Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
May 3, 2016
Daily Alert - Beginning our
15th Year

    Daily Alert started on May 3, 2002.
    View all back issues here.

In-Depth Issues:

Syria's Assad Used Chemical Weapons Against ISIS - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    A little over a week ago, Syria's Assad regime used lethal sarin gas against ISIS east of Damascus, despite the 2013 agreement to dismantle the regime's chemical weapons, after ISIS fighters attacked two Syrian air force bases considered vital military assets.




Report: Sons of Hizbullah Commanders Sent to Europe to Evade Syria Fighting - Maayan Groisman (Jerusalem Post)
    Senior commanders in Hizbullah are smuggling their sons to Europe to prevent them from being recruited to fight in Syria, the Egyptian news site Arabi 21 reported Monday.




Islamic State Beheads Teenagers Accused of "Spying" for the West - Louisa Loveluck (Telegraph-UK)
    Islamic State militants have beheaded four teenage boys and young men in the Syrian city of Raqqa, accusing them of "photographing sites and handing information to the crusader coalition."




Islamic Jihad "Work Accident" in Gaza Kills One, Wounds Two (Times of Israel)
    Mazen Muhammed Lulu, 30, a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, was killed Monday and two others were injured when a bomb exploded east of Jabaliya in Gaza.




Oil Found near Dead Sea - Hillel Koren (Globes)
    The Hatrurim oil and gas exploration license in the Dead Sea area contains an oil reservoir worth NIS 1.2 billion, according to a report published Sunday.




Ohio to Purchase $50 Million in Israel Bonds - Ed Wittenberg (Cleveland Jewish News)
    Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel announced April 28 that his office is purchasing $50 million worth of Israel Bonds.
    Since taking office in 2011, Mandel has made four purchases of Israel Bonds totaling more than $167 million.
    Every Ohio treasurer since 1993 has invested in Israel Bonds, as have more than 80 state and municipal public employee pension and treasury funds, according to the state treasurer's office.
    Israel Bonds are an attractive investment option for state and municipal public funds because they are dependable and yield a competitive interest rate.
    "For 64 years, Israel has paid every penny of interest and principle," said Thomas Lockshin, executive director of Ohio and Kentucky for the Development Corp. for Israel/Israel Bonds.



