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February 12, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Planned Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem Not Built on Ancient Cemetery - Abe Selig (Jerusalem Post)
    The Simon Wiesenthal Center has rejected demands by Palestinian and international human rights groups that its construction of a planned Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem be halted due to claims that the proposed location is the site of a historic Muslim cemetery.
    The center released a statement Wednesday stating that "the Museum of Tolerance project is not being built on the Mamilla Cemetery."
    "It is being built on Jerusalem's former municipal car park, where every day for nearly half a century, thousands of Muslims, Christians and Jews parked their cars without any protest whatsoever from the Muslim community," Rabbi Marvin Hier, the center's dean and founder, said.
    "Telephone cables, electrical lines, drainage and sewage lines were laid deep into the ground in the early 1960s, again without any protest."
    "We also want to emphasize that the Israel Antiquities Authority has confirmed that there are no bones or remains on the site."
    The Israel Supreme Court considered the legal arguments for nearly four years, finally giving the go-ahead for the project in 2009.

PA Issues Arrest Warrant for Anti-Corruption Whistleblower - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday issued a warrant for the arrest of former intelligence official Fahmi Shabaneh for "collaboration" with Israel.
    Shabaneh, who was in charge of the anti-corruption unit in the Palestinian General Intelligence Service, was forced to quit his job after revealing dozens of cases of financial, administrative and sexual corruption among PA leader Mahmoud Abbas' inner circle.
    Shabaneh presented the Jerusalem Post with hundreds of documents implicating many of Abbas' close aides in embezzlement, land theft and fraud.
    He also showed video footage of Rafik Husseini, the director of Abbas' bureau, in the bedroom of a Christian woman from Jerusalem who had sought work with the PA.
    Shabaneh said that he decided to talk to the Post after Palestinian, Arab and foreign media organizations refused to interview him out of fear of being "punished" by the PA.

Covert Action Against Iran? (Economist-UK)
    When a motorcycle was blown up by remote control in Tehran last month, killing Masoud Alimohammadi, a professor of physics, the regime blamed Israel, America and their "hired agents."
    Yet this theory was widely dismissed since the professor's known works on particle and theoretical physics did not seem central to Iran's nuclear program.
    Now, well-placed sources in two Western countries say the professor was "one of the most important people involved in the program."
    A Western counter-proliferation source says he "is known to have worked closely" with two key figures in Iran's ministry of defense, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi and Fereidoun Abbasi-Davani.

Palestinians Torment Israeli Police with Abusive Phone Calls - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    Judea and Samaria Police receive between 30,000 and 40,000 abusive calls from Palestinians every month.
    Police operators undergo special training and a computerized phone system is used to screen out the bogus callers. Nir Carmeli, head of the Judea and Samaria Police Control Room said Thursday, "Without the screening, we would be getting 90,000 to 100,000 bad calls a month."
    The calls range from personally abusive to threats of terrorist attacks.

Female Suicide Bomb Recruiter Captured in Iraq - Deborah Haynes (Times-UK)
    Samira Ahmed Jassim, 51, has confessed that she sent 28 women to carry out suicide bombing attacks in Iraq, Maj.-Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, a Baghdad security spokesman, said.
    In a prison interview with the Associated Press, she said that she helped to organize the rapes of young women and then stepped in to persuade the victims to become suicide bombers as their only escape from the shame.
    Jassim was a member of Ansar al-Sunna, a Sunni Arab militant group.
    At least 36 female suicide bombers attempted or carried out attacks last year, compared with 8 in 2007, according to U.S. military data.

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The Aftonbladet Organ-Trafficking Accusations Against Israel: A Case Study - Mikael Tossavainen (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
    In August 2009, Sweden's largest daily, Aftonbladet, a tabloid, published an article implying that the Israel Defense Forces kills Palestinians to provide the Israeli medical establishment with organs.
    The article was heavily criticized in the Swedish media, and several papers denounced it as anti-Semitic. When the Swedish ambassador to Israel published a condemnation of the text, she was forced to retract it.
    The affair created an echo in international media, and Swedish-Israeli relations suffered. Since Sweden held the rotating presidency of the European Union, the EU's role as a broker in the Middle East peace process also suffered.

