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|
December 18, 2009
U.S. Navy v. Iran - Michael Auslin (Weekly Standard)
The Mullahs Could Have the Bomb Any Day Now - Editorial (Washington Times)
Sanctioning Iran: If Only It Were So Simple - Suzanne Maloney (Brookings Institution)
West Seeks to Thwart Iran Nuke Efforts in Far East - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
Hizbullah Official Speaks at Sorbonne (DPA)
Study: Saudi Arabia, Egypt Restrictive on Religion (Reuters)
ICNA's Search for Radicalism Should Start Within - Steven Emerson
(Investigative Project on Terrorism)
Palestinians Destroy Dead Sea Cosmetics (AFP)
Israel Eases Restrictions on Palestinians for Xmas (AP)
Video: Ethical Issues in Israel's Gaza Operation - Prof. Asa Kasher (Jerusalem Center)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Unilateral U.S. sanctions against Iran are on track, Senate officials say, but taking the slow train. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, needs time to consider the bill, his spokesman, Frederick Jones, told JTA. That means it's extremely unlikely the Senate will rush the legislation before year's end. The go-slow approach takes some wind out of the version of the bill, the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, that passed Tuesday in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Obama administration wants to slow down the prospect of unilateral sanctions while it attempts to mass international support for multilateral measures aimed at forcing Iran to make its nuclear workings transparent. Top administration officials have made clear in recent days that they are apprehensive of scaring away potential partners in multilateral sanctions with the threat of punitive sanctions. One official of a pro-Israel group pushing hard for the legislation cautioned that the bottom line of the White House backing sanctions, now or in the near future, was good news. That Obama wanted tweaks to the legislation was to be expected, the official said. (JTA)
Iran's testing of its "Sajjil 2" missile, the second in seven months, is a sign that Iran is making significant advances in its missile program. However, Israel was already within the range of Iranian missiles before this test. Iran is estimated to have roughly 100-150 missiles that can reach Israel. Most of these are Shahab-3 missiles, which have a low accuracy rate and a payload of only 1,200kg. Israel has an Arrow anti-missile system which is conservatively expected to stop at least 50% of them, if not more.
Hizbullah is estimated to have at least 30,000 missiles. However, during the last war in 2006, all of Hizbullah's long-range missiles were destroyed within a few hours. The same could happen again, as Hizbullah's missiles are more difficult to hide. They are also much more within the range of Israel. (Guardian-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Officials in Jerusalem harshly criticized the new EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, for her scathing remarks about the "Israeli occupation" in her maiden speech to MEPs in Strasbourg. They noted that she had not welcomed the settlement construction freeze, as had her European colleagues, and said that in the EU's view, "East Jerusalem is occupied territory, together with the West Bank." Ashton demanded that Israel immediately lift its blockade on Gaza, and reiterated that the EU opposes the existence of the West Bank separation fence. (Ha'aretz)
Palestinian gunmen opened fire on a number of different occasions in recent days at Egyptian construction workers building a steel fence meant to separate Egypt from Gaza, Egyptian media reported on Thursday. (Ynet News)
See also Egypt Soldier Shot Dead by Egyptian Smugglers Thursday (Reuters)
On Sunday the Israeli cabinet will be asked to approve transfer of responsibility for security on the Mount of Olives to the Construction and Housing Ministry. In addition to the security cameras and regular police patrols, the ministry will provide a budget for a private security company that will maintain a constant presence on the mount. At the beginning of December the headstone of the recently deceased Rebbe of Lalov was smashed by vandals using hammers. This was the latest case in which gravesites have been desecrated. Police suspect local Arab residents were responsible. (Jerusalem Post)
See also The Mount of Olives in Jerusalem: Why Continued Israeli Control Is Vital - Nadav Shragai (ICA-Jerusalem Center)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
It should now be patently clear that the effort to dissuade Iran from developing nuclear weapons has failed. For Tehran, the negotiations have been nothing more than one long stall - a ruse to buy time, conduct more tests, and hasten the day Iran becomes a nuclear power. At this moment, we appear headed toward learning to live with an Iranian bomb, so it is worth reflecting on what living with a nuclear Iran would mean for the U.S., the Middle East and the world.
A nuclear Iran would be emboldened in its efforts to destabilize the Middle East and export its revolutionary ideology. This could lead to bolder interference in Iraq and Afghanistan, greater mischief in Lebanon and more aggressive support for Hamas and Hizbullah. Tehran also could incite Shia populations in the Gulf States, thus threatening the survival of moderate Arab governments.
