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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
December 20, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Saudi Air Defenses Intercept Houthi Missile Fired toward Riyadh - Katie Paul and Rania El Gamal (Reuters)
    Saudi air defenses shot down a ballistic missile fired by Yemen's Houthis towards Riyadh on Tuesday.
    The Iran-aligned Houthis said it had aimed the missile at the Saudi royal court at al-Yamama palace, where a meeting of Saudi leaders was underway.
    At the UN, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the Houthi missile strike "bears all the hallmarks of previous attacks using Iranian-provided weapons."
    Haley said she was exploring, with some UN Security Council colleagues, several options for pressuring Iran to "adjust their behavior." 

UK Arrests Four in Islamist Plot to Attack Britain - Vikram Dodd and Jamie Grierson (Guardian-UK)
    Counter-terrorism officials are investigating an Islamist plot to attack Britain after four men suspected of having Islamist links were arrested in northern England.

Hizbullah's Young Adherents Learn the Ideology of Hate - Anchal Vohra (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
    Ali is six, and yet already he fiercely chants "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" at a Beirut rally alongside his family.
    "At six, he is too old to not be here," his mother Fatima said.
    On a television screen hanging above the packed market street, Hizbullah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, announced to a rapturous response, "After victory in Syria and Iraq, we will focus on Israel."
    Ali has been taught to unquestioningly identify his enemy and call for his death. "Jews and Americans are my enemy," he said.
    During the 1980s, Shias in southern Lebanon initially welcomed the Israelis to protect them from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Israeli Challenges German Court Ruling on Kuwait Air Travel Ban (Reuters-New York Times)
    An Israeli man appealed on Monday against a German court's ruling upholding Kuwait Airways' right to ban him from boarding a flight due to his citizenship.
    The appeal argues that the ruling accepted a racist Kuwaiti law and allowed the airline to override German laws requiring that airlines transport any passenger with valid travel documents, according to the Lawfare Project, which filed the appeal.

