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February 5, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Germany: Iran Using Delaying Tactics on Nuclear Program (Reuters)
    "For the past two years Iran has repeatedly bluffed and played tricks" instead of taking action to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Friday.
    "It has played for time and of course we in the international community cannot accept a nuclear-armed Iran."
    "A nuclear-armed Iran would not only be a threat for the countries in the region, it would above all preoccupy the international community and threaten stability with a nuclear arms race," Westerwelle said.

Hamas Leader Meshaal to Visit Moscow (Reuters)
    Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal will visit Russia next week for talks on ending a Palestinian split and bringing about a resumption of peace talks with Israel, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said Thursday.
    Hamas, which is backed by Syria and Iran, has been shunned by the West over the Islamist group's refusal to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept existing interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deals.

PA Backing a Violent "Popular Struggle" - Joseph Krauss (AFP)
    With the peace process at an impasse for over a year, the Western-backed Palestinian Authority has vowed to escalate "popular struggle" by supporting weekly protests in villages across the West Bank.
    Senior Fatah officials have started turning up at the protests, but few are turning out for the demonstrations, both because of heightened Israeli efforts to suppress the gatherings and growing disenchantment with the fractured Palestinian movement.
    The protests are modeled on the weekly demonstrations held in the West Bank towns of Bilin and Nilin, where residents, along with foreign and Israeli activists, have tried to halt Israel's separation barrier.
    Violence frequently erupts, with Palestinian youths hurling stones and Israeli troops firing tear gas and rubber bullets.
    The military rejects the idea that the protests are non-violent and says that in the last two years more than 100 security forces have been wounded in "violent riots."
    "We have a soldier with a smashed eye socket," says Major Peter Lerner, an IDF spokesman. "We're not talking about sit-ins. We're not talking about an atmosphere of peaceful demonstration."

Pakistanis Protest U.S. Verdict Against Pakistani Woman - Nahal Toosi (AP/Globe and Mail-Canada)
    Thousands of Pakistanis in at least four cities shouted anti-American slogans and burned the Stars and Stripes on Thursday in protest of a New York jury's conviction of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman accused of trying to kill Americans while detained in Afghanistan.

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UK Increases Funds for Research Projects with Israel - Jonny Paul (Jerusalem Post)
    The British government has announced it is increasing its funding for the Britain-Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership (BIRAX), set up in 2008.
    BIRAX is supporting 15 collaborative projects at 17 different universities across the UK and Israel.

Free Speech at Cambridge - Tim Marshall (Sky News)
    The Cambridge University Israel Society (IS) has cancelled a talk by Israeli historian Benny Morris because the leading scholar on the Arab-Israeli wars has been accused of Islamophobia.
    The IS commitment to free speech crumbled in the face of denunciations from a few students, most of them in the Islamic Society. A few of the faculty joined in.
    A hate campaign against all things Israeli has infected the campuses of Britain and the anti-Israel crowd frequently resorts to bullying tactics.

