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August 25, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

Swedish Newspaper Reported for Racial Agitation (The Local-Sweden)
    The newspaper Aftonbladet has been reported to the Swedish Chancellor of Justice after publishing an article claiming alleged organ harvesting of dead Palestinians by Israeli defense forces.
    Chancellor Goran Lambertz is the only prosecutor with the power to take legal action in cases concerning freedom of speech and the press.
    In a written request submitted on August 23, the Chancellor was asked to consider whether the Aftonbladet article constitutes racial agitation.
    In Swedish law the charge of racial agitation is defined as a crime involving the public dissemination of statements which threaten or express contempt for one or more identified ethnic groups.
    See also Palestinian Family Denies Telling Journalists Israel Stole Organs - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)

Israeli TV Broadcasts Footage of Hamas Men Executing Islamists - Yanir Yagna and Anshel Pfeffer (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli TV channels 2 and 10 on Monday broadcast video showing Hamas forces firing at members of an Islamic extremist group in Gaza during an armed confrontation on Aug. 15.
    In two scenes, Hamas forces appeared to be executing captives by gunfire at close range. The blurred, jumpy video was taken by a cell phone from across the street.
    At least 24 people were killed after Hamas forces surrounded a stronghold of the extremist group Jund Ansar Allah.

Hamas to Expel Gaza Schoolgirls Not Wearing Muslim Dress - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
    Female students in Gaza will be required to wear head coverings and full-length robes beginning this school year, the Hamas rulers of Gaza announced Monday.
    The ministry also has ruled that male teachers cannot teach in girls' schools and women are not allowed to teach at boys' schools.

Venezuelan Jews No Longer Feel Safe - Daniel Shoer Roth (Miami Herald)
    The number of Jews in Venezuela has dramatically decreased since Hugo Chávez came to power.
    The number of students in private Jewish schools has dropped 50% in a decade.
    Uncertainty has intensified Venezuela's Jewish emigration in the last six months, which in turn is reflected in the Hebrew schools in Miami, where there has been a significant increase in Venezuelan students.

