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October 5, 2010

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Iran Building Replica of Al-Aqsa Mosque in South Lebanon in Honor of Ahmadinejad's Visit - Oshrat Nagar Levit (Ynet News)
    A replica of Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque is being completed a few hundred meters from the border with Israel in Maroun al-Ras in southern Lebanon in honor of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's upcoming visit, Yediot Ahronot reported Tuesday.
    The structure is being made to look exactly like its Jerusalem prototype with a golden dome, but with an Iranian flag in honor of its sponsor.
    The site will also include a boardwalk and a lookout point from which Ahmadinejad plans to throw a symbolic stone at Israel.
    Shimon Biton, head of the council of the Israeli town of Avivim, located just a few hundred meters from the new mosque, said: "From our bitter experience we are sure that during the next war this site will be used as a foremost Hizbullah outpost. I am certain that bunkers and military storerooms have been built underneath it."

Poll: Americans Don't Want War with Iran (Politico)
    A 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll conducted Sep. 6-8 found that just 10% of Americans would support a war with Iran if it attacked Israel.
    11% said Iran's testing of a nuclear bomb would constitute a just cause for supporting a war.
    25% would support war if Iran attacked the U.S. fleet in the Persian Gulf, while 25% would support war only if Iran attacked U.S. soil.

Methodist Preacher to Sue Church over Anti-Israel Bias - Robert Mendick (Telegraph-UK)
    Methodist preacher David Hallam, 62, of Birmingham, England, a former Labour MEP, has accused his own church of wasting funds to pursue a vendetta against Israel.
    "What I object to is money which I am putting on the collection plate on a Sunday being used to fund a political campaign against the Jewish state. This is both discriminatory and a misuse of a charity's funds."
    "The Methodist Church seems to think it has a God-given right to tell Jews how to run their affairs. It is very disturbing we are getting involved in a territory where we don't have any members or churches."
    Paul Diamond, a barrister with expertise in human rights, will argue that a Methodist resolution passed in the summer which called for a boycott of some Israeli goods is in breach of European human rights law and an EU directive on racism.
    By singling out Israel, rather than other countries with often worse human rights records, Diamond will claim the church is being deliberately prejudiced against the Jewish state.

Israel Wins Bronze Medal in 39th Chess Olympiad - Eli Shvidler (Ha'aretz)
    Israel's national chess team won a bronze medal on Sunday at the 39th Chess Olympiad, coming in third among 148 teams in the event, held in Russia.
    The Israeli team won silver at the Olympiad two years ago. Ranked 11th before the event, the team outplayed chess powers from the U.S., Armenia (champion at two previous Olympiads) and third-ranked China.

