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June 9, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

American Jewish Community Ends Support of Turkish Interests on Hill - Eli Lake (Washington Times)
    In October 2000, the Turks called up Keith Weissman, a senior researcher from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and asked him to help block a resolution in the House of Representatives commemorating the Armenian genocide. The last-minute push worked, and the full Congress has yet to take up the matter to this day.
    But the American Jewish community is no longer helping Turkey, after a tumultuous deterioration of ties between Israel and Turkey in the past four years.
    In 1982, when Israel invaded southern Lebanon, its army destroyed training camps affiliated with the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia, a terrorist organization responsible for the slayings of Turkish diplomats. Relations between the two countries blossomed.
    Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said, "The Turks happen to have a government that is extremist, that has chosen a path that is violative of the past relationship. It has been a steady process, not just related to the most recent incident. This began with the election of this Islamist government in 2002."
    Today, far from being an asset for Turkey, the American Jewish community appears to becoming a potent foe of Turkish interests in Washington.
    "Every day there is another provocation. Every day the Turkish government goes out of its way to be insulting to Israel and another link is broken," said Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

    See also Israel Sees Change in Turkish Attitude - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York on Tuesday it was a "mistake" to think that it was possible to change Turkey's attitude toward Israel through any gesture or efforts, since the negative change in Ankara reflected a strategic change by the Turkish leadership stemming from deep shifts in Turkish society.

Congress Shows Israel Support (Jerusalem Post)
    More than a dozen senators and over 60 members of the House of Representatives have issued statements since the flotilla interception last Monday, with almost all of them overwhelmingly supportive of Israel.
    Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) noted, "If Hamas were in Canada, America would have a tougher blockade than Israel has."

