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February 19, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Did Britain Know in Advance about Dubai Hit? (Daily Mail-UK)
    The British intelligence agency MI6 was tipped off that Israeli agents were going to carry out an "overseas operation" using fake British passports, it was claimed Thursday.
    A member of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, said the British Foreign Office was also told hours before a Hamas terrorist chief was assassinated in Dubai. The tip-off did not say who the target would be or even where the hit squad would be in action.
    A British security source who met the Mossad agent said: "This is a serving member of Israeli intelligence. He says the British Government was told very, very briefly before the operation what was going to happen."
    "There was no British involvement and they didn't know the name of the target. But they were told these people were traveling on UK passports."
    The security source said the tip-off was not a request for permission but more a "courtesy call." The Mossad man said Israeli intelligence chiefs understand British authorities will have to "slap them on the wrist."
    Intelligence sources say Hamas military leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was lured to a meeting in Dubai by two men who had worked with him in Hamas in Gaza.
    He did not realize they had defected to Fatah, bitter enemies of Hamas, and were secretly working with the Israelis.
    See also Fatah Members Linked with Killing of Hamas Commander in Dubai - Adrian Blomfield (Telegraph-UK)

UK Denies Advance Knowledge of Fake UK Passports (BBC News)
    The UK government has again denied it had any prior knowledge of the fake British passports used by the suspected killers of a Hamas militant in Dubai.
    However, shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was "entirely possible" the government had been alerted.
    See also Mossad Ties Are Vital for the Security of Britain - Michael Evans (Times-UK)
    Diplomatic outrage is one thing, but severing ties with Mossad to punish Israel's secret service for using British passports for an assassination would be to Britain's detriment.

Hamas Vows to Avenge Mabhouh's Killing (AP/Qatar Tribune)
    Hamas militants pulled out all the stops at a rally in Gaza to honor Mahmoud al-Mabhouh on Wednesday.
    A large portrait of him, adorned with red roses, stood in front of the stage, next to a large Israeli flag spread out on the ground, like a carpet.
    Uniformed Hamas fighters marched on the flag, carrying a wreath toward the al-Mabhouh portrait in a mock burial.
    Other Hamas fighters unfurled a four-story-tall al-Mabhouh portrait, rappelling down the facade of a high-rise building.
    They also held up photos of four Israeli soldiers slain by Hamas, including two by al-Mabhouh, and the portrait of a fifth, Sgt. Gilad Shalit, who has been held in Gaza since 2006.
    Masked gunmen led the crowd of 3,000 in a collective oath of revenge.
    The memorial was meant to boost morale and project strength, after his death in Dubai exposed Hamas' vulnerability.

Hamas: 1967 Border Has No Legitimacy (Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades-Hamas)
    The Obama administration has urged discussions about a future Palestinian state "based on the 1967 borders."
    This is based on the common, but false notion that the 4 June 1967 demarcation line separating Israel from the West Bank is the legitimate border of Israel and should therefore be the one along which the conflict is settled.
    This assumption is wrong; the 1967 border has no legitimacy and should not be taken for granted.
    Until June 1967, Arabs had been calling for the abolition of the "illegal Zionist entity" planted by colonial powers like a dagger in the heart of the Arab nation.

Seven Jailed in UK for Gaza Protest Violence - Jessica Elgot (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    Seven men, two of whom are Palestinians, have been jailed for 1 to 2 1/2 years for offenses during the January 2009 violent protest in London against Israel's operation in Gaza.
    Judge John Denniss said he hoped the sentences would be a deterrent against such violent protest. Police said the men threw placards and sticks and pushed and kicked police officers.
    A spokesman for the Community Security Trust said: "The level of violence on the anti-Israel demonstrations was completely unacceptable and, combined with the record number of anti-Semitic incidents last January, caused genuine fear amongst the Jewish community."

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Report: Five Muslim Soldiers Arrested over Fort Jackson Poison Probe (Fox News)
    The U.S. Army is investigating allegations that soldiers were attempting to poison the food supply at Fort Jackson in South Carolina.
    Five suspects, detained in December, were part of an Arabic translation program called "09 Lima" and use Arabic as their first language, two sources told Fox News. Another military source said they were Muslim.

