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February 12, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran Not Running Out of Uranium (AP/International Herald Tribune)
    Iran on Wednesday denied a London Times report that it was running out of raw uranium or seeking to buy uranium from abroad to sustain its nuclear program.
    An Atomic Energy Organization of Iran official said Iran has its own uranium mines to extract ore, which are sufficient.
    Iran's principal source of uranium is its Saghand mine, which has the capacity to produce 132,000 tons of ore per year.
    Iran also has had a considerable stock of uranium ore concentrate, known as yellowcake, acquired from South Africa in the 1970s.

Iran to Try Bahais for Spying for Israel (AFP)
    Iran will soon try seven members of the banned Bahai religion on charges including "espionage for Israel," the IRNA news agency reported on Wednesday.
    The EU has expressed "serious concern about the continuing systematic discrimination and harassment of the Iranian Bahais on the grounds of their religion."

Nobel Winner Defends Israel's Actions - Ronan McGreevy (Irish Times)
    Nobel prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg told an Irish audience Wednesday that Israel was the "most exposed salient" in a war between liberal democracies and Muslim theocracies.
    He said the conflict between Israel and Hamas was part of a wider conflict that included the Madrid, London and Mumbai bombings, all of which had nothing to do with Israel.
    Weinberg said no country would have behaved differently had it been subject to the rocket attacks on civilians faced by Israel.

Pro-Palestinian Group Fabricates Story of Anglican Church Divestment - Jonny Paul (Jerusalem Post)
    The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) claimed this week that the Church of England had last year removed a £2.2 million investment from Caterpillar for doing business with Israel.
    However on Wednesday, a Church spokesman said the Church's Ethical Investment Advisory Group had looked at the issue in 2005 and 2006, and had voted both times against divesting.
    In October 2008, the Church Commissioners made the decision to dispose of their holdings in Caterpillar for financial reasons, connected to the current economic crisis.

