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Daily Alert

Friday, May 6, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Shares Anti-Tunnel Tech with U.S. (Middle East Newsline-IMRA)
    Israeli teams have been briefing U.S. government agencies on technology and methods to detect tunnels from neighboring Mexico. The Israeli briefings were based on anti-tunnel operations against Hamas in Gaza.
    "The Israelis are testing methods and technology and sharing this with their American partners, who are financing this project," a source said, adding that Israel believes it has reached a breakthrough in detecting border infiltration tunnels from Gaza.
    "There are many similarities between the terrain along Gaza and that near the Mexican border," the source said.
    The U.S. Homeland Security Department is working to sponsor tests of an Israeli tunnel-detection system, dubbed "Iron Dome Underground," at points along the southern U.S. border with Mexico.
    Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) said: "Tunnels are a threat to American bases and embassies around the world, and are already a serious threat on our own southern border. For all these reasons, it only makes sense to partner with Israel, like we have done on missile defense, to learn with them about how to defend against tunnels."




Poll: Americans Sympathize More with Israel (Pew Research Center)
    As has been the case for decades, the American public expresses more sympathy toward Israel than the Palestinians - by 54% to 19%.
    Among Millennials (born after 1980), 43% report sympathizing more with Israel, while 27% are more sympathetic to the Palestinians.
    The share of this group sympathizing with the Palestinians has risen from 9% in 2006 to 20% in July 2014 to 27% today, while the share sympathizing with Israel has changed little.
    Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) and those in the Silent generation (born 1928-1945) sympathize more with Israel by about four-to-one.
    Generation Xers (born 1965-1980) sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians by roughly three-to-one (54% vs. 17%).




Report: Islamic State Anthrax Plot Foiled in Kenya - Ty McCormick (Foreign Policy)
    Kenyan authorities claim to have foiled a "large-scale" biological terrorist plot by militants linked to the Islamic State.
    Police arrested Mohammed Abdi Ali, a medical intern at the Wote District Hospital in southeastern Kenya, last Friday. Two other medical interns identified as co-conspirators have gone into hiding.
    Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet said Tuesday that the terrorist network "has links to" the Islamic State and "planned to unleash a biological attack in Kenya using anthrax."




Iranian Ministry of Culture Cooperates with Holocaust Cartoon Contest (MEMRI)
    Massoud Shojaei Tabatabaei, the secretary of the third International Holocaust Cartoon Contest in Tehran and of the two previous contests, said that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was speaking for himself when he denied any connection between the Iranian government and this event.
    On April 27, in an interview with the Iranian website Nasimonline, Tabatabaei explained that the organization he heads "cooperates with the Ministry of Culture" and that everyone in the regime "knows that this exhibition is highly respected. Therefore, the foreign minister's statements are not in line with the Ministry of Culture."
    On April 29, exiled Iranian journalist Aida Qajar wrote on Iranwire, "Zarif was not telling the truth, or at least not the whole truth. The fact is that this competition has the official backing of the Iranian government, and the government has helped with its preparation."
    "The foreign minister [asked]... 'Why does the U.S. have the Ku Klux Klan? Is the government of the U.S. responsible for the fact that there are racially hateful organizations in the U.S.?' But, of course, Zarif ignored the main point:...The U.S. government does not fund the activities of the KKK."




Is Al-Qaeda about to Establish an Emirate in Northern Syria? - Charles Lister (Foreign Policy)
    For the past three years, an unprecedented number of veteran al-Qaeda figures have arrived in Syria in what can only be described as the covert revitalization of its central leadership on Europe's doorstep.
    Now the jihadi group's Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front - having spent five years building deep roots in the country - is laying the groundwork for al-Qaeda's first sovereign state.
    The presence of a militarily powerful and socially accepted al-Qaeda emirate in northern Syria, led by several dozen veteran al-Qaeda figures and heavily manned by local Syrian fighters, could have significant consequences for Syria and for international security.
    The writer is a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute.




