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May 4, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

Ahmadinejad: Zionist Regime Will Be Uprooted - Dudi Cohen (Ynet News)
    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday that, "The era of aggression of the Zionist regime and its supporters has come to an end," emphasizing that "just as (Israel) was created, it can be dismantled."
    He denied Israel's legitimacy, saying that "for 60 years, they have told lies and tried to defraud nations in order to create the germ called the Zionist regime."
    The Iranian president called for a referendum in "Palestine" and said that if Israel "doesn't accept this humane solution, the might of nations will bury them underground and bring about justice."
    He also affirmed his intent to continue the nuclear program.

Iranian Presidential Candidate Wanted in Argentina Jewish Center Attack - Jason Keyser (AP)
    Iranian presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei is wanted by Interpol in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Argentina.
    Rezaei, who led Iran's Revolutionary Guards during the country's war with Iraq in the 1980s, is on a list of five Iranian officials sought since 2007 for the Buenos Aires bombing that killed 85 people.
    He is not considered a strong challenger to Ahmadinejad in the June 12 vote.

U.S. to Reassure Allies on Iran Outreach - Lara Jakes (AP)
    U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, on a Mideast tour to soothe allies worried about Tehran's reach, said Sunday that efforts to bolster U.S. relations with Iran may still ultimately face what he called "a closed fist."
    Building diplomacy with Iran "will not be at the expense of our long-term relationships with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states that have been our partners and friends for decades," Gates said.

Life in Gaza Not Back to Normal (Economist-UK)
    Three months after the ceasefire in Gaza, repair work has yet to begin.
    The Israelis let in food and medicine, but they still bar building materials such as concrete, steel and pipes, saying they fear that Hamas and other militant groups would use them to build bunkers or rockets that they still sometimes fire at nearby Israeli towns.
    Bitterness against Hamas is brewing. Many Gazans do not accept the party's official view that the war was a great victory.
    Instead, many now blame Hamas for recklessly dragging them into a futile war that devastated their already beleaguered territory.

Syria Tightens Internet Monitoring (Reuters/Ynet News)
    Syrian authorities have tightened their "mighty grip" on the media and Internet since ties improved with the West last year, Mazen Darwich, head of the Syrian Media Center, told Reuters.
    Syria blocked 225 Internet sites last year, up from 159 in 2007, including several Arab newspapers and Amazon, Facebook and YouTube.

The Politics of Intimidation in Venezuela - Melanie Kirkpatrick (Wall Street Journal)
    In 1998, the year Hugo Chavez was elected president, there were 22,000 Jews in Venezuela. Today the Jewish population is estimated at between 10,000 and 15,000.
    The Jews of Venezuela are fleeing to Miami, Madrid and elsewhere because of the anti-Semitism they face at home.

