Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at www.dailyalert.org|
November 13, 2009
What Really Happened at Gaza Mosque? - Jonathan D. Halevi (Ynet News)
IDF: Record Number of Recruits Requesting Combat Service - Yossi Yehoshua
How the Saudis Radicalized U.S. Troops - Gal Luft (Middle East Strategy at Harvard)
Tourism to Israel Up 9 Percent in October - Sharon Wrobel (Jerusalem Post)
Israel Wants Answers from Solomon Islands over UN Vote - Rowan Callick
Anne Frank Diary Offends Lebanon's Hizbullah - Natacha Yazbeck (AFP)
The Jewish Community in Germany - Susanne Y. Urban (Jewish Political Studies Review)
Middle East Military Balance Database (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Federal authorities Thursday moved to seize an array of U.S.-based properties, bank accounts and religious sites they charged were funneling money to an Iranian bank involved in that country's nuclear weapons program. Prosecutors sought the forfeiture of assets that included Islamic centers and mosques in California, Maryland, New York City and Houston, as well as land in Virginia. They also took steps to seize financial control of a 36-story office tower at 650 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan that they said was part of a business empire controlled by the Alavi Foundation.
"The Alavi Foundation has effectively been a front for the government of Iran," U.S. Atty. Preet Bharara said in a statement. "For two decades, the Alavi Foundation's affairs have been directed by various Iranian officials, including Iranian ambassadors to the United Nations, in violation of a series of American laws." Prosecutors said Alavi was sending money to Bank Melli, which the Treasury Department alleged is owned by the Iranian government and being used to help build its weapons program. (Los Angeles Times)
Iran began building the recently revealed uranium enrichment hall near Qom seven years ago, diplomats said Thursday. A senior official from a European nation said the enrichment hall is too small to house the thousands of centrifuges needed for peaceful industrial nuclear enrichment, but is the right size to contain the advanced machines that could generate the amount of weapons-grade uranium needed to make nuclear warheads. Citing satellite imagery, the diplomats said Iran started building the plant in 2002, paused for two years in 2004, and resumed construction in 2006. (AP)
"It would be wrong to think that peace will come through negotiating. It will come through resistance," Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a speech Wednesday - a sharp shift in tone for a head of state who, just a year ago, was in indirect peace talks with Israel. (AP/Washington Post)
Latin America has become the battleground for competing Middle East powers, whose leaders are criss-crossing the continent seeking support. President Peres of Israel, visiting Brazil, urged his hosts to resist the growing influence of Iran and Hizbullah in the region. President Ahmadinejad of Iran is planning a similar trip to Brazil and the region this month. Iran has developed strong alliances with a number of socialist governments, allied to Tehran by their hostility towards America.
The importance of Latin America to Iran's strategic interest was underlined by Ahmadinejad, who boasted before the June elections: "When the Western countries were trying to isolate Iran, we went to the U.S. backyard." (Times-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel and the international community signaled new optimism on Thursday that the deadlock that has prevented a resumption of negotiations between Israel and the PA may soon be broken, after PA officials indicated that elections scheduled for Jan. 24 would not go ahead. Abbas had said he would not run in the elections, meaning he was coming to the end of his period in power. With the vote off, however, Abbas had become a viable partner again, Israeli and foreign officials said. (Jerusalem Post)
Prime Minister Netanyahu told French President Sarkozy on Wednesday he would be happy to resume peace talks with Syria anytime, anywhere and without preconditions, a government source said. As peace talks with the Palestinians have hit a dead end, it has been speculated that Netanyahu is turning to Syria as a more likely negotiating partner. Israel Radio reported that Sarkozy telephoned PA leader Mahmoud Abbas while he was meeting with Netanyahu and asked Abbas to begin negotiations immediately.
Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom said Thursday that the prime minister "is ready to resume the negotiations without preconditions. Without preconditions means that everyone will come and raise their demands. The Syrians will say we want you to withdraw fully to the borders of June 4, 1967, and we can say we would like to keep the Golan in our hands," Shalom told an audience at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. "To say that we will accept from day one their demands, then what do we need the negotiations for?" (Jerusalem Post)
See also Defensible Borders on the Golan Heights - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland (Jerusalem Center)
The executive board of the University of Trondheim in Norway unanimously rejected a motion for an academic boycott of Israel on Thursday. "The main arguments raised were that Norwegian universities should not [make] their own foreign policies," said Professor Bjorn Alsberg, a chemistry professor who led a campaign against the boycott. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
After nearly ten months of U.S. diplomacy, the Middle East peace process appears to be stalled and no negotiations are on the horizon. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is ready to return to peace talks without preconditions, but Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said a settlement freeze needed to be in place before high-level negotiations could begin. Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says that for a generation Palestinians have asked America to convince Israel to negotiate the terms of a Palestinian state. Now Palestinians are refusing to come back to such talks. Satloff predicts it could take years to reach a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians since other foreign policy priorities are likely to seize the attention of President Obama. (VOA)
This is the Middle East, a place where even if all Arab or Iranian demands are met, this only triggers anger, blame, complaint, and still more demands. You can't solve the problem using Western rules. Hillary Clinton, stung by Arab criticism that she praised Israel's plan too highly, did a turnaround two days after proclaiming Israel's concession to be amazing: "This offer falls far short of what we would characterize as our position." What, by this behavior, is the U.S. government communicating to Israel? That when Israel makes a big concession and reaches an agreement with the U.S., should the PA or an Arab state complain about the terms, the U.S. government will then criticize its own deal! So how can Jerusalem trust Washington?
Why should a reasonable, apologetic, empathetic, confidence-building, flexible U.S. strategy fail? Because for the Arabs, Palestine is Arab or Muslim or both forever. It's not for sale at any price. Anyone who indicates a real interest in selling will be disgraced, or fired, or even killed. The fact that their title is questionable and they never actually had national ownership, that someone else who has a previous claim has long ago returned and built it up with all sorts of additions and improvements, is irrelevant to this thinking.
They are waiting for the other side, Israel, to collapse. Or for the West to throw Israel to the wolves. Or they wait for all Arabs or all Muslims to unite and wipe out the evil usurper. Or perhaps when Iran gets the bomb, and then total victory will be theirs. And if passersby shout out: "Yes, you are in the right! Your suffering is intolerable and we want to help you!" that only reinforces their determination to remain steadfast. (Jerusalem Post)
Mahmoud Abbas and his state-building aide, Salam Fayyad, initiated a level of security cooperation with Israel never realized with Arafat, characterized by a clear division of labor in which the PA destroys Hamas' social infrastructure by day, while the IDF and the Israel Security Agency destroy the terrorist infrastructure, including Fatah cells, by night.
But there are worrying signs. To begin with, at the Fatah general conference in summer 2009, Abbas adopted a policy plank which declares that armed conflict remains an option. Most recently, Abbas and the PA have been behind the violence around the Temple Mount, which is evident in the way the two semi-official PA newspapers, Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida, promoted tensions. Fatah websites, financed by Abbas and Fayyad, publish countless pictures of the terrorist Fatah Tanzim and the Al-Aqsa Brigades against the backdrop of the Temple Mount. Although armed groups are banned, the communiques of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades appear on the official Fatah site.
The most offensive item on a Fatah website forum is a poster showing Hitler purportedly quoting Mein Kampf: "I could have destroyed all the Jews in the world but left some of them so that everyone would know...why I wiped them out." Abbas may not be the address for negotiation of a stable, two-state for two peoples solution. The writer is associate professor in political studies at Bar-Ilan University and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. (BESA Center-Bar-Ilan University)
The Gaza Report
On Nov. 6, Jimmy Carter published an op-ed in the International Herald Tribune endorsing Goldstone's report. CAMERA has requested corrections of five factual errors in his essay. Carter wrote that Gaza is "surrounded by an impenetrable wall." In fact, most of the barrier along Gaza's land border is a fence, not a wall. The Gaza-Egypt border is separated by a wall. Carter claimed "almost 40,000 homes" were destroyed during the fighting. Al Mazen Center for Human Rights, an anti-Israel Palestinian NGO, recently issued a report stating 2,632 homes were destroyed beyond repair and 8,522 were damaged and were repairable. Carter speaks of "several hundred thousand homeless people." AP reported on Nov. 9, 2009: "The UN estimates around 20,000 Gaza residents were made homeless." Carter writes: "The Goldstone committee examined closely the cause of deaths of 1,387 Palestinians who perished." In fact, the report does not closely examine the causes of death for Palestinian individuals. Finally, Carter writes of the "destruction of hospitals." International and Palestinian sources confirm that while there were damaged hospitals in Gaza, none were destroyed. (CAMERA)
After his match-up with Judge Richard Goldstone at Brandeis University last week, former Israeli ambassador Dore Gold said Israeli cooperation with the Goldstone Commission would not have improved the final report, which charged Israel and Hamas with war crimes. "This was a fixed fact-finding mission," Gold said. "It wasn't looking for the truth. It was looking for a narrative that condemned Israel and let Hamas off the hook." Gold was armed with aerial maps, video and sound clips and other evidence showing how Israel warned Gaza civilians of its impending actions. He insisted that all the materials he used were in the public domain. In other words, he used "material the UN Gaza mission could have obtained itself."