Born Lebanese, Raised Israeli - Tal Moise (Israel Defense Forces)
    Staff Sergeant "A" is a child of parents who served in the South Lebanon Army (SLA). He escaped to Israel with his family when the IDF pulled out of Lebanon in 2000.
    Today he serves in the IDF as an aircraft technician and feels a sense of belonging to Israel.
    "I grew up here and I want to protect the place where my family lives....I lived here for almost ten years and throughout that entire time, IDF soldiers protected me; now it's my turn," he says.
    "I know of other sons of former SLA members who joined the army, as well as girls doing voluntary national service."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Germany Threatens Energy Sanctions Against Iran
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the first time on Friday threatened energy sanctions against Iran if it fails to step up cooperation with the international community on its nuclear program. "If there is no progress, we would have to react with further sanctions," Merkel told the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "What is clear is that Tehran, whose president constantly questions Israel's right to exist, must not get the atomic bomb."  (AFP)
        See also "We All See the Clock Ticking" - Interview with Israeli Intelligence Chief Dan Meridor
    "I think Iran shouldn't be allowed to become a nuclear power. This is not only an issue for Israel but for the whole world. It would be a victory for the extremists over the moderates in the Arab world....One shouldn't forget that Iranian President Ahmadinejad has repeatedly spoken about the illegitimacy of Israel and its destruction. But we should concentrate now on harsher sanctions against Tehran, with America leading the way. And we are counting on the Europeans to follow with serious actions. This includes Germany, which is one of Iran's very important trading partners."
        "We hope [the peace process] will resume, and we have some hopeful signs. But, all in all, it has become more difficult over the years because of the introduction of religion into this conflict. Arab rulers hated us in the past, but they did it because of nationalistic ideas. Since the (1979) revolution in Tehran, we hear a different tune: The Iranians, Hizbullah and Hamas fight us in the name of religion. This is very bad because people can compromise, but gods never compromise."  (Der Spiegel-Germany)
        See also "The West Must Not Fall into the Trap that the Iranians Are Setting for It": A Warning by Israel's Former UN Ambassador in a New Book
    The West must not fall into the trap set for it by the Iranians - this is the main recommendation of a new book The Rise of Nuclear Iran by Dore Gold, published Tuesday. Gold quotes a speech given by a senior Iranian official at a closed meeting in which he boasts that under the mantle of negotiations Tehran conducted with the British, French and Germans, the Iranians managed to complete the construction of new nuclear facilities, leading to a large stock of enriched uranium. Gold assesses that according to all the indications, the internal crisis in Iran after the last election will more likely lead to a policy of escalation by Iran and not more moderate action in foreign policy. (Israel Today-Hebrew)
        See also Nuclear Iran Looms in the Future - Interview with Dore Gold (FOX News)
  • Fayyad: PA to Bypass Peace Talks, Establish State within Two Years - James Hider
    The Palestinian Authority intends to bypass failing peace talks and establish its own de facto state within two years, Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, said. "We have decided to be proactive, to expedite the end of the occupation by working very hard to build positive facts on the ground, consistent with having our state emerge as a fact that cannot be ignored. This is our agenda, and we want to pursue it doggedly." "It is empowering to even think that way," said Fayyad. (Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Won't Give Up Jerusalem Sovereignty - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in London on Monday for meetings with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and U.S. Mideast mediator George Mitchell. A senior source in the Prime Minister's Office said that Israel would not accept any limitations on its sovereignty in Jerusalem, Israel's capital. Likewise, the official said the prime minister would continue to insist in his talks with Mitchell that normal life in the settlements continue to be accommodated. Officials in Netanyahu's entourage continued to lower expectations in advance of the Mitchell encounter, saying that although there has been a degree of progress in the discussions leading up to the meeting, a "breakthrough" was not expected. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Red, White and Blue in Ramallah - Daoud Kuttab
    In downtown Ramallah, International Youth Day was celebrated this year sponsored by America. The red, white, and blue logo of USAID with the words "From the American people" appeared everywhere including on the back of participants' T-shirts. Only a few years ago anti-American slogans used to be the norm at almost all Palestinian youth-led demonstrations. So I decided to conduct my own unscientific poll to learn what has changed.
        The answer can be summarized in two words: Barack Obama. The new president has done more to change America's image among Palestinians than any policy declaration. Other Palestinians stated that they have had it with the constant, intense political rhetoric. While no one was any less nationalistic, many said they were not willing to wait forever for political change and that there is more to life than following the never-ending political discourse. The writer, a Palestinian journalist, is general manager of Community Media Network Radio Al Balad. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Expect More Adventurism from Iran - Mohamad Bazzi
    Shortly after the rigged election and popular uprising in Iran, a seductive conventional wisdom emerged in Western policy-making circles: The Iranian regime would be significantly weakened by internal problems and would abandon its regional ambitions. This is wishful thinking. The best way Iran's clerical hierarchy and military apparatus can shore up their Islamic and populist credentials, and maintain their grip on power, is to engage in more adventurism abroad. It is unlikely that the ruling clique can win back its legitimacy at home, but it will try to burnish its populist credentials abroad. Otherwise, the entire facade of an axis of resistance will crumble.
        President Obama should be careful not to overemphasize the notion of splitting Syria away from Iran. The Syrian-Iranian alliance has endured for more than 25 years. It cannot be undone lightly. The writer is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a journalism professor at New York University. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Ahmadinejad's New Cabinet: Loyalists and Radicals - Mehdi Khalaji
    Ahmadinejad's first-term policies will essentially continue into his second term, as evidenced by the same people occupying key ministries and the increasing number of Revolutionary Guard and intelligence personnel taking top government positions. The writer is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Israel Presses Sweden on Organ Theft Story - Ilene R. Prusher
    In the view from Jerusalem, the Swedish government should condemn Aftonbladet, which suggested that Israel snatched the organs of Palestinians who died in their custody. In the view from Stockholm, Israel should accept that in a democracy, newspapers are free to print what they wish, and that it isn't the place of governments to interfere.
        The head of Israel's Government Press Office, Daniel Seaman, acknowledged Monday that he was holding up all requests for press credentials from Swedish nationals for rigorous, three-month investigations, claiming that some Swedish nationals asking for credentials turn out to be activists and not journalists. "The fact that they published anti-Semitic filth in their paper doesn't get anyone upset. But the fact that we will not provide credentials, that has people up in arms," Seaman says. "We don't expect an apology, but we're expecting them to do the morally decent thing by denouncing this kind of virulent anti-Semitism."  (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Observations:

    New Developments in Iran's Missile Capabilities: Implications Beyond the Middle East - Uzi Rubin (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Iran is vigorously pursuing several missile and space programs at an almost feverish pace with impressive achievements. The Iranians have upgraded their ballistic missiles to become satellite launchers. To orbit a satellite is a very complicated project. There are missile stages, and a careful guidance and control system to insert the satellite into a stable, desired trajectory. They took the Shahab, extended it a bit, added more propellant, and now they have the Safir space launch vehicle. Moreover, the Iranians built a two-stage satellite launcher, instead of the usual three stage rockets for space-lift vehicles. This is incomparable to anything we know - an impressive engineering achievement.
    • In spite of the Missile Technology Control Regime and in the face of sanctions, Iran has succeeded in acquiring the needed infrastructure and to raise a cadre of proficient scientists and engineers backed by academic and research institutes. Iranian missile technology is moving ahead of the level developed by the North Koreans.
    • The solid-propellant Sejil missile signifies a breakthrough. This missile already poses a threat to a number of European Union countries. Based on its demonstrated achievements in solid propulsion and staging, Iran will face no significant hurdle in upscaling the Sejil into a compact, survivable intermediate-range ballistic missile. A range of 3,600 km. will be sufficient to put most of the EU under threat.
    • Contrary to an initial report by U.S. and Russian scientists for the EastWest Institute, with the Sejil, Iran has demonstrated its proficiency in using solid-fuel rockets that have much shorter preparation times than do older liquid-fuel missiles.  The West must already prepare for the period in the not-too-distant future when Iran deploys nuclear warheads on its missile forces, which can be dispersed in mountainous regions of Iran and will not be easy to find.

      The writer, a recipient of the Israel Defense Prize, oversaw the development of Israel's Arrow anti-missile defense system between 1991 and 1999.

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