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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
March 1, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Dutch Find 30 Suspected War Criminals among Refugees (AFP-Guardian-UK)
    Dutch officials have identified 30 war crimes suspects, including 10 Syrians, among tens of thousands of asylum seekers who arrived in the country last year, Deputy Justice Minister Klaas Dijkhoff told parliament Monday.
    The Netherlands took in 58,800 refugees last year.

Pentagon Deploys Cyberweapons Against Islamic State - Damian Paletta and Felicia Schwartz (Wall Street Journal)
    The U.S. military is using new digital weapons to try to neutralize Islamic State's ability to communicate, control forces and manage finances in Syria and Iraq, top Pentagon officials said Monday.
    Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the new military campaign in Syria is designed "to interrupt ISIL's command and control, to cause them to lose confidence in their networks, to overload their networks so that they can't function."

BDS Destroys Livelihoods of 500 West Bank Palestinians - David Horovitz (Times of Israel)
    Two years ago, SodaStream's plant at the West Bank industrial zone of Mishor Adumim employed 350 Israeli Jews, 450 Israeli Arabs and 500 West Bank Palestinians.
    Under pressure from anti-Israel boycott groups, SodaStream moved its Mishor Adumim plant last October to the Bedouin town of Rahat in southern Israel.
    On Monday, SodaStream reluctantly announced that it was laying off its last 75 Palestinian workers. Hundreds of Palestinians who had been treated equitably by a fair-minded, decent Israeli firm are now out of work.

Apple Has Invested $1.2 Billion in Israel (Ynet News)
    Johny Srouji, senior vice president of hardware technologies at Apple, is responsible for Apple's 2011 decision to establish a development center in Israel.
    So far Apple has invested $1.2 billion in Israel and employs 800 Israelis, most of them hardware and software engineers, 400 of whom were recruited in the last two years.
    Apple Israel's employees work on the internal organs of iPhones, iPads, iMacs, and watches.

