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DAILY ALERT

August 31, 2009

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In-Depth Issue:

Welcome to Camp Hamas - Arnon Ben-Dror (IDF Spokesman)
  700 summer camps for children and teenagers were run by Hamas this summer in the Gaza Strip. Operating under the slogan, A "Victory for Gaza – The Glory of Jerusalem," the camps trained Hamas' next generation. In the same area many summer camps are operated by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) – the main "competition" of Hamas’s summer camps. Hamas reacted by accusing the UNRWA camps of being "child corrupters" and tried to discourage the parents from sending their kids to the foreign aid organization's camp. According to Arab and Palestinian media, 100,000 children and teenagers participated in Hamas camps this year.


Siemens Buys 40% Stake in Solar Company Arava Power - Ehud Zion Waldoks (Jerusalem Post)
  German industrial giant Siemens signed a $15m. investment agreement with Israeli solar power company Arava Power on Thursday at Kibbutz Ketura. The agreement gives Siemens a 40-percent stake in the company, with the controlling 60% remaining in the hands of the local firm. It is the largest-ever foreign investment in a solar development company in Israel.


Arafat Arms Smuggler Imprisoned (BBC News)
  An Israeli military court has sentenced a former aide of the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, to 20 years in prison for weapons trafficking. Fuad Shubaki organized and financed an arms shipment on the Karine-A cargo ship that was intercepted by Israeli forces in 2002, the court ruled.


Madonna Lands in Israel Ahead of Tel Aviv Concerts (Ha'aretz)
  Pop music icon Madonna landed in Israel Sunday morning, ahead of her back-to-back concerts in Tel Aviv on Sept. 1 and 2.    


Israel Campus Beat Launched (Conference of Presidents, Israel Campus Coalition, JCPA)
  Forward it to someone you know on campus.


