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January 15, 2010

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Iraq Erasing Hebrew Inscriptions from Ezekiel's Tomb - Ksenia Svetlova (Jerusalem Post)
    For centuries Jews, Christians and Muslims came to Al-Kifl, a small town south of Baghdad, to visit the tomb of the Prophet Ezekiel and pray.
    The Al-Kifl shrine has a distinctive Jewish character, namely the Hebrew inscriptions and the Torah Ark.
    The vast majority of Iraq's Jewish community left some 60 years ago, but Shi'ites took good care of the holy site - until now.
    Recently the Iraqi news agency Ur reported that a huge mosque will be built on top of the grave by Iraq's Antiquities and Heritage Authority, while Hebrew inscriptions and ornaments are being removed from the site, all as part of renovations.
    Prof. Shmuel Moreh of Hebrew University confirmed the report. "I first heard the news of tomb desecration from a friend of mine who is a German scholar. After visiting the site he called me and said that some Hebrew inscriptions on the grave were covered by plaster and that a mosque is planned to be built on top of the tomb."
    "Someone must intervene before it's too late," Moreh warned.

Turkish TV Series May Lead to New Crises with Israel (Today's Zaman-Turkey)
    Bahadir Ozdener, a scriptwriter for the Turkish television series "Valley of the Wolves," has started work on a new spinoff, "Valley of the Wolves: Palestine," which might lead to more crises between Turkey and Israel.
    Ozdener said they could have been even harsher in their criticism of Israel in the series. "We were trying to show that Israel and the United States are behind acts of terrorism," he said.
    In one part of the series, the main character rescues a man who was held at the Israeli Embassy. Ozdener also said that they had featured a Jewish doctor who was involved in an organ mafia.
    Israel has complained that Turkey should be more careful about how it depicts Israel in the television series.
    See also View Segment from Turkish TV Series (YouTube)
    (Warning: graphic violence portrayed)

"Lady Al-Qaeda" Demands Jews Be Excluded from Jury - Alison Gendar (New York Daily News)
    Aafia Siddiqui, 37, a U.S.-trained neuroscientist, is on trial in New York charged with attempted murder. She is accused of picking up an M-4 Army rifle and firing two rounds at a team of Americans who tried to question her in Afghanistan on July 18, 2008.
    Prosecutors argue she screamed, "Allah Akbar" and vowed to kill Americans before she was wrestled to the ground. She had two pounds of poisonous sodium cyanide and hundreds of pages of notes and documents on how to build chemical and biological weapons.
    On Wednesday during jury selection she demanded that Jews be excluded from the panel.

The Rome-Tehran Axis - Giulio Meotti (Wall Street Journal)
    Next to Germany, Italy is Iran's most important European trade partner, with about 1,000 Italian companies active in Iran.
    Italian companies have equipped the regime's military and contributed to Iran's satellite and possibly even nuclear weapons program.
    Despite international sanctions against Iran, Italian exports to the Islamic Republic rose almost 17% in 2008.

    See also German Companies Enable Iran's Nuclear Program and Infrastructure - Adam Turner (Realite-EU-Global Arab Network)
    While Chancellor Merkel has vocally stated her opposition to Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapon, Germany continues to be Iran's largest trading partner in the EU.
    Germany's exports to Iran reached $426.4 million in September 2009, with imports totaling $140 million.

Dissidents Use Iran Currency for Protest Messages - Brian Murphy (AP/Washington Post)
    Iran's anti-government demonstrators have taken their protests to a new venue: writing "Death to the Dictator" and other opposition slogans on bank notes, while officials scramble to yank the bills from circulation.
    The trend has been enough to bring public denunciations from such financial overseers as the central bank governor.
    A top banking official, Ebrahim Darvishi, said that as of Jan. 7, banks would no longer accept cash with graffiti.
    Meanwhile, the images of the bills have become a favorite posting on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

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Hamas Kiddie TV's "Blood-Drinking Jews" - Andy Soltis (New York Post)
    Hamas' terrorist TV channel is launching a new cartoon series that depicts a new enemy, the Palestinian Authority police.
    A pilot episode shows a toadyish Palestinian officer watching as a Jewish character machine-guns a group of West Bank children to death and drinks their blood.
    "You killed our children before my eyes," the officer says meekly. "I will respond with even more peace."
    The cartoon portrays a PA police officer named Bahlul, "buffoon" in Arabic, who kisses the feet and shines the shoes of an Israeli soldier.
    He says he would shoot his brother, divorce his wife and arrest his relatives if the Israelis ordered him to do so.

