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January 28, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran Executes Two over Election Unrest (Reuters-Washington Post)
    Iran executed two people on Thursday over widespread street unrest that erupted after the disputed presidential election in June, the Iranian ISNA students news agency reported.
    Eleven people have been sentenced to death on charges including waging war against God, trying to overthrow the Islamic establishment, and membership in armed groups, the agency said.
    See also Iran Continues Focus on Outside Provocateurs, Now Blaming Germany - Michael Slackman and Nicholas Kulish (New York Times)
    Iranian officials continued to cast blame for the nation's recent political crisis on foreign interference on Wednesday, focusing their ire for the first time on Germany, one of the country's closest trading partners, with an accusation that its diplomats and intelligence agents helped organize protests at the end of December.

Key Gaza Power Plant May Shut Down over Internal Palestinian Money Dispute (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    A money dispute between the rival Palestinian governments is threatening to shut down Gaza's only power plant.
    The EU used to pay for the plant's fuel as part of an aid package to the Palestinian Authority. However, the EU decided to start scaling back and said it wants the PA to find other ways to pay for the fuel.
    The PA demands that Hamas pay its share. Hamas insists that the EU resume payments.

The Gulf States in the Shadow of Iran - Patrick Knapp (Middle East Quarterly)
    As Iran spreads its influence, its immediate hinterland across the Gulf is becoming increasingly vulnerable.
    Last February, for example, Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, the influential former speaker of the Iranian parliament, repeated Iran's claim to sovereignty over Bahrain.
    In July 2008, Iran opened a maritime office on the Abu Musa islands, which the UAE contested.
    In September of the same year, Iran assigned the 20,000-man Islamic Revolutionary Guard navy, rather than the less confrontational regular navy, to Persian Gulf defense, and opened a new naval base on the strategic Strait of Hormuz the following month.

International Commando Teams Train with the IDF in Israel (Israel Defense Forces)
    The IDF Foreign Training Branch brings delegations to Israel from armies around the world to receive advanced training.
    The IDF is seen as a top school for training in urban warfare, in particular, and land-based warfare, in general.
    The year 2010 is currently overbooked with foreign military training. Maj. Limor Laon notes: "One of the foreign delegations who came here last year with eight people for seven days is coming this year with twice as many people and for approximately three weeks."

