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June 11, 2010

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Mavi Marmara Crew Members Describe IHH Preparations for Violent Confrontation (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
    The videotaped statements of two Mavi Marmara crew members show that preparations for a violent confrontation with IDF forces were put in motion two hours before the Israeli Navy boarded the ship.
    On the upper deck the crew discovered IHH operatives cutting the ship's railings with metal disks they had brought with them into lengths suitable to be used as clubs.
    The crew members tried to stop the operatives but were unsuccessful.
    Q: Who did the disks belong to?
    A: I don't know, they didn't belong to the ship. We don't have equipment like that on board. On deck there were metal poles with clips for cables, when I got there they had been cut.
    Q: You seem to be saying that the people from IHH were in control of the ship. Did the crew need their permission to move around the ship?
    A: Definitely, they didn't let people they didn't know move around.
    Q: They didn't let the passengers and crew go from one deck to another?
    A: They could go anywhere except to the control center they set up on the bridge.
    Q: How many IHH operatives were there on the upper deck?
    A: Forty.
    Q: You're referring to the group that joined the ship in Istanbul?
    A: Yes.
    See also Video: Statement of Chief Officer Gokkiran Gokhan (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
    See also The Mavi Marmara Did Not Carry Any Humanitarian Aid (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Report: Israel Released Two Top Terrorists from Turkish Ship - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    Yediot Ahronot reported Friday that the Turkish ship raided by the Israeli Navy last week had onboard two senior terrorists posing as "peace activists."
    Amin Abu-Rashid, 43, a Dutch national of Palestinian descent, is considered the chief Hamas fundraiser in Western Europe.
    Yasser Muhammad Sabag is a Syrian intelligence officer serving as the liaison between Damascus and Tehran's intelligence networks in the Balkans. In the past, Sabag was active in the Abu Nidal terrorist organization.
    All of the detainees from the flotilla were released by Israel.
    See also Israel Arrested IHH's West Bank Representative in April - Omar Ghraieb (Palestine Telegraph)
    Israeli authorities took Izzet Sahin, the representative and founder of the IHH Office in the West Bank, into custody on April 27, 2010. He was released three weeks later.

Report: Turkey Planning Flotilla Court Case (Jerusalem Post)
    Turkey and Hamas will collaborate to bring those behind Israel's raid of the Gaza aid flotilla to justice in the International Court of Justice at the Hague, Asharq al-Awsat reported Thursday.
    The agreement to work together came in a telephone conversation between Turkey's justice minister, Sadullah Ergin, and his Hamas counterpart, Muhammad Faraj Al-Ghoul.

Moral Crisis Threatens Iran's Revolutionary Guards - Ali Ansari (Guardian-UK)
    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made great play of the fact that he has come to sweep away the corruption and rampant materialism of the recent past, restoring the original revolutionary austerity of Iran - and also of the Revolutionary Guards.
    Yet in practice he has only increased the corruption while removing any semblance of accountability.
    The guards have long been involved in business, but under Ahmadinejad they have moved from being beneficiaries to taking a controlling share. This has made many of the more senior officers rich.
    Those lower down the ranks, however, see the moral basis of the guards being eroded by material greed.
    Ahmadinejad has moved to retire guardsmen, many with years of experience, and replace them with cadres of young, ideologically committed and loyal recruits.
    Empowered and imbued with an almost immature enthusiasm for confrontation, these new recruits are simply accentuating the existing tensions, as the old guard, bloodied by war and professionalized by experience, look on with disdain at the naivety of their successors.
    The writer is director of the Iranian Institute at the University of St. Andrews.

French Satellite TV to Block Hamas TV Station - David Gauthier-Villars (Wall Street Journal)
    France's broadcasting watchdog has instructed satellite operator Eutelsat SA to stop broadcasting Arab channel Al-Aqsa Television because some programs violate French laws against promoting racial hatred and religious violence.
    The channel, which airs programs from Gaza, is regarded as the TV arm of Hamas, and some of its programs promote violence against Israel.

