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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

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December 14, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Islamic State Can Make Fake Syrian Passports (Reuters)
    A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed on Friday that Islamic State has the ability to create fake Syrian passports.
    CNN reported that Islamic State has access to Syrian government passport printing machines and blank passports.
    Since IS had access to biographical and fingerprint data on Syrian citizens, there was also a possibility of identity theft and that militants could use the documents to travel to the U.S.

IDF Officer Was Detained in UK for War Crimes - Yoav Zitun and Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    An IDF reserve officer who fought in the 2014 Gaza war was detained upon landing in the UK a few weeks ago due to a complaint by a pro-Palestinian organization that he was involved in war crimes.
    The officer, in Britain on a business trip, was released a few hours after being detained, thanks to the intervention of the Israel Foreign Ministry.
    British authorities apologized to Israel following the incident.

Poll: Young Palestinians Support Current Protests, Armed Struggle (AWRAD-PA)
    An online study of Palestinians age 16-35 by Arab World for Research & Development in Ramallah, conducted Dec. 1-7, asked:
    Do you believe that the current protests represent a popular intifada (with wide participation) or are they being carried out by a small number of participants? Popular intifada - 26%; Small number of participants - 70%.
    Do you support or oppose the continuation of the protests as is? Support - 57%; Oppose - 28%.
    Do you support or oppose attacks against Israeli civilians inside the Green Line? Support - 49%; Oppose - 36%.
    Which of the following methods do you personally support to end the occupation? Armed struggle - 53%; International advocacy - 16%; Non-violent protest - 11%; Negotiations - 8%.

How to Beat Islamic State - Maajid Nawaz (Wall Street Journal)
    Islamism, the desire to impose a single version of Islam on an entire society, is not Islam but an offshoot of Islam. It is Muslim theocracy.
    In much the same way, jihad is a traditional Muslim idea connoting struggle. Jihadism, however, is something else entirely: It is the doctrine of using force to spread Islamism.
    The writer is the founding chairman of Quilliam, a London-based counterextremism organization, and the author of Radical: My Journey Out of Islamist Extremism.

