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,
April 14, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Brussels Airport Bombers Planned to Attack Travelers Flying to Israel (Jerusalem Post)
    Mohamed Abrini, who was captured last week after appearing in video footage at Brussels airport walking alongside two suicide bombers, said that his accomplices had planned to attack travelers who were flying to Israel, the U.S. and Russia, French BFM TV reported on Thursday.

Report: Iran's Special Forces Suffer Heavy Losses in Syria - Maayan Groisman (Jerusalem Post)
    On Tuesday, the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front released a video purportedly showing Iran's Special Forces, as well as fighters from Lebanese and Iraqi militias, running away from the Syrian village of al-Eis near Aleppo amid Nusra's intensive bombardment of their positions.
    According to unofficial Syrian reports, more than 30 soldiers from Brigade 65, Iran's Special Forces brigade, have been killed since their arrival in Syria.
    See also Iran's Army Suffers Casualties in Syria - Farzin Nadimi (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

Iranian Pilot Defects, Threatens to Seek Asylum in Israel - Neda Amin and Mohsen Rostambakhsh (Times of Israel)
    Major Ahmad-Reza Khosravi, 39, a pilot in the helicopter unit of the Iranian Security Services, fled Iran to Turkey in March 2015.
    Recently the target of an apparent kidnap plan to bring him back to Iran, Khosravi has now gone public with his criticism of the Iranian leadership.
    Khosravi warned the regime in an interview, "If you do not leave me alone and stop harassing my family [who are still in Iran], I will seek asylum in Israel and start fighting you."

Where Are the Syrians in Assad's Syrian Arab Army? - Richard Spencer (Telegraph-UK)
    The reconquest of Palmyra was presented as a victory for President Assad's Syrian Arab Army.
    But analysis of photographs, social media posts and Iranian, Russian and Syrian media has shown that the path to taking Palmyra was led by Russian special forces and mercenaries, with much of the "grunt" work done by Afghan Shia and Iraqi militiamen under generals from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
    Abu Mohammed al-Halabi, a leader of the Levant Front fighting around Aleppo, told The Telegraph: "Iran is sending in more troops. The regime doesn't undertake a serious attack without Iranian support."

