We wish all our readers a blessed season and a fruitful New Year in the Kingdom of God. The next Daily Journal will be posted on January 2nd, 2013.


JEWS IN THE JUDEAN DESERT? Israel is considering building homes on barren hills adjacent to Jerusalem. The E1 area covers 4.6 square miles. For the sake of comparison, Denver International Airport is 53 square miles. E1 lies within a territory that has a much older name: the Judean Desert. Might Jews think they have a legitimate historical claim to the Judean Desert? Developing E1 would help in the defense of Jerusalem, and would connect Jerusalem to Maale Adumim, an Israeli town with a population of 40,000. It has been widely reported that if Israel should build in E1, the possibility of a two-state solution would be shattered. But the New York Times later published a correction stating that building in E1 "would not divide the West Bank in two," nor would it cut off the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem from Jerusalem. Anyone looking at a map would see that. The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (National Review)


THE REAL OBSTACLE TO PEACE. Building in Jerusalem as well as in the E1 area wouldn't prevent a two-state solution were the Palestinians inclined to negotiate with Israel to get one. The building within Jerusalem's city limits in Jewish neighborhoods that were built decades ago, such as Ramat Shlomo and Gilo, are in places that no one envisions being given to the Palestinians even in the most generous offer possible. The same is true of the new Givat Hamatos project. As for the E1 area in between the city and the suburb of Ma'ale Adumim, it, too, is in an area that Israel has always intended to keep. The Europeans know very well that it wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference to a two-state solution if Israel built 100,000 new homes in these places or none at all. These countries continue to ignore the fact that it is the Palestinians who refuse to negotiate. Were Israel building new towns deep inside the West Bank, it could be credibly argued that such plans would prevent the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank. But why would that be true of building in existing Jewish neighborhoods? The problem here is not just that what Israel is doing is no obstacle to peace. It is that by joining in condemnations of building inside Jerusalem, President Obama and the Europeans are encouraging the Palestinians to believe that they will someday force the Jewish state to give up not just the West Bank but its capital too. (DAILY ALERT - Commentary)


ISRAEL: CONSTRUCTION IN JERUSALEM IS NOT NEGTIABLE. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin issued a message to heads of parliaments around the world on Tuesday insisting that Israel's decision to build in Jerusalem was "not negotiable." "Israel refuses to accept the fact that mere weeks after rockets were fired from Gaza into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, there are still those who see Israel's decision to hold on to strategic territory surrounding Jerusalem, and to build within its capital, as the biggest obstacle standing in the way of peace." "There is a sense that nations in Europe are more interested in establishing a Palestinian state than in ensuring the safety and existence of the Jewish state," he added. "For many Israelis it was unbearable to hear Hamas leaders calling for war and for wiping out the Jewish state on one side, and the world condemning Israel for taking steps to protect its security and existence on the other side." "Israel will not relinquish control over strategic territories necessary to maintain its security, including the area known as E1, under any future diplomatic arrangement." (Israel Hayom)


IN ISRAEL, A PRIVILEGE – BUT NO RIGHT – TO BEAR ARMS - . Only 2.5% of Israelis can legally carry a firearm, compared to 47% in America. Of those in Israel, 40,000 are security guards who work in supermarkets, malls and schools. But those who are licensed have proved capable of acting swiftly and effectively time and again to neutralize attackers during acts of terrorism. "In 40-50 cases over the past 10 years, armed Israeli citizens have intervened during terror attacks," said Dr. Shlomo Shapiro, a senior research fellow at Bar-Ilan University's BESA Center. "In 70% of those cases, their intervention was crucial." The two critical factors explaining Israeli civilians' relatively effective responses are training and an embedded sense of responsibility for one another. The training begins with the military, where combat soldiers are taught from day one to charge the enemy. (DAILY ALERT - Times of Israel)


WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE AGAINST HAMAS? Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has done us a great service by drawing an incandescent line between those who want peace and coexistence, and those who categorically reject negotiations, seeking only to destroy the enemy. When Meshaal spoke in Gaza a few days ago, calling for Israel's destruction, the entire world should have spoken out in outrage. But Meshaal's words did not make a lot of waves. The world doesn't really blink when someone calls for Israel's destruction. Reaction to the horrifying speech was rather muted, particularly in Europe. But nothing could be worse for Palestinians than embracing a position that rejects coexistence with Israel. Anyone who wants to do a small part for peace between Israelis and Palestinians should speak out in support of those who want coexistence, and condemn in the strongest terms those who reject the other one's right to exist. (DAILY ALERT - Miami Herald)


HAMAS SUBDUED DESPITE GAZA VICTORY CLAIM. Israel's offensive on Gaza has deterred Hamas from new hostilities despite its claims of victory and the front is now at its quietest in 20 years, a senior Israeli military officer said. "Their jubilation was not from victory, it was from their relief at being able to emerge from shelters," he said. Hamas and other armed Palestinian factions were now "thoroughly daunted" by Israel and trying to shore up the calm or at least avoid breaching it. Though Israel killed the Hamas military chief, Ahmed al-Jaabari, in a Nov. 14 air strike, the officer said several other commanders had been spared because non-combatants were nearby. Israeli officials accused militants of sheltering in Gaza's Shifa Hospital. In the next round, the officer said, "I won't fire on Shifa. But I won't be able to keep to sterile strikes like I did in this round. I intend to kill the brigade commanders and battalion commanders wherever they are." (Reuters)


ISRAEL WINNING IN EUROPE. After the Palestinian vote at the UN, where the outcome was never seriously in doubt, headlines started flooding on how Israel "lost Europe." The reality however, could not be further from the truth, considering Israel's recent achievements. Diplomatically, the Palestinians failed where it really mattered at the UN - in the Security Council, which knocked back the application for statehood last year. Moreover, in May 2010 the OECD unanimously voted to invite Israel to join the organization, despite intensive lobbying by the Palestinians. Even traditionally hostile countries like Norway, Spain and Ireland voted in favor. In September 2011 Israel became the first non-European member of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, while in July 2012 the EU and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding to deepen their scientific cooperation in the fields of energy and water desalination. In October the European Parliament ratified the ACAA agreement (Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products) that recognizes Israel's industrial standards as equivalent to those in Europe, especially in healthcare. This will lead to facilitating imports of high-quality, low-cost Israeli medicines into the EU. In 2011 the EU was Israel's largest trading partner, with annual trade amounting to 29.4 billion euros - an increase of 45% from 2009; and this came during the midst of an unprecedented financial crisis in Europe. (Ynet News)


FORMER FOREIGN MINISTER LIVNI: KEEPING SETTLEMENT BLOCS A REQUIREMENT FOR PEACE. Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni told foreign ambassadors Wednesday that Israel keeping settlements was a requirement for achieving peace with the Palestinian Authority. "We have settlement blocs close to the Green Line, and the only way for the conflict with the Palestinians to end is for Israel to keep them. Any pre-agreement by the international community to a withdrawal to 1967 borders before the talks occur makes it difficult to negotiate. It was clear in the talks I conducted with the Palestinians that there would not be return to 1967 borders." Livni said she was frustrated as an Israeli when the international community compared casualties caused by the IDF, which acts to defend Israel and target terrorists, to those killed by terrorists who target civilians. "The message terrorists need to hear is that there are things that the international community considers illegitimate," she said. (Jerusalem Post)


MEDIA STILL ASKING THE WRONG QUESTIONS ON THE MIDEAST. The Washington Post asks whether the relative safety brought about by systems like Iron Dome will make Israel more likely to agree to territorial compromise or more likely instead to ignore the cause of peace and negotiations. But the more important point, one the media keeps missing, is that nothing is keeping Israel away from the negotiating table. For all the criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's presumed reluctance to make peace, Netanyahu has been for years now offering to resume negotiations without preconditions. It is Mahmoud Abbas who piles on precondition after precondition in an attempt to avoid negotiations. The Washington Post can save its hand wringing for Netanyahu's supposed interlocutor, who seems to have come up with many reasons not to participate in the peace process. Israeli reluctance to come to the table, however, isn't one of them. (DAILY ALERT - Commentary)


STOP SCAPEGOATING ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS. - Jewish Apartment Complexes Aren't Preventing Peace. Back in 2005, Israel uprooted all 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza, evicting their 9,000 residents, in order to advance peace. But in the seven years since, Israel has been targeted by nearly 9,000 terrorist rockets from Gaza. Clearly, settlements are not the reason. All of the settlements account for a very small percentage of the West Bank. Most of them are concentrated in blocs that have become suburbs of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Everyone understands that these blocs will always remain part of Israel, even if a Palestinian state is negotiated. All of the building recently approved by the Israeli government was in Jerusalem and these blocs. E1 is a stretch of desert, less than 2 miles long, connecting Jerusalem to its suburb of Maale Adumim, home to 40,000 Israelis. Every Israeli prime minister in the past 40 years has planned to build in E1 in order to prevent Maale Adumim's isolation. That construction will not, as the Palestinians claim, divide the West Bank. Just look at a map. Israel recognizes the Palestinians as a people who could have a state if their leaders agreed to sit with ours and work out the complex issues between us. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the U.S. (DAILY ALERT - New York Daily News)


PALESTINE’S STRANGELY STUBBORN STATE OF MIND. • Rather than seeking compromise with Israel, Palestinian leaders have again put the fate of their cause into the hands of others, foolishly believing that others will deliver what they themselves are not capable of obtaining. • In 1947, Palestinian leaders trusted the Arab League and opposed compromise, since they hoped Arab armies would win the entire country by force. They did not. • Then, for nearly two decades, instead of asking Jordan - who occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem - and Egypt - who conquered Gaza - to turn those areas into a Palestinian state, Palestinian leaders trusted the standard bearers of Arab nationalism to restore them to power and destroy Israel. • The late PLO leader, Yasser Arafat, fought anyone who dared encourage compromise with Israel. That brought more grief onto the Palestinians than all the wars with Israel combined. Arafat's brief stint in Jordan ended with its king, the late Hussein, slaughtering thousands of Palestinians to save his throne. Arafat's reliance on Saddam Hussein cost hundreds of thousands of Palestinians their livelihoods in Kuwait in 1991 - after the emirate was liberated. • Adding an observer seat, along with the Vatican, on the UN roster will no doubt boost the Palestinian ego - but independence, as in the past, will remain elusive. • The other option is direct negotiations, which demands give and take. Palestinian history, unfortunately, offers no precedent for that. The writer is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (DAILY ALERT - Commentator).


A DEMILITARIZED PALESTINIAN STATE? By far the most detailed case for a demilitarized Palestinian state is made in the document Israel's Critical Security Needs for a Viable Peace, with an introduction by Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon and extensive presentations by several highly influential Israeli generals. According to the document, the Israeli precept of demilitarization includes: 1) The absence of any kind of Palestinian army or security force beyond what is needed for internal policing and security. 2) The Palestinian state would be prohibited from forming military alliances with other nations or conducting joint military exercises. 3) Any sort of military infrastructure would be banned. 4) Palestinian airspace would be controlled by Israel. 5) Israel would control the electromagnetic spectrum. 6) The Israeli navy would have control of the sea and would have the ability to detain boats to prevent hostile activity and smuggling. The writer is Professor of International Relations at George Washington University (Ynet News).


CHRISTIAN SUPPORT OF ISRAEL. Just two months ago, Jewish leaders were shocked by a letter signed by 15 leaders of mainstream Christian churches calling on Congress to reconsider aid provided to Israel because of alleged human rights violations. That is why it is so refreshing to read the "Jerusalem Declaration" released this week by representatives of mainline Protestant churches calling themselves the Protestant Consultation on Israel and the Middle East (PCIME). Representatives of Methodist, Anglican and Lutheran churches, among others, rightly noted that "the forces that refuse to tolerate the existence of a Jewish state are fiercely intolerant of other religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East." The document cited Coptic Christians in Egypt and Assyrian Christians in Iraq as examples of religious minorities that are regularly persecuted at the hands of "aggressive Islamist movements." In contrast, Christian citizens of Israel "enjoy equal rights of citizenship and a good standard of living despite occasional frictions." (Jerusalem Post)


ICC MEMBERSHIP MAY HURT PALESTINIANS, HAMAS MORE THAN ISRAEL. ICC jurisdiction is not limited to one side in a conflict. In other words, Hamas cannot expect a free pass in the future for indiscriminate shelling of Israeli civilians or use of Palestinian non-combatants as human shields. In fact, ICC status may give the advantage to Israel on future prosecutions, while putting Hamas at a likely disadvantage. Because the ICC is considered a court of last resort that defers to national courts, it will not take on cases that states have made good-faith efforts to investigate or prosecute. Israel has already conducted investigations and undertaken some disciplinary actions regarding its forces' behavior in Gaza. Hamas, by contrast, has made no such efforts to deal with war crime allegations. ICC membership also brings with it obligations, such as complying with arrest warrants and assisting in investigations. A new Palestinian state might be called upon to provide evidence against, and even surrender, some Palestinian nationals, like Hamas leaders. Jennifer Trahan is chair of the American Branch of the International Law Association International Criminal Court Committee. Belinda Cooper is an adjunct professor at Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights. (DAILY ALERT - Christian Science Monitor)


PALESTINIANS’ WAR CRIMES AGAINST ISRAEL WOULD FACE LONG ROAD. Days after winning upgraded status at the UN, the Palestinians are threatening to join the international war crimes court and pursue charges against the Israelis. But pressing a case may not be so simple and could potentially leave the Palestinians themselves vulnerable to prosecution. For starters, it remains unclear whether the Palestinians qualify for membership in the International Criminal Court because it is open only to states. Goran Sluiter, professor of international law at Amsterdam University, said that with their newfound status, it seems likely the Palestinians could join the ICC. But it is unclear whether the court would agree to investigate their complaints. He said the court would look at key issues, including the gravity of the alleged crimes and whether Israel's own judicial system is capable of judging the case, before deciding whether to prosecute. If they were to launch a probe, prosecutors also would look at alleged crimes by Palestinians. Robbie Sabel, a former legal adviser to the Israeli Foreign Ministry and a law professor at Hebrew University, said Israel could try to hold the PA responsible for rocket attacks out of Gaza aimed at Israeli cities. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel would fight any attempt by the Palestinians to use the ICC as a "politicized instrument" against Israel. "We are not worried about Israel's case because we have a good solid case and we work strictly according to international law." (DAILY ALERT - AP)


Israel's Building No Obstacle to Peace • It is argued that by allowing building in the E1 development area that connects Jerusalem's Ma'ale Adumim suburb to the city, Israel will be foreclosing the possibility of a two-state solution since this would effectively cut the West Bank in half and forestall its viability as an independent Palestinian state. Yet highways and tunnels could easily be constructed to allow access between Arab areas to the north and south of Jerusalem. • If the Palestinians did want a two-state solution, the new project as well as others announced for more houses to be built in 40-year-old Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem wouldn't stop it. Jewish housing in the disputed areas is no more of an obstacle to peace than the far greater Arab housing boom in other parts of Jerusalem. • Everyone knows that proposed land swaps would have to account for the Jewish suburbs of Jerusalem, including Ma'ale Adumim and the other towns in the vicinity that are already inside the security fence. The notion that Israeli building - in areas that everyone knows they would keep if there was a deal in place - is stopping peace from breaking out is ludicrous. • The argument about the West Bank is not solely about pitting rights of Palestinians against Israel's security needs. The West Bank is, after all, part of the area designated by the League of Nations for Jewish settlement under the Mandate of Palestine. It is also the heart of the ancient Jewish homeland to which Jews have historical, legal and religious ties that cannot be erased by a century of Arab hatred. • Throughout the last 20 years, Israel has been in engaged in peace talks or attempts to revive them, during the course of which it has made numerous concessions about territory to the Palestinians. For its pains, Israel has been subjected to even greater vituperation and delegitimization during this period than before. • So long as it does not speak of its rights, Israel will always be treated as a thief who must return stolen property rather than as a party to a conflict with its own justified claims (Daily Alert).


PA INCITEMENT AGAINST ISRAEL GETTING WORSE. Incitement and inflammatory language against Israel in the Palestinian Authority is at the worst level since Jerusalem began systematically measuring it in 2009 in an "incitement index," Strategic Affairs Ministry director-general Yossi Kuperwasser told the cabinet Sunday. In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas painted Israel in demonic colors. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu termed that speech as "dripping with poison." Commenting after Kuperwasser presented his quarterly findings, Netanyahu said, "This is additional proof that we are not talking about a disagreement over territory, rather about the rejection of Israel's existence." He said the failure of the Palestinians to accept Israel's existence within any border is the "root of the conflict." "As long as the Palestinian Authority educates the younger generation to hatred, how is it possible to even speak about peace?" Netanyahu said, adding that the Palestinians want to "use the diplomatic process to bring about the end of the State of Israel....Going to the UN [on Thursday] is part of this." (Jerusalem Post)


ISRAEL’S BIRTH DIDN’T COME AT UN, NEITHER WILL PALESTINE’S. The Partition Plan adopted by the UN on Nov. 29, 1947, and rejected by the Arabs, did not give birth to the Jewish state. Jewish blood, sweat and tears during the War of Independence did that. Proclamations are one thing, and a living, breathing state is something else. The recent battle with Gaza helped sway the world's democracies in PA President Mahmoud Abbas' direction. The EU, which has bet on Abbas and the PA to the tune of billions of euros, cannot sit by and just watch him and the PA tumble. Calls to prop him up became deafening following the Gaza operation and the EU believes a diplomatic victory at the UN is just the thing. Thursday's vote was also a defeat for U.S. diplomacy. President Barack Obama explicitly asked Abbas not to go through with the move now. Abbas flatly said no and that bald rebuke has to hurt. Will Obama take revenge on Abbas for poking his finger in the eyes of the U.S. president? (Jerusalem Post)


NETANYAHU: “UN DECISION CHANGES NOTHING.”Netanyahu: Prime Minister Netanyahu's office responded to the UN General Assembly decision, saying: "This is a meaningless decision that will not change anything on the ground. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear that there will be no establishment of a Palestinian state without a settlement that ensures the security of Israel's citizens. He will not allow a base for Iranian terrorism to be established in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), in addition to those that have [already] been established in Gaza and Lebanon. The way to peace between Jerusalem and Ramallah is in direct negotiations, without preconditions, and not in one-sided UN decisions. By going to the UN, the Palestinians have violated the agreements with Israel and Israel will act accordingly." (Prime Minister's Office)


NETANYAHU: UN CAN’T FORCE ISRAEL TO COMPROMISE ON SECURITY. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that regardless of how many vote against Israel at the UN on Thursday, "no force in the world will get me to compromise on Israel's security." He also said no force in the world can sever the thousands-year-old tie between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. Netanyahu said the UN decision will "not change anything on the ground. It will not further the establishment of a Palestinian state, but will make it more distant." "Israel's hand is always extended in peace, but a Palestinian state will not be established without recognition of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people, without an end-of-conflict declaration, and without true security arrangements that will protect Israel and its citizens." (Jerusalem Post)


U.S.: PALESTINIAN UN BID IS A ‘MISTAKE’, NEGOTIATIONS ARE ONLY WAY FORWARD. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, asked about Palestinian recognition at the UN, said Tuesday: "We do not think that any move in the General Assembly is helpful or any text in the UN General Assembly is helpful. We think it's going to be...a mistake....There are times when governments should take principled stands. We are doing that in this case." "We're focused on a policy objective on the ground for the Palestinian people, for the people of Israel, which is to end up with two states that can live peacefully next to each other. Nothing in this action at the UN is going to take the Palestinians any closer to that. So yes, we're going to oppose it because we think it is the wrong move. We think it makes other steps that might improve the lives of Palestinians and Israelis harder....If there is a vote, we will vote no." (DAILY ALERT - State Department)


EGYPT’S MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD CELEBRATES CONQUEST OF JERUSALEM. The walls of Cairo's Saladin Citadel are bathed in pink light. As an orchestra and a singer are belting out songs, young men dressed like medieval Muslim warriors, with flowing robes and wide swords on their hips, stand guard on rock platforms. Egypt's new government is commemorating Saladin's conquest of Jerusalem in 1187. On stage, video clips are projected onto a large screen, showing Saladin's army marching into Jerusalem, followed by footage of the October 1973 war with Israel. Clips of Egyptian troops crossing the Suez Canal are met with cheers and applause. A special guest takes the stage: Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who says: "The time has come to overturn the negotiating table on those who wish to enslave us. Nothing will restore the homeland but jihad" (DAILY ALERT - Macleans-Canada).


HAMAS CLAIM COMPLICATES TALK OF TRUCE WITH ISRAEL. Confusion continued Saturday over the status of cease-fire talks Egypt is conducting between Hamas and Israel, as the Hamas prime minister announced progress regarding restrictions on the movements of fishermen and farmers in the border area, which the Israeli prime minister's office denied. Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Netanyahu, said Saturday that "nothing has changed on the ground or at sea until it is agreed to by Israel and Egypt." "The arrangements negotiated with Egypt led to an immediate cessation of hostile activities. All other factors will be negotiated in an expeditious manner directly with the Egyptians." "Hamas is definitely trying to score points here," said Mkhaimar Abusada, a political scientist at Al Azhar University in Gaza City. "Hamas is trying to say that the cease-fire is in the interest of Hamas and is in the interest of the Palestinians." Abusada noted that Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar told a news conference that Gaza militants had shot down seven Israeli aircraft during the conflict, something Abusada called "a big lie." "We know this didn't happen, so this is part of raising morale, part of playing with the emotions of Palestinians." (DAILY ALERT - New York Times)


AFTER UN STATEHOOD RECOGNITION, WILL ISRAEL TAKE THE PA TO THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT? PA President Mahmoud Abbas intends to bring a resolution for statehood recognition to the UN General Assembly, possibly as early as Nov. 29, the anniversary of the 1947 UN partition vote. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has come out publicly against the move, as have a number of key EU countries, such as Britain and Germany. Even during the height of the Gaza crisis, Netanyahu, during numerous talks he held with various world leaders, asked his interlocutors why they were not calling on Abbas to stop the rockets from Gaza. "They would tell him to 'get serious,' and that Abbas has no control, to which Netanyahu would reply, 'So what is all the talk about statehood recognition at the UN,'" one government source said. The idea was to demonstrate how divorced from reality the whole UN proposal was. The source asked, "If the Palestinians go to the UN and get recognition, next time there is a rocket attack from Gaza, why can't we attack Ramallah, and why can't we take them to the International Criminal Court and accuse them of war crimes?" (Jerusalem Post)


FOR ISRAEL, GAZA CONFLICT IS TEST FOR AN IRAN CONFRONTATION. There was a second, strategic agenda unfolding in the conflict that ended, for now, in a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, according to American and Israeli officials. The exchange was something of a practice run for any future armed confrontation with Iran, featuring improved rockets that can reach Jerusalem and new anti-missile systems to counter them. It is Iran, of course, that most preoccupies Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama. While disagreeing on tactics, both have made it clear that time is short, probably measured in months, to resolve the standoff over Iran's nuclear program. One key to their war-gaming has been cutting off Iran's ability to slip next-generation missiles into Gaza or Lebanon, where they could be launched by Iran's surrogates, Hamas, Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad, during any crisis. Michael B. Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and a military historian, noted Wednesday: "In the Cuban missile crisis, the U.S. was not confronting Cuba, but rather the Soviet Union." In the Gaza operation, "Israel was not confronting Gaza, but Iran." (New York Times)


ISRAEL’S GAZA OPERATION ACHIEVED ITS GOAL. Israel's Gaza operation had two strategic goals: to reinstate the Gaza ceasefire with Hamas and to stabilize the peace with Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood came to power. Israel expects Hamas to stop the firing and enforce quiet on other armed organizations. This agreement is not based on love, but on joint interests backed by a balance of fear - the IDF's air firepower and threat of a ground invasion. Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared on Wednesday: "Hamas is responsible for enforcing the ceasefire." This means Israel expects Ahmed Jabari's successor to ensure quiet on the border. If he is sloppy or refuses, he may expect the same fate that befell the Hamas chief of staff who was assassinated last week. This is what Israeli leaders mean when they use the term "renewing the deterrence." Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi proved that he too prefers interests to ideology. Morsi has made it clear the peace with Israel is an Egyptian interest and even serves Egypt's desire to resume a leadership position in the region. Netanyahu showed it was possible to bomb Gaza and kill Hamas' chief of staff without harming the peace with Cairo. In the new strategic environment generated by the "Arab Spring," this is no mean feat. (Ha'aretz)


SPECTER OF IRAN LOOMS OVER GAZA CRISIS. Looming over the crisis in Gaza is another significant power: Iran. Iran, most analysts believe, provided the longer-range rockets that have given Hamas, for the first time, the ability to reach at least the outskirts of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israeli officials don't rule out the possibility that Iran's leaders may have helped prompt Hamas to step up its firing of rockets into Israel in recent weeks as a way to distract and tie down Israeli forces on the country's western border to reduce the chances Israel would direct its military attention eastward, toward Iran's nuclear facilities (DAILY ALERT).