IDF Establishes Two Arab Search and Rescue Units (Israel Defense Forces)
    The IDF Home Front Command has recently established two new rescue units composed of Arab citizens of Israel who chose to volunteer.
    Each unit will have about 25 volunteers, 70% of them men. Last week, the units went through a series of training exercises, rescuing wounded from rubble after earthquakes or rockets.
    Cpt. (res.) Sami Halabi, Deputy Commander of the Unit for Coordination with Arab Authorities in the Central District, said: "We can be proud that we have these units with such knowledge and experience. They function exactly like other Home Front Command rescue units."
    "If God forbid an unfortunate event will happen, we can operate anywhere in Israel, also in the Jewish cities," Cpt. Halabi explained.

India to Launch Trade Talks with Israel - James Lamont and Martin Wolf (Financial Times-UK)
    India is to launch negotiations to strike a bilateral trade agreement with Israel, said Rahul Khullar, India's commerce secretary.
    Bilateral trade between India and Israel has risen to an estimated $4.1 billion in 2008, excluding a growing defense trade.
    An Israeli official predicted that bilateral trade could rise to $12 billion within five years once a pact was in place.

Incoming Tourism to Israel Sets New Record for January - Ron Friedman (Jerusalem Post)
    A record-breaking 212,000 incoming tourists came to Israel in January, an increase of 62% from 2009 and 17% from the previous record year of 2008, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Tuesday. The Gaza operation in January 2009 had depressed that month's figures.

Cambodia-Israel Chamber of Commerce Opens (Phnom Penh Post-Cambodia)
    The new Cambodia-Israel Chamber of Commerce opened in Phnom Penh last week.
    Lawyer Bradley Gordon described the chamber as one piece of a broader effort on the part of Israeli businesses to invest more heavily in Cambodia, with a focus on telecommunications, medical supplies, agriculture and green technology.
    Israel was Cambodia's fourth-largest foreign investor in 2008, according to the Cambodian Investment Board.

Intel Israel Exports Jump 145 Percent - Tova Cohen (Reuters-Washington Post)
    Intel Corp's Israeli subsidiary said on Monday its exports surged 145% in 2009 to a record $3.4 billion, thanks to Intel's new $3.5 billion chip manufacturing plant in southern Israel which came into full production in early 2009.
    It is the third plant in the world to make processors with 45 nanometer-wide circuitry and Intel is negotiating to expand the plant to include production of smaller 22-nanometer chips.
    Intel accounts for 10% of Israel's industrial exports and $7.3 billion has been invested in its operations in Israel, including $1.2 billion in grants from the government.

Useful Reference:

New Revelations About the UN Goldstone Report - Dore Gold and Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi (Jerusalem Center)
    Col. (ret.) Desmond Travers, the Goldstone Commission's military expert, displayed a fundamental bias against the Israel Defense Forces, reported false information about IDF weapons systems, claimed that Hamas fired only two rockets at Israel prior to last winter's conflict, and displayed a clear lack of professionalism in conducting his investigations.
    See also Video: About the Goldstone Commission's Military Expert - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center)