Israeli Hospital Saves Palestinian Boy from West Bank (IMRA)
    On June 3, 15-year-old Muhammed Kalalwe was working in his family's fields in Jenin in the northern West Bank when he saw a deadly viper snake that bit his right palm.
    The boy's father, Hafed, rushed him to Jenin Hospital, but they had no anti-serum, so they sent him by ambulance to the Emek Medical Center in Afula.
    Hafed later related that he was genuinely afraid to be taken to Israel because he was sure that they would be ignored.
    At the hospital both the father and son were immediately greeted in Arabic and rushed into the ER where the multi-ethnic staff administered life-saving anti-serum and brought the boy back from the brink of death.
    The boy's father later said, "Our people do not know the truth about you....My son and I are not the same as we were before this happened and I will share this with my family and friends. May Allah bless all of you."

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Hamas Wants a "Final Solution"; Its Supporters Must Know That - Clifford D. May (National Review)
    One of the flotilla's organizers, Greta Berlin, a 68-year-old American with a background in theater and communications, was candid enough to acknowledge that the flotilla's primary purpose was not to deliver aid but to stop Israel from inspecting cargo heading for Gaza.
    Israel does that in order to reduce the number of missiles, explosives, and other weapons Hamas receives. In other words, Berlin wants to increase Hamas' ability to wage war against Israel - knowing that more Israelis and more Palestinians will be killed as a result.
    "War is peace," George Orwell wrote in 1984. In 2010, war activists are peace activists.
    Actually, it's worse: Even arms smugglers are peace activists - so long as they are smuggling arms to be used to murder Israelis.
    The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

The Gaza Blockade Is About Saving Civilians - Asaf Shariv (New York Post)
    Imagine being an airport-security worker faced with a man who refuses to be searched. He explains that he means no harm and is simply bringing gifts to his loved ones. Would you just let him through?
    What if he then assaults you or your staff, runs to his terminal and tries to board the plane. Would you let him? After all, he's only bringing gifts.
    The writer is the Israeli consul general in New York.

43 Nations Agree on Rules for Returning Real Estate Stolen by Nazis - Karel Janicek (AP)
    43 countries announced Wednesday in Prague that they would try harder to return real estate stolen by the Nazis, opening archives and processing claims for restitution faster, as they approved the first set of nonbinding global guidelines for returning the real estate to its rightful owners or heirs.
    "We've made a major advance in providing belated justice to victims and their families," said Stuart Eizenstat, a special adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State on Holocaust issues.
    Before the Holocaust, Jews owned property in Europe worth $10-15 billion at the time, according to a 2007 study by economist Sidney Zabludoff. Most was taken and never returned or paid for.
    Many Western European governments paid restitution for only a fraction of the stolen assets, while Eastern European countries paid almost nothing at all.

Israeli-Developed Optical Radar Could Bring Sight to the Blind - Jason Ford (The Engineer)
    Students at Ben-Gurion University in Israel have developed an optical radar system that helps blind people maneuver around obstacles
    Prof. Shlomi Arnon said the system scans the surroundings from two different angles, and an audible alert is sounded if an obstacle is detected.