UNRWA Soccer Tournament Named after Terrorist - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    An UNRWA educational program in Ramallah has honored the terrorist Abu Jihad with a soccer tournament in his name.
    Abu Jihad served as deputy military commander of Fatah and planned many of the major Fatah terror attacks in the 1970s.

Canadian Minister: An Attack on Israel Is an Attack on Canada - Elad Benari (Shalom Life-Canada)
    Peter Kent, Canadian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Americas, said on the Iranian issue: "Canada has been concerned for some time not only about brutal repression of civil rights in Iran but also about the nuclear adventurism and the proclaimed quest of nuclear weaponry by President Ahmadinejad."
    "Prime Minister Harper has made it quite clear for some time now and has regularly stated that an attack on Israel would be considered an attack on Canada," said Kent and added that Israel is considered an ally of Canada.
    "We work with our allies. We regularly convey our concern in a variety of ways, at the United Nations, as well as one on one."

Herodian-Era Aqueduct Unearthed near Jerusalem's Jaffa Gate - Nir Hasson (Ha'aretz)
    Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists say they found about 40 meters of a well-built aqueduct from the time of King Herod last week near Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem during infrastructure work in the area.
    Archaeologists say the aqueduct was first built in the first century BCE, and was in use in the second century CE. Within it were discovered roof tiles from the Roman Tenth Legion, which controlled Jerusalem at that time.
    The aqueduct, 1.5 meters high and 60 cm. wide, was built of large, flat stones. Every 15 meters a shaft connected the aqueduct to the road above it.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • UN Nuclear Watchdog Says Iran Worked on Warhead - David E. Sanger and William J. Broad
    UN nuclear inspectors declared for the first time on Thursday that they had extensive evidence of "past or current undisclosed activities" by Iran's military to develop a nuclear warhead. The report by the new director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, also concluded that Iran's weapons-related activity apparently continued "beyond 2004," contradicting an American intelligence assessment that work on a bomb was suspended at the end of 2003. The report cited new evidence of a concerted drive in Iran toward a weapons capability. It also reiterated evidence that Iran had tested ways of detonating weapons and had worked extensively to design warheads small enough to fit atop a missile. (New York Times)
  • UN Nuclear Watchdog: Bombed Syrian Site May Have Been Nuclear Reactor
    Uranium particles found at a Syrian desert complex bombed to ruin by Israel in 2007 point to possible covert nuclear activity, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Thursday, lending public support to Western suspicions of a nascent nuclear reactor at the site that Washington said was North Korean in design and geared to making weapons-grade plutonium. "The presence of such particles points to the possibility of nuclear-related activities at the site," said the report by new IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano. "Syria has yet to provide a satisfactory explanation for the origin and presence of these particles." "Syria has not cooperated with the agency since June 2008 in connection with the unresolved issues related to the Dair Alzour site and the other three locations allegedly functionally related to it," said the report. (Reuters)
  • Khamenei Delivers Fiery Message, Without Hint of Compromise, to Obama Administration
    Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, delivered a fiery speech Wednesday, saying his nation "will never back down from its positions and it could by no means be intimidated by threats." He said Iran opposed not just U.S. ambitions in the region but the entire American-dominated global system.
        "They utter lies against Iran over its nuclear programs, human rights record and democracy because the Iranian nation is steadfast and firm," he said. "The real belligerent is the U.S. The U.S. has turned the Persian Gulf into an arms depot, launched invasions against Iraq and Afghanistan and is now throwing its gauntlet at Pakistan." "It is natural for the Islamic Republic to face opposition by several arrogant governments, led by Zionist companies."  (Los Angeles Times)