Google Search the Recent History of Israel and the Middle East
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Atomic Agency Views Iran's Stepped-Up Enrichment of Uranium as a Violation - William J. Broad
    Iran's surprise move this week to begin enriching its uranium to a level closer to weapons-grade violated an agreement with atomic inspectors in Vienna, diplomats said. The breach involved Iran's starting the enrichment process in the absence of atomic inspectors - something that the International Atomic Energy Agency had specifically asked Iran not to do. The amount of uranium now undergoing higher enrichment is minuscule compared with what Iran needs to fuel a reactor or, with greater enrichment, a bomb. But nuclear experts see the escalation as significant because the UN has called on Iran, instead of showing new proficiencies in enrichment, to halt its program altogether. (New York Times)
        See also U.S. Dismisses Iranian Uranium Enrichment Claims
    Washington on Thursday dismissed Iranian claims of a leap forward in uranium enrichment. Iranian President Ahmadinejad said Thursday that Iran was able to enrich uranium to more than 80% purity, and that Iran had produced its first batch of higher-enriched uranium fuel.
        White House spokesman Robert Gibbs rejected Ahmadinejad's assertions, saying Iran had "made a series of statements that are...based on politics not on physics....The Iranian nuclear program has undergone a series of problems throughout the year. Quite frankly what Ahmadinejad says...he says many things and many of them turn out to be untrue....We do not believe they have the capability to enrich to the degree to which they now say they are enriching."  (Reuters)
  • Pro-Government Rally, Protests on Anniversary of Iran Revolution - Thomas Erdbrink and William Branigin
    Hundreds of thousands of government supporters massed Thursday in central Tehran to mark the 31st anniversary of Iran's Islamic revolution, while a heavy deployment of security forces largely prevented protesters from using the occasion to stage opposition rallies. Protesters were met by unusually large security forces who used tear gas to disperse crowds.
        International media representatives were prevented from freely covering the rally and were placed in a special area surrounded by government supporters holding up posters showing Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the Ahmadinejad government has attempted to choke off the flow of information, adding, "It is clear...the Iranian government fears its own people."  (Washington Post)
  • Clinton Says Blair to Play Bigger Role in Mideast
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Thursday: "Consistent with [PA] Prime Minister Fayyad's plan for a future Palestinian state, Tony Blair, as the Quartet representative, will intensify his partnership with [U.S. special envoy] Senator Mitchell in support of the political negotiations. In his role as Quartet Representative Tony Blair will continue, with full support by and coordination with Senator Mitchell, to mobilize the efforts of the international community: (1) to build support for the institutional capacity and governance of a future Palestinian state, including on the rule of law; (2) to improve freedom of movement and access for Palestinians; (3) to encourage further private sector investment; and (4) to bring change in the living conditions of the people in Gaza."  (U.S. State Department)
  • EU Lawmakers Vote Down U.S. Anti-Terror Deal - Aoife White
    The European Parliament on Thursday strongly rejected a deal that would have allowed U.S. authorities access to European bank transfers - a vote the U.S. said disrupted an important source of information for anti-terror investigators. EU lawmakers in Strasbourg, France, voted 378-196 against the deal. The parliament's president, Jerzy Buzek, said the assembly wants more safeguards for civil liberties and believes human rights has been compromised in the name of security. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, "We are disappointed by the result of the vote....We think this decision disrupts an important counterterrorism program."  (AP/Miami Herald)
  • Saudi Scholar's Offer to Appear on Israeli TV Stirs Controversy - Walaa Hawari
    Saudi scholar Mohasen al-Awaji has caused controversy by saying he is prepared to appear on Israeli television. Interviewed on Al Arabiya last week, al-Awaji said he would be willing to appear purely to help counter Israeli propaganda. "Appearing on their television channels will be effective and allow us to reach a wider audience. At the same time it will show the Zionists that we are willing to talk to them on their own ground," he said.
        "What al-Awaji has proposed is a great mistake," said Dr. Mohammad al-Nujaimi, a professor at the High Institute for Judicial Studies at Imam Muhammad bin Saud University in Riyadh. He said al-Awaji's call goes against all the fatwas that normalization with Israel in all its forms - politically, economically, socially and in terms of media - "is not permissible at all." Al-Nujaimi said nothing will work with Israel except jihad, including boycotting all of its media networks and cultural activities.
