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June 14, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Israelis Agree with Netanyahu on Stopping Flotilla - David Pollock (Foreign Policy)
    In the aftermath of the recent ship-boarding incident, 3/4 of Jewish Israelis say Israel should not open Gaza to international aid shipments.
    Narrower, yet still solid, majorities also say Israel should not accept an international investigation, nor adjust its tactics to win favorable international consideration.
    When a survey by the Princeton-based Pechter Middle East Polls noted media reports of Iran's plan to send Red Crescent vessels to Gaza, 84% of respondents say Israel should stop them, whatever it takes, while just 7% would let them in quietly.
    Similarly, when asked what Israel should do if the Turkish navy and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan personally attempt to break the Gaza blockade, 3/4 said Israel should stop them at any cost.
    The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Egypt Blocks Activists' Entry into Gaza (AFP)
    Hundreds of Egyptian activists headed to the Rafah border crossing with Gaza on Friday but were denied entry into Gaza, an Egyptian security official said on Saturday.
    Carrying Palestinian flags, they chanted "Palestine is Arab."
    Egyptian authorities also denied entry to two trucks carrying humanitarian aid.

Germany Seeks Extradition of Israeli in Passport Probe - Tobias Buck (Financial Times-UK)
    Germany is seeking the extradition from Poland of Uri Brodsky, an Israeli arrested at Warsaw airport over an alleged link to the killing in Dubai of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas operative.
    German authorities allege that Brodsky supplied false information to a passport office in Cologne for a travel document issued in June 2009 that was used in Dubai.

Gadaffi to Pay £2Bn to Victims of IRA Bombs - Liam Clarke (Times-UK)
    Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi is to pay up to £2 billion to victims of Irish terrorism for his role in supplying shiploads of Semtex explosives to the IRA.
    About £800m will go directly to victims of the violence. First in line will be the 147 families of those caught in at least 10 atrocities in which the plastic explosive supplied by Libya was used.