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    31 prominent American Jews write about the crisis in American-Israel relations and the role of American Jewry.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S., Allies Move Forward after New UN Security Council Sanctions Against Iran - Kent Klein
    The U.S. and its allies are pursuing further steps to halt Iran's nuclear program, after the UN Security Council on Wednesday approved sanctions against Tehran. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, "UN sanctions are not a magic bullet. There are steps that we can take as a government, and have. There are steps that Congress will take, as part of our government. There are steps that the European Community and our allies throughout the world may take."
        The speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, says the U.S. sanctions will target Iran's petroleum industry. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman says Congress will pass the sanctions later this month. European leaders are expected to agree next week to impose sanctions on Iranian banks and insurance companies, with a final vote expected in July. (VOA News)
        See also U.S. Sources: Turkey Vote Against Iran Sanctions - a Slap in the Face - Natasha Mozgovaya (Ha'aretz)
  • Russia: Sanctions "Will Not Affect" Iran Missile Deal
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday that its long-standing contract to supply S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran will not be affected by new UN sanctions, contradicting earlier reports. Lavrov also said Moscow was in talks on building additional nuclear reactors in Iran. (BBC News)
  • Beyond Iran Sanctions That Probably Won't Work, Plans B, C, D... - David E. Sanger
    No one in the Obama White House believes that, by themselves, the newest rounds of sanctions against Iran's military-run businesses, its shipping lines and its financial institutions will force Tehran to halt its 20-year-long drive for a nuclear capability. Sanctions are unlikely to do more than delay the day of reckoning. (New York Times)
        See also Iran Revolutionary Guard an Elusive Sanctions Target - Brian Murphy
    Iran's Revolutionary Guard, now in the cross-hairs of UN penalties over Tehran's nuclear program, is an elusive target - a master at sanctions-busting strategies long used by the Islamic Republic. Iran has used a combination of third-party companies, deals with allies such as China, and the financial cushion of its oil exports to get around sanctions. Iranian Commerce Minister Mahdi Ghazanfari said Thursday that Iran would find "new ways" to overcome the UN action. Mustafa Alani, head of security studies at the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center, said, "The Revolutionary Guard has developed an elaborate system to circumvent the embargo, maneuver illegal trade, [and] bypass restrictions."  (AP)
  • Suggestions for Helping Gazans Get Goods Rather than Weapons
    Fearing a rush of more aid flotillas to Gaza, not least from Iran, a plethora of policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic are examining ways of easing the sea blockade while assuaging Israel's security worries. European foreign ministers are due to meet in Luxembourg on June 14 to discuss a maritime route under EU auspices. One paper circulating in Brussels and Washington suggests that Gaza-bound cargo could dock in Cyprus or Crete for inspection, before onward dispatch to Gaza in sealed containers. An EU or Israeli naval escort would then track the vessel to stop weapons being smuggled aboard.
        "The naval blockade will not end," says a Western official. While wanting to break Israel's armlock on Gaza, European politicians want to stop Hamas, the Islamist group that runs the strip, and its siege-busting allies, from taking the credit. (Economist-UK)
        See also EU Scrambles for Policy Response on Israeli Blockade of Gaza - Ian Black
