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July 7, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Humanitarian Situation in Turkey Worse than Gaza - Ben-Dror Yemini (Maariv-Hebrew)
    Turkey was the most prominent country in the recent flotilla, but according to a number of indicators, the humanitarian situation in Turkey is worse than it is in Gaza.
    Infant mortality in Gaza is 17.7 per thousand; in Turkey it is 24.8. Life expectancy in Gaza is 73.7, whereas in Turkey it is 72.2.
    Most of the world's inhabitants are - according to objective data - in a worse situation than the residents of Gaza. This includes those who live in Turkey under Erdogan's rule.
    Even by other indicators, such as personal computer use or Internet access, the situation of the residents of Gaza is much better than most of the world's inhabitants.
    Two years ago, a British politician claimed that life expectancy in Glasgow East was much lower than in Gaza. The claim caused an uproar. Britain's Channel 4 carried out a scrupulous check and found the claim to be true.
    Thus, it is a little strange that humanitarian aid comes from people whose situation is worse. It is Turkey that needs the help.
    American aid per capita to Gaza is 7.5 times higher than aid per capita to Haiti, though by any possible indicator, the residents of Gaza are incomparably better off than the residents of Haiti.
    What is true is that, thanks to the "brutal" occupation, the Palestinians in Gaza are better off than most of their brethren in neighboring countries.
    See also The Myth of the Siege of Gaza - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi (ICA-Jerusalem Center)

Egyptians Should Pray for a Siege Like Gaza's - Muhammad Hamadi (MEMRI)
    In his column in the Egyptian daily Rooz Al-Yousuf, on June 29, 2010, Muhammad Hamadi gave statistics from a Hamas website showing that, despite all the talk of a siege on Gaza, so many goods are streaming in that supply is greater than demand - and that, as a result, produce, poultry, and beef are cheaper there than in Egypt.
    He concluded that life under siege in Gaza is easier than it is in Egypt.

Most of Flotilla Wounded Had Islamic Ties - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    A vast majority of the passengers wounded aboard the Mavi Marmara were Turkish nationals affiliated with Islamic organizations, according to a report released Tuesday by the Israel-based Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
    Of the 53 passengers wounded, 37 were members of the IHH or other Turkish Islamic organizations.
    The identities of those wounded support the IDF's claims that its soldiers encountered a well-organized group of mercenaries who had planned a violent attack.

