Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
December 24, 2015


In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Congresswoman: Jerusalem's Archaeological Discoveries Prove Historic Jewish Ties - Daniel K. Eisenbud (Jerusalem Post)
    Challenges to the inexorable connection of Jews to Jerusalem have been unequivocally disproved by archeological discoveries, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Middle East & North Africa, said last Friday.
    "For quite some time, there has been an effort at the United Nations to delegitimize the Jewish State of Israel, and to try to whitewash the Jewish peoples' historical and Biblical connection to Israel."
    "Denying the historic connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem is false. Amazing archeological discoveries are frequently made that prove the roots of the Jewish people are in Israel."
    These prove that "not only is Israel the religious center for Jews, it is their ancestral and historic homeland."
    See also Ancient Inscription Points to Jewish Past for Sea of Galilee Site - Ilan Ben Zion (Times of Israel)
    A team headed by Haifa University archaeologist Haim Cohen recently unearthed a monumental Hebrew inscription at Kursi, on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee on the Golan Heights, providing conclusive evidence that the Roman- and Byzantine-era town mentioned in the New Testament and Talmud was Jewish.
    Digs this month yielded a large slab of imported Greek marble on which seven lines of Hebrew and Aramaic text were carved.
    Haggai Misgav, a Hebrew University expert in ancient inscriptions who studied the slab on site, said the text was a standard dedicatory text from a synagogue that likely dates to around the 4th or 5th centuries CE, with script highly reminiscent of an inscription found at the base of Jerusalem's Temple Mount.




Israel Reports Record Immigration of Jews from France in 2015 (Reuters)
    Some 7,900 French Jews relocated to Israel in 2015, a 10% increase from the previous year, the Jewish Agency for Israel reported Thursday.
    Agency spokesman Yigal Palmor said wider Jewish immigration to Israel reached a 15-year high in 2015, with around 30,000 new arrivals, including a high number from Russia and Ukraine as well.




Spreading Iran's Revolution to Africa - Philip Obaji Jr. (Daily Beast)
    Nigerian authorities claim that members of the radical Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) had attempted to assassinate the Nigerian Army Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, on Dec. 12 when his motorcade was passing through a Shia procession.
    The threat in this case was not from the radical Sunni Boko Haram but from converts to Shia Islam inspired by the Iranian Revolution.
    The leader of the IMN, Ibrahim Zakzaky, is an Iranian-trained Shia theologian who is vehemently anti-American. In the last two decades, Iran has increased its influence in Nigeria and maintains a large diplomatic presence.
    Adel Assadinia, a former career diplomat who was Iran's consul-general in Dubai, hasclaimedthat Iran provides the IMN with training "in guerrilla warfare, bomb-making, use of arms such as handguns, rifles and RPGs, and the manufacturing of bombs and hand grenades."
    Assadinia also claimed that the IMN was set up by and modeled on Hizbullah.



