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April 19, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Reaching Out Quietly to Muslims in America - Andrea Elliott (New York Times)
    The Obama administration has reached out to Arab-Americans in a sustained and widening effort that has left even skeptics surprised.
    Muslim and Arab-American advocates have participated in policy discussions and received briefings from top White House aides on health care legislation, foreign policy, the economy, immigration and national security.
    They have met privately with a senior White House adviser, Valerie Jarrett, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to discuss civil liberties concerns and counterterrorism strategy.
    White House officials cited several recent government actions that were influenced, in part, by the discussions.
    "We're being made to feel a part of that process and that there is somebody listening," said James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute in Washington.
    This month, Tariq Ramadan, a prominent Muslim academic, visited the U.S. for the first time in six years after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reversed a decision by the Bush administration. Clinton also cleared the way for Muslim professor Adam Habib, who had been denied entry under similar circumstances.

IDF Seeks to Counter Fayyad's "Public Uprising" - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    The IDF has begun looking into ways to crack down on the PA's financial support of the "nonviolent public uprising" it is supporting in the West Bank.
    PA officials, including Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, have been directing and overseeing weekly protests in the West Bank at Ni'lin, Bil'in and near Shavei Shomron.
    Defense officials recently met with Fayyad. "We told him that the public uprising that they currently say is nonviolent could quickly turn violent and undermine efforts both sides are making to create stability in the West Bank," a senior IDF officer said last week.
    Following Israel's protests, Fayyad sent a number of top PA officials to mosques and community centers throughout the West Bank to send a calming message and prevent an escalation in violence.

The Palestinians' Dirty War - Khaled Abu Toameh (Hudson Institute-New York)
    Were it not for Israel's presence between the West Bank and Gaza, Fatah and Hamas would most likely be dispatching suicide bombers and rockets at each other.
    The fight between Hamas and Fatah is not a power struggle between good guys and bad guys: it is a rivalry between bad guys and bad guys.
    Fatah leaders hate Hamas to a point where they are even prepared to ally themselves with the "Israeli enemy" to overthrow Hamas. During Israel's military operation in Gaza, Fatah officials provided Israel with valuable intelligence that resulted in the killing of many Hamas operatives.
    The only way to make progress towards peace is by insisting that the Palestinians first get their act together. What is the point in signing any agreement with Mahmoud Abbas or Salam Fayyad when we all know that the two men have no control over Gaza?
    And who said that Abbas or Fayyad, who are regarded by a large number of Palestinians as "puppets" in the hands of the Israelis and Americans, would ever be able to sell a peace deal with Israel to a majority of Arabs and Muslims?
    It is hard to see how the "peace process" could ever move forward when the Palestinians are too busy fighting each other.