Abbas Fails to Stop Incitement in PA Media - Itamar Marcus, Nan Jacques Zilberdik and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    On May 9, the U.S. State Department announced that "After completing the first round of proximity talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, both parties are taking some steps to help create an atmosphere that is conducive to successful talks, including President Abbas' statement that he will work against incitement of any sort."
    However, the Abbas-controlled official PA media continue to deny Israel's existence, deny Israel's right to exist, define the conflict with Israel as an uncompromising religious war for Allah, promote hatred through demonization slander and libel, and glorify terror and violence.
    A new 9-page report documents incidents in May of PA non-compliance with its pledge to stop incitement.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Putin: Russia Opposes "Excessive" Iran Sanctions, Bushehr Nuclear Plant to Open Soon
    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that a future UN Security Council resolution on the Iranian nuclear problem must not block the way for Iran's civilian nuclear program. "We have worked a great deal and we believe that the resolution has been practically agreed on," Putin said. "We maintain that the forthcoming decisions must not be excessive ones. Nor must they put the Iranian people in a dubious position, make them faced with obstructions on the way towards civilian nuclear power. In that connection I would like to tell you that the Bushehr nuclear power plant will be officially inaugurated in August and the work will begin."  (ITAR-TASS-Russia)
  • Turkey-U.S. Ties Face "Breaking Point" over Iran Sanctions Vote - Daniel Dombey and Delphine Strauss
    The turbulent relationship between the U.S. and Turkey - allies for more than half a century - is about to reach a decisive moment when the UN Security Council votes on whether to tighten sanctions on Iran. Turkey, a member of the Security Council, is leading the case against sanctions. "The moment when the Turkish ambassador at the UN fails to raise his hand in support of the Iran sanctions vote may be a breaking point," said Bulent Aliriza of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
        On a trip to Turkey last year, President Obama hailed the country's potential as a bridge to the Muslim world, as well as its status as a democratic, secular NATO ally. Since then, the U.S. has grown uneasy over the direction taken by the government of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, who has strengthened relations with Iran and Syria, and echoed some of their criticisms of Western foreign policy.
        The U.S. has signaled that it considers Turkey's reaction to the flotilla incident overblown. The day that Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, said the Israeli raid was the psychological equivalent for his country of the September 11 attacks, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for "careful, thoughtful responses from all concerned." Erdogan leads a country where anti-U.S. feeling is comparable to levels in nations such as Pakistan. A BBC World Service survey in April found that 70% of Turks held a negative view of the U.S. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Egypt Opens Door to Gaza Just a Little - Karin Laub
    Egypt has promised to keep the Rafah crossing with Gaza open every day, rather than just sporadically, but even that gesture comes with many strings attached. Only those with foreign passports or residency, or people requiring medical treatment or accepted at foreign universities, are eligible to cross into Egypt. Egypt has cooperated with Israel in enforcing the Gaza blockade, in part because it has been fighting homegrown Islamic radicals since the 1990s and feared Hamas' militancy could spill into Egypt. (AP)
        See also Muslim Brotherhood Aid Convoy Enters Gaza, Without Aid - Amro Hassan
    After being stranded at the Rafah border crossing for nearly 24 hours, nine members of the Egyptian Parliament were told Tuesday that the construction materials they had hauled for hundreds of miles would not be permitted into Gaza. The politicians had little choice but to walk in alone. Organized by the Muslim Brotherhood, the convoy included several trucks carrying steel and cement, which were confiscated. Egyptian officials said that only UNRWA has the authority to ship construction materials into Gaza. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Dollars Flow into Gaza Banks as Egypt Opens Border Crossing
    U.S. dollars and Jordanian dinars were available in Gaza banks on Monday, after more than a year of near total scarcity, when Egypt opened its Rafah border crossing. (Maan-PA)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Awaiting U.S. Green Light for Internal Gaza Flotilla Probe - Anshel Pfeffer and Barak Ravid
    Israel is awaiting a "green light" from the U.S. on a proposal for how to investigate the flotilla incident. The government's seven senior ministers agreed Monday to establish a panel of jurists to probe the raid, but a senior government source noted that if the type of panel proposed, and its mandate, is not acceptable to Washington, "there is no point in establishing it." A senior source in Jerusalem said the panel would be comprised of top jurists with experience in international and marine law. Two international jurists - at least one of them American - would be invited to participate as observers. (Ha'aretz)
        Talks with the Americans have gone on for two days, but Jerusalem and Washington are still at odds over both the committee's mandate and its composition. (Ha'aretz)
        See also U.S. Backs International Role in Flotilla Probe
    The U.S. backed calls Tuesday for international participation in Israel's probe of the Gaza-bound aid flotilla. "International participation in investigating these matters will be important to the credibility everybody wants to see," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said. "We're in conversation with Israelis and others about how to best accomplish this," Crowley added. (AFP)
  • Tony Blair: Israel Has a Right to Inspect What Goes into Gaza
    Special Quartet envoy Tony Blair told Israel's Channel 10 Tuesday, "There's no question that there are rockets fired from Gaza and that there are people in Gaza who want to kill innocent Israelis....When it comes to security, I'm 100% on Israel's side. Israel has the right to inspect what goes into Gaza."  (Ha'aretz)
  • PA Won't Agree to Direct Talks with Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh and Hilary Leila Krieger
    The Palestinian Authority said on Tuesday that it wouldn't agree to direct negotiations with Israel as long as the proximity talks, which began last month, were not achieving any progress. Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a senior aide to Mahmoud Abbas, said that the Palestinians had recently told U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell that Israel's request to launch direct negotiations was "unacceptable." The Obama administration, however, is expected to make moving to direct talks a central issue in Abbas' White House visit on Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Turkey Calling for Jihad Against Israel - Joshua Teitelbaum
    The last time Turkish flags were carried through the streets of Middle Eastern capitals was during the first world war, as people took to the streets to support the Ottoman sultan-caliph against the Western entente powers. Thanks to Turkish government support of a blockade-running mission led by a group of Hamas sympathizers, no ruling Arab leader is as popular as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose discourse amounts to calls for a jihad against Israel. Israel's relations with Ankara have been sacrificed on the altar of Turkey's aspiration to lead the Islamic world and establish itself along with Iran as an alternative to American power.
        It is difficult to imagine that Turkey would be engaging in this kind of behavior were the U.S. demonstrating world leadership and not abandoning the field to the likes of Erdogan. While the administration works to assure Israel's security with co-operation on missile defense, it has yet emboldened Israel's enemies by publicly pressuring Jerusalem at every turn, not taking decisive action against Iran, and singling out Israel - to the exclusion of Iran - at the nuclear non-proliferation treaty review conference. The writer is a Senior Research Fellow at the Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University and a Visiting Fellow at Stanford University. (Guardian-UK)
        See also Turkey Goes from Pliable Ally to Thorn for U.S. - Sabrina Tavernise and Michael Slackman
    Turkey's shifting foreign policy is making its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a hero to the Arab world, and is openly challenging the way the U.S. manages Iran's nuclear program and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Turkey is seen increasingly in Washington as "running around the region doing things that are at cross-purposes to what the big powers in the region want," said Steven A. Cook, a scholar with the Council on Foreign Relations. The question being asked, he said, is "How do we keep the Turks in their lane?"  (New York Times)
  • What About Hamas' Siege of Gaza? - Khaled Abu Toameh
    As Israeli naval commandos raided the flotilla convoy that was on its way to Gaza, Hamas security officers stormed the offices of five non-governmental organizations, confiscated equipment and documents, and ordered them closed indefinitely. Ever since it seized control over Gaza in 2007, Hamas has imposed a reign of terror on the local population in general and its critics in particular. Hamas has brought nothing to the Palestinians in Gaza other than death and disaster. Hamas' recent decision to ban municipal elections in Gaza is yet another violation of the basic rights of its constituents.
        Hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested by Hamas security forces for daring to speak out against tyranny and intimidation in Gaza. Over the past three years, dozens of Fatah officials and members have either been thrown into prison or killed. Under Hamas, Gaza is being transformed into a fundamentalist Islamic entity resembling the regimes of the Ayatollahs in Iran and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Those who seek confrontation with Israel in the sea are only emboldening Hamas and helping it tighten its grip on the people of Gaza. (Hudson Institute-New York)
        See also The NGOs Love Hamas But Hamas Does Not Love the NGOs - Marty Peretz (New Republic)
  • Observations:

    IHH Preparations for a Violent Confrontation with IDF Soldiers Aboard the Turkish Ship Mavi Marmara (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)

    • An initial analysis of statements taken from passengers aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara after it was towed to the port of Ashdod show that operatives belonging to the radical Islamic Turkish IHH led the violent confrontation with the IDF.
    • The statements confirmed that the violence met by the IDF soldiers was not spontaneous but rather an organized, premeditated action carried out by a hard core of 40 IHH operatives (among the 500 passengers).
    • The passengers, including the IHH operatives, stated that there were close relations between the organization and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and that the Turkish government was involved in preparations for the flotilla. The statements reinforce the original assessment that the objective of the flotilla was not merely to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza, but focused on provocation and a violent confrontation with Israel.
    • The flotilla set sail with the full knowledge and agreement of Erdogan, who expressed personal interest in its success and his intention to exploit it to promote his status in Turkey and the Arab-Muslim world.
    • In files found in laptops confiscated from Mavi Marmara passengers were other indications supporting the vast amount of information concerning the linkage between IHH and the Turkish government.
    Past Involvement of IHH in Supporting the Global Jihad and Radical Islam (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)

    • According to reliable information, IHH had links to global jihad and Islamic terrorist networks in the past and assisted jihadist terrorist cells in many countries, including Bosnia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya. IHH provided mainly logistic support for transporting weapons and funding.
    • IHH was mentioned in connection with the planned Millennium Attack in the U.S., when global jihad operators headed by Ahmed Ressam planned to set off a bomb in Los Angeles International Airport on the night of December 31, 1999.

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