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December 2, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Iranians Detained on Terrorism Charges after Filming Israeli Embassy in Kenya - Natalie Johnson (Washington Free Beacon)
    Two Iranian men and their Kenyan driver, an employee of the Iranian embassy in Nairobi, were charged on Thursday with collecting information for plans to carry out a terrorist attack after they were found with video footage of the Israeli Embassy in Kenya.
    Sayed Nasrollah Ebrahim, Abdolhosein Gholi Safaee, and driver Moses Keyah Mmboga were arrested in an Iranian diplomatic car after taking video clips of the Israeli Embassy on a cell phone "for the use in the commission of a terrorist act," Reuters reported.
    The three were detained in Nairobi on Tuesday. They had been visiting Kamiti Prison to meet with two other Iranians, members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force, who have spent 15 years imprisoned on terrorism charges, the Times of Israel reported.

Syrian Rebels in Secret Talks with Moscow to End Aleppo Fighting - Erika Solomon, Mehul Srivastasa, and Geoff Dyer (Financial Times-UK)
    Syrian rebels are in secret talks with Russia to end the fighting in Aleppo, according to opposition figures. Turkey has been brokering the talks in Ankara.
    "The Russians and Turks are talking without the U.S. now. It [Washington] is completely shut out of these talks," said one opposition figure.
    While the secret contacts are not the first time a rebel representative has met with the Russians, those familiar with the talks said it was the first time such a large number of opposition groups were involved.

Obama Again Waives Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem - Tamar Pileggi and Raphael Ahren (Times of Israel)
    U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday renewed a presidential waiver, again delaying plans to relocate the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for another six months.
    Every president since Bill Clinton has cited national security in presidential waivers signed every six months that have postponed the embassy's relocation, as mandated by Congress in 1995.

Ohio Man Gets 20 Years in Prison for Islamic State-Linked Attack Plot - Jonathan Stempel (Reuters)
    Munir Abdulkader, 22, from the Cincinnati suburb of West Chester, was sentenced on Nov. 23 to 20 years in prison for plotting to murder a U.S. military base employee at home and videotape the killing so it could be used in Islamic State propaganda.
    He also planned to attack a police station in the Cincinnati area with an AK-47 assault rifle he acquired and Molotov cocktails.
    Abdulkader, who became a U.S. citizen in 2006, expressed support for the Islamic State on Twitter, including a desire for martyrdom.
    He also communicated with Junaid Hussain, an Islamic State member who encouraged him to conduct a violent attack in the U.S.
    Hussain was killed in an August 2015 U.S. drone strike.

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Britain's Muslim Brotherhood Whitewash - Con Coughlin (Wall Street Journal)
    The governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have all outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror organization and want Britain to ban the Muslim Brotherhood's ability to operate in the UK.
    These Arab countries insist that Muslim Brotherhood activists are taking advantage of Britain's tolerant attitude toward Islamist groups to plot terror attacks in the Arab world.
    Yet a British government inquiry into Muslim Brotherhood activities was ambivalent.

UK Pledges $17 Million to Protect Jewish Institutions - Christopher Hope (Telegraph-UK)
    Home Secretary Amber Rudd has pledged to spend 13.4 million pounds ($17 million) to provide guards for all Jewish schools, colleges, nurseries and synagogues.
    Rudd said, "Last year, the Community Security Trust received 924 reports of anti-Semitic incidents, including 86 violent assaults. Let me be clear, any attack of that kind is one attack too many."

