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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
July 13, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Inside ISIS: Quietly Preparing for the Loss of the "Caliphate" - Joby Warrick and Souad Mekhennet (Washington Post)
    Signs of desperation are mounting weekly inside the Islamic Caliphate, which shrank by another 12% in the first six months of 2016.
    An editorial last month in al-Naba, the Islamic State's weekly Arabic newsletter, acknowledged the possibility that all its territorial holdings could ultimately be lost, insisting that the Islamic State would continue to survive, even if all its cities fell to the advancing "crusaders."

Largest-Ever Israeli Team Heads for Olympics - Luke Tress (Times of Israel)
    Israel will field its largest-ever delegation at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next month with 48 qualifiers competing in 16 sports, including Israel's first Olympic entries in golf, triathlon and mountain biking.
    Windsurfer Shahar Zubari has a good chance of placing in Rio, along with judoka Yarden Gerbi, wrestler Ilana Kratysh, and the rhythmic gymnastics team, which won the European championship in June.

Iran's Kurds Growing Restless - Walter Russell Mead (American Interest)
    Guerrillas in Iranian Kurdistan attacked government officials last weekend.
    The New York Times reported that Iran's Kurdish regions have seen an upsurge in violence, with several clashes erupting between Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and Kurdish fighters.
    Iran is a multinational state and only just over half the citizens are of Persian ethnic origin.
    Currently, a mix of ideology (militant Shi'ism against a hostile world), strong domestic security forces, and the clerical and religious networks loyal to the ruling mullahs help hold the country together.
    But the revolutionary ideology is increasingly hollow, the security and religious networks corrupt and unpopular, and restlessness among both Persian and non-Persian Iranians is growing.
    See also Are Iran's Kurds Waking Up? - Zvi Bar'el (Ha'aretz)
    In a violent clash last month, a dozen Iranian Kurdish fighters were killed along with several fighters from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Have the eight million Kurds living in Iran suddenly developed aspirations for autonomy?
    The leadership of the Kurdish region in Iraq is opposed to the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI)'s violent activities against the Iranian regime.
    The Kurdish regime in Iraq is diligently creating ties with Iran regarding construction of an oil pipeline through which it will be able to sell 600,000 barrels of oil a day, via Iran, to the Persian Gulf and the rest of the world.

