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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

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January 30, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Islamic State Planned to Launch Chemical Weapons in Iraq - Stuart Ramsay (Sky News-UK)
    Iraqi special forces say Islamic State was planning to launch missiles tipped with chemical or biological warheads from western Mosul.
    It follows analysis of material taken by French special forces working with Iraqi units in the city.
    The weapons, with Russian markings, are thought to have come from Syria.

The Israel-UK Intelligence Partnership - Daniel Sugarman (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    For the first time, Robert Hannigan, outgoing Director-General of the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), has talked about the organization's "strong partnership with our Israeli counterparts in signals intelligence."
    The relationship "is protecting people from terrorism...not only in the UK and Israel but in many other countries."
    Hannigan added: "We are building on an excellent cyber relationship with a range of Israeli bodies and the remarkable cyber industry in Beersheba."
    See also The Jewish Codebreakers Who Helped Win the War - Robert Hannigan (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    As Director of GCHQ, I rarely write in public. But the death of Rolf Noskwith earlier this month, at the age of 97, prompts me to tell the story of our remarkable group of Jewish staff at Bletchley Park during the Second World War and the years that followed.
    Their role in codebreaking and in our "signals intelligence" mission was out of all proportion to the size of the Jewish community in Britain at the time.

David's Sling Anti-Missile System Nearing Operational Readiness - Udi Etsion (Ynet News)
    The joint Israeli-U.S. missile defense system known as David's Sling - meant to intercept missiles fired at ranges of 40 km. to 300 km - is nearing operational readiness.
    The system passed a series of trials in the past week in which advanced missiles fired from F-15s were successfully intercepted over the Mediterranean Sea.

Palestinians Help Save Israeli Lives in West Bank Bus Crash - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    On Friday night, a Palestinian family from Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya in the West Bank saw an Israeli bus that had rolled downhill off the road to the Israeli town of Ma'ale Levona in the pouring rain.
    Capt. Sivan Raviv, an IDF medical officer, said that the family went out to assist those hurt in the accident and were the first to call emergency services.
    "When we arrived at the site we saw the family members already trying to extract the injured parties and offer them treatment." 

