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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
August 16, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Russian Warplanes Based in Iran Target IS in Syria (AP-New York Times)
    Russia's Defense Ministry said Tuesday that Russian warplanes have taken off from a base in Iran to target Islamic State fighters in Syria.
    Russia and Iran have been expanding their ties in recent months.

Gaza Reconstruction Proceeding Slowly - Linda Gradstein (Media Line-Ynet News)
    Two years after the 2014 Gaza war, about 70,000 Palestinians have not returned to their homes that were damaged in the fighting, while just 200 homes have been completely rebuilt and the families returned.
    The pace of reconstruction has been glacial, partly because Hamas has been diverting cement and other materials to build tunnels.

Lessons from the Second Lebanon War, Ten Years On - Michael Rubin (Commentary)
    Lebanon made a conscience choice to allow Hizbullah to assert its primacy along its southern border following Israel's UN-certified withdrawal in May 2000. Hizbullah armed and launched its attack in 2006 under the watch of UNIFIL.
    Hizbullah began the 2006 conflict with 10,000-12,000 rockets. Today it has 150,000 missiles.
    Diplomacy empowers terrorists, it does not defeat them. Nor does it do any favors for peace. Only accountability - sometimes delivered by force of arms - can convince locals to turn groups like Hizbullah into pariahs.
    The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Pro-Israel Campus Group Files Human Rights Complaint - Sue-Ann Levy (Toronto Sun-Canada)
    A grassroots pro-Israel campus advocacy organization has filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal after it was banned from participating in a student-association-organized Social Justice Fair held in March at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT).
    Robert Walker, national director of Hasbara Fellowships, received an email indicating that he had been banned from the fair because the student association had just passed a motion endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement.
    "Your organization seems closely tied to the State of Israel and as such, it would be against the motion to provide any type of resources to your organization."
    Walker countered, "When you have 20,000 students that are being denied the opportunity to hear from an alternative voice, it is a very scary situation and runs completely contrary to every tenet of what a publicly-funded institution should be."

