimination of non-Muslim sovereign states and the establishment of an Islamic caliphate anywhere Islam has ever ruled and eventually over the entire world. The writer is a Fellow and Director of the Political Warfare Project at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • In Israel, Most Muslims Want Peaceful Coexistence with their Jewish Neighbors - David Keene
    Israel's 8.4 million inhabitants include 1.8 million Muslims, most of whom are Israeli citizens. In most ways they know they are better off in Israel than if they were under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Family income in Israel averages around $35,000 a year for both Jewish and non-Jewish residents, while Muslims in Ramallah earn $13,000 a year and those in Gaza subsist on $3,000 a year. While living just about as well as their Jewish neighbors, they are exempt from the mandatory military service required of Jewish men and women.
        Many sympathize with their Palestinian brothers and there are a few small pockets of active support for the Palestinian cause, but that rarely translates into action against Israel itself. (Washington Times)

  • Weekend Features

  • Late WWII Veteran Honored for Saving Jewish-American Soldiers from Nazis - Aron Heller
    On Jan. 27, 1945, at the Stalag IXA POW camp near Ziegenhain, Germany, the Nazi soldiers ordered that Jewish American prisoners of war captured in the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944 be separated from their fellow brothers-in-arms. But Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds, the highest-ranking noncommissioned officer held in the German POW camp, ordered more than 1,000 American captives to step forward with him and said: "We are all Jews here."
        He would not waver, even with a pistol to his head, and his captors eventually backed down. "My dad said: 'If you are going to shoot, you are going to have to shoot all of us because we know who you are and you'll be tried for war crimes when we win this war,'" recalled Chris Edmonds, who estimates his father's actions saved the lives of more than 200 Jewish-American soldiers.
        70 years later, the Tennessee native is being posthumously recognized with Israel's highest honor for non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during World War II, the first American serviceman to earn the "Righteous Among the Nations" honor. "Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds...had an extraordinary sense of responsibility and dedication to his fellow human beings," said Avner Shalev, chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and memorial. (AP-U.S. News)
  • With Israeli Tech, Paralyzed IDF Vet Walks Down the Aisle
    Dudu Shevy, 32, a disabled IDF veteran paralyzed in a car accident 12 years ago during his army service, has been wheelchair-bound ever since. After seeing the Rewalk Robotics exoskeleton system on TV, Shevy turned to the Israeli developer to ask to loan the equipment (it costs NIS 250,000). ReWalk developer Amit Goffer, who is paralyzed himself, agreed. After three months of secret training, sponsored by the Defense Ministry, Shevy shocked his family by walking down the aisle to his bride on his wedding day. (Times of Israel)

The Confrontation between Turkey and Russia: Lessons for Israel - Amos Yadlin (Institute for National Security Studies)

  • Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin represent aggressive and ambitious leaders driven by the desire to transform their respective countries into the powers they once were. Indeed, the two heads of state have been referred to as "sultan" and "czar," implying the figure that each seeks to become.
  • Turkey and Russia do not see eye-to-eye regarding the crisis in Syria or the preferable solution. Whereas Turkey has adopted the ultimate goal of Assad's removal from power, Russia regards Assad's ongoing rule as a necessary condition for the preservation of its own strategic interests in the Middle East.
  • The conflicting interests of Russia and Turkey in Syria, along with Turkey's staunch opposition to Russian military intervention in Syria, have placed the two countries on a collision course. Their confrontation reduces the possibility of concluding the ongoing crisis in Syria and successfully contending with the Islamic State.
  • For Israel, the Turkish interception of the Russian plane highlights the minimal room for error. The radar images released indicate that the Russian aircraft did indeed enter Turkish airspace, but that its penetration was negligible (lasting only 10-15 seconds) and clearly reflected no hostile intent toward Turkey.
  • Israel and Russia enjoy positive, well-established, stable relations, while Israel's relationship with Turkey under Erdogan is unstable and, since 2009, has been characterized by ongoing hostility that will be difficult to allay as long as Erdogan remains a dominant force in Turkish decision-making.
  • Yet siding with Turkey, which opposes the radical axis in Syria, would better serve Israel's strategic logic and fundamental interests. Russian operations in Syria provide a seal of approval to Israel's most dangerous enemies - Iran, Hizbullah, and the Assad regime.

    Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, chief of Israeli military intelligence from 2006 to 2010, is director of INSS.
Support Daily Alert
Daily Alert is the work of a team of expert analysts who find the most important and timely articles from around the world on Israel, the Middle East and U.S. policy. No wonder it is read by heads of government, leading journalists, and thousands of people who want to stay on top of the news. To continue to provide this service, Daily Alert requires your support. Please take a moment to click here and make your contribution through the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Unsubscribe from Daily Alert.