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October 16, 2009

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Video May Prove Iran's Nuclear Intentions - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
    A secret video produced by Iranian nuclear scientists depicts a computerized simulation of the detonation of a warhead, most likely a nuclear one.
    The film was screened on Feb. 26, 2008, by Finnish nuclear physicist Olli Heinonen, the IAEA's deputy director general and head of its inspection department, for representatives of the 35 member states that constitute the IAEA's board of governors.
    Heinonen is known to oppose the conciliatory approach toward Iran that has for years been the policy of IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei.
    The video depicted a computer simulation showing a launched warhead reentering the atmosphere and exploding 600 meters above the earth's surface - the ideal altitude for detonating a nuclear bomb in order to generate the maximum degree of destruction on the ground.
    At the briefing, Heinonen noted that the type of warhead represented could fit an Iranian Shahab missile.
    In addition, Heinonen displayed documents in Farsi, which he said dated back to July 2003-January 2004, which included sketches showing a machine that can produce light-weight aluminum warheads.
    One can assume the Iranians have conducted research and calculations for weaponization - how to assemble a nuclear device - as part of a secret military nuclear program alongside their civilian one.
    Three years earlier, secret documents reached the IAEA claiming that Iran was involved in secret research for weaponization purposes.
    David Albright, a former IAEA inspector, explained last month that the scientist who smuggled out the secret data was an agent for German intelligence, who vanished without a trace soon afterward.

"Concrete Threat" of Attacks on Israelis in India - Roni Sofer (Ynet News)
    Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau on Thursday said the threat of possible attacks against Israelis in India has become "significantly more severe" since a travel advisory was issued last month.
    The bureau said there was a "concrete threat" of attacks on Habad centers and synagogues throughout India, including Goa, as well as on sites frequented by Israelis and Westerners.
    Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, the Pakistan-based terror group that carried out the attacks in Mumbai last November where six Israelis were killed, was planning to launch more attacks.

Demonstrators Protest Former Israeli Prime Minister Olmert's Visit to University of Chicago - Daarel Burnette II (Chicago Tribune)
    About 150 people from a coalition of Palestinian and Muslim organizations, waving flags and holding signs, protested the appearance at the University of Chicago on Thursday of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
    25 students were removed from the auditorium where Olmert spoke, and his speech was occasionally interrupted by hecklers.
    Protesters criticized the university for giving Olmert a platform without giving equal time to a Palestinian.
    See also Olmert Draws Protests at University of Kentucky - Jennifer Hewlett (Lexington [KY] Herald-Leader)

Gaza Replenishes Fuel Supply from Egypt Through Smuggling Tunnels - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    There is no longer a shortage of gasoline in Gaza as hundreds of smuggling tunnels bring in fuel from Egypt.
    Abu Mohammad, a taxi driver from Beit Lahiya, said the Egyptian fuel was not as good as its Israeli equivalent, but "when the price is four times less than the Israeli fuel there is no room for complaint."

Israeli Inventions that Could Shape the Next Green Century - Ehud Zion Waldoks (Jerusalem Post)
    A biomass that could replace coal, a new type of engine that runs on a fifth of the gas of the internal combustion engine, a smart faucet that saves water and energy.
    These are some of the practical, clean technologies nearing production that will be presented at the Israeli Presidential Conference: Facing Tomorrow 2009 at the Jerusalem International Convention Center next week.