Three Charged in Scheme to Illegally Export Technology to Iran (AP/Miami Herald)
    The FBI says Jirair Avanessian, 56, of Glendale, California, has been charged along with two Iranians, Farhoud Masoumian and Amirhossein Sairafi, in a conspiracy to illegally export technology to Iran.
    The three are accused of conspiring for at least two years to export vacuum pumps and other equipment made by Avanessian's company to Iran.

NYC Consultant Accused of Violating Iran Embargo - Larry Neumeister (AP/ABC News)
    Mahmoud Reza Banki, 33, a management consultant in New York, is accused of setting up a system for Iranians to move money internationally in violation of a U.S. embargo, and federal prosecutors used his arrest to show they are trying to stop money from flowing to Iran.

Israeli Heron UAV Competes with U.S. Predator (Strategy Page)
    The Brazilian Federal Police are buying 14 Israeli Heron UAVs for border patrol and monitoring the interior for illegal mining and logging.
    Heron has become a popular alternative to the American Predator UAV. Last year Australian troops in Afghanistan began using Israeli Heron UAVs. Canada received its first Herons in 2008.
    Heron is actually getting a lot of sales because the U.S. Predator manufacturer cannot keep up with orders. Israeli UAVs have a good reputation.

Record Number of Tourists to Israel in December - Ron Friedman (Jerusalem Post)
    December 2009 saw 225,000 tourists enter Israel, an 11% increase from 2008 and an all-time record for the month, the Tourism Ministry announced Tuesday.
    Some 2.7 million tourists visited Israel in 2009.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bomb Targets Israeli Diplomatic Convoy in Jordan
    A bomb exploded near a car carrying three Israeli diplomats in Jordan Thursday close to the Allenby Bridge. No one was hurt. (Reuters-New York Times)
        See also Jordan Arrests Suspect in Attack on Israeli Convoy - Amos Harel and Barak Ravid
    Thursday's bombing was the first time a roadside explosive device was used in an attack in Jordan, where suicide bombings and shootings have targeted foreigners in recent years. The method is widespread in neighboring Iraq. The blast left a large hole about 3 feet deep. (Ha'aretz)
  • Life Sentence for Seattle Jewish Office Shooting - Gene Johnson
    Naveed Haq, 34, was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without parole for killing one woman and wounding five others at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle on July 28, 2006. Haq held a teenage girl at gunpoint as he forced his way into the center. He stalked through the second-floor office, firing as workers dove for cover beneath their desks or leapt from windows. Pamela Waechter, director of the charity's annual fundraising campaign, was killed as she fled down a stairwell. The shooting ended after Haq spoke with a 911 operator, criticized Israel and U.S. foreign policy, demanded to get on CNN, then gave himself up, saying he had made his point.
        Prosecutors detailed his extensive preparations for the attack - including writing anti-Israel manifestos, mapping the center's address on the Internet, and test-firing his guns as he drove toward Seattle. They also played jailhouse recordings of conversations in which Haq told his mother he had done "a good thing." King County Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas ruled: "Mr. Haq understood his plan, knew it was wrong and carried it out anyway."  (AP/Washington Post)
  • Two Men Charged with Aiding 2008 Attacks in India - Jeff Coen
    Tahawwur Rana and David Coleman Headley were indicted Thursday in Chicago for their role in aiding the planning of the 2008 terror assault in Mumbai that killed 170 people. The indictment alleges that Rana knew of the planned attacks as long ago as 2006, and that he allowed Headley to travel as a representative of his Chicago-based immigration business when Headley went overseas to scout locations for the attacks on hotels, a train station and Habad House. Six Americans were among those killed. (Chicago Tribune)
  • Egypt Pressuring Hamas to Accept Reconciliation with Fatah - Adel Zaanoun