Jewish Astronauts: American Garrett Reisman and Israeli Ilan Ramon - Laura Kelly (Jerusalem Post)
    U.S. astronaut Garrett Reisman spent over 100 days in space on the shuttles Endeavor, Discovery and Atlantis, with three space walks that totaled 21 hours and 21 minutes.
    While in training, Reisman became close friends with Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut. Ramon invited Reisman to his family's Passover Seder in Houston.
    On Feb. 1, 2003, after a successful 16-day mission in space, all seven members of the crew of the Columbia space-shuttle including Ramon were killed when the spacecraft disintegrated upon reentry.
    "Everybody designates another astronaut to take care of your family if something bad happens, and Ilan had designated a good friend of ours, a Canadian astronaut named Steve MacLean, to help out," Reisman said.
    "But I knew that this was going to be a much bigger job than any one person can do....I spent about a year and a half doing nothing - my whole job was to just help [Ilan's wife] Rona and the kids. NASA was great to let me do that....It's kind of a lifelong thing."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • As Media Calls Iran Elections a Win for Moderates, Iranian Hardliners Celebrate - Adam Kredo
    As the names of those who won in Iran's elections emerge, experts at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Israel Project say hardline extremists will continue to control the Iranian government. Mohammad Reyshahri, a former intelligence minister who was elected to the Assembly of Experts, is accused of organizing the murder of scores of political prisoners. Ghorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi, another election winner and former intelligence minister, also is believed to be behind the killing of Iranian dissidents. Both were backed by hardliners and reformists.
        Ali Movahedi-Kermani, a radical Iranian cleric who received support from Iran's moderate factions, has threatened to "trample upon America," as well as bomb U.S. and Israeli interests. Mohammed Emami-Kashani, another radical cleric who won a seat with the backing of moderates, has blamed the U.S. and Israel for creating al-Qaeda. Another winner was Ayatollah Yousef Tabatabaeenejad, a religious radical backed by reformists, who has called on civilians to use violence to enforce strict dress codes for women.
        Leaders of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have praised the election results as a sign that the country remains committed to revolution. (Washington Free Beacon)
        See also Iran Elections Are Hardly a Victory for Democratic Change - Eli Lake
    As Saeed Ghasseminejad, an expert on Iranian politics at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, recently said: "Putting a reformist or moderate label on hardliners does not make them reformist or moderate." Caitlin Shayda Pendleton of the American Enterprise Institute noted Sunday: "Many... candidates described as reformists...are actually moderates who were endorsed by reformist leaders as a fallback after the Guardian Council disqualified most of the reformists trying to run." This is hardly a victory for democratic change in Iran. (Bloomberg)
  • Zarif: Iran Will Continue to Develop Missile Program
    Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the Islamic Republic will continue to develop its missile program. "We will not ask permission from anyone to [strengthen] our defense and missile capability," Zarif told the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) on Sunday. He dismissed as "unacceptable" claims by U.S. officials that Iran's missile tests are in breach of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
        Zarif added that Iranian officials have reached no agreement with the U.S. on regional issues, saying Tehran would take a decision on extending talks with the U.S. should Americans "correct their policies."  (Press TV-Iran)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Two Palestinians Arrested for Sniper Attacks on Israelis - Yoav Zitun
    Nasser Faisal Muhammad Badwi, 23, affiliated with Hamas, and his brother Akram Faisal Muhammad Badwi, 33, from Hebron, were arrested for shooting attacks that wounded four Israelis, it was announced Monday. The two hid their sniper rifle in the al-Mujahideen mosque in Hebron. On Nov. 6, 2015, they wounded two Jewish worshipers near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Another shooting on Nov. 25 missed hitting a soldier but damaged a vehicle. Later they shot several times at soldiers at a roadblock. On Jan. 3, they wounded an IDF officer near the Tomb of the Patriarchs. (Ynet News)
  • Two IDF Soldiers Attacked after Accidentally Entering Arab Town - Elisha Ben Kimon
    Two soldiers from the IDF's Oketz canine special forces unit came under attack after accidentally driving into the Qalandiya refugee camp in the West Bank on Monday night while following a GPS navigation app. Palestinians hurled firebombs at the army vehicle and set it on fire, as the two soldiers escaped. IDF troops sent to rescue the soldiers exchanged fire with Palestinians and extracted the soldiers unharmed. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Leaders Not Paying Price for Promoting Terror - Yaakov Lappin
    Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence, said Monday that a decision by PA President Mahmoud Abbas last year to talk about "dangers" to the Al-Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem was a way to signal to Palestinians that he wanted "popular resistance." There was no explicit order to commit acts of terrorism, but Abbas did "act in a way that allowed everyone to understand what he wanted."
        Israel, for its part, should "increase the pressure on the Palestinian leadership," and not make due with only responding directly to the terrorists, Kuperwasser added. "There is no price for encouraging the Palestinian public to continue carrying out attacks. I think this is too soft."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also The Palestinian Knife Campaign: A Policy of Limited Liability - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Peres Defies Threats on South Africa Visit, Refutes Charges of "Apartheid" - Greer Fay Cashman
    Former Israeli President Shimon Peres, 92, addressed the South African Jewish community's gala Salute to Israel on Sunday in Johannesburg, despite calls by the South African Muslim Lawyers Association that he be arrested for war crimes. Peres declared: "The State of Israel was established against all odds when it was surrounded by enemies and wilderness. We transformed it into a strong, morally just, progressive and democratic state with human rights, justice and the pursuit of peace."
        Peres addressed the claims by protesters outside the hotel that Israel is an "apartheid state" because of the way it treats Palestinians. Peres insisted that there is not a single word in Israeli law that discriminates against people for reasons of creed, color, ethnicity or nationality. Peres recalled that at Israel's birth, "we were 650,000 people surrounded by 50 million Arabs. Without sufficient equipment or ammunition we fought for our rights. You call that apartheid? People tend to forget that we made peace with the Arabs," citing Egypt and Jordan. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Few Israelis Believe a Palestinian State Would Be a Peaceful Neighbor - Yossi Klein Halevi
    The Middle East of the early 1990s seemed a place of promise: An American-led coalition had defeated Saddam Hussein in Kuwait, while the Soviet Union, sponsor of Arab radical regimes and the Palestinian cause, had vanished. Palestinian leaders seemed ready to negotiate an agreement with Israel, and a majority of Israelis, especially after the first intifada, were ready to try. In today's disintegrating Middle East, by contrast, Israelis question the viability of a Palestinian state. Which Arab state, Israelis ask, will be a likely model for Palestine: Syria? Iraq? Libya?
        Few Israelis believe that a Palestinian state would be a peaceful neighbor. In part that's because the Palestinian national movement - in both its supposedly moderate nationalist wing and its radical Islamist branch - continues to deny the very legitimacy of Israel. The Palestinian media repeat an almost daily message: The Jews are not a real people, they have no roots in this land and their entire history is a lie, from biblical Israel to the Holocaust. The current wave of stabbings has been lauded not only by the Islamist Hamas but by the Palestinian Authority.
        The result is profound disillusionment with the peace process across the Israeli political spectrum. A majority regards a Palestinian state as an existential threat. They know that it would place Tel Aviv and Ben-Gurion Airport, the country's main link with the world, in easy range of rocket attacks. Israelis sense that they have exhausted their political options toward the Palestinians and have essentially embraced the status quo as the least terrifying option. The writer is a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. (Wall Street Journal)

