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April 30, 2009

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Palestinian Faces Death for Selling Land to Jews - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Anwar Brigith, 59, a Palestinian from Bet Omar in the West Bank, was found guilty of selling land to Jews by a PA "military court" on Tuesday and sentenced to death by hanging.
    The three-judge panel found the defendant guilty of violating PA laws that bar Palestinians from selling property to "the enemy."
    The judges noted that the defendant did not have the right to appeal.

In Israel, Solar Power that Won't Need Subsidies - Ilene R. Prusher (Christian Science Monitor)
    Israel has launched a unique solar farm, based on a system of rotating dishes made up of mirrors, that is capable of harnessing up to 75% of incoming sunlight - roughly five times the capacity of traditional solar panels.
    Using mirrors to reduce the number of photovoltaic cells makes the cost of solar energy roughly comparable to fossil fuels.
    Ben-Gurion University Professor David Faiman, director of Israel's National Solar Energy Center, explains:
    "By using mirrors to concentrate the sun's light, you cut down...the amount of photovoltaic material you need, and you've essentially opened the door to affordable photovoltaics."
    "The beauty of the mirror-based system is that since you have to cool it, you can get 50% more energy out of it in the form of hot water."
    "In 20 years, if we in Israel move in this direction, 60 to 70% of our electricity needs will not cost anything."

Turkey Drops Probe into Israel's Gaza Operation (Middle East Online-UK)
    A Turkish prosecutor has dropped a probe into whether Israel committed war crimes in its offensive in Gaza, the Anatolia news agency reported Thursday.
    The prosecutor said there were no grounds for prosecution after the justice ministry refused it permission to bring charges.

