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December 8, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF Intelligence: Iran Has the Technical Capability to Build a Nuclear Bomb (Jerusalem Post)
    Iran now has the technical capability to build a nuclear bomb and the only element lacking is the decision to go ahead and build one, Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz, head of IDF Military Intelligence's research division, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.
    Baidatz said Iran had successfully enriched 1,800 kg. of uranium, more than enough to build one bomb.
    Baidatz also said that Iran had been upgrading its missile arsenal, and had developed missiles with the capability of carrying nuclear weapons that can reach Israel.

U.S. Man Accused of Helping Plot 2008 Mumbai Attack - Ginger Thompson and David Johnston (New York Times)
    David C. Headley, 49, of Chicago has been charged with helping plot the 2008 rampage in Mumbai, India, that left 163 people dead, according to a Justice Department complaint unsealed on Monday.
    Headley is accused of helping identify targets for the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group nearly two years earlier.

Egypt's Official Media Assail Ex-IAEA Chief ElBaradei - Heba Saleh (Financial Times-UK)
    Until a few weeks ago, Egypt's state media regarded Mohamed ElBaradei, the just-retired Egyptian head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, as a credit to his country.
    But the former Egyptian diplomat has now become the target of ferocious attacks in the state press after his name was put forward as a candidate for the next presidential election in 2011.

Russia Seeks More Israeli-Made Drones - Dan Williams (Reuters)
    Russia is negotiating a second purchase of Israeli-made spy drones in a deal with Israel Aerospace Industries that would be worth about $100 million, Israeli defense sources said on Monday.
    "The Russians are going for a triple upgrade of their fleet and its capabilities," a defense source said.