The Mideast Peace Process' Biggest Myth - Benny Morris (National Interest)

  • Did the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin on Nov. 4, 1995, reverse the course of history and definitively halt the Israeli-Palestinian peace process? In September 1993, Israel and the PLO exchanged letters of mutual recognition, with Arafat stating that the PLO "recognize[s] the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security" and committing to renunciation of terrorism and "a peaceful resolution of the conflict." He added that the clauses of the PLO Charter denying Israel's right to exist were "now inoperative."
  • But a week later, Arafat, unaware that he was being recorded, told a Muslim audience in Johannesburg that the agreements the PLO had just signed were like the pact Mohammed had signed with a Jewish tribe in Hijaz in the year 628, a tactical move the Muslims abrogated unilaterally a few years later. Arafat also called for "Jihad" to recover Jerusalem. He seemed to be saying that he would renege upon the agreements as soon as it suited his purposes.
  • In July 2000 at Camp David, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Arafat a sovereign, albeit largely demilitarized, Palestinian state in 91% of the West Bank and 100% of Gaza, with administrative control over parts of Jerusalem - and Arafat said "no."
  • In December 2000, President Clinton upped the ante, offering Arafat - in the so-called "Clinton Parameters" - 94-96% of the West Bank, Gaza, and sovereignty over the Arab-speaking neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, including the bulk of the Old City, and Palestinian sovereignty over the surface area of the Temple Mount. The Palestinians not only said "no," but proceeded to launch the Second Intifada. Some 1,400 Israelis were blown up, knifed and shot to death, and many more were wounded, during the following three years.
  • In 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally pulled Israel's troops and settlements out of the Gaza Strip. In 2008, Ehud Olmert offered Mahmoud Abbas 97% of the West Bank and 100% of Gaza, with a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem. But Abbas rejected the offer.
  • If one believes that the Palestinian national movement, represented by Hamas and Fatah respectively, has never reconciled itself to sharing Palestine with a Jewish state, whatever the exact territorial configuration, then the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin probably made very little difference. As they had rejected a two-state solution back in 1937 and 1947, so they would have rejected such solutions after 1995. There was nothing that Rabin could conceivably have done or offered that would have persuaded Arafat or his successors to acquiesce in a two-state solution and to sharing Palestine with a Jewish state.
  • The multiple issues dividing the two peoples are of such depth, weight and consequence - most prominently, the Palestinian Arab refugee problem and the problem of Jerusalem and its Temple Mount - that no reasonable amount of good will by Rabin could conceivably overcome them.

    The writer is a professor of history in the Middle East Studies Department of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

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