HAMAS’ TACTIC: REQUIRE ISRAEL TO CAUSE CIVILIAN CASUALTIES. Hamas leaders know that by repeatedly firing rockets at Israeli civilian areas, they will give Israel no choice but to respond. In order to maximize their own civilian casualties, and thereby earn the sympathy of the international community and media, Hamas leaders deliberately fire their rockets from densely populated civilian areas. Hamas refuses to provide any shelter for its own civilians, whom they use as "human shields." This gives Israel a tragic choice: allow Hamas rockets to target Israeli cities and towns, or respond to the rockets, with inevitable civilian casualties among the Palestinian "human shields." Every democracy would choose the latter option if presented with a similar choice. The international community and the media must understand this and blame Hamas. Many commentators fault Israel for causing Palestinian civilian casualties. But what is Israel's option, other than to allow rockets to be aimed at its own women and children? Hamas' cynical tactic - which constitutes a war crime - will guarantee that some Palestinian women and children will be killed. (DAILY ALERT - Gatestone Institute)


PRESIDENT OBAMA: “NO COUNTRY ON EARTH WOULD TOLERATE MISSILES RAINING DOWN ON ITS CITIZENS.” President Obama said Sunday in Bangkok: "The precipitating event here...that's causing the current crisis...was an ever-escalating number of missiles; they were landing not just in Israeli territory, but in areas that are populated. And there's no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So we are fully supportive of Israel's right to defend itself from missiles landing on people's homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians. And we will continue to support Israel's right to defend itself." "Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory. If that can be accomplished without a ramping-up of military activity in Gaza, that's preferable; that's not just preferable for the people of Gaza, it's also preferable for Israelis....If we're serious about wanting to resolve this situation and create a genuine peace process, it starts with no more missiles being fired into Israel's territory." (White House)


ISRAEL SEEKS PERMANENT END TO ROCKET ATTACKS. "The [Gaza] operation will continue until we can be sure that the people of Israel's south will no longer live under constant fear of rockets," an Israeli government official said Saturday. "Hamas probably wants a ceasefire by now. They want a time-out - so that they can rest a bit, and then continue to shoot rockets at us next week. Israel is not interested in that....We hope to come out of this operation with a new reality - that people in the south will no longer live under threat of rocket attacks." (Times of Israel)


BRITAIN: HAMAS TO BLAME FOR GAZA CRISIS WITH ISRAEL. The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas "bears principal responsibility" for escalating tension in Gaza and Israel, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has said. "I utterly condemn rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel by Hamas and other armed groups." Rocket attacks from Gaza create "an intolerable situation for Israeli civilians in southern Israel, who have the right to live without fear of attack." "Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza should cease attacks against Israel immediately. I call on those in the region with influence over Hamas to use that influence to bring about an end to the attacks." (BBC News)


IDF RESTORES DETERRENCE. The Israeli government and security establishment concluded that the terror groups in Gaza are not deterred and that the threat on the residents of Israel is growing. Therefore, Israel decided to restore its deterrence through a series of painful attacks on top military figures and assets belonging to all the terror organizations in Gaza, with an emphasis on Hamas. Only a drastic operation that would exact a heavy toll from the terror groups would restore the diminished deterrence. However, Israel does not want to give the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt an excuse to violate the 1979 peace agreement. It also realizes that Hamas' collapse as a result of a broad military operation may lead to the rise to power of groups that are much more extreme, such as Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and other Salafi groups that want to take Hamas' place. Israel's goal is to achieve a long-term ceasefire with Egyptian mediation, so that all of Gaza's armed groups would be committed to it. The IDF will continue to pound Gaza until such a truce is reached. (Ynet News)


PALESTINIAN UN VOTE COULD CHALLENGE ISRAELI CONTROL OF AIRSPACE AND TERRITORIAL WATERS. The vote in the UN General Assembly this month to make the Palestinian Authority an observer state could give the PA the right over its airspace and territorial waters, which are now under Israeli control, and to press charges against Israelis before the International Criminal Court. Observer state status would allow the authority to accede to treaties and join specialized UN agencies such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Law of the Sea Treaty, and the International Criminal Court. Denis Changnon, an ICAO spokesman, said the treaty gives members full sovereign rights over airspace. The Law of the Sea Treaty would give the PA control of its national waters off Gaza, now under an Israeli naval blockade. The U.S. Congress has threatened to cut off $500 million in security and economic aid to the authority if it becomes an observer state. In 1989, the Palestinians made a previous attempt to become a non-member state in the General Assembly but withdrew under U.S. pressure. (DAILY ALERT - Wall Street Journal)


"MIRACLES HAPPEN’. Zalpa Yoz, who lives in the kibbutz next to mine, was awakened in the early morning hours to the sound of the "Red Alert" rocket warning. She wanted to keep on sleeping, assuming that this time the rockets would fall somewhere else, but something inside told her: "Get up, take cover." Zalpa got out of bed and rushed to take cover in the narrow hallway. "Suddenly I heard an awful explosion," she recounts, "and everything flew and disintegrated. The bed I was sleeping on one minute earlier flew outside through the wall and pieces of it were everywhere, all over the grass. There was a lot of smoke and I was afraid that everything was going to collapse. Then I ran outside. Miracles happen. A miracle happened to me." (DAILY ALERT - Makor Rishon-Hebrew, 26Oct12)


DEFENSE MINISTER BARAK: IN OUR REGION, WEAKNESS IS NOT LOOKED AT WITH MERCY. In response to ongoing rocket fire from Gaza, which has left eight Israelis wounded since Saturday - four soldiers and four civilians - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Sunday: "This isn't North America or Western Europe; it is a place where weakness is not looked at with mercy....Keeping our eyes peeled, we need to dish out hits when necessary, and sometimes take a few. That's how it is in the ring. We do not expect our neighbors to disappear and they are not going to become Dutch or Belgian any time soon." "The main fight is on the [Gaza] border fence....Israel will not allow them [terrorists] to try to change the rules." (Israel Hayom)


OBAMA’S FOREIGN POLICY AGENDA. Atop Obama's list, administration officials and foreign policy experts agree, is a deal with Iran to curb its nuclear program. The U.S. is likely to engage the Iranian government in direct negotiations in the next few months, officials said, in what would be a last-ditch diplomatic effort to head off a military strike on its nuclear facilities. Officials insist they have not set a date for talks nor do they know if Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has blessed them. But with Iran's centrifuges spinning and Israel threatening its own strike, the clock is ticking, and it may put pressure on the Iranians to make a deal. For Obama, the Middle East is generally less a landscape for bold new initiatives than a place for triage. But unfinished business remains - not least his frustrated efforts to broker a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. But several experts expressed doubt that the president would thrust himself again into the role of Middle East peacemaker. (New York Times)


ISRAELI APP WAZE HELPED FEMA DELIVER THE GAS AFTER HURRICANE SANDY. With gas shortages rampant following Hurricane Sandy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the White House turned to an Israeli invention, the crowd-sourced navigation app Waze, to gather data on where to send gasoline trucks. Di-Ann Eisnor, Waze's VP of platforms and partnerships, said the government called up Waze Friday and asked for help. Within an hour, Waze had a simple system up and running that allowed users who visited a gas station to get a system message that allowed them to report the conditions there. The users were able to leave a chit-chat message explaining if there was gas available, how the lines were and how long the wait was. The Waze app also displayed pins on its maps for local gas stations that were open. After opening up a line of communication with New Jersey residents, Waze expanded its reporting program Saturday to Staten Island and Long Island (DAILY ALERT).


OBAMA FACES A TRANSFORMED MIDDLE EAST. A lot has changed in the four years since Obama, soon after his inauguration in 2009, appointed George Mitchell as his Middle East envoy and set Palestinian-Israeli peace as his administration's top Middle East priority. First of all, today's Middle East looks nothing like it did then. With Syria imploding, Egypt going through a deep change, Iran continuing its relentless march toward nuclear arms and political Islam on the rise throughout the region, reaching a Palestinian-Israeli agreement does not hold the same urgency. A host of other issues in the region are more pressing. In his victory speech, Obama made almost no mention of foreign affairs, concentrating instead on domestic issues. For him to successfully push his domestic agenda, he is still going to need political allies, even during a second term. Even if he wanted to do so, and few think he actually does, he would not be able to ignore the massive support for Israel that remains in Congress. Doing so could make it difficult for him to push forward his domestic priorities. (Jerusalem Post)


PALESTINIANS TAKE TO THE STREETS AT SLIGHTEST HINT OF A TWO STATE SOLUTION. There were demonstrations in the West Bank over the weekend, and protesters burned pictures of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who was denounced as a traitor. Why? Because Abbas said in an interview Friday that he wouldn't mind visiting his home town, Safed, in northern Israel, but had no interest in making his home there. Among Palestinians, those were fighting words because they have claimed an individual right of return to property abandoned in Israel in 1948. Abbas' statement was seen as a repudiation of the belief that Palestinians actually own Israel and it is only a matter of time until they take it back. Abbas beat an apologetic retreat in the face of a public fervor that reveals nothing so much as the ingrained and implacable opposition harbored by much of the Palestinian people to reaching a two-state solution with Israel. (DAILY ALERT - New York Daily News)


ISRAEL UNDER FIRE. Last week, Palestinian terrorists operating from the Gaza Strip fired 21 rockets and mortars into Israel. That followed a three-day, 77-shell barrage, in which two civilians were seriously injured and thousands of people were forced into bomb shelters. More than 800 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel from the Strip in 2012. If this incoming fire were landing in Texas from Mexico - or in southern Spain from North Africa - it would be a major story. Instead, the world has largely ignored the attacks while obsessing over a possible Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Iran is a principal arms supplier to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which operates out of Gaza and is responsible for many of the recent attacks. Iran's war against Israel, in other words, has long been underway. Israel has been fortunate to suffer few fatalities so far from the Gaza attacks, but at some point a Palestinian barrage may take a large toll in lives, forcing Israel to respond in a major way. When that happens, Israel will be urged to show "restraint" by the usual diplomatic suspects. We're writing this as a reminder of how much restraint Israel has already shown. (DAILY ALERT - Wall Street Journal)


CHRISTIAN ARAB YOUTH COME UNDER FIRE OVER DESIRE TO ENLIST IN IDF. The Arab media is waging an unrestrained and vicious campaign against a small group of Christian Arab youth who wish to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. Two weeks ago, a conference was held at an Upper Nazareth community center for 121 Christian 11th and 12th grade high school students, all residents of Nazareth, Upper Nazareth, and Arab villages in the Lower Galilee region, who had expressed their desire to enlist in the IDF, even in combat units. Every year, some 50 youths from the Christian Israeli-Arab sector enlist for military duty. After the conference, some Arabic newspapers and online news sites began a smear campaign against the participants, depicting them as traitors. Journalists wrote articles promising to "take care of them" and hunt them down. The Arab Orthodox local council in Nazareth announced that priest Jobrail Nadaf, who took part in the event and supports IDF enlistment among Christian Arab-Israeli youth, had been suspended from his duties as priest and excommunicated from his church for "cooperating with the enemy." The Israel Defense Ministry said in a statement that it "will not accept that people who work to promote this issue come under threat or attack, and it will act to grant the greatest possible aid and support to all those being threatened." (Israel Hayom)


ABBAS HINTS AT NO ‘RIGHT OF RETURN’ TO ISRAEL. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made a rare if symbolic concession to Israel on Thursday, saying he had no permanent claim on the town where he lived as a child in 1948 before the Jewish state's founding. Speaking to Israel's Channel 2 television, Abbas was asked whether he wanted to live in Safed, his boyhood town in what had been British-ruled Palestine. "I visited Safed before once. But I want to see Safed. It's my right to see it, but not to live there." "I believe that (the) West Bank and Gaza is Palestine and the other parts (are) Israel." Paul Hirschson, a spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, said: "If he wants to see Safed, or anywhere else in Israel, for that matter, we would happily show him anywhere. But there has to be a desire to move forward on the peace process." (Reuters)


THE SECRET OF ISLAMIST SUCCES. What is driving the ascent of Islamic politics in Arab countries? Available data suggest that the statistical link between personal religiosity and actual voting for religious candidates is quite weak. Rather, the key to the success of Islamic parties lies in their organizational structure. Many Islamic political groups in the Arab world are part of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization founded in 1928 in Egypt. Involved in politics, proselytizing, and the provision of social services, Egypt's Brotherhood has become a model of Islamic political organization. Of all the legally registered NGOs and associations in Egypt, an estimated 20% are run by the Brotherhood. In 2006, the Brotherhood was running 22 hospitals and schools in every governorate of the country. In Jordan, the Brotherhood operates the huge Islamic Hospital in Amman and the al-Afaf Charitable Society, providing collective weddings and matchmaking services. Politicians in transitional environments are either new, with no political history or reputation, or old, in which case they were probably active under the previous authoritarian regime. In either case, it is not clear whether they can be trusted. The advantage of Islamic parties, including the Brotherhood, lies precisely in the fact that they are able to make credible promises about the provision of public goods. The writer is an economist at the Legatum Institute in London. (DAILY ALERT - Foreign Policy)


BERNARD-HENRI LEVY: JEWS OF DIASPORA AND ISRAEL ARE UNDER ATTACK. Prominent French-Jewish intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy told the Jewish People Policy Institute on Tuesday that Jews in Israel and around the world are under attack from the twin threats of anti-Semitism in the guise of anti-Zionism, and total war against the State of Israel. "The challenge we have to face is the new shape of old anti-Semitism, a new system of legitimacy to express anti-Semitism that revolves around hatred of Israel and anti-Zionism." Hatred of Israel, denial or partial denial of the Holocaust, and the identification of Palestinians as the only legitimate victims, he explained, form the basis of the anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic onslaught. In addition, he said, "when you listen to Hamas, to Hassan Nasrallah, to the men in power in Tehran including the so-called moderates such as Rafsanjani, the words they speak have to be considered as a plan for a form of total war." (Jerusalem Post)


CHRISTIANS RALLY IN SUPPORT OF ISRAEL, JEWISH PEOPLE. Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, delivered the keynote speech during "A Night to Honor Israel" on Sunday at Pastor John Hagee's 5,000-seat Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. With rabbis, Christian ministers and Israeli leaders in ample supply, the atmosphere highlighted the fervor of Christian Zionists whose cause has re-intensified through Hagee's initiatives in recent years. "We all know you have our back covered," said Meir Shlomo, consul general of Israel to the Southwest, prompting a prolonged standing ovation. (DAILY ALERT - San Antonio Express-News)


DEBATING ISRAEL. At the end of the third U.S. presidential debate on foreign policy issues, I had to reconcile two competing feelings. As an Israeli, I can't help but have a childish glee over the frequent mention of my country, a reminder of its important place in U.S. foreign policy. At the same time, I can't help but wonder: Is this attention not a bit too much? There were more than 30 mentions of Israel. Giving Israel such prominence in a discussion of U.S. foreign affairs makes the country stronger and seem larger than it really is, thereby deterring enemies who notice how far American leaders are willing to go in stating their allegiance to an old ally. But all this support has a down side as well: It can make Israel a target for all those wanting to hurt America without actually making war against the U.S. (DAILY ALERT - New York Times)


IRAN AND THE NEXT U.S. PRÆSIDENT. Regardless of who is elected on November 6, they are likely to try a more dramatic diplomatic initiative or end-game proposal with the Iranians. They will do it to show the American public that we went the extra mile if force proves necessary. No American president will resort to force without such a demonstration. The stalemated talks between the 5+1 and the Iranians have focused largely on a step-by-step approach designed to have the Iranians show they are prepared to bring their nuclear program into compliance with their international obligations. If there was plenty of time to let the pressures build on the Iranians, the step-by-step approach might yet work. But with 2013 looming as a decisive year, either Obama or Romney is likely to see the need to accelerate the diplomatic process to create far greater clarity. If there is to be a diplomatic way out of the conflict with the Iranians over their nuclear program, sharpening the choice for Iran's leaders may also be the only way to produce it. (DAILY ALERT - Washington Institute for Near East Policy)


U.S., ISRAEL CARRY OUT LARGEST JOINT MILITARY EXERCISE AS VIOLENCE FLARES ON GAZA BORDER (DAILY ALERT - AP-Washington Post) The U.S. and Israel simulated rocket attacks during their largest-ever joint military drill Wednesday, called Austere Challenge 2012, just as real ones fired from Gaza exploded in southern Israel. About 1,000 U.S. troops are in Israel alongside a similar number of Israeli troops. An additional 2,500 U.S. troops based in Europe and the Mediterranean are participating in the three-week exercise, practicing their ability to help thwart a variety of threats that face Israel. In Wednesday's exercise simulating incoming rockets, Israeli commanders and their American counterparts identified an incoming rocket or enemy aircraft, then American troops pushed the button to activate the anti-missile launcher. Not far away, Israeli soldiers were operating similar batteries for real, knocking down eight rockets from Gaza.


WHY HAMAS FEELS CONFICENT ENOUGH TO FIRE ROCKETS AT ISRAEL. Hamas' involvement in the current rocket and mortar attacks on Israel is a sign of its growing sense of confidence, especially in the wake of the visit to Gaza of the emir of Qatar. Hamas knows that it also enjoys the support of many Arabs and Muslims thanks to the Arab Spring, including the full backing of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi. Hamas feels confident that Morsi would not remain idle if Israel retaliated against the rocket fire with a massive military operation in Gaza. The least that Hamas expects from Morsi in response to such an operation would be to sever Egypt's diplomatic ties with Israel. Hamas has to prove to its critics and political rivals that it has not abandoned the "armed resistance against the Zionist enemy." (Jerusalem Post)


WOULD HIZBULLAH AND HAMAS JOIN IRAN IN A WAR AGAINST ISRAEL? There is a prevalent view that in the event of an Israeli strike on Iran, Tehran's proxies in Lebanon and Gaza - Hizbullah and Hamas - would join in retaliation against Israel. A more likely scenario is that those groups' participation will be limited at best. Hizbullah must consider its crumbling support from the weakened Assad regime, as well as popular opposition within Lebanon to its role in a military conflict with Israel. Hamas' recent feud with Iran over the group's lack of support for the Assad regime could render it reluctant to assist in the fight against Israel. (DAILY ALERT - BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)


EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT MORSI JOINS PREACHER IN PRAYER FOR DESTRUCTION AND DISPERSAL OF THE JEWS. On October 19, 2012, Egyptian cleric Futouh Abd Al-Nabi Mansour, Head of Religious Endowment in the Matrouh governorate, delivered a sermon in the presence of Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi that aired on Egyptian Channel 1. The cleric said: "Oh Allah, absolve us of our sins, strengthen us, and grant us victory over the infidels. Oh Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, disperse them, rend them asunder. Oh Allah, demonstrate Your might and greatness upon them. Show us Your omnipotence, oh Lord." (Daily Alert - MEMRI)


ISRAEL OBJECTS TO EU CONDEMNATION OF JERUSALEM CONSTRUCTION. After EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Friday condemned a plan to build 797 homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Saturday the EU's condemnation harms the peace process and ignores the fact that the unified city is Israel's capital. "These automatic condemnations indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of the reality of the region," Lieberman said. "These condemnations do not contribute anything to the advancement of talks between Israelis and Palestinians. They only encourage the Palestinians to continue to refuse to participate in negotiations and to continue their anti-Israel activity in the international arena." Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said on Saturday, "Gilo is an inseparable part of Jerusalem and we are not going to apologize for that. We will continue to build tens of thousands of apartments across the entire city for all sectors. The only way to lower the price of apartments is to continue building without stopping, as we are now doing in order to allow young people to live in Jerusalem and build themselves a future." (Jerusalem Post)


JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN GROUPS AT IMPASSE OVER U.S. AID TO ISRAEL. Leaders of Reform and Conservative Judaism, the American Jewish Committee, and other Jewish groups sent a letter Wednesday to their Christian counterparts on the Christian-Jewish Roundtable saying they would not be attending a long-planned Oct. 22-23 meeting. At issue is an Oct. 8 letter that many Christian leaders sent to Congress, asking that U.S. aid to Israel be re-evaluated in light of the Jewish state's alleged human rights violations. "There is no question in our minds that this is an unbalanced demonization of Israel completely lacking in context," said Rabbi Noam Marans, the interfaith director at the American Jewish Committee. "It pretends that Palestinian human rights violations do not exist, but above all, our concern is that when the world currently is focused on the Iranian nuclear threat, Christian leaders have chosen to mount another political attack on Israel." "The current conversation with some Christian leaders is unacceptable and needs to change," he said. (DAILY ALERT - Washington Post)


ISRAEL: HATE INDOCTRINATION IN GAZA PRODUCING MORE TERRORISTS. Yosef Kuperwasser, the director of Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs, said Wednesday that more than 800 rockets and mortar rounds had been fired into Israel from Gaza since the start of the year. "If worst comes to worst, we can (launch) a much wider operation in Gaza. But that is not going to really solve the problem," he said. "There is a wide and deep problem of hate indoctrination that produces more and more terrorists all the time." Kuperwasser said that Hamas leaders had tempered their desire to strike at Israel, aware of the heavy cost the general Palestinian populace was paying in the violence. But he said the smaller groups were far less bothered by such concerns. "Most of the activity is coming now not from Hamas," he said, adding that Islamic Jihad was receiving a relatively bigger share of the weapons that had "been pouring into Gaza." He said that since the downfall of Gaddafi, huge quantities of arms from Libya had been smuggled into Gaza, adding to continued arms supplies from Iran. He said Hamas itself was worried about the gathering strength of other armed factions, but did not know how to deal with them. "They are not very comfortable confronting them....They are not sure that if their people get the order to do it, they will really do it." (Reuters)


TELLING ISRAEL LIKE IT IS – IN ARABIC. •Boshra Khalaila, a secular, independent and patriotic Israeli Arab woman, grew up in the Arab village of Deir Hana, in the Galilee. Her first contact with Jewish Israelis came at age 18 when she enrolled in Haifa University. "I am a liberal, free woman, with all the rights that I could enjoy. I compare myself to other women my age in Jordan, the territories, Egypt, any Arab country. They don't have the rights that I have: freedom of expression, the right to vote. They are forced into marriage at a young age, and religious head covering, despite their own convictions. With me it's the opposite; I have everything." •When I asked her why she feels the need to speak up for Israel so publicly, she answered: "To sacrifice from myself for the country that I live in and that gives me rights, that's a natural price." •Boshra was part of a team of five people, including another Israeli Arab and a Druze, who were sent to South Africa with "Faces of Israel" during Israel Apartheid Week. "I study in the same educational institutions, ride the same buses, shop in the same supermarkets. Everything that they say is absolutely false. And I do feel that I belong to my country." •At an Islamic, Arabic-language radio station in Johannesburg, the interviewer, a religious Saudi man, asked her why Israel doesn't let Muslims pray or go to Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. "I told them that in my own small village in the Galilee there are not only one but two mosques and two imams who both get a monthly salary from the state. The interviewer was in shock. I added that I could go pray at Al Aqsa mosque at will, freely." • •"I said to him: 'In Saudi Arabia, can a woman drive a car?' He said no. I said: 'I can.' And he was silent. I asked: 'Can a woman in Kuwait or Saudi Arabia meet a man and get to know him before getting married or is she just forced into marriage at a young age?' He said no, she can't. I said: 'I can.'" (DAILY ALERT - Times of Israel)


Shocking report: FORMER JORDANIAN CROWN PRINCE: THE WEST BANK IS PART OF JORDAN (MEMRI) The Jordanian website Almustaqbal-a.com reported on a speech by Prince Hassan bin Talal, Jordanian crown prince between 1965 and 1999, to Palestinians from Nablus on Oct. 9. "Prince Hassan stressed that the West Bank is part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which included both banks of the [Jordan] River" and added that Hassan "did not personally oppose the two-state solution, but that this solution is irrelevant at the current stage." He added that even if the two-state solution does not materialize, there are other options. According to Hassan, "both sides, Arab and Israeli, no longer speak of a political solution to the Palestinian problem." He implied that even the Oslo Accords had met their end, and said that Arab losses from the Accords are estimated at $12 billion. The report added: "The attendees understood that Prince [Hassan] is working to reunite both banks of the [Jordan] River, and commended him for it." Prince Hassan later added: "The unity that existed between the west and east banks for 17 years...was arguably one of the best attempts at unity that ever occurred in the Arab [world]."


WHY DID ISRAEL DELAY SHOOTING DOWN THE HIZBULLAH DRONE? Israel's decision to shoot down the Hizbullah drone only after it flew into Israeli airspace for 20-30 minutes may have been part of an attempt to hack into the UAV and gain intelligence on it. "Anything with an operating system can be hacked," said Israeli security expert Shai Rod, a top administrator for Avnet, one of Israel's largest security firms. "Hackers could hijack a surveillance session, feeding false information directly into the drone for transmission back to headquarters." They could also compromise the drone's GPS system, providing inaccurate information about where the drone is located and what it is seeing. Hackers could even get control of a drone's avionics, controlling its flight path. Viruses could be inserted into the drone's operating system for uploading to the server that it communicates with. Drone hackers could cause a denial-of-service attack to the server the drone is communicating with. Or they could reverse-engineer the drone's operating system to determine who sent it, and where it is sending the data. An ambitious hacker could even upload a Trojan horse, to infect a larger system. (Times of Israel)


EGYPT’ BROTHERHOOD HEAD URGES JIHAD FOR JERUSALEM (By AFP | AFP – Thu, Oct 11, 2012). The supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi emanated, called on Thursday for a jihad (holy war) to liberate Jerusalem from Israeli rule. "Jerusalem is Islamic ... and nobody is entitled to make concessions" on the Holy City, said Sheikh Mohammed Badie in his weekly message to supporters. "The jihad for the recovery of Jerusalem is a duty for all Muslims," he said, stressing that the liberation of the Holy City "will not be done through negotiations or at the United Nations." Israel, which signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, has watched with concern as Islamists were catapulted to the forefront of politics following a popular uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak last year. Morsi has repeatedly said he would respect international treaties signed by Cairo. But his former movement has also said there is room to revise the accords, without objecting to them in principle.


MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD CHIEF CALLS FOR HOLY WAR AGAINST ISRAEL. The head of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood called for Muslims to "raise the flag of Jihad" to liberate Jerusalem. In a statement issued Thursday in Egypt's Al-Ahram, Mohammed Badie said negotiations are pointless. "Let Muslims know and let Believers be certain that the recovery of the holy sites and the safeguarding of goods and blood from the hands of the Jews will not be through the corridors of the United Nations, nor through negotiations," Badie said. "The Zionists... will not step back from transgression unless they are forced to. This will only be by holy Jihad, and enormous sacrifices and all forms of resistance." (DAILY ALERT - Investigative Project on Terrorism)


WILL JORDAN BE NEXT TO FALL? Should Jordan's King Abdullah II become the next Arab ruler to fall, it will mark another major setback for the U.S. in the region. For Israel it's significantly worse news. Jerusalem would lose its remaining strategic partner in the region - having already lost Turkey and Egypt - and face a possible nightmare on its longest border, exposing the country's center to attacks from the east that might include Sunni Jihadists or Iranian-trained Iraqi agents. In neighboring Syria, Assad's fall at the hands of Islamist rebels could put wind in the sails of Jordan's own Muslim Brotherhood party, the Islamic Action Front. At protests last week in Amman organized by the Islamic Action Front, "the turnout was much larger than the 8,000 that the government claims attended," said Hassan Barari, a political analyst at Jordan University. "It was...35,000-40,000." The reality is that there's little the U.S. can do at this point to protect one of its most steadfast allies in the region. The writer is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (DAILY ALERT - Tablet)


EU WARNED PA OF NEGATIVE COSTS OF UN BID. The European Union is advising the Palestinian Authority to "be careful" regarding its plan to ask the UN for non-member state observer status at the General Assembly, Deputy Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas said Wednesday. Asked what the Palestinians should be careful about, he replied "the possible negative consequences of their decision." When the Palestinians sought and gained admission as a state in UNESCO last November, Greece abstained. The 27 EU states split on that vote, with five countries voting against the move, 11 voting for, and 11 abstaining. Israel has made clear to the EU that the Palestinian move at the UN would be a serious setback to the diplomatic processes, because no Israeli government would enter negotiations with the Palestinians with the 1967 lines as the starting point, after a UN vote ratifying that position. (Jerusalem Post)


PALESTINIANS IN GAZA FIRE DOZENS OF ROCKETS AND MORTARS AT ISRAELI COMMUNITIES. Terrorist groups in Gaza fired some 55 rockets and mortar shells at communities in southern Israel on Monday. There were no reports of injuries, although two buildings were lightly damaged and several goats were killed by an explosion at a kibbutz petting zoo. In response, the IDF carried out three aerial strikes and one ground assault on Hamas terror hubs and rocket launching pads. (Ynet News) Israel Channel 10 TV quoted a military official in the Southern Command as saying that Hamas was using sophisticated launchers capable of shooting several rockets at once. The launchers were remotely operated, allowing the terrorists to remain hidden from sight. (Times of Israel)


EGYPT’S HARDLINE ISLAMIST PARTY UNRAVELS A fight for leadership could paralyze the Al-Nour Party, which became Egypt's second most powerful political force, winning a quarter of the seats in the legislature, second only to the Muslim Brotherhood's 50%. "The party is exploding from inside," Mohammed Habib, who was once a leader in the Muslim Brotherhood, said of Al-Nour. "In the street, it has lost its credibility. People see clerics who they used to see as men of God engaging in earthy disputes." (DAILY ALERT - AP-Washington Post)


FRANCE SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH ‘EAST JERUSALEM’, BYPASSING ISRAEL. The Regional Council of Ile-de-France announced its approval on Sep. 28 of a "cooperation agreement" with the Palestinian Authority district of Jerusalem, making it "the first French community to sign an agreement of cooperation with the Arab part of the holy city." A spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry responded that east Jerusalem "does not exist" as a separate entity and that the French council was "living in a make-believe world." Israel extended its sovereignty to the entire city of Jerusalem following the Six-Day War of 1967, and does not recognize the PA's Jerusalem district. (Times of Israel)


SHARP INCREASE IN WEST BANK TERRORIST ATTACKS. Terror attacks against Israeli targets in the West Bank and Jerusalem increased sharply in September, the Israel Security Agency reported Wednesday. There were 91 attacks in September, compared to 51 in August. The majority of the incidents were Molotov cocktail attacks. In addition, during September, terrorists in Gaza fired 17 rockets and eight mortar shells at Israel in 25 separate incidents, compared to 21 rockets and three mortar shells in 16 incidents in August. "The potential for another uprising exists and we have to prepare ourselves for such an eventuality," the commander of the IDF's elite Duvdevan undercover unit told Israel's Channel 10 TV. (Times of Israel)


JERSUALEM COURT: JEWS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO PRAY ON TEMPLE MOUNT. Jerusalem Magistrate's Court Judge Malka Aviv said Wednesday that the police should allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount. The High Court of Justice has previously ruled that policy on the Temple Mount is the sole purview of the police. Police currently enforce a Muslim ban on Jewish prayer at the site, citing security concerns. "There is room to allow for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount," said the judge during a remand hearing for Hagai Weiss, who was arrested on suspicion of trying to pray at the site. "The [police] explanation that Muslims don't approve of Jews praying on the Temple Mount cannot, in and of itself, prevent Jews from fulfilling their religious obligations and praying on the Temple Mount." She said Jewish prayer should be permitted on the Temple Mount "in a structured fashion, in a place designated for it," that would maintain the security of Jewish worshipers. Israel gained control of the Temple Mount in the Six-Day War in 1967, but decided to leave the administration of the mount in the hands of the Jerusalem Wakf, or Islamic trust, which bans non-Muslim worship in the compound. Fifteen Jews have been arrested over the past few days for trying to pray on the Temple Mount. (Ha'aretz)


ABBAS AND THE JEWS. •Just days before his UN speech, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met a small number of American Jewish leaders, though many leaders of the major American Jewish organizations declined to attend, claiming that negotiating with them was no substitute for negotiating with the government of Israel - and all the more so since Abbas has for four years now refused to resume peace talks with Israel. •One of those who participated asked, why won't Abbas acknowledge the Jews' ties to Jerusalem? In response, Abbas made a pledge to show more sensitivity. And he invited the group to watch his address to the UN General Assembly, hinting that they would find in it a remedy to their complaints. •In his speech, Abbas noted that the "land of peace" was "the birthplace of Jesus, [the place of] ascension of the Prophet Muhammad, and the final resting place of Abraham - the land of the three monotheistic religions." •This would seem to be a subtle acknowledgment that Judaism, being one of the three monotheistic religions, has some vague connection to the Land of Israel. But that's a bit too subtle for most Jews. Note Abbas' shrewd choice of characters: Abraham, as the father of all three monotheistic religions, is a much safer pick than Moses, Jacob or King David (DAILY ALERT - New York Times).


RED LINE IS FAST APPROACHING. By significantly sharpening the focus of his demand for so-far-and-no-further red lines of containment to be imposed on Iran's nuclear ambitions, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has in effect delivered an ultimatum over possible military action that Tehran would be foolish to ignore. All credible intelligence confirms Tehran's inexorable advance, despite global sanctions, towards that 90% mark. As Netanyahu said, in light of Iran's appalling record of aggression and support for global terrorism without nuclear weapons, imagine what Iran would be like with nuclear weapons. Netanyahu's core contention is that Iran must be left in no doubt that, if and when it transgresses that 90% threshold, it could face military action, from Israel alone or in concert with the U.S. and its allies. The Israeli leader deserves support. Netanyahu's address had apocalyptic overtones. With Iran looming as an existential threat to his country, the Israeli leader could hardly be expected to be otherwise. He believes the future of the world depends on whether Tehran gets the bomb. Ensuring that does not happen is a first order priority of the free world. (DAILY ALERT - The Australian)


As Sinai Border Heats Up, Egypt Buries Its Head in the Sand. Israeli security officials are convinced that steps reportedly taken by the Egyptians to quell extremists' terror activity in Sinai have had negligible effect. Even after the widely publicized operation by Egyptian security forces in Sinai during August and September, dozens of armed Bedouin were able to launch an attack on an Egyptian security compound in El-Arish. Morsi tried to engage with extremists in Sinai, but the negotiations led nowhere. Attacks on Egypt's army have escalated during the past two weeks. The problem is clear and ominous: increasingly expansive activity undertaken by radical organizations that view Israel as an accessible target, in a period when a new Egyptian government has not shown much determination to bring such militant terror actions to an end. (Ha'aretz)


NETANYAHU: “THOSE WHO HAVE WANTED TO WIPE US OFF THE MAP HAVE FAILED!” Prior to his departure on Wednesday evening to address the UN in New York, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "On the eve of Yom Kippur, which is sacred to the Jewish People, the Iranian tyrant - before the whole world - chose to publicly call for our disappearance....History has proven that those who have wanted to wipe us off the map have failed." (Prime Minister's Office)


ABBAS’ FIVE NON-OPTIONS. At a time when the Middle East is in upheaval, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been pushed to the margins of the diplomatic agenda. The Islamist surge in the region has emboldened Hamas' political ambitions and is making Abbas' Fatah feel ever more isolated and anachronistic. The loss of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, and the Arab uprisings more broadly, have relegated Abbas to the back burner. The present volatile regional environment arguably renders the kinds of heart-wrenching decisions any peace agreement requires of any Palestinian leader exceedingly unpopular and politically out of reach, virtually regardless of Israel's position. The Palestinian president knows only too well that even modest compromises with Israel will have him labeled as a traitor to the Palestinian cause before core Palestinian and Arab constituencies. In the past, his calculation has been that Arab states could provide the legitimacy for a deal and act as a counterweight to public opposition. Presently, he harbors no illusion that this is possible. It is particularly unfortunate that much of the energy and promise that once surrounded the Palestinian state-building project has dissipated. A revitalized state-building campaign can make a tangible difference to the reality on the ground, and help insulate the West Bank from regional turmoil. The writer is an international associate of The Washington Institute. (DAILY ALERT - Washington Institute for Near East Policy)


REDESIGNING THE PEACE PROCESS. We're now approaching two decades of failure of the two-state solution. Every strategy for pulling it off - Oslo, Taba, Geneva, Road Map, Dayton, Obama/Clinton - has, despite sometimes enormous efforts, failed or died stillborn. And yet, with each failure, a new round of hope emerges, with commentators and politicians arguing that this time, if we just tinker with some of the details, we'll get peace right. Palestinian "no's" typically get a pass. But the zero-sum logic of Arab attitudes toward Israel represents Islamic religiosity and deep-seated cultural mores. From the Arab perspective, the very existence of Israel represents a stain on Arab honor and a blasphemy to Islam's dominion. The Palestinian Authority may have made a tactical shift in which they will talk with Israelis and even make public agreements. But they have treated such engagement as a Trojan horse, a feint to position for further war. Here's my proposal to those who feel we must revive the peace process. Call for the Palestinians to show their good intentions toward their own people. Get those "refugees" out of the prison camps into which they have been so shamefully consigned for most of a century. Begin at home, with the over 100,000 refugees in Area A, under complete PA control. Bring in Habitat for Humanity and Jimmy Carter to help them build decent, affordable, new homes. The writer is a professor of history at Boston University. (DAILY ALERT - Tablet)


OBAMA AT UN: “A NUCLEAR-ARMED IRAN IS NOT A CHALLENGE THAT CAN BE CONTAINED. " President Barack Obama told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday: "Understand America will never retreat from the world. We will bring justice to those who harm our citizens and our friends, and we will stand with our allies." "In Iran, we see where the path of a violent and unaccountable ideology leads....Just as it restricts the rights of its own people, the Iranian government continues to prop up a dictator in Damascus and supports terrorist groups abroad. Time and again, it has failed to take the opportunity to demonstrate that its nuclear program is peaceful, and to meet its obligations to the United Nations." "America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy, and we believe that there is still time and space to do so. But that time is not unlimited....Make no mistake, a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy. It risks triggering a nuclear-arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the non-proliferation treaty. That's why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable. And that's why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon." (White House)


ABBAS SET FOR SCALED-DOWN BID AT UN. PA President Mahmoud Abbas heads this week to the UN to ask for an upgrade of the Palestinians' status there to a non-member state. Facing stalled peace efforts with the Israelis, an impasse in attempts to heal the rift between his Fatah movement and the Islamist group Hamas, and economic unrest in the West Bank, Abbas returns to the UN after a year in which the Palestinian issue has been sidelined by concerns about the Iranian nuclear program and the unfolding Arab Spring. Israel and the U.S. oppose the move to change the Palestinians' status, calling it a unilateral step to decide an issue that should be resolved through negotiations. If a resolution on PA status is submitted, Abbas could risk losing promised financial aid from Washington as well as tax and customs transfers from the Israelis, funds the PA desperately needs. Palestinian officials acknowledge that any such resolution is unlikely to be presented in the weeks leading up to the U.S. election, so as not to antagonize President Obama. Nathan Thrall, a Middle East analyst for the International Crisis Group, said that the Palestinian leadership's UN bid had become "a problem for them, because they want to preserve their relations with the United States, which has communicated to them very clearly that it doesn't want them to do it." (Washington Post)


EGYPT’S REQUEST TO CHANGE THE PEACE TREATY. Sinai has become a base for jihadi elements, including homegrown al-Qaeda-inspired Salafi groups made up of radicalized Bedouin, and Palestinian terror operatives who enter Sinai from Gaza. The radical terror groups target Egyptian military forces as well as the IDF, meaning that Cairo and Jerusalem have a common interest in seeing Egypt reestablish sovereignty over Sinai. Egypt is requesting to alter sections of the 1979 Camp David peace accord that limit its military presence in Sinai, to allow more Egyptian forces in to push back the jihadis and reestablish security for both Egypt and Israel. Unfortunately, things aren't so simple. The Muslim Brotherhood that has ascended to power has a radical, worrisome ideology, and it is far too soon to know the impact on Egypt's policies toward Israel. (Jerusalem Post)


ISRAEL: PEACE REQUIRES JUST RESOLUTION OF JEWISH REFUGEE PROBLEM. Speaking at a conference on Friday at UN headquarters in New York, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said, "We will not arrive at peace without solving the refugee problem - but that includes the Jewish refugees. Justice does not lie on just one side and equal measures must be applied to both." The conference heard eyewitness accounts by Jews whose families had been persecuted and expelled from Arab countries. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor said, "the total area of land confiscated from Jews in Arab countries amounts to nearly 40,000 square miles. That is five times the size of Israel." Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said "the evidence proves" that there was "a coordinated campaign by the Arab League" against their own Jews, who were persecuted and discriminated against in their lands. Professor Alan Dershowitz said that "the situation faced by Jews in Arab countries was much worse than that faced by Palestinians in Israel." (Ha'aretz)


Due to technical problems no Daily Journal will be posted this week.


ANOTHER BLOW IN THE ISLAMIST’S WAR. • Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, and the three other American dead are the latest victims of a war that started decades ago. • The excuse this time was the publication on YouTube of the trailer for a movie in which Prophet Muhammad is supposedly insulted. The trailer reveals a mixture of ignorance and prejudice, but it has nothing to do with the U.S. government or the American people. • America is at war because there are Islamists who believe that the U.S. is the last remaining obstacle to their dream of subjugating the "Infidel" through terror dubbed as "jihad." America is at war because those who dream of reviving the Islamic caliphate fear its cultural and political attraction as much as its military and economic power. • In Libya, Islamist parties suffered a resounding defeat in the nation's first free elections. Mahmoud Jibril, leader of the winning National Forces Alliance, has declared "close ties with the U.S." as a key aspect of his program. Muhammad Morsi, the new president of Egypt, has described the Arab Spring as "a movement for democracy and dignity," not Islamic sharia. • The Cairo and Benghazi raids reflect not just Islamo-fascist groups' abiding hatred (mixed with resentful awe) for America, but also their growing fear that part of the Islamist movement may be succumbing to seduction by the U.S., which, with its emphasis on individual freedoms and freedom of faith and speech, is a potent symbol of what they despise (New York Post).


NETANYAHU’S ANXIETY IS NOT UNREASONABLE. The White House position is that the U.S. will keep Iran from possessing a nuclear bomb. It is fair to ask, as Bibi is asking: Does that mean you will let them have a warhead design, sufficient enriched uranium, and a missile system capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, so long as they don't actually finish building the device and then mating it to a delivery system? In other words, what if Iran is only technically non-nuclear? What if it would only take Iran a month to put together a nuclear bomb from the moment the decision is made? What will you do then? And how will you know, for sure, that they are doing it? American officials have promised Israel and the Arab states that their intelligence is good enough that they will know when Iran is approaching the nuclear threshold. But obviously the record of the American intelligence community is not without its flaws. (DAILY ALERT - Atlantic)


NETANYAHU: “THOSE WHO REFUSE TO PUT RED LINES BEFORE IRAN DON’T HAVE A MORAL RIGHT TO PLACE A RED LIGHT BEFORE ISRAEL!” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that if world powers refused to set a red line for Tehran's nuclear program, they could not demand that Israel hold its fire. "The world tells Israel 'wait, there's still time.' And I say, 'Wait for what? Wait until when?' Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel," he said. "Now if Iran knows that there is no red line, if Iran knows that there is no deadline, what will it do? Exactly what it's doing. It's continuing, without any interference, towards obtaining nuclear weapons capability and from there, nuclear bombs." (Reuters)


ISRAELI PM PRAISES CANADA FOR CUTTING TIES WITH IRAN. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he hopes other countries will follow the example set by Canada, which on Friday broke off diplomatic relations with Iran. Netanyahu told CBC in an interview Sunday: "Iran will not stop unless it sees clear determination by the democratic countries of the world and a clear red line. I don't think that they see a clear red line, and I think the sooner we establish one, the greater the chances that we won't need other types of action." Netanyahu said Israel did not know Canada was about to break off ties with Iran, nor did the Jewish state share any special intelligence with Ottawa. "I think everyone in Israel appreciates its forthright stand against a regime that brutalizes its own people that colludes in the murder of tens of thousands in Syria that denies the Holocaust and calls for the eradication of the State of Israel while pursuing an illicit program for developing nuclear weapons." (CBC News)


ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS DIFFERENCES REMAIN WITH U.S. OVER IRAN. Israel's defense minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that differences remain with the U.S. over Iran's nuclear program, despite efforts by Israel and the U.S. to come to an agreement on the issue. He said "the clock is ticking at a different pace" for the U.S. and Israel. Barak spoke after meeting the U.S. Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. James A. Winnefeld. Israel and the U.S. both believe that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. Israel views a nuclear-armed Iran as an existential threat, citing Iranian calls for Israel's destruction, the country's development of missiles capable of striking the Jewish state, and Tehran's support for Islamic militant groups hostile to Israel, such as Hamas and Hizbullah. (AP-Washington Post)


MASSIVE RESERVOIR DISCOVERED BENEATH WESTERN WALL. Recently, part of a floor collapsed in a massive underground drainage ditch deep below the Western Wall as archeologists were taking it apart. Archeologist Eli Shukron looked into the hole and was blown away by the size of the room they had uncovered. Based on previous research and excavations in the area, Shukron was immediately convinced they had stumbled on an enormous underground well from the First Temple Period, the first evidence of stored water next to the Temple. The reservoir measures 12 meters by 5 meters by 4.5 meters and uses the same type of plaster as other reservoirs from the First Temple Period. The handprints of the laborers who added the plaster are still visible (Jerusalem Post).


STUDY: Gap GROWS BETWEEN ISRAELI ARABS AND PALESTINIANS. Palestinians in the West Bank and Israeli Arabs show increasing signs of wanting to keep their distance from each other, and maintain different narratives about the history of the conflict, according to a new study conducted by Ben-Gurion University researchers. Some 60% of Israeli Arabs said they would not want their daughter to marry someone from the West Bank. Prof. Shifra Sagy, director of the Conflict Management and Resolution Program at Ben-Gurion University, who conducted the study in cooperation with Palestinians and with funding from the German research foundation DFG, noted that those who stayed in their villages during Israel's 1948 War of Independence and became citizens of Israel referred to themselves as '48 Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post)


ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT IRAN, ISRAEL, BIBI AND OBAMA. Q: Was Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey straying from the administration script when he said he doesn't want to appear to be "complicit" in an Israeli attack on Iran? A: I do think the use of the word "complicit," with its sinister air, was not the word the White House would want to see used, in part because it made the Israelis unnecessarily nervous. Martin Indyk, of the Brookings Institution, and formerly the American ambassador to Israel, wrote in an e-mail, "I don't think Dempsey was scripted. The White House would never have agreed to his use of the word 'complicit.'" (Indyk also argued that Netanyahu is "not going against the will of the President if only because the day after he pulls the trigger he's going to be calling Obama to help manage the aftermath. And by backing down he incurs an obligation from Obama even if he doesn't get the 'red line' declaration he is hoping for.") No one in the world has done more to focus attention on the dangers of Iran's nuclear program than Netanyahu, and I've met many people in the American government who are privately thankful he pushed the international community to its (relatively) strong position. As Nicholas Burns, the former undersecretary of state, told me recently, "Netanyahu has made the threat of force credible and that's not a bad thing for us. We don't want the Iranians to think we're paper tigers, and Netanyahu has played a useful role in this." (Atlantic)


PHOTO FRAUD: CNN RESURRECTS THE RACHEL CORRIE LIBEL. In describing the verdict in the Rachel Corrie case, a CNN video report depicted Corrie standing in plain view of an Israeli bulldozer, with a megaphone in hand, as CNN reporter Frederik Pleitgen intoned: "These photos show the moments before she was killed." The CNN report is a lie. The photo was actually taken hours before the fatal incident, in front of a different bulldozer. The latest CNN report also featured a different photo of Rachel Corrie standing in extremely close proximity to an Israeli bulldozer. Yet this photo is a total fraud - a crude Photoshop job. Corrie's shadow is much longer than that of the bulldozer, while the man standing close to her in the photo casts no shadow at all (Times of Israel).


A STRATEGY FOR MAKING PEACE WITH THE PALESTINIANS. Israel will not be able to make peace with the Palestinians until it devises a strategy to encourage the Palestinians to give up their hopes for the destruction of Israel. The Palestinian community will abandon these hopes only when it is convinced that making peace is a better option. The most important ways to work towards peace are the resettlement of Palestinian "refugees" outside of Israel; stopping the hate campaign in the Palestinian education system; reducing monetary aid to Palestinian leaders who reject peace; and encouraging open debate in Palestinian society. The writer is a founder of the Hudson Institute and a senior research associate at the BESA Center. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)


PERSIAN INTERPRETER TAMPERS WITH MORSI’S SPEECH. Egyptian President Morsi's speech in Tehran on Thursday at the Non-Aligned Movement summit may not have been the same speech heard by the Islamic Republic's citizens on national television and radio. One Iranian website wrote that "in an unprecedented action, the interpreter falsified part of Morsi's speech, declining to translate Morsi's severe attack on the Syrian president's regime." The Iranian interpreter translated Morsi's criticism of Assad's regime as a statement in support of Assad: "There is a crisis in Syria and we must support the ruling regime in Syria." When Morsi went on to discuss events in Arab states where the Arab Spring played a part, the translator exchanged the word Syria with Bahrain. Iranian media also confirmed changes to speeches delivered by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UN General Assembly President Nasser Abdul Aziz on the Syrian crisis (Daily Alert - Ynet News)


HOW MANY MILLIONAIRES LIVE IN THE ‘IMPOVERISHED’ GAZA STRIP? The world often thinks of Gaza, home to 1.4 million Palestinians, as one of the poorest places on earth, where people live in misery and squalor. But according to an investigative report published in Asharq Al-Awsat, there are at least 600 millionaires living in Gaza. The report also refutes the claim that Gaza has been facing a humanitarian crisis because of an Israeli blockade. Mohammed Dahlan, the former Palestinian Authority security commander of Gaza, said last week that Hamas was the only party that was laying siege to Gaza; that it is Hamas, and not Israel or Egypt that is strangling and punishing the people there. (Gatestone Institute)


DEFINING ISRAEL’S CAPITAL. Earlier this year, the Guardian published "Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel, Tel Aviv is." In response, media watchdog HonestReporting lodged a complaint to the UK's Press Complaints Commission (PCC) claiming that the Guardian's statement was inaccurate and therefore in breach of the Editors' Code of Practice. The Oxford English Dictionary defines capital city as: "The city or town that functions as the seat of government and administrative center of a country or region." All three branches of Israel's central government (its legislature, primary executive offices and supreme court) are located in Jerusalem and not Tel Aviv, as are the Prime Minister's and President's residences. A sovereign state has the right to designate the location of its capital city. It is an internal domestic question, with which international law does not concern itself. A sovereign state may even decide to relocate its capital city as did Brazil (from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia) or Germany (from Bonn to Berlin). Statements in the British media which deny that Jerusalem is Israel's capital imply that Israel, unlike any other sovereign state, does not have the right to designate the location of its capital city. As a result of threatened legal action against the PCC, the Guardian printed a correction which stated "we accept that it is wrong to state that Tel Aviv - the country's financial and diplomatic center - is the capital." The authors are solicitors at Asserson Law Offices. (Jerusalem Post)


MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD: MORSI VISIT IN ISRAEL IMPOSSIBLE. Gamal Heshmat, a senior official in the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, came out on Wednesday against Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's invitation to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to visit Israel. Heshmat stressed that "there is no possibility for Morsi to visit the Zionist entity" and that "accepting Israel's invitation would be unimaginable." He noted that even ousted president Hosni Mubarak only visited Israel once, to attend Yitzhak Rabin's funeral. "If Mubarak never held such a visit, how could Morsi do it?" he said. (Ynet News)


REINFORCED SCHOOL PROTECTS ISRAELI KIDS FROM GAZA ROCKETS. On Monday, many students in Sderot started the school year safe from attack in a new, fortified, rocket-proof school building. The $27.5 million structure features concrete walls, reinforced windows and a unique architectural plan all designed specifically to absorb and deflect rocket fire. Notices on the walls remind the 1,200 students that in case of a warning siren, they are to stay put. "You can finally teach without constantly worrying about what to do when there is a rocket attack," said Zohar Nir-Levi, the principal of the junior high school inside the complex. "It used to be that even before you said hello in the morning you were telling people where to run." In the 12 years since rockets began raining down on Sderot, just kilometers from Gaza, eight people have been killed and hundreds wounded. The new school features concrete shelters in the school yard as well, to allow students on recess to find cover when they hear the siren. (Times of Israel)