Thailand's Muslim Separatists Wage a Much-Ignored War - Duncan McCargo (Daily Star-Beirut)
    According to counter-insurgency expert David Kilcullen, Muslim violence against Buddhists in Thailand's southern provinces has now claimed more than 3,500 lives.
    Yet the Thai military's belief that Malay Muslims could be re-educated and re-socialized into accepting a Thai identity has proved untenable.
    The writer is a professor of Southeast Asian politics at the University of Leeds.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hamas: Goldstone Report Exonerates Us from War Crimes Against Israel
    Hamas second-in-command Musa Abu Marzouq said in an interview: "All paragraphs in the Goldstone report convict Israel and totally exonerate Hamas from any misconduct. For instance, the report exonerates Hamas from the accusation of using civilians as human shields and attributes this accusation to Israeli forces. Likewise, the report exonerated Hamas from all other accusations mentioned by Israel, and even when the report is dealing with the rockets which were launched from Gaza, it speaks about military groups without naming Hamas." Translated by Jonathan D. Halevi (Al-Mashahid Al-Siyasi-UK, Arabic, 5Dec09)
  • Iranian Students Clash with Police - Robert F. Worth and Nazila Fathi
    Thousands of people rallied against the Iranian government on Monday at universities across the country, defying a wide-ranging effort to suppress the protests. Protesters hurled rocks and set fires amid clouds of tear gas, while a vast deployment of police officers and plainclothes Basij militia members used chains, truncheons and stun guns to beat back chanting protesters. Some protesters burned posters of President Ahmadinejad and supreme leader Khamenei. There were reports of dozens of arrests and injuries. (New York Times)
  • Ahmadinejad: U.S. Is Blocking Return of Mankind's Savior
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad claims the U.S. is attempting to thwart the return of mankind's savior, according to Dubai-based Al Arabiya television. Ahmadinejad claims he has documented evidence that the U.S. is blocking the return of the Mahdi, the imam believed by Muslims to be the savior. "They have devised all these plans to prevent the coming of the Hidden Imam," he said. He also claimed there have been plots by both the West as well as countries in the East to wipe out his country. "They have planned to annihilate Iran," he said. (FOX News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Netanyahu: Syria Relinquished Preconditions for Talks - Amnon Meranda
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday that he had heard from French President Nicolas Sarkozy that Syria was willing to relinquish preconditions for peace negotiations. Syrian President Bashar Assad had previously stated that Israel would have to be willing to withdraw from the Golan Heights in order to launch negotiations. (Ynet News)
        See also Syria: Continued Golan "Occupation" Makes Resistance Necessary
    Israel will not be able to achieve peace with Syria without relinquishing the Golan Heights, making resistance necessary as long as the "occupation" continues, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mikdad said Monday, according to Israel Radio. Mikdad also stated that if talks with Israel were to fail, Damascus would resort to other means to recapture the territory. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Arab Sector Prominent on New National Priorities List - Roni Sofer
    According to a new national priorities list prepared by the Prime Minister's Office, the new geographic areas of national priority will include about two million Israeli citizens, 40% of whom belong to minority groups, mostly Israeli Arabs. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel's Settlement Freeze - Michael B. Oren
    On Nov. 25, Israel's government announced a 10-month construction freeze in the West Bank. "We hope that this decision will help launch meaningful peace negotiations," declared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "and finally end the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel." The Obama administration praised the decision and recognized its significance. By contrast, Palestinian leaders rejected Israel's gesture as grossly insufficient.
        Twice - in 1948 and 1967 - the West Bank served as the staging ground for large-scale attacks against Israel. While defending itself, Israel captured the territory and reunited with its ancestral homeland: Haifa is not in the Bible, but Bethlehem, Hebron, and Jericho decidedly are. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis rushed to resettle their tribal land and widen Israel's borders, which at points were a mere eight miles wide. American policy-makers recognized Israel's need for defensible borders and, in November 1967, they supported UN Resolution 242, which did not call for withdrawals from "all the territories."
        Mr. Netanyahu has taken the initiative and demonstrated his commitment to peace. Now the Palestinians must match that dedication and seize this propitious moment. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the U.S. (Wall Street Journal)
  • When Islamist Foreign Policies Hurt Muslims - Soner Cagaptay
    What is an Islamist foreign policy, exactly? Is it identifying with Muslims and their suffering, or is it identifying with anti-Western regimes even at the cost of Muslims' best interests? Turkey's foreign policy under Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan demonstrates that far from protecting Muslims and their interests, it is promoting a la carte morals - bashing the West and supporting anti-Western regimes, even when the latter hurt Muslims.
        Since coming to power in 2002, Erdogan's AKP has dramatically changed Turkey's foreign policy. The party has let Ankara's ties with pro-Western Azerbaijan, Georgia and Israel deteriorate and has started to ignore Europe. Meanwhile, the AKP has built ties with anti-Western states such as Sudan while making friends with Ankara's erstwhile adversaries, including Russia, Iran and Syria, and positioning itself as Hamas' patron.
        This is an ideological view of the world, guided not by religion but by a distorted premise that Islamist and anti-Western regimes are always right even when they are criminal, such as when they are killing Muslims. And in this view, Western states and non-Muslims are always wrong, even when they act in self-defense against Islamist regimes. The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also U.S. Concerned over Turkey's Moves toward Iran - Damien McElroy (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Obama Seeks Turkey's Support on Iran Nuclear Issue - Ben Hancock (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Switzerland Says No to More than Minarets - Anne Applebaum
    The vast majority of Switzerland's 400,000 Muslims are from Turkey and Kosovo, and there is very little evidence that separatist, politically extreme Islam is growing rapidly there. The Swiss, however, read newspapers and watch television. And in recent years separatist and politically extreme forms of Islam have emerged in every European country with a large Muslim population: Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark, Sweden.
        Fear of Islamist extremism shapes all European politics far more than anyone ever acknowledges. As grotesquely unfair as a referendum to ban minarets may have been to hundreds of thousands of ordinary, well-integrated Muslims, I have no doubt that the Swiss voted in favor primarily because they don't have much Islamic extremism - and they don't want any. (Washington Post)
        See also Swiss Ban on Minarets Was a Vote for Tolerance and Inclusion - Ayaan Hirsi Ali
    The recent Swiss referendum that bans construction of minarets is a rejection of political Islam, not a rejection of Muslims. In this sense it was a vote for tolerance and inclusion, which political Islam rejects. The writer is a Somali-born former Dutch parliamentarian. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Observations:

    Israel-Bashers Hold a Double Standard on Rights Abuses - Ronald S. Lauder (Irish Times)

    • Israel-bashing enjoys widespread support in Western media, as well as in universities, NGOs, trade unions and international organizations.
    • The UN reserves most of its ire for the most liberal, free and progressive country in the Middle East. A country that guarantees and upholds religious freedom and offers all of its citizens, including its Arab minority, the same civil rights, is pilloried by those who blatantly disregard the values of the UN Charter and the Declaration of Human Rights.
    • Yet the critics often turn a blind eye to the realities in the Middle East. They ignore that the Iranian regime, which crushed protests this summer and has not been censured for this, has for years not only ideologically opposed Israel, but supported the training of Hamas and Hizbullah fighters, supplied them with weapons and thus sponsored attacks on Israel.
    • They fail to condemn the Palestinian leadership for not having managed, despite billions of dollars in aid, to build structures that can guarantee the economic well-being of the Palestinians and Israel's security and integrity.

      The writer is president of the World Jewish Congress.

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