"Why does Hamas not appear as a responsible party for what happened?" Gold asked. "This war never would have happened if rockets weren't launched at the State of Israel." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Visual Presentation by Amb. Gold at Brandeis; Video of Amb. Gold's Presentation (Jerusalem Center)
The Goldstone report, which ascribed to Israel malicious motives and intent in its actions in Gaza, became fodder for cartoonists in the Arab and Muslim world. View a selection of editorial cartoons. (Anti-Defamation League)
What a surprise - that someone who shouts "Allahu Akbar" (the "God is great" jihadist battle cry) as he is shooting up a room of American soldiers might have Islamist motives. The popular story line was of secondary post-traumatic stress disorder: an Army psychiatrist driven over the edge by terrible stories he had heard from soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. But how many doctors who every day hear and live with the pain and suffering of returning soldiers then picked up a gun and shot 51 innocents?
Secondary PTSD, for those who believe in it (you won't find it in psychiatry's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), is known as "compassion fatigue." The poor man - pushed over the edge by an excess of sensitivity. Have we totally lost our moral bearings? Nidal Hasan (allegedly) cold-bloodedly killed 13 innocent people. His business card had his name, his profession, his medical degrees and his occupational identity: "SoA" - Soldier of Allah.
NPR's Daniel Zwerdling interviewed a Hasan colleague at Walter Reed Hospital about a hair-raising grand rounds that Hasan had apparently given. His hour-long disquisition on what he called the Koranic view of military service, jihad and war included an elaboration of the punishments visited upon nonbelievers - consignment to hell, decapitation, having hot oil poured down your throat. "The psychiatrist," reported Zwerdling, "said that he was the kind of guy who the staff actually stood around in the hallway saying: Do you think he's a terrorist, or is he just weird?" Was anything done about this potential danger? Of course not. Who wants to be accused of Islamophobia? (Washington Post)
See also Our Enemy Is Not Islam - It's Extremists - Judith Miller and David Samuels
Underlying the narratives of the shooting is the belief or fear that what happened at Ft. Hood is, in fact, rooted in Islam, rather than in a perverted political ideology that is rejected by an overwhelming majority of Muslims everywhere. (Los Angeles Times)
While Iran has been sending arms to Hizbullah through Syria for years, the interception on Nov. 3, 2009, by Israeli naval forces of a ship carrying 500 tons of weapons from Iran has important military and political implications. Iranian arms supplies underwrite Hizbullah's political position in Lebanon, increase the risk for a conflict with Israel, and ensure that any such conflict will be more intense and lengthier than if Hizbullah lacked such support.
Both Iran and Syria seek to increase Hizbullah's capability to wage sustained warfare against Israel. The Hizbullah buildup puts pressure on the deterrence measures established by Israel in the north since the 2006 war. Greater military capabilities also strengthen Hizbullah's political position in Lebanon, where its substantial military might exceeds that of the Lebanese Army itself.
Even if Israel can impede the maritime flow of arms, no effective way exists, short of war, to stop arms shipments to Hizbullah directly from Syrian arms depots or by air from Iran to Damascus and then into Lebanon. The writer is a defense fellow at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Ever since the end of the 2006 war, there has been a major effort on the part of Hizbullah to rearm, especially with offensive weapons such as rockets and medium-range missiles, which 12,425 UNIFIL troops have been unable to stop. The weapons ship recently seized by Israel shows, yet again, the failure of the international community to come to grips with Hizbullah and its intent to disrupt any peace process with Israel.
