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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
March 1, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Threats and Vandalism Leave American Jews on Edge - Alan Blinder (New York Times)
    The high-pitched, rambling voice on the telephone was disguised and garbled, and warned of a slaughter of Jews.
    The voice spoke of a bomb loaded with shrapnel and of an imminent "blood bath."
    The warning was one of at least 100 that Jewish community centers and schools in 33 states have reported since the beginning of the year.
    The FBI has been leading an inquiry since January, and a federal law enforcement official said that a single person may be making the threats using an internet calling service.
    "Agents and analysts across the country are working to identify and stop those responsible," said Stephen Richardson, FBI assistant director for the criminal investigative division.
    In 2015, FBI data recorded 664 hate crimes classified as anti-Jewish.

Russia and China Veto New UN Sanctions on Syria - Edith M. Lederer (AP-TIME)
    Russia and China vetoed new UN sanctions on Syria Tuesday, as the U.S. accused both countries of refusing to hold the Assad regime accountable for the use of chemical weapons.
    "They put their friends in the Assad regime ahead of our global security," American envoy Nikki Haley told the UN Security Council after the vote.
    "They turned away from defenseless men, women and children who died gasping for breath when Assad's forces dropped their poisonous gas." The U.S. had joined France and Britain in sponsoring the resolution.
    A joint investigation by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons determined the Syrian government was behind at least three attacks involving chlorine gas.

Azerbaijan Ordered Iron Dome Anti-Missile System from Israel - Malahat Najafova (APA-Azerbaijan)
    Azerbaijan ordered the Iron Dome anti-missile system and Tamir interceptor missiles from Israel in 2016, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on weapons purchased by Azerbaijan in 2015-2016, APA reported.