  • Iran Tops New Terror Finance Blacklist - Nick Mathiason
    Iran heads a new blacklist issued by the Paris-based Financial Action Taskforce, an intergovernmental agency charged with assessing which countries are abiding by money-laundering protocols. The international financial system must tackle "ongoing and substantial money laundering and terrorist financing" emanating from Iran, the agency said in a statement Thursday. (Guardian-UK)
  • Norway Grants Asylum to Iranian Ex-Diplomat
    Norway has granted asylum to Oslo-based Iranian diplomat Mohammed Reza Heydari, who resigned in January to protest his government's violent response to opposition demonstrations in Tehran, Norwegian officials said Thursday. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians Agree to Resume Indirect Negotiations with Israel - Barak Ravid
    Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are to be renewed next week using the "proximity" talks format, a senior government official in Jerusalem said on Thursday. The Israeli and Palestinian teams will sit in separate locations, and U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell and his staff will convey messages between them. Mahmoud Abbas met in Ramallah on Thursday with David Hale, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, who gave Abbas American assurances regarding the renewal of talks with Israel, including a timetable for the move from indirect to direct talks and clarifications regarding the issue of the 1967 borders. A senior government source in Israel said that Israel wants the parties to move as soon as possible from proximity talks to direct talks on all core issues. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel: Nothing Links Us to Mabhouh - Herb Keinon
    Following a meeting in London between Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor and a senior British diplomat on Thursday, Israeli officials are cautiously optimistic that a diplomatic crisis with Britain can be avoided over the fake British passports apparently used in the assassination of Hamas military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. One Israeli diplomatic official said there was no diplomatic crisis with the UK "because there is nothing to connect this with Israel." Just because the media had determined that the Mossad was responsible did not make it so, he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Everyone Uses Similar Methods in War on Terror - Roni Sofer
    International criticism over the assassination of senior Hamas man Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai is unwarranted, as other states use similar methods in their war on terrorists, a senior official in Jerusalem said Thursday. While refraining from confirming that Israel was involved, he said, "Israel is not the only country dealing with this phenomenon. All Western states threatened by terror use similar methods. Hence, the silent agreements and understandings among them, as well as the sharing of information, must continue."  (Ynet News)
  • Threat to Israel of Missiles Becoming More Severe
    Brig. Gen. Yossi Kupperwasser told the Jerusalem Conference on Wednesday that "the main central military threat against Israel is the missile threat....Threats of missiles are becoming more severe at an extremely quick pace....During the Second Lebanon War, Hamas had 13,000 missiles. Today, the number of rockets and missiles spread around Israel is in the tens of thousands."  (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Bomb Injures IDF Soldier at Gaza Border
    An IDF soldier was injured Thursday when a bomb was detonated against a force patrolling the Israeli side of the security fence opposite Gaza. IDF soldiers later discovered a second bomb. The IDF sees Hamas as responsible for maintaining peace and quiet in Gaza. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • West Bank Palestinian Caught with Bombs at Crossing
    A Palestinian from a village near Jenin was detained on Thursday after attempting to enter Israel via the Jalameh crossing, near Afula, with two bombs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Hamas Leader Killed in Dubai

