Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at
Daily Alert Mobile
Search Back Issues
  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
January 17, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Istanbul Nightclub Attacker Captured (Hurriyet-Turkey)
    Abdulkadir Masharipov, who killed 39 people in an attack on an Istanbul nightclub on Jan. 1, has confessed to his crime after being caught in Istanbul on Monday, Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin has stated.
    It is clear that Masharipov, who was trained as a militant in Afghanistan, staged the attack on behalf of the Islamic State, Sahin said.

Are Terrorists Crossing the U.S.-Mexico Border? - Warren Richey (Christian Science Monitor)
    These ten examples show that the idea of terrorists using the Mexico border to gain access to the U.S. is not merely hypothetical.
    In 2001, Mahmoud Kourani, a fighter and fundraiser for Hizbullah, was smuggled across the Mexican border and into the U.S. in the trunk of a car.
    In June 2008, Abdullahi Omar Fidse walked across the bridge from Mexico to Hidalgo, Texas, declared himself a refugee from Somalia and requested asylum. While being held in an immigration detention center, he told another Somali detainee that he supported Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

Hamas, Islamic State Resume Close Cooperation Despite Pressure from Egypt - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    Despite pressure from Egypt, Hamas has refused to crack down on smuggling by Islamic State through tunnels under the Gaza-Sinai border.
    Hamas views this activity as a source of income, and recently raised its taxes on goods brought into Gaza by IS smugglers.
    In addition, Hamas is now permitting IS to run a propaganda production operation inside Gaza, out of reach of the Egyptian military.
    In recent days, IS attacks against Egyptian forces have ratcheted up in the El Arish area of Sinai peninsula, leading to a sharp spike in deaths of Egyptian soldiers.
    The weaponry used in these attacks is believed to have come from Gaza.

IDF Trains to Confront Hizbullah, Hamas - Gili Cohen (Ha'aretz)
    The Israel Defense Forces is changing its training to better simulate combat situations against Hizbullah and Hamas. "Tunnels" have been built in all IDF brigade training bases to replicate underground fighting.
    The army wants to establish "red force" companies in every division to serve as an enemy force during exercises. The units, which will consist of reservists, will undergo training to learn how to fight like Hizbullah and Hamas.
    The Israel Air Force has had an equivalent "red squadron" simulating enemy forces for about a decade.

Israeli Technology Helps Feed the World - Gwen Ackerman (Bloomberg)
    Israel's NRGene is accelerating efforts to eliminate world hunger, working with Syngenta Ag and Monsanto to detect plant traits that can produce higher-yielding crops, and with gene-sequencer Illumina Inc. to improve cattle herds.
    It says its cloud-based software speeds up development of crops and breeding by as much as 30%.