The Jews in the Netherlands - Interview with Henri Markens (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
    The immigration of Muslims and the rise of Islam in the Netherlands have created problems for the Jewish community.
    There are about one million Muslims in the Netherlands and their influence on the political system is increasing.
    The Jewish community faces increasing anti-Semitism, which has led to enhanced security measures and also threatens to intensify attitudes based on fear.
    Henri Markens was chairman of the Organization of Jewish Communities in the Netherlands (NIK) and chairman of the CJO, the umbrella organization of Dutch Jewry.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • UN Row Threatens to Sink Middle East Peace Plan - Catherine Philp, Philip Webster and James Hider
    The UN Human Rights Council is expected to endorse on Friday a controversial report condemning Israel for war crimes during the Gaza offensive in January. Britain and other EU countries are planning to abstain, while U.S. officials said they would vote against the resolution. Yigal Palmor, the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, told The Times that adoption of the resolution would wreck the peace process: "It will make it impossible for us to take any risks for the sake of peace."  (Times-UK)
        See also Israel's Response to the Human Rights Council - Amb. Aharon Leshno Yaar
    Israeli Ambassador Aharon Leshno Yaar told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday: "Every person here knows that today's meeting is not about human rights....We are [here] today for another opportunity for the favorite and most infamous subject of some within this Council, Israel bashing...where politics, buried under the flag of human rights, can be waged against one state, against Israel."
        "The Goldstone accuses Israel of war crimes for having taken action to fight against Hamas - war criminals who openly call for our destruction, fired thousands of rockets against us and endangered their own population by hiding and fighting from within densely populated areas. Israel has given a substantive and clear explanation to anyone who was interested in listening." "When you next wonder why this body does not receive the respect it would like, remember this moment and you will have your answer."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • U.S. Considers a New Assessment of Iran Threat - Siobhan Gorman and Jay Solomon
    U.S. spy agencies are considering whether to rewrite a controversial 2007 intelligence report that asserted Tehran halted its efforts to build nuclear weapons in 2003 after a string of recent revelations about Tehran's nuclear program, current and former U.S. intelligence officials say. German, French and British intelligence agencies have all disputed the conclusions of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) in recent months. A senior U.S. intelligence official said the spy agencies "have a lot more information since we last did" a national intelligence estimate. "At some point in the near future, our analytic community is going to want to press the reset button on our judgments on intent and weaponization in light of [the secret enrichment plant at] Qom and other information we're receiving."
        Any timeline for negotiations could be shortened if a new NIE concludes Tehran has restarted its atomic-weapons work, officials said. The White House could also use a new report to galvanize wider international support for sanctions against Tehran. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Report: Impurities in Iran's Enriched Uranium? - David Ignatius
    Nucleonics Week reported on Oct. 8 that Iran's supply of low-enriched uranium - the potential feedstock for nuclear bombs - appears to have certain "impurities" that "could cause centrifuges to fail" if the Iranians try to boost it to weapons grade. The seeming breakthrough in negotiations on Oct. 1 in Geneva - where Iran agreed to send most of its low-enriched uranium abroad for further enrichment - may not have been exactly what it appeared. Iran may have had no alternative but to seek foreign help in enrichment because its own centrifuges wouldn't work. "The impurities, certain metallic fluoride compounds, would interfere with centrifuge enrichment" at Iran's facility at Natanz, reported the newsletter's Bonn correspondent, Mark Hibbs. If the report is accurate, the contaminated fuel Iran has produced so far would be all but useless for nuclear weapons.
        How would those impurities have gotten into the uranium feedstock in the first place? It seems that the problems reportedly arose at an Iranian plant at Isfahan that converts raw uranium into the gaseous form that can be enriched in the centrifuges. The Isfahan plant hadn't adequately removed molybdenum and other impurities. And where did the equipment at the malfunctioning Isfahan conversion plant come from? Indeed, the Iranians are probably wondering what other parts of their vaunted nuclear establishment may be prone to malfunction. (Washington Post)
  • China's Links to Iran a Snag for Sanctions - David Pierson
    Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Thursday that China was committed to deepening its ties with Iran, a declaration that underscores the difficulty the U.S. will face in seeking broad economic sanctions against Tehran in an effort to rein in its nuclear program. Wen spoke at a meeting in Beijing with visiting Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi. Undercutting hopes that China would take a tough stance on Iran now are the ever-growing economic ties between the two countries. More than 100 Chinese state firms operate in Iran, largely helping with infrastructure projects. In the face of the sanctions already in place, two-way trade between China and Iran grew 35% last year, to $27 billion. More important, China has signed an estimated $120 billion worth of oil deals with Iran in the last five years. (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • President Peres to Spanish Prime Minister: "We Do Not Need Outside Judges"
    Israeli President Shimon Peres thanked visiting Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero on Thursday for his government's recent action canceling the law that allowed putting foreign nationals - including Israeli leaders and officers - on trial in Spain. Referring to the Goldstone report, President Peres said, "Israel has investigated every war and action which it was compelled to undertake. We do not need outside judges. We will not allow a majority that is hostile to Israel to judge us. If the Human Rights Council wants to be fair, I suggest that it consider Iran's call for Israel's destruction....Why isn't Iran being investigated? Why does everyone remain silent?"  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Goldstone Report to Be With Us for a Long Time - Herb Keinon
    If the UN Human Rights Council sends the Goldstone report to the Security Council, it is widely expected that the U.S. would veto any resolution to refer it to the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC). The likely scenario is that the issue will then be taken up by the General Assembly, which, because of its automatic anti-Israel majority, will send it to the International Court of Justice in The Hague (ICJ), the body that issued a decision against Israel's construction of the security fence in 2004. Though it does not have the jurisdiction to issue criminal indictments, a negative ruling by the ICJ could give a strong tail wind to various groups in countries where there is universal jurisdiction, and where it is possible to get local authorities to prosecute Israelis.
        The conventional wisdom for the past three years is that the only way Abbas will be able to gain the upper hand from Hamas among the Palestinian public is for there to be a diplomatic process that can improve the situation for the Palestinians. But if the Goldstone report deep-freezes the diplomatic process, Hamas could very well end up the biggest beneficiary. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Bizarre Palestinian "Reconciliation Agreement" Highlights Deep Hamas-Fatah Hostility - Guy Bechor
    Can you imagine a wedding where the bride and groom don't see each other? This is the Egyptian model for the "reconciliation agreement" between Fatah and Hamas. The Egyptian argument is that the Palestinians must join forces and form a unity government; after that, Obama will step in and force Israel to establish a Palestinian state. And from there Hamas and Fatah would be able to continue doing whatever they wish vis-a-vis Israel. Be wise, the Egyptians tell the Palestinians. If you make up, you'll be able to weaken Israel. If you'll continue to quarrel, Israel will defeat you. The Palestinians are aware that their conduct is boosting Israel. Yet mutual hatred and fear of each other are greater than their hostility to Israel. (Ynet News)
        See also Hamas Spurns Plan to Reconcile with Fatah - Albert Aji
    The Syrian-based leadership of the militant Palestinian Hamas said Thursday it has rejected an Egyptian-mediated proposal to reconcile with Fatah. Hamas and seven other Damascus-based Palestinian factions issued a joint statement saying the reconciliation plan must be revised to include a reference to the Palestinian right to resist Israeli occupation. (AP)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Goldstone Report