  • If Israel Killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, Did It Have the Right To? - Alan M. Dershowitz
    Not all extrajudicial killings are unlawful. Every soldier who kills an enemy combatant engages in an extrajudicial killing, as does every policeman who shoots a fleeing felon. There are several complex legal questions involved in assessing these situations. First, was the person who was killed a combatant in relation to those who killed him? If Israel killed Mabhouh, there can be absolutely no doubt that he was a combatant. He was actively participating in an ongoing war by Hamas against Israeli civilians. Indeed, it is likely that he was killed while on a military mission to Iran in order to secure unlawful, anti-personnel rockets that target Israeli civilians. Both the U.S. and UK routinely killed such combatants during the Second World War, whether they were in uniform or not.
        If the Israeli Air Force had killed Mabhouh while he was in Gaza, there would be absolutely no doubt that the action would be lawful. It does not violate international law to kill a combatant, regardless of where the combatant is found and whether or not he is engaged in active combat at the moment of his demise.
        Richard Goldstone, in his interviews, has suggested that Israel should protect itself by more proportionate measures, such as commando raids and targeted killing of terrorists engaged in the firing of rockets. Well, there could be no better example of a proportionate attack on a combatant who was deeply involved in the rocket attacks on Israel. If Israel was responsible for the killing, it had only two options: to let him go on his way and continue to endanger Israeli civilian lives by transferring unlawful anti-personnel weapons from Iran to Gaza, or to kill him. There was no third alternative. (Hudson Institute New York)
  • No Tears for Hamas Terrorist Leader - Chris Roycroft-Davis
    Excuse me for not sending flowers to the funeral of the terrorist killed in Dubai. As military chief of terrorist group Hamas, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh had the blood of many Israeli soldiers and civilians on his hands. He was in charge of smuggling rockets and grenades into Gaza so his murderous gangs could lob them into Israel. To say he had it coming is an understatement. So why such a fuss about his execution? Whose side are we on, the terrorists or those with the courage to stand up to them? Make no mistake, I don't like the British passport being used to gain illegal entry to another country. But my top priority will always be security and the world is undoubtedly more secure now that Hamas has lost another murderer from its ranks. (Daily Express-UK)
  • Dubai Hit Showed Hamas Is Vulnerable - Avi Issacharoff
    Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was a linchpin of Hamas' efforts to smuggle arms from Iran into Gaza. His death dealt a severe blow both to the organization's operations and its image - which explains why Hamas has been exhibiting panic for the last few weeks. The leaders of Hamas' military wing, which Mabhouh helped found, vowed revenge and will clearly do their best to carry out some attack on Israel soon to uphold their jihadi image.
        When he was killed, Mabhouh was en route to Sudan - where, according to foreign reports, Israel once bombed an arms convoy headed for Gaza. Before Hamas can resume its smuggling, it must find out how some intelligence agency penetrated its smuggling network. Moreover, the killing has a deterrent effect - Hamas' boasts of its military prowess will now be taken with a grain of salt by the people in Gaza. (Ha'aretz)