Ontario Legislature Votes to Reject BDS (Canadian Jewish News)
    On Thursday, the Ontario Legislative Assembly approved a motion affirming that the legislature "stands firmly against any position or movement that promotes or encourages any form of hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance in any way."
    The resolution further affirmed strong bilateral relations between Ontario and Israel and declared that the legislature "rejects the differential treatment of Israel, including the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement" - also known as BDS.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Senate Votes to Extend Iran Sanctions Authority - David E. Sanger and Thomas Kaplan
    The U.S. Senate voted 99-to-0 on Thursday to extend the president's authority to impose sanctions on Iran for another decade, a move intended to keep pressure on Tehran to abide by the nuclear accord struck last year. Many of the sanctions have been suspended since the deal went into effect this year. But senators said the vote would help ensure that the U.S. could quickly reimpose sanctions if Iran violated its obligations under the agreement. (New York Times)
        See also Congress Renews U.S. Sanctions Law on Iran - Michael Bowman
    The sanctions renewal bill passed in the House of Representatives by 419-1 last month. Iranian officials blasted the bill, arguing it violates the nuclear pact and will have consequences. "They're bluffing," said Middle East expert Matthew McInnis at the American Enterprise Institute. "The Iranians are quite committed to the deal. They understood that these types of legislation such as the Iran Sanctions Act, which have been in effect for a long time, these types of things would likely be renewed."  (VOA News)
  • Palestinian Arsonists Behind 3/4 of Largest Fires in Israel - Sohrab Ahmari
    Of the 39 largest fires in Israel last month, 29 were ignited by Palestinian arsonists. "We have also identified an additional 10 sites where arson was attempted but didn't succeed," Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told me in an interview Thursday. "In some cases we were able to catch the suspects by camera or drone. In others we found Molotov cocktails at the scene." He added: "All the big fires were in Israel or in Jewish towns or near Jewish towns."
        Having tried and failed to destroy Israel through other means, Palestinians are now literally setting the Holy Land on fire. The message, evident to all but their friends in Washington and Brussels, is that they would sooner see the land go up in flames than coexist with a Jewish state.
        "I would love to be able to be the one that made peace with Israel and the Palestinians," president-elect Donald Trump told the New York Times last week. But treating Arab-Israeli peace like a real-estate deal - as a matter of offering just the right inducements to the parties - is precisely the failed approach that has disappointed successive American presidents for half a century, since it doesn't take the Palestinian ideology into account. Such bargaining leads nowhere with a people willing to risk burning down the land their future state would inherit. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Ambassador: "We Will Always Oppose One-Sided Initiatives"
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said Thursday that Washington "will always oppose one-sided initiatives" for a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, amid concerns that President Barack Obama would make a last-ditch peace push, possibly at the UN, in the last weeks of his administration. Shapiro told Army Radio that this "is a long-term policy. Whenever there were one-sided initiatives, we opposed them in the past and we will always oppose them."  (Times of Israel)
  • UN Supports Six Anti-Israel Resolutions, Ignores Jewish Ties to Temple Mount
    The UN General Assembly on Wednesday voted to adopt six resolutions condemning Israel during a special annual session for the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. In one decision, the UN voted to support a resolution that used solely Muslim language to describe the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and ignored the site's biblical role in Judaism and Christianity, with 147 member states voting in favor, 7 against and 8 abstaining. France, Italy, Germany and the UK all voted in favor of the resolution, while the U.S., Canada, Israel, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Naura and Palu all voted against it.
        Another resolution calling on Israel to transfer control of the Golan Heights to Syria was adopted by 103 in favor, 56 against, and 6 abstentions.
        "Today's resolutions are yet another example of the daily bias Israel faces in the UN," Israel's ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said. "At the same time that Israel is celebrating the historic decision to reestablish the Jewish state in our homeland, the UN continues to fund organizations and pass resolutions that do nothing to better the lives of the Palestinians."
        The day of solidarity with the Palestinians is marked every November 29, the date of the UN resolution adopting the Partition Plan, which paved the way for the end of the British Mandate and the establishment of the State of Israel. "While Israel celebrates the UN decision that led to its independence, the UN chooses to mark the Palestinian 'Nakba' (catastrophe)," Danon said. "The Palestinians continue to try to avoid a direct dialogue with Israel through the UN, while the UN continues funding bodies motivated by narrow political interests that help perpetuate the conflict."  (i24news)
        See also Lieberman: UN Risks Becoming Irrelevant
    Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday warned UN diplomats at a briefing at the UN that they risked becoming "irrelevant" by focusing on anti-Israel resolutions while ignoring issues like Syria, "where hundreds of people are killed on a daily basis," and North Korea's nuclear weapons. He said a series of "anti-Israel" UN resolutions passed in recent weeks demonstrated how the UN, and especially the Security Council, was "not fulfilling its role and was irrelevant to events on the world stage."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • France Should Be Ashamed of Labeling Products Made by Jews - Michael Oren
    To its credit, France is one of the first countries in Europe to ban economic boycotts of Israel. To its shame, France is the first European country to implement a 2015 EU decision to label Israeli products from Judea and Samaria - the West Bank - and the Golan Heights as "Made in an Israeli Settlement." Who is the French government fooling when it says that it is against any boycott of Israel and then acts to facilitate one? Such a policy is viewed by the vast majority of Israelis as highly prejudicial, if not anti-Semitic.
