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October 20, 2010

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Jordanian Man Gets 24 Years in Dallas Bomb Plot (CNN)
    A Jordanian man who had entered the U.S. illegally was sentenced Tuesday to 24 years in federal prison after he was caught, in an FBI undercover operation, trying to use a truck bomb to destroy the 60-story Fountain Place office building in Dallas, Texas.
    Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, 20, pleaded guilty in May in U.S. District Court in Dallas to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

Canada Denies Arresting Suspect in Death of Hamas Militant - Marten Youssef and Colin Freeze (Globe and Mail-Canada)
    While Dubai's police chief insists a Canadian security official informed him of the secret arrest of a Mossad agent involved in the death of senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in January, Canadian officials deny having ever told him that.
    "Baseless," was the word one well-placed Ottawa official used to describe the police chief's claim.

The Dangers of Being a Journalist in Iran - Dieter Bednarz, Markus Brauck and Antje Windmann (Der Spiegel-Germany)
    Ever since the protests against Ahmadinejad's re-election in June of last year, Iranian prison cells have been bursting with critics of the regime.
    Over 120 employees of daily newspapers and some 20 bloggers have been detained, says Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, co-founder of Iran Human Rights. At least 50 reporters and photographers have fled abroad to escape the regime, he says.
    Foreign journalists have likewise become targets, including two Germans arrested earlier this month.

The Silencing of Professor Alderman - Melanie Phillips (Spectator-UK)
    The 2010 Belfast Festival, held under the auspices of Queen's University Belfast, convened a panel discussion Monday on "Conflict in the Middle East."
    In September, the Festival's director, Graeme Farrow, invited Professor Geoffrey Alderman, a British Jewish commentator and defender of Israel, to take part in the panel, an invitation he accepted. To Alderman's astonishment, last Friday he received an email from Farrow informing him that "a mistake" had been made in inviting him.
    Thus the delegitimization, bullying and ostracism of the Jewish state morphs seamlessly into the delegitimization, bullying and ostracism of Jews anywhere who support it.
    The Jewish state alone is not to be allowed to defend its existence; its Jewish supporters alone are not to be allowed to speak in defense of its right to do so.

Dead Sea Scrolls Going Digital on Internet (Reuters-ABC News)
    Anyone with an Internet connection will be able to take a new look into the biblical past through an online archive of high-resolution images of the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls.
    The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said on Tuesday it was collaborating with Google's research and development center in Israel to upload the entire collection of 30,000 fragments.
    The images will be equal in quality to the actual physical viewing of the scrolls, and new technology would help to expose writing that has faded over the centuries.
    The scrolls, most of them on parchment, are the oldest copies of the Hebrew Bible, and include text dating from the third century BCE to the first century CE.