Video: Superman's Got Nothing on Israel - Rachel Lester (YouTube)
    With lightning speed and an open heart, Israel is the world's rescue team.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Frowns on New Iran Sanctions by Congress after Missile Test - Kambiz Foroohar
    Adam Szubin, Acting Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, argued Wednesday against imposing new legislative sanctions on Iran after its ballistic missile tests last month. "New mandatory non-nuclear sanctions legislation would needlessly risk undermining our unity with international partners," he said. The U.S. already has the ability to impose new sanctions on individuals and entities for ballistic missile violations, Szubin noted. The U.S. won't provide Iran access to the U.S. financial system, he added. (Bloomberg)
  • What Is Preventing International Companies from Doing Business with Iran Again? - Dominic Dudley
    There are a number of factors still limiting international investment in Iran. International companies need to be able to move money in and out of the country, but some large international banks that were caught evading sanctions in the past remain wary. There are still several groups of sanctions that remain in place, designed to punish the country for human rights abuses and terrorist financing. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC), still firmly under international sanctions, has tentacles that reach into almost every economic sector. It is extremely difficult for an international company to be sure that it is not doing business with the IRGC. (Forbes)
  • Photos Show How Brussels Terror Originated with ISIS in Syria - Rukmini Callimachi
    The latest issue of Dabiq, the Islamic State's slick online magazine, published on Wednesday, includes an image of Najim Laachraoui, who was last seen wheeling a suitcase bomb into the Brussels airport. He is wearing military fatigues and standing next to a man with a bloody knife, suggesting they had just beheaded a captive. The two men's uniforms exactly match those worn by the Paris attackers last year, as shown in another set of photographs shot somewhere in Syria or Iraq. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Reiterates Opposition to One-Sided UN Security Council Action Against Israel - Michael Wilner and Herb Keinon
    State Department spokesman Mark Toner, asked Tuesday about possible U.S. support for UN Security Council action on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, replied, "I can firmly shut that door....Our position hasn't changed in terms of action on this issue at the UN Security Council...[and the U.S. is] opposed to it."
        Edgar Vasquez, an official at the U.S. Mission to the UN, told the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday: "We continue to oppose one-sided resolutions that delegitimize Israel or undermine its security."
        Last week a bipartisan group of congressmen sent a letter to President Obama urging him "to continue to insist that it is only at the negotiating table - and not at the UN - that the parties can resolve their complicated differences. Your continued commitment to longstanding U.S. policy to veto one-sided UN Security Council resolutions remains fundamentally critical."  (Jerusalem Post-U.S. State Department)
  • Israel Foils Recent Hamas Terror Plots - Yaakov Lappin
    Israeli security forces have quietly foiled a large number of Hamas mass-casualty terrorism plots in the West Bank recently, often at a very advanced stage of preparations, a senior IDF source disclosed on Wednesday. "We have seen, in recent months, many attempts by organizations to carry out terrorist attacks," the officer said. "What characterizes these cells is funding by organizations and a desire to carry out a 'quality attack.'"  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel: Hamas Is the Source of Gaza's Economic Woes - Judah Ari Gross
    Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, director of the Israel Defense Ministry's Political-Military Affairs Bureau, told a conference Wednesday that economic development is "not the fundamental solution" to Gaza's problems and that as long as Hamas rules Gaza, there will not be peace. Gilad brushed off assertions that a port or lightened security measures would have an impact. "I'm sorry to give you a harsh picture, but that's what it is," he said. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Does the Palestinian Leadership Want Peace with Israel? - Alan Baker
    In all likelihood, the international community is confused and fatigued by the unending Palestinian attempts to gain attention, faced as it is with the massive threats of ISIS terror, the ongoing war in Syria, tension between Russia and Ukraine and other major crises.
        It is high time that the Palestinian leadership put its house in order, and decide whether they want peace with Israel or constant, unending tension and violence. It is also high time that the Palestinian leadership chooses to invest the considerable funding it receives to serve the needs and interests of the Palestinian public rather than wasting funds on senseless political and public relations exercises and expensive travel for the sole purpose of perpetuating conflict and Palestinian victimhood. The writer served as legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Taking Sides in the War within Islam - Bernard-Henri Levy
    Appeasement of violent radicalism only encourages more of the same. We must acknowledge that two Islams are locked in a fight to the death, and that because the battlefield is the planet and the war threatens values that the West embraces, the fight is not solely the Muslims' affair.
        We must aid, encourage, and ideologically arm Muslims who reject the Islam of hate in favor of an Islam respectful of women, their faces, and their rights, as well as of human rights in general. Genuine anti-racists, anti-imperialists, and believers in republican democracy must take the side of the Islam of moderation and peace in its war against the criminal Islam of the Salafists. The writer is a French public intellectual, media personality, and author. (Project Syndicate)
  • Israel on a Charm Offensive to African Countries - Kevin Kelley
    Ten African ambassadors to the U.S. attended a presentation in Washington on March 22 by Nitzan Nuriel, former head of Israel's counter-terrorism operations, who suggested that "African countries could do more - including in partnership with Israel - to combat the threat" of terrorism. The gathering was the latest indication of a strengthening of ties between many sub-Saharan nations and the Jewish state, particularly in the security realm. In July, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to travel to Kenya and Uganda.
        Some international affairs analysts in Washington suggest that African countries' open embrace of Israel could signal an important diplomatic shift. The rubric of African solidarity with the Palestinian cause may no longer be relevant, they say. African countries "see there's a lot Israel can offer them that the Arab countries cannot offer," says Joshua Meservey, an Africa specialist at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. (The East African-Kenya)
        See also Group Urges Africa to Build Strong Partnership with Israel
    The Africa-Israel Initiative (AII) has challenged African governments to align themselves with the nation of Israel in order to benefit from Israel's technology and industry. The AII was launched in Ghana in May 2014 to lobby for the survival of Israel and to help secure votes for Israel at the UN by African governments. (GhanaWeb)

What Did Americans Know as the Holocaust Unfolded? Quite a Lot - Tara Bahrampour (Washington Post)

  • History Unfolded is an initiative of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which is using crowdsourcing to scour newspapers across the country for articles that ran between 1933 and 1945 on the plight of Europe's Jews.
  • Some were shocked to see how much news had been printed on the Holocaust. "My prevailing notion about this period in time was that a lot of what had happened with the Nazis during the '30s and '40s was not that well-known," said Sandi Auerbach, 62, a retired IBM financial manager who is a member of the museum and has contributed more than two dozen articles to the project.
  • "I am amazed, quite frankly, at the coverage that there was in a lot of different papers," Auerbach said. "For example, in 1933 there was a huge rally in Madison Square Garden with 20,000 people in attendance to protest the persecution of Jews in Germany." Contributors say they have been struck by detailed accounts of the Nazis' persecution and slaughter of Jews.
  • Tayte Patton, 17, whose English class in Lexington, Ky., is participating, said he was shocked at the U.S.' inaction. "I never knew that we didn't want to let Jews into the country," he said. "I always thought that we would let anyone in, that we would be a refuge for the Jews."

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