Iran's possession of a nuclear bomb would likely start a nuclear cascade across the Middle East, as nations threatened by Iran question U.S. security guarantees and seek their own deterrent capability. Within a decade, we could see Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and others seeking nuclear weapons to protect against Iranian aggression. Furthermore, Tehran already supplies dangerous weapons to Hizbullah and Hamas, and might share nuclear materials with radical extremists who would not hesitate to use them against the U.S., Israel and other allies.
Rather than yield to the notion that the nuclear ambitions of Iran's current regime are unchangeable, we should redouble our efforts to bring about a change of heart in the regime through sanctions if possible; by other means if necessary. The writer served as secretary of defense from 1997 to 2001. (Washington Times)
If you listen to U.S. officialdom, Iran is a pariah, cast out by the world community for its sanctions-violating, nuclear-wannabe ways. But is Iran really isolated? Since Iran's June election, Ahmadinejad has posed alongside Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a regional security summit in the Urals, met with the president of Turkey, hosted the Emir of Qatar, dropped in on The Gambia and made plans to visit Turkmenistan. Last month he dropped by Bolivia, Brazil and Venezuela - to follow up on plans to set up an Iranian-Venezuelan "nuclear village." The Iranian regime has continued its own outreach around the globe, with multibillion-dollar deals for Chinese investment in Iranian oil refineries, and plans to run a bank, build an amusement park, and assemble Iranian cars in Belarus.
Israel's former ambassador to the UN, Dore Gold, accurately summarizes the problem in his new book, The Rise of Nuclear Iran. Gold writes that since Iran's Islamic revolution 30 years ago, "Iran has not acted like the typical state, carefully calibrating its national interests, but rather as the vanguard of a revolutionary movement." He notes the Islamic Republic's constitution calls openly for "continuation of the Revolution at home and abroad." The writer is a journalist-in-residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Forbes)
Now seeking refuge in the UK, a defecting member of Iran's infamous Basij militia spoke about the orders he was given to ensure President Ahmadinejad won the election. "The orders for all that you witnessed came before the election....For three or four months before the election we attended classes on ideological and political thought and crowd control." "We had received orders a matter of months before that there is the jurisprudence of the Imam Zaman (the 12th Imam, who is expected to return like a Messiah), whose incarnation is Ayatollah Khamenei, and that he had announced that for the advancement and development of Islam and the development of the revolution, no one could be more effective than Ahmadinejad. Therefore the order came that Khamenei has Ahmadinejad in mind for the presidency and so he must be announced as the winner."
"For us who were responsible for the ballot boxes the order was this: that Khamenei's wish is for Ahmadinejad to win. For illiterate people and those not able to complete their ballots, you must do so for them and complete them accordingly (for Ahmadinejad), no matter who their vote was intended for. Same with blank votes....After the voting was over it was only us who were there. We were honest in that the command was followed."
After the elections, "any hint of protest was to be firmly suppressed....I had witnessed attacks before but never at this level. People wouldn't stay back, they couldn't be suppressed and we were really in trouble....They would be dispersed, then gather again and come back. They were standing up to us....We had permission to shoot."
"I saw everything you can imagine, from the beating of an old man who could barely walk to the beating of a small child who couldn't reach for his mother's hand." "The command was to arrest as many 12-18-year-olds as possible and bring them back. They said this group caused the most trouble so the idea was not to give them any opportunity to congregate....Several locations had been prepared to take them and keep them there. They had some containers ready....Over 18s went into one container and the under 18s into the several other containers....Then we heard noise from the yard....The sound came from the containers. The sound of screams and pleading and crying....I couldn't believe that they would want to do such a thing: to rape." (Channel 4-UK)
See also A Democratic Activist in Tehran - Heshmat Tabarzadi (Wall Street Journal)
Universal Jurisdiction in Britain
The Israeli judicial system is perfectly capable of bringing offenders to justice, and needs no help from its British counterpart. But our courts are now obliged to observe the International Criminal Court Act of 2001. This enables opportunistic campaigners to persuade magistrates to issue arrest warrants against those suspected of war crimes. Unlike other European states, and despite official assurances, we have done nothing to protect friendly politicians. After all, it was thanks to the efforts of Israeli intelligence that the existence of Iran's top-secret uranium enrichment facility at Natanz was revealed to the world. And were it not for its air strikes against a Syrian reactor in 2007, Damascus would be well on the way to building nuclear weapons.