Photos: Ancient Tomb Door with Menorah Carving Revealed in Israel - James Rogers (Fox News)
    An ancient basalt tomb door with a stunning menorah carving was recently put on display by the Institute of Archaeology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
    The door was discovered in Tiberias in Israel's Galilee region in 2010, but was only revealed to the public a few weeks ago.
    The tomb door, likely part of a Jewish tomb from the second to fourth centuries, is ornamented with a depiction of the seven-branched menorah that stood in the ancient Jewish Temple, one of the key symbols of Judaism.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Haley: "The U.S. Will Be Taking Names" When UN Votes on Jerusalem Decision - Max Greenwood
    Ahead of a UN General Assembly vote this week on a resolution urging the Trump administration to withdraw its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley wrote Tuesday on Twitter: "At the UN we're always asked to do more & give more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American ppl, abt where to locate OUR embassy, we don't expect those we've helped to target us. On Thurs there'll be a vote criticizing our choice. The US will be taking names."  (The Hill)
        See also Haley's Letter to UN Members: "The President and the U.S. Take This Vote Personally" - Noa Landau
    U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley wrote to members of the UN General Assembly: "As you know, the General Assembly is considering a resolution about President Trump's recent decision on Jerusalem. As you consider your vote, I encourage you to know the president and the U.S. take this vote personally." Haley said the U.S. was "simply asking you acknowledge the historical friendship, partnership, and support we have extended and respect our decision about our embassy."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Nikki Haley Puts UN on Notice - Somini Sengupta
    U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley issued a stark warning on Friday that the Trump administration would hold to account those who do not back the U.S. "You're going to see a change in the way we do business," Haley said. "Our goal with the administration is to show value at the UN, and the way we'll show value is to show our strength, show our voice, have the backs of our allies and make sure our allies have our back as well. For those who don't have our back, we're taking names; we will make points to respond to that accordingly."  (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Envoy Greenblatt Arrives in Israel to Advance Peace Plan - Michael Wilner
    Jason Greenblatt, President Trump's special envoy to the peace process, arrives in Israel this week to continue laying the ground for direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. While PA leaders said they have no intention to receive the U.S. envoy, Greenblatt has been working on a detailed plan already hundreds of pages long, full of U.S. proposals addressing dozens of sticking points in the conflict.
        His purpose on this current trip is to continue building that structure, on which a peace initiative will ultimately rest, a White House official said Tuesday. His visit is "not about repairing relations - it's about moving forward with this plan. It is a missed opportunity if they don't want to meet - but we're not going to pressure them and push for it. We're going to keep our heads down and continue on."
        "We can weather this, and we believe that at the end of the day people will realize the president's action will benefit peace," the official said, adding that fallout from the Jerusalem move "has neither affected the timeline or the substance" of the peace effort. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Diplomats Gird for UN General Assembly Vote on Jerusalem - Noa Landau
    The UN General Assembly is set to meet on Thursday for an emergency discussion on the unilateral American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. An Egyptian draft resolution against the recognition is expected to be approved. Although the vote is mainly symbolic, Israel's ambassadors worldwide have been directed to urge countries to oppose the resolution.
        Ambassadors were told by the Foreign Ministry to emphasize that Jerusalem was the de facto capital of Israel long before the U.S. recognized it as such; a resolution of this kind at the UN will damage American efforts toward a peace agreement; the resolution will spur terror and violence in the area; and unilateral steps in the UN do more harm than good. The envoys will also pledge to maintain freedom of religion and the status quo in the city.
        Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told Ha'aretz, "We have no doubt that the resolution will pass. However, the resolution holds no implications, and we call upon Palestinians to stop the incitement and return to the negotiating table."  (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's Capital: It Should Have Been Done Decades Ago - Ammiel Hirsch
    We have yearned for Jerusalem for two millennia. It is the source of our strength, the place where our people was formed, where the Bible was written. Jews made pilgrimage to Jerusalem for a thousand years. With the exception of one small party, there is wall-to-wall agreement among the Zionist parties in the Knesset supporting the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
        The world's superpower finally did the right thing, and some opposed it - not on the principle, but on the "timing." Two thousand years later and it is still not the right time? There were critics who accused the civil rights movement of moving too quickly. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s response: "The time is always ripe to do what is right....We must come to see that justice too long delayed is justice denied."
        Israel's opponents have so distorted history that so many around the world question the very legitimacy of Jewish ties to Zion and Jerusalem. Judaism without Eretz Yisrael is not Judaism. Judaism without Jerusalem is not Judaism.
        This is not to deny that others consider Jerusalem holy. But peace will never rise on foundations of sand. Any agreement will collapse if constructed on a scaffolding of lies. President Trump simply acknowledged reality. It is about time. It should have been done decades ago.
        We should urge the international community to disabuse the Palestinian national movement of its exaggerated expectations and its insidious efforts to undermine and erase our connection to Zion. Until that happens, peace is an illusion. The writer is senior rabbi of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York and former executive director of the Association of Reform Zionists of America/World Union for Progressive Judaism. (JTA)
  • Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's Capital Is a Welcome, Symbolic Move - Dr. Colin Rubenstein
    Imagine if no other country was prepared to accept that Canberra is our capital, to keep happy a neighbor with more international support and a habit of issuing violent threats. Instead, they all site their embassies in Melbourne, and maintain that is the capital. That was Israel's situation until Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital.
        It just acknowledges the facts. Israel does have its capital in west Jerusalem, which has been part of Israel since its inception in 1948, and no one who accepts Israel's right to exist argues that it won't remain Israel's capital in any future peace deal. Israel doesn't deserve different treatment to every other country. The writer is executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council. (WAtoday-Perth, Australia)
  • Why the Palestinian Public's Response to Trump's Jerusalem Announcement Has Been Lukewarm - Shalom Lipner
    After President Trump conferred U.S. recognition upon Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian protestors have not escalated beyond the almost perfunctory and there has been no widespread outbreak of hostilities toward Israel. Abbas and his cohort are as unhappy with Trump's move as the Palestinian rank-and-file, but will toil to keep the intifada genie in its bottle for the sake of preserving their rule. The writer, a nonresident senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, served in the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem from 1990 to 2016. (American Interest)

Why the International Community Should Follow Trump's Lead on Jerusalem - Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

  • Now that President Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and announced plans to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Arab and Muslim leaders have been trying to frighten other nations out of following his lead.
  • The world should consider a few salient points. Jerusalem is one of the most ancient capitals in the world. It became the capital of Israel's monarchy during the reign of King David - around 1000 BCE, over 3,000 years ago, when the capitals of the countries who now refuse to recognize it were still swamps, forests, or deserts.
  • The history of the Greeks and the Romans, the oldest nations of Europe, proves that Jerusalem was the capital of the Jewish nation in ancient times. The Jews are the only indigenous people of the Land of Israel. They lived in Jerusalem for over 1,600 years prior to the birth of Islam in 610 CE.
  • It is unacceptable in the modern world for Muslim threats of terror attacks and mass rioting to be granted sufficient clout to limit or direct the political decisions of world powers. No other country in the world accepts external dictates regarding the location of its own capital city.
  • Relocating all foreign embassies to Jerusalem will serve as a significant step forward in the quest for peace between Israel and the Arab and Islamic world. Once all foreign embassies move to Jerusalem, Israel's enemies will be forced to realize that their prolonged struggle to destroy the Jewish state has failed. They will have to accept Israel as a fait accompli, a state there is no longer any reason to fight - which, incidentally, is the definition of "peace" in the Middle East.
  • Jerusalem is not holy to all Muslims. The city is holy to Sunnis, not Shiites. Due to internal rivalries, the Umayyad (Sunni) dynasty wanted to downplay Mecca's importance at one point in history, ca. 680 CE, and tried to initiate a Hajj pilgrimage to Jerusalem instead of Mecca. This fact, based on Islamic sources, turns any claims to Jerusalem as intrinsically holy to Islam into fake news originating in seventh-century power struggles among Muhammad's followers.

    The writer, a senior research associate at the BESA Center, served for 25 years in IDF military intelligence.

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