  • A UN Show Trial - Editorial
    The misnamed UN Human Rights Council is taking up the infamous Goldstone report, which accuses Israel of war crimes during last winter's Gaza conflict. The Security Council will also debate it. The course for the White House is clear: Move fast to squash this anti-Israel ploy, before U.S. soldiers become the UN's next "war crimes" target. The report is a blatantly biased assault on Israel's right of self-defense against Hamas rocket fire. The sooner Team Obama squashes this dangerous UN move, the better the chances for peace all around. (New York Post)
  • Anti-Israeli Bias at the UN? - Editorial
    Arab states have little use for the UN, except as a cudgel with which to club Israel. They pay little attention to UN rules about the rights of children or women. They openly flout UN guidelines on free speech and fair elections. And they seek membership on human rights committees only to shield their own rampant abuses from scrutiny - and to afford the same shelter to their fellow dictatorial regimes. (National Post-Canada)
  • Where's the Goldstone Panel on Terror Attacks on Israeli Civilians? - Yoel Marcus
    The cancellation of the international air exercise with Turkey harms the strategic interests and international standing of Turkey more than Israel. Turkey's rapprochement with Syria brings it closer to the Axis of Evil than to the EU. During the battles against the Kurds in southern Turkey, the cruelty involved would not put Turkey on the list of candidates for the Nobel Prize.
        As if Israel's history of wars (about one every six years), two intifadas and many terror attacks on its civilian population were not enough suffering, Hamas rained Kassam rockets and mortar shells on communities in the south for eight years. No one spoke out against this, and no one's conscience was pricked. Moreover, Hamas fighters carried out a massacre of Fatah supporters in Gaza and the entire world watched as the functionaries of Fatah were tossed to their deaths from rooftops. Not one Islamic country demanded Hamas stop the massacre. How is it that no Goldstone panels were set up to examine the destruction Hamas sowed in Gaza or the murderous attacks that the terrorist organizations perpetrated on women and children in the heart of Israel? (Ha'aretz)