    Israel has rejected a French idea that EU forces would check the cargos of ships heading for Gaza to ensure they are not carrying goods Israel would consider a security risk. Bernard Kouchner, France's foreign minister, called the response from Jerusalem "rather negative." "Even if the EU is keen to help, the Israelis do not consider it reliable enough. There is not much Europe can do until the Americans move," said Clara O'Donnell of the Center for European Reform. (Guardian-UK)
        See also Averting Another Gaza - Bernard Kouchner, Franco Frattini and Miguel Angel Moratinos (International Herald Tribune)
  • Turkish Charity Tied to Flotilla Has History of Clashes - Mary Beth Sheridan
    For years, the Istanbul-based charity IHH has battled allegations of extremist ties. French counterterrorism magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere wrote that the charity's members planned in the 1990s to fight in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya. Calls were made in 1996 from IHH's headquarters to an al-Qaeda guesthouse in Milan. And Bruguiere testified during a 2001 trial related to a plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport that IHH was involved in weapons trafficking.
        The group takes in $100 million a year in donations, said Huseyin Oruc, the group's vice president. Analysts said that reflects the generosity of religious Muslims in Turkey who have benefited from the country's economic boom. IHH's financial heft transformed a more modest effort by European and U.S.-based pro-Palestinian groups to challenge the economic blockade of Gaza.
        Israeli officials have speculated that the government of Prime Minister Erdogan helped promote the flotilla. In a ceremony before the ships set sail, IHH's president, Bulent Yildirim, thanked supporters - including the governing AKP party. With an Islamic-rooted party in power, Muslim organizations "have found a more congenial and welcoming atmosphere in which to work," said Ilter Turan, a political scientist at Istanbul Bilgi University. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel, U.S. Agree on Gaza Flotilla Probe - Barak Ravid and Amos Harel
    Israel and the U.S. agreed Thursday on the nature of the Israeli investigative committee that will look into the takeover of the Gaza-bound flotilla. Channel 2 reported that the committee will be headed by a retired Israel Supreme Court justice. Members will include jurists specializing in international law as well as two observers - American and European. The committee will examine whether the blockade of Gaza is in accordance with international law, whether the takeover of the flotilla in international waters was legal, and whether the use of force by Israeli troops was legal. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Postpone West Bank Elections - Ali Waked
    Palestinian local elections scheduled to be held in the West Bank on July 17 have been postponed indefinitely, officials said on Thursday. Hamas had already said it would boycott the vote. The delay is due to internal disagreement and division within Abbas' Fatah faction which has been unable to reach agreement over the candidates for many of the municipalities and councils. (Ynet News)
  • Turkey's Erdogan Wins Raucous Reception from Arab Leaders - Herb Keinon
    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan received a thunderous reception from Arab leaders at the Turkish-Arab Economic Forum that opened Thursday in Istanbul, a day after voting against UN sanctions on Iran. Basking in the new stature he has gained in the Arab and Muslim world as a result of his confrontational posture toward Israel, Erdogan questioned Washington's international dominance, and continued to unleash invective against Israel. Turkey and 20 Arab nations also issued a joint statement expressing "grave concern and condemnation for the Israeli aggression" in the flotilla incident. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    The Gaza Flotilla

