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October 22, 2010

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What the Nuclear Watchdog Saw - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
    Finnish scientist Dr. Olli Heinonen left his post at the International Atomic Energy Agency this past summer after 27 years. His final position was deputy director general and head of its safeguards department.
    On Iran, he says: "We do not have enough information about the military aspect of the Iranian nuclear program; we need information that Iran is avoiding supplying to us. But when you look at what is happening at Natanz [a facility for uranium enrichment], it becomes clear that they are having difficulty moving ahead with uranium enrichment."
    "They have installed 8,000 centrifuges at the facility, but only 3,000 of these are currently operating, and they produce a steady monthly average of 120 kilograms of low-grade enriched uranium hexafluoride. They have today about three tons of low-grade enriched uranium."
    "The centrifuges are not operating well, and some of them are failing. They are losing materials because of this; and so, with this defective equipment, they will have a hard time enriching the material to a level high enough to enable the production of nuclear weapons. They have a lot of problems, and they are not there yet."
    Heinonen believes Syria has to be under "special inspection," a higher level of monitoring that could lead to a referral to the UN Security Council, much the way the Iran case has been handled.
    Says Heinonen: If the site in Syria reportedly attacked by Israel "was indeed a nuclear reactor, it does not exist anymore. My answer is that if it was a nuclear reactor, it would have been a precedent: the first time that an IAEA member state was constructing a plutonium rector on such a large scale."
    "And if it was a reactor, what happened to those who built it? Are they implementing their know-how and technology somewhere else? As more time passes, the chances of discovering the truth become slimmer. The equipment gets rusty, sand storms cover the site and people we wanted to talk to disappear."

Poll: 49 Percent of Palestinians Would Recognize Jewish State - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    49% of Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza, and east Jerusalem would agree to recognize Israel as Jewish as part of a peace agreement establishing a Palestinian state, while 48% object, a survey by Yediot Ahronot reported on Thursday.
    In June, before direct peace talks began, results were more positive when 58% said they would be willing to accept Israel as a Jewish state, while 39% objected.
    The survey was undertaken by Professor Yaacov Shamir of Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Professor Khalil Shikaki, who heads the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah.

North African States Risk Being Overrun by Al-Qaeda - Praveen Swami (Telegraph-UK)
    Al-Qaeda is poised to overrun five states in North Africa and the Middle East, creating terrorist safe havens from which the network can launch attacks on the West.
    Mauritania, Mali and Niger have seen a steady escalation of al-Qaeda activity targeting Western aid workers and experts. Somalia has disintegrated in the face of Islamist assault. In Yemen, security forces have been waging a losing battle against resurgent jihadist armies.
    Al-Qaeda's regional affiliates have expanded dramatically throughout this belt of states, exploiting the administrative weaknesses and corruption of their governments.

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What Israel's Economic Boom Means for the Peace Process - Joshua Hammer (New Republic)
    It's not only Israeli Jews who are enjoying the new boom times. A Palestinian Christian friend of mine, a denizen of the Old City, earns his living as a tourist-bus driver. During the Intifada, he was unemployed for months at a time, and his family scraped by on his wife's meager earnings as a cleaning lady. These days, the man is hardly home, venturing from one Galilee-to-Eilat excursion after another.
    Both Palestinians and Israelis seem to share a recognition that the status quo is about the best that anyone can hope for now. Nobody believes in the Obama peace initiative. Expectations have been lowered.
     Still, it would be naive to think that the place isn't capable of exploding.

The JCall Discourse: A Semantic Analysis - Georges-Elia Sarfati (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
    Through the European JCall phenomenon, a part of the world Jewish community has become the partisan of a changed attitude toward the State of Israel. A call for "pressure" on Israel is voiced by a part of the Jewish elites who claim to be doing so out of affection.
    It suggests that being a Jew of "goodwill" means supporting the principle of publicly denouncing Israel, calling for a campaign of international intervention, and considering Israel as not being a democracy while treating with contempt the majority of its citizens.
    The reasoning upheld by JCall in effect supplies Israel's enemies with the elements for a new, unquenchable criticism of the Jewish state, produces an abundance of arguments assigning guilt to the Jewish people, and pulverizes the consensus of diaspora Jews by urging them to be relentless prosecutors of Israel.
    Prof. Georges-Elia Sarfati, a linguist and philosopher, is currently director of research at Sorbonne University (Paris).