    After years of largely ignoring the smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, "Egypt decided to build the steel wall in order to punish Hamas, which irritated Cairo by refusing to sign the reconciliation agreement [with Fatah]," says Emad Gad of Cairo's Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. Until now Egypt has been Hamas' primary diplomatic intermediary and key to its plan to one day permanently reopen the Rafah border crossing, the only Gaza terminal not controlled by Israel. Egypt has said Rafah can only be reopened after Hamas is reconciled with Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement. "We want Palestinian reconciliation because without stopping the internal fighting there will never be a Palestinian state," says Mohammed Bassiouni, a former Egyptian ambassador to Israel. Egypt is not willing to renegotiate the unity deal proposed last autumn, he said. "The ball is in Hamas' court."  (AFP/Telegraph-UK)
        See also Egypt Building Anchorage Near Gaza for Patrol Boats
    Egypt is building an anchorage for patrol boats at Rafah on its Gaza sea border, further bolstering its defenses against weapons smuggling by Palestinians, security sources said on Thursday. "The new anchorage will enhance the work of the Egyptian patrol boats on the sea border with Gaza and prevent any attempts of smuggling by sea," said another security source. (Reuters/Trade Arabia-Bahrain)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Aid Mission Leaves for Haiti - Anshel Pfeffer and Barak Ravid
    The Israel Defense Forces' aid mission to Haiti left Israel Thursday with equipment for setting up an emergency field hospital. Around 220 soldiers and officers are in the delegation, including 120 medical staff who will operate the hospital in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. The mission includes 40 doctors, 20 paramedics and 24 nurses, as well as medics and medical technicians. A third of the delegation is made up of reservists who were called up especially for the mission. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israeli Ambassador Reports from Haiti - Haviv Rettig Gur
    Amos Radian, Israel's ambassador to the neighboring Dominican Republic, arrived in Port-au-Prince on Wednesday and began sending reports back to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. Speaking to the Jerusalem Post, he related horrors "the likes of which I have never seen in my life." "There is a strange quiet in the streets. Thousands of people are sitting in the middle of the street afraid to enter the buildings. The city is destroyed. You see corpses lying alongside every street corner. People are wandering aimlessly. It's a very difficult sight, and nobody is there to help. I passed a poor residential area, and you could see that the entire mountainside turned into an avalanche and every last home was destroyed."
        Passing the collapsed remains of the Montana Hotel, Radian spoke to an American rescue worker who said there was a U.S. diplomat trapped under the rubble who had survived the quake and was sending SMS messages to his family in the U.S. "I didn't notice a single ambulance or rescue crew in many hours of walking." "There is no water, no food, no fuel, and no central government to bring order. The entire law enforcement system has collapsed. Hospitals are in ruins....Local government is nonexistent."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Police Forensics Team Set to Depart for Haiti - Yaakov Lappin
    A police forensics team is set to depart for Haiti on Friday to assist in the identification of casualties, led by Dr. Zipi Kahana, a forensics expert, as well as fingerprint expert Ze'ev Segel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Relations Warm between MDA and PA Red Crescent - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
    ln Jerusalem on Sunday, top representatives of Magen David Adom, Israel's emergency medical society, Jordan's Red Crescent and the Palestinian Authority's Health Ministry said that the transfers of seriously ill Palestinians to hospitals in Israel has greatly improved. Dalia Bassa, the Civil Administration coordinator of health issues in the West Bank, said that in 2009, her office facilitated the transfer of 3,000 emergency and non-emergency cases from Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances to MDA vehicles for treatment in Israel. When a Ramallah journalist claimed that "many" died during the transfer, Bassa said that those in critical condition should not have been taken by ambulance "without coordination," as it was known they could not survive such a move.