The Islamic State's Pyramid Scheme - Mokhtar Awad (Combating Terrorism Center-West Point)
    With a presence in Libya and the Sinai secured, the Islamic State is taking steps to destabilize mainland Egypt by steadily making inroads in the vast Western Desert, Upper Egypt, and Greater Cairo.
    A new network of Islamic State-affiliated cells that has been operating in Giza is the latest effort to bring armed insurgency closer to the capital and Nile Valley.
    Given recent trends, there is a real possibility in the coming years that the Islamic State could consolidate its militants' efforts and escalate insurgency in mainland Egypt.
    The writer is a research fellow at George Washington University's Program on Extremism.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Top U.S. Intelligence Official: ISIS Can Stage Europe-Style Attacks in U.S. - Nicole Gaouette
    Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN that ISIS has the capability to stage a Paris-style attack in the U.S. using local cells to strike in multiple locations and inflict dozens of casualties. "That's something we worry about a lot in the United States, that they could conjure up a raid like they did in Paris or Brussels."
        ISIS would "either infiltrate people or incite people who are already here," he said. "We've already seen some cases of that." Clapper assessed that there are now eight provinces of the Caliphate that ISIS has claimed to have established and several other "nascent provinces that are striving, it appears, to be considered full-up members of the Caliphate."  (CNN)
  • Young Jews, Aging Survivors Walk March of the Living to Birkenau
    Holocaust survivors and thousands of young Jews from 40 nations made the annual remembrance march from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Thursday. Organizers of the March of the Living said about 10,000 people attended, including 150 Holocaust survivors and members of Israel's parliament. Many draped themselves in Israeli flags. Participants walked the 3 km. from Auschwitz's barracks to the Birkenau extermination complex.
        At least 1.1 million Jews were murdered at Birkenau during World War Two. Historical records show that 6 million European Jews perished under the Nazi German genocide led by Adolf Hitler. (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
        See also Speaking for the Dead at the March of the Living - Ilan Evyatar (Jerusalem Post)
  • Gaza Sewage Poisons Coastline, Threatens Israel - Fares Akram and Daniella Cheslow
    Each day, millions of gallons of raw sewage pour into Gaza's Mediterranean beachfront, turning miles of once-scenic coastline into a stagnant dead zone. The sewage has damaged Gaza's limited fresh water supplies, decimated fishing zones, and is now floating northward and affecting Israel as well. "Gaza beaches are completely polluted and unsuitable for swimming and entertainment, especially in the summer," said Ahmed Yaqoubi of the Palestinian Water Authority.
        Steen Jorgensen, country director for the World Bank in the West Bank and Gaza, said his office built a $73 million sewage treatment plant nine years ago. The facility, meant to treat 1/5 of Gaza's sewage, would be operational if it had a reliable power supply.
        Disagreements between Hamas and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority over fuel taxes have left Gaza's power plant functioning at reduced capacity. Israel says it supplies 125 to 140 megawatts of power a day to Gaza. "The decision of distributing the electricity falls under the responsibility of the Palestinians," said COGAT, the Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian affairs.
        Israel Water Authority spokeswoman Ilana Keren said an Israeli desalination plant near Ashkelon, 10 km. north of Gaza, was shut in January and February "because of the quality of the raw water." Most of the waste is consumed by algae, but a buildup of algae can block filters at the desalination plant, Israel's Environment Ministry said, adding that a recent check of the water quality off Ashkelon found the beaches suitable for bathing. (AP-ABC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Mortar Fire Continues on Gaza Border - Noam Amir
    The Israeli Air Force struck targets in Gaza in response to a continued mortar assault on IDF forces on Friday. Mortar shelling of IDF forces began on Wednesday as the IDF discovered an additional Hamas tunnel from Gaza into Israel. (Maariv Hashavua-Jerusalem Post)
        See also Report: IDF Responds to Gaza Mortar Attacks with Artillery Fire
    Palestinian media reported Friday that IDF artillery had begun shelling Hamas installations following some 20 mortar attacks from Gaza that began Tuesday and targeted IDF troops at the border fence between Gaza and Israel. (Times of Israel)
        See also Will Hamas Risk an Escalation? - Ron Ben-Yishai
    Hamas leaders have begun to understand that the IDF has finally developed a way to locate the attack tunnels that they dug underneath the border from Gaza into Israel. The IDF is undertaking intensive and accelerated operations and has already discovered at least two tunnels. Hamas leaders found themselves with a severe dilemma: Do they act immediately via their tunnels before they lose their main strategic asset? Or do they refrain from operations for now and search for other methods to surprise Israel in the next round?
        The military wing of Hamas still isn't ready for another round of fighting with Israel on the scale of the summer 2014 war. Moreover, with the damage of that war not yet repaired, Hamas fears a major confrontation with Israel at the present time might trigger a popular uprising against it.
        The continued mortar fire is Hamas' way of sending a message to Israel: If you keep looking for our tunnels, a war will break out. Yet the IDF hasn't slowed down its tunnel detection efforts for a moment. With the permission of the prime minister, the defense minister and the cabinet, the operations have been increased, the forces strengthened, and detection efforts heightened. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Arrested Hamas Tunnel Expert
    Mahmoud Atawnah, 29, from Jabalia in Gaza, was arrested in April after crossing the border fence into Israel armed with two knives, the Israel Security Agency revealed on Thursday. He disclosed during interrogation that he intended to kill the first Israeli he encountered.
        A member of Hamas' Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Atawnah provided the ISA with information on tunnel routes and the use of private homes and institutions to hide tunnel entrances. Atawneh described a sophisticated network of tunnels which includes rest areas, showers and dining areas. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Stabbing Attack Thwarted in Hebron - Elisha Ben Kimon
    A Palestinian, 26, from Hebron was arrested by Border Police on Friday near the Cave of the Patriarchs after he was found to be carrying a knife. He admitted his intention to carry out an attack against soldiers. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Palestinians