MAJ. GEN. UZI DAYAN: WE CAN ONLY RELY ON OURSELVES. "Iran poses a credible threat, and we are the target, so let's not delude ourselves," Maj. Gen. (ret.) Uzi Dayan said in an interview. Dayan believes that the Israeli homefront will withstand a barrage of Iranian missiles. "We need to stop scaring the public. There is no point in this, particularly when it comes to the highly exaggerated assessments regarding Iranian retaliation and Iranian capabilities. The decision is a difficult one, even if it is of historic proportions, but there is nothing that Israel cannot handle." "People are wildly exaggerating the Iranian retaliation. At the most, the Iranians can activate Hizbullah and Hamas to fire missiles. This is very serious and dangerous, but this isn't something that we haven't faced in the past." "We have a good defense system. But the key factor should be what happens when Iran comes into possession of the bomb, and this could be even more dangerous." "The Israeli civilian needs to ask himself if we can afford to live with a nuclear Iran. We don't have to come to such a situation. This is avoidable." (Israel Hayom)






JESUS’ BIRTHPLACE IN DANGER: WILL UNESCO CHOOSE PA HYPE OVER EXPERT FINDINGS? The upcoming meeting of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee is liable to find that the "Birthplace of Jesus: the Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage route in Bethlehem" is under urgent danger and worthy of special UN protection. The PLO, which became a member of UNESCO in October 2011, claims there is an "emergency situation" that needs to be addressed by "an emergency measure." Yet the PLO's submission has been completely rejected by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) - a Paris-based entity that advises the World Heritage Committee. After a comprehensive investigation, ICOMOS reported: "[T]he Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage route in Bethlehem, Palestine, should not be inscribed on the World Heritage List on an emergency basis....Contrary to the Palestinian submission now before the UNESCO committee, the Church of the Nativity was neither 'severely damaged,' nor 'under imminent threat.'" The expert evaluation is public and known. Yet does anyone expect the 21-nation UNESCO committee to rule based on objective findings? (DAILY ALERT - UN Watch)


EGYPTIAN STATUS QUO ENDS FOR ISRAELIS, PALESTINIANS. Israel's regional strategy was underpinned by its peace deal with Egypt, enabling the country to scale back dramatically its military budget. Mubarak's Egypt also supplied Israel with 40% of its gas needs. This deal has now gone up in smoke. Few expect that Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi, if victorious, would trash the peace accord with Israel - too much foreign aid depends on it. By the same token, nobody in Jerusalem expects anything more than frigid relations from a man who is quoted as calling Israelis "vampires." Hamas, which does not recognize Israel's right to exist, believes that with the Brotherhood fully in control in Cairo, its position in its internal struggle for supremacy against the Western-backed Abbas would be greatly strengthened. "To a great extent Islamists in Palestine see their future tied to the victory of Morsi, which would complete the circle and leave the Islamists in full control of the entire Egyptian political system," said Talal Okal, a Gaza-based Palestinian political analyst. (DAILY ALERT - Reuters)


MUHAMMED ALI FEIERTE BAR MIZWA MIT SEINEM ENKEL. Der berühmte Schwergewichtboxer Muhammad Ali nahm Ende April an der Bar Mizwa seines Enkels in Philadelphia/USA teil. Thomas Hauser, der persönliche Biograph des Boxers, schrieb auf einer Box-Webseite, dass der ehemalige Weltmeister am 28. April 2012 zur Synagoge „Rodef Schalom“ in Philadelphia kam, um bei dem Aufruf zur Thora seines 13-jährigen Enkels, Jacob Wertheimer, dabei zu sein. Er ist der Sohn seiner fünften Tochter Chalia und deren jüdischen Ehemann Spencer Wertheimer. Khalia Ali erzählte Hauser, ihr Vater habe sich in der Synagoge und bei der Bar Mizwa-Zeremonie sehr „angenommen“ gefühlt. „Mein Vater hat diesen Werdegang unterstützt und aus nächster Nähe verfolgt, selbst bei der Thoralesung stand er daneben. Es war meinem Sohn sehr wichtig, dass sein Großvater mit von der Partie war“, so die 38-jährige Chalia Ali-Wertheimer. Muhammad Ali hat seine Kinder zur Toleranz erzogen und Khalia gab diese Lektionen auch an ihren eigenen Sohn weiter. „Ich wurde als Muslimin geboren und wuchs so auf, aber ich bin heute mehr geistlich als religiös ausgerichtet. Mein Ehemann ist Jude und niemand hat auf Jacob Druck bezüglich der Wahl einer bestimmten Religion ausgeübt. Er wählte selbst das Judentum, denn er fühlt sich im Blut dem Judentum nahe und mit der jüdischen Kultur verbunden." Obwohl Muhammad Ali Mitte der 60er Jahre zum Islam übertrat und eine harte Stellung gegenüber dem "weißen Mann" einnahm, als er im Rahmen der „Nation of Islam“ neben Malcolm X wirkte, wurde er mit den Jahren zu einer Person, die für Toleranz zwischen Menschen und Religionen einsteht (Israel Heute).


WORLD’S LARGEST, MOST ADVANCED UNDERGROUND HOSPITAL OPENS IN HAIFA. The world's largest and most advanced "fortified hospital" was unveiled this week at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. The 2,000-bed underground hospital is designed to keep patients and staff safe dozens of meters below ground even if rockets are falling - as they did during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. It is also designed to keep out chemical or biological weapons. In normal times, the three-level underground structure will be used as a parking facility for up to 1,400 vehicles. But built into the walls and floors are power outlets, connections, air conditioners and heaters, water and filtration systems, and everything else needed to move hospital operations underground. The conversion of the facility to a hospital will take less than 48 hours, hospital officials said. (DAILY ALERT - Times of Israel)


ISRAEL AND THE U.S. IN DISAGREEMENT OVER IRAN. All the efforts to dissuade Iran from continuing to develop nuclear capabilities have failed to bear fruit. Israel welcomes the expansion of the sanctions that are scheduled to be imposed against Iran in the coming weeks, yet it does not pin great hopes on the ability of the sanctions to stop Iran's nuclear activity. There is little hope that the negotiations of recent weeks, as well as those scheduled for Moscow, can cause a transformation. Iran's attitude to the negotiations with the P5+1 does not indicate that Iran feels deterred in any way or senses any urgency. From the Israeli perspective, there is a conspicuous gap between the resolute tone of the Obama administration's statements on Iran and their translation into tough stances in the dialogue. Israel's timetable vis-a-vis Iran differs vastly from America's. While Israel operates out of a sense that it has very little time left, the U.S. seems to have a much longer timeframe. Furthermore, Israel is making very specific and concrete demands of Iran, much more far-reaching than those being made by the U.S. In the current circumstances, Israel will find it hard to place its trust in America's resolve to prevent a nuclear Iran, and not act on its own. The writer is a Principal Research Fellow at the INSS. (DAILY ALERT - Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)


TARGETED KILLINGS AND DOUBLE STANDARDS. According to Human Rights Watch's test of legality of targeted killings, there are significant differences between Israel's policy, which has been conducted in almost full compliance with this test, and the policies of Western armies, which have resulted in far more civilian fatalities. On the one hand, there is an IDF policy executed with remarkable transparency, and put under intense local and international public scrutiny (including judicial review). Furthermore, this policy was implemented with precision targeting and virtually no mistakes regarding the location of the terrorist - and with less than one civilian fatality average per targeted killing. On the other hand, there is a Western policy which in many cases did not comply with HRW's stated test, and was conducted behind a cloak of systemic and deliberate opacity, with virtually no public scrutiny. Due to faulty or compromised intelligence, this policy resulted in many incidents which ought to have raised red flags regarding the core principles of distinction and proportionality - and had a ratio of more than ten civilian fatalities per targeted killing. The writer, an international human rights lawyer, is a Scholar in Residence at the Jerusalem Center. (DAILY ALERT - Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)


JEWISH STAR REMAKES PERSIAN OLDIES IN TEL AVIV AND HER FANS IN TEHERAN CAN’T GET ENOUGH. Music-loving Iranians craving nostalgic Persian songs of a bygone era have a new darling: Rita, the Israeli singing sensation. Iranian-born Rita Jahanforuz, 50, who is fluent in Persian, is Israel's most famous female singer. A year ago, she decided to revisit what she tells audiences is the "soundtrack of my childhood" by adapting Persian classics that most Iranians know by heart. The result is an album, "All My Joys," that gives old-time Persian hits an upbeat Mediterranean flavor that caters to the Israeli ear. The album went gold in Israel in just three weeks, despite being sung entirely in Persian. It also propelled Rita onto the music scene in Iran. Iran's government has taken notice. Fars News Agency, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards Corps, wrote that Rita is Israel's "LATEST PLOT IN A SOFT WAR” to gain access to the hearts and minds of Iranians. (Wall Street Journal)


WAR IS MARCHING TO DAMASCUS. Damascus feels like a city expecting the worst to happen and seeing no way to avoid it. Christians are fearful and are all too aware of what happened to their co-religionists in Iraq after 2003. The present Syrian government may be trying to stir up sectarian strife in order to ensure that the minorities - Alawite, Christian, Druze and Kurd - remain on its side. But it did not invent these communal differences. One diplomat long resident in Damascus said the YouTube pictures posted by the opposition are "deceptive." "When they show anti-government demonstrations, the activists always edit out the bit where the crowd shouts 'death to the Alawites!'" Weapons from Saudi Arabia are now reported to be reaching the insurgents. Iraqi officials say that al-Qaeda fighters in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad, notorious for massacring Shia villagers and travelers, have headed back to Syria (DAILY ALERT - Independent-UK)


IDF EXERCISE SENDS TANKS TO NEUTRALIZE MISSILE THREATS IN ENEMY TERRITORY. Israel has just completed a major military exercise in which tanks and other ground forces were trained to be sent across rivers and other challenging terrain, in order to neutralize missile threats deep in enemy territory, the tank brigade commander who led the drill said Thursday. The day-and-night exercise was the largest of its kind in 20 years, Col. Enav Shalev told Army Radio. Shalev said Israel had the Iron Dome missile defense system that is deployed to protect southern Israel from missile fire from Gaza. But thwarting enemy missile threats ultimately required sending ground forces deep into the enemy territory from which missiles were launched. He said that "anyone with eyes in their head...can see why [the exercise] was necessary." Threats against Israel "are not decreasing. They are increasing” (DAILY ALERT - Times of Israel)


EGYPTIAN CLERIC: BROTHERHOOD CANDIDATE WILL RESTORE THE ‘UNITED STATES OF THE ARABS’ WITH JERUSALEM AS ITS CAPITAL. Egyptian cleric Safwat Higazi appeared at a rally for Muslim Brotherhood candidate Muhammad Mursi, which was aired on Al-Nas TV on May 1, 2012, where he said: "We can see how the dream of the Islamic Caliphate is being realized, Allah willing, by Dr. Muhammad Mursi and his brothers, his supporters, and his political party. We can see how the great dream, shared by us all - that of the United States of the Arabs...the United States of the Arabs will be restored by this man and his supporters. The capital of the Caliphate - the capital of the United States of the Arabs - will be Jerusalem, Allah willing." "Our capital shall not be Cairo, Mecca, or Medina. It shall be Jerusalem, Allah willing. Our cry shall be: 'Millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem.'" "We say it loud and clear: Yes, Jerusalem is our goal. We shall pray in Jerusalem, or else we shall die as martyrs on its threshold." (DAILY ALERT - MEMRI)


ANGER IN ARAB WORLD OVER IRANIAN FILMS DEPICTING LIFE OF PROPHET MUHAMMED. In July 2011, Iranian filmmakers announced a plan to create a film trilogy about the life of the Prophet Muhammad - the first feature films about the Prophet ever to be made in the Muslim world. The announcement sparked controversy in Muslim countries, in light of fatwas that prohibit any depiction of Muhammad and other prominent figures from early Islam in works of art. The filmmakers recently announced that the filming of the first movie, depicting Muhammad's childhood, has been completed; this evoked a new wave of condemnation from clerics, especially in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where columnists attacked Iran and called on Muslims to prevent the film's distribution (DAILY ALERT - MEMRI).


DENNIS ROSS: SAUDI KING VOWED TO OBTAIN NUCELAR BOMB AFTER IRAN. Former senior U.S. diplomat Dennis Ross confirmed Tuesday that Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has explicitly warned the U.S. that if Iran obtains nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia will do so as well. "If they get nuclear weapons, we will get nuclear weapons," Abdullah told Ross in April 2009. Ross said he responded to the king's assertion with a lengthy appeal against nuclear proliferation, but after hearing him out, the king responded by repeating the same line. In February, the London Times quoted a "senior Saudi official" as saying that Riyadh would launch a "twin-track nuclear weapons program" should Tehran realize its ambition of obtaining a nuclear weapon. The Saudi threat is one of the prime factors motivating Washington's campaign to stop Tehran's nuclear program. Ross said that while it would be "unrealistic" to expect serious progress in the nuclear talks with Iran after only two rounds, the U.S. should set a deadline for the conclusion of diplomatic contacts - and make Tehran aware of it. (DAILY ALERT - Ha'aretz)


MEET ‘FLAME’, THE MASSIVE SPY MALWARE INFILTRATING IRANIAN COMPUTERS. A highly sophisticated piece of malware has been newly found infecting systems in Iran and elsewhere and is believed to be part of a well-coordinated, ongoing, state-run cyberespionage operation. Dubbed "Flame" by Russia-based anti-virus firm Kaspersky Lab, the malicious code is designed primarily to spy on the users of infected computers and steal data from them. "It's quite interesting that it stayed undetected for at least two years," said Alexander Gostev, chief security expert at Kaspersky Lab. Kaspersky discovered the malware about two weeks ago after looking into reports in April that computers belonging to the Iranian Oil Ministry and the Iranian National Oil Company had been hit with malware that was stealing and deleting information from the systems. Among Flame's many modules is one that turns on the internal microphone of an infected machine to secretly record conversations that occur either over Skype or in the computer's near vicinity; a module that turns Bluetooth-enabled computers into a Bluetooth beacon, which scans for other Bluetooth-enabled devices in the vicinity to siphon names and phone numbers from their contacts folder; and a module that grabs and stores frequent screenshots of activity on the machine, such as instant-messaging and email communications, and sends them via a covert SSL channel to the attackers' command-and-control servers (DAILY ALERT - Wired).


• ISRAEL CAN’T SOLVE AFRICA’S PROBLEMS. srael, much to its surprise, has found itself being swamped by unwelcome African migrants who have poured over the border with Egypt. The idea that tiny Israel should be considered the solution for African poverty is absurd. There are currently approximately 70,000 illegal African immigrants in Israel. In such a small country, that's a large burden for Israelis to carry. • If Americans are upset about undocumented immigrants in the U.S., the uproar in Israel isn't hard to understand. It's also true that, unlike the nations they pass through on their way to Israel, the Jewish state has treated newcomers with compassion. • Those who are quick to accuse Israel of racism should remember that it went to great trouble and expense to facilitate the mass immigration of tens of thousands of black Jews from Ethiopia in the past generation. • The Jewish tradition of caring for the homeless and the stranger has created a large degree of sympathy for the African migrants in Israel. But while it was possible for the country to take in the initial small numbers, now that the rate is up to 1,000 new illegals a month, the situation has gotten out of hand. Israel simply hasn't the ability to care for or employ that many people who have no ties to the place (DAILY ALERT – Commentary).


CANADA’S FOREIGN MINISTER DEFENDS SUPPORT OF ISRAEL. Canada's foreign affairs minister John Baird was the keynote speaker Thursday at the Religious Liberty Dinner in Washington, where he forcefully defended his government's strong support of Israel. "We contend that modern anti-Semitism lives in the disproportionate criticism Israel receives, and the refusal to accept its right to exist," he said. "The world cannot take the words of Hamas, Hizbullah and Iran as mere rhetoric and risk appeasing these malicious actors in the same way the world appeased the Nazis.... Under our prime minister, and under this foreign minister, Canada will stand with the Jewish state and people as they struggle to protect their very right to exist." (DAILY ALERT - Huffington Post-Canada)


BOYCOTT ISRAELI PRODUCTS? NOT IN THE PA. Despite a Palestinian campaign that calls for the boycott of Israeli products, Palestinian consumers "love and buy Israeli products," says one Bethlehem minimarket owner. "Lots of people prefer to buy Tnuva products simply because there is tighter supervision and they want to feel safe in what they buy. It has nothing to do with politics. When we buy a product from you (Israelis) we know it is under supervision and only made with fresh ingredients." Imad Naama, who owns a cleaning and hygiene product warehouse, explains that there is no comparison between the quality of Israeli products and other brands. "If my clients see that the product has Hebrew letters on it or if it says the product is from Israel, they are sure that it is better," he notes. (Ynet News)


AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CONTINUES TO TARGET ISRAEL. Amnesty International's 2012 World Report continues to level unsupported allegations of violations of international law against Israel. Despite the murder of more than 8,000 Syrians by Bashar al-Assad, Israel is mentioned 137 times in the report compared to 74 mentions for the Syrian regime. In the 2012 report, Amnesty accuses Israel of "collective punishment" of the Palestinian population, in the form of a blockade against Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas. Amnesty ignores that Israel's blockade was implemented to stop the smuggling of weapons and rockets used to target Israeli citizens. In September 2011, the UN Secretary General's Palmer Committee found that the naval blockade of Gaza is legal under international law, explicitly rejecting Amnesty's claims. In addition, Amnesty fails to label the thousands of indiscriminate Palestinian rocket attacks targeting Israeli population centers - every one of which is a war crime - as "crimes" under international law (DAILY ALERT - NGO Monitor).


POLL: MOST EGYPTIANS HATE ISRAEL, BUT DON’T WANT WAR WITH IT. The Menachem Begin Heritage Center on Monday published a poll showing that more than 85% of Egyptians oppose any type of normalization with Israel and want to see a worsening of relations, even to levels of "hatred." However, the survey also showed that 90% of Egyptians believe that peace is preferable to war, and that the peace treaty with Israel was the "right choice” (DAILY ALERT - Israel Hayom).


NAKBA, A SELF-INFLICTED CATASTROPHE. More than 5 million German soldiers were killed during World War II, and more than 2 million German civilians died during the war. In addition, millions were left homeless and millions became refugees. Yet the German people do not commemorate V-E Day as the German Nakba. The German people know that they brought the catastrophe upon themselves. More than 2 million Japanese soldiers were killed in the war and more than 3 million Japanese civilians perished. Tokyo was firebombed, and two atomic bombs devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But the Japanese people do not commemorate their suffering during the war on V-J Day as the Japanese Nakba. They know that they brought that catastrophe upon themselves. So what is the Palestinian Nakba all about? The Arabs intended to destroy the Jewish community in Palestine, were confident that they were going to win, but in the end lost the war. That is the origin of the Palestinian catastrophe, a catastrophe the Arabs brought upon themselves. The difference is that unlike the Germans and the Japanese, many Palestinians and their Arab supporters still harbour hopes of ultimately defeating the State of Israel and destroying the Jewish state. The writer served as Israel's minister of defense three times, as minister of foreign affairs, and as Israeli ambassador to the U.S. (Ha'aretz)


U.S. BOOSTS FUNDING FOR ISRAELS ‘IRON DOME’ DEFENSE SYSTEM. The U.S. has fulfilled Israel's request for another $70 million for Iron Dome, a missile defense system aimed at protecting Israelis from rockets fired by militants in Gaza. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said President Obama directed him to fill the Israeli request to fund a system that Panetta says has saved Israeli lives and can prevent an escalation of violence in the region. Pentagon spokesman George Little said, "Israel is in a tough neighborhood and we have for decades supported their independence and their security....We believe that an investment in Israeli security is important for Israel and important for the United States." In March, the Defense Department said the system was responsible for taking down 80% of several hundred rockets that were directed at Israel (DAILY ALERT - VOA News)


ARAB SPRING NO GUARANTEE OF MIDDLE EAST DEMOCRACY. For the first time in modern Arab history, authoritarian regimes and rulers were toppled or seriously challenged by popular demonstrations, not through military coups. However, while dictators associated with military juntas were challenged overnight, the Arab Spring never came to the region's conservative monarchies such as Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states (exception for Bahrain). It appears that these monarchies enjoy a form of traditional authority that the secular nationalist rulers never had. In Egypt, the transition to a functioning democracy will be a lengthy process. The great majority of Egyptians were not in Tahrir Square, and many of them lack not only access to online social networks, but also electricity and safe drinking water. Democracy and free speech are not at the top of their agenda. Egypt's silent majority also identifies with the authenticity represented by various Islamic groups, while principles of democracy and civil rights seem to them to be imported Western abstractions. The writer, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs under prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. (DAILY ALERT - The Australian)


"KHAMENEI TOLD ME THAT ISRAEL MUST BE BURNED TO THE GROUND. Israel has, for years, cautioned against Iran's intentions and the dangers of its nuclear ambitions, but on Wednesday former Spanish president Jose Maria Aznar gave the world yet another reason to heed those warnings. Aznar told the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs: "In a private discussion we held in Tehran in October of 2000, Ali Khamenei told me that Israel must be burned to the ground and made to disappear from the face of the Earth." Dr. Dore Gold asked him, "When Khamenei was talking about wiping Israel off the map, was he referring to a gradual historical process involving the collapse of the Zionist state, or rather its physical-military termination?" Aznar answered, "He meant physical termination through military force." Khamenei described Israel as "an historical cancer, an anomaly," and said that he was "working toward Iran defeating the United States and Israel in an inevitable war against them." (Israel Hayom)


FOR JEWS FROM ARAB LANDS, A DIFFERENT HISTORY OF DISPLACEMENT AND LOSS (by Matti Friedman). I have spent a great deal of time in the past four years interviewing people born and raised in Aleppo, Syria. Some are descended from families with roots in Aleppo going back more than two millennia, to Roman times. None of them lives there now. On November 30, 1947, a day after the UN voted to partition Palestine into two states, one for Arabs and one for Jews, mobs in Aleppo stalked Jewish neighborhoods, looting houses and burning synagogues. One man I interviewed remembered fleeing his home, a barefoot nine-year-old, moments before it was set on fire. Abetted by the government, the rioters burned 50 Jewish shops, five schools, 18 synagogues and an unknown number of homes. In Damascus, rioters killed 13 Jews, including eight children, in August 1948, and there were similar events in other Arab cities. At the time of the UN vote, there were about 10,000 Jews in Aleppo. By the mid-1950s there were 2,000, living in fear. Today there are none. Similar scripts played out across the Islamic world as some 850,000 Jews were forced from their homes. In Aleppo, Tripoli, Baghdad and elsewhere, the people who live in or around the Jews' old homes still know who used to own them and how they left. Roughly half of the 6 million Jews in Israel today came from the Muslim world or are descended from people who did. The simple narrative of Nakba Day conveniently erases the uncomfortable truth that half of Israel's Jews are there not because of the Nazis but because of the Arabs themselves. (DAILY ALERT - Times of Israel)


THE BBC AND ‘THE JEWS’. On last week's BBC HARDtalk program, the host's opening line was: "American Presidents have long been criticized for being too in thrall to the Jewish lobby. The American Jews influence U.S. foreign policy and that explains Washington's unwavering support for Israel." This vicious garbage isn't "sort of" or "almost" anti-Semitic; it is the real thing: vivid, unapologetic, odious and wrong. To speak of "the Jews" in the aggregate, as though they form a monolithic super-entity with a single view and agenda, is exactly the kind of thinking that gutter anti-Semitism embraces in every age. To talk of an all-powerful "Jewish lobby" which controls American foreign policy is to embrace the paranoid fantasies of the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Facts live in one place and narratives live in another; there is no need for them ever to meet when you are broadcasting for the BBC. When these dangerous assumptions about Jews are allowed to fester, they soon create an atmosphere which is dangerous for Jews and where violence against them becomes increasingly commonplace - as we are seeing today across Europe. If evils aren't fought, they will grow. Jew hatred isn't more stupid or more wicked than other forms of racial and religious hatred. But Jew hatred is more disempowering and self-defeating than most other kinds of hate because it involves not only negative emotions about a group of people but a deeply false set of ideas about how the world works. Anti-Semitism is not just a moral obscenity; it is the road to intellectual and political ruin (DAILY ALERT - American Interest).


