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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
September 29, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Thousands of Iran-Backed Fighters Converge on Aleppo amid Deadly Syria Airstrikes (Fox News)
    As deadly airstrikes pounded Aleppo, Syria, as many as 3,000 fighters from Iranian-backed Shiite militias have arrived in the city to support the Syrian regime in its fight to crush the rebellion, two U.S. officials confirmed.

Two Men from Egypt Found the Unexploded Bomb in Manhattan - Devlin Barrett (Wall Street Journal)
    The two men who found a travel bag containing an unexploded bomb on a Manhattan street this month work for EgyptAir and have since returned to Egypt, officials said.
    Surveillance cameras show Ahmad Khan Rahami wheeling the bag down the street, then leaving it on the sidewalk. A short time later, two men approach, open the bag, remove the homemade bomb wrapped in a garbage bag, and walk away with the travel bag.
    The FBI considers the two men witnesses, not suspects, and hopes to retrieve the bag and see if there is any additional physical evidence still on it.

Shimon Peres: The Architect of Israel's Nuclear Program - Yossi Melman (Jerusalem Post)
    In the late 1950s and 1960s, Shimon Peres, who then served as the director-general of Israel's Defense Ministry, oversaw the building of a "textile factory" in Dimona, which in fact was a nuclear reactor constructed with the assistance of France.
    According to foreign reports, Israel has produced uranium and plutonium for an arsenal of nuclear weapons which remain the central factor deterring Arab states and Iran from fulfilling their fantasies of eliminating Israel.

Peres Helped Build the IDF before the Six-Day War - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    During the 1950s, Shimon Peres, who had tried and failed to purchase weapons from the U.S., turned instead to France.
    Through Peres' relationship with the French, Israel purchased large quantities of weapons, including artillery, tanks and radar equipment.
    Israel also acquired French Dassault Mystere IV and Dassault Ouragan fighter jets in 1955, the Dassault Super Mystere B2 in 1958, and the Dassault Mirage IIIC, one of the most advanced aircraft of its time, in 1962.
    All of these aircraft were used in the 1967 Six-Day War, taking out the air forces of Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Jordan.