Hizbullah continues to proclaim the 2006 war as a victory. By tying this war to other "victories" for Islamist forces, such as the May 2000 Israeli withdrawal from the Lebanese security zone and the August 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, Hizbullah and its Iranian patrons maintain the fiction that armed struggle is alive and well, and should be used as a means to defeat Israel. (Foreign Policy)
See also The Second Lebanon War and Its Repercussions - Magnus Norell
In A Victory for Islamism? The Second Lebanon War and Its Repercussions, former Swedish intelligence analyst Magnus Norell argues that although Hizbullah's strong position in Lebanese society keeps the bilateral conflict with Israel alive, the perception of strength and success in battle provides Hizbullah with much broader reach and regional influence. Indeed today, the growing belief of Islamists that Israel can be defeated on the battlefield and forced to make political and territorial concessions has a devastating impact on current peace initiatives by the Obama administration and will continue to frustrate attempts at a negotiated solution. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Despite glaring evidence to the contrary, the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, believes "it is not possible for those who belong to the Muslim faith to carry out genocide." Accordingly, he refuses to accept that Sudanese paramilitaries committed genocidal acts against the population of Darfur. Furthermore, says Erdogan, Israeli "war crimes" in Gaza are worse than anything that has taken place in Sudan. Whatever one's take on Israel's actions in Gaza, to make such absurd comparisons is both futile and false, and has no place being uttered by a statesman who sees himself as a suitable mediator between Israel and the Palestinians. His collective exculpation of every last Muslim from the charge of genocide flies in the face of bloody wars the world over. (Guardian-UK)
While Israel has been routinely judged, subjected to frequent boycott motions and besieged with calls for the international community to suspend trade and the EU-Israel Association Agreement, horrendous human rights violations in the Congo, the Sudan and Rwanda have warranted no comment from the Trades Union Congress, let alone sanctions or boycotts. The TUC's decision begs enquiry as to why Israel, a thriving and continually self-scrutinizing democracy, has been singled out for such widespread, continuous attention from Britain's trade unions.
No other country has been subjected to such unremitting focus, and similar boycotts have not been implemented for other "occupied territories." How can such a blatant double standard be embraced as the right way forward? At a time when the British economy is fighting off bankruptcy, when we are billions of pounds in debt and unemployment is sky-rocketing, the TUC singling out Israel for a boycott is beyond belief. The writer is an academic, lawyer and bioethicist in the House of Lords. (ePolitix.com)
The Arab world collectively is the sole exception to the global wave of liberalization and democratization that touched every other region of the planet - except ours. The average Arab citizen does not feel that he has the opportunity to express himself honestly or fully, or is able to influence the policies of his government. Most Arabs feel strong and confident about their culture, religion and identity, but powerless and vulnerable as citizens of their state.
The instruments of state autocracy - security services, economic power, information and educational channels, political offices, the judiciary - remain firmly in the hands of small groups of men in every Arab country. Representational institutions such as parliaments and consultative councils are subservient to and manipulated by executive authority. The result is that the Arab world lacks governance systems based on the rights of citizens, checks and balances among the different branches of government, and civilian oversight of security services. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
People forget how small Israel is. Its land area is smaller than New Jersey. Its entire population is a little over 7 million. There are more than 20 Arab states with a combined population of 325 million and more than 50 majority-Muslim states with a combined population of well over a billion. Some 20% of Israel's population is Arab, most of them Muslim. Israel's critics say the Jewish state has deprived Palestinians of a homeland. But Jordan, situated on the three-quarters of historic Palestine lying east of the River Jordan, is populated, not surprisingly, mostly by Palestinians. Palestinians also inhabit Gaza, from which Israel withdrew every settler four years ago.
Economically, Israel punches way above its weight. Israel defies the "international community" by daring to defend itself, and it prospers even while under attack. For much of the world, such behavior is unforgivable. The writer is president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. (Washington Times)
See also Israel's Start-Up Culture Keeps Economy Thriving - Dan Senor and Saul Singer (CNN)
An Israeli engineering firm has come up with a machine capable of generating snow in all weather. Six times as powerful as a traditional snow cannon, the All Weather Snowmaker, developed by IDE Technologies, produces flakes regardless of temperature, humidity and wind. The technology was originally developed to desalinate sea water. A refined version was being used to cool mines in South Africa when a Russian IDE engineer came up with the idea. "During a mission in South Africa in 2005, he suddenly exclaimed: 'It's snow, I can ski on it!'," IDE spokesman Moshe Tessel said. "We had been using this technology for about 15 years, but since we're not really familiar with skiing in Israel, it never occurred to us."
A $3.7 million investment allowed the Pitztal ski area in Austria to increase its ski area threefold in time for the start of the season, and several World Cup ski teams invited to test the snow were impressed. (AFP)
Understanding How Iran Negotiates - Emily Landau (bitterlemons-international.org)
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