ISRAEL UNITES. Israelis today face the greatest threat to their existence since May '67 - nuclear weapons in the hands of apocalyptic mullahs publicly pledged to Israel's annihilation. The world is again telling Israelis to do nothing as it looks for a way out. But if such a way is not found - as in '67 - Israelis know that they will once again have to defend themselves, by themselves. Such a fateful decision demands a national consensus. By creating the largest coalition in nearly three decades, Netanyahu is establishing the political premise for a pre-emptive strike, should it come to that. The new government commands an astonishing 94 Knesset seats out of 120. For centrist Kadima (it pulled Israel out of Gaza) to join a Likud-led coalition whose defense minister is a former Labor prime minister (who once offered half of Jerusalem to Yasser Arafat) is the very definition of national unity - and refutes the popular "Israel is divided" meme. Netanyahu, the first Likud prime minister to recognize Palestinian statehood, did not need Kadima for him to enter peace talks. For two years he's been waiting for Mahmoud Abbas to show up at the table. Abbas hasn't. And won't. Nothing will change on that front. Those counseling Israeli submission, resignation or just endless patience can no longer dismiss Israel's tough stance as the work of irredeemable right-wingers. Not with a government now representing 78% of the country. (DAILY ALERT - Washington Post)


‘MODERATE’ ISLAMIST EGYPTIAN CANDIDATE: ISRAEL AN ‘ENEMY’ – REVISE PEACE TREATY. The two top-rated Egyptian presidential candidates battled Thursday in the first televised presidential debate in the nation's history. It featured Amr Moussa, 75, former chief of the Arab League, and Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, 60, considered a moderate Islamist. Aboul Fotouh called Israel an "enemy" of Egypt and promised to revise the peace treaty. "The agreement with Israel should be revised, and that which is against Egypt's interests should be removed immediately." Moussa said the treaty should be slightly revised but stopped short of calling Israel an enemy. "Most of our people consider it an enemy, but the responsibility of the president is to deal with such things responsibly and not run after hot-headed slogans," he said. (Washington Post)


THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES: PALESTINIANS AND THE END OF THE PEACE PROCESS. The current hiatus in the Middle East peace process is badly needed. The diplomatic lull is a chance to reconsider basic pillars of the process - not to discard the two-state solution, for no other option can possibly attract mutual assent; nor to give up on negotiations, for no outcome will be imposed from outside. But to incorporate new issues and constituencies; rethink Palestinian strategy to alter the balance of power; and put in place a more effective international architecture. The inescapable truth, almost two decades into the peace process, is that all actors are now engaged in a game of make-believe: that a resumption of talks in the current context can lead to success; that an agreement can be reached within a short timeframe; that the Quartet is an effective mediator; that the Palestinian leadership is serious about reconciliation, or the UN, or popular resistance, or disbanding the PA. The first step in breaking what has become an injurious addiction to a futile process is to recognize that it is so - to acknowledge, at long last, that the emperor has no clothes. (DAILY ALERT - International Crisis Group)


ISRAELI ARCHEOLOGISTS UNCOVER CITY FROM THE TIME OF KING DAVID. Five years of archeological research at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a fortified city in Judah adjacent to the Valley of Elah, 30 km. southwest of Jerusalem, were presented Tuesday in a new book, Footsteps of King David in the Valley of Elah, published by Yediot Ahronot. According to Prof. Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, "This is the first time that archeologists uncovered a fortified city in Judah from the time of King David....Thus, various suggestions that completely deny the biblical tradition regarding King David and argue that he was a mythological figure, or just a leader of a small tribe, are now shown to be wrong." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)


EGYPTIAN ISLAMIST VOWS GLOBAL CALIPHATE IN JERUSALEM. In a video clip from Egypt's Al-Nas TV released Monday, radical Muslim preacher Safwat Higazi is seen telling thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters at a Cairo soccer stadium, "We can see how the dream of the Islamic caliphate is being realized, God willing, by Dr. Mohamed Mursi" (the movement's presidential candidate), as Mursi and other Brotherhood officials nodded in agreement. "The capital of the caliphate - the capital of the United States of the Arabs - will be Jerusalem," Higazi said, before leading the crowd in chants of "Millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem." Mursi responded, "Yes, Jerusalem is our goal. We shall pray in Jerusalem, or die as martyrs on its threshold." Raymond Stock, an American translator and academic who spent two decades in Egypt, said, "This is what the Muslim Brotherhood really stands for: the extermination of Israel - and Jews everywhere - as well as the spread and control of radical Islam over the world." (Jerusalem Post)


AN ISRAELI AND A PALESTINIAN SCATHED BY SOUTH AFRICA APARTHEID RHETORIC - Benjamin Pogrund and Bassem Eid. The two of us, an Israeli and a Palestinian, went to South Africa recently to speak about the Middle East. In several dozen meetings we repeatedly heard the "Israel is apartheid" accusation. No, we replied: Apartheid does not exist inside Israel. On the West Bank it is not apartheid. The apartheid comparison is false and confuses the real problems. It became clear to us that South Africans generally have limited knowledge about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But they hold many prejudices and these are fed and manipulated by organizations that are vehemently anti-Israel - to the extent of calling for destruction of the Jewish state. Our strangest meeting was with scores of Congolese who asked us why their conflict - ongoing since 1960 with a toll of more than 7 million people dead - receives less attention than does the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. South African-born Benjamin Pogrund was founder of Yakar's Center for Social Concern in Jerusalem. Bassem Eid is director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group. (Ha'aretz)


ISRAEL GETS FOURTH SUBMARINE. Israel received a fourth Dolphin submarine from Germany on Thursday. The new sub, called "Tanin" (alligator), will be put into operation in 2013. According to a senior Israel Navy officer, "this submarine can stay underwater for longer." Israel has ordered two more submarines from Germany. According to foreign sources, the submarines are equipped to carry Israel-made cruise missiles with a range of 1,500 km. and the ability to carry nuclear warheads, giving Israel "second-strike" abilities in case of a nuclear attack. (DAILY ALERT - Ha'aretz)


LINK U.S. AID TO PALESTINIANS TO AN END TO HATRED AND INCITEMENT. The U.S. has given the Palestinians more than $3.5 billion since 1994. No matter how much the U.S. tries to help the Palestinians, it will always be viewed by many of them as an enemy. Last week, President Barack Obama gave $147 million to the Palestinians. A few days later, Palestinians demonstrated in Ramallah against the U.S. The Palestinians want the U.S. to endorse all their demands and force Israel to give them everything. The anti-U.S. sentiments are the direct result of incitement by the Palestinian Authority and other Palestinians against the U.S. Palestinians are reminded almost every day that the U.S. is a foe rather than a friend, although no one seems to ask how come a foe is so generous. U.S. aid should be conditioned not only on PA transparency and accountability, but also on an end to the campaign of hatred and incitement, as officially agreed in the Oslo Accords but never implemented (DAILY ALERT - Gatestone Institute).


MOUNT OF OLIVES POLICE FAILS TO ALLAY FEARS OF ARAB ROCK-THROWING. Three taxi drivers in a row refused to take me to the new police post on the Mount of Olives. "It's 10:15 a.m.," one driver explained. "At 10:30 a.m. the students at the boys' school will go out for recess and they'll just throw stones at us for fun." Activist groups have cited an increase in stone-throwing attacks against Jewish vehicles heading to the Mount of Olives cemetery in the past year (Jerusalem Post).


PALESTINIAN TV STATION SUED AS JOURNALISTS FEAR MEDIA CRACKDOWN. TV in the West Bank is being sued for $1 million over an investigation into alleged corruption at a Palestinian university. It claimed that the son of a senior PA official was offered a place at the university despite having failed to meet academic requirements. The station, which says it has evidence to support its allegations, fears that some of its executives could face prison sentences. It follows the resignation last week of Palestinian communications minister Mashour Abu Daqa in protest at the PA's blocking of at least eight websites that criticized President Mahmoud Abbas. He said the closure of the sites was "bad for the image of the [PA] in the modern world." According to Muamar Orabi, the general director of Wattan TV, media repression is growing. "We are facing the worst time for independent journalists in the PA. Journalists are being arrested just for raising their voices and speaking freely." (DAILY ALERT - Guardian-UK)


ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER KEEPS ALL OPTIONS OPEN ON IRAN. Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak said Monday that the international talks on the Iranian nuclear program do "not fill me with confidence." While a military strike would be "complicated by certain risks," he said that a "radical Islamic Republic of Iran with nuclear weapons would be far more dangerous both for the region and, indeed, the whole world." "Israel cannot afford to be duped," he added. "The No. 1 responsibility is to ensure that our fate will remain firmly in our own hands." Barak said that sanctions had "forced the Iranians to take note, sit down and talk," but that "actions speak louder than words." "It is well understood in Washington, D.C., as well as in Jerusalem that as long as there is a future existential threat to our people, that all options to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons should stay on the table, and they will." (New York Times)


U.S. SIGNALS MAJOR SHIFT ON IRAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM. In what would be a significant concession, U.S. officials said they might agree to let Iran continue enriching uranium up to 5% purity if it agrees to the unrestricted inspections, strict oversight and numerous safeguards that the UN has long demanded. A shift in the U.S. position that Iran must halt all enrichment activities is likely to prompt strong objections from Israeli leaders, the probable Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, and many members of Congress. U.S. officials say Iran is unlikely to agree to a complete halt in enrichment and that demanding it do so could make it impossible to reach a negotiated deal to stop the country's nuclear program. However, a senior administration official emphasized that such a deal remained only a small possibility because Iran has shown so little willingness to meet international demands. "There have been many signals lately that the red line has shifted and they're no longer pushing for full suspension," said Michael Singh, who served as President George W. Bush's top Iran advisor and who strongly opposes allowing Iran to enrich any uranium. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argues that letting any centrifuges spin in Iran will allow scientists there to sharpen their mastery of nuclear science and edge toward bomb-making capability. (DAILY ALERT - Los Angeles Times)


ISRAELI UAV TECHNOLOGY TRENDS. According to Israeli Air Force statistics, UAVs carry out almost half of today's missions and major military campaigns (such as Operation Defensive Shield in Gaza in January 2009). Elbit Systems' Skylark-2, which became operational in late 2011, is now deployed in the south for intelligence gathering. The system is part of efforts to intercept attacks from the Sinai Peninsula. Front line commanders want to see inside the buildings where terrorists are holed up, and know exactly what is happening. Israel is developing almost imperceptible, soundless mini-UAVs capable of flying through open windows and airshafts, and then transmitting pictures to a ground station (Israel Defense).


ISRAEL – A FOREIGN ACTIVISTS’ PARADISE. (by Tal Dror). I once asked two Swedish activists why they came to Israel of all places? Why not Syria? Egypt? Russia or China? One of them replied, "Are you insane? These are all extremely dangerous places!" And that's when it hit me. These people know that nothing bad is going to happen to them here. The massive exposure of the Israeli officer who struck a protestor, and the amount of condemnation it received, proves how unusual this incident was. After all, in Egypt or Syria you would become another dead body on the street. In China or Russia you would find yourself imprisoned for the rest of your life if you even attempted to raise your hand against a local police officer or soldier. For many of those foreign peace activists, this is all just a game. They come from all corners of the world to a faraway country they have never been to before. They confront soldiers and policemen, blocking roads and holding signs. Moreover - as long as they have their cold beer by the end of the evening, as long as they lay their heads in a comfy and friendly hostel - they will continue to arrive. They take advantage of what we're most proud of: our freedom, democracy and tolerance. I hope they will embrace how lucky they are to be "spoiled radicals" here with us. Hopefully they will realize that if Israel disappeared, they will not have anywhere else to go. (Ynet News)


IDF CHIEF OF STAFF: "WE WILL NOT ACCEPT A THREAT AGAINST OUR CIVILIANS.” IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz declared Tuesday during the official state Remembrance Day ceremony at the Western Wall: "As the commander of the IDF, in the name of my fellow commanders at the various posts and brigades, IAF squadrons and navy vessels, and in the name of all IDF soldiers, I stand before you tonight, looking into your eyes, embracing you and promising to fulfill the last eternal will of the fallen - to defend you, to defend us all, and to defend our home in Israel." "The IDF is a defensive shield composed of thousands of male and female soldiers and commanders in both regular and reserve service....Shoulder to shoulder, they carry out every mission. As we are gathered here today, they are out in the field - united over the mission and defending us." "After the fog of the revolutions began to settle, it seems the Middle East is different than what we became familiar with in recent decades. Instead of previously accepted strategies, we are facing a new series of significant challenges. In this new dubious reality, we witness continuous attempts by our enemies both far and near to harm everything we've built. The State of Israel, since its inception, has not and will not accept a threat against its civilians." (Israel Defense Forces)


NETANYAHU: “ISRAEL DOESN’T WANT TO RULE ANYONE.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview Tuesday: "Since the advent of the nuclear age after Hiroshima all nuclear powers have been very careful with the use or, more accurately, the nonuse of nuclear weapons. When it comes to militant Islamic regimes, I wouldn't be too sure. Because unlike, say, the Soviets, they can put their ideology before their survival, so I don't think you can bet on their rationality. Iran has given its terror proxies Hamas in Gaza and Hizbullah in Lebanon the most advanced lethal weapons." "They've been helping them to murder diplomats worldwide and to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. Think of what they could do with nuclear weapons. And I don't think you want to bet the peace in the Middle East and the security of the world on Iran's rational behavior. I think it is a much safer bet to do what I and President Obama and others have said, prevent Iran from acquiring atomic bombs." "I think it would be a big mistake to rescind the sanctions or lighten the sanctions. I think there has to be a cascade of sanctions and so far, that's the acid test, the sanctions haven't worked. How do we know that? Because nothing has been stopped....Iran has one goal, to stall, delay, run out the clock. That's basically what they are doing." "We want to make sure that if we have a peace arrangement [with the Palestinians] and we walk away from certain areas, that they won't be used...by Iran and its Palestinian proxies to fire rockets on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. But we don't want to run their lives. I don't want to govern the Palestinians. I don't want them as subjects of Israel or as citizens of Israel. I want them to have their own independent state, but a demilitarized state." (CNN)


EGYPT: NEW BROTHERHOOD CANDIDATE WON’T MEET WITH ISRAELIS. Mohamed Mursi, 59, is the Muslim Brotherhood's new presidential candidate, pitched into the race after its first choice was disqualified. Asked about relations with Israel, Mursi said: "Egypt's next president can't be like his predecessor, he can't be a follower who executes policies put to him from outside," referring to popular criticism of Mubarak as a man who did U.S. bidding. An aide said Mursi was committed to the Brotherhood's pledge to uphold international treaties, a reference to the peace deal. But the aide said Mursi would not meet Israeli officials as president, though his foreign minister would (Reuters).


NETANYAHU: IRAN IS COMMITTED TO ISRAEL’S DESTRUCTION. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview: "I think what [Gunter] Grass says is an absolute outrage....What Grass has said shows a collapse of moral clarity. He has created a perfect moral inversion where the aggressor becomes the victim and the victim becomes the aggressor. Where those who try to defend themselves against the threat of annihilation become the threat to world peace. And where the firefighter and not the arsonist is the real danger." "Here is a simple fact that apparently has eluded Mister Grass: Israel doesn't seek to destroy Iran, Iran seeks to destroy Israel and openly calls for it and works for it by building atomic bombs for that expressed purpose....Those now who agree with Gunter Grass about the Jewish state should ask themselves if they wouldn't have agreed with the slanders against the Jewish people in the time of the Holocaust....I am glad that Germany's leadership has responded clearly." "There is no question they [Iranian leaders] are committed to our destruction....Look at what they're doing without nuclear weapons: They've engulfed us with two poisonous tentacles: Hamas in Gaza and Hizbullah in Lebanon. They're supplying them with tens of thousands of rockets, thousands of which have already been fired on our cities, our homes. They're putting in more and more sophisticated weapons there and are developing more and more deadly weapons in Iran. And they're quite open about their express purpose of wiping Israel off the face of the earth. They also say this is the first stop. We are the small Satan, America is the great Satan." "The great scholar of Islam, Bernard Lewis from Princeton, has said...that for Iran's radical clerical leadership the possibility of mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent but an inducement. They have a peculiar and bizarre belief that the hidden Imam, a religious leader who disappeared a thousand years ago, would come back just about now in a hail of fire where a catastrophic exchange is required for his reappearance. And I would not bet on the rationality of this regime" "The security relationship that we have with Germany is a two-way-street in ways that are probably not commonly known to the German public, because we cooperate on matters such as intelligence and fighting terrorism over the years and including recent years in ways that have saved both not only the lives of our citizens but also the lives of many, many German citizens as well" (DAILY ALERT - Welt am Sonntag-Germany).


LEADER SAYS HAMAS AGAINST ANY PEACE WITH ISRAEL. A senior Hamas leader says that if his militant group came to power in a future Palestinian state, it would not abide by any previous Palestinian peace deals with Israel. Moussa Abu Marzouk, Hamas' number two figure, says any potential deal, even if ratified in a Palestinian referendum, would be considered only as a temporary truce agreement. Abu Marzouk's remarks underline Hamas' stance that it considers the Palestinians to be at war with Israel (A.P.).


‘ISRAELISM’: HASSAN BARARI AND WHY HE GIVES ME HOPE (by Ed Rettig). Dr. Hassan Barari, a Jordanian-born professor of political science at the University of Nebraska, is committed to "peaceful coexistence and historical reconciliation between the Arabs and the Israelis." His new book, Israelism, addresses "the underdevelopment of Israeli studies in the Arab world." Barari divides Arab academic work on Israel into three overarching "hegemonic discourses" - Marxist, pan-Arabist, and Islamist. He shows how scholars in each sector fail to account for Israeli resilience, not to mention success, because they set out to make a case rather than to investigate a subject. He also points to the connection between shallow analysis by scholars and bad decision-making in the Arab world. The writer is director of the American Jewish Committee's Jerusalem Office. (Times of Israel)


IN GAZA, HOPE OF A BETTER LIFE UNDER HAMAS TURNS INTO FRUSTRATION. housing stipends, promised by Hamas social workers after much of housewife Umm Mohammed's neighborhood was demolished in the Gaza war three years ago, never came. The water barrels pledged by municipal authorities seemed to go only to Hamas cadres. Electricity is a rarity. After five years of rule, Hamas is fast losing popularity, and recent surveys indicate that it would not win if elections were held in Gaza today. Hopes of Islam-guided fairness and an end to the graft that had tainted the tenure of the Fatah party that previously controlled Gaza have turned to widespread griping about Hamas corruption and patronage. Analysts say the top tiers of civil servants are filled by Hamas loyalists, and members of the Hamas elite are widely thought to have enriched themselves through investment in smuggling tunnels and taxes on the imported goods. (Washington Post)


WHY IS JORDAN KEEPING OUT PALESTINIAN REFUGEES FROM SYRIA? More than 1,000 Palestinians who fled from the violence in Syria have been stranded along the border between Syria and Jordan for the past few weeks, living in tents, with poor sanitary conditions. The Jordanian authorities have been refusing to allow them into the kingdom. Lebanon and Egypt have also refused to grant asylum to the fleeing Palestinians. Meanwhile, 100,000 Syrians, who have fled their country in the past year, have been permitted to enter Jordan. The Jordanians are worried that if they allow a few hundred Palestinians to settle in the kingdom, that would pave the way for 500,000 Palestinians living in Syria to run away to Jordan. As Jordan's King Abdullah already has an 80% Palestinian majority in his kingdom, the Palestinians pose a demographic threat to the Jordanians. (DAILY ALERT - Gatestone Institute)


PALESTINIANS SHARE THE POLITICAL CULTURE OF THE MIDDLE EAST. A fundamental problem in modern Arab states is one of legitimacy, especially because many states do not reflect a specific ethnic entity and are thus not national states in the European meaning, like France or Holland. Traditionally, there is no Syrian, Jordanian, Lebanese or Sudanese people. There is the Arab nation, divided into tribes, extended families, and religious and ethnic groups. The modern Arab state has failed to win the hearts of the citizenry and to change their traditional allegiance to their tribe, ethnic origin, or religious identity. A man will call himself Iraqi or Syrian only if he's part of the ruling group or he enjoys economic or political benefits. People don't volunteer for the state or want to risk their lives for the government. In the case of the Palestinians, this is quite obvious in the lack of a volunteer army. Those who work for the PA security services are mercenaries working for pay, who will serve the government only as long as they are paid. The writer, an Israeli scholar of Arabic literature and a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University, served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence ( Makor Rishon-Hebrew, 12.Apr.2012).


AIRLINES CANCEL ‘FLYTILLA’ TICKETS AT ISRAEL’S REQUEST. European airlines cancelled tickets for an unspecified number of passengers planning to attend a pro-Palestinian "fly-in" at Ben-Gurion airport outside Tel Aviv this weekend after Israel raised objections. French carrier Air France and British low fares airline Jet2.com said Saturday they had joined Germany's Lufthansa in cancelling seats on flights to Tel Aviv. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday advised activists to concentrate on solving "real problems" in the region. "You could have chosen to protest the Syrian regime's daily savagery against its own people, which has claimed thousands of lives. You could have chosen to protest the Iranian regime's brutal crackdown on dissent and support of terrorism throughout the world. You could have chosen to protest Hamas rule in Gaza, where terror organizations commit a double war crime by firing rockets at civilians and hiding behind civilians." Netanyahu said Israel was "the Middle East's sole democracy, where women are equal...human rights organizations can operate freely, religious freedom is protected for all. We therefore suggest that you first solve the real problems of the region, and then come back and share with us your experience." (AFP)


CLINTON OVERRULES REPUBLICAN LAWMAKER’S HOLD ON PALESTINIAN AID. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is allowing U.S. funds to flow to the West Bank and Gaza despite a hold by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), in a rare display of executive-branch authority. Administrations generally do not disburse funding over the objections of lawmakers on relevant committees. "The U.S. has given $3 billion in aid to the Palestinians in the last five years alone, and what do we have to show for it?" Ros-Lehtinen said on Wednesday. "Now the administration is sending even more. Where is the accountability for U.S. taxpayer dollars?" (DAILY ALERT - National Journal)


BEWARE OF FAULTY INTELLIGENCE. • In January 2007, Israeli intelligence officials were horrified by information acquired when Mossad agents broke into the hotel room of a senior Syrian official in London and downloaded the contents of his laptop. The pilfered files revealed that Syria, aided by North Korea, was building a nuclear reactor that could produce an atomic bomb. Until then, according to military intelligence officials, Israeli intelligence thought Syria had no nuclear program. • The discovery caused a panic in Israel, and grave concern in Washington, which had relied heavily on Israel's assurances that it knew everything about Syria. By the time the reactor was discovered, it was almost ready to become operational. • The lesson in humility that intelligence agencies should have learned from this affair is evident. I was therefore surprised by the assertions of American and Israeli officials I interviewed who repeatedly stated, "we will know," when we talked about the possibility of Iran's moving to produce nuclear weapons. • In Jerusalem and Washington, officials assume that as soon as information is received that Iran has moved to build nuclear weapons, Israel will decide to attack its nuclear facilities. The momentous decision will be driven to an extraordinary extent by intelligence reports. But even though intense focus on Iran's nuclear program has presumably increased the volume of intelligence gathered about it, it remains true that intelligence officers tend to rely heavily on a few trusted sources. And it may be only human for a case officer to be excited by discovering something that appears to be a secret. • Bits of data can be misread, however, and erroneous analysis has a habit of finding its way to those most eager to use it. So in watching Iran's nuclear project, even a slight intelligence gaffe could have an outcome of historic proportions. The writer is a senior political and military analyst for Yediot Ahronot (DAILY ALERT - New York Times)


WARTIME DOCUMENTS TELL STORY OF LOST SOVIET COMMUNITIES. More than a million new testimonial pages about Jews in the Soviet Union are to be released by Yad Vashem beginning on Holocaust Remembrance Day, in the wake of agreements with the KGB archives and the national archives of Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. "There are many black holes concerning communities and individuals in Central and Eastern Europe, where the majority of Jews lived," says Dr. Haim Gertner, head of the archives division of the Yad Vashem World Center for Holocaust Research, Documentation and Education. The region "includes entire villages that were wiped out by the Nazis in one day, and nobody was left to narrate what happened." Dr. Arkadi Zeltser, head of Yad Vashem's center for the research of Jews of the Soviet Union during the Holocaust, says on the eve of the war some five million Jews lived in the Soviet Union; by the end of the war, some 2.7 million had been murdered. (DAILY ALERT - Ha'aretz)


ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER EHUD BARAK: BUILD IN THE SETTLEMENT BLOCS, BUT NO NEW SETTLEMENTS. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview Sunday: We have to reach a two-state solution, we have to live side-by-side - Israel, on one hand, and a Palestinian state. That's basically what Netanyahu said in his Bar-Ilan University speech. And we should straighten what we call the settlement blocs, namely the densely populated Jewish areas of the West Bank, and beside them a viable, normally flourishing Palestinian state should be established. To tell you the truth, all those 350,000 Israelis are living on a very small fraction of the West Bank. Altogether, these are probably 5-6% of the whole area. So I think that if the whole settlement blocs together will not take more than 10% and certain swaps will take place, there is room for a solution. And I think that those settlement blocs which are going to remain part of Israel in the final status agreement should be built and developed as any other part of Israel. I was the prime minister 12 years ago. I negotiated very generous proposals with Arafat, together with President Clinton. I put far-reaching proposals on the table that were rejected by Arafat. And he turned deliberately to terror. During that time, in the West Bank we were building four times the pace of construction that Israel is executing now. I was the defense minister in Ehud Olmert's government five years ago when he proposed an extremely generous proposal to Abbas. We were building about twice the pace that we are building now. So this government of Netanyahu is not the most aggressive in building. We are not going over any hill or valley and establishing new settlements. Not a single new settlement has been built in the last three years since this government is in power. (CNN)


U.S., ISRAEL NEED TO STAY IN SYNC ON IRAN TALKS. • Iranian negotiators are meeting officials from the U.S. and other world powers late this week for talks on Tehran's nuclear program - unless, of course, the Iranians decide they want the talks in a different city, or on a different day, or perhaps not at all. • One of the most important players in this game, Israel, won't be in the room. But if the talks are to succeed, it will be important for Israel, sitting outside the room, and the U.S., sitting inside the room, to agree on basic strategy. • Both U.S. and Israeli officials think a constructive meeting last month between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu produced more of a meeting of minds than emerged from some previous conversations between the two. • Netanyahu declared Sunday that Israel wants an end to all enrichment - not just the higher-grade uranium - and the removal of all the uranium Iran already has enriched, as well as closure of the Fordo enrichment facility (DAILY ALERT - Wall Street Journal)


ISRAELI GENERAL: ASSAD COULD SURVIVE 2012. Head of the IDF Northern Command, Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan, said in an interview Friday that advanced weaponry has made its way into Hizbullah's hands in Lebanon. He also predicts that Bashar Assad will not be deposed in the near future. "Last October, we said it would take 18 months, and I think that we underestimated the situation. In my view, it will take even longer." "The traditional leadership surrounding him remains intact. You have to remember that this is an aging group of leaders whose best years are well behind it. While it is very experienced, it is doubtful whether it has the energy necessary to withstand a challenge of this scale." Iran and Hizbullah "are up to their necks with what is happening there," he added. "There are military trainers, instructors, and, to the best of my knowledge, combatants as well." Golan explains why Assad doesn't involve Israel in a war and deflect attention away from the predicament in which he finds himself: "Assad understands very well that drawing in Israel would weaken his regime, since it would result in damage to the army which is his primary crutch." (DAILY ALERT - Israel Hayom)


IDF FOILED MORE THAN TEN TERROR PLOTS IN SINAI. Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, chief of Israeli Military Intelligence, said Thursday that the Israel Defense Forces has foiled more than ten terror plots in Sinai over the last two months. The rocket fired at Eilat shows that "terror organizations are strengthening their hold on the Sinai Peninsula," he said. The Middle East is "the place where the pace of armament is already the fastest in the world" and "in the short term, the dangers are increasing." (Ha'aretz)


ISRAEL PRESENTS NEW DETERRENCE POLICY, WILL RETALIATE AGAINST HAAMS FOR ALL ROCKET ATTACKS. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz on Thursday declared a change in army policy whereby any firing at Israel's south will be met with an attack on Hamas, regardless of the group behind the fire. Similarly, any firing from Lebanon will result in an attack on Hizbullah, and any terror attack by Iran's emissaries overseas will prompt a response against Tehran. Alluding to recent terror attacks in India, Thailand and Georgia, the IDF chief said, "We know the source of these attacks and those behind them must know that Israel's long arm will ultimately reach anyone who seeks to harm Israeli civilians and the Jewish people, whether in Gaza, Lebanon or anywhere else." (Ynet News)


ARAB RACISM PREVENTS PEACE. An ideology that sees the State of Israel as an alien presence among Islamic nations - an undesirable island in an Arab sea that must ultimately be submerged - is the real apartheid. The PA's mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Ikremah Sabri, and the Palestinian chief Islamic judge, Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi, issued religious decrees authorizing the killing of Arabs who sell property to Jews. In December 2010, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said that "I will never allow a single Israeli to live among us on Palestinian land." These racist views, found in Arab textbooks and taught in the schools of all Arab nations, are the ultimate bar to real peace. (Ynet News)


LEVY BEN DAVID REPORTS: Middle East observers usually don’t read Uruguay’s press to follow events in the Middle East. But in the last two days, Uruguayan reports suggest a troubling development in the Sinai that could impact on the region in unexpected ways. That was the headline in Mercopress. The 35 Uruguayan soldiers “surrounded” were among the 1650 members of the Multinational Force and Observers stationed in the Sinai since 1981 to oversee the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Twelve nations provide troops to the MFO, with the United States providing the largest force — an infantry and support battalion consisting primarily of National Guard units. The article states that their base in the northern Sinai also houses American and Columbian troops. Uruguay’s foreign minister explained: ”The actual situation is that a Uruguayan contingent in the northern Sinai is (…) surrounded by Bedouins linked to some insurgent movements in the region.” Defense Minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro said negotiations were underway with the Bedouins to end the standoff. The article claims that the Bedouins demand the release of four of their colleagues imprisoned in Egypt. The Bedouins are smugglers and have no military structure, the article continues. They have been involved in blowing up a gas pipeline from Egypt to Israel and Jordan, but “there is no political motivation for their actions other than mercenary.” That relatively innocent description has been challenged by recent events in the Sinai and led an Arab expert to tell me today, “Yes, the Bedouins in Sinai are a mafia/militia, but they are increasingly Salafist and Jihadist.” The August 2011 attack from Sinai that killed eight Israeli civilians and soldiers on a border road near Eilat was well-planned and coordinated. The dozen attackers, all residents of Sinai (although the planner was apparently a Gazan Palestinian), fired anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. In a most uncharacteristic tactic, four of the Bedouin attackers were deployed as suicide bombers.