        For the first time, 15 Jordanians are studying for their bachelor's degrees in paramedics at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • U.S. Crafting New, Low-Key Middle East Strategy - James D. Besser
    There is a growing sense in Washington that the Obama administration - chastened by its early misstep on settlements and its premature promises of quick progress in restarting stalled negotiations - is crafting a low-key, pragmatic plan that limits expectations, rejects dramatic public events and takes into account the political dilemmas faced by both Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Abbas. Despite some press reports, Washington is unlikely to ratchet up pressure on Netanyahu or spell out detailed U.S. positions on critical issues like borders and the status of Jewish settlement blocs.
        David Makovsky, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the administration is on the verge of a significant policy shift, with an emphasis on addressing the top concerns of both sides while eschewing high-profile meetings and sweeping expectations. Palestinian leaders "want 'proximity talks,'" Makovsky said. "They want [U.S. special envoy George] Mitchell shuttling from side to side, building momentum." Israel, on the other hand, prefers direct talks to third-party mediation, Makovsky said. Initially, the talks are likely to focus on the single issue of territory and borders, he said. Abbas is ready to move past the settlements roadblock - erected in large measure by the Obama administration's initial focus on a complete freeze, he said.
        Edward Walker, a former State Department official and one-time U.S. ambassador in Tel Aviv, said that what's shaping up may be more a diplomatic holding action than a serious ratcheting up of U.S. involvement. The reason: leaders on both sides are not ready to embrace the political risks any real move back to serious negotiations would entail. And the administration, he said, knows that. "There's nothing new that would warrant a new U.S. peace push at this time," Walker said. "The Palestinians are still conflicted and unable to operate together; and generally, there is decreasing interest around the world in the two-state solution."  (New York Jewish Week)
  • Is Gaza Occupied? Redefining the Legal Status of Gaza - Elizabeth Samson
    Despite whatever previous classifications have been applied to Gaza, Gaza is presently not an occupied territory. Israel presently does not exercise "effective control" over Gaza and, therefore, does not occupy it. That element, combined with the existence of the Palestinian Authority as the indigenous government endorsed by the population which is recognized by the international community, lends additional weight to the conclusion that occupation is over. Therefore, the new legal status of Gaza should be that of a "sui generis territory" administered by the Palestinian Authority.
        It is politically important for the absence of occupation to be acknowledged by international legal experts so that Israel would not be held to the more stringent legal requirements of an occupier and to lend greater legitimacy to Israel's acts of self-defense. The writer is a Visiting Fellow at the Hudson Institute and a Research Associate at the BESA Center. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • It's Time Obama Pressed the PA - Geoffrey Alderman
    Don't be fooled by the crocodile tears shed by the PA and its sympathizers over Gaza and Israel's military action there a year ago. Of course the deaths of many Gazan civilians are to be regretted. But the brutal Hamas regime that controls Gaza has little support in the Arab world, where its complete inability to repulse the Israeli onslaught has been noted. Besides, if Hamas had its way, Mahmoud Abbas, living the good life in Ramallah, would be dead by now. And he knows it.
        During 2009, Abbas negotiated eagerly with the U.S., the UK and the EU. But not with Israel. He must be made to realize that the international community - but above all the U.S. - will not do his negotiating for him. Until he is disabused of his evident belief that peace lies in this direction, there will be no meaningful negotiations. And no peace. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)