Texas A&M to Open $6M Research Center in Israel - David Warren (AP-Houston Chronicle)
    Texas A&M University is launching a $6 million marine research center in February in collaboration with the University of Haifa.
    A&M System Chancellor John Sharp said large natural gas deposits have been discovered in the eastern Mediterranean and part of the appeal for the research center in Haifa was tapping into the "oil and gas segment in Israel."
    Work at the center will include monitoring ocean flow to help mitigate risks associated with offshore exploration.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Russia Digging In for Long Haul in Syria - Matthew Bodner
    Russia is gradually surging its force strength in Syria. When Russia began air operations in Syria on Sept. 30, the contingent deployed to a Syrian air base in Latakia featured 30 fixed-wing aircraft and 20 helicopters. But "things on the ground are not going well - Assad's army is tired, the Iranians are not very skilled and the rebels they are fighting are quite experienced," said Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow. After six weeks, Russia doubled the size of its air group, bombing targets in Syria with 25 long-range bombers from an air base in southern Russia.
        The size of Russia's naval force off the coast of Syria has also doubled to include 10 ships, including the Moskva guided missile cruiser, outfitted with air defense systems that also cover most of Syria, and ships carrying Kalibr cruise missiles. Up to 5,000 Russian personnel are now reported to be in Syria. (Defense News)
        See also The Costs of Russia's Air Expeditionary Campaign - Lt.-Col. John R. Barnett (USAF) (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Report: Iran Withdrawing Troops from Syria - Eli Lake
    Iran is beginning to withdraw its Revolutionary Guard troops from Syria following heavy losses in a recent offensive, according to U.S. military officials. The infusion of Iranian forces into Syria over the summer was supposed to change the tide of the Syrian war that Assad was losing. One senior Western defense official said there were only 700 Iranian Revolutionary Guard members now fighting in the Russian-led offensive. (Bloomberg)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Argentine Decision to Scrap Accord with Iran "Very Welcome" - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Argentina's new president Mauricio Macri Sunday for essentially cancelling an agreement with Iran that would potentially relieve it of responsibility for the deadly bombing against the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1994. Macri decided not to appeal a court ruling against the agreement with Iran, something his predecessor Christina Fernandez intended to do. "This is a welcome change of direction, and I hope that we will see a significant improvement in Israeli-Argentine ties, as well as an improvement in ties with other South American countries in the coming years," Netanyahu told the Cabinet on Sunday.
        During a visit to Israel last year, Macri - in a meeting with Netanyahu - said he would like to see a "strategic alliance" between the two countries. Macri named a Conservative rabbi, Sergio Bergman, as the country's environment minister. Bergman founded Active Memory, a group that demonstrated every Monday for a decade seeking justice for the victims of the AMIA bombing. (Jerusalem Post)
  • 300 Israeli Security Guards to Protect Jerusalem Public Transport Stations - Sharon Udasin
    Israel's Transportation Ministry launched a civilian security unit on Sunday that will be stationed along public transportation routes around Jerusalem. In its first phase, the 300-person unit includes security guards, former combat soldiers and dozens of special security vehicles which will operate along traffic arteries. The guards have been authorized by the Israel Police to conduct body and luggage searches as well as detain suspicious parties.
        The unit, established with the approval of the Security Cabinet, will also conduct undercover operations. Members of the unit have passed rigorous screening and have undergone specialized professional training in shooting, hand-to-hand combat, identifying suspects and first aid. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Redeploys on Gaza Border - Yaakov Lappin
    Southern Israel is experiencing the calmest period in 15 years along its border with northern Gaza, as Hamas continues to recover from the damage it sustained in the summer of 2014. Yet the quiet is deceptive, as preparations for future hostilities are being made on both sides of the border. Hamas has resumed construction of a network of attack tunnels aimed at getting terrorists into Israel, and it has resumed rocket production, relying on Iranian funding and know-how.
        On the Israeli side, the IDF's Northern Gaza Brigade has activated a new deployment pattern, based on territorial defense, rather than border patrols. The goal is to respond rapidly to any surprise attack from Gaza, and prevent Hamas cells from infiltrating Israeli communities to kill or kidnap.
        The army has redeployed its infantry, armored, artillery, and intelligence units for better control of the area, and has begun operating tunnel detection systems. Spread throughout the area, but hidden from view, are IDF tanks and artillery that can instantly deploy heavy fire. The electronic sensor border fence will soon be joined by a tall physical fence, which will resemble the barrier constructed on the border with Egypt. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Reform Movement Raps Arab MK's Snub of U.S. Jewish Leaders
    Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, has expressed "deep disappointment" in the refusal of Arab-Israeli lawmaker Ayman Odeh, who heads the Arab Joint List, to enter the offices of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations because it was taking place in space shared by the Jewish Agency. The Reform leader said he was "pleased and proud" that the Conference of Presidents decided to invite Odeh to the meeting, and was "profoundly disappointed by MK Ayman Odeh's decision to walk away from that important opportunity for him, for the cause of equality in Israel, and for the Conference of Presidents."  (JTA)
        See also Jewish Agency Programs Also Serve Arab Israelis - Natan Sharansky
    In response to recent statements by a member of the Knesset against the Jewish Agency for Israel, Chairman of the Executive Natan Sharansky said: "Along with our core mission of ingathering the exiles of the Jewish people via aliya, the Jewish Agency is proud to serve all the citizens of Israel, regardless of religion or ethnicity, which we view as an integral part of our Zionist vision."
        "Thousands of Arab Israeli families enjoy a range of Jewish Agency programs, including our Youth Futures mentorship program, which has placed a particular emphasis on schoolchildren in Israel's Arab community; Masa Israel Journey and Project TEN, which run programs focused on Arab-Jewish coexistence and on serving underprivileged Arab citizens of Israel; and an innovative Jewish Agency high school opened just this year for Bedouin youth in the Negev. Thousands of Arab Israelis have already found their way to the Jewish Agency's programs and to the dedicated professionals and volunteers who run them."  (Jewish Agency for Israel-IMRA)
  • Connecting the Terror in Paris with the Terror Against Israel - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser
    The struggle that the ultra-radical Islamists are waging against the West and its allies, and the Palestinian struggle against Israel, complement each other. Their common goal is to destroy the world order that the West created after the First World War, which included the adoption of the Balfour Declaration as part of the British Mandate. This world order was reinforced after the Second World War by the decision to establish a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, whose implementation in the face of Muslim opposition is still rejected by the Palestinians and by radical Islam in all its variants. Thus, the terror against Israel and the terror against the West are two sides of the same coin from an ideological standpoint.
        What disturbs the Palestinians is that as radical Islam's direct warfare against the West expands, they lose a key asset for promoting their goals. As is becoming increasingly clear, the Palestinian issue is not the heart of the problem. Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, formerly director general of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs, is director of the project on the Regional Implications of the Syrian Civil War at the Jerusalem Center. (Ha'aretz-Hebrew-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

International Defense Experts Back IDF's 2014 Gaza Campaign - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)

  • Armies of the world would be rendered far less effective if they were forced to operate under the same restrictions as the IDF during Israel's 2014 Gaza campaign, a group of former military and defense leaders from nine countries said in a new report released Friday.
  • The High Level Military Group (HLMG) - made up of retired generals and defense officials from Germany, Colombia, India, Spain, Australia, the U.S., France, the UK and Italy - found that Israel not only abided by the laws of armed conflict, but far surpassed their requirements.
  • The report found that the UN accepted Hamas' figures for combatant vs. civilian casualties, while the HLMG found Hamas' numbers to be rife with inconsistencies, such as the "inclusion of duplicate names, incorrect ages, combat-related deaths caused by Hamas or its affiliate organizations, such as in the case of misfired rockets, and deaths not related to the hostilities but classified as such."
  • Col. Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said that commissions investigating the conflict should have looked to see that everything feasibly was done to avoid the deaths of non-combatants, and that the standard of zero civilian deaths is an impossible one.
  • The HLMG laid the blame for the vast majority of civilian casualties at the feet of Hamas, which instituted a deliberate policy to cause as many Palestinian civilian deaths as possible in order to wage a PR war against Israel. The report noted that Israel tried multiple times to end the conflict through diplomatic means, only to be rebuffed by Hamas at every turn.

        See also Text: An Assessment of the 2014 Gaza Conflict - High Level Military Group (Friends of Israel Initiative)

        See also The Gaza War 2014: The War Israel Did Not Want and the Disaster It Averted - Hirsh Goodman and Dore Gold, eds. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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