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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
June 23, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Arab Peace Initiative Is Negotiable, Saudi Arabia and Jordan Say - Pinhas Inbari (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    At a meeting last week in Amman, Jordanian King Abdullah told Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that Saudi Arabia wants to make changes in the Arab Peace Initiative so that Israel could accept it, Palestinian sources said.

Anti-Semitic Incidents on American College Campuses Nearly Doubled in 2015 (Anti-Defamation League)
    Anti-Semitic incidents at U.S. colleges and universities nearly doubled in 2015 - 90 incidents were reported on 60 campuses, compared with 47 incidents on 43 campuses in 2014.
    In its annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents issued Wednesday, ADL reported 56 violent anti-Semitic assaults in 2015, compared with 36 assaults in 2014.

Egyptian TV Takes Aim at Gaza Palestinians - Jacob Wirtschafter (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
    This year's Egyptian television series for Ramadan, "Alqayasar" (The Kingpin), reveals a hardening of attitudes toward the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinians of Gaza.
    "Alqayasar" portrays the evil deeds and shady alliances of a terror cell leader who uses tunnels near Rafah to commute between his hideouts in the Nile Delta and the Gaza headquarters of Islamist groups, where he also meets up with Palestinian mafia dons and hatches a series of plots against the Egyptian homeland.

A Country of Heroes - Lital Shemesh (Israel Hayom)
    A week and a half has passed since the terrible shooting attack at Tel Aviv's Sarona Market, and on Sunday, Haggai Klein, the hero of that evening, was released from hospital.
    When two terrorists began to spray Jews with bullets, instead of running for his life, Klein decided to grab the nearest chair and smash it onto one of the terrorist's heads.
    Klein said on Sunday, "I knew that the situation needed to be put to an end and I charged ahead." He spoke like a reserve soldier who has learned the importance of charging the enemy.
    We saw Herzl Biton, driver of Dan Bus No. 40, who fought off a terrorist with his bare hands; we saw civilians use everything from a guitar to umbrellas and selfie sticks in attempts to neutralize terrorists.
    Israel, with all its problems and ills, is a country of mutual responsibility. It is a country of mothers and fathers who take pots filled with homemade food to the soldiers at the Gaza border; a country of citizens who raise a million shekels for an injured soldier in a week's time; a country filled with small heroes who don't see saving another's life as an act of heroism but as a necessary duty.