  • The Greening of Islam - Abbas Milani
    The Iranian Green Movement is a revolt against theocracy. Most of its adherents are young Iranians with little or no religious motivation. To varying degrees, thinkers and theologians identified with the democratic movement have been offering a new reading of Shiism that makes the faith more amenable to democracy and secularism. The most significant innovation - found in essays, sermons, books, and even fatwas - is the acceptance of the separation of mosque and state, the idea that religion must be limited to the private domain. The writer is Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford, where he is the co-director of the Iran Democracy Project. (New Republic)
  • Ayatollahs Desert Iran's Besieged Regime - Nir Boms and Shayan Arya
    Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini's successor, Ali Khamenei, never enjoyed the religious and moral authority of his predecessor. Khamenei, a mid-level cleric who had never completed the equivalent of a PhD for Shia religious students, ascended to the rank of grand ayatollah within three months of the death of Khomeini. He began his career by putting his rival, grand ayatollah Hosein Ali Montazeri, under house arrest. Montazeri, once designated as the successor to Khomeini, became Khamenei's most vocal opponent.
        Last month, grand ayatollah Javadi Amoli, who performs Friday prayers in Qom, announced his resignation, expressing his frustration with the Supreme Leader. Ayatollah Reza Ostadi, a Friday prayer leader in Qom, condemned the "extremism in support of the Supreme Leader" in a recent sermon. In response, one of President Ahmadinejad's aides launched a verbal attack on Ostadi. However, no less than 19 top members of Qom seminaries issued an open letter in support of their colleague. Last June, a video clip of Grand Ayatollah Ali Mohammed Dastghaib, the most senior religious figure in Fars, appeared on YouTube. In it, he openly called the Supreme Leader an apostate who should be removed from God's mercy. In another YouTube clip, Ayatollah Shirazi called Khamenei "worse than Yazid," referring to a historical figure who is the embodiment of Satan for Shi'ites.
        It is becoming increasingly evident that the moral authority of the Supreme Leader is fading. Nir Boms is vice-president of the Center for Freedom in the Middle East. Shayan Arya is an Iranian activist and a member of the Constitutionalist Party of Iran. (The Australian)