Video: Israel's Women Soldiers - Paula Hancocks (CNN)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • China Renews Opposition to Iran Sanctions - Alan Cowell
    Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said Thursday in Paris that pressure for tighter sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program could block chances of a diplomatic settlement on the issue. "To talk about sanctions at the moment will complicate the situation and might stand in the way of finding a diplomatic solution," he said. (New York Times)
        See also China Could Block Sanctions Against Iran - Glenn Kessler
    U.S. officials had hoped they could push through a UN sanctions resolution this month or next, but China's statement Thursday suggests that it may take months of haggling to achieve that goal. China holds a veto as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
        Yet some sort of UN resolution is necessary before France, Britain and Germany can win approval for what is hoped will be even tougher EU sanctions. And the European sanctions must be in place before the U.S. can try to persuade nations such as Japan and the UAE to join a coalition of countries willing to impose the promised "crippling sanctions." Ahmadinejad appears to have driven a wedge between China and the other players in the effort to restrain Iran's nuclear ambitions. (Washington Post)
  • UN Chief Can't Judge If Gaza Probes Are Credible - John Heilprin
    A report from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released Thursday to the General Assembly indicates he was uncertain whether UN demands were met for "credible" investigations into allegations that Israel or the Palestinians deliberately targeted civilians during last year's Gaza conflict. In a short preface to his report, Ban said "no determination can be made on the implementation of the resolution by the parties concerned."
        Israel says it did everything it could to limit civilian casualties and that the military operation was launched in self-defense to protect civilians in southern Israel from rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also UN Chief Confirms Israel Gave Full Response to Goldstone Gaza Report - Shlomo Shamir
    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday acknowledged having received Israeli and Palestinian responses to UN allegations of war crimes during the 2008-2009 war in Gaza, adding that Israel had responded to every charge brought against it. (Ha'aretz)
  • Clinton Outlines U.S. Stance on Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday in Washington: "The United States is working with the Israelis, the Palestinians, and our Arab partners to re-launch meaningful negotiations as soon as possible and without preconditions. We believe that through good faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements."  (U.S. State Department)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Red Cross Jeep Hit by Bomb in Gaza
    A roadside explosion in Gaza on Thursday blew out the windows of a jeep traveling in a Red Cross convoy, but no one was injured in the blast, said Eyad Naser, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza. Residents living nearby said they believed the explosion was a roadside bomb. (Reuters-Ynet News)
  • Israel Security Agency Reports Significant Rise in Terror Incidents
    There was a significant rise in the number of terror incidents in January with 80 attacks on civilians and soldiers, compared to 51 in December, an increase of 57%, the Israel Security Agency said Thursday. The increase was attributed mainly to attacks from Gaza, with 28 mortar shells and 13 rockets fired at Israel in January, compared with nine rockets and mortar shells in December. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    The Goldstone Report on Gaza

  • The Goldstone Hustle - Benny Avni
    The UN General Assembly resumes its hearings on Friday on allegations that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza last winter. The Goldstone report ginned up a narrative claiming that Israel's true aim wasn't to end Hamas' daily barrage of rockets at civilians, but was instead part of a grand strategy to beat Gazans into submission.
        Israel has always been the enemy's first target in the War on Terror. From plane hijackings to suicide bombings, every terrorist tactic was created and perfected by anti-Israel terrorists before migrating to American and European shores. Similarly, the Palestinian terrorists' use of Palestinian civilians' suffering to enrage world opinion was quickly copied in other theaters of war. If Goldstone's tactics succeed, future imitators will surely build cases for "war crimes" in Iraq, Afghanistan or Yemen. The U.S. should protect Israel in this case as if it were protecting itself - because it is. (New York Post)
  • Goldstone Cannot Possibly Believe His Report's Conclusions - Alan M. Dershowitz
    In light of the hard evidence, that is easily accessible online and in the media, Goldstone cannot possibly believe that Hamas did not intentionally use human shields, have their fighters deliberately dress in civilian clothing and use mosques and hospitals to store rockets and other weapons. Videotapes conclusively prove these charges, and Hamas acknowledges - indeed boasts of - them.
        He cannot possibly believe that Israel used the thousands of rockets that Hamas directed against its children as an excuse, or a cover, for its real goal, namely to kill as many Palestinian civilians as possible.
        Nor could he possibly believe that the Israeli government made a policy decision, at the highest levels, to deliberately target Palestinian babies, young children, women and the elderly for murder. All the evidence points away from these wild charges. Yet he signed a report asserting that those demonstrably false conclusions were true. (Hudson Institute New York)
  • The Gaza War and International Law - Giora Eiland
    International law that pertains to wars is premised on three assumptions: The war pits states against each other, both sides deploy soldiers in uniform, and both sides are committed to the same codes. None of the above conditions was present in Gaza. Those who appointed the Goldstone Committee are trying to push Israel into a situation whereby any effective military operation will be considered illegitimate.
        About two years ago, legal proceedings were launched in Spain against six senior Israeli officials charged with harming civilians in the operation to assassinate [Hamas commander] Salah Shahade. So why was the Spanish legal procedure annulled? The Spanish law drew dozens of lawsuits from across the world against the whole world. When legal proceedings were launched against Chinese generals charged with crimes against humanity, China made it clear to Spain that it better change the law. Spain got scared and indeed changed the law. Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland chaired Israel's National Security Council from 2004 to 2006. (Ynet News)