    Other Issues

  • How to Engage Iran - Editorial
    Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian human rights lawyer who won the Nobel Peace Prize six years ago, says the Obama administration policy of paying so much more attention to Iran's nuclear ambitions than to its trampling of democracy and freedom is a mistake both tactical and moral. Ebadi said, "If the West focuses exclusively on the nuclear issue, Ahmadinejad can tell his people that the West is against Iran's national interest and rally people to his cause. But if the West presses also on its human rights record, he will find himself in a position where his popular base is getting weaker and weaker by the day."
        Ebadi suggested that the nature of Iran's regime is more crucial to U.S. security than any specific deals on nuclear energy. Iran's people are not as wedded to the nuclear program as the regime wants outsiders to believe. A democratic government would be unlikely to build a nuclear bomb, she said, and even if it did, the weapon would not be a threat in the hands of a government that would not view America or Israel as enemies. By contrast, even a seemingly ironclad nuclear agreement with Ahmadinejad might be of little value: "Imagine if the government actually promised to stop its nuclear program tomorrow. Would you trust this government not to start another secret nuclear program somewhere else?" (Washington Post)
  • Iran's Proxy Army in Lebanon Will Think Twice Before Launching Another Round - Ronen Bergman
    The two recent explosions at Hizbullah munitions bunkers in South Lebanon have highlighted Hizbullah's weakened geopolitical status, a diminishment which no one could have foreseen at the end of the last war. In 2006, Hizbullah was seen as having triumphed. But since then its political stature and its autonomy have been significantly reduced. In addition, Israel's intelligence coverage of Iran and Hizbullah is far superior today to what it was in the past. A planned attack targeting the Israeli Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan, was foiled. The Israeli security services also shared information with Egyptian authorities that led to the arrest of a Hizbullah network intending to kill Israeli tourists in Sinai.
        Senior military officers in Israel's Northern Command are confident that the embarrassing outcome of the last round will not be repeated. "By all means, let the Hizbullah try," one officer told me two weeks ago. "The welcome party that we are preparing for them is one that they will remember for a very long time."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • Recognizing Israel's Achievements Does Not Negate Palestinian Suffering, But It Is Time to Move On - Carlo Strenger
    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is more than 100 years old. Along with many others in Israel I am committed to ending it. But time and again, Israel's critics raise the question of whether Israel's existence is legitimate. Instead of working towards the realization of the two-state solution, they keep the option in public discourse that Israel will disappear from the map. Most Jewish Israelis are not willing to move ahead as long as they have reason to think that a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders is only meant as a step on the way to erasing Israel altogether. Unfortunately, this suspicion is not sheer paranoia: Hamas to this day is committed explicitly to Israel's annihilation, and others continue to think that Israel should be replaced by a binational state west of the Jordan River.
        The first step is to get history right. Palestinians were not just passive victims in what they call the Nakba, as if it had been something like a natural catastrophe. Far from being only victims, they made decisions like choosing to follow Muhammad Amin al-Husseini, who formed close ties with Nazi Germany. Arab rejection of the Jewish presence created a zero-sum-game that made the attempts of Jewish leaders like Magnes and Buber to seek cooperation and coexistence with Palestinian Arabs irrelevant.
        The Palestinians could have accepted the UN partition plan of 1947. They chose not to. If the Arab armies that attacked the fledgling state of Israel had won, not a single Jew would have been allowed to stay in Palestine, and countless would have been killed. The writer teaches at the psychology department of Tel Aviv University and serves as a member of the Permanent Monitoring Panel on Terrorism of the World Federation of Scientists. (Guardian-UK)
  • International Pressure on Israel Growing - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The Turks are not alone in the deterioration of their ties with Israel. In recent years, up until several months ago, Israel's intelligence community estimated that the fears of Arab Sunni-majority states in the face of the Iranian-Shiite threat would prompt a process of rapprochement between them and Israel. However, the Gaza operation, reinforced by the inciting commentary of Arab satellite networks, changed the picture. We are also seeing an anti-Israel tide in Europe and in South America as well that at times gives rise to latent anti-Semitism.
        We are dealing with an accumulation of positions, declarations, and actions adopted by organizations and governments worldwide with growing intensity, aimed at isolating Israel and thereby pressuring it to modify its political positions and force military restraint upon it. They are trying to brand Israel as a "pariah state," undermine the legitimacy of its very existence, and revoke its natural right and duty to defend its citizens. (Ynet News)
  • Anti-Jewish Rumors over the Temple Mount Lead Repeatedly to Palestinian Riots - Barry Rubin
    Rumors that Jews were about to seize the Temple Mount led to inflammatory sermons in mosques, followed by massive Arab riots - in August 1929. More than 105 Jews were killed by Arabs; not a single Arab was killed by a Jew. The exact same thing happened - albeit with far fewer casualties - in 1996, 2000, 2009, and at several points in between. Last month, the visit of a French tourist group set off wild rumors that Jews were going to seize the Temple Mount. Passions were inflamed by Islamic clerics who were appointees of the Palestinian Authority and organized by Fatah, Hamas, and Hizb al-Tahrir. Again, days of rioting were set off.
        In 2000, a brief tour of the Temple Mount by Ariel Sharon - he merely walked through for about an hour, looked around, and then left - was the rationale used to set off an intifada that lasted five years and cost several thousand lives. The salient fact is that 80 years after the 1929 riots, the same scenario has prevailed of demonization and lies about Jews, deliberately inflamed by Arab political and religious forces, which led to Arab violence. The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. (Rubin Report)
  • Arab States' Crimes Against Palestinians - Judith Miller and David Samuels
    For decades, Arab governments have justified their decision to maintain millions of stateless Palestinians as refugees in squalid camps as a way of pressuring Israel. "Marginalized, deprived of basic political and economic rights, trapped in the camps, bereft of realistic prospects, heavily armed and standing atop multiple fault lines, the refugee population constitutes a time bomb," said a recent report by the International Crisis Group in Lebanon. In 2001, the estimated 250,000 Palestinians then in Lebanon were stripped by parliament of the right to own property or pass on property to their children - even as they are banned from working as doctors, lawyers, pharmacists or in 20 other major professions.
        Dozens of Palestinian fighters from camps in Lebanon joined Al-Qaeda in Iraq. The refusal of most Arab governments to grant basic legal rights to Palestinian residents who are born in and die in their countries contradicts the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which says that states "shall as far as possible facilitate the assimilation and naturalization of refugees."  (New York Daily News)
        See also Palestinians in Lebanon Face Obstacles in Reconstruction - Meris Lutz
    Much of the Nahr el Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon was destroyed in spring 2007 in fighting between Fatah al-Islam militants and the Lebanese Army, leaving some 30,000 people in temporary UN housing or squeezed into the outskirts of the camp. In the two years since the fighting ended, reconstruction efforts have been hampered by lack of funds and political opposition to any permanent construction that could be seen as a step towards the "naturalization" of Palestinians in Lebanon. On Thursday, the country's highest administrative court is expected to rule on an official request from Christian leader Gen. Michel Aoun's party, the Free Patriotic Movement, to stop reconstruction. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Observations:

    Education, Not Settlements, Is the Key to Peace - Asaf Shariv (New York Jewish Week)

    • All too often, a freeze in Israel's West Bank settlement construction is characterized as the crucial step to bringing peace to the Middle East. But education is the key to creating a true and lasting peace between neighbors. We become what we are taught. We are what we have learned. What we teach our children determines what kind of values they will have.
    • As President Barack Obama has stressed, it takes a community to educate the next generation. All children deserve to be taught peace. This critical fact has long been recognized by the international community. In 1945, the UN established UNESCO to "build peace in the minds of men."
    • Just this year, on the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II, the UN decided to teach basic information about the Holocaust to eighth-grade students in UN schools in Gaza. This was met with resistance from a Hamas spiritual leader who declared that teaching Palestinian children about the Nazi murder of six million Jews was a "war crime" and that such a curriculum would be "marketing a lie and spreading it." To deny history and the humanity of victims of genocide is to prepare for future atrocities.
    • The critical importance of education in reaching peace in the Middle East was understood when the "road map" for peace was signed in 2003. Phase I required that the Palestinian government end incitement against Israel by all official Palestinian institutions. Despite this commitment, in 2007, four years after the road map was signed, then-Sen. Hillary Clinton described Palestinian textbooks used in the 12th grade as "child abuse" and the "glorification of death and violence."
    • For peace to have a chance, children need to be given the opportunity to grow up with love, or at least friendship, and not hate. The first word that every Israeli child is taught in school is shalom, peace. When peace is a word that is taught to every child in Gaza and the West Bank, then peace will be around the corner.

      The writer is Israel's consul general in New York.

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