Photos: Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades Display New Weapons in Gaza (Middle East Monitor)
    The Palestinian al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades is the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Obama Orders Flags at Half-Staff for Peres
    President Barack Obama has ordered all U.S. flags on federal property to be flown at half-staff through sunset Friday in memory of former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who died Wednesday. (AP-Washington Post)
  • Peres' Funeral Presents Huge Challenge for Security-Conscious Israel - Alexander Smith
    Israeli security officials will face the most challenging event since the funeral of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, as a host of world leaders descend on Jerusalem for the funeral of Shimon Peres on Friday including President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Bill Clinton, and the UK's Prince Charles. (NBC News)
        See also 80 Foreign Leaders En Route to Israel for Peres Funeral - Stuart Winer (Times of Israel)
  • Congress Overrides Obama Veto of Bill Allowing 9/11 Lawsuits Against Saudi Arabia - Jennifer Steinhauer
    Congress on Wednesday voted to override a veto by President Obama for the first time, passing into law a bill that would allow the families of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for any role in the plot, with a 97-to-1 vote in the Senate and a 348-to-77 vote in the House. (New York Times)
  • Israel Working to Prevent a Third Intifada - David Wainer
    A year after Palestinians began a campaign of stabbing Israelis, widespread predictions that the latest wave of violence would evolve into a third Palestinian uprising have not materialized. "It's almost impossible to build a serious armed network in the West Bank under the current circumstances," said Alon Eviatar, a former senior military officer in the West Bank. "Israel's security services are much more efficient now than they were in previous uprisings and the mantra is not to refrain from going in for raids as much as needed to clear out cells."
        Israel's grip is underpinned by surveillance methods that eavesdrop on phone calls and read text messages. Based on high-tech monitoring methods, combined with human intelligence that includes discreet cooperation with Palestinian security services, multiple raids occur nightly, according to a senior military official. (Bloomberg)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • World Mourns Israel's Last Founding Father - Herb Keinon
    A who's who of world leaders will descend on Israel beginning on Thursday to attend the funeral of Shimon Peres, who will be buried in a state ceremony Friday on Mount Herzl in the section of the cemetery reserved for the Great Leaders of the Nation. His body will first lie in state in the Knesset plaza on Thursday to allow the public to pay their last respects. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Statements by U.S. Leaders on the Death of Former President Peres (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also Statements by World Leaders on the Death of Former President Peres (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Hamas Calls for "Day of Rage" during Peres Funeral
    Hamas urged Palestinians to hold a "Day of Rage" on Friday, coinciding with the state funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. On Wednesday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AP that "the Palestinian people are very happy at the passing of this criminal....Shimon Peres was the last remaining Israeli official who founded the occupation, and his death is the end of a phase in the history of this occupation and the beginning of a new phase of weakness."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Shimon Peres: Israel's Last Founding Father - Bret Stephens
    Shimon Peres helped found Israel's Navy, established the Israeli arms-maker Rafael (today the maker of the Iron Dome air defense system), forged a strategic military partnership with France, and arranged the construction of Israel's first nuclear reactor - all by age 40.
        As minister of defense in the mid-1970s, he urged a reluctant Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to order the daring rescue of Israeli hostages at the Entebbe airport in Uganda, proving that a courageous democracy could defeat terror.
        A decade later, as prime minister, he helped rescue Israel's economy from hyperinflation - while also rescuing thousands of Ethiopian Jews from persecution and starvation under the Communist Mengistu regime.
        His biggest dream was peace with Israel's Arab neighbors. But while Peres was eager to go from hawk to dove, Arafat could not rise from terrorist to statesman. The 1993 Oslo Accords collapsed in a wave of suicide bombings at the turn of the millennium. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Shimon Peres Was Israel's Quintessential Zionist - David Makovsky
    Shimon Peres was relentlessly intent on securing Zionism in the present to ensure a better future for his people and for the region. The key to Zionism, as he saw it, was not waiting for others to determine the nation's future. Zionism was about Jews seeking to shape their sovereign future and not be shaped by it. The writer is director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Times of Israel)
  • Shimon Peres, Relentless Advocate of a Better Israel, a Better World - David Horovitz
    "The present government in Iran doesn't have a future," Shimon Peres told me in 2013. "The problem of Iran is timing, not verdict. It's a government that doesn't have a message - not only for humanity, but for their own people." He elaborated in 2015, "Iran too will change. You cannot have the ayatollahs as the eternal government." Pressure for reform from young Iranians would be among the factors to spell the demise of the regime, he predicted: "In 10-15 years, Iran will be out of water and thus out of ayatollahs, in my judgment."
        Peres was the face of the Israel that the world wants to see: Warm and wise, a believer in the essential good of humanity. He urged, "Practically, prepare as best as you can for the worst, and prepare to change the situation for the better. I do not suggest that Israel reduce its strength. I also don't suggest that Israel reduce its desire for peace." I'll greatly miss Shimon Peres. I'd like to live in that better world that he believed, to his dying day, is out there to be attained. (Times of Israel)

Debating Israel - Dani Dayan (Forward)

  • The Jewish people has many marvelous achievements to be proud of. Agreeing on important topics has never been one of them. We have always disagreed on and argued about the things we care about, but always, we have remained one people. Our disputes and arguments kept us engaged with each other.
  • As Consul General of Israel in New York, I have heard more than once the notion that opposing views within the Jewish community, particularly with regard to Israel, are grounds for boycotting and disengagement.
  • Israel is something the vast majority of Jewish Americans care about profoundly. So it's only natural that the policies Israel should adopt and the path it should follow would be something that Jewish Americans disagree about profoundly.
  • That's why I feel anguish when I hear of a synagogue where Israel is declared a taboo subject, lest its discussion be "controversial," or when friends tell me I should desist from engaging with certain Jewish organizations that oppose the policy of my government, lest I legitimize their point of view. Since when have Jews seen controversy as something to be avoided? And since when have diverging views on how to best serve the wellbeing of the Jewish state been something illegitimate?
  • Personally, I believe in earnest that every overture to peace made by Israel or by anyone else in the last 100 years has been ultimately rejected by the Palestinian leadership. And so long as not a single credible Palestinian leader is willing to rise up and openly recognize the Jewish people as also indigenous to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, I am compelled to believe that any other peace proposal Israel could reasonably make would hit the same brick wall of Palestinian intransigence.
  • This is my opinion. I believe it is true to reality. But I certainly do not believe it is any more or less legitimate than the opinion of someone who believes there is a realistic course of action that Israel has not yet tried and that would lead to an agreement ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I would be all too keen to sit down with any Jew of that opinion, hear more about the course of action she proposes and evaluate it together with her.
  • All around us, we see the pitch of public discourse becoming shriller, harsher and more hurtful. Let us make a new year's resolution to keep on talking to one another, keep on listening to one another, and keep on arguing around the family Rosh Hashanah table of the Jewish people.

    The writer is the Consul General of Israel in New York.

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