Wanted Nazi Dies Before Trial - David Rising (AP)
    A 90-year-old former SS sergeant who was No. 4 on the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of most-wanted Nazi war crimes suspects has died before he could be brought to trial, German authorities said Tuesday.
    Adolf Storms and other unidentified accomplices were accused of forcing at least 57 Jewish laborers to hand over their valuables and kneel by a grave before fatally shooting them from behind on March 29, 1945.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. and Israel Shift Attention to Peace Process - Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Mark Landler
    President Obama said Tuesday that he expected direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians to begin "well before" a moratorium on settlement construction expired at the end of September, after a 79-minute, one-on-one session in the Oval Office with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. In the Oval Office, Netanyahu told Obama that, after repeated trips to the U.S., it was time to "redress the balance" by having the president and the first lady visit Israel. "I'm ready," Obama replied. (New York Times)
        See also Obama-Netanyahu Summit Focuses on Warm Relations, Avoids Settlements - Barak Ravid and Natasha Mozgovaya
    Sources close to Netanyahu said no pressure had been put on the prime minister in terms of the settlement freeze and that both sides maneuvered around the issue. (Ha'aretz)
        See also below Observations: Obama's Remarks After Meeting with Netanyahu (White House)
  • UAE Ambassador: Bombing Iran Is Better than Iran Getting a Nuke - Eli Lake
    The United Arab Emirates ambassador to the U.S. said Tuesday that the benefits of bombing Iran's nuclear program outweigh the short-term costs such an attack would impose. Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba publicly endorsed the use of the military option for countering Iran's nuclear program, if sanctions fail to stop the country's quest for nuclear weapons. Rep. Jane Harman of California, a former ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told the Washington Times: "I have never heard an Arab government official say that before. He was stunningly candid."  (Washington Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Mexico Thwarts Hizbullah Bid to Set Up South American Network - Jack Khoury
    Hizbullah operatives employed Mexicans nationals with family ties to Lebanon to set up a network in South America to target Israel and the West, the Kuwaiti Al-Seyassah daily reported on Tuesday. The group's leader, Jameel Nasr, traveled frequently to Lebanon to receive information and instructions from Hizbullah commanders. Nasr also made frequent trips to other countries in Latin America, including a two-month stay in Venezuela in 2008. The report follows warnings from the U.S. that Hizbullah and Iran are stepping up operations in the region. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Investigation of the Gaza Operation
    The Military Advocate General has decided to indict a number of officers and soldiers for their conduct during four incidents in the 2009 Gaza operation. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi ordered an examination of IDF conduct and its ethical aspects. More than 150 incidents have been examined and nearly 50 investigations have been launched since the operation's conclusion.
        The investigation found that a battalion commander authorized the sending of a Palestinian man into a house (adjacent to his own) sheltering terrorists, in order to convince them to exit the house. The Palestinian man asked the soldiers if he could do this so as to prevent the destruction of his house if a battle were to transpire. The battalion commander deviated from authorized and appropriate IDF behavior when he authorized the Palestinian's request to enter the house.
        An IDF staff sergeant will be indicted on charges of manslaughter for targeting an individual walking with a group of people waving a white flag, without being ordered or authorized to do so. An aerial strike targeted a terror operative involved in the launching of rockets toward Israel who was standing outside of the Ibrahim al-Makadma mosque. Injuries caused to civilians inside were unintentional and caused by shrapnel that penetrated the mosque. The investigation showed that the officer who ordered the attack had failed to exercise appropriate judgment. The attack did not target the mosque, and when it was authorized, no possibility of harming civilians was identified. (Israel Defense Forces)
        See also Fighting Terrorists Embedded in a Civilian Population - Amos Harel
    It is almost impossible to fight terrorist organizations embedded in a civilian population without civilian casualties - yet the international community has evinced zero understanding for the impossible environment in which the IDF operates. (Ha'aretz)
  • UN Gaza Flotilla Probe to Begin - Shlomo Shamir
    Canadian Judge Philippe Kirsch, a former president of the International Criminal Court, will head the committee investigating the Gaza flotilla incident on behalf of the UN Human Rights Council. Kirsch has been involved in international investigations of war crimes and maritime terrorism in the past. The committee will begin its work immediately. The U.S. is opposed to an international probe into the events and had welcomed an Israeli inquiry. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Lessons for an Israeli-Palestinian Summit - Aaron David Miller
    Ten years ago this month, a risk-ready Israeli prime minister persuaded a risk-ready American president to convene a historic summit at Camp David with a risk-averse Palestinian leader. The descent into violence and terror that followed traumatized the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Barack Obama can't afford to ignore the lessons of the last serious American effort to address the core issues that drive the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
        In 2000, we didn't really know where the Israelis and Palestinians stood, because if we had better understood their positions, we would have known that the gaps were too big. We foolishly calculated possibilities when we should have been dealing in probabilities, and we should have had more realistic goals. The writer, a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, served as an advisor on Arab-Israeli negotiations to Democratic and Republican secretaries of state. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Visiting Privileges: The Obama-Netanyahu Meeting - Lee Smith
    Shortly before Benjamin Netanyahu's arrival in Washington, his one-time adviser Dore Gold, Israel's former ambassador to the UN, made the rounds to deliver a message. "The Israeli people have gone through a very tough time this last decade," Gold tells me, before laying out the position he has presented to members of President Barack Obama's national security council staff and the State Department, as well as to think-tank researchers and journalists: that Israel cannot return to the peace process as it is currently configured.
        The book Israel's Critical Security Needs for a Viable Peace is a collection published this year under the auspices of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs with essays about security and diplomacy by leading figures in Israel's security establishment, like Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze'evi Farkash, former head of IDF intelligence, and Maj.-Gen. Uzi Dayan, former IDF deputy chief of staff. The volume's findings represent a broad consensus across the Israeli political spectrum, and the fact that Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon - former IDF chief of staff and currently the vice prime minister - wrote the introduction is evidence that the ideas have won approval at the highest political levels.
        The book pushes three common ideas: First, Israel must not withdraw to the 1949 armistice lines; second, Israel needs defensible borders; third, Israel must rely on itself to defend itself and not on foreign forces as proposed by U.S. national security adviser Gen. James Jones, who has talked about replacing the IDF with international forces in the West Bank. (Tablet)
  • New York Times Tries to Drop Settlements Funding Bomb on Obama-Netanyahu Meeting - Uriel Heilman
    With a White House meeting between Obama and Netanyahu scheduled for Tuesday, the New York Times did its best to complicate things with a lead story highlighting the use of U.S. tax-exempt funds in Jewish communities in the West Bank. The problem with this story is not errors of fact. Indeed, it's widely known and no secret that Americans can claim tax deductions for charitable donations to 501(c)3 organizations that contribute money to Jewish causes in the West Bank, from after-school programs for kids in Jerusalem's eastern suburbs to bullet-proof vests for security patrols in Jewish settlements.
        But why run it as a double-column story with a two-page inside spread (complete with maps and online, interactive features) on the day Obama and Netanyahu meet? The Times positioned this story as if it's some big investigative scoop that requires response - presumably by U.S. authorities - when in reality it's an old and quite well-known story. (JTA)
        See also Keeping an Eye on the New York Times - Stephanie Gutmann
    The Times admits that "Americans also take tax breaks in giving to pro-Palestinian groups," some of which channel money into ferocious anti-Israel incitement or recruit for blockade-busting flotillas staffed by men armed with knives and clubs, but the Times devoted only one paragraph to this side of the equation. (National Review)
  • Observations:

    Obama's Remarks After Meeting with Netanyahu (White House)

    After a meeting at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 6, President Obama said:

    • "I just completed an excellent one-on-one discussion with Prime Minister Netanyahu....The bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable. It encompasses our national security interests, our strategic interests, but most importantly, the bond of two democracies who share a common set of values and whose people have grown closer and closer as time goes on."
    • "We discussed the issue of Gaza, and I commended Prime Minister Netanyahu on the progress that's been made in allowing more goods into Gaza. We've seen real progress on the ground. I think it's been acknowledged that it has moved more quickly and more effectively than many people anticipated....We believe that there is a way to make sure that the people of Gaza are able to prosper economically, while Israel is able to maintain its legitimate security needs in not allowing missiles and weapons to get to Hamas."
    • "We discussed the issue of Iran, and we...intend to continue to put pressure on Iran to meet its international obligations and to cease the kinds of provocative behavior that has made it a threat to its neighbors and the international community."
    • "We had an extensive discussion about the prospects for Middle East peace. I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu wants peace. I think he's willing to take risks for peace. And during our conversation, he once again reaffirmed his willingness to engage in serious negotiations with the Palestinians around what I think should be the goal not just of the two principals involved, but the entire world, and that is two states living side by side in peace and security."
    • "We discussed issues that arose out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Conference. And I reiterated to the Prime Minister that there is no change in U.S. policy when it comes to these issues. We strongly believe that, given its size, its history, the region that it's in, and the threats that are leveled against it, that Israel has unique security requirements. It's got to be able to respond to threats or any combination of threats in the region. And that's why we remain unwavering in our commitment to Israel's security. And the United States will never ask Israel to take any steps that would undermine their security interests."
    • "In terms of my relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu...the fact of the matter is that I've trusted Prime Minister Netanyahu since I met him before I was elected President, and have said so both publicly and privately. I think that he is dealing with a very complex situation in a very tough neighborhood. And what I have consistently shared with him is my interest in working with him - not at cross-purposes - so that we can achieve the kind of peace that will ensure Israel's security for decades to come."

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