As Ron Prosor, the Israeli ambassador to London, reminded David Miliband when he lodged a formal complaint at the Foreign Office over Mrs. Livni's reprehensible treatment, Israel is an important ally in the fight against terrorism, as well as a key player in the international effort to bring Iran to its senses. For these reasons alone it makes sense for British politicians and officials to have a constructive dialogue with their Israeli counterparts, rather than allowing them to be portrayed as criminals. Can you imagine the outrage in Britain if an Israeli court attempted to detain Jack Straw for his role in supporting the Iraq war? If this important, and mutually beneficial, alliance is to be maintained, Israeli officials need to be able to travel to Britain with impunity. It is in the government's interests that it acts quickly to amend the flawed 2001 Act, and ensure that anti-Israel extremists are prevented from taking the law into their own hands. (Telegraph-UK)
See also No Way to Treat an Ally - Editorial
The decision by Tzipi Livni, Israel's former foreign minister, to cancel a visit to London because of fears that she might be arrested has not done much to enhance Britain's international reputation for fair dealing. Until recently, Livni was regarded as an important ally in the British government's efforts to revive the Middle East peace process. In its eagerness to placate Islamic radicals, the Foreign Office is more inclined to indulge Arab leaders who advocate terrorism than Israelis who seek to uphold the values of the region's only democratic state. The Foreign Secretary owes Livni an apology - and he should take immediate action to ensure that there is no repeat of this disgraceful treatment of one of Britain's key regional allies. (Telegraph-UK)
The move to get former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni arrested is part of the climate of creeping anti-Semitism in Britain. We do not go in for the hard stuff yet, but whether it is subtly but relentlessly bent TV reporting of the Middle East conflict, or attempts in British universities to deny Israeli academics the freedom of expression notionally protected at the UN by countries such as Cuba or Libya, institutionalized anti-Semitism, assisted now by the law, is gaining ground.
Under our pristine, ultra-democratic system (any politically motivated Joe can apply for an arrest warrant under the International Criminal Court Act, 2001) and indulgent lawyers, Britain is a soft touch for propagandistic exercises like the one we have seen. Their minds filled with selective TV imagery of the Gaza conflict, the reaction of many a fair-minded Brit to the idea of seizing a former Israeli minister will be: "Why not?"
Glad of the distraction, the Iranians will meanwhile gain a few more days or weeks in which to perfect their nuclear triggers, and to polish the speech we must expect a few months hence, announcing with regretful mien that, though they began with a peaceful atomic program, Israeli threats to Tehran and genocide in Gaza left them with no option but to develop a deterrent. The writer is a former diplomat and Conservative MP. (Times-UK)
In an interview with Ha'aretz this week, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was in an upbeat and jovial mood, smiling all over and looking confident. Abbas has become an all-powerful leader in the West Bank. On Sunday and Monday alone, his forces there arrested 300 Hamas activists. The domestic threat to Abbas' rule has been removed. The current situation in the West Bank is one of the best, if not the best, since 1948. Quiet prevails in the streets of every city, the economy is starting to take off, and the civilian police are maintaining law and order. Israel is helping by getting rid of checkpoints. The quality of life of the average Palestinian has improved dramatically in comparison with past years. A Palestinian journalist this week called the situation in the West Bank "terrific."
In Gaza, thanks to an extensive network of charitable organizations, and millions of dollars coming in from abroad, Hamas is still able to buy the good will of the street and supply the people with what they want. The movement projects credibility and, mainly, a sense of power. There is no organization or faction capable of challenging its rule. (Ha'aretz)
See also Abbas: Jerusalem Will Always Be Ours
Mahmoud Abbas told a demonstration in Nablus on Thursday: "Jerusalem is ours and it will remain ours." (Maan News-PA)
Gaza and the West Bank represent opposite poles of a future state of Palestine, adding fresh obstacles to the quest for a two-state solution that envisions Israel and Palestine existing side by side. Gaza has become imbued with a narrow Islamist culture that considers Israel's elimination the ultimate goal; the West Bank, in contrast, has become relatively open and secular, with its government trying to resolve disputes with Israel through politics and diplomacy. In the process, the two Palestinian territories have grown increasingly antagonistic toward each other.