  • In Whose Name Does Hamas Dig? - Jonathan S. Tobin
    The independent Palestinian state in-all-but-name run by Hamas terrorists that exists in Gaza has lobbed thousands of rockets at Israeli towns and cities and has dug tunnels in order to facilitate cross-border kidnapping and murder raids. For those activists determined to help isolate Israel or to disassociate Americans and Jews from its measures of self-defense, why the silence about Gaza terror? In whose name does Hamas dig?
        After Israel's withdrawal from Gaza - the exact thing that Israel's critics have said they wanted - rather than being transformed into an incubator for peace and economic development, Gaza became a large terrorist base. The other curious result of Israel's Gaza withdrawal was that it had absolutely no impact on the Jewish state's critics.
        The overwhelming majority of Israelis see the Gaza experiment as proof that, in the absence of evidence that Palestinians want a peace that will end the conflict for all time, a similar withdrawal in the more strategic West Bank would be insane. Hamas' platform calls not merely for the destruction of Israel but also for the eviction of its Jewish population. Hamas sees Tel Aviv as being every bit as much of a Jewish "settlement" that needs to be dismantled the same way the communities that were left behind in Gaza in 2005 were taken apart. (Commentary)
  • Protecting the Status of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem - Nadav Shragai
    The Temple Mount, where the First and Second Jewish Temples once stood, is the holiest place for the Jewish people. Today, two famous houses of prayer - the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock - the third holiest site for Muslims - reside on the Temple Mount.
        The status quo on the Temple Mount was established in the first days after the Six-Day War of 1967, but over the years it has undergone many changes. The impact of the two waves of terror instigated by the Palestinians in 2014 and 2015 on the status quo on the Temple Mount is the major focus of this study. Forty-nine years after the establishment of the status quo, realities on the Mount have changed dramatically, greatly enhancing the status of Muslims and deeply eroding the status of Jews. The writer, a journalist and commentator at Ha'aretz and Israel Hayom, has documented the dispute over Jerusalem for thirty years. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Mahmoud Abbas: West Bank Strongman - Grant Rumley
    Amid all the preparations for a French-led conference on Israeli-Palestinian peace in the next year, Western officials continue to turn a blind eye to the increasingly autocratic tendencies of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. In the past year alone, Abbas has cracked down on journalists, teachers, and political rivals without serious rebuke from Europe or the U.S.
        Since the collapse of the U.S.-led peace negotiations in 2014, as the Obama administration withdrew from day-to-day Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, Abbas gradually tightened his hold on Palestinian civil society. He is now 11 years into a four-year term, and he recently issued a presidential decree forming a hand-picked, nine-member Palestinian constitutional court to confirm his presidential decrees.
        Abbas' increasingly tyrannical government in the West Bank does not only handicap political expression - it also sets back the very legitimacy of the Palestinian national project. The writer is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Newsweek)