    Other Issues

  • Engagement Has Failed. The U.S. Needs a New Strategy - Editorial
    There is a need for a new U.S. strategy that drops the engagement illusion and begins to treat Iran as the single biggest threat to Mideast and U.S. security. Sanctions can be part of that strategy, but they will need to be more comprehensive than anything to date. They must also be ramped up rapidly because they will need time to be felt by the regime. The U.S. should give up on the UN, which will only delay and dilute such pressure, and build a sanctions coalition of the willing.
        The U.S. can also speak and act far more forcefully and clearly on behalf of Iran's domestic opposition. The regime's recent crackdown suggests that the chances of regime change in the near term are remote, but popular animosity against Iran's rulers still seethes underground. The U.S. should assist that opposition in any way it can, especially with technology to help communicate with each other and the world.
        Finally, the option of a military strike will have to be put squarely on the table. Sanctions have little chance of working unless they are backed by a credible military threat. The risks of military action are obvious, but the danger to the world from a nuclear Iran is far worse. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Don't Expect Progress from Talking to Syria - Editorial
    The notion that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad can somehow be turned from his alliance with Iran and sponsorship of terrorism is one of the hardiest of the Middle East. No number of failed diplomatic initiatives, or outrages by Mr. Assad, seems to diminish its luster. The latest attempt to test it comes from the Obama administration, which this week nominated the first U.S. ambassador to Damascus since 2005 and dispatched a senior State Department official, William J. Burns, to meet with Mr. Assad.
        Having carried out a campaign of political murder in Lebanon, including the killing of a prime minister for which he has yet to be held accountable, Mr. Assad continues to insist on a veto over the Lebanese government. He continues to facilitate massive illegal shipments of Iranian arms to Hizbullah, dangerously setting the stage for another war with Israel, and to host the most hard-line elements of the Hamas leadership. He continues to harbor exiled leaders of Saddam Hussein's regime and to allow suicide bombers to flow into Iraq for use by al-Qaeda.
        He told one group of Western visitors that he would no more break with Iran than the U.S. would break with Israel. He says that Syrian sponsorship of Hizbullah and Hamas is not on the table. He has promised to check suicide bombers bound for Iraq but has never done so. Anyone who thinks the Obama administration has come up with a way to change the Middle East through detente with Syria would do well to study the history of Mr. Assad's decade in power. That gambit has been tried, by more Western diplomats and politicians than can be counted, and the results are clear: It doesn't work. (Washington Post)
  • Lebanon Comes Full Circle Back to the Syrian Fold - Zvi Bar'el
    As Lebanon marks the fifth anniversary of the murder of prime minister Rafik Hariri, it has come full circle back into the Syrian fold. In 2005, Lebanese public opinion pushed Syrian troops out of Lebanon. Lebanese politicians and pundits swore then that Syria would never again set foot on Lebanese soil, and Hizbullah faced a terrible dilemma between loyalty to the Lebanese motherland and dependency on Syria. But the Lebanese "order" was restored. The current prime minister, Saad Hariri, the victim's son, has already paid Damascus a visit, embraced Bashar Assad, and Lebanese politics continue to be dictated by Syria and Iran. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Did Not Send the U.S. and Britain into Iraq - John B. Judis
    Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, the authors of The Israel Lobby, have been dead wrong in trying to blame the Israel lobby or the Israeli government for America's invasion of Iraq. And now Walt is repeating the same nonsense in a recent column on the Foreign Policy website, where he wrote that Tony Blair's testimony last month before Britain's Iraq War Commission confirmed that "the Israel lobby...played a key role in the decision to invade Iraq in 2003." I have read Blair's testimony. I don't find it to be proof of anything of the kind.
        Walt does not seem to have taken the trouble to have read the transcript of Blair's testimony. If he had, he would have realized that Blair was not talking about how invading Iraq might benefit Israel, but about the conflict then occurring between Israel and the Palestinians. The second intifada had reached a new height with the Passover and Haifa suicide bombings and the beginning of the siege at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
        Blair was concerned that the Bush administration was not actively pursuing the peace process and wanted the administration to put the Arab-Israeli issue on a par with the threat of Iraq. These discussions led eventually to getting Bush to launch the "Roadmap" for peace. The discussions Blair and Bush had with the Israelis were not about Iraq but about the peace process. The writer is a senior editor at The New Republic and a visiting fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (New Republic)
  • Haiti Is No Gaza - Jason Epstein
    The Israel Defense Forces' strong commitment to disaster relief dates back to 1953. The IDF has provided rescue and recovery operations, as well as hospital services and identification of human remains, on numerous occasions. When in August 1999 the Izmit earthquake claimed at least 17,000 lives in Turkey, on the same day of that tragedy, Israeli relief workers arrived in the affected areas, set up and installed a field hospital comprising two hospital wards for adults and children, an isolation room, operating room, x-ray facility, two clinics and medical equipment. The field hospital that the IDF operated in Adapazari treated 1,200 injured, performed 40 operations, and assisted with 15 births. Israel would provide similar assistance a few months later after a second major tremor.
        Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit commented at the time: "From the first moment after the earthquake, we found Israel in all her power by our side. I want to express my gratitude to all of the Jewish people for their support.'' Haiti is no Gaza. The Haitian government has not unambiguously and repeatedly declared its intention to destroy Israel and kill Jews. (Hurriyet Daily News-Turkey)
  • Recognition for Jews Displaced from Arab Countries - Batsheva Sobelman
    Jews who migrated to Israel left property everywhere from North Africa to the Persian Gulf. Some research estimates that about $1 billion worth of personal and community assets were left behind by 850,000 Jews who forfeited all when they left their old countries for the new one. Israeli legislation to protect the rights of Jewish migrants from Arab countries and supported by the government proposes that Israel secure the right of these Jews' to compensation within the framework of the peace process. Supporters say these Jews are every bit as refugees as the Palestinians displaced with Israel's establishment and should be an equally important issue in the peace process. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Jewish Refugees from Muslim Lands - Linda Menuhim
    The idea of symmetry between two populations of refugees - Jews and Palestinians - was first born at the Wye Plantation summit with former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who demanded compensation for all refugees in the conflict by establishing an international fund. During the Bush administration, Congress endorsed a resolution calling for the mention of Jewish refugees every time there is a mention of Palestinian refugees. (Jerusalem Post)