Muslims Who Saved Jews during the Holocaust - Melissa Chan (TIME)
    Some Muslims risked their lives to rescue Jews from persecution during World War II.
    Khaled Abdul Wahab sheltered two dozen Jews in Tunisia.
    Abdol Hossein Sardari, an Iranian diplomat, is credited with helping thousands of Jews escape Nazi soldiers by issuing them passports.
    The Muslim Pilkus family in Albania harbored Johanna Neumann and her mother in their home during the German occupation.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Saudis, U.S. Agree to Tackle Iran's Influence - Glen Carey and Justin Sink
    President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia's King Salman agreed in a phone call on Sunday to bolster anti-terrorism efforts and tackle Iran's "destabilizing regional activities." The two leaders "agreed on the importance of strengthening joint efforts to fight the spread of radical Islamic terrorism," the White House said.
        The king agreed to support "safe zones in Syria and Yemen, as well as supporting other ideas to help the many refugees who are displaced by the ongoing conflicts."  (Bloomberg)
  • Jordan's Abdullah to Press U.S. to Step Up War on Islamist Militants - Suleiman Al-Khalidi
    Jordan's King Abdullah will hold talks with U.S. President Donald Trump's administration in Washington on Monday on how to bolster the kingdom's security amid the growing risk of Islamic State attacks. He will be the first Arab leader to hold talks with the new administration. "The king will seek a stepped-up campaign against the extremists and secure extra resources to help ensure the militants would not be allowed to move towards our borders," one official said.
        U.S. Patriot missiles are stationed in Jordan and the U.S. Army has hundreds of trainers. Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Washington has spent millions of dollars to set up an elaborate border defense system. (Reuters)
  • Netanyahu: U.S. Embassy Should Be in Jerusalem - Aron Heller
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet Sunday that the American embassy in Israel should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. "Our view has always been, and continues to be, that the United States' embassy should be here in Jerusalem," Netanyahu said. "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and it is appropriate that not only the American embassy will be here but that all embassies will move here and I believe that in due course most will come here, to Jerusalem."  (AP-New York Times)
        See also U.S. Jewish Leaders Back U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem - Ariel Ben Solomon
    Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told the New York Post he's been pushing to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem for decades. "It needs to be done smartly to minimize the negative reactions. That should not be a deterrence from righting a longstanding wrong....We hope the embassy is moved as soon as possible."  (New York Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • UN Secretary-General Confirms Jewish Ties to Temple Mount in Jerusalem - Adam Rasgon
    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Israel Radio on Friday that it is "completely clear that the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple." He also said he had no intention of pushing for a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, though he would assist in that goal if asked.
        In response, PA Jerusalem Affairs minister Adnan al-Hussein told Xinhua on Sunday that Guterres "overstepped his role as secretary general...and must issue an apology to the Palestinian people."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians with Knives Arrested Outside Israeli Town in West Bank Sunday
    Two Palestinians were arrested on Sunday after trying to enter the West Bank town of Karnei Shomron with their knives drawn, police said. (Times of Israel)
        See also Palestinians Arrested after Shooting Attack in West Bank Friday - Judah Ari Gross
    On Friday, a Palestinian opened fire at an Israeli vehicle near the West Bank town of Nili. No injuries were reported, but multiple bullet holes were found in the car and several bullet casings were found at the scene. Israeli security forces later arrested two Palestinian men suspected of the shooting. The weapon used in the attack - a Carlo-style submachine gun - was found in their possession. (Times of Israel)
  • Haifa Shooting Attacks "Motivated by Hatred for Jews" - Anna Ahronheim
    In the wake of the Jan. 3 shooting attack that left one Israeli killed and another wounded in Haifa, the Israel Security Agency said Monday that Muhammad Shinawi, a resident of Haifa, revealed that he had deliberately shot Guy Cafri, 47, and Yechiel Illouz, 48, because of his "hatred for Jews" and his belief that "Jews are heretics who deserve to be killed." Initially, police suspected a criminal motive for the shootings. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Israel: The Eighth Great Power of 2017 - Walter Russell Mead and Sean Keeley
    The U.S. remains the most powerful country on earth, followed by China, Japan, Russia, Germany, India, Iran, and Israel - a new name on our list of the Eight Greats. A small country, Israel is a rising power with a growing impact on world affairs. Overall, the Jewish state continues to develop diplomatic, economic and military power and to insert itself into the heart of regional politics.
        Large, off-shore discoveries of natural gas and oil are turning Israel into an energy exporter. Energy self-sufficiency is a boost to Israel's economy; energy exports boost Israel's foreign policy clout. Access to Israeli technology (like the technology behind the Iron Dome missile defense system) matters to more and more countries. Israel's diplomatic outreach to Africa and its deepening relationship with India benefit from Israel's ability to deliver what people in other countries want.
        Another factor is the change in the Middle Eastern balance of power that has transformed Israel from a pariah state to a kingmaker. Syria, one of Israel's most vociferous enemies and biggest security threats, has now been broken. Egypt hates Hamas, ISIS and Islamic Jihad as much as Israel does; never has Egyptian-Israeli security cooperation been as close as it is today. Even more consequentially, the rise of Iran and its aspirations to regional hegemony made Israel critical to the survival of the Sunni Arabs, including the Gulf states.
        Israel begins 2017 as the keystone of a regional anti-Iran alliance, a most-favored-nation in the White House, and a country that enjoys good relations with all of the world's major powers bar Iran. (American Interest)
  • Stop American Aid to the Palestinians until the Terror Ceases - David Aufhauser and Sander Gerber
    Since 9/11, it has been accepted wisdom that stopping funds flowing to terrorism is a vital way to diminish its reach and incidence. A second operating principle growing out of 9/11 is that people who underwrite terrorism bear culpability equal to those who commit it.
        Over the past 10 years, Washington has provided more than $4 billion in foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority. However, American assistance programs have yet to ensure effectively that taxpayer dollars are not diverted to support acts of terror. The Palestinian Authority's support for killing is indisputable because it is codified in law. Statutes pledge to martyr families triple the income for life of the average salary in the West Bank. Not another dollar should flow until measures are adopted to assure that no more people are slain because American aid enabled the PA to confidently promise compensation for killing.
        Mr. Aufhauser was chairman of the National Security Council Policy Committee on Terrorist Financing and the general counsel of the Treasury Department after 9/11. Mr. Gerber is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Wall Street Journal)

Truth-Telling to Advance Israeli-Palestinian Peace - Dr. Max Singer (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

  • It is false to say that there exists "Palestinian territory" that Israel refuses to "give back." The land in question is disputed: it is territory for which Israel has historic and legal claims. It is not Palestinian territory because Palestinians have never ruled or been sovereign over any land. This is an indisputable fact, not a question of interpretation.
  • While Palestinians claim there are nearly 5 million "Palestinian refugees" from 1948, the reality is that only some 50,000 are refugees as the world defines the term. The others are descendants of refugees who never lived in Israel. The miseries imposed on them for three generations are the result of the Arab world's decision to prevent their resettlement in Arab lands. It is well understood that the Palestinian "right of return" is a weapon to destroy Israel.
  • Official statements always refer to Jerusalem as sacred to both Jews and Muslims (sometimes adding that it is sacred to Christians as well), but in reality, there is very little symmetry between the Israeli and Palestinian connections to Jerusalem. The al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem is in no way central to Islam. Jerusalem is not mentioned even once in the Koran, nor in regular Muslim prayers.
  • On the other hand, Jerusalem is a central feature of the Jewish religion and of daily Jewish prayer. Palestinian denial that there was ever a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem is a recent invention. Older Muslim sources explain that the Dome of the Rock was built on the Temple Mount because it was the site of the Jewish Temple.
  • If Israel was simply a colonial power taking Arab land by force, as the Palestinians falsely argue, it would be cowardly for them to yield. But Israelis did not come to the land as European colonialists; they came as a people returning to its homeland. Acknowledging Israel's historical and moral claim to the land would provide the Palestinians with an honorable basis for compromise with Israel.

    The writer is co-founder of the Hudson Institute in Washington.

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