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March 23, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

UN: Israel Leads the World in Use of Recycled Water - Zafrir Rinat (Ha'aretz)
    A UN report presented at the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul on Sunday commended Israel for leading the world in the use of recycled water and desalinated water.
    Israel recycles nearly 70% of its sewage.

Man Arrested in Bomb Threat Against Chicago Jewish School - Robert Mitchum (Chicago Tribune)
    Mohammed Alkaramla, 24, a Jordanian national, was arrested Friday on a charge he mailed a bomb threat to Chicago's Ida Crown Jewish Academy in late December, after forensic investigators found his fingerprint on the letter's envelope.
    Agents also found the text of the threat letter on his laptop computer.
    Alkaramla was under investigation in the vandalism of several Chicago-area synagogues and Jewish schools in January.

Report: India Buys Israeli Spy Satellite (AFP)
    India has bought a spy satellite from Israel with day-and-night viewing capability to boost surveillance capabilities in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, the NDTV news channel in New Delhi reported Friday.
    The satellite will be launched by India in the next few weeks.
    While India's existing satellites get blinded at night and in the monsoon season, the new satellite can see through clouds and carry out day-and-night all-weather imaging.

UK Taxes "Funding Terror" - Marcus Dysch (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    British taxpayers are funding anti-Israel and extremist teaching in the Palestinian territories.
    The TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) said millions of pounds had been spent on PA-funded TV broadcasts, school textbooks and newspaper articles discouraging a two-state solution.
    The report, Palestinian Hate Education since Annapolis, concludes that money from the Department for International Development, which totaled almost £100 million in the 2007/08 financial year, is being used directly to promote hatred of Israel and the West.
    Matthew Sinclair, TPA research director, said: "British taxpayers' money must not support propaganda that incites violence in the Middle East. The government needs to accept that donations create responsibilities."
    Read the report: Palestinian Hate Education since Annapolis (TaxPayers' Alliance-UK)