Cuban Pilots Flew 150,000 Jews from Arab States to Israel (Jerusalem Post)
    Cuban planes and pilots brought 150,000 Jews to Israel from Iraq, Iran, Yemen and India in 1951-52, the official Cuban newspaper Juventude Rebelde reported Saturday.
    Since there were no diplomatic relations between Israel and these countries, it was necessary for the aircraft to be from a neutral country.
    A new air company was established, Aerea de Cuba, headed by Cuban businessman Narciso Otero-Rosello.
    See also Alaska Airlines Helped Roll Out a Magic Carpet to Israel (Alaska Airlines)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Clinton: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Cannot Be Solved by Unilateral Moves
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the American Task Force on Palestine on Wednesday: "As much as the United States and other nations around the world want to see a resolution to this conflict, only the parties themselves can take the difficult steps that will lead to peace. That is why the Obama administration is working so hard to support direct talks that offer a forum for both sides to grapple with the core issues in good faith. There is no substitute for face-to-face discussion and, ultimately, for an agreement that leads to a just and lasting peace. That is the only path that will lead to the fulfillment of the Palestinian national aspirations and the necessary outcome of two states for two peoples."
        "There are those who think that if they wait, scheme, or fight long enough, they can avoid compromising or negotiating. But I am here to say that that is not the case. That will only guarantee more suffering, more sorrow, and more victims. Violence in all forms is a dead end that perpetuates the conflict and empowers those on both sides who would exploit cynicism and discord. That is no path at all. Nor is it viable to build the institutions of a future state without the negotiations that will ultimately create it."  (State Department)
  • Turkey Rebuffs U.S. Pressure to Slash Trade with Iran - Paul Richter
    Turkey has rebuffed a U.S. effort to persuade it to scale back its trade ties with Iran despite a persistent U.S. lobbying campaign this week in Washington and Ankara. Ali Babacan, a Turkish deputy prime minister, said Wednesday in Washington that Turkish companies remained "free to make their own decisions" about whether to comply with U.S. and European sanctions aimed at cutting off trade with Iran. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said last month that his country wanted to triple its trade with Iran. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Turkey's Nemesis, Greece, New Friend to Israel - Ben Birnbaum
    With Turkish-Israeli relations on the rocks, the Jewish state has found a new friend in Greece - Turkey's neighbor and longtime nemesis. The Israeli and Greek air forces conducted a joint drill in southern Greece last week. Then on Monday in Jerusalem, the Greek and Israeli foreign ministers signed a civil-aviation agreement - the countries' first bilateral pact in 60 years.
        "Our increasingly strong relationship with Greece is part and parcel of our important relationships with countries in the Mediterranean," a senior Israeli official said, cautioning not to read improved Israeli-Greco relations as a repudiation of Turkey. "We do not consider this to be a zero-sum game," he said. "We strive to have good strategic relations with all countries in the Mediterranean that are willing to have relations with us."  (Washington Times)
  • Chavez Visits Syria on Tour to Counter U.S. Sway - Bassem Mroue
    On the Mideast leg of an international tour, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Thursday in Damascus that he and his Syrian counterpart are "on the offensive" against Western imperialism. Despite U.S. outreach, Syria has remained close to Iran and the militant groups Hamas and Hizbullah, while building ties with Venezuela. In Damascus, Chavez said that he and Syrian President Bashar Assad are building ties "to accelerate the fall of (U.S.) imperialist hegemony." "We're on the offensive....We're building an alternative." President Barack Obama has made repeated overtures to Damascus this year, but Syria has only strengthened ties with outspoken critics of Washington, such as Venezuela. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Chavez Hopes to Visit "Liberated Golan Heights" (AP-Jerusalem Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Warns of Unilateral Steps If PA Seeks UN Statehood - Tovah Lazaroff
    Israel will pursue its own unilateral steps if the Palestinians do not return to the negotiating table and instead seek UN support for unilateral moves to declare a state within the pre-1967 lines, an Israeli government source told the Jerusalem Post Thursday. "If the Palestinians think that unilateral moves are a one-way street, they are sadly mistaken. It is an option that both sides have," said the source. "Israel is against unilateral steps. Israel believes that all problems should be solved around the negotiating table, but if the Palestinians choose unilateral steps, they can expect Israel to respond in kind."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • New Electronic ID System Using Handprints Eases IDF Checkpoint Control - Hanan Greenberg
    The Israel Defense Forces have found a way to minimize friction between soldiers and the Palestinians with a "soldier-free" checkpoint entry procedure. Soldiers will soon be replaced by electronic terminals checking the Palestinians by handprints, which will shorten the time spent at checkpoints and create a "more pleasant atmosphere." The new system, which greatly resembles the biometric passport control system at Ben-Gurion Airport, "speaks" Arabic with the users. Central Command chief Avi Mizrahi recently approved the installation of 12 electronic control terminals in checkpoints around the "green line" as early as next year. (Ynet News)
  • State Tells Supreme Court: Diplomatic Considerations Should Determine Fate of Outposts - Tovah Lazaroff
    Destroying West Bank outposts has diplomatic implications and should not be done haphazardly, the state told the High Court of Justice Tuesday. It therefore asked the court to delay the demolition of six unauthorized outposts built after March 2001. Israeli officials said a pledge to the U.S. to remove outposts built after that date had been superseded in the wake of the wider dispute on settlement growth.
        In a document submitted to the court, the state said that "the subject of building in Judea and Samaria in all its forms has become a core issue in the political dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as well as with its diplomatic contacts with the U.S. and other countries. As a result, the government's policy with respect to actions that change the existing situation on the ground has to be weighed against wider national interests."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Peace Process