        There are 200 territorial disputes in the world today, and France has singled out one of them for special treatment. Moreover, France's labeling decision seriously harms the many thousands of Palestinians and Golan Druze who work in Israeli companies. Labeling Israeli products may satisfy certain parts of public opinion, but they will only prevent France from playing any serious role in Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy.
        Israel is also a sovereign state. We have the right and the duty to defend ourselves from unjust practices, even when adopted by our friends. Israelis should not boycott French products, but we should certainly think twice before buying them. Or perhaps we should just label them with a sticker stating: "Made in a country that singles out Jewish goods"? The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., is Israel's deputy minister for diplomacy in the Prime Minister's Office. (Newsweek)
  • Prospects for Palestinian Reconciliation with Israel - Walter Russell Mead
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was re-elected this week as the leader of the Fatah party. Within Fatah, many complain that the 81-year-old leader is out of touch and too close to Israel. Abbas' Palestinian critics have lately raked him over the coals for attending Shimon Peres' funeral and assisting Israel in putting out wildfires. So long as such basic acts of goodwill are treated as unforgivable betrayals of the cause, Palestinians are unlikely to move in a more moderate direction. The writer is professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College and professor of American foreign policy at Yale University. (American Interest)
  • Jordan-Israel Relations: Normalization in the Shadow of Political Deadlock - Oded Eran
    Progress on implementing infrastructure projects for water and energy between Israel and Jordan indicates the positive potential inherent in separating economic and infrastructure progress from progress on a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It reflects a reality of shortages of energy resources, drinking water, ports; the need to prevent pollution of crowded population centers; and the irrationality of preventing solutions to these issues if they are made conditional upon comprehensively solving all of the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
        The water and natural gas agreements with Jordan, as well as the electricity agreement signed between Israel and the Palestinians in September 2016, prove that the sides can reach understandings and perhaps full agreements in many areas, and these can create a positive environment, even if they are not substitutes for political agreements. The writer served as Israel's ambassador to the EU and Jordan. (Institute for National Security Studies)
  • The Forgotten Jewish Refugees from Arab Lands - David Harris
    When Arab invaders conquered North Africa, Jews had already been present there for more than six centuries. In the ninth century, under Muslim rule, Jews in Iraq were forced to wear a distinctive yellow patch - a precursor of the infamous Nazi yellow badge. Jews who lived in Arab countries numbered close to 900,000 in 1948. Today there are fewer than 5,000.
        Why does the world relentlessly, obsessively speak of the Palestinian refugees but totally ignore the Jewish refugees from the 1948 and 1967 wars? Why is the world left with the impression that there's only one refugee population when, in fact, there are two refugee populations, and the numbers of Jewish refugees were somewhat larger than the Palestinians? When I've tried raising the subject of the Jews from Arab lands with diplomats, elected officials, and journalists, their eyes glaze over.
        Perhaps the reason is that the Jews from the Arab world picked up the pieces of their shattered lives after their hurried departures - in the wake of intimidation, violence, and discrimination - and moved on. Most went to Israel, where they were welcomed. The writer has led the American Jewish Committee since 1990. (Huffington Post)
  • The Balfour Declaration Came as the Jewish Community in Palestine Faced Eradication - Lenny Ben-David
    The Balfour Declaration is hailed by Israel's friends as a great historic document establishing the principle of a Jewish state. But Balfour's declaration must also be seen in the context of the horrifying events of World War I when the indigenous Jewish community in Palestine was threatened with eradication. Many Jews of Jerusalem depended on charity funds that came from Jewish communities in Europe. But with the onset of the war, Turkey prohibited the funding from its enemies. In addition, Turkey instituted forced conscription.
        In December 1914, the Turks expelled 6,000 Jews of Russian origin from Jaffa. A severe locust plague hit Palestine in April 1915, leading to reports of deaths from starvation. On April 6, 1917, the eve of Passover, the Turks ordered the expulsion of approximately 8-10,000 Jews from Jaffa and Tel Aviv.
        Allied forces captured Beersheba on October 13, 1917, and the Balfour Declaration was declared on November 2. On December 9, the British army liberated Jerusalem. The writer served 25 years in senior posts in AIPAC in Washington and Jerusalem, and as Israel's Deputy Chief of Mission in the Embassy in Washington. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Returning Jihadis: A Generational Threat - Peter Neumann
    It was a mistake to believe that with the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the elimination of al-Qaeda's leadership, the threat of jihadism had ceased to exist. It returned ferociously only two years later with ISIS. It is possible that ISIS will disappear, but I am convinced that in five years, we will still be talking about a jihadist movement that is a threat that will keep us preoccupied for a generation.
        Over the past four to five years we have seen an unprecedented mobilization of people in the name of that movement - more than 30,000 people from a hundred different countries. For the first time we have seen the mobilization of over 5,000 Western Europeans who have gone to Iraq to join jihadist groups. Around 50% have already died and more will do so in the final battles. The writer, Professor of Security Studies at the Department of War Studies at Kings College London, is the author of Radicalised: New Jihadists and the Threat to the West. (Fathom-BICOM)