  • Arab World

  • Egyptian-German Scholar Hamed Abdel-Samad: Hatred of Jews Is Poisoning Us
    In a lecture posted online on March 21, 2016, Egyptian-German scholar Hamed Abdel-Samad said: "We have had a fixation about the Jews since the inception of Islam, and this fixation refuses to come to an end. The Jews have always been small in number, but they cause us some mental reaction and we cannot get them out of our mind."
        "When I was studying in Cairo, two of the most popular books that I used to see in libraries and on the streets were Hitler's Mein Kampf, which was banned in Germany because of its racism, and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which is a forgery."
        "This hatred is poisoning us. We have wasted vast efforts on this hatred. We have invested a lot in this hatred. This hatred prevents us from dealing with our problems in a serious way. You always need an enemy on which to pin all your catastrophes. Anything that happens to you is a conspiracy. Whenever something does not work your way, the Jews are the cause."
        "We should get rid of this hatred, not for the benefit of the Jews and Israelis, but for our own sake. Instead of poisoning one generation after another with this hatred, we should let them learn something from humanity. They should overcome the barrier of hatred and of fear of the other. We should view all human beings as human beings."  (MEMRI)
  • Egyptian Salafist under Fire for Meeting with Israelis - Roi Kais
    Dr. Omar Salem, an Egyptian-American religious scholar, invited three Jewish scholars to Egypt as part of efforts to hold an interfaith dialogue. They met with Salafi leader Dr. Jiah a-Shimi, a high-ranking official in the a-Noor party, last month in a meeting which caused an uproar in the Salafi movement. The party is conducting an internal investigation regarding the event and issued a statement saying, "(the party) is against any form of normalization with this [Zionist] entity, and is against meeting with any person who represents or is connected to it."
        A-Shimi said, "I agreed to meet with them once I understood that they live in the U.S. and that they have no connection to Israel. The goal of the meeting was to show the tolerance of the Islamic religion."  (Ynet News)
  • "The Idea of Arab Nationalism Is Dead"
    "We're now in the 21st century. The idea of Arab nationalism is dead," says Khairallah Khairallah, a veteran Arab opinion-writer from Lebanon. Politically, Israel, the Arab world's first rallying cry, no longer offers much glue. The boycott on the Zionist entity has more traction in Europe than in much of the Middle East.
        After six decades of Arabization programs, the former French colonies in north Africa are abandoning the effort. Morocco is reintroducing French as the language of instruction for science and math. Algeria has declared Tamazight, the indigenous Berber tongue, an official language. The former British colonies in the Middle East seem to be doing much the same with English. A survey last year confirmed that young Arabs in the Gulf use English more frequently than Arabic. (Economist-UK)
  • The Middle East's Fading Frontiers - Thanassis Cambanis
    France and Britain agreed in secret on May 17, 1916, to carve up the Middle East through the Sykes-Picot agreement, heedless of the human and political realities on the ground. The borders they drew - dictated in secret by outsiders - have continually been contested by groups convinced they didn't get a fair shake. It's high time to take stock of the de facto new states operating in the Middle East and stop pretending that the Sykes-Picot borders are even in operation. The writer is a fellow at The Century Foundation. (Boston Globe)
  • Leave Root Causes Aside - Destroy the ISIS "State" - James Jeffrey
    If the mission is properly defined, America can destroy ISIS, and must. It is possible to defeat ISIS as a "state" and as a military-economic "power" without having to solve the Syrian and Iraqi crises or eliminate ISIS as a set of terrorist cells or source of ideological inspiration. Local forces with minimal U.S. indirect support have already made progress in some areas. ISIS has fewer foot soldiers than at any time since 2014, and has problems paying its bills.
        A much more robust support package of advisers, artillery, and attack helicopters, more special-operations raids, and even more liberal rules of engagement for air strikes could generate more rapid victories. Even a messy post-ISIS situation is better than containment, given that course's dangers and costs. Until ISIS is destroyed as a state, it can still launch horrific terrorist attacks. The writer is a distinguished fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey and Iraq. (Atlantic)