Saudi Teen Sentenced to 90 Lashes for Cell Phone in School (FOX News)
    A teenage girl in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to 90 lashes and two months in prison for taking a cell phone to school, the UK's Daily Mail reported.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Obama Warns Iran of "Growing Consequences"
    In his State of the Union Address Wednesday, President Obama said: "Diplomatic efforts have...strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit of nuclear weapons....That's why the international community is more united, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated. And as Iran's leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: They, too, will face growing consequences. That is a promise."  (White House)
        See also U.S. Readies New Iran Sanctions at UN - Matthew Lee
    The Obama administration is preparing to circulate proposed tough new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program as early as this week at the UN, U.S. officials said Wednesday. The proposed measures would target elements of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. Officials said negotiations on a proposed fourth round of UN Security Council sanctions could begin within weeks.
        U.S. Secretary of State Clinton said she thinks Russia, China and others are coming around to the view that it is time for the Iranian government to face consequences for failing to prove its nuclear program is peaceful, saying there was a growing belief in the "international community that Iran should face consequences for its defiance of international obligations."  (AP/Washington Post)
  • Human Rights Group: Hamas Targeted Civilians
    Human Rights Watch has disputed Hamas claims that it did not target civilians during last year's Gaza war. Researcher Bill van Esveld said Thursday that most of the rockets hit civilian areas, suggesting Hamas deliberately targeted civilians. He said their actions amounted to war crimes. (AP)
        See also Hamas Clears Itself of UN Gaza War Crimes Charges (AFP)
  • These Palestinians Aren't Happy about Israel Settlement Freeze - Ilene R. Prusher
    Normally, about half of Jalazon's able-bodied men are employed in construction in nearby Jewish settlements. But since Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from President Obama, announced the settlement building freeze in October, much of the work has disappeared. While, theoretically, the 10-month freeze on building in Israeli settlements in the West Bank was supposed to benefit the Palestinian cause, in the short-term, thousands of Palestinians who work in construction are feeling the pinch.
        "Work in the settlements has decreased dramatically in the last few months - it's nothing like it was before. But our lives haven't changed for the better and the leaders aren't any closer to peace, so what's the point?" says Walid Mustafa, a father of seven who says he's lucky to find work one day a month. "The settlement freeze has only brought more poverty," complains Abdel Aziz Othman. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Document Reveals Scope of EU Trade with Iran - Roni Sofer
    Europe has been trading with Iran in the amount of some $91 billion in the past three years. The leading countries in trade with Iran include Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Holland and Belgium, according to a document circulating in the Foreign Ministry based on EU numbers. Between January and July 2009, trade between the 27 EU countries and Iran amounted to $14 billion, compared to $20 billion during the same period in 2008, still a significant amount, especially since the decline was mainly a result of the global economic crisis. (Ynet News)
        See also Siemens to Reject New Orders from Iran - Marilyn Gerlach and Madeline Chambers
    The German engineering conglomerate Siemens said on Tuesday it would reject any further orders from Iran. Germany is one of the biggest exporters to Iran. Siemens Chief Executive Peter Loescher said the Siemens board decided in October not to agree to any further orders with customers in Iran, though existing orders would be fulfilled. (Reuters)
  • Israeli Defense Minister Meets Egyptian President - Amos Harel
    Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Wednesday in Sharm al-Sheikh to discuss ways of restarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The two also discussed the stalled negotiations with Hamas over a deal for the return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, as well as the situation along the Gaza border where there has been an improvement in Egypt's efforts to thwart arms smuggling. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Case Against the Goldstone Report - Alan Dershowitz
    The Goldstone Report is much more scurrilous than most of its detractors believe. According to the report, Israel used the more than 8,000 rocket attacks on its civilians merely as a pretext, an excuse to target innocent Palestinian civilians for death, as decided upon by the highest levels of the Israeli government. The report found these serious charges "to be firmly based in fact" and had "no doubt" of their truth.
        The hard evidence conclusively proves that the exact opposite is true, namely that Israel did not have a policy of targeting innocent civilians for death. Indeed the IDF went to unprecedented lengths to minimize civilian casualties. Hamas did have a deliberate policy of having its combatants dress in civilian clothing, fire their rockets from densely populated areas, use civilians as human shields, and store weapons in mosques. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also The Goldstone Report: A Study in Evidentiary Bias - Alan Dershowitz (
        See also Goldstone's Gaza Report: Part 1 - A Failure of Intelligence - Richard Landes (GLORIA Center, IDC Herzliya)
        See also Goldstone's Gaza Report: Part 2 - A Miscarriage of Human Rights - Richard Landes (GLORIA Center, IDC Herzliya)
        See also The UN Gaza Report: A Substantive Critique - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Too Much Middle East Peace Processing - Tom Gross
    President Obama's first year in office turned out to be one of the most encouraging for Israelis and Palestinians in over 15 years. There was less violence than there had been for years, with 2009 being the first year in a long time without any successful suicide bombings against Israel. In addition, Palestinian security forces in the West Bank have finally started to behave like a security force rather than like a terrorist group. Then there was the strong economic growth in both Israel and the Palestinian territories relative to most of the rest of the world.
        What has been happening on the ground in the past year - brought about by both Israeli and PA leaders effectively ignoring Mr. Obama and the other so-called "peace processers" - is that the Palestinian government in Ramallah, with quiet assistance from Israel, is finally doing some state-building instead of engaging in endless hollow "processing" involving talks about talks with foreign leaders. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Prime-Time BBC Documentary on Jerusalem: An Anatomy of Bias and Distortion - Robin Shepherd
    On Jan. 18, the BBC's documentary program "Panorama" was devoted to Jerusalem. Rarely will you get a clearer insight into the flagrant institutional bias inside the world's most powerful media outlet than this. The slipperiness of the tactics employed, the unabashed censorship of vital historical context, and the blatant pursuit of a political agenda constituted a lesson in the techniques of modern day propaganda.
        We are told of, and shown, instances of Palestinians being thrown out of homes they have "lived in for generations." This is stated as fact by the narrator. When the counter argument is made that the land they have lived on was stolen from Jews in the first place, this was offered as mere opinion. Welcome to the world of the BBC and to yet another illustration of the slippery path to the delegitimization of the world's only Jewish state. (
        See also BBC Panorama Distorts the Facts about Jerusalem - Ricki Hollander and Gilead Ini (CAMERA)
  • Observations:

    International Holocaust Remembrance Day - President Shimon Peres (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

    President of the State of Israel Shimon Peres addressed the German Bundestag on Wednesday:

    • "I stand here before you, as the President of the State of Israel, the home of the Jewish People." "I can see in my mind's eye, at this very moment, the imposing image of my deeply respected grandfather, Rabbi Zvi the town where I was born, Vishniev in Belarus."
    • "When the Nazis came to Vishniev, they ordered all the members of the community to congregate in the synagogue. My grandfather marched in front, together with his family, wrapped in the same prayer shawl in which I enveloped myself as a child. The doors were locked from the outside and the wooden structure was torched. And the only remains of the whole community were embers. There were no survivors."
    • "If we, the Jews, constituted a terrible threat in the eyes of Hitler's regime, this was not a military threat, but rather a moral threat that stood opposite their desire that denied our faith that every man is born in the image of God, that we are all equal in the eyes of God, and that all men are equal."
    • "As a Jew, I always carry the pain of the Holocaust endured by my brothers and sisters. As an Israeli, I regret the tragic delay in the establishment of the Jewish state that left my people with no safe harbor. As a grandfather, I cannot come to terms with the loss of one-and-a-half million children - the greatest human and creative potential that could have changed Israel's destiny."

          See also Address by Prime Minister Netanyahu at Auschwitz (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

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