Yemen's Jews Uneasy as Muslim Hostility Grows - Hamza Hendawi (AP/Washington Post)
    Yemen's remaining Jews, estimated to number 250 to 400, are feeling new and sometimes violent pressure from Yemeni Muslims.
    "There is hardly a mosque sermon that's free of bigotry. The government's own political rhetoric marginalizes the Jews, and civil society is too weak to protect them," says Mansour Hayel, a Muslim Yemeni and human rights activist.
    See also Ministries Ignore Plight of Emigrating Jews - Mohamed Bin Sallam (Yemen Times)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Congress Moves to Tighten Sanctions on Iran - Dan Robinson
    One week after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Congress that the Obama administration will work to impose "crippling" sanctions against Iran, Senate lawmakers Tuesday introduced legislation to target Iran's gasoline imports, including companies supporting Iran's energy sector or insuring fuel shipments to Iran. Senator Joseph Lieberman called for "a coherent plan of action for the months ahead that has goals and schedules and teeth." The Obama administration, he added, must make clear that it does not view engagement with Iran as a process without an end. (VOA News)
        See also U.S. Won't Set Timelines for Iran Talks
    U.S. National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said Wednesday: "In terms of Iran, we are obviously looking at ways in which engagement might be fruitful and productive....But I think it's not appropriate at this time to be trying to establish timetables for this, but rather, to see how the engagement can move forward." (State Department)
  • U.S. Plans New Talks with Syria - Jay Solomon and Nada Raad
    The Obama administration is dispatching two high-level envoys to Syria in coming weeks for a second round of talks focused on securing the Iraqi border and supporting the Arab-Israeli peace process, in the latest sign of a reconciliation between Washington and Syrian President Bashar Assad's government. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and National Security Council official Daniel Shapiro will be making their second trip to Damascus in less than two months. Syrian officials said this week they hope the diplomatic thaw could lead to an easing of trade sanctions enacted by the Bush administration aimed at curbing Syria's support for militant groups in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Lebanon Frees Four Generals Held in Hariri Killing - Sam F. Ghattas
    Lebanon released four generals held for nearly four years in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri after a UN-backed international tribunal ordered them freed on Wednesday. Tribunal judge Daniel Fransen said a key witness had retracted a statement that initially incriminated the generals and there was not enough evidence to justify their continued detention. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Obama Aide: We Won't Press for Peace at All Costs - Yitzhak Benhorin
    The U.S. does not plan to pressure Israel for peace at all costs, President Obama's chief economic advisor, Larry Summers, said Wednesday at an event marking Israel Independence Day at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Summers said that during Netanyahu's upcoming visit to Washington on May 18, the two leaders would discuss peace, which he said was what everyone wanted, but not peace at all costs. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas, Fatah Deadlocked over Palestinian Unity - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Fatah and Hamas negotiators, who held "reconciliation" talks in Cairo on Monday and Tuesday, once again failed to reach agreement over the formation of a unity government, prompting the Egyptians to postpone the talks until May 16. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Poll: Israelis Positive, Optimistic on Independence Day
    The War and Peace Index published by Tel Aviv University on Independence Day found that the majority of the Israeli public is positive, optimistic and satisfied with the state of the nation. 80% of Israeli Jews polled defined their personal status as "very good" or "good," 90% said they think Israel is doing "very well" as a nation; and 81% said they were "very optimistic" or "optimistic" as to the nation's future. 81% said that given their choice of countries to live in, they would prefer to stay in Israel. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Saudis Learn to Embrace Iran - Editorial
    The specter of Osama bin Laden has faded and the Saudi people have turned against the terror network, Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former head of Saudi Arabia's intelligence service, told us Monday. Now, the prince explained, two new nightmares have emerged: that Iran will develop a working nuclear bomb, or that America will strike Iran to prevent it from having a working nuclear bomb. To the Saudi prince, Iran and America offer differing "nightmares." He proposed that the U.S should retreat from Iran's sphere of influence and either learn to live with Iran's bomb or bargain for it with Israel's safety. We suspect that the Saudis realize nothing will be done to thwart Tehran's nuclear ambitions. That means Iran's bomb is inevitable and so is the Saudis' appeasement. (Washington Times)
  • Arab Education Displays Its Discontents - Raja Kamal and Tom G. Palmer
    The Saudi religious curriculum, which couples rote memorization of texts with uncritical acceptance of tribal practices, keeps the country backward. It does not prepare students to cope with modernity, nor to be productive participants in an increasingly global economy. The greatest culprit is the suppression of critical thinking, coupled with limited and weak exposure to math and science.
        Each year thousands of students graduate from universities with degrees in Sharia (Islamic law) or Arabic literature. Thinking for oneself - a precondition of both entrepreneurship and of democratic participation - is suppressed. Raja Kamal is senior associate dean at the Harris School for Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago. Tom G. Palmer is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • America Should Rescue the Human-Rights Agenda from its Hijackers - Saad Eddin Ibrahim
    Though last week's UN conference in Geneva claimed to stand for the "inherent dignity" and "the equal and inalienable rights" of all human beings, the world's dictators were the real winners. Many official country delegates came to condemn the "colonial powers" of the West and Israel. In so doing, they sought to guard against exposing their own regimes' human-rights records.
        Most of the governments that pile on to condemn Israel and the so-called "neocolonial" West have terrible human-rights records. These include tyrannical regimes such as Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Libya, Iran, Syria and Egypt (my home country). But members of like-minded voting blocs - such as the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Organization of African Unity and the League of Arab States - comprise more than two-thirds of the UN membership votes. Together, they can railroad through any resolution, no matter how absurd. The writer, who was incarcerated by the Mubarak regime from 2000 to 2003, is now a visiting professor at Harvard. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    The Day Israel Was Born - Editorial (Ha'aretz)

    When Israel proclaimed its independence 61 years ago, Ha'aretz ran the following editorial:

    • Today Hebrew independence has been revived on the soil of Israel after 1,900 years of exile. But the bond between the people and its land was not severed, and today our ancient and rejuvenated nation, after an unexampled period of subjugation and suffering, sets about laying the foundations for a life of freedom and independence on its soil.
    • Great nations view us as an uninvited guest as we seek to take our place at the table of the nations. But no other path is available to us. Just as we reached our present status with our own might alone, so we must continue to conquer our state with our own might, in the hope and confidence that the world of power will accept us when it sees that we, too, possess the strength to safeguard what is ours.
    • Harsh times and bitter auguries lie in store for us. Many have already fallen, but many more will fall, and the boundaries between front and rear will become blurred. May we all display the valor, the readiness for sacrifice, the psychological stability amid the vicissitudes of the campaign, the faithfulness in doing our duty and the spirit of Israeli fraternity thanks to which we shall reach our sought-after destination.
    • And if we meet the test and are thus privileged, this day, a day of blood and pillars of smoke, shall be the day on which we lay the foundations for a life of security and liberty for ourselves and for our children.

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