IN HARD-LINER’S SURGE, NEW WORRIES FOR EGYPT’S MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD. Egyptian presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail is an old-school Islamist. He wants to move toward abolishing Egypt's peace treaty with Israel and cites Iran as a successful model of independence from Washington. He promises to bring extraordinary prosperity to Egypt, if it turns its back on trade with the West. His success may help explain why the U.S. offered signs of tacit approval when the Muslim Brotherhood broke its pledge not to field its own candidate. With a first round of voting set for late May and a runoff in mid-June, the Egyptian presidential race is shaping up as a battle among Islamists. So, in a remarkable inversion, American policy makers who once feared a Brotherhood takeover now appear to see the group as an indispensable ally against Egypt's ultraconservative Salafis, exemplified by Abu Ismail. The Brotherhood's candidate, Khairat al-Shater, a millionaire businessman considered the most formative influence on the group's policies, has met with almost all the senior State Department officials and American lawmakers visiting Cairo, and is in regular contact with the American ambassador, Anne Patterson. (DAILY ALERT - New York Times)


VIOLENCE AND REJECTIONISM AT THE HEART OF PALESTINIAN ‘LAND DAY’ SHOW. The violent nature of the "Land Day" demonstrations and the demands raised by those participating give the lie to the notion that any of this has anything to do with the cause of Middle East peace. Should anyone actually be listening to what they are screaming, the Palestinians and their foreign cheerleaders are making it clear their goal is Israel's destruction. Many of Israel's critics pretend that the dispute is about borders and settlements. But the Land Day extravaganza is about an attempt to reverse the verdict of 1948, not to place an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. If their foreign friends wish to help the Palestinians, they could do so by ceasing to support these pointless exercises in violence and to begin coming to terms with the permanence of the Jewish state. (DAILY ALERT - Commentary)


MAKING A FEDERAL CASE OUT OF JERUSALEM. The State Department spokesperson was tortured with a series of questions Wednesday about whether Jerusalem is part of Israel. Obviously acting on instructions to say only that Jerusalem is an issue to be resolved by negotiations, she gave the same answer to the question, "What is the capital of Israel?" The reporter might have referenced the State Department website, which identifies Israel's capital as Jerusalem (and says Israel's area is 20,330 square km., "including Jerusalem"); or the CIA website, which says the same thing; or the Department of Defense website, which is replete with references including a picture of Secretary Gates and Prime Minister Netanyahu "during a working lunch meeting in Jerusalem, Israel." This all could have been avoided if the White House had ended the charade about the city that has been Israel's capital since 1950; and stopped fighting a nine-year-old boy's passport designation in the Supreme Court (DAILY ALERT - Commentary)


DEFENSE OFFICIAL: HAMAS BEHIND ATTACKS ON ISRAEL. Hamas is continuing to direct terrorist activity at Israeli targets through various means, despite its public declarations that it is committed to maintaining calm. Israeli intelligence sources acknowledged, however, that Hamas currently wishes to maintain a low profile in an effort not to anger the Egyptians and not be perceived as violating the current cease-fire. A senior Israeli defense official said Hamas "understands that this language [of violence] is currently less acceptable in the international arena....Attacks clearly committed by Hamas would not be compatible with the spirit of the times, and the group also doesn't want to give Israel a reason to send the IDF back into Gaza, but Hamas terror from Gaza is continuing all the time, especially - and openly - via Sinai." The assessment in Israel is that Hamas and Islamic Jihad understand very well that the decision to fire Fajr missiles into Tel Aviv could come at the cost of another Israeli invasion of Gaza. (Ha'aretz)


WHY DOES THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY HATE ISRAEL SO MUCH? Not long ago, the Economist ran an unsigned editorial blaming Middle East tensions on Israel's unwillingness "to give up its empire." It is hard to fathom how a democracy of seven million people by any stretch of the imagination is an "empire." • Israel, after all, fought three existential wars over its 1947 borders, when the issue at hand was not manifest destiny, but the efforts of its many enemies to exterminate or deport its population. After the 1967 war, Israeli governments eventually withdrew from the Sinai, southern Lebanon, and Gaza - areas from which attacks were and are still staged against it. • Does the world much care about the principle of occupation? Not really. Russia won't give up the southern Kurile Islands it took from Japan. Tibet ceased to exist as a sovereign country when it was absorbed by Communist China. Turkish forces since their 1974 invasion have occupied large swaths of Cyprus. • The green line that runs through downtown Nicosia to divide Cyprus makes Jerusalem look united in comparison. Over 500,000 Jews have been ethnically-cleansed from Arab capitals since 1947. Why are they not considered refugees the way the Palestinians are? • The point is not that the world community should not focus on Israel's disputes with its neighbors, but that it singles Israel out for its purported transgressions in a fashion that it does not for nearly identical disagreements elsewhere (DAILY ALERT - Defining Ideas-Hoover Institution)


BLARING SIRENS WARN OF ROCKETS FROM GAZA (by Jonah S. Keyak). Sirens blare in my head. Realizing this is not a drill, I jump out of bed and dash to the closest bomb shelter. Within seconds, the room fills with American, Canadian and Israeli students, all here in fear for their lives. Boom one, that was close...boom two, that was closer...wait for it...boom three. We wait to hear the booms because, ironically, that's the most calming sound. That's when we know that the bombs have landed and we are momentarily safe. I refuse to be afraid, for that is the terrorists' goal. But I cannot deny that every time that siren goes off, my heart drops. This happens not only with the air-raid siren, but also with any remotely similar sound; we all jump. Sometimes we hear the screaming sirens from the cities around us. After making sure the sound is not ours, we go outside to watch and see if Iron Dome will catch the rockets this time. It boggles my mind how crazy this situation is. America would never allow this to happen at its borders. Imagine if Mexico were bombing San Diego! The writer, 18, is spending the year at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel, about 25 miles north of Gaza. (DAILY ALERT - Jewish Weekly of Northern California)


A STATE WITHOUT DELUSIONS. In the War of Independence in 1948, Israel's armed struggle was not against the Arab locals of Palestine; it fought instead against Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. In the Six-Day War, it was ditto minus Iraq. In the 1973 Yom Kippur War, only Egypt and Syria fought. The Palestinian war against the Jews was fought by the armies of others who wanted Arab Palestine for themselves. Had Israel lost in 1967 or 1973, it would not have been Palestine in its place; the land would have been divvied up by the countries which had entered the fight to add turf to their own national cartographies. The fight for Palestine by the Palestinians began late, winning all kinds of battles in international arenas where the reward was only ecstatic verbiage. Over the years the Israelis have made so many conciliatory proposals to the Palestinians - two at the urgent behest of Washington - that they literally cannot grasp why Arafat and his successors turned them down. Arafat's successor and the Palestinian Authority were supposed no longer to be in the grip of fabrication. (DAILY ALERT - Times of Israel).


IRANIAN MILITARY EXPERTS ACTIVE ON ISRAEL’S SOUTHERN BORDER. A high-ranking official in Jerusalem said last week that Iranian military experts have been active in Sinai and Gaza. "We can see signs that Iran is building a terror infrastructure throughout Sinai," he said. The official added that although Israel has responded to every Egyptian request to beef up its forces in Sinai, no significant Egyptian operation has taken place in Sinai since the Egyptian revolution last year. Several terror groups are now at large in Sinai: local Bedouin, who are adopting the ideology of the Global Jihad; groups supported by Iran who are trying to recruit and train militants not only in Sinai but throughout Egypt; and Palestinian organizations. Joining them are Global Jihad militants from Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, the official said, adding that Israel and Egypt share a common interest in combating these terrorist elements. The official said Iranians are urging and directing Palestinians to carry out attacks, and have tried to encourage Hamas to do so as well. "A host of Palestinian organizations are using Sinai to carry out attacks," the official said, adding that since Gaddafi's fall, Libya has become a huge arms depot, with weapons transferred to Egypt and then to Gaza (Ha'aretz).


EGYPT AND HAMAS: THE HONEYMOON THAT WASN’T. The high hopes Gaza's Hamas leaders had in the Egyptian revolution have been swallowed up by growing acrimony and traditional distrust. Now the two sides are sniping over who is responsible for the fuel shortage in Gaza that has been behind weeks of blackouts. Cairo accuses Hamas of turning a blind eye to a flood of 1,300 stolen cars being smuggled from Egypt into Gaza and allowing drugs grown there to be shipped out. They also accuse Hamas of being behind the circulation of some $40 million of counterfeit U.S. currency in Egypt. Hamas' expectations that the military government that replaced Mubarak would open the border between Gaza and Egypt have been disappointed; traffic through the sole crossing point at Rafah is severely restricted. Over the past few weeks, dozens of Hamas field commanders were blocked from crossing. (Media Line-Jerusalem Post)


ISRAEL AIR FORCE, INTELLIGENCE SUCCEEDED AGAINST GAZA TERROR. Close cooperation between the air force, the IDF's Southern Command, and the intelligence services led to one successful strike after another against Gazan terrorist targets during the recent round of violence, the Southern Command said on Thursday. Islamic Jihad, which led the firing of rockets, and Hamas are more deterred by the IDF now than before the escalation. A senior officer from the Gaza Division said the relatively low casualty rate among Palestinian noncombatants was made possible by surgical strikes on rocket-launching crews that were carefully assessed beforehand. The officer said that decision-makers "thought twice before every attack" to ensure civilian safety. The officer described the damage sustained by Islamic Jihad as "significant." Those behind the rockets were hit on many occasions, he said. (Jerusalem Post)


TOLERATING HAMAS INVITES A MIDEAST WAR. This month, a strike by the Israel Defense Forces targeted arch-terrorist Zuhair al-Qaisi as he aimed to launch another mass murder of innocent Israelis from Sinai. In the five days that followed, terrorists in Gaza stepped up their attacks on Israeli cities to 60 rockets per day (up from an average of "only" two to four a day). Israel's Air Force hit Palestinian rocket squads with minimal civilian casualties, even though they had been intentionally using neighborhoods and schools as launching pads. Instead of sending a clear message that terrorism in Gaza is a grave danger, much of the international community continues to point fingers at Israel for its legal and legitimate efforts to stop the flood of arms into the area. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the UN. (DAILY ALERT - Wall Street Journal Europe)


DESPITE REPORTED CANCELLATION: HAMAS AGENT SPEAKS IN UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL FACILITY. On March 19, the UN Human Rights Council and its UN staff in Geneva advertised and facilitated an event featuring a representative of the terrorist organization Hamas. Facing an immediate outcry, a massive misinformation campaign is now underway to protect the already discredited UN body. But there is no avoiding the facts: the UN handed a UN entrance pass and a UN microphone, in a UN room, to Hamas' Ismail al-Ashqar. The Council published a formal UN "Bulletin" containing the following message. Anyone wanting to catch a lecture by a Hamas human rights authority should head to Meeting Room XXVII in the UN's Palais des Nations from 10 to 12 Monday morning. Director of the UN Information Service in Geneva Corinne Momal-Vanian told AP that the meeting was "on the sides of the Human Rights Council session" and any UN-accredited group "can organize side events and invite speakers of its choice." But the application to hold the meeting in the first place must have been vetted and approved by UN staff. (Jerusalem Post)


EU FOREIGN MINISTER DENIES LINKING TOULOUSE ATTACK TO GAZA. EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton denied Tuesday that she intended to parallel Monday's attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse with deaths in Gaza. Ashton's office released a statement Tuesday saying that her words had been grossly distorted, adding that Ashton "referred to tragedies taking the lives of children around the world and drew no parallel whatsoever between the circumstances of the Toulouse attack and the situation in Gaza." (Ha'aretz)


IRON DOME TECHNICIAN SAVED BY FELLOW SOLDIER. During the Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel last week, an IDF technician successfully fixed a malfunction which enabled the Iron Dome missile defense system to intercept a rocket fired at Ashdod. Moments after he began work, an alert sounded warning of a Grad missile, but instead of running for shelter he remained in place to fix the problem. When the Iron Dome fires, troops are not supposed to remain within dozens of meters of the battery due to the incredible heat levels and fire that it emits during a missile launch. Just before the battery fired to intercept the incoming missile, another soldier, who realized that the technician didn't have enough time to escape, got into a jeep and raced towards the battery where he picked up the technician at the last minute. When the technician returned to the battery he noticed that there was nothing left of the equipment he had brought, which had all melted from the heat. (Ynet News)


AUCH IN ‚RUHIGEN ZEITEN’: TÄGLICH EINE RAKETE. Als der Süden Israels über das jüdische Purimfest hinweg mit 150 Raketen aus dem Gazastreifen angegriffen wurde, schien es als seien dies die ersten Raketen auf Israel seit langer Zeit. Gemäß dem israelischen Armeesprecher wurden allein im Januar 2012 16 Raketen auf Israel abgeschossen. Im Februar wurden 37 gezählt und in der ersten Märzwoche bis zum palästinensischen Raketenangriff explodierten sechs Raketen in Israel. Seit Jahresbeginn, also in den ersten 67 Tagen des Jahres wurden 59 Raketen aus dem Gazastreifen abgeschossen. Diese werden als „ruhige Tage“ bezeichnet, obwohl fast täglich eine Rakete in Israel einfiel. Ferner wurde uns aus den israelischen Siedlungen in der Nähe der ägyptischen Grenze mitgeteilt, dass die ägyptischen Soldaten seit der arabischen Revolution in Ägypten die Kontrolle über die Sinai-Halbinsel verloren haben. „Die israelische Grenze ist gefährlich“, sagte ein Sicherheitsbeamter aus dem Süden zu Israel Heute. „Fast täglich schießen Beduinen auf israelische Grenzsoldaten, um eine Ablenkung für die Infiltration von sudanesischen Flüchtlingen und Prostituierten zu kreieren. Dies war unter Hussni Mubarak nicht so. Die israelische Presse berichtet nicht darüber, denn man will die wenigen israelischen Touristen im Süden nicht verjagen.“ Die Regierung rechtfertigt sich mit dem Verweis auf die sensiblen Beziehungen mit dem neuen Ägypten ohne Mubarak. Eine Eskalation im Süden ist immer ein Risiko und Ministerpräsident Benjamin Netanjahu versucht, dies unter allen Umständen zu vermeiden. Ein möglicher Luftangriff auf die iranischen Atomreaktoren sieht Netanjahu zwar als Risiko aber ebenso als schicksalhafte Entscheidung für Israels Existenz im Nahen Osten (Israel Heute).


ISRAEL IS A REFUGE UNDER SIEGE (by Nicky Larkin). I used to hate Israel. Not any more. Now I loathe Palestinian terrorists. After Israel's incursion into Gaza in December 2008 I applied for funding from the Irish Arts Council to make a film in Israel and Palestine and spent seven weeks in the area. Posters of martyrs followed us throughout the West Bank. They watched from lamp-posts and walls wherever we went. But the more I felt the martyrs watching me, the more confused I became. After all, the Palestinian mantra was one of "non-violent resistance." Yet when I interviewed Hind Khoury, a former Palestinian government member, she refused to condemn the actions of the suicide bombers. She was all aggression. Back in Tel Aviv in the summer of 2011, I began to listen more closely to the Israeli side. I remember one conversation in Shenkin Street - Tel Aviv's most fashionable quarter, where everybody looks as if they went to art college. I was outside a cafe interviewing a former soldier. He talked slowly about his time in Gaza. He spoke about Arab teenagers sent running towards the base he'd patrolled. Each strapped with a bomb and carrying a hand-held detonator. Conversations like this are normal in Tel Aviv. I began to experience the sense of isolation Israelis feel. An isolation that began in the ghettos of Europe and ended in Auschwitz. Israel is a refuge - but a refuge under siege, a refuge where rockets rain death from the skies. My film is called "Forty Shades of Grey." But only one side was wanted back in Dublin. My peers expected me to come back with an attack on Israel. No grey areas were acceptable. Why have Irish artists surrendered to group-think on Israel? I would urge every one of those 216 Irish artists who pledged to boycott the Israeli state to spend some time in Israel and Palestine. Maybe when you come home you will bin your PLO scarf. I did. (DAILY ALERT - Independent-Ireland)


PANEL: JERUSALEM OF INCIDENTAL IMPORTANCE IN ISLAM. Jerusalem is of incidental significance to Islam, according to a panel of scholars who met Wednesday at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. Daniel Pipes, director of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum, noted that Jerusalem is mentioned in the Bible more than 800 times as well as in prayer services, daily blessings and wedding services. However, in Islam, Pipes said, "It is not prayed to, not mentioned once in the Koran; there are no events in Muhammad's life directly connected to it." "Jerusalem became important to Islam when someone else wanted it," said Moshe Sharon, an Islamic history scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "Jerusalem is not on any major trade routes. Only independent or semi-independent states with biblical cultures have made it a capital: The Jews, Crusaders and British," Sharon said. "Jerusalem was never a capital under Islam. When the Muslims came here, they created a new capital - Ramle, not Jerusalem." (Jerusalem Post)


NO ‘DISPROPORTIONATE REACTION TO GAZA FLARE-UP. This time the world, for the most part, showed little interest in the latest round of fighting between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist organizations in Gaza. Sure, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, the 2010 recipient of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi's "International Prize for Human Rights," accused Israel of genocide, but his predictable voice was one of only a few. Even the targeted killing of PRC commander Zuhair al-Qaissi did not generate much condemnation since targeted assassinations have now been adopted by the U.S. There is more understanding of its legitimacy because if President Obama can authorize a targeted hit against a terrorist leader hell-bent on trying to kill Americans, why can't Prime Minister Netanyahu do the same against those trying to kill Israelis? (Jerusalem Post)


ISRAELIS SEE IRAN ‘MINI-DRILL’ IN GAZA FLARE-UP. Israel has emerged from the past few days of fighting with Palestinians in Gaza more confident that its advanced missile shield and civil defenses can perform well in any war with Iran. One Israeli official said on Tuesday: "In a sense, this was a mini-drill," alluding to Iran's threat to respond to any "pre-emptive strike" on its nuclear facilities by firing missiles at Israel. "The Israeli home front has shown once more that it can deal with the challenges," said the armed forces' commander, Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dubs Iran a mortal threat and described the recent Gaza rockets as a harbinger. "These terrorist attacks, by Islamic Jihad for example, demonstrate the scale of the danger that will be wrought if, God forbid, a nuclear Iran stands behind them," he said on Monday. (Reuters)


REPORT FROM AN ‘ASYMMETRICAL WAR’. The moral asymmetry between Israel and its enemies has been strikingly on display in the latest flare-up between Gaza terror groups and Israeli forces. By Monday afternoon the Israeli air force had reportedly killed 19 terrorists in pinpoint strikes on Gaza targets - mostly rocket-launching crews - and two Palestinian civilians as collateral damage. According to UN data cited by Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, the typical ratio when armies fight terror groups is three civilians killed per every terrorist killed by military forces. The sole factor that has protected the Gaza population from greater losses is Israel's supreme effort to restrict its strikes to military targets. By contrast, the over 200 rockets fired from Gaza at Israel since Friday have been aimed solely at civilian targets. Most have been lobbed at cities - Ashkelon, Ashdod, and (my own) Beersheba - in the hope of killing and maiming as many men, women, and children as possible. (DAILY ALERT - American Spectator)


NEW TESTAMENT SPARKS CONTROVERSY AMONG ISRAELI POSTMEN. A controversy was brewing this week when a handful of postmen from the Ramat Gan suburb of Tel Aviv refused to deliver packages containing the New Testament. Initial reports in the Israeli press did not specify which organization had mass-mailed the copies of the New Testament to Israeli households, but it is not uncommon for some Christian and Messianic groups to do so. Upon discovering what they were delivering, a number of Orthodox Jewish mailmen informed their superiors that they would not fulfill their obligation to deliver those particular packages. Speaking to Ynet, several mailmen echoed the widely believed falsehood that it is illegal to proselytize in Israel. "We always distribute business flyers and we have no problem with that, whether we agree with them or not," said one postal employee. "But this time it's different. This is missionary material, and from our understanding there's a law against that. It's not a religious issue." It is in fact perfectly legal in Israel to share one's faith with others unsolicited, just as different Orthodox Jewish groups often do at street corners around the country. What is illegal is offering monetary incentives for conversion or proselytizing to minors. Orthodox lawmaker Zevulun Orlev (Jewish Home) and Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon (Likud) took up the matter in the Knesset, with Kahlon ordering that delivery of the New Testament was to cease until the matter could be legally clarified. But a response by the Israel Postal Company suggested that it saw no reason to not deliver the holy books, stating in an official response: "The Israel Postal Company is a governmental company operating in accordance to the Postal Law, which obligates us to distribute any mail it receives. The Israel Postal Company has no right or ability to choose what it can or cannot distribute. Therefore, the mail will be distributed according to the law." Many comments to the story on Ynet expressed satisfaction that such "missionary activity" had been halted, but just as many were once again angered that a small Orthodox minority was deciding what religious material they can and cannot receive. Such actions to deny access to the New Testament in the past have traditionally backfired, creating increased curiosity regarding the Gospel.