How the New York Times Continues to Skew the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict - Ricki Hollander (CAMERA)
    On Feb. 25, the New York Times published an article about Israel's denial of a work visa to Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine Country Director for Human Rights Watch (HRW).
    HRW was presented positively as "a prominent advocacy organization." By contrast, the Israeli government and leaders were depicted as "right wing," obstructionist and "hostile."
    Ten of 16 paragraphs in the article cited or quoted the anti-Israel accusations of critical groups which are known for singling out Israel for condemnation.
    Only 3 paragraphs cited or quoted the perspective of the Israeli government.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Trump Opens Joint Session of Congress with Condemnation of Anti-Semitism - Jaweed Kaleem
    President Trump condemned attacks against Jews and Indian immigrants during the opening of his speech Tuesday to a joint session of Congress. "Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week's shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms," Trump said. (Los Angeles Times)
  • U.S. Seeks End to UN Rights Council's "Obsession" with Israel - Stephanie Nebehay
    The U.S. is reviewing its participation in the UN Human Rights Council, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Erin Barclay told the council on Wednesday. The U.S. "remains deeply troubled by the Council's consistent unfair and unbalanced focus on one democratic country, Israel." Barclay said that no other nation had a whole agenda item devoted to it and "this obsession with Israel" threatened the council's credibility.
        She questioned whether focusing on Israel was a sensible priority, as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government was bombing hospitals and North Korea and Iran deny millions of their people freedom of religion, peaceful assembly and expression. "In order for this Council to have any credibility, let alone success, it must move away from its unbalanced and unproductive positions."  (Reuters)
  • Lawmakers Unveil Measure to Cut Funding for PA Terrorists' Stipends - Rebecca Shabad
    House and Senate Republicans on Tuesday introduced legislation that would cut off U.S. aid "to the Palestinian Authority if they continue their policy of paying monetary rewards to terrorists and their surviving family members." The bill would limit assistance to the West Bank and Gaza until the Secretary of State certifies that the Palestinian Authority has taken steps "to end acts of violence" against U.S. and Israeli citizens, that it publicly condemns such acts of violence and has stopped payments for "acts of terrorism against United States and Israeli citizens."
        The bill is named after U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force, who was killed by a Palestinian in a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv last year. "The Palestinians need to decide - do they condemn these horrible acts or do they reward them?" said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). (CBS News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Zambian President Visiting Israel - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday asked visiting Zambian leader Edgar Lungu to help Israel regain its observer status at the African Union, a position it lost in 2002 and has had trouble regaining, primarily because of the objection of South Africa and the North African Muslim states. The Palestinian Authority enjoys this status and PA President Mahmoud Abbas is able to address the annual summit of the pan-African body each year.
        Lungu arrived on Monday for a five-day visit with his ministers for foreign affairs, agriculture, trade, energy, tourism, water development and environment, transportation, health, and industry and employment. He told the Zambia Daily Mail, "Israel is a pace-setter in survival instinct, because it has a desert; but they have a thriving education, agriculture, and information and communication technology sectors and we can explore and learn from them. A lot of benefits are expected out of this trip." Lungu is the latest in a long list of African leaders who have visited Israel over the past year. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also PM Netanyahu Meets with Zambian President Edgar Lungu (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Zambian President Lungu Meets with Israeli Prime Minister (Lusaka Times-Zambia)
  • Palestinian Authority Calls Local Elections in West Bank as Its Split with Hamas Intensifies - Jack Khoury
    The PA announced Tuesday that elections for local councils and municipalities would take place on May 13, but only in the West Bank. Mahmoud Abbas' government accused Hamas of foiling any effort to hold elections in Gaza, where Hamas is in charge. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran's Israel Card - Hassan A. Barari
    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday used the podium of a pro-Palestinian gathering in Tehran to call for liberating Palestine from the Mediterranean to the River Jordan. Yet a considerable majority of Arabs believes that the Iranians are using the Palestinian cause as a Trojan horse for their negative influence in the Middle East, seeking to cover up their "terrorist" acts committed in some Arab states. Iran sent militias to Syria to fight the Sunni majority and Iranian leaders have a hard time explaining how their negative interference in Yemen or Bahrain is within the context of standing up to Israel.
        Iran's pro-Palestinian propaganda is a source of annoyance to some Sunni Arab countries - chief among them Saudi Arabia - who see eye-to-eye with Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu on Iran as a source of threat to regional stability. To be sure, the source of threat in the Gulf is not Israel but Iran. (Jordan Times)
  • Why the U.S. Should Recognize Israel's Sovereignty over the Golan Heights - Matthew R.J. Brodsky
    During Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to Washington he asked the U.S. to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Israel captured 2/3 of the Golan territory from Syria in the 1967 war and annexed it in 1981. The strategic highlands represented less than 1% of Syrian land, yet under their control it served as a forward position for Syrian artillery to regularly shell northern Israel and for Palestinian Fatah to launch regular cross-border raids.
        The risk of returning the Golan Heights should be measured against the fact that Iran is actively setting up another forward command along Israel's border with Syria. Israelis are acutely aware that the reward for giving up land has been the shower of rockets and mortars from Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Had Israel accepted Syria's previous territorial demands, Iran, Hizbullah or ISIS would be threatening Israel today from their perch along the Golan plateau.
        At this point, Israel has returned 80% of the land it gained in the 1967 war. Syria has missed the boat; the ship has already sailed. Regarding the Palestinians, the depth of the Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank may only match the depth of peace they are offered. The writer is former director of policy at the Jewish Policy Center in Washington. (Jerusalem Post)

Video: Why the BDS Campaign Against Israel Is Dangerously Wrong - Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (YouTube)

  • Human rights are the rights we have because we are human. They are universal or they are nothing. So the test of any movement in support of human rights is, is it really universal or is it a matter of rights for some but not for others.
  • If the BDS movement were really about human rights, its supporters would be protesting the breakdown of human rights in countries across the Middle East and around the world. They would be demonstrating against the barbarism of ISIS. They would be campaigning against the abuse of human rights by Hamas in Gaza.
  • In a world awash with human rights abuses, to focus on one nation only, and the only effective democracy in the Middle East, looks less like a campaign for human rights than a campaign against Israel's very right to be.
  • It's based on a vicious lie, that Israel is a colonial presence in the Middle East. It's nothing of the kind. The Jewish connection with the Land of Israel goes back roughly twice as long as the history of Christianity and three times as long as the history of Islam. The campaign against it is recognizably the latest mutation of the world's oldest hate - anti-Semitism.
  • Simply put, the BDS campaign will delay, defer and endanger the very chance of a Palestinian state, prolonging the suffering it seeks to end. If we really care about the rights of Palestinians, then we must care about those of Israelis likewise.
  • Any movement for human rights or peace or justice must be fair to all sides, recognize the rights of all sides, seek the agreement of all sides, and win the trust of all sides.

    Rabbi Sacks served as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013.

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