  • Why the Washington Process Collapsed - Yossi Alpher
    The peace process launched in Washington on September 1 essentially collapsed before it began. The ambitious goal of ending the entire conflict within a year, proclaimed by the Obama administration and the Quartet and endorsed by both Netanyahu and Abbas, is totally unrealistic, thereby putting undue pressure on the negotiating parties. Following upon the administration's misguided and myopic focus on a settlement freeze, it casts heavy doubt on Washington's grasp of this conflict.
        Perhaps even more pathetic is the current U.S. effort to entice Netanyahu into an additional, final freeze of two or three months so the direct talks can resume. The link between this time-span and the November 2 midterm elections in the U.S. is painfully transparent. The stewardship of Obama, Clinton and Mitchell clearly suffers from a failure to recognize what, if anything, is feasible and what is delusional in Israeli-Palestinian relations. The writer is former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. (
  • Why the Washington Process Can't Succeed - Mordechai Kedar
    Settlement construction was until now never a rationale for diplomatic stalemate. This time, however, the settlement issue has been seized on by the Palestinians as an "ejection seat" that enables them to evade negotiations they know will flounder over core issues like refugees. They prefer to exploit the settlements controversy and score points with the White House rather than being blamed for allowing the process to collapse. Israel is perceived by many Palestinians, as well as many other Arabs and Muslims, as an illegitimate entity, while the Land of Israel from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea is Islamic "waqf," holy endowment.
        Israelis fear that if a Palestinian state with territorial contiguity is established in Judea and Samaria, nothing will prevent it from, at some point, falling under Hamas rule. Further, the failure of UNIFIL in southern Lebanon to prevent the rearming of Hizbullah deters many Israelis from relying on an international force. Anyone who pushes the two sides into negotiations over a comprehensive solution at this time is likely to generate a crisis or even a clash that no one needs. The writer is a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University. (
  • Palestinian Rejectionism Is the Main Obstacle to Peace - Danny Ayalon
    With the Israeli-Palestinian peace process once more sadly hanging by a thread, too few have acknowledged that the Palestinians have quietly been allowed to regress from the conventional positions, many of which they formerly accepted, that are essential for any peace process. For example, the murder of four Israelis by Palestinian terrorists on 31 August, on the eve of negotiations, did not induce Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, to withdraw from peace talks. Yet the construction of a few apartments in Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank, has been viewed by many as a justifiable excuse for the Palestinians to walk out.
        At a recent Palestinian Donors' Conference at the UN, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad could not even agree to insert the words "two states for two peoples" in the text of the conference summary. This standard formula was deemed unacceptable to the most moderate elements of the PA. If the Palestinian leadership has still not come to terms with the enduring existence of Israel as a Jewish state, everything else is hollow. The writer is Israel's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Guardian-UK)
  • The Hamas Veto - Mkhaimar Abusada
    Direct peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis face significant challenges from outside the negotiating room, particularly from Hamas, which is intent on ensuring that nothing happens without its approval. Hamas refuses all direct peace negotiations with Israel, and has vowed to derail the current talks through violence. Their first blow came on the eve of the talks, when the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing, carried out an ambush on Israeli settlers in Hebron, killing four people.
        Hamas is well aware that their attacks cause Israel to insist even more strongly on security as the centerpiece of any agreement. This, in turn, puts the spotlight on ongoing security cooperation between Israel, the PA and the U.S. Meanwhile, Hamas bides its time. A failure of Palestinian-Israeli talks would only prove Hamas' basic point: nothing moves forward without us. The writer is professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza. (Today's Zaman-Turkey)
  • A Unilateral Dead End - Editorial
    Palestinians have often flirted with the idea of gaining through unilateral declarations or UN action what they couldn't get through negotiations with Israel. That was a bad idea in the past and it's a bad idea today; the fact remains that the only route to the two-state solution Palestinian leaders say they support is through direct negotiations.
        No Israeli government could accept a Palestinian state created by fiat. No Israeli leader could accept the validity of that state without a formal recognition of Israel's right to exist, strict assurances the new state will end incitement, and unequivocal agreement on all the critical issues.
        The Obama administration's dogged pursuit of renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations has been admirable. It would be making a tragic mistake if it did not speak out - forcefully and without reservation - against any unilateral Palestinian action to sidestep negotiations. Not speaking out now can only encourage Palestinian leaders to believe in the chimera of unilateral action as a shortcut to statehood when, in fact, it is the worst kind of dead end. (New York Jewish Week)
  • The Anatomy of the Middle East Impasse - Omer Taspinar
    The number of skeptics who think the Arab world is not fully determined to pursue peace is on the rise. They argue that the Arab regimes are not democratic and therefore depend on perceptions of an external enemy to maintain domestic legitimacy. Taking this argument to its logical conclusion, you realize that democracy must come to the Arab world before a peace agreement. As long as the Arab regimes maintain their current political structure, they will be reluctant to support a historic breakthrough for peace. (Today's Zaman-Turkey)