YouTube Removes "We Con the World" Video after Clip Gets 3 Million Views - Noah Rayman (Jerusalem Post)
    The parody video "We Con the World," which mocked the international media coverage of the Gaza flotilla, has been removed from YouTube, where it received over 3 million views since it went up on June 3.
    YouTube posted a comment on Friday citing copyright infringement concerns over the rights to the 1985 charity fundraiser song "We Are the World."
    Caroline Glick, editor-in-chief of the satirical Web site Latma TV which produced the video, said "Copyright experts we advised with before posting the song told us in no uncertain terms that we were within our rights to use the song because we did so in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine," an American copyright law that supports use of copyrighted material for satire.
    Other parodies of the song "We Are the World" are still available on YouTube, including a parody of President Obama.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Welcomes Israel Inquiry on Flotilla - Caren Bohan
    The U.S. on Sunday welcomed Israel's decision to begin an internal investigation into the events surrounding the raid on the Gaza convoy. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called the proposal for the probe "an important step forward" and said Israel was capable of conducting a fair investigation into the flotilla raid. "But we will not prejudge the process or its outcome, and will await the conduct and findings of the investigation before drawing further conclusions," a statement said. (Reuters)
        See also Israel Announces Gaza Flotilla Probe - Barak Ravid
    The Israeli cabinet is set to approve Monday the establishment of an independent public commission to examine the events around the takeover of the Gaza flotilla. The commission is to be headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel. Professor of international law and Israel Prize laureate Shabtai Rosen, and Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Horev, former president of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, will also participate. Two foreign observers will take part in the commission's deliberations: Nobel Peace Prize laureate William David Trimble of Ireland, and Ken Watkin, former military judge advocate general from Canada.
        The commission will deal with the legality of the navy's actions and whether it conforms to international law. The commission will also examine the Turkish position and actions taken by the flotilla's organizers, especially the Turkish group IHH. (Ha'aretz)
        See also The Appointment of an Independent Public Commission (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Lord Trimble to Observe on Israeli Inquiry into Flotilla Attack - Donald Macintyre
    Lord Trimble, the former leader of the Ulster Unionists, is to be a foreign observer on an official Israeli inquiry into the Gaza flotilla raid. Trimble has in the past defended the decision by Israel and the international community not to talk to Hamas, arguing that comparisons between the Islamic faction and Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland are misplaced. (Independent-UK)
  • Hamas: Red Cross Visit to Shalit Not Possible - Mohammed Mar'i
    Hamas rejected Friday an Israeli demand to allow representatives of the International Red Cross to visit kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The deputy chief of the Hamas politburo, Mousa Abu Marzouk, said in a statement that the group will not allow visitors because that would compromise the secrecy of his hiding place. Shalit has been in Palestinian captivity since he was captured in a 2006 cross-border raid. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • Kuwaiti Columnist: Flotilla Photos Justify Israel's Actions
    In a June 7, 2010, article in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Watan, columnist Nabil al-Fadl wrote: "The photos of the Israeli soldiers bleeding after being attacked by the passengers of the Mavi Marmara, published yesterday in the [Kuwaiti] daily Al-Anba, prove that the Israeli soldiers were justified in shooting [their attackers]. Clearly, the assault on the soldiers...occurred before they opened fire, and proves that the passengers on board the Marmara were not civilians [trying to] help their brothers in Gaza, as has been claimed."  (MEMRI)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Abbas to Obama: I'm Against Lifting the Gaza Naval Blockade - Barak Ravid
    PA leader Mahmoud Abbas told President Obama on Wednesday that he is opposed to lifting the naval blockade of Gaza because this would bolster Hamas. Abbas told Obama that easing the blockage should be done with care and undertaken gradually so as not to be construed as a victory for Hamas. European diplomats said Egypt also opposes lifting the blockade. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel's Gaza Policy: Prevent the Entry of War Materiel
    At the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "The principle guiding our policy is clear - to prevent the entry of war materiel from entering Gaza and to allow the entry of humanitarian aid and non-contraband goods into Gaza."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also Hamas' Grip on Gaza Loosening Under Embargo - Herb Keinon
    With EU foreign ministers scheduled to meet in Brussels Monday to discuss how to ease the Israeli blockade of Gaza, Israel is trying to convince key players in the EU that the blockade is working, and that Hamas is facing serious financial difficulties and losing popularity. Senior diplomatic officials said Hamas is in trouble politically, economically and in terms of popularity, that the blockade is working, and that this is not the time to lift it.
        One European diplomat said European leaders were under a great deal of pressure from their own public opinion to act. "You have to remember that nationals from 12 European countries were on the flotilla, and the leaders are under strong pressure from their constituents."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Policeman Killed in West Bank Shooting Attack - Shmulik Grossman
    One Israeli policeman was killed and three others were injured Monday as Palestinians opened fire at a police car near Beit Hagai, south of Hebron, in the West Bank. Yehuda Glick, spokesperson for the nearby community of Otniel, noted that the area's Dahariya roadblock was opened only three weeks ago. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Runs Over Policemen in Jerusalem - Shmulik Grossman
    Four Border Guard officers were injured Friday after being run over by a Palestinian driving a pickup truck in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz. The assailant attempted to escape and was shot after failing to obey a call to stop. Police suspect the incident was nationalistically motivated. Cpl. Shai Hazan, one of those injured in the incident, said from his hospital bed: "We were walking single-file towards the exit from Wadi Joz, and we saw a Toyota pickup truck slowly approaching us. He suddenly stepped on the gas and sped up his car....He rammed into us, I was tossed in the air from the force of the blow."  (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Mahmoud Abbas Twists the Truth as the Washington Press Corps Idly Looks On - Stephanie Gutmann
    On Wednesday PA president Mahmoud Abbas stood before the Washington press corps and the president of the United States, and blatantly twisted the truth. Nobody called him on it. Abbas said, "And I say in front of you, Mr. President, that we have nothing to do with incitement against Israel, and we're not doing that." Yet according to Palestinian Media Watch, which monitors the PA's television channel and its newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, the amount of incitement to hatred and violence that was published, broadcast, or encouraged by the PA during the months of May and June alone is breathtaking.
        One can view a clip from PA TV which features zombie-eyed girls of about eight years of age, singing: "I want to carry a machine gun and a rifle." But none of the reporters used their question time to challenge Abbas. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Why the Iran Sanctions Matter - Matthew Levitt
    Wednesday's UN Security Council resolution sanctioning Iran marks a critical turning point in the U.S.-led efforts to target Iran's illicit activities. The resolution focuses on Iran's nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile programs; the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is responsible for these programs as well as the regime's support for terrorism; and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, which has been directly involved in proliferation shipments.
        Though the lists of sanctioned entities are very precise, U.S. and other negotiators made sure that general "hooks" upon which additional actions could be "hung" were peppered throughout the body of the resolution. These will provide the U.S. and other states and multilateral bodies with the international imprimatur for further action. The writer, a senior fellow and director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, served as deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the U.S. Treasury Department from 2005 to 2007. (Foreign Policy)
  • Anti-Semitism Is Socially Acceptable Again - Leon de Winter
    Why do people and organizations that present themselves as progressive team up with reactionary Muslims? The Free Gaza group is just such an alliance. Gaza is already free; Israel withdrew five years ago. And there is also no need for any humanitarian aid. Well over a million tons of humanitarian supplies entered Gaza from Israel over the last 18 months, equaling nearly a ton of aid for every man, woman and child in Gaza. Life expectancy at birth in Gaza is 74 years, higher than in Turkey, Gaza's new protector.
        But Gaza's population voted in democratic elections to be ruled by a party whose hatred of Jews is the cornerstone of its existence. The fact that Gaza is completely "judenrein" isn't enough for Hamas. It wants Israel to be "judenrein" too. The progressives don't care for any other group of poor or suppressed Muslims. They only cry for the "victims" of the Jews. Why is that so? (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    The Flotilla Debate Is Surreal - Joel Brinkley (San Francisco Chronicle)