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  • Israel Faces a Hard Sell in Bid to Shift Policy - Ethan Bronner
    The new government of Israel is seeking to reorient the country's foreign policy, arguing that to rely purely on the formulas of trading land for peace and promising a Palestinian state fails to grasp what it views as the deeper issues: Muslim rejection of a Jewish state and the rising hegemonic appetite of Iran.
        Israel's effort to switch the discussion to Iran is likely to be met in Washington with the assertion that it is precisely because of the need to build an alliance to confront Iran that Israel must move ahead vigorously with the Palestinians as well as with the Syrians. "It will be a lot easier to build a coalition to deal with Iran if the peace process is moving forward," said a senior American official. When a senior American official was told that the Israelis did not view the Iranian and Palestinian problems as linked, he replied, "Well, we do."
        Prime Minister Netanyahu is expected to tell President Obama at their meeting in Washington on May 18 that ultimately the goal was a Palestinian state, but that such a state was far in the future because Palestinian institutions and economic development required a great deal of work - as well as investment from Arab states - and that Palestinian education and public discourse needed to be more oriented toward coexistence. (New York Times)
        See also Top Obama Aide: Ability to Confront Iran Depends on Progress with Palestinians - Yitzhak Benhorin
    White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told AIPAC leaders Sunday that the ability to confront Iran depended on the ability to make progress on the Palestinian front. He said the foundation for an agreement must be security for Israel and a sovereign state for the Palestinians.
        Despite reports on a "softening" in the American approach towards Hamas, Emanuel said the U.S. expects Hamas to accept the international Quartet's principles - recognizing Israel and past agreements and renouncing terror. (Ynet News)
        See also below Observations: Israeli Concessions Will Not Soften Iran, They Will Have the Opposite Effect - Interview with Israeli Minister for Strategic Affairs Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Will Accept Palestinian State, Rejects Syria Talks - Gwen Ackerman and Jonathan Ferziger
    "We do want to see peace and do understand that long-term peace and stability will entail a two-state solution," Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said in an interview Sunday. Israel will honor the previous government's commitments and accept the 2002 Roadmap peace plan, which calls for the creation of a Palestinian state, he said. However, "under the present circumstances I think it would be ill-advised," for Israel to hold talks with Syria. "We would like to have assurances that at the end of the day the Syrians will stop supporting terror and also, no less importantly, the very radical regime in Tehran." Iran is "trying to derail" any progress toward peace, Ayalon said, by supporting Hamas in Gaza and Hizbullah in Lebanon. (Bloomberg)
  • U.S. Drops Case Against Former AIPAC Lobbyists - Jerry Markon
    Federal prosecutors Friday abandoned an espionage-law case against two former lobbyists for a pro-Israel advocacy group. In asking a judge to dismiss charges against Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, formerly of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), officials said recent court rulings had made it unlikely that they would win. The two men were charged in 2005 with conspiring to obtain classified information and pass it to the Israeli government and journalists from the Washington Post and other news organizations - the first civilians not employed by the government charged under the 1917 espionage statute.
        Rosen said Friday that the case was politicized and pushed by government officials "who have an obsession with leaks...and an obsession with Israel and the theory that it spies on America."  (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Michael Oren: Israel's Next Ambassador to U.S. - Roni Sofer
    Dr. Michael Oren has been appointed Israel's ambassador to the U.S., replacing the current ambassador, Salai Meridor. The U.S.-born Oren, a senior fellow at the Jerusalem-based Shalem Center, immigrated to Israel in the 1970s. He is the author of Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East and Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present. (Ynet News)
        See also About Michael Oren - Dan Gordon
    Michael Oren is a major in the same reserve unit in the IDF in which I serve as a captain. I can tell you a bit about the man. I have served in two wars with him. (American Thinker)
  • Missile Defense Forces Prepare for Iranian Threat - Yaakov Katz
    Air Force reservists who operate the Arrow and Patriot missile defense systems have begun spending one day a week on duty to sharpen their skills, amid fears that in a conflict with Iran, dozens of long-range missiles would be fired at Israel. "We are preparing for barrages, split warheads and other surprises and therefore we need to retain a high operational level by everyone, including reservists," a top IAF officer said. The scenarios that are drilled include the firing of large barrages at Israel from different countries at once, and the need for the operator to decide which missile to intercept first and at what stage of its flight.
        Meanwhile, the French newspaper L'Express reported Sunday that Israeli fighter jets recently conducted a drill above the Strait of Gibraltar, some 3,000 km. from Israel, included a mid-air refueling drill. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The AIPAC Case Fallout - Editorial
    Four years, millions in legal fees and a half-dozen conspiracy theories later, the Justice Department dropped its case against the two former AIPAC staffers. Now where do Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman - and everyone else besmirched, including California Democrat Jane Harman - apply to get their reputations back? Attorney General Eric Holder deserves credit for dropping the charges, though we wish he had also announced that the case should never have been brought.
        The core of the prosecution's case concerns a memo sent to the men from Defense Department analyst Larry Franklin - now serving a 12-year prison sentence - about internal White House deliberations on Iran policy. The government also used Franklin (whose main offense was taking classified documents home) to plant an apparently bogus story with Weissman claiming that American and Israeli lives were in imminent danger. The planted story, putting the defendants in a moral quandary - share classified information and save lives; keep it secret and let people die - is the worst form of entrapment. This prosecution needs to be understood in the context of the aftermath of the Iraq invasion and the swirl of conspiracy theories about "neocon" and Jewish influence over U.S. policy. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Answers Sought in Ex-AIPAC Staffers' Case
    U.S. Jewish leaders want answers as to why two former AIPAC officials were targeted for a federal investigation. Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of President of Major American Jewish Organizations, questioned "the justification" for the case and the decision to bring charges under a law that had barely been used in more than 90 years. "You don't want to reopen the whole case, but you have to look at the damage that was done," Hoenlein said. Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said information revealed in the pre-trial process has "raised grave concerns that a serious injustice and abuse of power was involved in this case." (JTA)
        See also U.S. Made Right Call Dropping Bogus Israel Spy Case - Editorial (New York Daily News)
  • Will Iran Respond to U.S. Engagement? - Michael Rubin
    Every U.S. president has sought rapprochement with the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, all presidents discover they are powerless to resolve differences with Tehran when Iran's leadership does not desire it. The Islamic Republic is an ideological entity. It roots sovereignty not in the will of its citizens but upon the notion that the supreme leader acts as a place holder for the Hidden Imam. To deflect responsibility for failure, it pays to have an enemy to rally masses around the flag. Iran's leadership has determined that the U.S. - the "Great Satan" - is it.
        Meaningful rapprochement would mean the regime's demise. Therefore, Iranian authorities impose ever more obstacles. Ahmadinejad's recent speech at Geneva and the arrest of Iranian-American journalist Roxanna Saberi are just the beginning. The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. (
  • Observations:

    Israeli Concessions Will Not Soften Iran, They Will Have the Opposite Effect - Interview with Minister for Strategic Affairs Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon (Jerusalem Post)

    • There are people who believe that the way to deal with Iran is by solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The widespread conception is that the way to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is by Israeli withdrawals. I believe that this whole idea is wrong at its core. If you solve the Israel-Palestinian conflict, it will not stop or even soften the Islamic jihadists.
    • The Islamic revolution did not erupt because of us. Al-Qaeda was not created because of us and even Hizbullah did not rise up because of us. The Muslim Brotherhood was also established without connection to us. It was established in 1928 when there wasn't a State of Israel. It was not even a response to Zionism. Therefore, this whole connection is completely superficial.
    • In addition, the attempt over the last 16 years to solve the conflict with territorial concessions has been proven wrong, since the conflict is not just territorial and over the definition of the borders and size of Israel but rather is about our right to exist.
    • After Israel left Lebanon, Hizbullah grew stronger. The same happened following the Gaza withdrawal, when we were told that we would achieve quiet since we would neutralize the Palestinians' raison d'etre. Instead, we got a stronger Hamas and a Hamastan in Gaza.
    • When you withdraw and surrender to the Islamic jihadists, you are essentially providing them with a victory. Therefore, anyone who thinks that Israeli concessions and withdrawals will solve the conflict and will soften the Iranians' position is wrong. It will have the opposite effect.

          See also A New Strategy for the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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