  • Why Is Everyone Lying to the Palestinian Refugees? - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinian Authority leaders say they will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state because that would mean they would have to give up the "right of return" for millions of Palestinians to their original homes inside Israel. The PA, like the rest of the Arab governments, has been lying to the refugees for decades, telling them that one day their dream would be fulfilled. No Arab or Palestinian leader has ever dared to confront the refugees with the truth that they are not going to move into Israel.
        Palestinian refugees living in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan have long been the victims of racism and unjust laws that deprive them of basic rights. Since its establishment in 1994, the PA has also done very little to help the refugees. Refugees are a gigantic UN jobs program, providing over 30,000 jobs costing over $1 billion a year.
        The issue of the refugees can easily be solved if the entire international community, with the help of the Arab world, gets together to find a solution. The refugees should be offered financial compensation or resettlement in Arab and other countries. And let us not forget that there are also hundreds of thousands of Jewish "refugees" who lost their properties in Arab countries. (Hudson Institute New York)
  • Hamas Isn't the IRA - Michael Weiss
    Didn't the British government eventually sit down with Sinn Fein, the IRA's "political wing," after decades of murderous mayhem? But the British refused to negotiate with an organization that was still involved in an active military campaign. The 1993 Downing Street Declaration, a joint initiative by both the British and Irish governments, called for a "permanent end to the use of, or support for, paramilitary violence" and allowed only "democratically mandated parties which establish a commitment to exclusively peaceful methods and which have shown that they abide by the democratic process" to be admitted to the table.
        So what would the Hamas equivalent of this scenario look like? Hamas would have to concede that its strategic long-war doctrine of violent "resistance" and its dream of establishing Greater Palestine was a fantasy. (Slate)
        See also Myths, Misconceptions and Misapplication of the Northern Ireland Peace Process - John Bew and Martyn Frampton (ICA-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    Other Issues