Medical Equipment Company Medtronic Invests $20M in Israeli Surgical Robotic Firm - Gali Weinreb (Globes)
    Israeli surgical robotic system developer Mazor Robotics reported Monday that global medical equipment company Medtronic had made a $20 million investment in the firm following the launch of Mazor X, a high-precision spinal surgery guidance system, which will be jointly marketed by the companies.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Under Pressure over Aleppo Siege, Russia Hints at Seeking Deal with U.S. - Rick Gladstone and Alison Smale
    Russia suggested on Monday that it was close to an agreement on a military collaboration with the U.S. to attack Islamic State fighters in the Aleppo area, where roughly two million civilians are trapped. Such a joint effort would be a new level of cooperation between the two powers in seeking a way out of the five-year-old Syria war, in which the Russians and Americans basically back opposite sides.
        A week ago, insurgents embedded in the eastern part of Aleppo broke a stalemate against Syrian military forces and their Russian allies, effectively blocking government-held western Aleppo. Since then, Syrian and Russian air bombardments of insurgent-held neighborhoods in Aleppo have left dozens of people dead. (New York Times)
  • Poll: Americans Support Limited U.S. Military Action in Syria - Adam Taylor
    According to a new poll by the Chicago Council on Global Affair, 72% of Americans favor U.S. airstrikes against violent Islamist extremist groups in Syria, while 57% supported sending Special Operations forces into Syria to fight these groups. While 52% said they favored a no-fly zone that would include the bombing of the Syrian regime's air defenses, only 42% favored sending ground troops to Syria. Just 26% favored sending arms to anti-government groups, while 31% wanted the U.S. to help negotiate an end to the fighting that would keep Assad in power. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: Non-Muslims Will Not Be Banned from Temple Mount - Herb Keinon
    Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter said Monday, "The idea that what was done in Saudi Arabia - where two cities holy to Islam, Mecca and Medina, are sites where only Muslims have the right to enter - will be done on the Temple Mount is a distorted idea that we will not let happen. We will respect the sanctity of al-Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem, and will stand up for our rights on the Temple Mount." Non-Muslims are not allowed into al-Aksa's prayer hall, while they are permitted on the Temple Mount.
        Dichter was responding to comments made by Jordan's Minister of Wakf and Islamic Affairs Wael Arabiyat denouncing a visit by a group of Jews to the Temple Mount on Tisha B'Av, a fast day that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples located at the site. Arabiyat had accused Jews of "breaking into al-Aksa mosque," "storming" the shrine, and performing "Talmudic rituals" in the mosque.
        Dichter noted that there is an attempt underway to conflate the Aksa Mosque with the entire Temple Mount compound. "Recently there has been a growing tendency calling for the 'defense' of al-Aksa. This defense has grown a great deal, and from the mosque on the southern part of the Temple Mount they are now talking about the whole area of the Temple Mount. Israel will not let this happen."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • More Arab Israelis Join National Service - Dov Lieber
    A fast-growing community of young Arabs are eschewing decades of anti-normalization with the majority-Jewish State of Israel. Six years ago, only 600 non-Jews served in Israel's national service program, in which participants volunteer for one to two years in schools, hospitals, courts or health clinics. Presently, 4,500 non-Jews are doing national service, including 100 from eastern Jerusalem.
        Those doing national service receive the same benefits as soldiers, which include $209 monthly, free healthcare, free use of public transportation, and a $2,880 grant at the end of their service for every year served, which can go toward education or buying a home. In addition there is a fully funded, year-long university preparation program available only to native Arabic speakers.
        Sar Shalom Gerbi, director of Israel's national service, noted that 85% of Arab volunteers find good jobs afterwards. "They want to help their communities and they understand this can also be an entry card into Israeli society."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Meaning of an Olympic Snub - Bret Stephens
    If you want the short answer for why the Arab world is sliding into the abyss, look no further than the incident in which an Egyptian judoka at the Rio Olympics refused to shake his Israeli opponent's extended hand. Over the past 70 years the Arab world got rid of its Jews, some 900,000 people, while holding on to its hatred of them.
        Over time the result proved fatal: a combination of lost human capital, ruinously expensive wars, misdirected ideological obsessions, and an intellectual life perverted by conspiracy theories and the perpetual search for scapegoats. Historian Paul Johnson has noted that wherever anti-Semitism took hold, social and political decline almost inevitably followed.
        Among Egyptians, hatred of Israel barely abated after Menachem Begin relinquished the Sinai to Anwar Sadat. Among Palestinians, anti-Semitism became markedly worse during the years of the Oslo peace process. Successful nations make a point of trying to learn from their neighbors. The Arab world has been taught over generations only to hate theirs.
        So long as an Arab athlete can't pay his Israeli opposite the courtesy of a handshake, the disease of the Arab mind and the misfortunes of its world will continue. The hater always suffers more than the object of his hatred. (Wall Street Journal)
      See also Olympic Committee Sends Egyptian Judoka Home over Handshake Refusal with Israeli - Karolos Grohmann (Reuters)
  • Black Lives Matter's Anti-Israel Declaration - Alan M. Dershowitz
    Black Lives Matter has now moved away from its central mission and has declared war against the nation state of the Jewish people. In a recently issued "platform," more than 60 groups that form the core of the Black Lives Matter movement went out of their way to single out one foreign nation to accuse of genocide and apartheid.
        It wasn't the Syrian government, which has killed tens of thousands of innocent people with barrel bombs, chemicals, and gas. Nor was it Saudi Arabia, which openly practices gender and religious apartheid. It wasn't Iran, which hangs gays and murders dissidents. Nor was it Hamas-controlled Gaza, where the police act as judge, jury and executioner of those whose politics or religious practices they disapprove. It was only Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.
        Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic. But singling Israel out and falsely accusing it of "genocide" can be explained in no other way than blatant hatred of Jews and their state. Genocide means the deliberate extermination of a race. It has no application to deaths caused by self-defense measures taken to protect citizens against terrorism. Black anti-Semitism is as inexcusable as white anti-Semitism or white racism. The writer is professor emeritus of law at Harvard University. (Boston Globe)
        See also Black Churches in Missouri Condemn Black Lives Matter Statement on Israel (JTA)

Ten False Assumptions Regarding Israel - Alan Baker (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Israel is inundated with one-sided international resolutions, declarations, and "peace plans," most of which rest on widely-held, false, and mistaken assumptions regarding Israel, its leaders, government, policies, and positions held by the vast majority of the Israeli public.
  • Israel entered the territories in 1967 after being attacked by all its neighbors, acting in self-defense against an offensive and aggressive war. The territory was never under Palestinian rule or sovereignty, and when it was under Jordanian control there was no intention by Jordan to turn it into a Palestinian state.
  • Israel entertains valid, widely acknowledged and long-held historic and legal claims regarding the territories. Israel's settlements cannot be seen to be a violation of international law. Any determination of such is based on a selective, politically-biased viewpoint taken outside of accepted international practice. 
  • Pending attainment of a negotiated settlement, the Oslo Accords place no freeze or restriction on either Israel or the Palestinians to engage in planning, zoning, and construction in the respective areas under its control. To the contrary, planning, zoning and construction are specifically permitted.
  • The claim that the settlements are the source of the conflict holds no logic. The Arab-Israel conflict existed long before the establishment of any settlement, with efforts by the Arab states in 1948 to prevent the establishment of the State of Israel and their ongoing efforts since then to bring about its demise.
  • The Palestinian leadership refuses to resume negotiations, and refuses to meet or to enter into any dialogue with Israel's leaders. It blocks contacts between Palestinians and Israelis at the diplomatic, professional, and people-to-people levels. This policy runs counter to Palestinian commitments in the Oslo Accords to encourage development cooperation and "people-to-people dialogues" at all levels.
  • While Israel has expressed its willingness for the principle of "two states for two peoples," the Palestinian leadership consistently refuses to accept the concept of Israel as the democratic nation state of the Jewish People. The present political stalemate between the Palestinians and Israel is not the result of Israeli defiance. Israel has repeatedly expressed its willingness to resume the negotiation process immediately.

    Amb. Alan Baker participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians and served as legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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