    Other Issues

  • Egypt's Gaza Wall - Gamal A. G. Soltan
    Following Hamas' victory in Palestine's legislative elections of 2006 and the Islamists' takeover in Gaza the following year, Hamas became Egypt's neighbor. Hamas' policy made it look as if it were taking Egypt for granted; Cairo realized the time had come to send Hamas a strong message. For the past year, Egypt mediated between Israel and Hamas toward renewal of a ceasefire and an exchange of prisoners, along with Palestinian reconciliation talks. Egypt sought a successful conclusion of the talks so that the situation in Gaza could be normalized until the time came for a final peace deal between the Palestinians and Israel. The months-long negotiations did not produce any positive results. It was Hamas that was most reluctant to demonstrate the needed flexibility.
        Egypt's new policy is a way to make Hamas realize the hard realities of power and geography. The writer is director of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. (bitterlemons-international)
  • Turkish-Israeli Relations - Editorial
    Under Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, Ankara's foreign policy is driven by Islamic solidarity. A country that was once directed by Western-oriented secularists is now under the sway of his democratically-elected AKP, a Muslim religious party. Vigorous support for Hamas, Iran and Hizbullah is the order of the day. On Monday, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon summoned Turkish ambassador to Israel Ahmet Celikkol to protest Turkey's continuing scapegoating of the Jewish state. In an episode of "The Valley of the Wolves," Turkish television portrayed Israeli agents and diplomats as blood-thirsty baby-snatchers who abduct Muslim children in order to convert them to Judaism. "Wolves" and "Separation" before it - IDF soldiers as sociopathic child-killers - are products of the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation which is overseen by Bulent Arinc, a prominent AKP figure. Erdogan seems intent on torpedoing Israel-Turkish ties. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israeli Travel to Turkey Dropped 44 Percent in 2009 - Ron Friedman (Jerusalem Post)
  • Wahhabism and the First Amendment - Michael W. Schwartz
    For nearly 30 years, the U.S. government has turned a blind and even benign eye on the creation within the U.S. of a network of Wahhabist mosques and related Wahhabist entities paid for and frequently staffed by the Saudi establishment - a network now bearing bitter fruit. The total number of Wahhabi-funded mosques in the U.S. is huge: Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S., estimates that Wahhabis with pro-Saudi leanings dominate 800 of the estimated 1,200 mosques in this country. Even non-Saudi-financed mosques often employ Saudi or other Arab imams who have been sent here by the World Muslim League, a vehicle created and financed by Saudis for spreading Wahhabism around the world.
        This Wahhabi network has now been linked to incidents of "home-grown terrorism." The Fort Hood murderer, Major Nidal Hasan, was a congregant of the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va. Dar al-Hijrah's membership includes a rogues' gallery of terrorist sympathizers and participants, at least two now serving long prison sentences, another deported, a third an unindicted co-conspirator in the first World Trade Center case, and two of the 9/11 perpetrators.
        The assumption that American law cannot distinguish between Saudi mosques and American mosques is baseless. There is no case holding that a foreign religious establishment is entitled to claim the protections of the First Amendment. (Commentary)
  • The Real U.S.-Israel Relationship - Editorial
    The recent news item "U.S. to Double Weapons Stockpile in Israel," which Israel would be allowed to use in a military emergency, highlights the yawning gap between what we read on a daily basis about a U.S.-Israel relationship that is always on the verge of unraveling, and the everyday reality of two countries with critical interests in common and a growing nexus of relationships for collaborating and cooperating.
        In an increasingly perilous world, the U.S. and Israel have more shared interests than ever before. Israel has long been on the front lines in the battle between lawless terrorists and the civilized world. In the post-9/11 era, America, too, has become a target, and cooperation between the two allies grows stronger by the day. Despite periodic differences over the best route to Israeli-Palestinian peace, Israel remains our most reliable and important friend in the region, a fact U.S. strategic planners understand with a clarity uncolored by breathless headlines. (New York Jewish Week)
  • Dead Sea Scrolls Safest in Israeli Hands - Mindelle Jacobs
    The 2,000-year-old Dead Sea scrolls have just finished a six-month exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum and the Jordanians have complained to UNESCO that the scrolls belong to them. This follows claims by Palestinian authorities last year that the scrolls belong to the Palestinians. What would the Palestinians do if they actually got their hands on the Dead Sea scrolls? Respectfully put them on display so people could see them? How long would it be before a nutbar swayed by anti-Jewish propaganda destroyed them?
        After all, the Dead Sea scrolls have nothing to do with Islam. What significance could this precious Hebrew collection, written by Jews from the third century BCE to the first century CE, have for the Muslim world? The Dead Sea scrolls are safe in Israeli hands. This brouhaha is just another pathetic attempt to poke Israel in the eye. (Toronto Sun-Canada)