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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Puzzling Shift in Iran's Nuclear Program Is Reported - David E. Sanger and William J. Broad
    International nuclear inspectors reported over the weekend that Iran had dramatically increased its capability to produce nuclear fuel over the summer, even while slowing the pace at which it was enriching the uranium that the West fears could one day fuel nuclear weapons. The slowdown puzzled the inspectors, and Iran offered no clues about whether technical problems or political considerations accounted for its action.
      Outside nuclear experts who dissected the International Atomic Energy Agency's latest report said that if Iran's current stockpile of low-enriched uranium were further purified, it would have nearly two warheads' worth of bomb fuel. Some U.S. intelligence officials have suggested that Iran is trying to build up enough centrifuges that it could "break out" of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty at any moment and produce weapons fuel. (New York Times/St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
        See also Iran's Nuclear Program Has Military Aspects, Says IAEA - Yossi Melman
    According to a new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, there are military aspects to Iran's nuclear program. Among details was an indication that a foreign scientific expert helped Iran in their efforts to develop a "metallic hemisphere," a reference to a nuclear bomb. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Text of the IAEA Report (IAEA)
  • Lockerbie Bomber "Set Free for Oil" - Jason Allardyce
    The British government decided it was “in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” to make Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, eligible for return to Libya, leaked ministerial letters reveal. Gordon Brown’s government made the decision after discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had hit difficulties. These were resolved soon afterwards. A Ministry of Justice spokesman said trade considerations had been a factor in negotiating the prisoner exchange deal. The spokesman claimed the deal was ultimately “academic” because Megrahi had been released on compassionate grounds. (Times -- UK)
  • Iraq al Qaeda Militant Says Syria Trained Him - Muhanad Mohammed
    Iraq aired a confession from a suspected al Qaeda militant Sunday who accused Syrian intelligence agents of training foreign fighters like himself in a camp before sending them to fight in Iraq. The videotaped accusations, aired by Baghdad security spokesman Qassim al-Moussawi in a news conference, could worsen a row between Iraq and Syria over accusations that Syria supports Islamist militants responsible for attacks in Iraq. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also "Bombs Hampering U.S.-Syria Resolution" - Herb Keinon
    A spate of deadly bombs in Iraq this month that killed dozens of people has also significantly hampered the U.S.-Syrian rapprochement, according to assessments reaching Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Former Prime Minister Olmert Indicted - Aviad Glickman
    The State Prosecutor's Office filed official corruption charges against former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Sunday. The indictment includes charges of fraud, breach of trust, falsifying corporate records and tax evasion, as well as a charge of fraudulently obtaining benefits to which the State attributes aggravated circumstances.
      In an official statement issued Sunday night, Olmert's attorneys said that they were "sorry, but not surprised, to learn of the indictment against former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. We are now gearing to prove his innocence."  (Ynet News)
  • NATO Interest in Iran Increasing - Yaakov Katz
    NATO's interest in Iran has dramatically increased in recent months as the Islamic Republic works to upgrade its ballistic missiles and increase their range so they can penetrate deep into Europe, according to officials at the Western military alliance. The NATO interest in Iran at this stage focuses mostly on intelligence gathered around the world regarding the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Mortars Fired towards Sderot - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in north Gaza fired at least two mortars towards Sderot Sunday evening, but there were no reports on injury or damage. On Saturday night Israel Air Force jets bombed a tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip. The tunnel was aimed at allowing terrorists to infiltrate Israel and carry out an attack against civilians or soldiers. The attack was a response to the firing of a Qassam rocket from the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday morning. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Palestine Problem Hopeless, But Not Serious - Spengler
    "The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable," declared President Barack Obama in his June 4 Cairo address. Really? Compared to what? Things are tough all over. The Palestinians are one of many groups displaced by the population exchanges that followed World War II, and the only ones whose great-grandchildren still have the legal status of refugees. Why are they still there? The simplest explanation is that they like it there, because they are much better off than people of similar capacities in other Arab countries.
      GDP per capita in the West Bank and Gaza comes to $3,380, much higher than in Egypt and significantly higher than in Syria or Jordan. Why should any Palestinian refugee resettle in a neighboring Arab country? Other data confirm that Palestinians are highly literate, richer and healthier than people in most other Arab countries, thanks to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and payments of Western as well as Arab governments. As refugees, they live longer and better than their counterparts in adjacent Arab countries. It is not surprising that they do not want to be absorbed into other Arab countries and cease to be refugees. (Asia Times)
  • Cynicism Prevails for Vote-Hungry Officials in Sweden and Israel - David Stavrou
    There's no proof of anything in the Aftonbladet story, no real investigation and no news value whatsoever. It's a bizarre combination of speculation, unconfirmed testimonies and half truths from 17-year-old, washed up stories. Israelis are right in claiming this is the stuff blood libels against Jews were always made from. But that, I think, is not the point here. It's more important that this is the stuff a certain kind of modern journalism is made from.
      Aftonbladet makes racist attacks disguised as legitimate political journalism. Theirs isn't traditional anti-Semitism based on religion (the Jews killed Jesus). It isn't even modern anti-Semitism (the Jews are rich and control the world). This is post modern anti-Semitism. It's all about ratings. It sells newspapers. Nobody cares about the truth because it's subjective anyway.
      To be fair, Foreign Minister Bildt and Sweden's political establishment didn't have to limit freedom of speech; they weren't requested to close down Aftonbladet or to censor it. All they needed to do was to say they don't believe the allegations and they see them as provocative and irresponsible. Instead of that, Bildt chose to distance himself from Sweden's ambassador to Israel who did exactly that. He did the math: no one gains political points in Sweden from pleasing Israel. Quite the opposite. (The Local - Sweden)
  • What Obama Is Missing in his Policy on Israel - Erielle R. Reshef
    Several misconceptions have permeated American foreign policy in the Middle East. First, that applying pressure on Israel will placate its adversaries enough to bring them to the negotiating table. Second, that an Israeli settlement-freeze is the key to unlocking peace in the region. Third, that an American-imposed agreement will take hold. Fourth, that there is a Palestinian government capable of striking and implementing a peace deal on behalf of all Palestinians. President Obama’s insistence on the ripeness of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for solution is fundamentally miscalculated. With whom should Israel sign a peace deal? A hasty American solution will only lead to unsustainable peace and deepened hostility. The writer, from Oklahoma City, is a student at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. (Oklahoman)
  • Observations:

    Israel, Iran and Obama - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency has produced another alarming report on Iran's nuclear program. Meanwhile, Iran intends to introduce a resolution that would ban military attacks on nuclear facilities.
  • The mullahs understand that the only real challenge to their nuclear ambitions is likely to come from Israel. They've long concluded that the U.N. is no threat, as IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has in practice become an apologist for Iran's program. They can also see that the West lacks the will to do anything, as the Obama Administration continues to plead for Tehran to negotiate even as Iran holds show trials of opposition leaders and journalists for saying the recent re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was fraudulent. The irony is that the weaker the West and U.N. appear, the more probable an Israeli attack becomes.
  • The reality that Western leaders don't want to admit is that preventing Iran from getting the bomb is an Israeli national imperative, not a mere policy choice. That's a view shared across Israel's political spectrum. Israelis can see the relentless progress Iran is making toward enriching uranium, building a plutonium-breeding facility and improving on its ballistic missiles — all the while violating U.N. sanctions without consequence.
  • This threat has only increased in the wake of Iran's stolen election and crackdown. The nature of the regime seems to be changing from a revolutionary theocracy to a military-theocratic state that is becoming fascist in operation.
  • Israel also looks warily on the Obama Administration's policy of diplomatic pleading with Iran, which comes after six years of failed diplomatic overtures by the European Union and Bush Administration. In its first seven months, the Administration has spent more diplomatic effort warning Israel not to strike than it has rallying the world to stop Iran.

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