    Other Issues

  • Medical Journals See the World through Palestinianized Glasses - Barbara Kay
    Lancet, once an impeccable source for authoritative medical research, has in recent years become more and more "Palestinianized." In a just-published article, "Association between exposure to political violence and intimate-partner violence in the occupied Palestinian territory," Palestinian husbands were found to be more violent towards their wives as a function of the Israeli "occupation." Very clever. Being a Palestinian means you get to beat your wife because the Israelis made me do it! The statistics were gathered and the study was funded by the Palestinian Authority. This is propaganda, not research.
        A group of Israeli medical academics, led by Prof. Yehuda Shoenfeld, editor-in-chief of the Israeli Medical Association Journal, assessed coverage of conflict-related deaths in the British Medical Journal, a wholly owned subsidiary of the British Medical Association. Their findings: for Europeans killing Europeans (Bosnia), there was one citation for every 2,000 deaths; for Africans killing Africans (Rwanda), one citation for every 4,000 deaths; for Arabs killing black Africans (Darfur), one citation for every 7,000 deaths; for Arab Muslims killing Kurds, no citation whatsoever; yet, for Israelis killing Palestinians, one citation for every 13 deaths.
        It's too bad these medical journals don't choose to highlight the amazing medical benefits Israel has brought to Palestinians. As detailed in a May 30, 2009, study by U.S. medical researchers, Palestinians in the territories boast the lowest mortality rate per 100,000 of all Middle Eastern Arab populations. Since 1972, immunization coverage in the territories has reached 99%. Polio and measles have been eradicated. Life expectancy rose from 54 in 1970 to 73 in 2007. A non-political group called Save a Child's Heart, based at Wolfson Hospital in Tel Aviv, has operated on 2,100 children from 35 different countries at a cost of about $10,000 per child. Almost half were from neighboring Arab countries, including the West Bank. During the Gazan conflict, an infant nephew of the Hamas minister of defense was brought in for urgent heart surgery. (Pajamas Media)
        See also British Medical Journals Play Politics - Prof. Yehuda Shoenfeld (Israel Medical Association)
  • Egyptian Coptic Christians: A Barometer of Religious Intolerance - Benjamin Balint
    As Egypt becomes more Islamic, there is no surer measure of its transforming identity than its treatment of its Coptic Christian minority, which comprises about 10% of the country's 80 million citizens. No community can claim to be more native or authentically "Egyptian" than the Arabic-speaking Copts, whose culture dates back to antiquity. Although Egypt's constitution provides for equal rights without regard to religion, discrimination against its Christian community - through both acts of omission and commission - persists. Intolerance of non-Muslim minorities is the best barometer of a society increasingly conscious of its Muslim identity, as Egypt is today.
        In November, a report by Christian Solidarity International and the Coptic Foundation for Human Rights documented 25 cases of alleged forced conversion to Islam. Last May, the Egyptian government pointlessly slaughtered thousands of pigs belonging to the Coptic Christian minority because of fears relating to swine flu. Six Coptic teenage worshipers were gunned down as they left midnight mass on January 7, Coptic Christmas, in the southern Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi. Every so often, the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition Islamist movement, seeks to bar Copts from senior army, police and government positions, on the grounds that they represent a fifth column. The writer is a fellow at the Hudson Institute. (Ha'aretz)