Asia's Jewish Myths - Ian Buruma (The Australian)
    A Chinese bestseller titled The Currency War describes how Jews are planning to rule the world by manipulating the international financial system.
    One of the great ironies of colonial history is the way in which colonized people adopted some of the same prejudices that justified colonial rule.
    Anti-Semitism arrived with a whole package of European race theories that have persisted in Asia well after they fell out of fashion in the West.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Now Sees Iran as Pursuing Nuclear Bomb - Greg Miller
    Little more than a year after U.S. spy agencies concluded that Iran had halted work on a nuclear weapon, the Obama administration has made it clear that it believes there is no question that Tehran is seeking the bomb. Obama's nominee to serve as CIA director, Leon E. Panetta, testified on Capitol Hill last week, "From all the information I've seen, I think there is no question that they are seeking that capability."
        Senior U.S. officials now discount a National Intelligence Estimate issued in November 2007 that was instrumental in derailing U.S. and European efforts to pressure Iran to shut down its nuclear program. U.S. officials said there was growing consensus that the 2007 estimate provided a misleading picture and that the country was poised to reach crucial bomb-making milestones this year. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Israeli Rivals Share Tough Line on Hamas and Iran - Amy Teibel
    Israel's new coalition government - whether led by Benjamin Netanyahu or Tzipi Livni - is likely to take a tough line when it comes to the Islamic militants of Hamas and the potential threat of Iran's nuclear program. Both threaten harsh military action against Hamas if rocket fire from Gaza persists and reject negotiations with Hamas. They also agree the Hamas regime should be toppled. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also White House: Obama Eager to Work with Israel after Elections
    The White House praised the Israeli elections as a sign of a strong democracy, as spokesman Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that President Obama looks forward to working with the next prime minister of the U.S. ally. "President Obama looks forward to working with whoever makes up that next Israeli government in a search for lasting and durable peace in the region," Gibbs said. (AP)
  • UNRWA Under Fire in Gaza and Washington - Ron Kampeas
    UNRWA, the massive UN bureaucracy that administers assistance to the Palestinians, is locked in a battle in Washington with those who say the agency should be shut down because it has been co-opted by radicals. They challenge not only the legitimacy of UNRWA but the refugee status of the 4.3 million Palestinians it is charged with serving. In the U.S. Congress, Reps. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) are reviving their campaign to cut U.S. funds to UNRWA until it comes clean about what the lawmakers say are its irregularities and its coziness with terrorists. The U.S. provides between a fifth and a quarter of UNRWA's annual budget. (JTA)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Election Arithmetic Favors Netanyahu - David Horovitz
    For all the confusion prompted by the near parity of Kadima and Likud in Tuesday's election, and even before the final tally of soldiers' votes, one of the most critical pieces of arithmetic is straightforward. Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu can reasonably hope to build a narrow coalition majority with "natural" allies and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni cannot. Netanyahu can probably block Livni; Livni probably can't block Netanyahu. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel Goes to the Polls - Editorial
    However the political jockeying plays out, Israelis have once again reaffirmed their commitment to a democratic process that, for all its imperfections, will eventually produce a representative, responsible and lawful government. If only the same could be said of the Palestinians and the rest of Israel's neighbors, on whom any hopes for a lasting peace must ultimately rest. (Wall Street Journal)
  • IDF Responds to Palestinian Mortar Fire with Airstrike in Gaza
    Israeli planes on Wednesday struck a Hamas post in Khan Yunis in Gaza in response to Palestinian mortar fire at Israel earlier in the day. "As the sole authority in the Gaza Strip, Hamas bears full responsibility for all terror activities originating within its area of control," the IDF said. Approximately 40 Kassam rockets, mortar shells, and Grad missiles have been fired at Israel since a cease-fire with Hamas took effect over two weeks ago. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel's Election Winner: Peace Skeptics - Benny Avni
    Israeli voters Tuesday threw a wrench into the plans of the world's peace processors - President Obama included. The winners were those who presume that as long as Iran and its proxies are armed and ready to fight, no amount of uprooted Jewish settlements will bring peace. Israeli voters are disillusioned with U.S. special envoys. They know most Palestinians agree with Hamas, which rejects the existence of any Jewish state and vows to fight it to the end. They expect that, even if peace talks somehow near a deal to concede Israeli-controlled land, Iran will surely spoil the deal by getting Hamas or Hizbullah to attack - or perhaps by using its own growing nuclear and missile threat. (New York Post)
  • Assessing the Obama Mideast Team - Steven J. Rosen
    We now have most of the nominees for the key Mideast positions in the Obama White House and the State and Defense departments. None of the people announced up to now is known to bring a pronounced "Arabist" perspective, nor to be a consistent critic of Israel, nor to be an apologist for Iran, Syria, Hizbullah or Hamas. Obama is assembling a team of intelligent centrists with a realistic, pragmatic approach. None is starry-eyed and romantic about the Arabs. Many have extensive experience with Israel and some understanding of its strategic position. On the other hand, nowhere is there a true hawk either. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran: A Normal Nation or a Vehicle for Universal Messianic Revolution? - Amir Taheri
    Every U.S. president has tried to placate the mullahs, with no success. The reason is that since 1979, Iran has been torn between its reality as a nation state and its dream as the vehicle for a universal messianic revolution. As a nation state, Iran has no objective reason to be an enemy of the U.S., a fact reflected in the abiding popularity that America enjoys among Iranians. As a revolutionary force, however, Iran must regard the U.S. as its No. 1 enemy because the U.S. is the only power capable of resisting the global ambitions of the Khomeinists.
        Official Iran is not any kinder to Islam than to the West. For the first time in almost 14 centuries, Islam is being scripted out, its place taken by an ersatz faith based on the cult of the "supreme guide," the return of the "hidden imam," and dreams of world conquest. As the embodiment of the Khomeinist revolution, the country is a threat to regional stability and world peace. Obsessed by the concept of "exporting the revolution," the Khomeinist ruling elite devotes vast resources to undermining the established order in neighboring countries.
        The change of behavior that President Obama has called for could only come when Iran reasserts itself as a normal nation state bound by international law and custom. (Times-UK)
  • Beyond Belief - James Bennet
    Once, as the second intifada was nearing its height, I met with a Hamas man in Gaza City to talk about suicidal killing. He had written his master's thesis on martyrdom. Unlike other Hamas leaders, he had actually sent one of his own children to his death, in an attack on an Israeli settlement. To him, suicide bombings were valuable, not just because they could kill Israelis but because they confounded the unbelieving world, signaling "that we no longer love this life."
        Matter-of-factly, he told me that the Palestinians might have to sacrifice half the rising generation to drive the Israelis out and rule all Palestine again. He wound up sacrificing most of his own family. Israel killed the Hamas man, Nizar Rayyan, in January by dropping a bomb on his house. (Atlantic Monthly)
  • Observations:

    Hamas, Not Israel, Should Be Tried for War Crimes - Alan Dershowitz (Jerusalem Post)

    • There are efforts now underway to try to bring Israel before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on charges of alleged war crimes. Neither Israel nor the U.S. has signed on to this court, primarily out of fear that its power would be used against democracies that try their best to avoid war crimes, rather than against dictatorships and terrorist nations that routinely engage in them.
    • Were it now to open an investigation of Israel, the ICC would be violating its own rules which mandate that the court will not become a substitute for domestic courts. There is no country in the world that has a judicial system that is more open to charges against its own government. Moreover, Israel has a completely open and very critical free press, which is constantly exposing Israeli imperfections and editorializing against them.
    • In addition, the IDF has legal teams that must approve every military action taken by the armed forces. There is no country in the world that goes to greater lengths in its efforts to conform its military actions to international law. As retired British Colonel Richard Kemp recently noted, there has been "no time in the history of warfare when an Army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties...than [the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza]."
    • The same Rome Statute that established the ICC also describes many of Hamas' actions during the war, such as attacking Israeli civilians and using Palestinian civilians as human shields, as war crimes. Any fair investigation by the ICC would have to conclude that Israel's efforts to prevent civilian casualties, while seeking to protect its civilians from Hamas war crimes, rank it at the very top of nations in compliance with the rule of law. If anything, Hamas belongs in the dock, not Israel.

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