    Weekend Features

  • Beyond Prejudice, Lies and Manipulations: The Truth about Israel - Pilar Rahola
    Why don't we see demonstrations in London, Paris, and Barcelona against Islamic dictatorships? Why has there been no leadership in support of the victims of Islamic dictatorship in Sudan? Why is there never any outrage against the acts of terrorism committed against Israel? Why confuse support of the Palestinian cause with the defense of Palestinian terrorism?
        In every pro-Palestinian European forum they are never concerned with freedom for the people of Syria or Yemen or Iran or Sudan. They are never preoccupied when Hamas destroys freedom for the Palestinians. They are only concerned with using the concept of Palestinian freedom as a weapon against Israeli freedom.
        In my native city of Barcelona, the city council decided to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel by having a week of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Spanish President Zapatero places the blame on Israel for the conflict in the Middle East. Yet Spain has suffered the worst terrorist attack in Europe and it is in the crosshairs of every Islamic terrorist organization.
        I am not Jewish. Ideologically I am left and by profession a journalist. Why am I not anti-Israeli like my colleagues? Because as a non-Jew I have the historical responsibility to fight against Jewish hatred and currently against the hatred for their historic homeland, Israel. To fight against anti-Semitism is not the duty of the Jews, it is the duty of the non-Jews. The writer is a Spanish journalist, writer, and former member of parliament. (Tablet)
  • Aborigines Can Learn from Jews How to Preserve Culture and Prosper - Noel Pearson
    I sometimes ponder the peoples of the world, their relative qualities, their contribution to the contemporary world and their role in history. I sometimes ask myself which peoples I most admire. At the top of my list are the Jewish people. No people have contributed more to civilization than the Jews. They have led or played decisive roles in developing or powering philosophical movements at all points of the spectrum.
        Beleaguered peoples such as my own could do worse than draw upon the example of the Jews. They offer some lessons about how a culturally distinct people might hold their own and succeed in a world that is often without pity. They have never forgotten history and fight staunchly in defense of the truths of history, but they never make their history a burden for the future. They have worked out how to deal with the past without cultivating and nurturing victimhood among themselves. Too many peoples turn victimization in history into the victimhood of the present.
        They have maintained an identity as a community and a sense of peoplehood, religion, tradition, culture and history while at the same time engaging at the cutting edge of whatever the world has to offer. This is a vision for an Aboriginal future in my part of the country. The writer, an Aboriginal leader and activist, is director of the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership. (The Australian)
  • Ex-IDF Commando Teaches Survival at UC Irvine - Greg Hardesty
    When the shooter burst through the door, the students were ready. They jumped over and around tables. They rushed the gunman. They screamed and tossed anything within reach; backpacks, books, pens. In less than five seconds, the would-be killer was on the floor, powerless to carry out his planned massacre. Alon Stivi, 48, a recognized expert on counterterrorism, violence prevention, security, and hand-to-hand combat, has launched a special training program to make students and office workers safer even from the most extreme forms of violence.
        Since the mid-1960s, 207 people have been in killed in on-campus shootings in the U.S. "With the techniques I teach, you don't have to be a martial artist, a soldier, a policeman or policewoman to protect yourself," Stivi says. "You can be anybody." When the gunman bursts through the doors, the students cowering under tables are sitting ducks. He methodically walks around the room, picking off victims one at a time. Stivi shows how to survive - to act as a group and apply the tactics he terms "collective resistance." "There's strength in numbers," he adds. "You have the element of surprise."  (Orange County Register)
  • Why the West Bank Won't Crown a Miss Palestine - Joshua Mitnick
    When marketing entrepreneur Salwa Youssef began planning a Miss Palestine contest last year, she knew she was pushing the boundaries of social convention. Since then, she's been denounced online as unreligious and unpatriotic, while the Palestinian government forced her to postpone the competition. "I need more freedom. To be a woman here, you are under control," says Ms. Youssef, who heads her own advertising firm in the West Bank city of Ramallah. "We cannot talk, we cannot choose, we cannot do anything we like."  (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Observations:

    Israel Is Back - Guy Bechor (Ynet News)

    • Israel's enemies are in panic - or is it paranoia - for fear that Israel will be attacking them. Hizbullah is convinced that it will suffer a blow at any moment and Lebanon has asked for France's protection, Hamas is still licking its wounds, Syria is concerned, and Iran's foreign minister already declared that Israel is a "nation of crazy people" with "mad leaders" who may launch a strike. On the other hand, Israel's borders are quieter than they have been in many years.
    • This is called deterrence. Both Hizbullah and Syria know that since the last Lebanon War the IDF is now the first military in the world equipping its tanks with anti-missile systems, which are changing the rules of war. Moreover, a series of daring assassinations attributed to Israel is prompting personal fears among axis of evil leaders. They suspect everyone around them and the confusion is great. We should recall that Hizbullah leader Nasrallah has been hiding for three and a half years now, and this is quite embarrassing for someone who rushed to declare a "divine victory," no less, after the 2006 Lebanon War.
    • According to terror groups, Israel can reach anywhere and has infiltrated every organization and each Arab state. The glory of Israel's secret services had been restored and the fear of them has increased. People in the region are telling themselves: "Israel is back." It disappeared for about a decade and a half when it was perceived as weak, yet now it is back at full force.
    • Both the Lebanon War and the Gaza War are having an effect. Hizbullah sees the destruction sowed by Israel in Gaza and it loses the urge to fight us. Israel has learned the rules of the region. Our enemies realize that Israel has matured, learned the art of creating deterrence, and that it is here to stay. They are starting to understand that Israel is stronger than they thought.

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