  • Israel Had No Other Choice - Christopher Caldwell
    As the flotilla leaders themselves acknowledged, they had a military objective: to break the blockade of Gaza that Israel imposed in 2007. Under the circumstances, the raid was neither stupid nor botched. It successfully repelled an attack on Israel's borders, albeit at considerably higher cost than Israel would have wished. There is a blockade of Gaza because Hamas, the Islamist party that runs Gaza, wants Israel destroyed. In recent years, it has launched thousands of rockets at cities in the Israeli south. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Guilty Until Proven Guilty - David Brog
    On April 28, 2003, a crowd of Iraqi civilians gathered outside U.S. Army headquarters in Fallujah to protest the occupation of their city. As tension grew, U.S. soldiers began firing upon the crowd, killing at least 13 Iraqis and wounding more than 70. U.S. troops insisted that they fired only to defend themselves from gunfire coming from the crowd. The protesters claimed that they were unarmed and never fired at the soldiers. The odds are that you never even heard of this incident, or of the tens if not hundreds of incidents like it, in which civilians have been killed as U.S. soldiers fought in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade. But the odds are overwhelming that you have heard - repeatedly - of an Israeli operation last week aboard a Gaza-bound ship. Israel's naval commandos, several of whom were beaten to within an inch of their lives, responded with lethal force, killing nine people.
        The term "double standard" does not sufficiently capture this phenomenon. It's not just that the Israelis are being held to a different - and immeasurably higher - standard than the rest of humanity. Israel is now being judged in the absence of any objective standard whatsoever. As Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week, it seems that Israel is now "guilty until proven guilty."
        Many of those who are horrified by Israel's blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza never once questioned the U.S. blockade of Saddam-controlled Iraq throughout most of the 1990s, although America's enemies protested the U.S. blockade in terms almost identical to those now used to protest Israel's blockade of Gaza. Today Israel's soldiers are in the dock. But tomorrow it will be our own. The writer is executive director of Christians United for Israel. (Foreign Policy)
  • When Will the West Learn Arab Psychology? - Nonie Darwish
    As we now know, video footage has proven that the Gaza flotilla jihadists initiated the violence against Israeli soldiers. However, what matters to Islamist crisis seekers is that the news for several days all over the world blames Israel as a bloodthirsty rogue nation that inflicted an unjustified massacre on peaceful, unarmed humanitarians. Muslim street demonstrations are staged for Western audiences. Western culture is extremely moved by this big Islamist show - the cries, the tears, the pleading, the yelling, the covert threats and, above all, the mass mania. Over nothing, hoards of people in the Middle East can be easily incited to go into a fit of rage and run into the streets seeking vengeance against a Christian or a Jew who supposedly dishonored Islam.
        When will the West learn Arab psychology? Whenever West Bank and Gaza news becomes secondary or is overshadowed by more pressing issues such as the economy, oil leaks, and perhaps more urgent human suffering around the world, Islamists immediately get in gear to create a crisis. In their mind, nothing should be more urgent than destroying Israel.
        Muslims know exactly what they should do to stop the blockade against Gaza. First, they should be sincere with themselves that they want peace with Israel and adopt a live and let live view. After that, major players in the region such as Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, etc. must pressure Hamas to end the barrage of missiles against Israel and link their financial support to Palestinian willingness to accomplish peace with Israel. (FrontPageMagazine)
  • The Flotilla's Terrorist Cheer Squad - David Burchell
    Of all of the sad, tawdry features of the Gaza flotilla incident, surely none is sadder or tawdrier than the immediate assumption, leapt upon by so many people of good intentions, that the Israeli state is in the business of killing unarmed civilians for the pure sadistic pleasure of it. This view of Israel as a kind of devil-state, the spirit of evil made incarnate in the world, has been around in educated opinion since at least the late 1960s, when it buttressed enthusiasm for the Palestine Liberation Organization. Since the PLO and its more militant siblings (Black September, Carlos the Jackal, the Entebbe hijackers) were not easy folks to like, it followed that Israel's motivations had to be made even blacker. Two generations of militants taught themselves that intoxicating Manichean logic, according to which the blacker one paints one's spiritual enemy, the more sheer awfulness one can tolerate in one's friends.
        Of all of the signs of the moral decomposition of the progressive intelligentsia in my lifetime, none is more depressing or more shameful than the furtive, dishonest embrace of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood's terrorist arm, by thousands of otherwise intelligent, thoughtful people who probably imagine themselves as friends of civilization and basic human decency. It was observable, first, in those supposed friends of the Palestinian people who began to speak with pity - and then soon enough with admiration - of Palestinian suicide-bombers, even as they heard fervent mothers speak of strapping their teenage sons into suicide-vests.
        Last week's sorry debacle on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean is the triumphal moment of the Hamas Solidarity Movement. Except that no single person among that sea of beatified faces appears to have the moral courage to utter those simple, if rather horrible words: Viva Hamas! Victory to the throat-slitters! Go the child-bombers! (The Australian)


