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July 30, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

UK Funding Political Activity in Israel - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    British spokesman Martin Day said in an interview in Dubai with Al-Arabiya television last week that the British government finances "projects aimed at halting [Israeli] settlement activities....We also finance organizations that monitor settlement activities."
    Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, "We can't recall any other case of a democratic country funding political activities inside another democratic country."
    "How would the British feel if another country funded political activities of groups within the UK?" he asked.

Iraq Raids Camp of Exiles from Iran: Move Seen as Sign Tehran Is Eclipsing American Influence - Ernesto Londono and Greg Jaffe (Washington Post)
    Iraqi troops and police carried out a bloody raid Tuesday on the camp of an Iranian opposition group that the U.S. has long sheltered, marking the Iraqi government's boldest move since it declared its sovereignty a month ago and offering the latest sign that American influence is waning as Iranian clout rises.
    The Mujaheddin-e Khalq, or MEK, has supplied information about Iran's nuclear program to the U.S., but the group has long been an irritant to the Islamic republic, which has repeatedly asked the government of neighboring Iraq to expel MEK members.
    The way Baghdad deals with the group is widely seen as a signal of whether Iraq is more heavily swayed by Iran or by the U.S.
    Kenneth Katzman, a senior Iraq expert at the Congressional Research Service, called the raid "very serious" and said it was disturbing that it coincided with U.S. Defense Secretary Gates' visit.
    Clashes continued Wednesday. Provincial governor Abdul Nasir al-Mahdawee of Diyala province said eight Iranians were killed and at least 400 were injured.

Arab Responsibility for Palestinian Refugees - Marcus and Zilberdik (Hudson Institute-New York)
    An Arab resident of a refugee camp recounted the reason why his family left Israel in 1948 in an interview broadcast on PA TV on July 7, 2009:
    "The radio stations of the Arab regimes kept repeating to us: 'Get away from the battle lines. It's a matter of ten days or two weeks at the most, and we'll bring you back to Ein Kerem [near Jerusalem].'  ...And now 50 years have gone by."
    Contrary to the Palestinian myth that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were deported by Israel in 1948, the vast majority of the Arab exodus from Israel was voluntary, and the result of orders by the Arab leadership.

Useful Reference:

Prime Minister Netanyahu Addresses the National Defense College (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Lobby Probe Linked to Anti-Semitism - Bill Gertz
    A long-running FBI espionage probe of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington appears to have been motivated in part by anti-Semitism, Larry Franklin, a former Pentagon official, told the Washington Times. Franklin said he had cooperated for ten weeks with federal agents conducting the probe, taping his conversations with officials of AIPAC and the Israeli Embassy. "One agent said to me, 'How can an Irish Catholic from the Bronx get mixed up with all these...,' and I finished the sentence for him: 'Jews?' And I proceeded to tell him that Christ and all the Apostles and even his mom were Jewish," Franklin said in an interview. "That [anti-Semitism] dimension was part of this investigation and may have been an initial incitement of this investigation," he said.
        Franklin said he is a "practicing Catholic." "I guess I embraced Pope John Paul II's view that the Jewish people are our elder brothers, and there was never any prejudice in my family and should not be in my faith," he said. (Washington Times)
  • Israel Stopped Jihad Suspect's Family in 2007 - Mike Baker
    Israel denied entry in 2007 to members of a North Carolina family that includes three men accused of plotting to execute terror attacks in foreign countries, an Israeli security official confirmed Wednesday. Daniel Boyd, 39, spent three years traveling to the Middle East, secretly buying guns, and leading a group of men planning to kidnap, kill and maim people abroad, according to an indictment released Monday. Boyd's wife, Sabrina, told a Raleigh newspaper that he and one of his sons were denied entry to Israel and detained for two days. (AP-Greensboro [NC] News and Record)
  • Rocket-Battered Israeli Border Town Enjoying Calm - Aron Heller
    Six months after Israel ended its offensive against Gaza militants, the people of the rocket-scarred Israeli border town of Sderot are enjoying their calmest stretch in recent memory. The rocket attacks that made life unbearable have all but stopped. Playgrounds are filled with children on summer vacation, stores are bustling and the town's public swimming pool is open for the first time in five years. While some 220 rockets were fired at southern Israel since the Gaza offensive ended in January, the last rocket attack on Sderot was May 19.
        That compares to 7,865 rockets and mortars fired on southern Israel since Israel withdrew from Gaza in September 2005. At least 4,000 of those hit Sderot, making life miserable and increasingly dangerous. Eight people were killed and hundreds were wounded. Many in Sderot said they believe the current calm won't last, and that Hamas was using the tranquil period to prepare for another round of fighting. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel to Allow Cement, Metal Pipes into Gaza - Barak Ravid
    Israel plans to transfer several hundred tons of cement and other construction materials, including metal pipes, into Gaza to implement a UN plan for ten construction projects. The materials will be transferred for use solely in the approved projects and will not be handed over to Hamas. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Netanyahu: Israel Won't Fully Open Gaza Border Crossings Until Captive IDF Soldier Is Released - Barak Ravid
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones in Jerusalem Wednesday and told him that Israel would not fully open the Gaza border crossings until captive Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit was released. Shalit was kidnapped in a June 2006 cross-border raid. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Says Can't Expand UNIFIL Authority in Lebanon - Yitzhak Benhorin
    The Obama administration said it does not hold the power to expand UNIFIL's authority in south Lebanon. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice told Congress that while UNIFIL enjoys limited power, its presence still has some value. Last week Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev said the explosion at a Hizbullah weapons cache has verified that the Shiite group is "building new military infrastructure south of the Litani River." UNIFIL is permitted to operate in coordination with the Lebanese army, but not independently. Rice said that UNIFIL failed to properly investigate the blast because it lacks the authority to apply force. (Ynet News)
  • Ex-Arafat Aide Guilty in Karine A Case
    An IDF military court in the West Bank has convicted Yasser Arafat's former financial aide Fuad Shubaki of illegal arms dealing, as well as organizing and financing the Karine A weapons boat, which the IDF caught carrying advanced weaponry in the Red Sea as it was making its way to Gaza in 2002. Shubaki was also convicted of bankrolling terror attacks and providing funds for the Aksa Martyrs' Brigades terror group. He coordinated the purchase and subsequent shipment of the arms from Iran, and also channeled money to Fatah terror cells, in both cases acting on direct orders from Arafat.
        Shubaki told Israel Security Agency interrogators that Arafat had diverted millions of dollars in international aid and taxes transferred to the PA by Israel to purchase large quantities of weapons and fund Palestinian terrorism. He revealed that several senior Palestinian officials were involved in the allocation of the money for military purposes including Jibril Rajoub - head of the PA Preventative Security Force in the West Bank. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Obama Discovers Engagement's Limits - Michael Gerson
    The Iranian regime's reaction to engagement was to cut the ribbon on a nuclear enrichment facility, add centrifuges, conduct a fraudulent election, and kill and imprison a variety of political opponents. Obama's diplomatic hand has been extended for a while now. Fists remain clenched. This is not because some magical diplomatic words remain unspoken. It is because of the nature of oppressive regimes themselves.
        Such regimes are often internally preoccupied. Precisely because they lack genuine legitimacy, they spend large amounts of time and effort maintaining their fragile authority. They tend to make calculations based on internal power struggles, not some rational calculation of their external image and interests. They are so inwardly focused that they do not have, as Secretary of State Clinton said, "any capacity" to respond to engagement. And the inherent instability of oppressive regimes also leads them to tighten control by invoking threats from abroad - particularly from the U.S.. Because anti-Americanism is a central commitment of Iranian ideology, any softening of this resentment requires a kind of voluntary regime change. By attempting to engage Iran so visibly, Obama is dramatically exposing the limits of engagement - and building the case for confrontation. (Washington Post)
        See also Iran Turns Inward, Silent on U.S. Outreach - Nasser Karimi and Lee Keath (AP/Washington Post)
  • The Military Solution to Rocket War Works - Michael J. Totten
    In early 2006 an Israeli intelligence officer told me, "Missile war will replace terrorist war." He was right. Just a few months later, Hizbullah launched thousands of Katyusha rockets into northern Israel and forced hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee south toward Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. In the Second Lebanon War, south Lebanon was punished much more thoroughly than northern Israel. In Gaza, Hamas ramped up its own rocket war until fed-up Israelis gave Gaza the south Lebanon treatment this past December and January. Now, seven long months later, the rockets out of Gaza have finally stopped. Israelis will no longer put up with indiscriminate attacks on their houses and schools. Many Palestinians in Gaza have likewise had their fill of Hamas' self-destructive campaign of "resistance."
        A pattern has emerged that should be obvious to anybody. After Israeli soldiers withdraw from occupied territory, Israeli civilians are shot at with rockets from inside that territory. Another pattern has just been made clear. After Israelis shoot back, the rockets stop flying. Rocket war doesn't work, but the military solution to rocket war does. (Commentary)
  • The Mount of Olives in Jerusalem: Why Continued Israeli Control Is Vital - Nadav Shragai
    The Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, that the Palestinians demand to transfer to their control, is the most important Jewish cemetery in the world. The area has constituted a religious and national pantheon for the Jewish people and the State of Israel, containing the tombs of the illustrious dead of the nation over the course of 3,000 years. Previous Israeli governments that consented to discuss arrangements in Jerusalem with the Palestinians rejected their demand to transfer the Mount of Olives to PA sovereignty and control. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Tough on Israel: Why President Obama's Battle Against Jewish Settlements Could Prove Self-Defeating - Editorial (Washington Post)

    • One of the more striking results of the Obama administration's first six months is that only one country has worse relations with the U.S. than it did in January: Israel. The new administration has pushed a reset button with Russia and sent new ambassadors to Syria and Venezuela; it has offered olive branches to Cuba and Burma.
    • But for nearly three months it has been locked in a public confrontation with Israel over Jewish housing construction in Jerusalem and the West Bank. To a less visible extent, the two governments also have differed over policy toward Iran.
    • After Mr. Obama chose to insist on an absolutist demand for a settlement "freeze," Palestinian and Arab leaders who had accepted previous compromises immediately hardened their positions; they also balked at delivering the "confidence-building" concessions to Israel that the administration seeks.
    • If he is to be effective in brokering a peace deal, Mr. Obama will need to show both sides that they can trust him - and he must be tough on more than one country.

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