Israel at 62: Population of 7,587,000 (Ynet News)
    As Israel celebrates its 62nd birthday, its population stands at 7,587,000, the Central Bureau of Statistics said Sunday.
    The Jewish population numbers 5,726,000 residents (75.7%), while the Arab population numbers 1,548,000 (20.4%).
    Over 70% of the Jewish population was born in Israel.
    See also Independence Day Greetings - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (YouTube)
    Message to the Diaspora on Israel's Independence Day - Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (YouTube)
    Independence Day Greetings - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (ClintonBlog)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Gates Says U.S. Lacks Policy to Curb Iran's Nuclear Drive - David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker
    Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has warned in a secret three-page memorandum to top White House officials that the U.S. does not have an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran's steady progress toward nuclear capability. The highly classified analysis came in the midst of an intensifying effort inside the Pentagon, the White House and the intelligence agencies to develop new options for President Obama. They include a set of military alternatives, still under development, to be considered should diplomacy and sanctions fail to force Iran to change course. One senior official described the document as "a wake-up call."
        A senior administration official described last week that there was a line Iran would not be permitted to cross. The official said that the U.S. would ensure that Iran would not "acquire a nuclear capability," a step Tehran could get to well before it developed a sophisticated weapon. "That includes the ability to have a breakout" and build a small arsenal, he said. (New York Times)
        See also Gates Clarifies Report about Iran Policy - Thom Shanker and David E. Sanger
    Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates acknowledged Sunday that he had written a classified memorandum to the White House in January raising significant questions about long-term Iran policy, but said, "the memo was not intended as a 'wake-up call' or received as such by the president's national security team. Rather, it presented a number of questions and proposals intended to contribute to an orderly and timely decision-making process."  (New York Times)
        See also U.S. Military Plans Against Iran Being Updated - Barbara Starr
    The Pentagon and U.S. Central Command are updating military plans to strike Iran's nuclear sites, preparing up-to-date options for the president in the event he decides to take such action, an Obama administration official told CNN Sunday. The effort has been underway for several weeks and comes as there is growing concern across the administration's national security team that the president needs fresh options ready for his approval if he were to decide on a military strike. (CNN)
  • Bill Clinton Encourages Obama on Mideast Peace Effort - Laura Meckler
    Former President Bill Clinton said he would "strongly support" an effort by President Barack Obama to issue his own Middle East peace plan, something now under discussion at the White House. "We need to do something to deprive both sides of any excuse not to engage in serious negotiations," Mr. Clinton said Sunday on ABC's "This Week." "If this is the tactic he decides to adopt, I will strongly support it." Mr. Clinton said he has talked the issue over with Mr. Obama and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, as well as with his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Iran Seeks Friends to Fight Sanctions - Katherine Butler
    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei told an international conference on nuclear disarmament in Tehran that America was the world's "only atomic criminal." The two-day meeting was dismissed as a childish attempt to rival Obama's 47-nation conference on nuclear disarmament last week. Such heavyweights as Turkmenistan, Guinea-Conakry and Swaziland were on the guest list. All 27 members of the EU snubbed the conference, but permanent UN Security Council members Russia and China were represented. So were non-permanent Security Council members including Uganda, Turkey and Lebanon, all of whom are openly opposed to sanctions.
        The meeting ended with calls for a complete overhaul of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and for Israel's alleged nuclear weapons to be brought under a UN inspection regime. This is potentially significant: next month 200 nations will gather in New York to review the NPT. The Iranian strategy will be to force a treaty overhaul which spells out the rights of signatories to run civilian nuclear programs including the right to enrich uranium. (Independent-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Remembers Its Fallen
    A two-minute siren sounded across Israel at 11 a.m. Monday in memory of 22,684 fallen soldiers and terror attack victims killed since 1860. It was followed by state ceremonies at 43 military cemeteries. (Ynet News)
  • Netanyahu on Memorial Day: Peace Will Come Only If Israel Remains Strong
    Speaking at the Memorial Ceremony for Fallen Soldiers at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "Twice we have paid the heavy cost of liberating the siege on Jerusalem - first, during the War of Independence, and again, when the city was bombarded during the Six-Day War....Jerusalem, which until that time had been a divided and weakened city, became once again a city full of life, creativity and renewal."
        "Not one day has passed without us reaching out to our neighbors in peace. Not even one day, and we still reach out to those of our neighbors that desire peace. Over the years, we have learned that the olive branches of peace will only be attained if we are strong and are willing to defend our country as did those who have fallen here. It was not out of a lust for battle that they charged this destination and other hills, but out of faith in the justness of the cause of defending the one and only country of the Jewish people....They all believed in the right of the Jewish people to live in peace and security in the land of their forefathers."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Peres: Israel Yearns for Peace But Will Defend Itself - Jonathan Lis, Yuval Azoulay, and Liel Kyzer
