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August 20, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

Jordan Convicts Two of Plotting to Kill Israeli Businessman (AP-Ha'aretz)
    Jordan's military court on Wednesday convicted Loay Shehadah, 38, and Mohammed Odatallah, 37, of plotting to kill an Israeli and sentenced them to 12 years in jail.
    The men were looking to kill Jews in Jordan and in January had headed for a factory in Irbid owned by an Israeli businessman.

PA Academic: No Jewish Connection to Western Wall - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    Shamekh Alawneh, a lecturer in modern history at Al-Quds Open University, says the Jews invented their connection to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
    "It has no historical roots," he told PA TV on Aug. 11.

African Refugee Gets Free Heart Operation in Israel - Dan Even (Ha'aretz)
    Jamal Mohamed, 18, a Sudanese refugee, on Wednesday underwent a cardiac catheterization in Holon's Wolfson Medical Center financed by the Israeli-based project Save a Child's Heart.

A Vision for the Future of Jerusalem - Interview with Nir Barkat by Annie Lowrey (Foreign Policy)
    Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat discussed his plans to revitalize the city:
    "I worked with Professor Michael Porter, from Harvard Business School, in developing an economic model. Jerusalem has to play the role it did two or three thousand years ago, as a destination for pilgrims and tourists and people who want to taste the values and the experience and the culture and the religious and the historical competitive advantages we have."
    "We have the best location in the world. The best brand in the world. Amazingly enough, if you compare where we are today to the potential of other cities - Rome has 40 million tourists a year, New York has 47 million tourists a year, Paris and London have over 40. Jerusalem has 2 million tourists. I set a goal of 10 million tourists [by] the next decade."

Saudi Women Can Drive, Just Let Them - Wajeha Al-Huwaider (Washington Post)
    I am a native of Saudi Arabia, a 47-year-old divorced mother of two teenage sons, and an employee of Saudi Aramco.
    At the border crossing from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain, I refuse to present a document signed by my male "guardian," giving his permission for me to travel. I possess such a document, but I am tired of being humiliated solely because I am a woman.
    The guardianship rules are only part of a bigger system of subjugating women. Even with the permission of a guardian, a woman may not drive a car.
    Women in Saudi Arabia may not go out without an abaya, an ugly black cloak that we have to wear on top of our regular clothes. You can imagine how great that feels in 100-degree heat.
    The writer is a co-founder of the Society for Defending Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Khamenei, Ahmadinejad Laud Iran-Syria Unity During Assad Visit
    Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has called Iran-Syria unity the symbol of resistance in the region. "The result of this unity is evident in the Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq issues and also in the entire region," he said during a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Tehran on Wednesday. Khamenei said the tide has turned in favor of the resistance. President Ahmadinejad said, "Today the world has realized that Western theories are not working anymore and that is why it needs the help and cooperation of Syria and Iran."
        Assad congratulated Ahmadinejad on his victory in the June 12 presidential election, saying, "I have come here today to congratulate you and the Iranian nation. I believe what happened in Iran was an important event and a great lesson for foreign powers."  (Tehran Times-Iran)
  • Momentum Slows for Israel's Security Barrier - Linda Gradstein and Howard Schneider
    Cost overruns, court rulings and a decline in violence have led Israel to slow construction of the West Bank security barrier, and many analysts predict the project will not be completed. The last substantial work on the barrier was finished in 2007. While 40% of the barrier's 420-mile planned route remains unfinished, Israeli military officials and politicians credit the barrier with a decline in suicide bombings originating from the West Bank. The last one was 18 months ago. (Washington Post)
  • Australian Holocaust Denier Jailed for Three Months - Steven Lewis and Peter Wertheim
    In a legal first, Australia's most notorious Holocaust denier, Fredrik Toben, has been jailed for three months following the failure of his appeal for contempt of court arising from breaches of Australia's anti-vilification laws. The sentence follows seven years of Toben repeatedly ignoring court orders requiring him to remove racist material from his Adelaide Institute website.
        According to the Federal Court, Toben's website suggested the Holocaust did not occur, that there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz, that Jewish people who believed in the Holocaust were of limited intelligence and that they have exaggerated the number of Jews killed during World War II to profit from what he described as "a Holocaust myth."  (The Australian)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S. Jews Blast Mubarak's "Shameful" Policy on Sudan - Cnaan Liphshiz
    One hundred Jewish leaders and Holocaust scholars have harshly criticized Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in a letter to the Egyptian embassy in Washington, for "giving the red carpet" on July 12 to his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for the mass killings in Darfur in western Sudan. "We hope to persuade President Mubarak that Bashir deserves to be isolated and arrested," said Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in Washington. (Ha'aretz)
  • Al-Qaeda-Style Islamism Comes to Gaza - Jonathan Spyer
    Hamas' suppression of the Jund Ansar Allah group in Gaza last week highlights the growth of al-Qaeda-style Salafi Islamism among a segment of the Palestinian population. Jund Ansar Allah did not emerge suddenly, or in a vacuum, and its defeat does not mark the final word on this matter. A myriad of small, armed Salafi groupings exist in Gaza, part of a broader subculture estimated to command the loyalty of at least 50,000 people and probably many more.
        The Taliban style of dress adopted by supporters of Salafism is becoming increasingly familiar in Gaza. Salafi activity is reportedly well-financed, with money coming in from the Gulf. As one source put it, "millions of petrodollars are flowing in every month." Most experts believe that the al-Qaeda network is present to only a very limited extent in Gaza. The al-Qaeda idea, however, is flourishing, with a large number of Salafi groups competing to be considered the "official franchise" of al-Qaeda in Gaza. The writer is a senior researcher at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Talking to the Enemy - Bret Stephens
    It is the declared policy of the Obama administration that the U.S. should talk to enemies as well as friends. So why not talk to al-Qaeda? It's not as if al-Qaeda isn't willing to deal. "Whether America escalates or de-escalates this conflict, we will reply in kind," Osama bin Laden said in 2002. Bin Laden renewed his offer in 2006, and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri made it again earlier this month. But aren't al-Qaeda's demands outrageous, and nonnegotiable to boot?
        Iran is bargaining over a nuclear program that it has no right to possess. In America, we prosecute extortion rackets. We don't recognize, as an unalterable fact, the rights of local mafias to hold neighborhoods hostage. We do so because we know that to do otherwise is to import the law of the jungle into civil society. The world at large is not America, and we can't bust every extortion racket in it (though we can bust a few). But neither are we obliged, by self-interest or self-respect, to be played by every extortionist who comes our way, seeking the prestige of our company and the things we have to offer in exchange for being kept safe from harm. This is why we know better than to talk to al-Qaeda. This is why we should know better than to talk to the Irans and North Koreas of the world. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Is Obama Wasting His Time Trying to Court the Saudis? - Michael Crowley
    In Obama's first seven months, the Saudi kingdom has stymied or stalled administration efforts on multiple fronts - from the peace process to Iraq to Guantanamo. The White House is scrambling to win cooperation and avoid affront, but, in the end, the problem may simply be that Obama needs the Saudis more than they need him. It's true that the Saudis fear Iran and welcome U.S. efforts to stop its nuclear program. But the Saudis are equally suspicious that Obama will cut a deal with Tehran that leaves Riyadh feeling more threatened than ever by Shia power.
        At the same time, the industrialization of China and India means that the Saudis have plenty of other customers for their oil. And, if there's anything that motivates King Abdullah and his kin above all else, it is fear of an uprising by the Saudi "street." That means that the Saudis will always take care to champion - and demagogue - the Palestinian cause, making them difficult partners in pursuing Middle East peace. (New Republic)
  • Cracking Down on Iran's Illicit Trade - Michael Jacobson
    Iran's aggressive search for U.S. technology, particularly for its military programs, is quite evident from the number of U.S. export control prosecutions over the past several years. One of the major problems is that few other countries take this issue as seriously as the U.S. Most countries, including some of Iran's major trading partners, do not devote significant resources to investigating or prosecuting export control violations. In Germany, for example, a public prosecutor has stated that his country has only uncovered "the tip of the iceberg" of the black market activity involving Iran's nuclear program. In fact, media reports suggest that certain goods leaving Germany are bound for Iran's defense industrial complex with little inspection at the border.
        Success depends on better understanding how Iran is procuring illegal goods - with its various front companies and agents around the world - and mobilizing other countries to move forward on this front. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Observations:

    Why Is Palestinian Recognition of Israel as a Jewish State Important? - Shlomo Avineri (Ha'aretz)

    • Prof. Shimon Shamir says: "It is not our concern if Egypt defines itself as Islamic, Arab, African or pharaonic. We recognize Egypt as a political entity." Based on this premise, Shamir makes the case that we are not to demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. Yet the analogy is not valid.
    • Israel has never called into question the existence of the Egyptian political entity. On the other hand, the Palestinians, through their rejection of the UN Partition Plan, refused to recognize the Jewish state and embarked on a war to destroy it. This is, after all, the root of the conflict. Indeed, the Palestinian narrative is based on the rejection of the existence of a Jewish nation state in any part of the territory they call Palestine.
    • If you declared war against the Jewish state, does not the signing of a peace treaty with that state obligate you to accept it? This does not mean the Palestinians are asked to accept the Zionist narrative, but it is incumbent upon them to alter their narrative, which rules out the existence of a Jewish state.
    • This is exactly what Israel did at Camp David and Oslo. Under the terms of binding international agreements, Israel committed itself to recognizing "the legitimate rights of the Palestinian Arab nation." Menachem Begin was the first to do this. This is not tantamount to relinquishing the Zionist narrative, it is a willingness to accept the legitimacy of a competing narrative and to seek a compromise. We only ask of the Palestinians that which we ourselves have done in the past.
    • The ferociously negative response of the Palestinians was an expression of a deep, internal ideological truth that to this day refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish people's right to self-determination.
    • Peace is made between enemies. The Palestinians fought the Jewish state, and if they truly and sincerely wish to forge peace, they must be willing to come to terms with the Jewish state, and to do so explicitly, without stuttering.

      The writer, professor of political science at Hebrew University, is a former director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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