Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at www.dailyalert.org|
February 17, 2010
Dubai Hit Squad Used Identities of British Nationals Living in Israel - Catherine Philp, Richard Ford, and Sheera Frenkel (Times-UK)
Obama Nominates New Envoy for Syria (Reuters-New York Times)
Israeli Economy Grew 4.4 Percent in Q4 of 2009 - Steven Scheer
Israel Ranked 17th in Terror Threats, After Turkey and Russia (Reuters)
Israelis Wounded by Hizbullah Rockets Sue Iran in U.S. Court - Vered Luvitch (Ynet News)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's accusation this week that Iran is becoming a military dictatorship run by elements of the militant Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is the public expression of conclusions privately drawn by U.S. officials and administration advisers for months. Senior U.S. officials and Iran analysts said the administration may be able to rally world opinion against the elite military group in a way it has yet to manage against the religious leaders who sit atop the regime. Gordon Duguid, a State Department spokesman, said Tuesday the Revolutionary Guards is "currently in control" of nine of 22 cabinet ministries.
Focusing on the Revolutionary Guards also allows Washington to target an organization that is - through its paramilitary militia, the Basij - primarily responsible for the violent crackdown against demonstrators in the wake of June's presidential elections. "The IRGC is a convenient target because it's the entity that manages Iran's nuclear program, it's the entity that liaises with extremist groups throughout the Middle East, and it's the entity which is overseeing the brutal crackdown on the Iranian people," said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (Wall Street Journal)
See also Revolutionary Guards Keep Stranglehold on Iran - Dieter Bednarz and Erich Follath (Der Spiegel-Germany)
See also Clinton's Sharp Words for Iran - Glenn Kessler
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton completed her tour of the Persian Gulf region on Tuesday, criticism of Iran was the standard practice. Clinton told students in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, that "questions keep building" about Iran and its nuclear ambitions. "Iran has threatened other countries, including the [Saudi] kingdom," she said. "Iran has funded terrorists that have launched attacks within other countries, including the kingdom. Iran is the largest supporter of terrorism in the world today....You have to ask yourself: Why are they doing this?" (Washington Post)
Iranian President Ahmadinejad warned the U.S. and other nations Tuesday not to impose tougher sanctions in reaction to his country's nuclear ambitions. "It's high time for some people to open their eyes and adapt themselves to real changes that are under way," Ahmadinejad said. Asked specifically about the threat of tougher sanctions, the Iranian president said, "It won't put us in trouble. They themselves will get into trouble." "Definitely, we will show a reaction that will put them to shame, like always," he said. (CNN)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The Simon Wiesenthal Center on Tuesday accused opponents of its plans to build a museum near a historic Muslim cemetery in central Jerusalem of "sheer hypocrisy" after the center obtained information showing that the Supreme Muslim Council of British Mandate Palestine had planned to build a large commercial center directly on top of the cemetery in 1945. A November 22, 1945, article from The Palestine Post (the pre-state name of The Jerusalem Post) states, "An area of over 450 dunams in the heart of Jerusalem, now forming the Mamilla Cemetery, is to be converted into a business center. The town-plan is being completed under the supervision of the Supreme Moslem Council."
"In an interview with Al-Wih-da, the Jerusalem weekly, a member of the Supreme Muslim Council stated that the use of Muslim cemeteries in the public interest had many precedents both in Palestine and elsewhere. The member added that the Supreme Muslim Council intended to publish a statement containing dispensations by Egyptian, Hijazi and Demascene clerics sanctioning the building program." (Jerusalem Post)
Alan Solow, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said American leaders are well aware the Palestinians are the party refusing to talk. "The administration should continue to acknowledge that the Israelis are willing to return to the negotiating table and it's time to tell the Palestinians they have to do the same, and it's important to bring the Arab states into this process to give Abbas the support he needs to start negotiating," Solow said on the sidelines of the annual Conference of Presidents gathering in Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
Prime Minister Netanyahu and Russian President Medvedev on Monday discussed Israel's desire to retrieve the Guenzberg collection of ancient Jewish manuscripts. The collection includes 14,000 books (some published in the 14th century) and more than 2,000 Hebrew manuscripts. Following the death of Baron David Guenzberg in 1910, Zionist activists arranged for its relocation to prestate Israel. In May 1917, the Russians agreed to sell the collection to the Jewish National and University Library for half a million rubles. But after the money had already been paid by Russian Zionists and the collection was packaged and ready for shipment, World War I erupted, delaying the shipment. After the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the newly installed Soviet authorities expropriated the collection. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Iranian President Ahmadinejad announced last week that Tehran has the capability to produce weapons-grade uranium. There is a reason that highly enriched uranium is called "weapons-grade," and it has nothing to do with peaceful uses of nuclear power. It is a measure of Western impotence that the U.S. went to war with Iraq in 2003 to prevent the very things Iran is announcing with pride in 2010. Had Saddam Hussein made the same claim, the question over weapons of mass destruction would have been settled at once.
Discussion swirls around various forms of sanctions: smart sanctions, focused sanctions, effective sanctions, sanctions that bite. However, there is no reason to think that any sanctions regime will dissuade Tehran from its current course of action. The limited courses of action being discussed in Washington are irrelevant. Tehran will pursue its revolutionary interests. (Washington Times)
By telling Palestinians that the current sex scandal in the PA is an Israeli "conspiracy" to weaken Mahmoud Abbas and force him to make political and territorial concessions, the Palestinian leaders are generating still more hatred among Palestinians against the Jewish state. Only a few dared to demand an inquiry into the sex scandal or cases of financial and administrative corruption revealed by former Palestinian intelligence official Fahmi Shabaneh. One of Abbas' top aides, Rafik Husseini, was caught with his pants down in the bedroom of an Arab woman and, of course, it's the Jews' fault.
So what if Shabaneh has all the evidence to prove that he was acting on direct instructions from his boss, Tawfik Tirawi, former head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service. And so what if Abbas knew about the sex scandal more than a year ago, when Shabaneh presented him with all the material he had collected during his work as head of the anti-corruption unit in the Palestinian security forces. The Palestinian Authority's claim that the Israelis are behind the latest sex scandal in Ramallah should be seen in the context of the campaign of incitement that began under Yasser Arafat against Israel and Jews, and what dictators use to "change the subject" at home. (Hudson Institute New York)
See also Sex Scandal Involving Abbas' Top Aide Rocks Fatah - Sheera Frenkel (Times-UK)
Secretary of State Clinton's communique' on Feb. 11 after her meeting with Tony Blair indicates the new direction of U.S. policy on Israel-Palestinian issues. It defines administration policy as seeking a two-state solution through three tactics: "(1) To help build the economy and capacity to govern a Palestinian state; (2) to renew political negotiations to enable the earliest possible establishment of that state; and (3) to achieve these in a manner that ensures the security of Israel and of the Palestinians." Up until now, item two has been in the top position. Since direct talks are not in sight, the administration has shifted gears and the main priority is a process of state-building among Palestinians to get them ready for statehood.
It does seem as if the White House has realized the PA is not ready for peace and is thus reluctant to commit much effort to the issue. Meanwhile, it will just go on saying how much it loves the Palestinians and look active while trying to keep things quiet as it deals with other issues. (Jerusalem Post)
Iran's Brinkmanship Is Paying Off - Ephraim Asculai (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
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