  • Turkey, Hamas and the PKK: Erdogan's Double Standard on Terrorism - Editorial
    The Middle East's regional superpower has again deployed its air force to bomb a rebel group considered by some to be terrorists and by others to be freedom fighters. The attacker is the Turkish air force, which on Monday bombed PKK positions in northern Iraq for the second time in a month. The PKK has been fighting Ankara for more than 25 years to carve out an independent Kurdistan. Tens of thousands of Turks have been killed in the fighting. So it is with good reason that Turkey will neither recognize nor negotiate with the PKK, much less accept the legitimacy of its cause.
        Israel has enemies similar to the PKK, including Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups, and it has dealt with them in similar ways. Successive Israeli governments have also accepted the legitimacy of a Palestinian state, which is more than can be said for the Turkish government's attitude toward an independent Kurdistan. (Wall Street Journal Europe)
  • The New Wannabe Ottomans - Victor Davis Hanson
    Erdogan clearly identifies more with the old transnational Ottoman sultanate than with Kemal Ataturk's modern, secular and Western nation-state. Indeed, he has bragged that he is a grandson of the Ottomans and announced that Turkey's new goal was to restore the might of the Ottoman Empire. And so, like the theocratic Ottomans of old, Erdogan's Islamic Turkey fancies itself a window on the West, absorbing technology and expertise from Europe and the U.S. in order to empower and unite the more spiritually pure Muslims across national boundaries.
        Turkey's new ambitions and ethnic and religious chauvinism are antithetical to its NATO membership. The U.S. should not be treaty-bound to defend a de facto ally of Iran or Syria, which are both eager to obtain nuclear weapons. European countries foresaw the problem when they denied Turkey membership in the now fragile European Union, fearful that Anatolian Islamists would have unfettered transit across European borders.
        In response, the U.S. should make contingency plans to relocate from its huge air force base at Incirlik - a facility that Turkey has in the past threatened to close. We should brace for new troubles in the Aegean region and Cyprus, as a bankrupt and often anti-American Greece is now alienated from both the U.S. and northern Europe - and yet increasingly vulnerable to a return of Ottoman regional ambitions. (RealClearPolitics)
  • UN Must Investigate Turkey - Zvi Mazel
    In the so-called "peace flotilla" episode, Israel behaved with the utmost transparency. But nobody knows exactly what went on in Turkey - how the operation was planned and what part the Turkish government played in its implementation. After the IHH, a militant Turkish organization, announced its intention to send several vessels to breach the Gaza blockade and embarrass Israel, Israel immediately contacted the Turkish government, since the operation was planned from that country, but Turkey refused to act. According to reports in the Turkish press, some terrorists on the Marmara had declared before setting out that they intended to become "martyrs." Two of them even filmed a video clip according to the well-known tradition of Islamist extremists.
        There is indeed an urgent need to set up an international commission of inquiry to determine the role of Turkey in planning and facilitating the event. According to the CIA, IHH is a terrorist organization with links to al-Qaeda and Hamas. The commission of inquiry should investigate why Turkey let the IHH operate openly on its soil and why it did not arrest its leaders. It will have to check the nature of the relationship between the Turkish government and IHH, especially while that organization was reinforcing its links with Hamas. It will have to clarify what Turkey did in recent months to assist IHH in planning and carrying out the operation. Also to be scrutinized is the way IHH secured its funding. Was the Turkish government one of the contributors? The writer, a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is Israel's former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden. (Ynet News)