  • Golan Heights

  • Israel Won't Abandon the Golan to Terrorists - Moshe Arens
    The artificial borders of Iraq and Syria delineated in 1916 by Britain and France are artificial constructs. In the Golan Heights, the border between British-mandated Palestine and French-mandated Syria was determined by British-French negotiations in 1923 that altered the lines defined by the original Sykes-Picot Agreement, moving the Golan Heights over to the Syrian side of the border.
        Israel is not going to abandon the Golan Heights. The enclave will not be turned over to the terrorists of the Islamic State, al-Qaeda or the Nusra Front, or whoever survives the Syrian bloodbath. The notion that arbitrary borders delineated by outside powers will in time become permanent fixtures is surrealistic. In time that will be recognized by all. The writer served as Israel's Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Ha'aretz)
  • Why Israel Should Keep the Golan Heights - Steve Postal
    On April 17, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a cabinet meeting on the Golan Heights, stating that the "time has come for the international community to finally recognize that the Golan Heights will remain under Israel's sovereignty permanently." He spoke these words from Ma'aleh Gamla, next to the ruins of historic Gamla, a Jewish city to which the Romans laid siege in 67 CE during the Great Revolt. His statement followed reports that the U.S. and Russia were working on a draft resolution to the Syrian civil war that would label the entire Golan Heights as Syrian territory.
        Israel has a stronger claim to the Golan than Syria does, the Golan is of essential strategic value to Israel, and given the increased threats, that value has only appreciated. Syria gained independence in 1945. Before that, the Golan was part of the French Empire (1923-1945), and before that for approximately 400 years, part of the (Turkish) Ottoman Empire. So, Syria had control of the Israeli-administered part of the Golan for 22 years (1945-1967), while Israel has had it for 49 years.
        Moreover, giving up the Golan would most likely result in it being controlled by forces hostile to Israel and the West. The Islamic State and other jihadist groups, in addition to forces aligned with the Syrian government (including Hizbullah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards), are all vying for territory adjacent to the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. On April 22, the Islamic State captured the Salam al Jawlan Dam, 17 miles from Gamla. This victory puts the Islamic State closer to Israel than Tijuana, Mexico, is to San Diego, California. (American Thinker)