New Status in Africa Empowers an Ever-Eccentric Qaddafi - Michael Slackman (New York Times)
    Forty years after he seized power in Libya, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi has achieved the international status he always craved when he was selected last month as chairman of the African Union.
    But Qaddafi remains the same eccentric revolutionary as always, blaming Israel for the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan and defending Somali pirates for fighting "greedy Western nations."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Rejects Obama's Hand of Friendship - Tim Shipman and Colin Freeman
    Speaking a day after U.S. President Barack Obama broadcast a message inviting the Iranian people to a "new beginning," the country's supreme spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, dismissed it as a "slogan." The cleric delivered his response during a speech in the city of Masshad, as tens of thousands of his followers chanted "death to America." Obama had invited Iran to "take its rightful place in the community of nations."  (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Iran's Response Shows Thinking of Its Leadership - Brian Murphy
    Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's response to President Obama was more than just a dismissive slap at the outreach. It was a broad lesson in the mind-set of Iran's all-powerful theocracy. Khamenei set the bar impossibly high - demanding an overhaul of U.S. foreign policy, including giving up "unconditional support" for Israel and halting claims that Iran is seeking nuclear arms. "Have you released Iranian assets? Have you lifted oppressive sanctions? Have you given up mudslinging and making accusations against the great Iranian nation and its officials?" Khamenei said. "He (Obama) insulted the Islamic Republic of Iran from the first day."  (AP/Washington Post)
  • Hamas Leader Welcomes Obama's "New Language"
    U.S. President Barack Obama is using a "new language" in relations with the Middle East, the Islamist group's leader Khaled Meshaal told the Italian daily La Repubblica in an interview published on Sunday. "A new language towards the region is coming from President Obama. The challenge for everybody is for this to be the prelude for a genuine change in U.S. and European policies. Regarding an official opening towards Hamas, it's a matter of time," Meshaal said. (Reuters)
  • Mayor's Vision of a Unified Jerusalem - Ethan Bronner
    Nir Barkat, elected three months ago as mayor of Jerusalem, is a self-made high-tech millionaire who refuses a salary from the city. Barkat will explain his ideas for Jerusalem during an eight-day tour of half a dozen U.S. cities, starting in Florida on Monday. For him, Jerusalem is Israel's eternal and indivisible capital. All religions must be free to worship in it, but it must never be divided. When asked his view of dividing the city so that it can serve as the capital of both Israel and a future state of Palestine, he says, "Like in business, sometimes there is one clear, simple solution to a big problem that seems obvious to everyone and is absolutely wrong."  (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Police Dismantle Terrorist Bomb at Haifa Shopping Mall - Hagai Einav
    A vehicle wired with explosives and parked outside the Lev HaMifratz shopping mall in Haifa was neutralized by security forces on Saturday evening, preventing a deadly attack. The bombs were found after a partial explosion occurred. Officers estimated the explosives at nearly 100 pounds. Police Chief Lt.-Cmdr. Roni Atiya noted: "This is an outdoor parking lot and not one of the mall's underground or multi-story parking lots, so this is a car that didn't go through a security check." (Ynet News)
  • Israel Allows Jailed Hamas Leaders to Meet on Prisoner Swap
    Israeli prison officials allowed Hamas leaders jailed at separate prisons to meet and discuss a potential prisoner swap for captured soldier Gilad Shalit on Sunday. (Ma'an News-PA)
  • UK Backtracks on Preventing War Crimes Charges Against Visiting IDF Officers - Anshel Pfeffer
    London will not push through changes in legislation that permits the arrest on war crimes charges of Israel Defense Forces officers visiting Britain, as previously promised, Jerusalem has learned. In an unofficial message to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Britain said that as a result of the decline in Israel's public image following the Gaza operation, the government believes it will be unable to pass the legislation. British law permits private citizens to press charges against foreigners on war crimes charges. "The British did make such a promise and we continue to expect that they will find a way to fulfill it," Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said on Saturday. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Video: The Abuse of Universal Jurisdiction - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Doron Almog (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Palestinian Poisoning Attack Mastermind Sent to Jail - Efrat Weiss
    Eihab Abu Rial, 22, of Nablus in the West Bank, who planned to carry out a poisoning attack at the Grill Express restaurant in Ramat Gan where he worked as a cook, was sentenced Friday by the Samaria Military Court to six years in prison. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Durban II: New Strategy Needed - Gerald Steinberg
    Faced with a growing number of countries declaring they would not participate in another anti-Semitic conference, the organizers of the UN's controversial Durban Review Conference scheduled for April 21 in Geneva suddenly changed the text. The hate language, attacks on Israel, and attempts to restrict free speech and give Islam a preferred status were removed. Should governments now agree to participate on the basis of the revised document? Or is this a diplomatic sleight of hand - a temporary change in language used to bring an end to the revolt of the democratic delegations?
        When the conference begins, Libya and Iran, with the support of Egypt, Syria, Cuba, and the rest, are expected to use their majority to restore terms like "apartheid" and Israeli "genocide." Western leaders who are inclined to declare victory and participate in the conference must first insure that, at the first sign of restoring the hate-filled language, they will all walk out together, including every member of the European Union. The writer is the executive director of NGO Monitor and chairs the political science department at Bar-Ilan University. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran Has Started a Mideast Arms Race - Amir Taheri
    The Middle East may be on the verge of a nuclear arms race triggered by the inability of the West to stop Iran's quest for a bomb. Since Tehran's nuclear ambitions hit the headlines five years ago, 25 countries - 10 of them in the greater Middle East - have announced plans to build nuclear power plants for the first time. Tehran is playing an active part in proliferation. Syria and Sudan have shown interest in its nuclear technology, setting up joint scientific committees with Iran. Tehran is also setting up joint programs with anti-U.S. regimes in Latin America, notably Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador, bringing proliferation to America's backyard.
        In 2006 and 2007 the Islamic Republic initialed agreements with China to build 20 nuclear-power stations in Iran. The first of these stations is already under construction at Dar-Khuwayn. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Iran's Axis of Nuclear Evil - John Bolton
    It is impossible to ignore Iran's active efforts to expand, improve and conceal its nuclear weapons program in Syria. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Saudi-Iranian Relations Since the Fall of Saddam
    Containment of Iran by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states is unrealistic, given the tradition of bilateral dialogue between individual Gulf states and Iran. Moreover, Saudi Arabia has shown a tendency to accommodate and engage Iran when it perceives ambiguity and confusion in U.S. policy. The Saudi overture to Iran in the wake of the 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, which was viewed in Riyadh as a downgrading of the Iranian threat, is a good example of this dynamic at work. A U.S. paradigm that views Saudi Arabia as a confrontational proxy against Iran does not reflect regional reality. (RAND Corporation)
  • Observations:

    Message to the Iranian People from the President of Israel (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

    Last week Israeli President Shimon Peres broadcast a special message to the Iranian people marking the holiday of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year:

    • The people of Israel have historical memories from the period in which Iran contributed to the world Cyrus' ancient Bill of Rights, and to the Jewish people, our right to return to our land from the Babylonian exile in order to establish the Temple in Jerusalem. Iran and its people therefore have a special place in our heritage.
    • Our relations with the Iranian people have also known good times in the modern period. We shared our experience in agriculture, industry, and scientific and medical development, and we cultivated the best possible relations.
    • To our great sadness, relations between our countries are at their lowest point. This derives from the leaders of your country, who threaten us with their intention to destroy us. I ask myself how a noble people like you can be caught up in a blind hatred like this, how you chose a leader who scorns the people who were murdered by the Nazis, and who wants to destroy and kill another country.
    • I am sure that the day is not far when we will return to good neighborly relations, and effective cooperation will blossom once again, in every arena, for the benefit of our people and our shared futures. We remember Cyrus the Great, who is noted in the Bible as the liberating king, and we remember that our people lived in Iran for many generations, sharing in the building of the land and contributing to its welfare and culture.
    • On the occasion of the new year, I turn to the noble Iranian people in the name of the ancient Jewish people, and I wish that they will return to reclaim their rightful place among the enlightened nations of the world.

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