    Israel fell silent on Sunday night as sirens wailed across the country to mark Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror attacks. President Shimon Peres addressed Israel's bereaved families after lighting a memorial flame at the Western Wall plaza, saying, "On this blessed occasion, I want to say in the name of the State of Israel: We do not seek war. We are a nation that yearns for peace, but will know how to defend itself."
        "Israel's strength springs from the strength of its faith, and its greatness emanates from the heroism of its sons," said Peres. "Today we grieve for their loss and are blessed by their legacy." "There are still those who wish to annihilate us, and at their head, the autocratic Iranian regime that seeks to cast its rule over the Middle East, silence it with lethal weapons, and launch an anti-Israel incitement campaign to deflect Arab concerns."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Wiesel: Jerusalem Is Above Politics - Yitzhak Benhorin
    Amid tensions between the U.S. administration and Israel over construction in Jerusalem, Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel on Friday published a full page ad in the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal titled: "For Jerusalem." In the ad, Wiesel wrote: "Jerusalem is the heart of our heart and the soul of our soul." "Jerusalem is above politics," Wiesel wrote. "It is mentioned more than 600 times in Bible - and not a single time in the Quran....Its presence in Jewish history is overwhelming."
        He added, "Today, for the first time in history, Jews, Christians and Muslims may all worship at their shrines....And contrary to certain media reports, Jews, Christians and Muslims are allowed to build their homes anywhere in the city." He wondered, "Why tackle the most complex and sensitive problem prematurely? Why not first take steps which will allow the Israeli and Palestinian communities to find ways to live together in an atmosphere of security?"  (Ynet News)
  • Israel Embassy Slams German Anti-Semitic Cartoon - Benjamin Weinthal
    The Israeli Embassy in Germany on Friday rebuked the public prosecutor's office in Cologne for allowing a public exhibit that features a cartoon it says encourages "hatred and violence" against Jews and the State of Israel. "If one shows a figure with an Israeli flag devouring a Palestinian child, this reminds us of the most scurrilous accusations of ritual murder in European anti-Semitism," the embassy said in a statement. "We are convinced that the cartoon was of a clearly anti-Semitic nature and that it incites hatred and violence. The claim that one must distinguish between hatred of the Jewish people and hatred of the State of Israel is absolutely inappropriate and leaves a bad taste." The public prosecutor last week dismissed a legal complaint by Gerd Buurmann, a non-Jewish theater director, that the cartoon violated Germany's hate-crime law. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Mideast Peace, One Brick at a Time - Robert McFarlane
    President Obama should focus on the building blocks essential to an ultimate settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The U.S. is already working hard to shore up the Palestinian Authority security apparatus in the West Bank. With continued American help, other civil infrastructure can also be put in place, for example to combat corruption and establish the rule of law - necessary if the new Palestinian state is going to function and be self-sustaining. Models from other emerging countries (e.g., South Korea) suggest that this process takes at least a decade to accomplish and that expecting anything less may lead only to a failed state.
        No one should underestimate how difficult it will be to reach a comprehensive settlement. For example, the Palestinians seek their so-called right of return to territory in Israel and want the capital of their state to be in Jerusalem. Israelis believe that accepting a right of return would be demographic suicide. And they are loath to divide Jerusalem, not least because they recall that when Jordan ruled East Jerusalem prior to 1967 it was ethnically cleansed of Jews. They view Jerusalem as their ancient and "indivisible" capital. These issues cannot be resolved easily or quickly. Papering them over is counterproductive. Only by laying one brick at a time can a solid foundation for peace be built. The writer served as President Reagan's national security adviser and is currently a member of the Leadership Council at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Panting after Peace - Joel Mowbray
    Some argue that striking an Israeli-Palestinian deal would be the first domino that would rally the Arab states to prevent Iran from obtaining nukes. This is absurd. Arab dictators already want to stop Iran, as they fear the political dominance the mullahs would achieve across the region should they acquire nukes. Furthermore, a "two-state" solution currently seems impossible because of Hamas' control over Gaza. Simply put, ordinary Palestinians are not yet ready to accept peaceful coexistence with a Jewish state of Israel. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    Why Israel Is Anxious about the Obama Administration - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)

    • Concern is growing that the U.S. wants Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders. At their narrowest, those borders give Israel a nine-mile margin between the West Bank and the Mediterranean Sea.
    • Israel could conceivably withdraw to something close to that border if it had credible assurances that a future Palestinian state would be peaceful, stable and well-governed. But the Palestinian reality today is that it is riven politically and geographically between two camps, one of which (Hamas) is armed by Iran and sworn to Israel's destruction.
    • Syria has further entrenched its alliance with Iran, despite repeated entreaties by the Administration and its allies in Congress; Egypt is entering a period of political transition; and Turkey has gone from being an Israeli ally to an adversary under its Islamist government. None of this can inspire much confidence among Israelis that the time is ripe to withdraw from the West Bank.
    • For all the current talk about Israel costing America lives and treasure, the striking fact is that the U.S. has never had to go to war to defend the Jewish state. This is more than can be said for Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Bosnia, Kosovo and the people of Afghanistan and Iraq.
    • That's because for 62 years Israelis have provided for their own defense, in an alliance with the U.S. that has reflected American values and - in both the Cold War and the war on terror - advanced American interests.

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