U.S., ISRAEL PULL CLOSER ON IRAN. U.S. officials said they believed pressure has eased on Israel to attack Iran, after meetings Monday between American and Israeli leaders and tougher talk from the U.S. that moved it closer to Israel's approach. Israeli officials, meanwhile, said that President Obama's public and private acknowledgment of the Jewish state's sovereign right to defend itself was a crucial gain as the two countries seek to deter Tehran. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu also praised Obama's stated willingness in recent days to use U.S. military might to counter Iran. U.S. officials believe Obama succeeded in conveying to Netanyahu that he takes the issue seriously and is treating it as a top priority. (DAILY ALERT - Wall Street Journal)


WHY GOLDA MEIR WAS RIGHT. Since last August the Syrian death toll has moved from 2,000 to over 7,000 - about five times more than the Palestinian casualties during Israel's Gaza Operation in 2009. These distressing figures forcefully remind us of Prime Minister Erdogan's famous dictums: 1. Muslims don't kill, and 2. (Jews) know well how to kill. Simple Middle East research will give you 1 million deaths in the all-Muslim Iran-Iraq war; 300,000 Muslim minorities killed by Saddam Hussein; 80,000 Iranians killed during the Islamic revolution; 25,000 deaths from 1970 to 1971, the days of Black September, by the Jordanian government in its fight against the Palestinians; and 20,000 Islamists killed in 1982 by the elder al-Assad in Hama. The World Health Organization's estimate of Osama bin Laden's carnage in Iraq was already 150,000 a few years earlier. In a 2007 study, Gunnar Heinsohn from the University of Bremen and Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, found that some 11 million Muslims have been violently killed since 1948, of which 35,000, (0.3%) died during the six years of Arab war against Israel, or one out of every 315 fatalities. In contrast, over 90% who perished were killed by fellow Muslims. Time magazine quotes a one-legged revolutionary singer undergoing medical treatment in Turkey in the most recent wave of refugees, as saying: "We'd rather accept Israel than Bashar....The Israelis didn't do to the Palestinians what Bashar has done to Syria." Who, really, knows better how to kill? (DAILY ALERT - Hurriyet-Turkey)


MIDEAST DIN DROWNS OUT PALESTINIANS. In the 14 months since revolution has spread across the Middle East and tension has soared over Iran's nuclear program, the Palestinian leadership has found itself orphaned. Politically divided, its peace talks with Israel collapsed and its foreign support waning, the Palestinian Authority is sidelined. PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said in an interview: "This is a direct consequence of the Arab Spring where people are preoccupied with their own domestic affairs. The United States is in an election year and has economic problems, Europe has its worries. We're in a corner." Mr. Netanyahu's government and its supporters also say that the regional tumult makes it harder for them to yield territory. "Israelis have always been concerned that if they make difficult and strategic concession in the peace process, what will happen if the regimes with which they signed an agreement are overthrown?" noted Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs and a long-time adviser to Mr. Netanyahu. "Israel has to be extremely cautious and ratchet up its security concerns. Will the Palestinian Authority be the Palestinian Authority one year from now? When European diplomats come to Israel and ask it for new territorial concessions, it is like asking us to put up a tent in the middle of a hurricane." (New York Times)


ISSUES AT THE NETANYAHU-OBAMA MEETING. • Netanyahu suggests three preconditions for Iran before the West enters talks with the Iranians: o One is immediate suspension of uranium enrichment in Iran's territory. o The second is the transfer of some 5,600 kg. (roughly 12,500 pounds) of low-grade enriched uranium out of Iran's territory. o The third is a halt to the installation of centrifuges and the dismantlement of existing ones at the Fordo facility, located deep underground near Qom. Running this site at full capacity of 3,000 centrifuges is considered by Israel as a situation where it would be unable to effectively hinder Iran's nuclear program via an aerial strike. • The Americans claimed that this triple demand is impractical, and that the Iranians must not be presented with the desired ultimate result of the talks as a precondition for starting negotiations. • Another issue raised in the meeting was the American reaction in case talks with the Iranians fail. In such a case, the Americans would impose another set of paralyzing sanctions they would try to pass at the Security Council. • The most difficult issue to resolve is what is America's "red line" - the point where Israel and the U.S. would agree that Iran's progress requires an Israeli or American military strike or a combination of the two. President Obama told AIPAC that the U.S. won't tolerate a situation where Iran possesses nuclear weapons. However, Israel says defining the "red line" this way would in fact enable the Iranians to become a nuclear power. While Tehran won't possess a nuclear warhead or atomic bomb, it would be able to produce a nuclear device at any given moment. • As opposed to uranium enrichment, the development of the actual weapon can be hidden relatively easily, and hence the Americans would not even know about it. • Hence, Israel demands that the American "red line" would be defined as "nuclear capability," that is, Iran's shift to producing 90% enriched uranium, or a large quantity of 20% enriched uranium. Netanyahu also made it clear to Obama that Israel's red line is a situation whereby the new, underground enrichment facility at Fordo will approach full capacity (Ynet News).


HEALING THE U.S.-ISRAELI TRUST DEFICIT. For decades, the number one rule of ally-to-ally diplomacy governing America's relations with our closest friends was straightforward: We settled our differences in private. But when President Barack Obama's administration took office three years ago, that axiom appeared to fall out of practice - at least when it came to the U.S. relationship with Israel. The White House struck a confrontational stance with Israel from the outset, and even refused to acknowledge prior understandings. Trust matters. If Obama was prepared to so casually toss aside previous American commitments to Israel, what possible weight could American commitments to stop Iran's nuclear pursuit provide? In more recent months, as ideology gave way to reality, those who argued that the administration's publicly confrontational approach was faulty appear to have won the White House over to their side - a transformation that was on full display during the president's remarks at AIPAC. It is a very high bar for an Israeli leader to put the future security of the Jewish people in the hands of another, especially when faced with the truly intolerable threat coming from a nuclear Iran - which has pledged to annihilate the Jewish state. The writer, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, is a former spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. (DAILY ALERT - Foreign Policy)


SBARRO TERRORIST GETS TV SHOW. Ahlam Tamimi, the Hamas terrorist who drove a suicide bomber to the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem where 15 people were consequently killed, was freed in October as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap and was deported to Jordan. She has now launched a television career, presenting a weekly show on the Hamas-affiliated Al-Quds satellite channel. In one episode, Tamimi interviewed Hamas official Salah Arouri, who said, "The only way to free our prisoners from jail is through resistance, abductions and prisoner swaps," calling on the Palestinians to kidnap Israeli soldiers. (Ynet News)


THE ARAB UPRISINGS AND ISRAEL’S NATIONAL SECURITY. The changing regional balance of power in favor of Turkey and Iran, who both encourage radical elements in the region, does not favor Israel. As well, the seeming decline of American clout in the Middle East has negatively affected the peace process with Israel and reduced its deterrence power. Israel is facing greater regional isolation, more terror, threats to its sea lanes and energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean, and the prospects of a nuclear Iran. While the power differential between Israel and its neighbors is larger than ever, it must spend more money on defense and has to cultivate new relationships in the region. Most Israelis understand the reality of living in the Middle East, but they must recognize that this rough neighborhood may become even more brutish in the near future. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)


POLL: PALESTINIAN SUPPORT FOR ARMED RESISTENCE AT 14-YEAR LOW. Support by Palestinians for armed struggle against Israel is at a 14-year low, according to a new poll by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center (JMCC). Just 29% of Palestinians polled today support military operations against Israelis, down from 85% in September 2001 in the midst of the Second Intifada. Pollsters said they were surprised to find that even though virtually no peace talks have been conducted in three years, Palestinians were less inclined than ever to favor violence. "The Palestinians have seen that the last wave of violent confrontation and armed resistance, the Second Intifada, wasn't very useful to the Palestinian cause," said Ghassan Khatib, director of the Palestinian Government Media Center (Media Line-Jerusalem Post).


LAUNDERING ANTI-SEMITISM AT HARVARD. The upcoming symposium, "Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution," due to convene at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government on March 3-4, transforms Harvard's longstanding tradition of free and fair academic debate into anti-Semitic theater. Under the guise of free academic expression, the One-State Conference advances the notion that Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people should be dismantled and replaced by a state that would be flooded with and governed by Palestinian Arabs and in which Jews would once again live as an insecure minority in their own land. The conference's 20 speakers bring together a "dream team" of academics who share an antipathy to the existence of the Jewish state. The conference's primary agenda is not to consider serious alternatives to advance Middle East peace, but to discuss the prospects for Israel's dissolution. The writer is the Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress. (Jerusalem Post)


HARVARD’S LATEST ASSAULT ON ISRAEL. • In 1948, when the Arab League declared war on Israel, no one imagined that six decades later American universities would become its overseas agency. A conference at Harvard next week called "Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution" is but the latest aggression in an escalating campaign against the Jewish state. • The roster of speakers and subjects makes their hostile agenda indisputable. A featured speaker is Ali Abunimah, creator of the website Electronic Intifada, who opposes the existence of a "Jewish state" as racist by virtue of being Jewish. He also keynoted a recent University of Pennsylvania conference urging "Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions" (BDS) of, from and against Israel. • The economic war on Israel did not start with BDS. In 1945, before the founding of Israel, the Arab League declared a boycott of "Jewish products and manufactured goods." Ever since, the Damascus-based Central Boycott Office has tried to enforce a boycott prohibiting importation of Israeli-origin goods and services, trade with any entity that does business in Israel, and engagement with any company or individual that does business with firms on the Arab League blacklist. • Freedom of speech grants all Americans the right to prosecute the verbal war against Israel. But let's differentiate toleration from abetting. Harvard may tolerate smoking, but its medical school wouldn't sponsor a conference touting the benefits of cigarettes. • Students who are inculcated with hatred of Israel may want to express their national, religious or political identity by urging its annihilation. But universities that condone their efforts are triple offenders - against their mission, against the Jewish people, and perhaps most especially against the maligners themselves. Smoking is less fatal to smokers than anti-Jewish politics is to its users. The writer is a professor of Yiddish and comparative literature at Harvard University (DAILY ALERT - Wall Street Journal)


HIZBULLAH IS IN TROUBLE. With Assad sinking, Hizbullah is also going down. The Shiite organization has become the most hated in the Arab world. The economic oxygen from Iran that kept Hizbullah alive is drying up. Iran faces the economic threat of paralyzing sanctions and it has no money for adventures on the Lebanese front. This means that Hizbullah has no money to pay salaries and fund projects. Still, Hizbullah's control in southern Lebanon is convenient for Israel. It prevents Sunni groups such as al-Qaeda and Global Jihad from operating there, and also prevents Palestinian terror groups from reaching the border with Israel. (Ynet News)


ERASING JEWISH HISTORY ON THE TEMPLE MOUNT IN JERUSALEM. In July 2007, Israel Antiquities Authority inspector Ira Pasternack saw the Arab tractor driver bring down his huge blade with great force, shattering the ancient floors on Temple Mount. According to specific Antiquities Authority instructions, any digging at the site was not allowed to exceed 60 cm. (roughly two feet) and was not to be undertaken using mechanical equipment. However, reports drafted by Pasternack and other sources, exposed for the first time by Yediot Ahronot on Friday, indicate that workers largely ignored the instructions. Much of the work was done using a tractor and reached deeper than allowed for in the permit. Earth removed from the site was thrown into an improvised garbage dump by members of the Waqf (the administrative Muslim body in charge of Temple Mount). The Waqf is consistently erasing any trace of Jewish history at the site. (Ynet News)


AMERICA’S ALIBIS FOR NOT HELPING SYRIA. The silence of President Obama on the matter of Syria reveals the general retreat of American power in the Middle East. Yet topple the Syrian dictatorship and the access of Iran to the Mediterranean is severed, leaving the brigands of Hamas and Hizbullah scrambling. Plainly, the Syrian tyranny's writ has expired. Ironically, it was the Assad tyranny itself that had provided transit and sanctuary for jihadists who crossed into Iraq to do battle against the Americans; it even released its own Islamist prisoners and dispatched them to Iraq with the promise of pardon. It is an inescapable fate that the U.S. is the provider of order in that region. We can lend a hand to the embattled Syrians or risk turning Syria into a devil's playground of religious extremism. The Syrian army is demoralized and riven with factionalism and sectarian enmities. It could be brought down by defectors given training and weapons; safe havens could give disaffected soldiers an incentive, and the space, to defect. In a battered Syria, a desperate people await America's help and puzzle over its leader's passivity. The writer is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. (DAILY ALERT - Wall Street Journal)


ISRAEL, EGYPT WORKING TO STOP HAMAS ATTACKS FROM SINAI. Israel and Egypt are working together to stop Hamas terrorists from "cynically using" the Sinai Peninsula to perpetrate terror attacks against Israel, Brig.-Gen. Nadav Padan, commander of the IDF's 80th Division, said Thursday. "We regularly coordinate with the Egyptians and synchronize our efforts to coordinate joint action against Hamas." 100 km. of a newly built barrier along the 240-km. border is now complete. The IDF is also investing large resources in intelligence gathering, to create a clearer understanding of terrorist groups that operate in Sinai. The Egyptian military currently operates four battalions within Sinai, which are mostly used to protect tourist sites as well as the gas line that runs through the peninsula. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has approved the insertion of two more battalions but the Egyptians have yet to act. A senior IDF officer said that terrorist elements were moving freely throughout the Sinai and sometimes right under the nose of the Egyptian security forces. In addition, in 2011, over 16,000 African migrant workers illegally crossed into Israel via the border (Jerusalem Post).


SENATORS DECRY ‘DAYLIGHT’ BETWEEN ISRAEL, U.S. OVER IRAN. After meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said Tuesday there was "daylight" and "tension" between Jerusalem and Washington over the Iranian issue. "There should be no daylight between America and Israel in our assessment of the [Iranian] threat," McCain said in Jerusalem. "Unfortunately there clearly is some." McCain took strong issue with chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey who told CNN that Iran was a "rational" actor, saying that by pursuing nuclear weapons despite mounting international isolation, growing sanctions, and the "very real threat of conflict, it is hard to see this as rational behavior." His colleague Lindsey Graham (R-SC) added that anyone who denies the Holocaust, as Iranian President Ahmadinejad has done, and plotted to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington should not be considered rational. Graham also said, "I just want to tell our Israeli friends that my advice to you is never lose control of your destiny. Never allow a situation to develop that would destroy the Jewish state." Graham referred to the current impasse with Iran as a "never again" moment. (Jerusalem Post)


HOW COME NO ONE WANTS TO HELP GAZA? In the past, the Arab League promised $4 billion in aid to the residents of Gaza. However, Palestinians say that so far they have seen almost nothing from the Arab and Islamic countries. When there is no electricity in Gaza, both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority often rush to blame Israel. But the Palestinian Center for Human Rights announced this week that Palestinians - not Israel - were to blame for the latest electricity crisis. Until recently, fuel used to be smuggled from Egypt through underground tunnels. Before that, the fuel was bought from Israel, and the PA in the West Bank used to cover the costs. But because of the dispute between Hamas and Fatah, the PA stopped its contribution. So if anyone is to blame for the fact that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been left without electricity, it's both Hamas and Fatah. The main reason the Arabs and Muslims are not eager to transfer billions of dollars to Gaza is that they know the money will go to purchasing missiles and ammunition instead of building new schools and hospitals. (DAILY ALERT - Stonegate Institute)


CONTAINING ISRAEL ON IRAN. Is the Obama Administration more concerned that Iran may get a nuclear weapon, or that Israel may use military force to prevent Iran from doing so? • Appearing on CNN, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey sent precisely the wrong message if the main U.S. strategic goal is convincing Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. He said the U.S. is urging Israel not to attack Iran. • In a single sound bite, Gen. Dempsey managed to tell the Iranians they can breathe easier because Israel's main ally is opposed to an attack on Iran, such an attack isn't likely to work in any case, and the U.S. fears Iran's retaliation. • If the U.S. really wanted its diplomacy to work in lieu of force, it would say and do whatever it can to increase Iran's fear of an attack. Dempsey's comments will have the effect of making war more likely, not less (DAILY ALERT - Wall Street Journal Europe)


U.S. OFFICIALS BELIEVE IRAN SANCTIONS WILL FAIL, MAKING MILITARY ACTUIB LIKELY. Officials in key parts of the Obama administration - including in the Pentagon and the State Department - are increasingly convinced that sanctions will not deter Tehran from pursuing its nuclear program, and believe that the U.S. will be left with no option but to launch an attack on Iran or watch Israel do so. They believe the principal use of sanctions now is in delaying Israeli military action, as well as reassuring Europe that an attack will only come after other means have been tested. "Sanctions are all we've got to throw at the problem. If they fail then it's hard to see how we don't move to the 'in extremis' option," said an official knowledgeable on Middle East policy. Scepticism about Iranian intent is rooted in Iran's repeated spurning of overtures from successive U.S. presidents from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama, who appealed within weeks of coming to office for "constructive ties" and "mutual respect." American officials are resigned to the fact that the U.S. will be seen in much of the world as a partner in any Israeli assault on Iran - whether or not Washington approved of it. The administration will then have to decide whether to, in the parlance of the U.S. military, "pile on," by using its much greater firepower to finish what Israel starts. "The sanctions are there to pressure Iran and reassure Israel that we are taking this issue seriously," said one official. "The focus is on demonstrating to Israel that this has a chance of working. Israel is sceptical but appreciates the effort. It is willing to give it a go, but how long will it wait?" (DAILY ALERT - Guardian-UK)


EGYPTIAN MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD LEADER: THREATS TO CUT U.S. AID COULD IMPERIL PEACE DEAL WITH ISRAEL. Mohammed Morsi, the leader of the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest party, on Thursday rejected U.S. threats to cut aid over a dispute about nonprofit groups operating in the country, saying they are out of line and could imperil the peace deal with Israel. Morsi said the annual U.S. aid is part of its commitment to Egypt's 1979 treaty with Israel and should not be at risk because of the dispute over the nonprofit groups. "Brandishing threats to stop this aid is out of place. Otherwise, the peace deal would be reconsidered or it could flounder," he said. The Brotherhood's deputy chairman, Khairat el-Shater, told Al-Jazeera that U.S. aid should not be conditional and should continue to flow as "compensation" for years of supporting Mubarak's autocratic regime. (DAILY ALERT - AP-Washington Post)


THE CAUSES OF STABILITY AND UNREST IN THE MIDDLE EAST. The "Arab spring" is likely to involve a decade or more of political, economic, and social unrest. The causes of unrest involve structural problems in governance, demographics, and economics. None can be solved in a few months or years. Most Middle East and North African states have no real political parties or pluralistic structures, and only the monarchies have a history of political legitimacy. There is no clear basis for representative government, no experience with political compromise, and no pattern of effective governance to build upon. Ethnic and religious issues often cut deep and have been repressed for decades. Justice systems are weak and/or corrupt, religious extremism challenges necessary social and economic change, and the security forces are often an equal or more serious problem. The U.S. and the West may still think in terms of rapid, stable democratic change, but none of the proper conditions exist in many states. The reality is that far too many revolutions eat their young and the hopes of those who cause them. Sudden successes are unlikely and even the best regimes will take years to meet popular hopes and expectations. (DAILY ALERT - Center for Strategic & International Studies)


ISRAELI PHYSICIAN ACQUITTED OF LIBEL AGAINST MOHAMMED AL-DURA’S FATHER. A French appeals court Wednesday overturned the libel conviction of Dr. David Yehuda, an Israeli physician who was sued by the father of Mohammed al-Dura, the boy whose shooting death in September 2000 became a powerful symbol of the second intifada. Jamal al-Dura had displayed to international media outlets scars on his body he claimed were caused by bullets fired by Israel Defense Forces soldiers. In a 2008 interview with a French Jewish weekly, Dr. Yehuda, an orthopedic surgeon, said the scars were the result of an assault on Dura by Hamas militants who accused him of collaborating with Israel, as well as subsequent surgery performed by Yehuda himself in 1994. The photos of the Duras, father and son, taking cover behind a barrel during an exchange of gunfire between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in Gaza, remains one of the most enduring images of the second intifada. Israel initially apologized for the boy's death but issued a retraction when subsequent investigations indicated the boy was most likely killed by Palestinian fire. (Ha'aretz)


CONGRESS READY TO INCREASE ISRAEL MISSILE-DEFENSE FUNDING. Congress is set to significantly increase funding for Israeli missile defense to more than make up for White House cuts to the program, Capitol Hill sources told the Jerusalem Post Tuesday. The 2013 budget proposal unveiled by President Obama on Monday trims $6 million in defense spending from the Arrow and David's Sling programs as part of across-the-board defense cuts. While the administration's request for missile defense funds has dropped in recent years from $121.7m. in 2011 to $106.1m. in 2012 to 2013's $99.8m., Congress has consistently increased the final allocation. One aide to a Democratic member on the House defense appropriations subcommittee predicted the 2013 figure would be in the neighborhood of the $235.6m. slated for 2012. Another Congressional aide said that if the Israelis ask for more missile defense funding, "without a doubt they would get it." Rep. Kay Granger (R-Tex.), chairwoman of the House foreign operations appropriations subcommittee, said, "The President's budget is a blueprint for what the administration wants out of the Congress. This is not what will be enacted into law" (Jerusalem Post).


IRAN IS BEHIND A CAR BOMB ATTACK. Iran is behind a car bomb attack on Israeli officials in India as well as a thwarted attack in Tbilisi, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday, adding that Israel would continue to act against the international terror Iran produces. Netanyahu's comments came after a blast near Israel's New Delhi embassy left the wife of an Israeli diplomat moderately wounded. The incidents on Monday come one day after the fourth anniversary of the assassination of Hezbollah's deputy leader, Imad Mughniyah, a killing the Islamist organization blames on Israel. Speaking following the attack in India and the thwarted attack in Georgia, Netanyahu blamed recent attempts on Israeli officials abroad on "Iran and its client Hezbollah," saying that standing behind Monday's attacks is "Iran, the world's greatest exporter of terror." "In the last few months we have witnessed several attempts to target Israeli citizens and Jews in a series of countries, such as Azerbaijan and Thailand. In all of these cases we were able to thwart these attacks in cooperation with local forces," Netanyahu said. The premier culminated by saying that "the Israeli government and its security services will continue, with local security, to act against the international terror which Iran produces." Earlier Monday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Israel will not tolerate an attack on its officials abroad, saying that the "attacks against Israeli embassies abroad... just means that the State of Israel and its citizens face a daily threat of terror, both physical and diplomatic. Benjamin Netanyahu attending a tree planting ceremony marking Israel's arbor day in the southern city of Beersheba February 8, 2012.


PALESTINIAN UNITY DEAL FACES MOUNTING REBELLION BY HAMAS LEADERS IN GAZA. There is a mounting rebellion by Hamas leaders in Gaza against a power-sharing agreement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. On Saturday, the Hamas strongman in Gaza, Mahmoud Zahar, complained that Khaled Mashaal, Hamas' top leader in exile, did not consult with other leaders in the movement before signing the deal and that the decision-making Shura Council should meet to correct what he termed a mistake. In the nearly five years it has ruled in Gaza, Hamas hired some 40,000 civil servants and security forces, while 62,000 troops and civil servants forced out by the 2007 takeover - many of them pro-Abbas - are waiting to return to their old government jobs. (DAILY ALERT - AP)


WHERE’S THE SYRIA FLOTILLA? In May 2010, a Turkish Islamist charity with close ties to Turkey's ruling party sponsored a flotilla which it claimed was to relieve suffering in Gaza, never mind that the standard of living in Gaza surpasses that in Turkey. Many self-described human rights activists and groups joined the "Save Gaza" chorus and donated their time and money to sponsoring flotillas (which, in effect, would support and supply Hamas but contribute little to humanitarian causes). Alas, these organizations are silent on the atrocities in Syria, let alone prepared to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people (DAILY ALERT - Commentary).


THE ‘BLAME ISRAEL FIRSTERS’ AND IRAN. The "blame Israel first" crowd continues to interpret the Iran-U.S. crisis as an example of a sinister Israel lobby pushing the U.S. into a war to serve the ambitions of the Jewish state. Not only does this analysis miss the vital U.S. interests at stake in the region and the threat Iran poses to a balance of power the United States needs, it misses the reality that for several years now some of the strongest, most consistent pressures on Washington to act against Iran have come from the Arab world. The Arab Lobby's strong pressure for war against Iran is a major factor in French, British and even German hawkishness as well in this crisis. But the blame Israel firsters don't care; if we have a war with Iran they will know who to blame. (DAILY ALERT - American Interest)


WILL THE U.S. SEND MONEY TO A PALESTINIAN GOVERNMENT THAT INCLUDES HAMAS? How should the Obama Administration respond to the news that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has signed a deal with Hamas to form a unity government? The U.S. has budgeted $500 million in direct assistance to the PA for the current fiscal year, plus another $232 million for the UN welfare agency that deals with the descendants of Palestinian refugees. U.S. law prohibits aid to any Palestinian government that includes Hamas. Would the U.S. continue to fund and train a Palestinian security apparatus that merges with Hamas' paramilitary units? Let's hope not. Eventually the U.S. will have to make some determination about the utility of funding a Palestinian government that scorns negotiations with Israel and rarely bothers to pay even lip service to U.S. interests. (DAILY ALERT - Wall Street Journal)


THE NEW PA-HAMAS AGREEMENT: OPENING THE GATES TO THE TROJAN HORSE. • Although the words of the Doha Declaration on PA-Hamas reconciliation signed on Feb. 6 sound weighty, their practical significance is small since it does not express genuine Hamas recognition of Abbas' leadership or authority. Instead, it is merely verbal, expedient recognition for tactical reasons, intended to enable Hamas' official entry into the PLO in the framework of new elections for the Palestinian National Council and to pave the way for Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections. • The Hamas leaders are trying to implement the strategy of the Arab Spring in the Palestinian arena. They assume they will win an overwhelming majority in the elections and, thereby, complete their historic takeover of the Palestinian national movement. In other words, they view Abbas as the doorman who opens the gates to the Trojan horse. • From Abbas' perspective, his appointment as prime minister, in addition to president, will enable him to maintain the international recognition of the Palestinian government despite the agreement with Hamas, and give him room to maneuver in contacts with the international community, both politically and in terms of keeping the aid money flowing. Abbas thereby buys himself some quiet for an interim period. When it ends, though, he will likely find himself without assets and in a minority in the representative institutions of the Palestinian national movement. • Abbas' cooperation with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, and his uncompromising refusal to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, illustrates the strategic choice he has made. He does not prefer the path of a political settlement but, rather, to link up with Hamas and the other regional forces emerging in the Arab Spring and thereby use them as a force multiplier against Israel without having to offer political concessions. The release of 64 "political" prisoners is not only a gesture to Hamas but also an implicit message that the security cooperation with Israel is secondary in Abbas' eyes to the old-new alliance with Hamas. Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center, is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs).