        Al-Awaji told Arab News that he is impressed and delighted at the negative response. He said it drove home the fact "that this foreign body among us is not accepted."  (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel: No Independent Probe of Gaza War - Herb Keinon
    Israel believes that the report it gave UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the investigations it is conducting into the Gaza operation last winter is sufficient, and there is no need to set up an independent inquiry committee, the Jerusalem Post has learned. "Israel feels the report it gave was a serious, comprehensive, credible and complete answer to the UN secretary-general," one senior official in the Prime Minister's Office said. "We believe that we conduct credible investigations and that we have procedures in place to investigate these types of matters that are as good as exist in any country in the world."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Attempt to Abduct and Kill Israeli Soldier Foiled - Amos Harel and Anshel Pfeffer
    The Israel Security Agency cleared for publication on Thursday that on Dec. 12 it arrested prominent Gaza Hamas official Salman Abu Atik, 43, who infiltrated into Israel with the intention to abduct an Israeli soldier, murder him, and to negotiate over the body. It is believed that Atik exited Gaza through a tunnel into Egypt, where he attempted to enter Israeli territory. He was found in possession of $15,000 in counterfeit bills, a gun, and a silencer. Another Hamas man, Ibrahim Zuara, 44, was arrested on Dec. 31. Zuara was in possession of two explosive devices each weighing 7 kilograms and confessed to involvement in planning the soldier's abduction. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Targets Terror Squad in Northern Gaza
    On Thursday, the Israeli Air Force targeted and identified hitting a squad of terror operatives who were preparing to carry out a terror attack in the area of the Karni humanitarian aid crossing in northern Gaza. Global Jihad operative Fares Ahmed Jaber was killed in the attack. Jaber, 26, from Gaza City, was involved in firing rockets at Israeli communities in the past few months. Earlier Thursday, Gazan terrorists fired an RPG missile at IDF forces patrolling the Israeli side of the security fence opposite central Gaza.
        The IDF will continue to operate firmly against anyone who uses terror against the State of Israel. The Hamas terror organization is solely responsible for maintaining peace and quiet in Gaza. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Don't Bet on a Regime Change in Iran - Con Coughlin
    Unfortunately, the green protesters are no match for the mullahs' security infrastructure, personified by the Revolutionary Guard and the Basij militia. Rumors about the regime's death are very premature. The legitimacy of Ahmadinejad's government might be a constant source of discussion among Tehran's middle classes, but beyond the capital huge swathes of the country remain devoted to both his leadership and the principles of Khomeini's Islamic revolution. And they flocked to the city center in their hundreds of thousands to pay homage to the president.
        While the West is understandably intrigued by Iran's ongoing political turmoil, it would be a serious mistake to ease the international pressure on Tehran right now. Even if there were a change of government, there is no guarantee that the nuclear policy adopted by the reformers would be any different from the one pursued by the current government. Many of the leaders of the reform movement, such as former Presidents Mohammad Khatami and Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, were in power when the most significant advances were made in Iran's nuclear program.
        Tough sanctions would do more to intensify the pressure on Ahmadinejad and the hard-line conservatives to come to their senses than the well-intentioned, but mainly ineffectual, efforts of the green movement. The writer is executive foreign editor of the London Daily Telegraph. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Regimes Change But National Interests Remain the Same - Judith S. Yaphe
    National interests do not change when regimes change. Iran first planned to become a nuclear power under the Shah. Those who assume that replacing Ahmadinejad with more-reform-minded leaders will be disappointed. However Ahmadinejad is replaced, Iranian national interests and security strategies will remain the same. Many of those who professed reformist goals under President Khatami retained their hard-line views on security policy, export of the revolution and expansion of Iranian power. The writer is distinguished research fellow for the Middle East at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at National Defense University in Washington. (
  • Iran Revolution Failed, Sanctions Are West's Only Hope - Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel
    The reports coming out of Iran on Thursday, through a heavy layer of censorship, suggest that the regime has managed to survive the important test of the Islamic revolution's 31st anniversary. Millions may have taken to the streets, but most of them were supporters of the regime, while thousands of security personnel were used to violently suppress opposition demonstrations. The main rally the regime staged for itself was one big demonstration in support of the country's nuclear program, accompanied by Ahmadinejad's regular vows that Israel's end is near.
        Israel is concerned that a gap will develop between its aims, which are to bring Iran's nuclear program to a complete halt, and Washington's aims, which are apparently to get Iran to resume negotiations - which would undoubtedly produce a less decisive outcome. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Sanctions on Iran Are Working - Mark Dubowitz
    The Obama administration has finally moved to punish Iran for failing to come clean about its suspicious nuclear program. The U.S. Treasury Department announced Wednesday that it has designated for sanctions the four subsidiaries of a major engineering and construction firm, as well as the firm's commander, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Gen. Rostam Qasemi. The firm in question, Gharargah Sazandegi-ye Khatam al-Anbia, or Ghorb, which was first designated by the Treasury Department in 2007 because of its role in supporting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and terrorism, is a major player in the Iranian economy, including in its energy sector. In 2006, Ghorb received more than $7 billion in contracts.
        Since 2006, under the guidance of sanctions chief Stuart Levey, Treasury has designated more than 40 Iranian entities involved in supporting the regime's WMD-related and terrorist activities, including state-owned banks. The more than 80 foreign financial institutions that terminated or reduced their business with Iran over the past three years were not legally bound to comply with U.S. sanctions. But after Treasury revealed Iran's extensive use of deceptive financial practices and front companies, foreign bankers did so anyway. The benefits of their Iranian business were outweighed by the costs of being linked to bad actors, as well as the real risk of losing access to U.S. financial markets.
        The mere possibility of sanctions has already persuaded three companies (BP, Glencore, and Reliance) to terminate their direct sales of gasoline to Iran. Most banks have rescinded the lines of credit they had previously offered to finance Iran's gasoline deliveries. The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, nearing final passage in Congress, would complicate the business dealings of the remaining companies. In the end, "smart" sanctions are those that can cripple the Iranian energy sector - the lifeblood of the men who rule Iran. The writer is executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Foreign Policy)
  • Smart, Maybe, But Ineffective - Nitzan Feldman and Yoel Guzansky
    American officials are proposing the institution of "smart sanctions": steps that will cause direct and focused damage to the interests of Tehran's policy makers without causing damage to the population. However, it is unrealistic to hope to harm the welfare of the ruling elite while at the same time avoiding harm to the general welfare of Iran's citizens. The U.S. Treasury campaign succeeded in harming localized commercial interests of the Revolutionary Guards, its broader macroeconomic influence reflected in the runaway inflation the Tehran government is having difficulty controlling. The difficulty of conducting international transactions and the attempt to camouflage trade activity with Western companies by means of indirect imports via third countries have led to an increase in the prices of imported goods, and the entire population suffers from this.
        Whether "smart" or "crushing," sanctions are already exacting a price from the regime, but it will adhere to its policy if it believes the road to completing the nuclear program is not long and the price it is likely to pay is not high enough to divert it from its path. The writers are researchers at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. (Ha'aretz)
  • Tehran Has Little Reason to Fear Sanctions - Ulrike Putz
    President Ahmadinejad allowed every ultimatum to expire, and each time he came away without so much as a scratch. The Iranians' tactics are always the same. First, they give the impression they are going to make concessions. But then they just continue as before. Without a military option, which the West has repeatedly ruled out, Iran feels safe. And the Islamic Republic is likewise not at all concerned about economic sanctions - a sentiment, say Iran observers, that is not only justified, but backed by decades of experience. Officials in Washington are all too familiar with the fact that the Iranians have become masterful at navigating their way around trade restrictions. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently conceded that the U.S. economic embargo against Iran was "leaky."  (Der Spiegel-Germany)