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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Plunging Oil Prices Dampen Iranian Leaders' Hopes of a Financial Windfall - Steven Mufson
    Plunging crude oil prices are dampening Iranian leaders' hopes of a financial windfall when sanctions linked to its nuclear program are lifted next year. Iran is expected to export an additional half-million barrels a day of oil by the middle of 2016. But at current prices, Iran's income from those sales will still fall short of revenue earned from constrained oil exports a year ago. Moreover, low prices are making it difficult for Iran to persuade international oil companies to develop Iran's long-neglected oil and gas fields.
        "Should Iran come out of sanctions, they will face a very different market than the one they had left in 2012," said Amos Hochstein, the State Department's special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs. "They were forced to recede in a world of over $100 oil, and sanctions will be lifted at $36 oil. They will have to work harder to convince companies to come in and take the risk for supporting their energy infrastructure and their energy production."  (Washington Post)
        See also Sanctions Relief Is Not the Key to Iran's Economy - Patrick Clawson
    A Dec. 21 International Monetary Fund (IMF) report documents the many challenges facing Iran's economy even if sanctions relief arrives soon. The IMF forecasts that in 2015/16, Iran's GDP will remain largely unchanged, while consumer prices and unemployment will increase
        Former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's administration was rightly savaged for its mismanagement, yet the Rouhani team does not appear to be running a tighter ship. The Iranians' problems in the economic sphere are overwhelmingly their own doing, not a result of any actions the West does or does not take. The writer is director of research at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Syria Activists Accuse Damascus Government of New Chemical Attack
    At least five people have been killed in a suspected chemical weapons attack outside the Syrian capital, Damascus, opposition activists say. The victims reportedly suffocated to death after government rockets and barrel bombs struck the rebel-held suburb of Muadhamiya on Tuesday. Videos of the aftermath of the attack show several bodies with no visible external injuries, while most of the injured reported suffering breathing difficulties. (BBC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Two Israelis Die in Palestinian Stabbing Attack in Jerusalem on Wednesday - Roi Yanovsky
    Rabbi Reuven Biermacher, 45, was fatally stabbed and Ofer Ben-Ari, 46, died from gunfire when border guards shot and killed two Palestinian terrorists during a stabbing attack Wednesday at Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem. The terrorists were identified as Anaan Hamad, 21, and Issa Asaf, 21, from Kalandia, north of Jerusalem. (Ynet News)
        See also Two Israeli Security Guards Stabbed in West Bank on Thursday - Elisha Ben Kimon
    Two Israeli security guards were wounded in a stabbing attack at an industrial zone near Ariel in the West Bank on Thursday. The guards shot and killed the Palestinian terrorist. (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinian Tries to Stab Israeli Soldier in West Bank on Thursday - Yaakov Lappin
    A Palestinian terrorist attempted to stab an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint in the Mount Hebron area of the West Bank on Thursday. The attacker was shot dead by IDF soldiers. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinian Tries to Ram Car into Soldiers on Thursday
    A Palestinian tried to run over soldiers and border police officers at Rama, north of Jerusalem, on Thursday. The attacker was shot. One soldier was injured. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Terror Cell Uncovered in West Bank - Yoav Zitun
    25 Palestinians, many of them students at Abu Dis University near Jerusalem, have been arrested for planning to carry out suicide bombings in Israel, it was announced Wednesday. The cell was headed by Ahmed Gamal Moussa Azzam, 24, from Kalkilya, who was trained by Hamas in Gaza to manufacture explosive belts. (Ynet News)
        See also Former Hamas Minister Behind West Bank Terror Cell - Avi Issacharoff and Judah Ari Gross
    The man behind the Hamas terror cell of suicide bombers uncovered in the West Bank is former Hamas interior minister Fathi Hamad, Palestinian officials told the Times of Israel Wednesday. Hamad helps to direct "the West Bank branch," comprised of former Palestinian prisoners released in the 2011 Gilad Shalit swap who were deported to Gaza. Hamad is also thought to be in contact with Salafi organizations and Islamic State fighters in Sinai. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Palestinian Christmas Show - Jonathan S. Tobin
    As Christians around the world prepare to celebrate Christmas and television screens are filled with the usual images from Bethlehem, we won't hear much, if anything, about how that city's once largely Christian population has been driven out by a rising tide of Islamist fervor. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas will call the historical Jesus a "Palestinian messenger." But the real Palestinian Christmas show involves behavior that won't be part of the Christmas Eve broadcasts.
        Today, as they have virtually ever day for the past three months, individual Palestinian terrorists will attempt to kill random Jews they encounter. Palestinian leaders like Abbas have played a principal role in inciting these bloody attacks, praising those who try to butcher Jews as "martyrs."  (Commentary)
  • ISIS Is Only One Piece of Syria's Extremist Puzzle - Aaron David Miller
    According to a report from the UK Centre on Religion and Geopolitics, 60% of the major Syrian rebel groups are Islamic extremists. About a third identify with ideologies similar to those claimed by ISIS. Unless Assad goes, the war in Syria will continue and escalate, since 90% see ousting Assad as the key goal. These findings suggest that the Russian policy of supporting Assad is at odds with sentiments on the ground.
        It's hard to draw a line between radical and moderate rebel groups. Across Syria, Islamists of varying persuasions fight alongside non-ideological groups against Assad and ISIS.
        Defeating ISIS will leave Islamists in charge. Groups with extremist orientations and ideologies are waiting to inherit Syria if ISIS falls. Defeating ISIS won't address the problem of the jihadis, the report found, unless "it is accompanied by an intellectual and theological defeat of the pernicious ideology that drives it." The writer is a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars. (Wall Street Journal)
  • "State of Palestine" Passports? Another Violation of the Oslo Accords - Alan Baker
    On Dec. 21, 2015, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared his intention to issue new passports in the name of the "State of Palestine" within the coming year. This would be a clear violation of the Oslo Accords. These accords, representing a series of reciprocal Palestinian and Israeli commitments made between 1993 and 1999, grant the PA the right to issue "Passports/Travel Documents" in accordance with very clear terms. Paragraph 27(f) of the Protocol Concerning Civil Affairs, Article II, of the "Agreement on the Gaza Strip and Jericho Area" of May 4, 1994, Annex II, states: "Exit abroad through the passages or through Israeli points of exit by residents of the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area shall only be possible by means of an agreed passport/travel document."
        Thus, the issuance of independent passports is in clear and blatant violation of the accords. Passports purporting to be in the name of a non-existent "State of Palestine" will have no validity and should not be accepted by Israel or by those states and organizations advocating the resumption of negotiations within the framework of the Oslo peace process. Amb. Alan Baker, former legal advisor of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Observations:

America's Long Record as a Defender of Muslims - Amir Taheri (Gatestone Institute)

  • No major power in recent history has gone out of its way as has the U.S. to help, respect, please and, yes, appease Islam. And, yet, no other nation has been a victim of vilification, demonization, and violence on the part of the Islamists as has the U.S.
  • Both Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson tried to appease the Islamist pirates of North Africa in the hope of persuading them to cease their raids on U.S. commercial ships and stop capturing Americans and selling them as slaves. They sent peace missions laden with gifts and cash. In the end, however, they had to take military action to cut the head off the snake.
  • It was President Woodrow Wilson who insisted at the end of World War I that the main European imperial powers of the day, Great Britain and France, publicly commit to respecting the right of self-determination for nations freed from the Ottoman yoke. The Americans invented the idea of "mandates" under the League of Nations to prevent the European imperialist countries from turning their Muslim conquests in the Middle East into a new colonial galaxy. It was President Harry Truman who in 1946 used eyeball-to-eyeball diplomacy against Soviet despot Josef Stalin to force him to take Russian occupation troops out of Iran's northwestern provinces.
  • In the 1956 crisis, it was President Dwight Eisenhower who went against American's oldest allies, Britain and France, to let the Egyptians assert their national sovereignty. After 1961, President John F. Kennedy exerted immense pressure on France to accelerate progress towards Algeria's independence. In the October 1973 war, U.S. intervention helped restrain the Israelis, and in the Camp David talks, intense pressure by President Jimmy Carter forced the Israelis to abandon "security enclaves" inside the Sinai Peninsula, thereby helping President Anwar Sadat recover all of Egypt's lost territory.
  • With the disintegration of Yugoslavia, the U.S. under President Bill Clinton helped save the lives of many Muslims in Bosnia. Later, it was also U.S. military power that helped Kosovo's Albanian majority, overwhelmingly Muslim, achieve independence. During the past six decades, the U.S. has been by far the largest donor of aid to more than 40 of the 57 Muslim-majority nations.

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