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October 21, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

Goldstone Didn't Hold Hamas Accountable for Terror - Jonathan D. Halevi (Ynet News)
    Hamas leaders and spokesmen have embraced the Goldstone report.
    Ismail Haniyeh said on October 14: "We bless the committee, we gave it everything it needed to investigate, as well as documents which helped publish it in its present form."
    Reading the Goldstone report shows that Hamas is never accused of responsibility for terrorism and firing rockets. Rather, nebulous "Palestinian armed groups" are responsible.
    The Goldstone Committee viewed the Hamas de-facto administration, which took over Gaza in a military bloodbath, as legitimate in every respect and made an artificial distinction between it and "Palestinian armed groups operating in Gaza," as if such groups did not kowtow to Hamas and had spent eight years methodically launching rockets and mortar shells into Israel in opposition to Hamas policy.
    For that reason the Committee did not find Hamas responsible of the rocket and terrorist attacks against Israel, despite the fact that the Hamas leadership boasts of their responsibility for these attacks in videotapes on their websites.
    The issue of Hamas' invisible responsibility for war crimes shows that the report is a masterpiece of deception and manipulation whose only intention is to frame Israel for war crimes and exonerate Hamas.
    The writer is a senior researcher and fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
    See also How the Goldstone Commission Understated the Hamas Threat to Palestinian Civilians - Jonathan D. Halevi (ICA-Jerusalem Center)
    See also Palestinian "Policemen" Killed in Gaza Operation Were Trained Terrorists - Jonathan D. Halevi (ICA-Jerusalem Center)

China Opposes Referral of Goldstone Report to Security Council, International Court (Jerusalem Post)
    Beijing will oppose discussing the Goldstone Commission's report at the UN Security Council and allowing it to serve as a basis for law suits against Israel at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Chinese members of parliament told a visiting delegation of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in Beijing on Wednesday.
    China voted in favor of endorsing the Goldstone Report at the UN Human Rights Council on Friday.