    The Palestinians

  • In the West Bank, Can the Islamist Tide Be Turned?
    The religious-affairs ministry of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) told all the imams in the West Bank it was their religious duty to dedicate their Friday prayer to campaign for Palestinian political prisoners. But in Hebron, the PA authorities were outsmarted by the Islamists, where Hamas Palestinian parliament Mahir al-Badr began speaking instead. Far from following the PA's script, he lambasted Egypt for pleasing Israel by building siege walls around Gaza, the enclave run by Hamas. "We couldn't do anything to stop him," bemoaned a religious-affairs official. "He had parliamentary immunity."
        The PA's religious-affairs minister, Mahmoud Habbash, has dispatched 200 new imams to manage mosques hitherto run by their pro-Hamas rivals. He issues scripted weekly sermons and instructs censors to monitor mosques and verify compliance. All the West Bank's 1,700 mosques, including nearly 300 in conservative Hebron, are now, he says, in government hands. Yet not everything has gone the PA's way. Worshippers in Nablus and Ramallah have ejected imams who condemned the Islamists in Friday sermons. Elsewhere official imams have had shoes thrown at them.
        It is unclear whether the PA's muzzling of the Islamists has dented their popularity. Some former recipients of Hamas charities admit they have switched allegiance since the Islamists' social services have run dry. Opinion polls show Fatah well ahead, but pollsters reckon many Hamas sympathizers are shy of identifying themselves. A recent survey shows that, though the PA is praised for bringing stability by cutting crime and clan feuding, three-quarters of the people still agree with Hamas that Islamic law should be applied. "More and more Palestinians, particularly women and the young, are identifying with a religious rather than national struggle," says a pollster at Near East Consulting, a leading West Bank barometer. (Economist-UK)
  • Can Gaza Become a Somalia or Yemen? - Matthew Levitt
    The recent arrest of an organized cell in the northern West Bank inspired by al-Qaeda's ideology is a stark reminder of the expanding threat facing Israel from radicalized individuals who are ideologically aligned with al-Qaeda and are eager to globalize the assault on Israel. The ability of West Bank Arabs to travel and study abroad creates opportunities for radicalization and recruitment, but the area's relatively strong and growing civil society makes it less amenable to the development of organized Salafi-Jihadi groups. While even small cells or lone wolves could potentially carry out significant terrorist attacks, the threat is minimized by the strong Israeli and growing Palestinian security presence in the West Bank.
        While membership in Gaza's various Salafi-Jihadi groups totals just 200-300 combined, such groups nonetheless "think big" and are regularly plotting large-scale attacks, such as infiltrating Israel with booby-trapped trucks. Their capabilities have been significantly enhanced by the entry of several dozen foreign fighters starting in 2005, after Israel's withdrawal from Gaza. In 2009, reports emerged that some individuals who traveled to Iraq to fight U.S. forces have since turned to Gaza. They bring operational know-how and a globally driven ideology.
        According to a new Pew Research Center poll, 51% of Palestinians express confidence in al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. If al-Qaeda's global jihad were to truly set roots in the West Bank or Gaza, it would markedly increase the nature of the terrorist threat Israel faces. The writer, a former U.S. counterterrorism official, directs the Stein program on counterterrorism and intelligence at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Abbas Needs to Get Off the Fence - Tobias Buck
    Mahmoud Abbas announced in early November that he would not seek re-election. Yet now it is as if his crisis of confidence never happened. The January election never took place. Abbas appears to have concluded that there is no alternative: not to his policies, and not to his leadership. The problem is not so much that Abbas has decided to prolong his term. It is that he does not seem to know what to do with it. (Financial Times-UK)