RSS Feed 
Key Links 
Archives Portal 
Fair Use/Privacy 

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Britain Blocks EU Council from Adopting Paris Peace Summit Statement - Henry Mance
    British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson blocked the EU Foreign Affairs Council on Monday from adopting a resolution supporting the final communique from Sunday's Paris conference. Johnson declined to attend the conference and the UK dissented from the communique. An official briefed on the meeting said that Britain, supported by Hungary and Croatia, had reservations about the fact that neither Israel nor the Palestinians were involved in the Paris conference and also about its timing. (Financial Times-UK)
        See also Britain Denounced for Defending Israel in International Forums - Raphael Ahren
    Palestinian and European officials on Monday slammed the UK's apparent readiness to defy an international consensus and stand up for Israel. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel's Invisible Presence at Syria Peace Talks Guaranteed by Russia - Nazir Majli
    Israel wasn't invited to the conference on Syria's future to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Jan. 23, but it is making sure that its presence is felt there through all possible channels. Israel has conveyed the message that no agreement can be reached, especially concerning the Golan Heights, without taking Israeli interests into account.
        Moreover, after reports surfaced of an Israeli attack near Damascus on Friday, Deputy Chairman of Russia's Duma Committee on International Affairs Andrey Klimov told Izvestia that Israel was acting against an organization it considered a threat to its security. Klimov said, "Tel Aviv is fighting against terrorist organizations engaged in the war in Syria" - a reference to Hizbullah. (Asharq al-Awsat-UK)
  • Robert Kennedy's Daughter: My Father Was Killed for Supporting Israel - Ruthie Blum
    The daughter of the late U.S. Senator Robert F. (Bobby) Kennedy - assassinated by a Palestinian in June 1968 during his run for president - spoke with Israel's Channel 1 during a recent trip to Israel in an interview broadcast on Jan. 14. The long-time Democratic Party activist and former lieutenant governor of Maryland said that she feels a "special bond" with Israel, inherited from her father.
        "As you know, in 1968, he was fighting for the 50 jets that would be given to the Israeli army, and he was killed because of his support [for Israel]." Asked whether she is able to forgive her father's murderer, Sirhan Sirhan, who is serving a life sentence in prison, Townsend responded: "To tell you the truth, that's a little difficult."  (Algemeiner)
        See also Video: Interview with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (Israel Broadcasting Authority)
        See also Robert Kennedy's 1948 Reports from Palestine - Lenny Ben-David (Boston Post-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Foreign Ministry Chalks Up Paris Conference as Win for Israel - Alexander Fulbright
    Israel Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem on Monday hailed the lackluster outcome of Sunday's Paris peace conference as a victory for Israel. The Paris conference imposed "no new obligations" on Israel and "finished without any mechanism to apply or follow up" on the provisions it outlined, Rotem told Israel Radio. He noted that the conference's concluding declaration included "the direct recognition of a national home for the Jewish people" and the affirmation that "the only way to arrive at peace is by means of direct negotiations between the sides."
        Israeli officials noted that "problematic passages" from the recent UN Security Council resolution on the settlements were not included in the Paris document, and that Secretary of State John Kerry promised that no further action against Israeli settlements is planned at the Security Council. Rotem also noted the absence of the British and Russian foreign ministers at the Paris conference. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel's War on Hizbullah's Accurate Missiles - Ron Ben-Yishai
    All signs indicate that the strike on Friday near the Mezzeh Military Airport west of Damascus was aimed at destroying a shipment of accurate Iranian surface-to-surface missiles to Hizbullah. Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah and senior commanders of Iran's Revolutionary Guards announced recently that Hizbullah was receiving accurate missiles from Iran that could threaten most of the essential facilities and civilian and military airports in Israel. Israel is interested in reducing the number of such missiles in Hizbullah's possession.
        Opposition sources in Syria reported that Friday's strike also included military facilities in the Jabal Qasiun area, the mountain range overlooking Damascus where many military facilities are located. The sources said the targets were missile depots and antiaircraft systems intended to serve Hizbullah's aerial defense system. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Paris Peace Conference Reveals the Ignorance of the International Community - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser
    Zionism, as the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, has historical claims to sovereignty in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) that were backed by international law in the Balfour Declaration and the British Mandate. Nevertheless, Israel is prepared for a far-reaching compromise regarding the territories as part of a peace agreement that will bring an end to the conflict. But the Palestinians - who insist on their maximalist narrative - have rejected every proposal that recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, and have thus prevented every effort to achieve peace.
        Israel's control of the territories continues only because of this Palestinian stubbornness. If the Palestinians had accepted the proposals of Israeli prime ministers Ehud Barak or Ehud Olmert, the conflict would have ended long ago.
        Moreover, there is no reason to choose between having a Jewish state and democracy, particularly since Israel has no wish to rule over the Palestinians in the territories, who live today within an independent political framework.
        Above all, Israel is a democracy and is able to make decisions for itself about its own security and its future. Attempts by various bodies to force their decisions on Israel through outside pressure stem from considerations that seek to ignore the Israeli electorate - an effort that is clearly anti-democratic. Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser was formerly director-general of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence. (Ha'aretz-Hebrew)
        See also Video: Lessons from the Failed Paris Peace Conference - Yossi Kuperwasser (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Public Broadcasting Service Ombudsman Upholds Criticism of Ben Rhodes' Settlements Falsehood - Michael Getler
    On Dec. 23, PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff discussed the UN Security Council vote on a resolution condemning Israeli settlements with Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser to President Obama for strategic communications. In the course of the interview, Rhodes' grip on strategic communications failed him at two points when he talked about "thousands of new settlements are being constructed" and later on when he said, "you saw tens of thousands of settlements being constructed."
        On Jan. 10, the media watch organization CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) wrote me that "Zero settlements are under construction and there have been no new settlements in some two decades." Rhodes misspoke when he talked about thousands and tens of thousands of settlements. It merits some kind of correcting or clarifying statement by the NewsHour on the air or online or both. (PBS)

Paved with Good Intentions? France's Middle East Peace Conference - Robert M. Danin (Council on Foreign Relations)

  • The 2017 Paris peace conference underlined outdated thinking that, left uncorrected, will harm future international diplomatic efforts to deliver peace to the Holy Land.
  • French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, writing in Ha'aretz, argued that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, left unattended, will "continue to fuel frustration and will ultimately only worsen the vicious cycle of radicalization and violence. It will continue to give budding terrorists excuses for enlisting." The dubious implication is that deadly terrorist attacks unleashed in Cairo, Baghdad, and Istanbul - not to mention Damascus, Aleppo, and Raqaa - were the product of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • In a display of sheer arrogance, the Paris conference final communique explicitly called upon the democratically elected Israeli government to disavow their own officials whose policy preferences are deemed disagreeable to the Paris conferees.
  • This type of call to intervene in the domestic politics of a democratically elected government is what led British Prime Minister Theresa May to chastise Secretary of State Kerry's speech several weeks ago. Yet saving Israelis from their leaders is clearly what France had in mind for their conference.
  • Why Ayrault believes Israelis would want to listen to the French government, rather than their own leaders, is unclear.
  • If nothing else, the efforts of outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry have provided a real-world experiment that tested the hypothesis that international goodwill and hard work can prevail upon the Israelis and Palestinians to make concessions that they are not prepared to make. This reality makes Paris' call for a return to negotiations right now not only pointless, but misguided.

    The writer is a senior fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies at CFR.

        See also The Paris Peace Talks Achieved Little - Editorial
    Convening the Paris conference has been more about the Obama administration scoring points over Israel than any serious effort at reviving peace talks. The summit achieved little except the generation of hot air. (Telegraph-UK)

Unsubscribe from Daily Alert.