  • Weekend Features

  • Knesset Holds "Every Person Has a Name" Ceremony on Holocaust Remembrance Day - Lahav Harkov
    Lawmakers and government officials read names of Jews who perished in the Holocaust at the Knesset's annual "Every Person Has a Name" ceremony for Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday. The ceremony was instituted in 1989 by then-Knesset speaker Dov Shilansky, a Holocaust survivor.
        Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel and her daughters lit a candle in her mother's name, and in memory of her relatives killed in the Jado concentration camp in Libya. Others who lit candles were Holocaust survivors Fruma Galant, mother of Construction Minister Yoav Galant, and Svetlana Sorokin, mother of MK Ksenia Svetlova. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein began the name-reading by reading the names of children who died in the Sharogorod Ghetto in Transnistria, where his grandparents and mother survived the Holocaust.
        Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, whose father, former chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, survived Buchenwald, also read the names of his grandparents and their family members who were killed. U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro read names of U.S. Embassy staff members' relatives who died in the Holocaust. (Jerusalem Post)
  • 1940s Political Cartoons Warned U.S. of Holocaust - Cathryn J. Prince
    Long before becoming a beloved children's author, Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) belonged to a cadre of American editorial cartoonists who, as early as 1933, sounded the alarm about Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Their work is featured in Dr. Rafael Medoff and Craig Yoe's new book, Cartoonists Against the Holocaust, which upends the narrative that Americans were unaware of the mounting barbarism. "The number of editorial cartoons...illustrates how widely known Hitler's atrocities were before the end of the war," said Medoff, founding director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. (Times of Israel)
  • Giving a Face to the Fallen - Robert Hersowitz
    In April 2010, Dorit Perry, a native of Jerusalem, was visiting Mount Herzl to pay her respects to her fallen fellow citizens when she noticed an unattended grave, that of Yosef Lehana. There were no details about the soldier on the gravestone. She suspected there were other graves in a similar state and approached the Defense Ministry to obtain a list of such names so that she could try to obtain the missing details. She found some 811 "faceless soldiers" who gave their lives to Israel's defense between 1940 and 1950 about whom almost nothing is known other than their names and the dates on which they died.
        Her extensive research determined that Lehana was born in Greece in 1921 to Esther and Nissim Lehana. After surviving the Holocaust as a partisan, Lehana immigrated to Mandatory Palestine in 1945. He fell in the Battle of Jenin on June 3, 1948. Perry and her team eventually succeeded in locating some of Lehana's distant relatives and friends, and a new tombstone was unveiled for him in May 2011, in the presence of then-Knesset Speaker (and now President) Reuven Rivlin.
        The discovery of Lehana's complete identity gave birth in May 2012 to the project called Giving a Face to the Fallen. Assisted by new technological tools, 18 volunteers have succeeded in restoring the full identities of at least 80 fallen soldiers, a high percentage of whom were European immigrants, many of them Holocaust survivors who were the last remnants of their families. Perry and her team are anxious to publicize their work. They still have many cases to solve. (Jerusalem Post)
  • I Am an Israeli-Arab - Udi Shaham
    Abdullah Abed al-Rahman, 26, from Abu Ghosh, runs two Facebook pages. The first, "Abu Ghosh Now," is an Arabic-language platform for the people of the village to discuss current topics and issues regarding their relations with neighboring Jews and Arabs. The second page, which he runs with Orthodox Jew Michal Julian, in Hebrew, Arabic and English, is to advance Jewish-Arabic coexistence from a Zionist point of view. "I started the page in order to create an alternative to the established media, which portrays the Arab sector as constant victimizers or victims....We never hear the sane and rational voice of the Arab sector, the one that opposes terrorism," he says.
        Abdol grew up in Abu Ghosh, where in 1948 the villagers assisted the Hagana forces to open the road to Jerusalem, and through the years many of them joined the IDF and served in public offices. "I am proud to be both Arab and Israeli," he says. "I hope that a new generation will grow up here - Jews and Arabs who want to live together and work together out of pride in our country."
        "There are rational and irrational people. While the irrational people keep fanning the flames of hatred, we, the rational ones, oppose every sort of violence and see the person standing in front of us without filters. We just want to wake up every morning like normal people do, go to work, sit at a coffee house and live a normal life."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • An Ambulance for Israel, in Memory of Olivia - Peter D. Kramer
    On May 1, Allan Rubin's family dedicated an ambulance to the memory of his wife, Olivia, a longtime ambulance volunteer in Chestnut Ridge who died four years ago. The vehicle will be sent to Israel to aid Magen David Adom, the Israeli Ambulance Service. Gary Perl, a coordinator with the American Friends of Magen David Adom, said about 75 ambulances are donated each year by Americans for use in Israel. "I like to say when you give an ambulance to the people of Israel you get a double mitzvah, a double good deed," Perl said, "because it supplies jobs for the American worker, these are GM vehicles assembled in Indiana, and then it gets shipped to Israel."
        Every other month, a freighter carries about a dozen ambulances out of Baltimore, bound for Israel. "The donation for an ambulance of this type is $100,000," Perl said. "That includes the shipping, insurance and outfitting it with all the equipment." "Donors who give $125,000 can sponsor a medical intensive care unit; those who give $175,000 can earmark it for a bloodmobile." For more information on American Friends of Magen David Adom, go to afmda.org. (Journal News-New York)
  • Happy in Israel - Dov Lipman
    According to the World Happiness Index, Israel is the 11th-happiest country in the world, which means its citizens are happier than those in the U.S. (13th place), the UK (23rd), France (32nd) and Italy (50th). In addition, our country was named the fourth-best place in the world to raise children in the 2015 Family Life Index poll. A recent report by the Health Ministry reveals that Israel's suicide rate ranks second-lowest among 28 European countries, and the suicide rate among Israeli Arabs is lower than that of Jews.
        Every person who lives in Israel plays a role in building and strengthening our relatively young state, and plays a role in the continued survival of the Jewish people and in the contribution which our nation gives to the world. I believe that this sense of purpose and meaning is what feeds the feeling of happiness and satisfaction among Israel's citizens, despite the many challenges which we face. The writer, who served in the 19th Knesset with the Yesh Atid party, is director of public diplomacy in the vice chairman's office of the World Zionist Organization. (Jerusalem Post)
Observations:

The Arab Implosion Continues - Walter Russell Mead (American Interest)

  • Last weekend, protesters loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr stormed Baghdad's government seat and occupied the Iraqi parliament. At the other end of the Arab world, more than 80 migrants are feared to have drowned close to the Libyan coast. These are just two of many stories pointing to the implosion of the Arab republics and the comprehensive failure of postcolonial political development in the "modernizing" Arab states.
  • There are many consequences to this implosion: a power vacuum that leaves the Arab world open to intervention, most recently by Russia and Iran; cultural and social crises that made fanatical jihadi movements possible; economic crisis and vast migration; the accelerating collapse of order and security; and the inability of governments to control much of their territory and the rise of quasi-independent separatist militias.
  • The U.S. has tried its hand at nation-building repeatedly. We have met with no real success, and we have no real idea what to try next. So it looks as if for the foreseeable future, the rest of the world is going to have to deal with the consequences of Arab failure without being able to do much about the underlying conditions.
  • Among the likely consequences of this reality: There will be less attention paid to the Palestinian issue as larger and more immediate problems capture the world's attention.
  • The Israeli argument that the Palestinians do not have, and cannot soon build, a functioning state structure capable of either making peace or of keeping radicals from attacking Israel after peace is signed will likely gain force within and beyond Israel.

    The writer is professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College and professor of American foreign policy at Yale University.


       
       
    Iran, Russia Working on $20 Billion Oil-for-Goods Deal - Jonathan Saul and Parisa Hafezi (Reuters)
        Iran and Russia have made progress towards an oil-for-goods deal worth up to $20 billion, which would enable Tehran to boost energy exports in defiance of Western sanctions.
        Moscow and Tehran are discussing a barter deal that would see Moscow buy up to 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil in exchange for Russian equipment and goods.
        An Iranian official said missiles would also be part of the deal, together with Russia providing assistance with building two nuclear plants in Iran.
        The White House has said such a deal would be inconsistent with the nuclear talks between world powers and Iran.




    Iran to Help Hizbullah Tighten Internal Security (Daily Star-Lebanon)
        Iranian Lt.-Col. "Mahmoud A." arrived recently in Lebanon to provide counsel as Hizbullah radically reforms its internal security apparatus.
        Hizbullah arrested one of its field commanders in Syria, after it was alleged that he was dealing with the Israeli Mossad and played a role in leaking information to agents.
        Moreover, an Iranian intelligence official known as "Habari" has relayed information about informant cells to Hizbullah.




    Questions about the Peace Process - Rick Richman (Commentary)
        Why do people have to be paid - in the form of cash, prisoners, freezes, etc. - to convince them to show up to negotiate a state for themselves?
        Why do people who have signed a formal agreement, obligating themselves not to take "any step" outside bilateral negotiations to change the status of the disputed territories, have to be paid to convince them to adhere to their agreement?




    Second Sunrise of Indian Jihad - Praveen Swami (The Hindu-India)
        The al-Qaeda ideologue Asim Umar asked India's Muslims last summer:
        "You who have ruled India for eight hundred years, you who lit the flame of the one true God in the darkness of polytheism: how can you remain in your slumber when the Muslims of the world are awakening?"
        "If the youth of the Muslim world have joined the battlefields with the slogan 'Shari'a or Martyrdom,' and put their lives at stake to establish the Caliphate, how can you lag behind them? Why is there no storm in your ocean."
        Last week's arrests of the key recruiter and the operations chief of the Indian Mujahideen has led to speculation that India's most feared terror group - responsible for savage serial bombings in major cities, including the 2006 attacks on Mumbai's suburban train system - may be disintegrating.
        But investigators have found disturbing new evidence that Umar and other propagandists are succeeding in calling a new army into being.



     

    The Israel Pledge

    We believe that the Jewish people have a right to live in their ancient land of Israel, and that the modern State of Israel is the fulfillment of this historic right.

    We maintain that there is no excuse for acts of terrorism against Israel and that Israel has the same right as every other nation to defend her citizens from such violent attacks.

    We pledge to stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel and to speak out on their behalf whenever and wherever necessary until the attacks stop and they are finally living in peace and security with their neighbors.

       
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