Where the West Bank is enjoying renewed economic growth and an emerging sense of possibility, Gaza has become a place of makeshift jobs, handouts and smuggled goods. Doubts have deepened about how and whether two places so different can be knit back together. (Washington Post)
The immediate reason for the collapse of the March 14 alliance is to be found in policy reversals by two of its major backers, France and Saudi Arabia. The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, initiated a spectacular rapprochement with Syria that remains puzzling. European officials admit that Paris gave Syria all it had to offer - international embrace and opening to the EU. An even more lethal hit came from Saudi Arabia. Calculating that the costs of confrontation in Lebanon were too high for too small a return, and increasingly focused on Iran, Iraq and Yemen, Riyadh engineered a detente with Damascus.
UN resolution 1559, which demanded the disarmament of all armed groups, is now contradicted by the ministerial statement recognizing Hizbullah's right to resist. Resolution 1701, which imposed a security regime at the border with Israel, is breached daily by massive Hizbullah resupply and positioning of weaponry in nominally UN-controlled territory.
The rush to reconcile with Hizbullah should not be misread: it is a consequence of the Shia militia's proven ability to intimidate and coerce. While it is true that in its recent manifesto Hizbullah no longer calls for an Islamist state in Lebanon, it has replaced that delusion with an even grander one in which state and society serve muqawama, or resistance. (The National-Abu Dhabi)
See also Has Hizbullah Changed? The 7th Hizbullah General Conference and Its Continued Ideology of Resistance - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira (ICA-Jerusalem Center)
Sixty years ago, a converted World War II Victory ship carrying 888 pregnant Holstein cows steamed across the Atlantic Ocean to help make Israel a "land of milk and honey." 200 cows gave birth at sea and only six died, said Morris Levy, the only veterinarian aboard. An armistice ending the 1948 Arab-Israeli War had been signed in March 1949. Ten months of battling six Arab states had depleted the nation's food supply. The native Syrian and Damascene cattle were not heavy milkers.
Levy, now 90, received a doctorate in veterinary medicine in 1943 from Auburn University veterinary school. At Sol and Ben Levinson's dairy farm near Williamsburg, Va., Levy met members of the Israeli Cattlemen's Association. The Israelis had $1 million to spend on livestock and the Levinsons recommended Levy to help them spend it wisely. Throughout the Midwest and Northeast, the Israelis bought heavy milkers and shipped them by rail to Newport News. The Levinsons recruited 42 Mennonite dairymen from Virginia and Pennsylvania to handle and milk the cattle. "They were overjoyed to be going to the land of Jesus," Levy said. Many Israeli dairy herds descend from the Holsteins Levy ably shepherded. (Washington Post)
Israel is taking the lead in water technology, the latest export-oriented industry to help it weather the effects of the global meltdown. A growing number of Israeli firms are offering cutting-edge expertise in areas such as desalination technology, sewage-eating bacteria and wastewater treatment. "Israel is definitely one of the leaders, if not the leader, when it comes to water....I think of Israel as the Silicon Valley of water," said Shawn Lesser, president of Sustainable World Capital, an Atlanta investment group. Israel's fastest growing technology company this year was Aqwise, a water treatment company that uses small, bacteria-dispensing plastic cubes to break down sewage, increasing treatment efficiency and capacity, with sales increasing by 50% this year.
Israel's interest in water technology goes back decades, an emphasis that started out of necessity in a country that is two-thirds desert. Shaul Arlosoroff, a leading Israeli water expert, said yearly consumption hovers around 200 cubic meters per capita, about one-sixth the amount of water consumed by the average Californian. Thanks to advances in wastewater treatment, most of the country's agriculture is now cultivated with recycled water, according to the Agriculture Ministry. (AP/Business Week)
Holocaust inversion involves successful efforts to demonize Israelis as Nazis for allegedly committing war crimes against Palestinians. The first serious study of this phenomenon appears in an important book, The Abuse of Holocaust Memory: Distortions and Responses, by Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, published jointly by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the Anti-Defamation League. Gerstenfeld systematically defines the new anti-Semitism, presents a chronology of its development, provides an analysis of its various components (including dejudaization, obliteration of Holocaust memory, trivialization, equivalence and inversion), and draws a template for how it should be neutralized. Combating Holocaust inversion, he concludes, "requires first understanding the nature of the abuse, which must then be followed by exposing the perpetrators who must be turned into the accused." (Jerusalem Post)
How to Stop Iran - Olivier Debouzy (Wall Street Journal)
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