  • Weekend Features

  • Amity from the Ashes: Firefighters Who Came to Help Israel - Eliyahu Kamisher and Adam Rasgon
    Firefighters from Cyprus, the U.S. and the Palestinian Authority came at the request of the Israeli government to help battle blazes that engulfed the country last week. Nathaniel Benjamin Andreou, 35, a firefighter for the Cyprus Forestry Department, said that in Israel the Cypriots split up into seven teams. Andreou's team was tasked with putting out "hot spots" in the Jerusalem hills. He recalled that "In June we had the biggest fire in our history [in Cyprus]. We lost 19 square km. of forest; the fire was burning for three days....That's when the Israeli firefighters and airplanes came."
        Majd al-Qadri, 27, a Palestinian Authority firefighter, said the PA Civil Defense mobilized eight fire trucks, sending four into the foothills of Jerusalem and four others into Haifa and its environs. "We have a duty to help anyone who calls for our help, regardless of citizenship or religion," he said. Qadri said of his Israeli counterparts and the Jerusalemites, "They treated us excellently. We had no problems with anyone, be it the firefighters, the army, or the people. Everyone constantly made sure that we had everything we needed."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Parachuting Beyond the Glass Ceiling - Anna Ahronheim
    Ronit Burdette, who served in the IDF from 1981 to 1984, was the first female paratrooper instructor. Last week some 20 female recruits began the Paratroop Brigade's instructors course. "I made my dreams come true by being the first woman jump master and military parachuting instructor in the IDF," Burdette told the Jerusalem Post. "I have over 500 parachute jumps in the military and all over the world."
        The role of a combat instructor is one "full of responsibility," she said. Instructors "are responsible for the lives of our soldiers who protect our country. They believe in us; they trust us to bring them from the plane to the ground safely."  (Jerusalem Post)

The UN's Palestine Language - A.J. Caschetta (Gatestone Institute)

  • In recent years the UN's greatest achievements against the Jewish state have been rhetorical. By controlling the language of the Palestinian-Israel conflict, the UN has skewed the narrative falsely against Israel, tainting the world's perception of the conflict.
  • UN documents regularly refer to "occupied Palestinian territory" (especially in the "West Bank") as being stolen by Jewish "settlement activity." All four UN terms - "Palestine," "occupation," "West Bank," and "settlement" - are misleading.
  • There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians at any time in history. Until recently, there have never been a people or a culture known as "Palestinian" distinct from "Arab." The Arabs who lived in UN-mandated Palestine rejected UN Resolution 181 in 1947 and turned down statehood.
  • For millennia the territory termed "West Bank" was called Judea and Samaria. Most Palestinians in Judea and Samaria live under the governance of the Palestinian Authority. Referring to this territory as the "occupied West Bank," is an unnecessary concession to the Palestinian narrative. Saying that Jews are "occupying" Judea is as nonsensical as saying Arabs are "occupying" Arabia.
  • The term "settlement" evokes imagery of white European settlers encroaching on the territories of red, brown and black peoples, connoting colonialism, and insinuating Israeli theft of "Palestine."
  • What Israelis call Judea and Samaria, and Palestinians call the West Bank, are "disputed territories" to anyone claiming a modicum of neutrality.

    The writer is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and a senior lecturer at Rochester Institute of Technology.

        See also Massive International Media Correction: U.S. Does Not Consider Settlements "Illegal"
    A Nov. 16 AP article wrongly claimed that the U.S. government considers Israeli settlements "illegal." In fact, the U.S. characterizes the settlements as "illegitimate," an important distinction. CAMERA has prompted a correction that has so far appeared in 10 Canadian newspapers as well as the New York Times, ABC News, and Los Angeles Times. (CAMERA)
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