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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Man Who Plotted to Blow Up Florida Synagogue Identified - Jay Weaver
    James Medina, 40, who told a judge he was also known as "James Muhammad," was accused in Miami federal court on Monday of trying to blow up the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center during services on Friday. An FBI undercover operative had sold him a dummy bomb just before the planned terror attack. One of Medina's associates said Medina originally planned to martyr himself in an attack on the synagogue using an assault rifle, but then the plot shifted to setting off explosives remotely.
        Medina told an FBI source he had converted to Islam four years ago. He said the planned synagogue attack would inspire other Muslims and said, "I feel like it's my calling," adding he was "comfortable" with killing innocent women and children. Before his arrest, Medina made three videos with his cellphone: In the first, he said, "Aventura, watch your back. ISIS is in the house." In the second, he said, "Today is gonna be a day where Muslims attack America. I'm going to set a bomb in Aventura." In the third, he said goodbye to his family. (Miami Herald)
  • U.S. Cites Better Intelligence for Stepped-Up Airstrikes on Islamic State - Paul Sonne and Julian E. Barnes
    The U.S. is increasing the tempo of its airstrikes on Islamic State in Syria as American military personnel on the ground help gather better information about targets to hit, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said Monday. Last month, the White House agreed to deploy 250 military personnel in addition to the 50 U.S. special-operations forces in Syria, significantly expanding the mission to enable local forces to retake territory from Islamic State. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Britain's Labour Party Has Suspended 50 Members for Anti-Semitic and Racist Comments - Kate McCann
    Britain's Labour party has secretly suspended 50 of its members over anti-Semitic and racist comments and they are said to be just the tip of the iceberg. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn told the Daily Mirror on Monday: "What there is is a very small number of people that have said things that they should not have done. We have therefore said they will be suspended and investigated." On Monday the party suspended three councillors within seven hours over a series of anti-Semitic posts on Twitter and Facebook. (Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Stabs Israeli in Jerusalem's Old City - Nir Hasson
    A Jewish man in his60s was stabbed in the chest Monday night in Jerusalem's Old City. An 18-year-old Palestinian seen on surveillance cameras was arrested following a manhunt. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Seizes 4 Tons of Gaza-Bound Chemicals Used in Rockets - Noam Amir
    Israeli security forces have foiled an attempt to smuggle into Gaza four tons of chemicals that can be used to manufacture long-range rockets, the Israel Security Agency announced Tuesday. The chemical - ammonium chloride - was concealed within a 40-ton shipment of salt. The importer is a Gaza resident associated with Hamas. (Maariv Hashavua-Jerusalem Post)
  • Plans for Arafat Center in Israeli-Arab Town Shelved after Local Outcry - Dov Lieber
    Plans to establish a cultural center in honor of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the Arab-Israeli town of Abu Ghosh have been cancelled due to popular opposition, a local source said Monday. Abu Ghosh, which chose to stay neutral during Israel's war for independence in 1948, is known for maintaining friendly relations with Jews. The Arafat center was apparently the initiative of Palestinian billionaire Munib al-Masri, who served as Arafat's close confidant. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • One Year After the Nuclear Deal: Is Iran Moderating? - Michael Singh
    There is scant evidence that engagement with the West by Iranian President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif is changing Iran or its policies. In consenting to engage diplomatically, Iranian officials are doing so to further their own interests, which tend to stand in stark opposition to those of the U.S. and its allies.
        Given the strategic challenge that Iran poses to U.S. interests in the Middle East - in its support for terrorism and subversive non-state actors, threats to freedom of commerce and navigation in regional waterways, pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, and other destabilizing pursuits - the American approach to diplomacy with Iran cannot simply consist of "engagement," but should be nested in a broader strategy to counter the challenges posed by Iran. The writer is managing director at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Baker Institute)
  • Reality TV Chooses a New Palestinian President - Asaf Gabor
    The popular Palestinian reality show "The President," produced by the Ma'an network, is completing its second season. Some 1,200 candidates aged 20-40 applied to compete to become "President of Palestine." The public chooses the winner from the final four candidates, via text messages. In the first season, Hussein al-Deik, 31, from Ramallah, won with 67,000 votes.
        In a recent interview, al-Deik said, "I come from a place where there are daily cooperative activities with Israelis. We shop by them and they shop by us. We work with them in factories and in their towns."
    Q: If you were chosen President of Palestine in reality, what would you change?
    Al-Deik: "I would change the curriculum in the schools, and I'd have the students learn Hebrew so they'll be able to speak with the Israeli side. I would end the incitement heard every Friday in the mosques, and prevent the hatred toward Jews in the local media."  (Makor Rishon-Hebrew, 28Apr2016)
  • Hizbullah: Iran's Henchmen in Brazil - Emanuele Ottolenghi
    Across Latin America, Iran is leveraging connections with anti-American regimes and movements to gain a foothold and to indoctrinate local Muslims in its brand of revolutionary Islam. Dozens of Iranian and Lebanese Shia clerics have been joined by a new generation of locally-born clerics. Converts are routinely sent to Qom, all expenses paid, to attend Iranian seminaries before they return home to act as Iran's unofficial emissaries.
        The Boy Scouts attached to Shia mosques are a mirror image of Hizbullah's Mahdi Scouts and are led by Lebanese instructors who do not hide their sympathy for Hizbullah. Images of Scout groups show members enacting military drills during the May 25th celebrations marking Israel's 2000 withdrawal from south Lebanon. Community members routinely post photographs of the Brazilian flag juxtaposed with the Hizbullah logo.
        Iran's religious outreach is intoxicating thousands in Latin American. The targets of Iran's anti-American indoctrination could one day draw the logical conclusion from their education that striking the "Great Satan" itself is no less than God's will. The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (National Interest)
  • The Virus of Anti-Semitism Has Infected the British Muslim Community - Mehdi Hasan
    There are thousands of mild-mannered and well-integrated British Muslims who harbor deeply anti-Semitic views. It pains me to admit this but anti-Semitism isn't just tolerated in some sections of the British Muslim community; it's routine and commonplace. It's our dirty little secret.
        I can't keep count of the number of Muslims I have come across - from close friends and relatives to perfect strangers - for whom weird and wacky anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are the default explanation. It is sheer hypocrisy for Muslims to complain of Islamophobia, and yet ignore the rampant anti-Semitism in our own backyard. (New Statesman-UK)
Observations:

Behind the U.S.-Israel Discussions on Military Aid - Amos Yadlin (Ynet News)

  • According to Israel, the agreement with Iran endangers its security, and therefore the U.S., which had been the driving force behind the agreement, should help Israel with the resulting threats. The Obama administration sees the agreement with Iran as a strategic accomplishment that will decrease the nuclear threat to Israel.
  • The fact that the U.S. military aid budget for Israel is also expected to cover costs related to protection against missile threats makes the overall proposed budget increase relatively minute. [The administration's budget regularly includes a low figure for funding joint U.S.-Israel missile defense projects and Congress has increased the figure every year.] As part of the proposed new aid agreement, the administration is asking that Israel agree to refrain from asking Congress for any additional budget increases.
  • Since the 1980s, Israel has been allowed to use a quarter of the military aid for purchases from Israeli defense industries. The administration seeks to cancel this arrangement, which would present a serious blow to Israeli defense industries.

    Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin is executive director of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv.

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