Video: Israeli Negotiator Talks About His Palestinian Interlocutors (ElderOfZiyon)
    Former Israeli ambassador and peace negotiator Alan Baker, who spent countless hours with Palestinians Saeb Erekat and Jibril Rajoub, concludes, "There are strange things that go on in negotiations, but ultimately people are human."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Senate Report: State Dept. Grant Aided Campaign to Unseat Netanyahu - Burgess Everett
    A State Department grant intended to rally support for peace between Israel and the Palestinians also helped set up political infrastructure that was later used for a campaign opposing the reelection of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2015, according to a bipartisan Senate investigative report released on Tuesday.
        The report found no legal wrongdoing by the State Department, but shortly after Netanyahu called an election for 2015, the voter databases constructed with $349,000 in grants for OneVoice were activated for Victory 15, an unsuccessful effort to defeat Netanyahu. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) each signed off on the investigation, which was conducted by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. (Politico)
        See also Text: Review of U.S. State Department Grants to OneVoice
    "The Subcommittee's investigation revealed that, during the grant period, OneVoice developed a political strategy designed to defeat the incumbent Israeli government. That strategy relied on grassroots voter outreach and mobilization using campaign infrastructure built, in part, with State Department funds."
        "OneVoice did inform at least two State Department officials of its political plans, and it did so during the grant period. The Department took no action in response."
        "OneVoice did not use State Department funds directly for political activities, or seek State Department grants in anticipation of the Israeli elections, but it did use the campaign infrastructure and resources that it had built, in part, with State Department funds to support a campaign to defeat Prime Minister Netanyahu in the 2015 elections."  (Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs)
        See also Grantee Used Resources Paid for by U.S. Taxpayers for Political Effort in Israel (Sen. Rob Portman)
  • New Israeli Law Forces Human Rights Groups to Report Foreign Funding - Ed Adamczyk
    Israel's parliament approved a law Tuesday demanding that NGOs in Israel receiving more than half their funds from foreign state sources disclose that fact. The Justice Ministry has identified 27 such NGOs. Prime Minister Netanyahu said the law will "prevent an absurd situation in which foreign countries meddle in the internal affairs of Israel."
        Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told the Knesset, "Imagine if Israel had funded British organizations and encouraged them to back the exit from the EU. Britain has national honor. It would not have allowed Israel to meddle in its internal affairs."  (UPI)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Bedouin Man Climbs Border Fence from Israel into Gaza - Ilan Ben Zion
    An Israeli Bedouin man was spotted on Tuesday crossing the border fence into Gaza, the IDF said. (Times of Israel)
  • Hamas Working "Nonstop" to Destabilize West Bank - Lahav Harkov
    Israel Security Agency Director Nadav Argaman told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday that in the first five months of 2016, the ISA prevented 11 suicide bombings, 10 kidnappings and over 60 attempted shootings, most of which were planned by Hamas. "Hamas makes nonstop attempts to undermine stability in the West Bank," he said.
        Argaman said security forces have focused on "attackers and their immediate surroundings, while protecting the fabric of life of the general Palestinian population....All these factors created a sense in the Palestinian public that there is no reason to continue the escalation."
        He noted that Palestinians in the West Bank think President Mahmoud Abbas will not last much longer, and the political competition within Fatah has led senior PA officials to make "warlike declarations" to try to become more popular.
        In Gaza, the calm is misleading because there is increased socioeconomic distress and Islamic State elements are challenging Hamas. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also ISA: Working in Israel Supports One-Third of West Bank Palestinian Families - Tamar Pileggi
    ISA Director Nadav Argaman told the Knesset committee that a large number of West Bank Palestinians were dependent on Israel for income. He said that 140,000 Palestinians who work in Israel provided for one-third of the population in the West Bank. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Arrests Four Palestinians for Illegal Arms Production
    Israeli security forces on Sunday arrested four Palestinians, including two PA general intelligence officers, suspected of weapons manufacturing and dealing in the West Bank, the Israel Security Agency announced Monday. As part of the operation in Orif near Nablus, IDF forces seized a cache of improvised weapons and ammunition in addition to four lathes used to make arms. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israeli Military Cracks Down on Weapons in the West Bank
    Israel has seized dozens of weapons, shuttered arms-making factories and arrested weapons dealers in the West Bank, IDF Col. Roman Gofman, a brigade commander, said Tuesday. Gofman noted an increasing amount of Palestinian attacks using guns. He said 200 guns had been seized since the start of the year and 16 factories for weapons had been closed.
        The crackdown has raised gun prices, Gofman said. A gun based on the Swedish "Carl Gustav" submachine gun that cost $500 a few months ago now costs upward of $2,500, he said. (AP-New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Palestinians and Jordan Declare Religious War Against the Jews - Josef Olmert
    The UNESCO World Heritage Committee is about to vote on a Palestinian-Jordanian resolution stating that the Old City of Jerusalem and Temple Mount have no historic ties to the Jews. The UN decides on holy places of religions? Did the UN ever even contemplate about holy places of Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, or Sikhs? It is only against Jews that something like that is in motion - an attempted cultural/religious genocide against Jews and their history and religion. (Huffington Post)
  • New UK Prime Minister Theresa May Is a Friend of the Jewish Community - Mike Freer
    As the UK's longest serving Home Secretary in over 50 years, Theresa May has a wealth of political experience in one of the most difficult jobs in British politics and is certainly well versed on the threats facing the Jewish community. In the immediate aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo and HyperCacher attacks in France of January 2015, she asserted that "without its Jews, Britain would not be Britain," and attended a high-profile rally to jointly declare with the community - "Je suis Juif - I am Jewish."
        May announced earlier this year that the government had committed 13.4 million pounds for security measures in the Jewish community - an increase of 2 million pounds. She said: "No one wants the school where they send their child to need security guards, or have their place of worship be fitted with security alarms and blast-resistant glass. But until that changes, the government is clear - we will stand by the Jewish community." The writer is the UK Member of Parliament for Finchley & Golders Green and an officer of Conservative Friends of Israel. (Ha'aretz)

Israel Eyes Expanded Business with Africa - Ron Kampeas (JTA)

  • Israel has recently enhanced security ties with Egypt, reinvigorated decades-old ties in Africa, and mended ties with Turkey.
  • Ties with Africa, established in the 1950s and 1960s, already were a point of pride for Israel, identifying the Jewish state not as a colonial anomaly, as the Arab nations would have it, but as a postcolonial triumph of an indigenous people.
  • Netanyahu traveled to Africa with 80 men and women representing 50 businesses. Yosef Abramowitz, CEO of Energiya Global Capital, said he shook hands on $1 billion worth of deals.
    See also Collaboration between Israel and Sub-Saharan Africa - Glenn Yago (Times of Israel)
  • Since 2012, the growth rate in the developing world has more than doubled the rate in the developed world.
  • Half of the fastest growing economies in the world are in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the World Bank forecasts rising growth rates of over 5% of GDP in the coming years.
  • Israel's experience as a developing nation has contributed to it becoming a hub of innovative and relevant technologies for other developing countries.
  • The many collaborations between Israel and Sub-Saharan Africa already underway attest to the natural potential of strategic partnerships.

    Prof. Glenn Yago is Senior Director at the Milken Institute's Israel Center.

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