    Other Issues

  • The Prejudice and Double Standards of Israel's Critics - Asher Susser
    Prejudice is recognized by its three constituent practices: it singles out the subject; it then applies a double standard; and, of course, the subject is always guilty. Israel is indeed singled out for special treatment and the double standard is also reflected in a specific vocabulary that is applied only to Israel. Since 2006 the UN Human Rights Council has adopted 40 condemnations of countries, of which 33 have focused on Israel. This is perverse. Israel is a country locked in conflict with some of its neighbors. It is not the epitome of evil on earth.
        Oddly enough no international outrage and demand for explanations was evident in reference to other even more tragic events: not when Iran again hanged political dissidents, bringing the total to nearly 300 since early 2009; nor when the North Koreans sunk a South Korean ship killing 46 seamen; nor when attacks on two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore killed at least 93 worshipers. International outrage is awfully selective.
        As a rule and long before the recent events, just about every Israeli act of self-defense has been criminalized. When Israel targeted operatives responsible for the dispatch of suicide bombers or for the rocketing of Israeli civilians, it was frequently condemned for what was described as extra-judicial killing, assassination or murder. The U.S. currently carries out identical operations against its enemies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but these are charitably described by the media as drone operations. Only the Israelis face international commissions of inquiry and charges of war crimes, even though the civilian losses in both Iraq and Afghanistan have continued over a longer period of time and are far higher than in Gaza.
        Israel is not above the law, but the law should apply to Israel just as it applies to all other countries. Israel should be judged just like everybody else, rather than constantly having to face selective prosecution. Prof. Asher Susser is a Senior Fellow at the Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University. (Mail and Guardian-South Africa)
  • U.S. Must Speak Truth in the Face of Lies - Peter Wehner
    Israel is being condemned not because of its actions; it is being condemned because of its very existence, because of its very nature, and yes, because of its Jewishness. The objections against Israel are not specific to this or that act; they are existential. The assault on Israel is too fierce, too hypocritical, too unqualified, and too preposterous to be explained by anything other than malignant motivations.
        Israel, more than any nation on earth, is held to an impossible standard. Its own sacrifices for peace, which exceed those of any other country, are constantly overlooked while the sadistic acts and crimes of its enemies too often excused. Israel is far from perfect - but it is, in the totality of its acts, among the most estimable and impressive nations in human history. Its achievements and moral accomplishments are staggering. The U.S. must therefore keep faith with the Jewish state when it is under unfair attack. America and its leaders, rather than making their chief concern "containing diplomatic fallout," must speak truth in the face of an avalanche of lies. The writer, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, served in the Bush White House as director of the office of strategic initiatives. (Commentary)
  • Israel's Dilemma - Walter Russell Mead
    The Palestinians now ruling Gaza (not to mention many of the "peace activists" seeking to break the Israeli blockade by sending the convoy) resolutely and fiercely oppose the two-state solution. The "right of return" of the descendants of Palestinians who fled Israel during  the War of Independence remains the key demand of many Palestinians who believe that the violence must continue until they go "home."  Israel cannot satisfy these Palestinians and their allies without committing national suicide.  This is the essential point at issue and it has been for sixty years.  A critical mass of Palestinians still wants to return to pre-1948 Israel; the Israelis won't allow it.
        The world of the 1940s was full of refugee problems of this kind.  Roughly 12 million Germans were expelled from Poland and Czechoslovakia.  Huge numbers of Hindus and Muslims fled or were expelled across the partition line between India and Pakistan.  Hundreds of thousands of Jews fled or were expelled from the Arab world in response to mob violence and other threats following the establishment of Israel.  In no case have the refugees gone home; in every case but the Palestinian situation, the refugees found new homes for themselves and became integrated into new societies and built new lives.
          The world thinks Israel has a duty to make the Palestinians happy enough to make peace with concessions, but the concessions that Israel can reasonably make do not and cannot command enough support among Palestinian refugees to bring the conflict to a close. (American Interest)
  • Mideast Peace Tops List of Hopeless Causes - Aaron David Miller
    In Gaza and the West Bank there are two separate Palestinian governments; two separate leaderships; two different security and police organizations; two sets of funding streams; and two different patrons. It's a fundamental split over which vision of Palestinian national aspirations should be realized. We can blame the Israelis all day long for the Gaza siege and the blockade, but their tactics and strategy toward Gaza flow from a central premise: Hamas needs to be contained and beaten back and its acquisition of high-trajectory weapons - now with even greater precision and lethality - blocked.
        This problem - that no single Palestinian partner controls and can silence the vast majority of the guns of Palestine - is the single greatest obstacle on the Palestinian side to an agreement. Without Palestinians regaining a monopoly over the forces of violence in their society, no lasting Israeli-Palestinian agreement is imaginable. The writer is a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. (Bloomberg)
  • "Islamic Terrorism" and the Obama Administration - Editorial
    The administration has assiduously avoided terms that recognize the distinct threat posed by those who cite Islam as a rationalization for terror. For example, a recent report by the Homeland Security Department's Countering Violent Extremism Working Group refers vaguely to "ideologically motivated violent crime." The administration has opened itself to a charge of political correctness run amok. It needs to find a way to acknowledge that at this point in history, the political extremism that poses the greatest threat is motivated by a perverted interpretation of a religion - while insisting that "neither Islam nor any other religion condones the slaughter of innocents." So what should the proper terminology be? How about "terrorism, carried out in the name of Islam"? (Los Angeles Times)