    Other Issues

  • Time for a Change in U.S. Mideast Strategy - Kenneth J. Bialkin
    Why has there been no progress in the Mideast peace process? The time has come to recognize that there has always been an unspoken issue that might be described as the "elephant" in the room: that Arab countries have never recognized Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. Since the 1967 Arab declaration in Khartoum of "No Recognition, No Negotiation and No Peace," neither the UN nor even the U.S. has ever demanded unequivocal acceptance by the Arabs to recognize and live in peace with Israel. The U.S. has never insisted that recognition and acceptance of Israel's right to exist be advanced as an independent demand, as it has done, for example, with demands on Israel to freeze settlements in advance of conclusion of an end of conflict. A peace process that rests on Israel's unilateral concessions is doomed to fail unless and until the world also demands that the Arab world recognizes that the conflict can be resolved only if and when Israel's legitimacy and sovereignty is openly recognized and accepted.
        The Arab world must come to recognize that the Jewish claim for a state and for land and recognition did not begin in the 20th century and is not simply compensation for the suffering of the Holocaust. The Jewish claim for land and recognition derives from biblical days. Israel has shown a willingness for major concessions under circumstances of a full peace. It has also shown a resolute unwillingness for such concessions in the absence of real peace. Israel's experience with concessions has not been good. The writer is former chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. (New York Jewish Week)
  • Israel's True Face - Daniel Doron
    Israel's rescue mission in Haiti won universal praise. Most remarkable is the astonishment expressed by the media at how efficient and humane IDF soldiers were. We were told, for years, how adept IDF troops are in fighting terrorists. So it is understandable that they managed to arrive so quickly at the scene of the disaster, even though it is more than 5,000 miles from Israel, and that before anyone else set up even a dingy clinic, they had assembled a state-of-the-art field hospital and were busy saving lives. But humane? Are these the Israelis who use tanks against children armed with slingshots; an army that everyone accuses of habitually using excess force?
        To those who really know Israel, the efficiency of its rescue effort and its humanity are not surprising. It's a country that has had to contend with terrorist atrocities for decades. It's people's army is mostly composed of reservists literally defending their homes.
        Despite the image of Israelis as warlike, intolerant people, the fact is that they are perhaps the world's most restrained and tolerant. How many citizens of other countries would tolerate, like the inhabitants of Sderot and other villages bordering on Gaza, years of random and relentless rocket attacks? It took Israeli governments more than seven years before they reacted. Is this warlike and aggressive behavior? Just visit any Israeli hospital and you will be amazed at how many West Bank Arabs are there for treatment. They are treated like any Israeli, with not a scintilla of discrimination. The writer is director of the Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Tax Dollars Subsidize UN Agency that Tolerates Teaching Martyrdom to Palestinian Kids - Heather Robinson
    Last week the U.S. announced an initial contribution of $40 million to UNRWA, the UN agency dedicated to providing food, jobs and education in the Palestinian territories. Last month, due to concerns Hamas had infiltrated UNRWA, the Canadian government quietly decided to redirect funding away from the agency.
        In recent years, watchdog organizations have shined a light on the content of books in UNRWA schools - illuminating a pattern of propaganda denying Israel's right to exist, dehumanizing Israelis and Jews, and lacking any concrete perspective that would point towards a nonviolent resolution of the conflict, such as a two-state solution. As long as the U.S. and others continue subsidizing that indoctrination, how can the world expect peace in the Middle East? (Huffington Post)
  • A New Configuration for English Anti-Semitism - Anthony Julius
    The radical anti-Semitism of medieval England - one of defamation, expropriation, murder and expulsion - completed itself in 1290, when there were no Jews left to torment. A modern, everyday anti-Semitism of insult and partial exclusion has also been pervasive since the Jews' "readmission" to England in the mid-17th century.
        Finally, a new configuration which treats Zionism and the State of Israel as illegitimate emerged in the 1960s and 1970s. It denies to Jews the rights that it upholds for other, comparable peoples. It adheres to the principle of national self-determination, except in the Jews' case. It affirms international law, except in Israel's case. It is outraged by the Jewish nature of the State of Israel, but is untroubled by the Islamic nature of Iran or of Saudi Arabia.
        Longstanding anti-Semites now embrace "anti-Zionism" as a cover for their Jew-hatred. The desire to destroy Jews is reconfigured as the desire to destroy or dismantle the Jewish state. Anti-Zionism has renewed anti-Semitism, and given it a future. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • Book Review - A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad by Robert S. Wistrich - Walter Laqueur
    The term "anti-Semitism" was coined in the 1860s, but hatred of Jews dates back far earlier. For almost two millennia the motivation was mainly religious. Jews have been attacked for assimilating, as well as for isolating themselves. In the 1920s and '30s Jews were attacked as a dangerous revolutionary enemy of the established order, communists and worse; today they are denounced as a main pillar of capitalism, neo-conservatism, imperialism and globalism. Before World War II, anti-Semitism was quite common, almost respectable, but Hitler and the mass murder of European Jewry gave anti-Semitism a bad name. But memories faded, and so did the guilty conscience generated by the Holocaust.
        Whereas the old anti-Semites had made no secret of their hatred of the Jews, many of the new ones emphatically reject the charge of anti-Semitism; they oppose Zionism, and in particular the policies of recent governments of Israel. In A Lethal Obsession, Robert Wistrich rightly stresses that criticism of Israel does not, of course, equate with anti-Semitism. But if Israel is singled out for condemnation, and its right to exist as a state denied, how can anyone consider this as anything but anti-Semitism?
        Wistrich's facts are all true, but do they present the whole picture? How to explain the fourfold increase in the number of Jews living in Germany during the last 20 years? How to explain that despite the rise of virulent anti-Semitism in France, many Jews play leading roles in politics and public life? Even Russia had two prime ministers of Jewish origin in recent years. The writer is a distinguished scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (Washington Post)