Breaking the Ramadan Fast with Jewish Challah - Nir Hasson (Ha'aretz)
    During the month of Ramadan, demand for special breads soars, east Jerusalem Arab bakery owners say, especially for braided challahs called "mijdal."
    The word means braided bread in Arabic, but observers will find it very difficult to discern any difference between this bread and the traditional Jewish challah sold on Fridays in every supermarket and bakery in Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israeli President Tells EU: "Negotiations for Negotiations' Sake" Will Only Deepen Divisions between Israelis and Palestinians - Joseph Ataman and Laurence Norman
    In a speech to the European Parliament on Wednesday, Israel's president Reuven Rivlin urged the EU to put its weight behind measures to facilitate future negotiations. Rivlin criticized France's peace-conference initiative which he said amounted to "negotiations for negotiations' sake" and would only deepen divisions between Israelis and Palestinians.
        Rivlin said any peace deal was impossible for now because of divisions between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which rules in Gaza, as well as regional turmoil and the absence of economic conditions to build confidence between the two sides. He also called for further cooperation with "moderate powers in the region," namely Egypt and Jordan, to develop the Palestinian economy and education system, and promote joint Israeli-Palestinian projects in fields such as renewable energy and tourism. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also below Observations: Israeli President to EU Parliament: "Respect Israeli Considerations, Even When Different from Your Own" (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • U.S. Treasury Department Promises to Block Iranian Access to U.S. Dollars - Adam Kredo
    In a June 7 letter to Congress, the U.S. Treasury Department wrote: "The administration has not been and is not planning to grant Iran access to the U.S. financial system....The U.S. Department of Treasury is not working on behalf of Iran to enable Iranian access to U.S. dollars elsewhere in the international financial system, nor are we assisting Iran in gaining access to dollar payment systems outside the U.S. financial system."
        "The concerns that remain regarding Iran's economy, such as transparency issues, corruption, and regulatory obstacles, have given businesses and banks pause when considering whether to engage with Iran. We have been clear with audiences here and abroad that Iran has a lot of work to do to address these areas of concern if it wants to attract investment and trade. We are encouraging our European partners to make clear to Iran that Iran must address the shortcomings in its financial system if it wants to reintegrate into the international economy. When we speak to the private is not to encourage them to do business with Iran."  (Washington Free Beacon)
  • Anti-Money Laundering Body Seen Keeping Iran on Blacklist - Louis Charbonneau
    The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), established in 1989 to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, is expected to decide this week to keep Iran on its blacklist of high-risk countries, Western officials said. Getting off the FATF blacklist, which also lists North Korea, would remove a major hurdle Iran faces in dealing with outside banks and other financial institutions.
        FATF said earlier this year that it remained "particularly and exceptionally concerned" about Iran's "failure to address the risk of terrorist financing and the serious threat this poses to the integrity of the international financial system." European banking sources told Reuters that regardless of Iran's status on the FATF blacklist, they are not ready to do business with Iran because of the high risks. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Abbas Refused to Meet Israeli President Rivlin in Brussels - Barak Ravid
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas turned down an offer by European Parliament President Martin Schulz to meet with President Reuven Rivlin in Brussels on Thursday. Israel's policy has been to agree to meet with the Palestinian leadership at any time and at any place for direct negotiations without preconditions. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas: Turkey Dropped Condition that Israel Lift Gaza Siege before Normalization - Maayan Groisman
    Hamas officials told the London-based Arab daily Rai al-Youm that Turkey has renounced the condition that Israel lift the siege on Gaza as a prerequisite for Israeli-Turkish reconciliation. Turkish President "Erdogan told the [Hamas] leadership that he must make progress on the normalization deal with Israel in order to serve Turkey's interests." The officials also said they expect Turkey to take strong measures against senior Hamas officials residing in Turkey by limiting their freedom of movement in order to meet Israel's condition for normalization. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • U.S. Benefits from Technology Developed in Israel with Military Aid - Eli Lake
    Israel spends 74% of U.S. defense assistance on weapons and equipment from American defense industries, while it is currently allowed to spend 26% on purchases from Israeli firms. President Obama is seeking to end this "offshore procurement" provision in the new ten-year military aid package now under discussion. However, Israeli officials say that much of that funding goes to projects that end up benefitting the U.S. military.
        "The 26% is used primarily on joint ventures between the U.S. and Israel," Yair Lapid, a former Israeli finance minister, told me. "Look at the new F35b; there are systems on it from Elbit," he said, referring to an Israeli defense concern. "It's this money that becomes the technological edge the U.S. has."  (Bloomberg)
        See also Israel to Install Its Own Cyber Defenses on U.S.-Made F-35 Jets - Yaakov Lappin
    Israel will install its own cyber defenses on the F-35 jets it will receive this year from the U.S., Israel Air Force Chief of Staff Brig.-Gen. Tal Kelman, said Tuesday. After the first two F-35 jets arrive in 2016, Israel will receive six to seven per year, until the first batch of 33 jets is delivered. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Iran Nuclear Deal: One Year On - Emily B. Landau
    When assessing the Iran nuclear deal that was signed almost a year ago, especially against the backdrop of Iran's defiant behavior and aggressive conduct in the Middle East since then, one can hardly be complacent about what was achieved. The partial constraints imposed on Iran's nuclear program do not reflect what the world powers set out to do; nor do they warrant surrendering the leverage over Iran afforded by the sanctions regime.
        Iran's behavior over the past year makes it clear that rather than embracing a more cooperative approach toward the international community, Iran is persisting with its abusive rhetoric and aggressive policies, including stepping up its presence in Syria and intensifying its ballistic missile activities. Indeed, Iran has been testing the resolve of the U.S. to confront it, equipped with a new and quite effective deterrent to any determined Western response: its threat to walk away from the nuclear deal.
        According to President Obama, the deal succeeded in completely cutting off all four pathways to producing a bomb, ensuring that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon. Such sweeping statements simply cannot be guaranteed by the deal as concluded and are dangerously misleading. It is no cause for celebration to temporarily keep Iran "half nuclear." The immediacy of the Iranian nuclear threat has receded, but the threat of a nuclear Iran has not been eliminated. The writer is director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. (Jerusalem Report)

Israeli President to EU Parliament: "Respect Israeli Considerations, Even When Different from Your Own" - President Reuven Rivlin (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin addressed the European Parliament on Wednesday in Hebrew:

  • Israel wishes, and indeed must, remain first and foremost a national homeland, a safe haven for the Jewish People. The State of Israel is by no means a compensation for the Holocaust, but the Holocaust has posited as a basic tenet the necessity and vitality of the return of the Jewish People to history, as a nation taking its fate in its own hands. I feel that the massive criticism aimed at Israel in Europe stems from, inter alia, a misunderstanding and an impatience toward this existential need of the Jewish nation and the State of Israel.
  • As friends and as true allies, I call upon you and ask you, let us be patient. Please respect the Israeli considerations, even when different from your own. Respect Israeli sovereignty, and the democratic process of its decision-making. Respect Israel's staunch commitment, indeed its very duty, to protect its citizens. For us it is the most sacred commandment of all.
  • We are living in a reality where the plague of murderous jihadi fundamentalism, religious fanaticism and incitement - embodied in the Islamic State and Hizbullah - are at our very borders and have not missed out Gaza and the West Bank either; we live in a reality of a chaos-stricken Middle East in which uncertainty is the only certainty.
  • As years go by and rounds of negotiations fail one by one, bringing in their wake waves of murderous violence and terror, it seems that this assumption of a "lack of good will" proves not only to be fundamentally erroneous, but to ignore the circumstances, the capabilities, and the present situation on the ground, which by definition would lead to the failure of any attempt to negotiate a permanent agreement. One cannot hope to achieve better results while resorting to the same outlooks and tools which have failed time after time previously.
  • The French initiative, adopted by the EU institutions only a few days ago, suffers from those very fundamental faults. The attempt to return to negotiations for negotiations' sake not only does not bring us near the long-awaited solution, but rather drags us further away from it. This striving for a permanent agreement "now" is the chronicle of a predictable failure which will only push the two peoples deeper into despair.
  • If Europe is interested in serving as a constructive factor in striving for a future agreement, it will be incumbent upon you, its leaders, to focus efforts at this time in a patient and methodic building of trust. Not through divestments, but through investment; not by boycotts, but by cooperation.

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