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  • U.S. Groping to Save Mideast Talks - Jill Dougherty and Elise Labott
    The U.S. is scrambling to find a way to save the Middle East peace talks before an Arab League meeting in Libya this weekend. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday, the fifth time in the past week.
        One senior Israeli official said that Netanyahu is "determined to make sure talks go forward," and is "cautiously and discretely" discussing the settlement issue with the U.S. and his own cabinet. The official said Netanyahu is also considering a set of confidence-building measures to offer the Palestinians in lieu of a full settlement freeze. "Something has to be agreed on to keep [the Palestinians] at the talks, but not put a full freeze on settlements," another senior Israeli official said. (CNN)
  • Facing Stark Choice, Abbas May Stall - Karin Laub
    As secretive U.S. mediation efforts drag on, aides say Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas may try to stall until after November's U.S. midterm elections, hoping Obama will then be bolder in pressuring Israel. A Palestinian negotiator said the U.S. is seeking to extend a 10-month-old ban on housing starts in West Bank settlements an extra 60 days - a somewhat mystifying timeframe that has drawn notice for being just enough to get past the midterms.
        Palestinian officials have recently floated the idea of asking the UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem. As part of his attempt to persuade Netanyahu to extend the moratorium, Obama promised he would block any Security Council action for the next year, a Palestinian official said. (AP)
  • Israeli Finance Minister: Extending Israeli Construction Freeze Is "Very Difficult" - Bill Varner
    Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said it would be "very difficult" for his government to renew a freeze on settlement construction in return for American security assurances. "It was a unilateral gesture," Steinitz said in an interview Monday. "You don't negotiate on unilateral gestures. You negotiate on a peace settlement." Steinitz said there was no "reciprocity" or flexibility from the Palestinian Authority during the freeze. "To come now and to demand more is very problematic," he said. "When you are making a unilateral gesture it is not open to negotiation."
        Israel says the settlements aren't illegal because the West Bank wasn't recognized as belonging to anyone before the 1967 war, in which Israel prevailed, and therefore isn't occupied. (Bloomberg)
  • Israel Supreme Court Upholds Deportation of Irish Nobel Laureate - Aisha Mohammed
    Israel's Supreme Court upheld a deportation order against Irish Nobel peace laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, who has taken up the Palestinian cause. Israel banned Maguire from entering the country because of her attempt to breach Israel's naval blockade of Gaza aboard a ship in June. During Monday's Supreme Court hearing, Maguire called on Israel to cease what she called its "apartheid" policy against the Palestinian people. "This is no place for propaganda," Justice Asher Grunis retorted and cut her off. Interior Ministry officials say Maguire knew she would not be allowed into the country but sought to provoke an incident. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Netanyahu: Israel in "Sensitive Diplomatic Contacts with the U.S." over Peace Talks
    Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Monday: "One month ago, the Palestinians entered into direct talks with us, following a series of gestures that the government carried out in order to advance the peace process. We have fully lived up to our commitment, a difficult commitment that we took upon ourselves. Now there is interest in continuing the peace negotiations. This is a vital interest for the State of Israel. We are in the midst of sensitive diplomatic contacts with the U.S. administration in order to find a solution that will allow the continuation of the talks."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Report: Norwegian UN Troops Helped Two Lebanese Terrorists Escape in 1992 - Assaf Uni
    Norwegian UNIFIL troops helped two Lebanese arrested by the Israel Defense Forces to escape from an IDF detention facility, Norwegian journalist Odd Karsten Tveit claims in a new book. In 1992, Norwegian forces helped the prisoners escape from the al-Khaim Prison in southern Lebanon. The detainees were given UNIFIL uniforms and hidden in a bus used by Norwegian soldiers on leave. Tveit told Norwegian media that Hagrup Haukland, the former commander of UNIFIL's Norwegian battalion, made the decision to help the two prisoners. The two held a press conference in September 1992 and spoke about their escape, without revealing the help they had received from the Norwegian force. (Ynet News)
  • UK, Spain to Boycott OECD Tourism Conference in Jerusalem - Irit Rosenblum
    Britain and Spain will not send delegates to the OECD's biannual tourism conference on October 20-22, because it will be held in Jerusalem, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said Monday. OECD officials had demanded that Israel move the conference to Tel Aviv. The Palestinians had urged OECD members to stay away from the conference, Misezhnikov charged. "The Palestinians, who insist they are a reliable negotiating partner, are continuing to cause us damage," he said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • UN Poisons Its Human Rights Mission - Irwin Cotler
    The UN Human Rights Council is the mandated UN body responsible for the promotion and protection of international human rights. But the council has turned its mandate on its head. It has turned a blind eye to the world's most serious human rights violators, failing to adopt any resolution or investigative mandate for such human rights violator countries as China, Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Russia or Iran, to name but a few - all being listed on Freedom House's list of the 20 worst human rights abusers. While the UN General Assembly calls for countries to be elected to the council based on their human rights records, 24 out of 47 present members (51%) fail to meet fundamental standards of democracy and human rights.
        Since its 2006 creation, 80% of the council's resolutions have singled out one member state - Israel - for differential and discriminatory treatment, thereby breaching the UN charter's foundational principle of "equality for all nations, large and small." The tragedy in all this is that a UN body, established for the protection of human rights, has become a human rights violator. In particular, these violations now take place under the protective cover of the UN, invoking the imprimatur of international law and marching under the banner of human rights. The writer is a former minister of justice and attorney-general of Canada. (The Australian)
  • Recognizing Israel as a "Jewish State" - Glenn Kessler
    Describing Israel as a "Jewish state" may seem like standard boilerplate in the United States, often used in newspaper articles and television programs. President George W. Bush used the "Jewish state" concept in his speeches and in an exchange of letters with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2004. President Obama has also adopted the phrase, most recently in a speech last month before the UN General Assembly.
        For the Israeli government of Prime Minister Netanyahu, Palestinian recognition of Israel as a "Jewish state" would mean acceptance that the Jews have existed in the Middle East for thousands of years. Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren notes that the demand is not a new concept: the UN partition of the British mandate in 1948 referred to a "Jewish state" and an "Arab state."  (Washington Post)
  • The Real Issues Between Israel and the Palestinians - Martin Peretz
    Whatever has happened to the Arabs of Palestine over the last 60 years is a result of their refusal 1. to stand up against the Hashemites (Jordan) and the Nasserites (Egypt) who took over the land designated for the "Arab state" envisioned in the 1947 Partition Plan and, then, 2. to negotiate seriously with the Jewish state. The longer the local Arabs remain stubborn in seeking symbolic victories, the smaller Palestine will become. (New Republic)
  • Observations:

    The Other Existential Threat - Daniel Gordis (Commentary)

    • The mere possession of a nuclear weapon by Iran would instantly restore Jews to the status quo ante before Jewish sovereignty, to a condition in which their futures would depend primarily on the choices their enemies - and not Jews themselves - make.
    • For hundreds of years, Jewish life in Europe was a matter of either hoped-for toleration or a struggle to survive against the periodic outpourings of violent Jew-hatred. The creation and survival of the Jewish state ended a millennium of Jewish vulnerability and brought to a close a long and anguished history in which Jews were assigned the role of victim-on-call.
    • Many people are put off by the Israeli national affect, which they take to be a mix of arrogance and bravado. This is a misperception of an attitude: We Jews no longer live - and die - at the whim of others.
    • That sense of security would evaporate the minute Iran had the weapon it seeks. Even if Israel does possess a second-strike capability, and even if the U.S. could be counted on to punish a nuclear attack on the Jewish state, the existential condition of the Jews would still have reverted to that experienced in pre-state Europe.
    • It would mean that Jews by the tens of thousands could die because someone else determined that it was time for them to do so.

      The writer is senior vice president of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.

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