21 PALESTINIAN VILLAGES REJECT ISRAELI OFFER TO CONNECT TO SEWER LINE. Despite Israeli offers to connect 22 Palestinian villages in southern Samaria in the West Bank to a central sewage pipe, all but one of them refused, Israeli Environmental Protection Ministry officials said Thursday. Instead, the Palestinian sewage flows into the aquifer below. "We are doing everything we can to prevent pollution in Judea and Samaria, but nevertheless, the Palestinians refuse to cooperate," said Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan. Erdan expressed hope that donor countries would agree to only continue giving the villages financial support if they agree to connect to the sewage pipeline (Jerusalem Post).


ISRAEL WARNS U.S. JEWS: IRAN COULD STRIKE IN NORTH AMERICA. Israeli facilities in North America - and around the world - are on high alert, according to an internal security document obtained by ABC News that predicted the threat from Iran against Jewish targets will increase. "We predict that the threat on our sites around the world will increase...on both our guarded sites and 'soft' sites," stated a letter circulated by the head of security for the Consul General for the Mid-Atlantic States. Guarded sites refers to government facilities like embassies and consulates, while "soft sites" means Jewish synagogues and schools, as well as community centers like the one hit by a terrorist bombing in Buenos Aires in 1994 that killed 85 people. One federal official said, "The thwarted assassination plot of a Saudi official in Washington, D.C., a couple of months ago was an important data point, in that it showed at least parts of the Iranian establishment were aware of the intended event and were not concerned about inevitable collateral damage to U.S. citizens had they carried out an assassination plot on American soil." "We operate according to the information that Iran and Hizbullah are working hard and with great intensity to release a 'quality' attack against Israeli/Jewish sites around the world," the Israeli security letter concludes (DAILY ALERT - ABC News)


ARAB TOWN ON GREEN LINE BECOMES SHOPPING MECCA. The Arab village of Bartaa, divided by the Green Line between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, is experiencing a remarkable economic boom. Since the construction of the separation fence in 2003, a kind of unplanned free trade zone has developed on the Palestinian side of Bartaa. Some 20,000 cars enter the village every day. The fact that eastern Bartaa is totally accessible to both Palestinians and Israelis has turned it into a glittering business opportunity for West Bank merchants. Prices are 20-30% below other places in Israel. It is estimated that 80% of Israeli shoppers are Arab and 20% are Jewish (Ha'aretz).


SYRIA’S OUTCOME HAS HIGH STAKES FOR THE ENTIRE MIDEAST. The central drama in Syria is now a sectarian showdown between Sunnis and Shiites, and between Turkey and Iran. The Persian Gulf states - led by Qatar - have been pushing hardest for Arab League and Security Council action against the Assad regime. The emirates say their goal is Syrian democracy - but their motives are purely sectarian. Their target is not Assad but Iran, the Persian Shiite enemy of the Arab Sunni monarchies. The Arab emirates' best ally against Iran is not the U.S. but the Turkish government, which is openly backing the Free Syrian Army. Erdogan, as a Sunni Islamist, perceives a strategic opportunity for Turkey to replace Iran as the preeminent outside influence in the former eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Inside Syria, Turkey is pushing the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood; in neighboring Iraq, Turkey's support for Sunni parties, and for the autonomous region of Kurdistan, is increasingly conspicuous. Iran is fighting back. It has dispatched weapons and advisers to Syria, and it is pressing Nouri ­al-Maliki, the Shiite prime minister of Iraq, to open a corridor across Iraq to facilitate more material support. The Palestinian Hamas movement, ruler of Gaza, is having its own Syrian crisis. The shift of regional power has all but ruptured its supply link to Iran and forced its external leadership to flee Damascus (Washington Post).


IDF CHIEF: IRAN CALLING FOR ISRAEL’S DESTRUCTION AND BUILDING THE TOOL TO DO SO. Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said on Wednesday that Iran could cross the nuclear threshold within a year and "there is no doubt that Iran is seeking military nuclear capability." "Israel is the only country in the world which someone is calling for its destruction and which someone is building the tools to do so. This is something that cannot be ignored." "It is correct to continue economic pressure and sanctions, from which we are starting to see signs of achievement and progress in terms of what is going on in Iran. It is correct to act and continue to disrupt processes associated with the development of the Iranian nuclear project and to work to enhance oversight over what is happening," Gantz said (Ha'aretz).


NO WONDER ISRAELI’S DON’T SEE A PEACE PARTNER. Representatives of Israel and Palestinians met five times in Jordan before Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas halted the exploratory talks to consult with the Arab League. • The Israelis came to the table advocating that most Israelis live under an Israeli government and most Palestinians under Palestinian sovereignty - pretty much recognized for more than a decade as the parameters for a territorial resolution to the conflict. • Palestinian and Arab rejection of that compromise, along with continuing hostility to the idea of the Jewish state, remain the obstacles to a settlement. • It's probably not a coincidence that the renewed talks were accompanied by a new outburst of anti-Israel incitement in the Palestinian media. Palestinian Media Watch caught one of the Palestinian Authority's highest religious officials citing Islamic tradition on PA-TV to say it was the Palestinians' destiny to kill Jews. Another PA-TV broadcast praised the slaughter of an Israeli family of five last year. No wonder Israelis don't see a peace partner (DAILY ALERT - Chicago Sun-Times).


CANADA TO PALESTINE: FORGET UN STATEHOOD BID.Canada to Palestine: forget UN statehood bid. Baird urges Palestinian leaders to restart direct talks with Israel (by Alex Ballingall). As one Palestinian official noted Monday, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird can be a frank, straight talking man. “There’s no mistaking where he stands,” he told the Globe and Mail. No kidding. Baird and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty are currently touring Israel and the West Bank. On Monday, the duo met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and other senior Palestinian officials, where they expressed Canada’s opposition to their bid for recognition as a sovereign state by the UN. Baird reportedly called it “profoundly wrong.” The foreign minister also lined up in support of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, telling the Palestinian leadership he believes they should return to peace negotiations with Israel without any preconditions. For months, Palestinian leaders have refused to hold direct talks, pointing to the construction of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory. According to the organization Peace Now Israel, the rate of settlement construction in the West Bank jumped 20 per cent in 2011. Baird added Monday that, “whether it is rockets raining down on Israeli schools, or the constant barrage of rhetorical demonization, double standards and delegitimization, Israel is under attack.” He went on to frame Canada’s unequivocal support for Israel as a brave move that flies in the face of dominant anti-Israeli sentiment amongst the international community. Clearly, Baird is working to entrench Canada as one of the world’s most unbending supporters of the Israeli government.


THE PALESTINIANS ARE DOING THEIR BEST TO DERAIL PEACE TALKS WITH ISRAEL - by Con Coughlin. I am told by Western diplomats close to the Palestinian-Israeli exploratory talks in Jordan that the reason they are running into difficulty is because the Palestinian delegation, led by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, is refusing to take the talks seriously. A Western diplomat said that when the Israeli delegation arrived for a meeting last weekend in Amman to present their latest security proposals, Erekat simply refused to enter the room. The diplomat said he was surprised at Erekat's behavior, especially as the topic was supposed to be one of the main topics on the agenda. Erekat's refusal to enter the negotiating room and hear what the Israelis had to say does not bode well for attempts to get the two sides to resume full negotiations, and raises questions about just how serious the Palestinians are about getting a peace deal. (Telegraph-UK)


ISRAEL SENSES BLUFFING IN IRAN’S THREATS OF RETALIATION. Israeli intelligence estimates, backed by academic studies, have cast doubt on the widespread assumption that a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would set off a catastrophic set of events like a regional conflagration, widespread acts of terrorism and sky-high oil prices. The estimates, which have been largely adopted by the country's most senior officials, conclude that the threat of Iranian retaliation is partly bluff. Conversations with top Israeli security officials suggested: since Israel has been demanding the new sanctions, including an oil embargo and seizure of Iran's Central Bank assets, it will give the sanctions some months to work; the sanctions are viewed here as probably insufficient; a military attack remains a very real option; and post-attack situations are considered less perilous than one in which Iran has nuclear weapons. (DAILY ALERT - New York Times)


IGNORING AHMADINEJAD’S CALLS FOR JEWISH GENOCIDE IS A GRAVE MISTAKE. The Holocaust-denying Ahmadinejad never misses an opportunity to call for "wiping Israel off the map." Since there's no way to eradicate Israel without also slaughtering a large number of its 7.8 million inhabitants that is a blatant call for mass murder. But as Prof. Shlomo Avineri pointed out this month, even more troubling is the silence of world Jewry on this issue - a stark contrast to its activism over, say, Soviet Jews. Partly, this may be due to a widespread sentiment that words matter less than deeds - which explain why Jewish groups have been active in trying to persuade Western governments to take stronger steps against Iran's nuclear program. But beyond that, Jews worldwide should be concerned with the desensitization effect: By consistently advocating genocide without eliciting any serious condemnatory response, Ahmadinejad is gradually turning "kill the Jews" into acceptable public discourse. (DAILY ALERT - Commentary)


EGYPTIAN MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD: NO TALKS WITH ISRAEL. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood categorically rejects dialogue with Israel, the group's spokesman, Mahmoud Ghazlan, told Asharq Alawsat in an interview published Wednesday. Ghazlan said, "Our group is not prepared to conduct dialogue with Israel." Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told Army Radio on Tuesday that Israel "has not closed the door" to the new government in Cairo and "would be happy to conduct dialogue with anyone prepared to talk with us." Palmor said he believes Egypt would continue to honor the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, which he said serves the interests of both countries. (Jerusalem Post)


ISRAEL TO UN: ”YOU NEVER HEAR PALESTINIAN LEADERS SAY ’TWO STATES FOR TWO PEOPLE’. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor told the UN Security Council on Tuesday: • "Never has it been so clear that Iran is seeking to build a nuclear weapon. This is the single greatest threat to the security of the entire world....The latest IAEA reports prove beyond any doubt that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, which is advancing rapidly. Each and every member of the United Nations - and particularly this Council - should lie awake at night thinking about what would happen if the regime in Tehran gets a hold of the most dangerous weapon on earth." • "After a year of turmoil in the Middle East...what issue has this Council deemed the most pressing in its monthly debate on the Middle East? Surprise, surprise...the status of municipal building applications in the West Bank....Yet, entire Middle Eastern countries where people are being killed, repressed and tortured daily continue to go without mention." • "How many times have members of this Council...repeated this statement: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the central conflict in the Middle East. If you solve that conflict, you solve all the other conflicts in the region....It is obvious that Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, and many other conflicts in the Middle East have nothing to do with Israel. The constant repetition of the statement does not make it true." • "The primary obstacle to peace is not settlements....The major hurdle to peace is the Palestinians' insistence on the so-called 'claim of return.'...You won't hear them say 'two states for two peoples' because today the Palestinian leadership is calling for an independent Palestinian state, but insists that its people return to the Jewish state. This would mean the destruction of Israel." • "The idea that Israel will be flooded with millions of Palestinians will never be accepted. The international community knows it. The Palestinian leadership knows it. But the Palestinian people aren't hearing it. In a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion last November, 90% of Palestinians said that they would not give up the 'claim of return.' This gap between their perception and reality is - and will remain - the major obstacle to peace." • "The Gaza Strip...remains a launching ground for constant rocket attacks targeting Israeli cities and civilians. Last year, some 700 rockets were fired into Israel. That's an average of almost two rockets fired every single day.....Yet, this Council still has not found the time or the will to utter a single syllable of condemnation against these attacks. The silence is deafening" (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs).


ARAB SPRING SEES RISE IN ANTI-SEMITISM. "[While] the popular uprisings in the Arab world do not represent a general change in attitude towards Israel, Zionism and the Jews, it seems the anti-Semitic discourse and incitement have become more extreme and violent," says a report released Sunday by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University. "Charges of an international Jewish conspiracy have been a central motif in the anti-Semitic propaganda that has accompanied the Arab Spring uprisings. This motif has been emphasized in each of the countries, especially by way of pointing a blaming finger towards Israel, Zionism and Jews conspiring against Arabs and Muslims." (Jerusalem Post)


SENIOR FATAH OFFICIAL: HAMAS WILL DEFEAT FATAH IN MAY ELECTIONS. Former PA minister Nabil Amr of Fatah warned Thursday that Hamas would once again defeat Fatah if and when new elections are held in the Palestinian territories. President Mahmoud Abbas (who also heads Fatah) has announced he would like to hold elections on May 4. Since the Hamas victory in the 2006 parliamentary election, Fatah has failed to come up with a new list of candidates. "Unless the situation in Fatah changes, what happened in the past could occur once again," Amr said in an interview with Al-Quds Al-Arabi (Jerusalem Post).


HAMAS ATTACK ON GAZA SHIITES MAY INDICATE POLITICAL SHIFT. Hamas security forces - up to 100 policemen and masked men in civilian clothes - stormed an apartment building in Beit Lahiya in Gaza on Saturday where Shiite Muslims were gathered to commemorate the death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Mohammed's grandson. They dragging out 15 men, whom they then beat with truncheons and denounced as infidels. "The police showed everyone black Shiite headbands and were yelling to the crowds, 'Look at these kafirs [unbelievers]!'," said Yasser Ziada, 23. "It was like they were putting on a show for us, beating them in front of everyone." The main allies of Hamas - Iran and Hizbullah - are predominantly Shiite, or in the case of Syria's Alawites, an offshoot of Shiism. Saturday's crackdown on Shiites - occurring as Hamas dismantles its headquarters in Damascus - may be an indication that the tectonic political shifts underway since the Arab Spring may be affecting Gaza. Hamas is seen to be gravitating towards newly empowered Sunni Islamist groups in the Arab Spring countries of Egypt and Tunisia, opening opportunities for hard-line Hamas members to settle sectarian scores, said Hani Habib, a political analyst in Gaza. In a statement released after the assault, the Interior Ministry in Gaza admitted carrying out the operation. "Gaza and Palestine in general is a society that believes in Sunni Islam," adding that there were "no Shiites in Palestine." Mustafa Sawaf, an official at the Culture Ministry, noted, "We are a Sunni society, so Hamas felt like it had to take action against them." He added that Saturday's attack was "dramatized [by Hamas] to show people in Gaza that it does not tolerate Shiites." (DAILY ALERT - National-Abu Dhabi)


ISRAEL’S TRADE WITH THE MUSLIM WORLD. Israeli business quietly thrives in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and in far-off countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. Company owners on both sides do all they can to avoid harmful publicity. Contacts are made at international conferences overseas, through European and U.S. companies familiar with both sides, and directly over the Internet. "Technology, particularly the Internet, is making the world smaller," explains Eliran Malul at Arab Markets, which brokers deals in Arab countries. Quite a number of Israeli companies export products to Saudi Arabia. This is sometimes done through their U.S.-registered subsidiaries. Israeli companies have also provided equipment such as body armor to U.S. forces stationed in Saudi Arabia. Israel receives raw materials for its plastics industry - polyethylene and polypropylene - from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. Israel's plastics industry, in turn, exports greenhouse sheeting, irrigation drippers, house and garden products, disposable utensils and food packaging to Saudi Arabia. Some of these products are made by Turkish factories established by Israeli companies. Alon Liel, who served as Israel's ambassador to Turkey, said this inflates Israel's trade statistics with Turkey. "I assume the high trade figures with Turkey...include shipments to countries with which Israel has no relations." As Dubai was building the Palm Islands - a megalomaniac real estate project delayed by the global economic crisis - Israelis had a hand in providing some of the shingles through an Italian roofing tile company. Quite a few companies in the Gulf states rely on sophisticated Israeli technology for security purposes. Israel also exports medical, agricultural and water technologies to the Gulf states (Ha'aretz).


THE MORTAL THREAT FROM IRAN. Without doubt, Iran has long wanted nuclear weapons - to deter American intervention in its and neighboring territories; to threaten Europe; to respond to the former Iraqi nuclear effort; to counter the contiguous nuclear presences in Pakistan, Russia and the U.S. in the Gulf; to neutralize Israel's nuclear deterrent; to lead the Islamic world; to correct the security imbalance with Saudi Arabia; and to threaten the U.S. directly. In the absence of measures beyond pinpoint sanctions and unenforceable resolutions, Iran will get nuclear weapons, which in its eyes are an existential necessity. Accommodationists argue that a rational Iran can be contained. Not the Iran with a revered tradition of deception; that during its war with Iraq pushed 100,000 young children to their deaths clearing minefields; that counts 15% of its population as "Volunteer Martyrs." The writer is a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute. (DAILY ALERT - Wall Street Journal)


TERROR GEGEN ISRAEL. Palästinensische Terroristen aus dem Gazastreifen haben in der vergangenen Nacht erneut eine Kassam-Rakete auf israelisches Gebiet abgefeuert. Die Rakete detonierte südlich von Ashkelon. In der gleichen Nacht hat die Israelische Luftwaffe eine Terrorzelle angegriffen, die Sprengkörper nahe dem Sicherheitszaun im nördlichen Gazastreifen platzieren wollte. Treffer wurden vermeldet. 2011 gab es insgesamt 30 Versuche von Terroristen aus dem Gazastreifen, Soldaten in der Nähe des Grenzzauns mit Sprengkörpern zu verletzen. In diesem Jahr handelte es sich um den zweiten Versuch dieser Art. (Israelische Verteidigungsstreitkräfte, 19.01.12)


IDF: NUCLEAR IRAN WILL MAKE ISRAEL’S ENEMIES MORE AGGRESSIVE. Israel is concerned that Syria, Hizbullah, and Hamas could one day find reassurance in a nuclear-armed Iran, Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel, head of IDF strategic planning, told foreign journalists and diplomats at a briefing at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on Tuesday. "They will be more aggressive. They will dare to do things that right now they would not dare to do," he said. "This is going to create a dramatic change in Israel's strategic posture, because if we are forced to do things in Gaza or Lebanon under an Iranian nuclear umbrella, it might be different." "When the other side has a nuclear capability and is willing to use it, you think twice," Eshel said. "You are more restrained." Eshel said there are now some 100,000 rockets and missiles that could be fired at Israel by Hizbullah, Hamas, Iran, and Syria. (Ha'aretz)


ENDING THE PALESTINIAN ‘RIGHT OF RETURN’. After the 1993 Oslo Accords, 137,000 residents of the Palestinian Authority moved to Israel between 1994 and 2002 under the family-reunification provision, some of them engaged in either sham or polygamous marriages. Yuval Diskin, head of the Israel Security Agency, noted in 2005 that of 225 Israeli Arabs involved in terror against Israel, 25 had legally entered Israel through the family-unification provision. They killed 19 Israelis and wounded 83. In response, Israel's parliament in July 2003 passed a law prohibiting Palestinian family members from automatically gaining Israeli residency or citizenship. Last week, Israel's Supreme Court upheld this law. As Judge Asher Dan Grunis wrote in the majority opinion, "Human rights are not a prescription for national suicide." (National Review)


ISRAEL, PALESTINIAN SPAR OVER QUARTET DEADLINE. Israel hopes the Palestinians are not looking for an excuse to leave direct negotiations just two weeks after they began, an Israeli government official said Sunday, after Al-Hayat asserted the Palestinians are considering ending the talks in Jordan. Israeli envoy Yitzhak Molcho and chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat met Saturday night at the headquarters of the Jordanian General Intelligence Department in Amman for the third round of Jordanian-sponsored talks since Jan. 3. The Palestinians say Jan. 26 is a deadline imposed by the Quartet on the two sides last September to present comprehensive proposals on border and security issues. Israel maintains Jan. 26 is not a deadline, and the Quartet said the two sides needed to present their proposals 90 days after direct talks began. "It is not logical to think that we could solve all these issues and present proposals 21 days after the talks began," one Israeli government official said. The official said Israel was more than willing to present its proposals after 90 days. A PA official in Ramallah said the U.S. and some EU governments were putting pressure on PA President Abbas to continue the talks after Jan. 26. He said they have told Abbas the Quartet deadline clock started only when the Israelis and Palestinians began their talks in Amman two weeks ago. (Jerusalem Post)


CRITICAL EU PAPER DRAWS FIRE FROM ISRAELI OFFICIALS. Israeli diplomatic sources on Thursday slammed another EU report highly critical of Israeli policies, saying it will make the Europeans "feel good about themselves" but have no effect on the ground. The document, titled "Area C and Palestinian State Building," concludes that Israeli actions in Area C of the West Bank "continuously undermined" the Palestinian population. Area C is mostly rural and includes only 6% of the Palestinian population. "At a certain point, the Europeans are going to have to engage Israel, and not only the Palestinians, when they write these reports," one Israeli source said. "It's as if Israel does not exist, does not have its own version of events, reality, reasons, policy, or policy-making process." He said the report consisted of the EU and the Palestinians talking to themselves and then coming to conclusions that were belied by the situation on the ground. Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem pointed out that the document did not represent EU policy. (Jerusalem Post)


NETANYAHU TO BIRTHRIGHT GROUP: GO BACK AND TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT ISRAEL. On Jan. 4, Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed a Birthright Israel group: "This is your homeland, literally. This is where we all sprang up from. This is where the Jewish people forged their identity. This is where we lived for thousands of years until we were kicked out for thousands of years. And then we did something no people has done in history. A lot of people were kicked out and a lot of people disappeared. We refused to disappear and we wanted to come back to our homeland and we did, against all odds." "Go back to your respective countries and tell the truth about Israel. There's so much slander about Israel and the only way to fight a lie is to tell the truth. Tell them about a country where people are free: free to initiate, free to speak. It's a country where you can criticize the prime minister....This is a country in which Arabs have full rights, something they've been denied in all the vast lands around us. This is a country where a woman is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, a woman is a general." (Prime Minister's Office)


TERRITORIAL COMPROMISE LOSES GROUND IN ARAB SPRING. There is not the slightest chance of a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute any time soon. Western politicians who address the issue ever more urgently are not only mistaken analytically, but may well be making things worse. Spending time in Israel, it is impossible to reconcile the evidence of your eyes with the accepted international narrative about Israel. In the international media, Israel is presented as militarist and oppressive. In fact, it is the only pluralist democracy in the Middle East, the only nation where women's rights and gay rights are protected. With the unfolding of the Arab Spring, elections have greatly strengthened Islamists and Islamist extremists. These newly empowered forces would fatally undermine any serious Palestinian compromise with Israel. Naturally Hamas is fantastically empowered by the way the Arab Spring is unfolding. Israel won't make a peace deal unless it believes a Palestinian government can govern its territory effectively and prevent attacks on Israel from Palestinian territory. That is inconceivable today and all the trends of the Arab Spring make it ever more unlikely. (DAILY ALERT - The Australian)


SHARANSKY: OBAMA’S NEW CHIEF OF STAFF ‘STAUNCH ISRAEL REPORTER’. Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said that the new White House chief of staff, Jack Lew, has a "warm place in his heart that is reserved for Israel and Judaism." Sharansky said Lew would not remain indifferent to Israel. "For him, it's not just another country. His faith and bond with Israel and the Jewish people is an important part of his life." "He is a man who's open to Israel and the Middle East and has extensive knowledge on the subject. He has worked in this field for many years, and it's always good to have someone who cares and is in the know." "Lew is a great Israel supporter and has always taken upon himself to help us. The question is not whether he'll be loyal to his boss - he will be. The question is whether Israel is only an abstract thing for him...or whether it's more than that," Sharansky added. (Ynet News)


TOP U.S. SENATOR: AN ATTACK ON ISRAEL IS AN ATTACK ON U.S. "If you attack Israel, you are attacking the United States," visiting U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) said in Jerusalem on Monday. Inouye is America's senior senator, serving since 1963. "If one looks at most of this world, especially the Middle East, one country stands out as a foundation of stability and as a pillar of democracy. And at a time like this, when you have revolution in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan, thank God we have Israel," he said. Inouye, who lost an arm while fighting in Europe during World War II, and was later decorated with a Congressional Medal of Honor, dated his connection to Israel to 1951 when he was a salesman in Hawaii for Israel Bonds. (Jerusalem Post)


WILL PALESTINIAN RECONCILIATION LEAD TO A HAMAS TAKEOVER OF THE PLO? PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal reached an agreement in Cairo on 22 December on national reconciliation and a strategic partnership. A new temporary leadership was formed for the PLO, for the first time in tandem with Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Hamas' joining of the PLO does not herald a strategic shift in the movement's policy or recognition of the agreements the PLO has signed with Israel. The Hamas leadership keeps emphasizing that it seeks to take over the PLO after new elections to the Palestinian National Council and to alter the PLO platform in accordance with its own views Osama Hamdan, in charge of foreign relations for Hamas, asserted in an interview: "Whoever thinks Hamas has changed its positions and that it accepts the PLO's political platform of surrender is dreaming or fooling himself." Hamdan went on to state that "Hamas is seeking a national framework to reconstruct the PLO [and] reconsider its political platform...from the standpoint of our basic principles and rights, which do not accept bargaining, particularly [over] the liberation of our land from the river to the sea and the right of return." Hamas has reached an agreement with Abbas on adopting the "popular resistance" paradigm for the struggle against Israel. Various political elements view this position of Hamas as a sign of pragmatism, heralding a process of accepting Israel's existence including willingness to negotiate with it on a political settlement. Yet the openly stated positions of the Hamas leadership do not support this assessment. An official Hamas announcement on 27 December stated: "We underline our adherence to our right to the struggle in all its forms, particularly the armed struggle, for the removal of the occupation. The way of resistance [muqawama in the original, with a double entendre of resistance and struggle], jihad, and martyrdom for Allah [istishhad] has proved that it is the only way to forcefully attain our rights and the liberation of our land, Al-Quds [Jerusalem], and our holy places. Hamas' growing confidence stems first and foremost from the consequences of the Arab Spring, or more precisely the Islamic Spring, which has empowered the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and other countries. For years under Mubarak's regime, Egypt gave backing to the PA. Now, in the wake of the revolution, Egypt stands to become a huge source of strength for Hamas, especially once the Muslim Brotherhood forms the next government there. Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs).

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Updated: 30. december 2012 19:30:41.