    Weekend Features

  • Jews Really Are a Tribe, Study Finds - Thomas H. Maugh II
    Jews of European descent living on opposite sides of the globe are more closely related to one another than they are to their fellow countrymen, according to the largest study ever conducted of what it means genetically to be Jewish. Ashkenazis, the primary group descended from European Jews, are all as closely related as fourth or fifth cousins would be, the study found.
        The study, which was conducted primarily to further medical knowledge of genetic diseases, rejected a highly controversial idea that Ashkenazi Jews are descended from Khazars in Eastern Europe who converted to Judaism - an idea that has been used in an attempt to discredit the idea that Jews belong in Israel because it is their historic homeland.
        The study, which appeared last week in the American Journal of Human Genetics, shows that there is "clearly a shared genetic common ancestry among geographically diverse populations consistent with oral tradition and culture...and that traces back to the Middle East," said geneticist Sarah A. Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Abraham's Children in the Genome Era: Major Jewish Diaspora Populations Comprise Distinct Genetic Clusters with Shared Middle Eastern Ancestry - Gil Atzmon et al (American Journal of Human Genetics)
        See also The Genome-Wide Structure of the Jewish People - Doron M. Behar et al (Nature)
  • The Holocaust in Lithuania: One Man's Crusade to Bring Justice - Paul Frysh
    Efraim Zuroff's great-uncle was kidnapped in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 13, 1941, by a gang of Lithuanians "roaming the streets of the city looking for Jews with beards to arrest." "He was murdered shortly thereafter," says Zuroff. So were his wife and two boys. Now the Israel director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Zuroff has also worked for the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations, which is in charge of Nazi war crimes prosecutions. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, more names of alleged Holocaust criminals have turned up from Lithuania than from anywhere else in Eastern Europe, says Zuroff. But since its independence in 1991, Lithuania has failed to punish a single one of its own Holocaust war criminals.
        "Nowhere in the world," he says, "has a government gone to such lengths to obscure their role in the Holocaust....Their mission is to change the history of the Holocaust to make themselves blameless." By the end of the war, the percentage of Jews killed in Lithuania - 90-96% - was as high or higher than anywhere else in Europe. "One of the main reasons so many Jews were killed here is because of the help of the local population - of the Lithuanians."  (CNN)
        See also The Jaeger Report: A Chronicle of Nazi Mass Murder: One Unit, One Area, Five Months - and 137,000 Victims - Daniel Keren
    The Jaeger Report, written by Karl Jaeger, the SS commander of a Nazi killing unit that operated around Vilnius, Lithuania, is a matter-of-fact account of those killed each day under his command. September 1, 1941, a typical entry, lists those killed for the day as: "1,404 Jewish children, 1,763 Jews, 1,812 Jewesses, 109 mentally sick people, one German woman who was married to a Jew."  (
  • Observations:

    Israel's Naval Blockade of Gaza Is Legal, Necessary - Dore Gold (Bloomberg-Business Week)

    • The continuing demand that Israel should agree to an investigation - with international involvement - of its interception of a Turkish-led flotilla to Gaza last week presupposes that Israel did something fundamentally wrong. The states initiating these efforts are simply trying to deny Israel its right of self-defense.
    • Naval blockades are a legitimate instrument that states employ for self-defense. The UN itself instituted a blockade of Iraq after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, adopting Security Council Resolution 665, which called on all UN member states "to halt all inward and outward maritime shipping in order to inspect and verify cargos."
    • During the Bosnian war, there was an arms embargo on Yugoslavia, and as a result NATO established a naval blockade between 1992 and 1996 of its Adriatic coastline. During those years, NATO ships boarded and inspected 6,000 ships and diverted 1,500 other vessels. Ships were halted and inspected before entering the territorial waters of Yugoslavia.
    • Saudi Arabia declared that it was placing a naval blockade on the Red Sea coast of Yemen in November 2009, in order to block Iranian re-supply of the Shiite rebellion in the northern part of Yemen. In the previous month, Yemen announced it had seized an Iranian ship named the Mahan-1 loaded with anti-tank weapons for the Yemeni Shiites.
    • In December 2002, the U.S. learned that a North Korean ship in the Indian Ocean, some 600 miles from Yemen, was carrying Scud missiles and perhaps chemical weapons. Without permission from North Korea, Spanish commandos boarded the ship in international waters and found the missiles, but eventually let it go.
    • The Israeli blockade is legal and necessary and its removal would lead to a flood of heavy Iranian weaponry, including long-range missile systems, coming to Hamas.

      The writer, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, was Israel's ambassador to the UN from 1997 to 1999.

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