    • Consider a co-incident on May 31, the day activists assaulted Israeli troops as they boarded the Mavi Marmara, prompting the Israelis to shoot and kill nine of them. In Lahor, Pakistan, that same day, gunmen stormed into a hospital, where they shot and killed 12 badly wounded patients lying in their beds. Those victims were survivors of murderous attacks on two mosques a few days earlier, when 93 worshipers were killed. One hundred and five people shot and killed in a hospital and two mosques, but Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said almost nothing about the dead Pakistanis.
    • The current debate is surreal. The week before the aid-flotilla incident, international discussion centered on North Korea and its attack on a South Korean naval vessel. A torpedo sank the ship, killing 46 sailors. The UN Security Council dropped the North Korea matter to take up a resolution condemning Israel first.
    • At the same time, all of the blame for the sad state of affairs in Gaza falls on Israel, even though Egypt usually keeps its gates to Gaza tightly locked, too. Imagine for a moment that the activists had decided to storm Egypt's gates to Gaza instead and, when Egyptian troops tried to stop the aid caravan, activists assaulted the soldiers with iron rods and knives. If the Egyptians shot and killed nine people in the ensuing melee, do you think the UN Security Council would be dropping everything right now to rush through a resolution condemning Egypt? Certainly not.
    • I wonder how many of the Free Gaza Movement's members have interviewed the leaders of Hamas, as I have - many times. "From our ideological point of view, it is not allowed to recognize that Israel controls one square meter of historic Palestine," Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas leader, told me. Without even a hint of irony or jest, Ismail Abu Shanab, suggested: "There are a lot of open areas in the United States that could absorb the Jews."
    • "We want to break the siege of Gaza," the Free Gaza Movement says. In the process, do they want to "free" the leaders of Hamas? Last week, these leaders made their position clear. They fired four missiles into Israel, toward Ashkelon and Sderot.

      The writer, a professor of journalism at Stanford University, is a former foreign correspondent for the New York Times.

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