Bedouin Who Serve in Israel's Army - Rachid Sekkai (BBC News)
    There are thousands of Muslim Bedouin who serve in the Israeli army, although it is not compulsory for them.
    Co-operation between Jews and Bedouin began before the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948. Military service is a family tradition in many Bedouin villages, especially those in northern Israel.
    "It's a legacy - it's something that has been passed on from generation to generation in my family," Maj Fallah explains. "My father and his father served in the army too."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. and Israel Stage Major Air Defense Exercise - Michael Barajas
    The Israeli and U.S. militaries were set to begin a major joint air defense exercise Wednesday, testing technology that could be used to defend Israel against an Iranian attack. The maneuver underlines the strong alliance between the U.S. and Israel, despite recent spats over Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. The exercise, codenamed Juniper Cobra 10, will test the two countries' missile defense systems and will include roughly 1,000 U.S. military personnel and a similar number of Israeli troops. The U.S. has deployed 17 warships equipped with radar systems to detect surface-to-surface missiles for the exercise.
        "This sends a message to Iran, to Hizbullah and to Hamas that the strategic relationship between the United States and Israel remains solid," said Eytan Gilboa, a political scientist at Israel's Bar-Ilan University. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Hamas Seeking to Make Palestinian Society More Islamist - Rory McCarthy
    It began with a rash of unusually assertive police patrols. Armed Hamas officers stopped men from sitting shirtless on the beach, broke up groups of unmarried men and women, and ordered shopkeepers not to display lingerie on mannequins in their windows. Then came intense pressure on parents to dress their daughters more conservatively for the new school term. Last week police began enforcing a new decree banning women from riding on motorbikes. To many it feels like a new wave of enforcement in what is already a devoutly Muslim society.
        As part of a new "virtue" campaign, posters decry the trend for young women to wear their headscarf along with tight jeans and recommend a fuller head covering, counseling: "The right hijab is your way to heaven." However, while Gaza is socially conservative, many Palestinians object to being commanded to follow a particular social code. (Guardian-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Netanyahu to Abbas: The Time Has Come for Peace - Barak Ravid
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday called on Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to renew peace negotiations with Israel. Speaking at the opening of the Presidential Conference, Netanyahu urged the Palestinian leader to tell his people: "The time has come to end this conflict; tell them that the time has come for two nations to live side-by-side in peace and security....We must discuss peace as soon as possible, and I am ready to do so. But these cannot be closed talks. We must say these things to the world, to our people and to the Palestinian people."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Prepares to Fight War Crimes Trials after Goldstone Report - Barak Ravid
    The political-security cabinet on Tuesday instructed the Justice Ministry to form a committee to deal with the prospect of "legal proceedings abroad against the State of Israel or its citizens" in the wake of the Goldstone Commission report on the Gaza war. Prime Minister Netanyahu promised a lengthy battle to "delegitimize" the findings of the commission. Netanyahu has stressed that Israel will be willing to make diplomatic and territorial concessions only if its right to self-defense is guaranteed. (Ha'aretz)
  • German Firm Fights for Israel's Security - Benjamin Weinthal
    The journalistic ethos of the Axel Springer publishing house - Europe's largest media conglomerate - is governed by a set of principles spelled out in the employment contract of each journalist, one of which advocates "the support of the State of Israel and its existence and reconciliation between Germans and Jews." Dr. Mathias Dopfner, CEO of the Axel Springer AG media empire and a self-described "non-Jewish Zionist," explained that Springer "clearly said that the Holocaust cannot be compensated, but in order to find a new self-definition, Germany has to support from now on the State of Israel and its people."
        "Israel and Europe should have an understanding of absolutely common interests in the defense of democracy and the values of the free Western world," Dopfner told the Post. "Israel is the bridgehead of democracy in the Middle East. So it is in the interests of Europe to support it and to strengthen it. We share the same cultural roots and we share the same security interests and foreign policy interests."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iran Will Provide a Nuclear Umbrella for Terrorism - Dore Gold
    Former Israeli Ambassador Dore Gold told a briefing at the House of Commons on Oct. 12: There are countries in the world that are happy with what they have, that aren't interested in expansion or intruding on their neighbors and basically just want to be left on their own. Then there are states that are actively intervening in the affairs of their neighbors and have interests well beyond their own borders, and Iran is in that category. Iran is engaged in the insurgency in Afghanistan, providing the Taliban, who were their enemies 10 years ago, with weaponry and other forms of assistance to fight U.S. and UK forces in that country. Iran has been engaged in Iraq, particularly through the Shiite militias in southern Iraq. Iran has declared that Bahrain, an independent kingdom, is a province of Iran. Iran is active in Lebanon; it created and sustains Hizbullah. It's involved in Gaza, Egypt, Sudan and Yemen.
        If you take the fact that Iran is one of the largest supporters of international terrorism today, and you team that up with the nuclear capabilities that Iran has today - enough low-enriched uranium for two atomic bombs - coupled with the fact that Iran is developing a robust ballistic missile system that goes far beyond what many people believe, you have a security situation which the West has not yet seen. The world's biggest supporter of international terrorism is about to get a nuclear umbrella, and that means that terrorist groups will have a protective umbrella over them. This nuclear umbrella of Iran will unfurl and will be able to provide protection not just to Shiite Hizbullah, but to Sunni al-Qaeda and Hamas. The writer, President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is the author of The Rise of Nuclear Iran: How Tehran Defies the West. (Henry Jackson Society)
  • My Secret Plan to Overthrow the Mullahs - Larry Franklin
    In February 2003, a few weeks before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, President George W. Bush's administration still lacked a real strategy for Iran, the would-be regional hegemon next door. As the Iran desk officer in the office of the secretary of defense, I knew from my sources that Tehran had already prepared an entire network of operatives, proxies, and weapons ready to challenge the U.S. as soon as it toppled Saddam Hussein.
        I was not, however, very brave. I did not confront either my boss in the Office of Special Plans, Douglas Feith, or his boss, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, about my overriding fears that Iran could spoil our plans in Iraq - and wreak havoc in the region. In a foolish, spur-of-the-moment decision, I asked Steven Rosen, foreign-policy director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, to approach the National Security Council's Elliott Abrams with my concerns. This action ultimately led to my indictment, in 2005, for espionage after Rosen relayed my comments to an Israeli diplomat. But my intention was never to leak secrets to a foreign government. I wanted to halt the rush to war in Iraq - at least long enough to adopt a realistic policy toward an Iran bent on doing us ill.
        Inside the Pentagon, I had long argued that regime change, not accommodation or war, would be our best policy. I urged the U.S. to recognize a government in exile. I proposed a sophisticated propaganda offensive, planting stories in the Persian-language media to undermine Iranians' confidence in their leaders. I urged that we highlight Iran's human rights record, and that we expose the regime's "gulag" of prisons. I suggested we disrupt the Islamic Republic's monetary transactions by blocking its attempts to secure loans and grants from international lending institutions. (Foreign Policy)
        See also U.S. Cuts Funding to Iran Opposition - Bahman Kalbasi (BBC News)
  • Observations:

    What's Really on Trial in the Goldstone Report? - Joel Lion (JTA)

    • What is a country to do when being attacked by a foreign army? The answer to this question seems simple: defend its citizens by all means possible. But for Israel, doing so means condemnation by the world in the form of the Goldstone report.
    • Every day, for eight years, rockets and mortars hit the Israeli town of Sderot. Israel tried diplomatic ways, entering into a truce with Hamas to bring peace to the residents of southern Israel. But Hamas chose war. On Dec. 20, 2008, Hamas chose not to extend the truce. On Dec. 24, Hamas fired 87 rockets and mortar rounds at Israel.
    • Israel, a nation with laws and a code of ethics, was forced to defend itself from terrorists who intentionally fired at innocent civilians and decided to hide among their own civilian population in order to defend themselves from counter action.

      The writer is spokesman of the Consulate General of Israel in New York.

        See also UN's Goldstone Report Gives Comfort to Terrorists - Yoram Elron (Montreal Gazette-Canada)
    • Not only did the mandate designed by the UN Human Rights Council for the Goldstone mission make no mention whatsoever of possible Palestinian violations of human rights, but it first established Israel's guilt, and then sent Goldstone to gather the evidence. As the queen said to Alice in Alice in Wonderland: "Verdict first, evidence later."
    • The four members appointed by the Council to take part in the mission went on the record as having condemned Israel prior to having been selected.
    • Terrorists the world over have now been led to believe that law-abiding democracies can be "handcuffed" by the Human Rights Council, and prevented from taking necessary measures to protect their citizens.

      The writer is consul-general of Israel for Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.

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