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  • Israelis, Palestinians Agree to Continue Talks through U.S. Elections - Sheera Frenkel
    The Obama administration has secured pledges from senior Mideast leaders to continue peace negotiations until after next month's U.S. midterm elections, largely to avoid handing the Obama administration an embarrassing diplomatic setback before the Nov. 2 elections. Israeli and Palestinian officials said Tuesday that efforts to reach a compromise would continue until at least Nov. 3, a move they said "served the current American government." "The time frame we are following has been designed around the elections in America," said a senior member of the Palestinian negotiating team.
        A senior Israeli cabinet official said all the issues were being discussed behind closed doors and that there's an agreement not to discuss the terms of the negotiations with the news media. (McClatchy-Miami Herald)
        See also Holding Pattern: Middle East Peace Track at Impasse until after Midterms - Laura Rozen
    Behind the scenes, the Obama administration is still absorbing the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has to date rejected a proposed American compromise package that would have offered various security and other assurances to Israel in exchange for a 60-day renewal of a partial West Bank settlement freeze that expired last month. The American team is said to be frustrated and upset at Netanyahu's dismissal to date of the package, which was drafted by the NSC's Dennis Ross in close consultation with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molho. (Politico)
  • Palestinians to Seek UN West Bank Resolution - Tobias Buck
    The Palestinian leadership is preparing to call for a UN resolution that would formally declare Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal. The move, which may come next month, would mark a fresh attempt to drive a wedge between Israel and the international community. The U.S. administration would be in a deeply uncomfortable position. Washington has recently sharpened its criticism of Israeli settlement activity. At the same time the U.S. has a long history of vetoing Security Council resolutions that criticize Israel.
        One option frequently discussed is the pursuit of a UN resolution recognizing an independent Palestinian state in the borders of 1967. However, officials argue that a less sweeping resolution that only deals with settlements stands a greater chance of passing. (Financial Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • PLO Official Warns of Possible "Armed Resistance" If Talks Fail - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Ahmed Qurei, a senior PLO official and former PA prime minister, said in Cairo this week that he does not rule out the possibility that the Palestinians will launch "armed resistance" against Israel if the peace talks fail. "All options are open to us," he declared. "Negotiations, popular activities, sit-in strikes, civil disobedience or armed resistance." Qurei also said that the Palestinians did not rule out unilaterally declaring the establishment of a Palestinian state and seeking the UN Security Council's recognition of that state.
        An Israeli official said in response, "It is indeed regrettable that there are still senior Palestinian leaders in the Palestinian Authority who talk about using the path of violence....It is clear that the path of violence is a dead end and only through direct negotiation can peace be achieved."
        Qurei also warned Palestinians and Arabs against pinning high hopes on President Obama. "We should stop sinking into rosy dreams while the road is full of thorns," he said. "The U.S. is a country of institutions and the decision-making process is not only in the hands of the president."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel: UN Will Not Dictate Our Borders - Natasha Mozgovaya
    Israel's ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren said Tuesday: "Like Ben-Gurion, Netanyahu will not allow the United Nations, or any other organization, to dictate our borders. They will be determined through negotiations." "While facing terrorist groups sworn to destroy every last one of us - women, children, senior citizens - and some 60,000 Hamas and Hizbullah rockets pointed directly at our homes; with so-called human rights organizations and boycott movements and campus coalitions denying our right to defend ourselves and even our right to exist; and with Iranian leaders swearing to wipe us off the map and striving to produce the nuclear means for doing that...the Israeli government...has not for a nanosecond reduced its commitment to peace," Oren said.
        "But not a peace at any price. Not a peace that will impair Israel's security or impugn its identity as the nation-state of the Jewish people. As Netanyahu said last year in his Bar-Ilan University speech, he will not allow any future Palestinian state to become another Lebanon or Gaza."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Rabbi: Insult to Say Jerusalem "Illegally Occupied"
    Rabbi Marc Schneider, vice-president of the World Jewish Congress, told the 8th Doha Conference of Inter-Faith Dialogue in Qatar on Tuesday, "Jerusalem represents Jewish hopes and dreams. For millennia, we have prayed toward Jerusalem...Jerusalem has always been the capital of the Jewish state, ancient or modern. It is therefore an insult to all of us to accuse us of illegally occupying the city." He added: "At the same time, we respect that Jerusalem is a holy place for Christians and Muslims as well. We know that the status of Jerusalem is at the forefront of peace talks, but denying the other side's right to be here is wrong and counter-productive."  (Maan News-PA)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel Pushes Palestinians to Acknowledge Its Jewish Character - Edmund Sanders
    Israel's recent push to be recognized as a "Jewish" state is actually a new twist on an old struggle. Israel defines itself as a Jewish state in its declaration of independence. U.S. Presidents Obama and George W. Bush have embraced the term, which was used in the 1947 UN resolution calling for the establishment of two states, one Jewish and the other Palestinian Arab. "The demand that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state isn't a tactic or ploy, but something deeply important," said Yoram Meital, chairman of Ben-Gurion University's Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy. "It's really the basis for everything else."
        Beginning in 2007, some Israelis began insisting that the PLO's recognition of Israel's "right to exist" was not enough and that some sort of endorsement of a "Jewish state" was necessary. The adjustment stemmed from growing Israeli concerns that Palestinians still might one day try to wrest control of the country through the expanding Arab Israeli minority - already one-fifth of Israel's citizenry - and the possible influx of Palestinian refugees. Israelis worried that, in light of the shifting demographics and the country's democratic ideals, they'd left a giant loophole that could allow Palestinians to one day turn Israel into an Arab-dominated country. Because Palestinians want their own state in the West Bank, it was seen as a kind of political double-dipping. (Los Angeles Times)
  • The Undeniable Jewish State - Jeff Jacoby
    As Poland is the national state of the Polish people and Japan is the national state of the Japanese people, so Israel is the national state of the Jewish people. The UN's 1947 resolution on partitioning Palestine contains no fewer than 30 references to the "Jewish state" whose creation it was authorizing; 25 years earlier, the League of Nations mandated "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." Today, half the planet's Jews live in that state, many of them refugees from anti-Semitic repression and violence elsewhere. In a world with more than 20 Arab states and 55 Muslim countries, the existence of a single small Jewish state should be unobjectionable.
        Yet to Israel's enemies, Jewish sovereignty is as intolerable today as it was in 1948. Endless rounds of talks have not changed the underlying reality of the Arab-Israeli conflict, which is not about settlements or borders or Jerusalem or the rights of Palestinians. The root of the hostility is the refusal to recognize the immutable right of the Jewish people to a sovereign state in its historic homeland. Until that changes, no lasting peace is possible. (Boston Globe)
  • Bravo, Canada - UN Snub Is a Badge of Honor - Editorial
    Canada failed in its bid for a temporary seat on the UN Security Council. Canada seems to have annoyed a sufficient number of Third World dictators to come up short in a secret General Assembly ballot. The sins committed by Stephen Harper's government include staunch support for Israel. The United Arab Emirates took credit for putting together a group of anti-Canadian Arab and Islamic states to stop the bid for the two-year rotating chair. Canadians should wear the UN snub as a badge of honor. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    Breaking What Silence? - Editorial (Wall Street Journal Europe)

    • Andrei Sakharov must be spinning in his grave. The European Parliament's prestigious human rights award, named after the great Soviet dissident, is now being used to stigmatize the Jewish state.
    • Among the three nominees short-listed for this year's Sakharov Prize is the Israeli group "Breaking the Silence," which purports to uncover abuses by the military in Palestinian territories. The real insult is that an award meant to honor those who fight "intolerance, fanaticism and oppression" is being considered for activists operating in one of the world's most vibrant democracies.
    • By putting Israel in the same category with oppressive countries such as Ethiopia and Cuba, from which the other two short-listed nominees come, Europe's lawmakers have again discredited themselves while trying to delegitimize Israel.
    • Despite its name, there is no "silence" to break. Israel is a noisy liberal democracy in which sitting prime ministers are investigated on corruption charges, a supreme court rules on behalf of Palestinian petitioners against the Israeli government, and a strong press routinely criticizes the government and military.
    • Last year, Sakharov's widow, Yelena Bonner, spoke at the Oslo Forum about her late husband's affection for Israel. "All wars that Israel has waged have been just, forced upon it by the irresponsibility of Arab leaders," she quoted him as saying.

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