  • Why America Supports Israel - Walter Russell Mead
    One of the most common (and idiotic) assumptions about American foreign policy is that "the Jews" control it. How else to explain America's stubborn support of the Jewish state? Yet everything I know about the history of American foreign policy, the state of American opinion, the nature of American ideology and theology, and the state of American politics tells me this is wrong.
        Support for the construction of a Jewish state in the Holy Land has been an important part of American Christian and political thought going back to colonial times. The ideas of Jewish exceptionalism and American exceptionalism have been bound together in the American mind for more than two hundred years. During the Cold War, Americans gradually got into the habit of considering Israel one of our most valuable and reliable allies.
        In recent years this longstanding association has been substantially strengthened by the widespread public belief that the same people who most hate Israel and want to bring it down are the bitter enemies of the United States and will stop at nothing to kill as many American civilians as they possibly can. (American Interest)
  • Right to Exist Nonnegotiable - Frida Ghitis
    There is little doubt that Israel is the Jewish homeland. The UN established it that way, and the international community recognizes it as such. Why ask Palestinians, who dislike that fact, to restate the obvious? Yet the intensity of the Palestinians' rejection of the idea has uncovered such a fundamental challenge to the "two-state solution'' that I am now persuaded that true, lasting peace may never come unless Palestinians and other Arabs openly accept Israel as a Jewish nation.
        Jewish nation, of course, does not mean special rights for Jews or second-class status for non-Jews. Israel is a democratic country whose laws clearly spell out equality for all citizens. As long as Palestinians continue denying the ancient connection between Jews and the Land of Israel, as long as they reject the Jewish people's right to a state, any peace agreement will be written in sand. (Miami Herald)
  • Hizbullah's Boy Scouts - Thanassis Cambanis
    In the year following the 2006 Israel-Hizbullah war, the Mahdi Scouts had nearly doubled its national enrollment to 60,000. We drove to Khiam to visit the scouts in action. The younger scouts wore blue shirts with epaulets, white scarves, and oversized badges featuring a photograph of a scowling Ayatollah Khomeini. Two boys who looked about ten wore full military fatigues.
        In "guided drawing," the kids drew pictures of Israelis weeping in defeat, denoted by Stars of David on their helmets, or of Israelis stepping on Lebanese. A six-year-old boy with a high-pitched voice recited from memory a speech of Nasrallah's: "The Israelis target the innocent! We will destroy the Israelis!" Fun puzzles at the end of every lesson featured standard children's fare like mazes, but with Hizbullah themes - a bearded Hizbullah fighter at the start of the maze, with an Israeli bunker at the far end. The occasional illustration featured bearded fighters charging Israeli soldiers cowering behind sandbags.
        Success in the Scouts led to an invitation to join Hizbullah as a probationary member. The most promising boys were recruited to join the ranks of the fighters. The younger Hizbullah members often projected the calm inner focus of the religious acolyte. They lived and breathed Hizbullah's credos. This is an excerpt from the writer's newly-published book, A Privilege to Die: Inside Hezbollah's Legions and Their Endless War Against Israel. (Foreign Policy)
        See also Hizbullah's Progress - Christopher Hitchens (Slate)

    Weekend Feature

  • "Holy Work" that Builds Bridges between Israel's Minorities - Avigayil Kadesh
    Israel's unique voluntary rescue organization, ZAKA, is adding four new units to better serve Arab, Bedouin, Circassian and Druze populations in the country's north and south. Volunteers from those minority communities will staff the units after receiving training. Small ZAKA units are already active among the Bedouin population in the south and the Druze communities of the north.
        Jerusalemite Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, 51, founded ZAKA in 1995. It is the only Jewish organization authorized by the Israel Police to handle recovery and body part identification. "We are open to all: Religious and not, Jews and non-Jews, Israelis and Arabs," says Meshi-Zahav. "Adding as many people as possible to our volunteering circle is a means to perfecting our world." Some of ZAKA's 1,500 volunteers have worked alongside law enforcement and emergency personnel following terrorist attacks, accidents, and natural disasters across the globe. Overseas missions became easier to arrange after the UN officially recognized ZAKA as an international humanitarian volunteer organization in 2005. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Observations:

    CBS "60 Minutes" Joins the Arab Propaganda Bandwagon on Jerusalem - Ricki Hollander (CAMERA)

    • Lesley Stahl's segment of CBS News' "60 Minutes" on October 17, entitled "Controversy in Jerusalem: The City of David," demonstrated how to promote Arab political propaganda with shoddy and partisan journalism. Stahl characterized as "controversial" Israel's publicizing of archeological findings of Israelite history in Jerusalem, discredited the field of biblical archeology, and dismissed archeological excavations as something run by a "settler organization."
    • While she questions the existence of King David ("There's actually no evidence of David, right?"), it is unlikely she would ever challenge Palestinians about the existence of Mohammed, or question Christians about the existence of Jesus, based on lack of direct archeological proof of those individuals. Her approach, of course, supports attempts by Arab and Muslim leaders to erase any evidence of Jewish history in Jerusalem.
    • Nor did she note that City of David archeologists, who are respected internationally for their scholarly contributions to the field, carry out their work under the auspices of the well-regarded Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) under strict protocols. She also calls it political "indoctrination" to teach Jews about their historical roots in Jerusalem.
    • Furthermore, she portrays Silwan as an area that does or should belong to Arabs, failing to report that there was a community of Yemenite Jewish families in Silwan as early as 1882 in the neighborhood known as Kfar HaShiloach, and additional Jewish families from various countries joined them in the following years. In the early 1900s Baron de Rothschild bought several acres of land there for the Jewish community.
    • Silwan's Jewish residents lived in the area until they were forced out by Arab attacks in the late 1920s. The City of David, situated in the Silwan valley, is still 60% Jewish-owned and it is perfectly legal to buy homes there. To Ms. Stahl and CBS, the only obstacle to peace is Israel's commitment to its Jewish roots in Jerusalem.

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