    Weekend Features

  • Internet Gives Saudi Women a Rare Outlet for Social Interaction - Caryle Murphy
    Ashwaq, 23, of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, says that web access has given her "a window to the outside world," brought her "a lot of cyber-friends," and "changed my personality." For Saudi women, the Internet has been a critical boon, providing a virtual leap over the many restrictions they face and connecting them as never before to the outside world.
        It also has allowed women who normally are "physically invisible" to participate more actively in Saudi society, said Reem Asaad, 37, a professor of banking and finance in Jeddah. Women whose families do not allow them to attend university can take online courses at home. And women starting a business or mobilizing their sisters around a cause have found the Internet a vital tool. Nowadays, Saudis are all over Facebook talking about their daily lives and sharing photos with friends, she added. Social networking sites, email and instant chat have eroded the barricade between the sexes erected by Saudi Arabia's gender-segregated society. (GlobalPost)
  • Israel, U.S. Partner to Help Uganda Create Fish Farms
    To combat depleted fish supplies in Lake Victoria, researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Makerere University in Kampala have established "boutique" fish farms in 14 villages around the Lake's shore in Uganda. The project was initiated five years ago and has been financed by USAID. Prof. Berta Levavi-Sivan of the Hebrew University's Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment found a way to spawn several species of African carp and cultivate them in fish farms. Four large fish farms, whose owners were trained in Israel, produce enough fingerlings to populate small ponds in villages around the lake. The people of each village, and especially their children, consume the project-fish as their main source of protein. (Science Daily)
  • Israel Uncovers Ancient Jerusalem Road in Old City - Gwen Ackerman
    An ancient Jerusalem thoroughfare 1,500 years old was uncovered in the Old City, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Wednesday. "At a depth of 4.5 meters below today's street level, much to our excitement, we discovered the large flagstones that paved the street," said excavation director Ofer Zion. The street was depicted on the Madaba Map, a mosaic in a church in Madaba, Jordan, that depicted Christian sites in the Land of Israel. The excavation is part of a renovation of the area and the street will be covered up again once the work is finished. (Bloomberg-Business Week)
  • Observations:

    Iran, Beacon of Liberty? - Reuel Marc Gerecht (New York Times)

    • Iran's militarized theocracy will survive or perish depending on the strength of the Revolutionary Guards, the praetorian branch of the military that has become a self-sustaining fundamentalist conglomerate. Yet many guardsmen and their children, like the children of the clerical elite, are graduates of Iran's best universities. And if there is one factor that has inclined Iranians toward the opposition, it has been higher education.
    • We will likely know in the coming months if the opposition can draw into the streets larger numbers of the mostazafan, "the oppressed poor," who have been the popular bedrock of the regime since the 1979 revolution. The economic "reforms" that President Ahmadinejad has planned will probably worsen Iran's already debilitating inflation and unemployment. An opposition combining the young mullahs, college-educated bureaucrats within Iran's bloated civil service and a significant slice of the urban poor could be too diverse for the guards, a partly conscripted force, to suppress.
    • Iranian journalists are reporting that former guardsmen who've joined the opposition are signaling their one-time brothers that they could have a soft landing in a new order. However much the regime has worked to brainwash its security force, if more Iranians are killed, rank-and-file guardsmen may suspend their belief and choose not to shoot.
    • A democratic revolution in Tehran could well prove the most momentous Mideastern event since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. A politically freer Iran would bring front and center the great Islamic debate of our times: How can one be both a good Muslim and a democrat? How does one pay homage to Islamic law but give ultimate authority to the people's elected representatives? How can a Muslim import the best of the West without suffering debilitating guilt? Especially for religious dissidents, democracy is now seen as a keystone of a more moral order, where the faith can no longer be used to countenance dictatorship.
    • Whereas secularizing Westernized autocracies like the shah's prompted upwellings of religious radicalism, Iran's religious dictatorship has produced a softening secularization that is likely to last, since both nonreligious and faithful Iranians increasingly see representative government as indispensable to their values.

      The writer, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is a former Middle Eastern specialist in the CIA's clandestine service.

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