    Weekend Features

  • The Tel Aviv Cluster - David Brooks
    Jews make up 0.2% of the world population, but 54% of the world chess champions, 27% of the Nobel physics laureates and 31% of the medicine laureates. Jews make up 2% of the U.S. population, but 21% of the Ivy League student bodies, 38% of those on a recent Business Week list of leading philanthropists, and 51% of the Pulitzer Prize winners for nonfiction. Israel has weathered the global recession reasonably well. Analysts at Barclay's write that Israel is "the strongest recovery story" in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
        Some oil-rich states spend billions trying to build science centers. But places like Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv are created by a confluence of cultural forces, not money. The surrounding nations do not have the tradition of free intellectual exchange and technical creativity. For example, between 1980 and 2000, Egyptians registered 77 patents in the U.S. Saudis registered 171. Israelis registered 7,652. (New York Times)
  • Bomb Shelters Where Swings Should Be - Daniel Burnett
    Imagine driving through town with two young children - both in car seats - merrily gazing out the window. A siren begins wailing. You know you have 15 seconds before a rocket will descend somewhere on your town. You slam on the brakes: 14 seconds ... 13 ... 12 ... The car stops and you fumble for your seat belt: 11 ... 10 ... 9 ... You get out of the car and open your child's door: 8 ... 7 ... Hands shaking, heart beating, you ask yourself: Which of my children do I save? This is the hell the residents of Sderot face - a situation that has caused many parents to only bring one child with them when they drive anywhere.
        Last year, there were three to four rocket attacks daily, or roughly one every six to eight hours. Babies instinctively throw up their arms when they hear the sirens because they know someone will pick them up and carry them away. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • A Tribute to Former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid - Rabbi Abraham Cooper
    In June 2007, in front of the world media in Bali, former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid opened a conference of world religious leaders united against terror by throwing down the gauntlet to none other than Iranian "President Ahmadinejad. He is my friend but when he lies about the Nazi Holocaust, I must speak out against him." In 2008, he gave his blessing for six Muslim leaders from his 40 million-member Nahdlatul Ulama group to visit Israel. Last year, the Simon Wiesenthal Center bestowed our Medal of Valor on Abdurrahman Wahid at a ceremony in Beverly Hills. His personal presence was his way, he told me, of underscoring his personal friendship with the Jewish people and deep and abiding respect for the values of Judaism. [Abdurrahman Wahid died on Dec. 30.] The writer is associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. (Jakarta Post-Indonesia)
        See also The Legacy of a True Friend - Colin Rubenstein
    The writer is executive director of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Anti-Zionism in Canadian Churches - Paul C. Merkley
    Mainline Canadian churches, like their counterparts in the U.S., have addressed petitions seeking commitment to the Durban indictment against Israel. The laity of Canadian Protestant churches is generally pro-Israel and they, along with pro-Israel Jewish organizations, are ultimately a stronger factor than these churches' often anti-Israel leadership. Since entering office in 2007, the Conservative Harper government has pursued a much friendlier policy toward Israel and much of Harper's base consists of Evangelical and Pentecostal groups with marked pro-Israel tendencies. The writer is professor emeritus in history at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
        See also Canada Cuts Funding to Anti-Israel Groups - Roni Rachmani
    The Canadian government has recently decided to cut back or entirely withdraw the funding to organizations that encourage a boycott of Israel or Israeli products, including pro-Palestinian and Christian groups. One such organization is the Kairos welfare agency, a social apparatus serving 11 Catholic and Protestant groups and churches promoting "liberation theology," which lost $7 million, half of its annual budget. Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said the agency's budget was cut in light of its anti-Semitic positions, adding the group preaches recognition for such terror organizations as Hamas and Hizbullah while rejecting the Jewish people's right for a state. (Ynet News)
  • Newly Released Recordings Shed Light on Hitler's Suicide - Ofer Aderet
    New testimony on the death of Adolf Hitler in his Berlin bunker came to light in Germany this week. The Spiegel TV channel discovered recordings of statements given by Hitler's aide, SS officer Otto Gunsche, and his valet, Heinz Linge - the first two people to discover the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun after they committed suicide on April 30, 1945. "When I entered on my left I saw Hitler on the sofa," said Linge in the recording. "His head was bent forward and I could see a bullet hole about the size of a penny on the right side of his temple." Gunsche said, "Hitler sat leaning on the arm of the sofa with his head hanging down on the right shoulder....On the right side I saw the bullet hole." The Bavarian government taped the recording in a Berchtesgaden courtroom on October 25, 1956. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    Israel and the Illusion of International Justice - Gerald Steinberg and Anne Herzberg (Ha'aretz)

    • The dominance of nondemocratic and Islamic nations in international organs such as the International Criminal Court (ICC), the UN Human Rights Council, and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and the increasing politicization of these bodies, virtually guarantees that no justice will be done when it comes to Israel or even NATO countries. In such morally corrupt frameworks, international law and human rights have become political weapons, disconnected from legitimate judicial processes and legal systems in democratic societies.
    • The ICJ's handling of the 2004 case regarding Israel's security barrier is a telling example. The suit was initiated by the UN General Assembly at the behest of the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. European-funded advocacy groups, aided by NGO superpowers Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW), were central to this effort. The ICJ's resulting advisory opinion negated Israel's right of self-defense and displayed an utter lack of sympathy for terror victims. Hardly an independent judicial inquiry, this distorted proceeding encouraged subversion of the rule of law by allowing for political manipulation of the judicial process.
    • Following the Gaza war, the PLO pressured ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo to open a case against Israel, even though "Palestine" is not a state and doing so would be a gross violation of the court's treaty. Moreno-Ocampo has admitted to working closely with the Arab League in this process. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, funded primarily by European governments, is also deeply involved in this one-sided effort, as are Amnesty and HRW.
    • Refusing to be a party to this sort of legal travesty does not mean Israel is insensitive to international law or human rights, or that the Jewish state does not wish to be a member of the international community. To suggest that Israel could exert any influence on bodies where nondemocratic regimes wield excessive power, however, is a pipe dream that has no connection to today's unfortunate reality.

      Gerald Steinberg is a professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor; Anne Herzberg is NGO Monitor's legal advisor.

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