    Weekend Features

  • IsraAID Emergency Rescuer Relays Haiti Experience - Maayan Keinan
    Alan Schneider, a member of the IsraAID emergency response team in devastated Haiti and the director of the Bnai Brith World Center in Jerusalem, said the first IsraAid response team left for Haiti just two days after the earthquake. The U.S. government refused to allow the team to board planes to Haiti, so the team chartered a plane to the neighboring Dominican Republic. According to Schneider, the IsraAid team, lead by Dr. David Dorge, was the first response team to leave the airport and help victims out in the field. The medical team treated over 70 victims at the Port-au-Prince general hospital, which itself was deserted and in danger of collapse, with hundreds of wounded people in the garden.
        The IsraAID team was the first one to arrive at the football stadium, and was greeted by "about 12,000 injured." Schneider expressed dissatisfaction with the U.S. agents sent to the stadium to assess the situation there. "They arrived as if to a war zone; with machine-guns, sunglasses and an attitude. In the days it took them to assess the situation, we had been treating hundreds of people." Schneider spoke highly of his team, which included 67-year-old Sheva Cohen; suicide-bombing survivor Assaf Perlman; Khaled Massala, a Bedouin from Dabburiya; Dr. Eitan Heller and others. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Women Battle to Bring Dead Sea Scrolls Back to Life - Patrick Moser
    Four women, all immigrants from the former Soviet Union, are charged with the conservation and restoration of the famed 2000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls found half a century ago on the shores of the Dead Sea. Their job is to ensure the manuscripts on show are exhibited in ideal conditions and to restore the tens of thousands of fragments that suffered not only from the ravages of time but also from past conservation efforts.
        Day after day for the past 18 years, they have painstakingly removed adhesive tape that was used decades ago to join matching fragments. "Residues of tape penetrated the parchment and caused its disintegration," says Pnina Shor, who heads the Department of Artifacts Treatment and Conservation at the Israel Antiquities Authority. The conservators, working at a small lab at Jerusalem's Israel Museum, will need at least another 18 years to complete the job of restoring the fragments, says Shor.
        The fragments, considered one of the world's most important archaeological finds, make up about 900 documents of major religious and historical significance. The oldest of the documents dates to the third century BCE and the most recent to about 70 CE, when Roman troops destroyed the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. (AFP)
  • How Bambi Met James Bond to Save Israel's "Extinct" Deer - Charles Levinson
    On Nov. 28, 1978, as Iran was hurtling toward Islamic revolution, zoologist Mike Van Grevenbroek landed in Tehran carrying a blow-dart gun disguised as a cane and secret orders from an Israeli general. His mission: to capture four Persian fallow deer and deliver them to Israel before the shah's government collapsed. It marked the daring climax of a years-long cloak-and-dagger effort to reintroduce the animals of the Bible to Israel. The last of the fallow deer in Israel were believed to have been hunted to extinction in the early 1900s. The species was thought to be extinct until the late 1950s, when the deer were rediscovered in Iran. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Video: Biblical Deer Returned to Israel (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    Iran Unfolds Its Fist to Slap Us in the Face - William Tobey (Boston Globe)

    • Last month an important deadline passed in nuclear negotiations with Iran. The deadline was for Iran to show progress, but Tehran has refused to talk much at all about nuclear issues. Negotiators have met only twice to discuss a side issue, a proposed uranium swap to refuel Tehran's research reactor.
    • Meanwhile, over the past year, Iran doubled its production of enriched uranium, was revealed to be building a covert enrichment site at Qom, and threatened to build ten more plants - despite UN Security Council resolutions requiring Iran to suspend enrichment activities.
    • Neither Russia nor China sees a nuclear armed Iran as a threat. All other things being equal, they might prefer Tehran's ayatollahs not to control nuclear weapons, but all other things are not equal. Beijing wants access to oil and gas. Moscow wants to rebuild a geostrategic position in the Middle East, sell conventional arms and nuclear reactors to Iran, and foster a regional power capable of standing up to the United States.
    • Yet we must not be stymied from attempting the "crippling sanctions" promised by Secretary of State Clinton. In the financial sector, the U.S., Europe, and Japan play a leading role, and can severely affect travel, trade, and investment in Iran. Squeezing Iran's gasoline imports would also create new leverage.
    • U.S. concessions failed to secure help from Moscow and Beijing. Rather, they signaled that the Iranian nuclear issue is a source of leverage over Washington, and is worth sustaining to extract further concessions.
    • Iran has unclenched its fist to slap us in the face. It is time to wake up.

      The writer is a senior fellow at Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

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