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November 1, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Security Experts Address Mail Bomb Terror Plot - Aviel Magnezi (Ynet News)
    Terrorist groups found a loophole in security procedures of airborne cargo and planted mail bombs bound for the U.S. from Yemen, which were discovered due to a Saudi tipoff.
    Despite great efforts put into thwarting terrorist plots on airplanes in Western countries, security experts warn that some countries do not place sufficient importance on aircraft security.
    "In order to deal with this issue, one must first define it as an outright threat," says Shmuel Sasson, former El Al security director and a research fellow at the IDC's Counter-Terrorism Institute. "From the moment a threat receives the proper recognition, the way to finding a solution or means to a solution is very short and the process becomes doable."
    "Israel has been familiar with this threat for years and is coping with it. We can't say 'it will never happen to us,' but we have experience handling these situations."
    See also Packages Must Be "Profiled," Just Like Passengers - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Profiling of cargo, shippers and a package's planned destination are key in uncovering terrorist plots involving air cargo, according to Pini Schiff, one of the founders of Ben-Gurion Airport's security division.
    Israel, a world leader in aviation security, began investing resources in inspecting cargo and passengers back in the 1970s, after experiencing a number of hijackings and aviation-related attacks.

Israel Warns Russia that Iran May Get Advanced Air Defense System via Venezuela - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel has warned Russia of the possibility that the S-300 advanced air defense system it is planning to sell to Venezuela could make its way to Iran, according to defense officials.
    Iran signed a deal with Russia to buy the system in 2007. But following the latest UN sanctions in June, the Kremlin announced it would not deliver the system to Iran.

IDF Arrests Suspect in West Bank Shooting - Anshel Pfeffer (Ha'aretz-Maan News-PA)
    Israeli security forces have arrested Bethlehem resident Muhaned Aza, 34, a Palestinian militant linked to Hamas, suspected of carrying out a shooting attack on an Israeli car traveling in the West Bank between Har Gilo and Jerusalem on Saturday night.
    The back end of the car was hit by gunfire, but none of the passengers were hurt.
    Security forces found a backpack containing a Kalashnikov rifle and on Sunday reported that an arrest had been made.

    See also Day of Hope in Hebron - Yair Altman (Ynet News)
    In Hebron in the West Bank on Saturday, about 10,000 people visited the Jewish community ahead of the Torah portion marking Abraham's acquisition of the Cave of the Patriarchs in the city.
    For the first time in many years, Jews were able to enter Hebron's Old City without a personal security escort.
    The highlight of the day occurred when Jewish youngsters touring the city spontaneously joined Palestinian youths playing soccer. Dozens of teenagers, both Jewish and Arab, gathered at the site to cheer on the players, as smiling police officers and IDF soldiers looked on.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Package Bombs Addressed to Chicago Synagogues Linked to Al-Qaeda - Peter Finn and Mary Beth Sheridan
    Investigators examining explosives found in packages intercepted in Britain and Dubai suspect the material, preliminarily identified as PETN (pentaerythritol trinitrate), points not only to the role of an al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen but to Saudi bomb-maker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, 28, who last year sent his brother to his death in an effort to kill Saudi prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a top counterterrorism official. Asiri is also believed to have built the underwear bomb that a Nigerian man trained in Yemen attempted to detonate last Christmas Day on a commercial aircraft approaching Detroit.
        A British minister said Saturday that the bomb found in Britain, in a package destined for a Chicago synagogue, was "viable" and could have brought down the UPS plane that was carrying it. U.S. officials said the packages were intercepted following a tip from intelligence officials in Saudi Arabia. (Washington Post)
        See also President Obama Briefs Nation on a "Credible Terrorist Threat"
    "Our intelligence and law enforcement professionals, working with our friends and allies, identified two suspicious packages bound for the United States - specifically, two places of Jewish worship in Chicago. Those packages had been located in Dubai and East Midlands Airport in the United Kingdom. An initial examination of those packages has determined that they do apparently contain explosive material."
        'We do know that the packages originated in Yemen. We also know that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a terrorist group based in Yemen, continues to plan attacks against our homeland, our citizens, and our friends and allies." "The events of the past 24 hours underscores the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism....We will not waver in our resolve to defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates."  (White House)
        See also U.S. Synagogues on Alert - Yitzhak Benhorin
    U.S. synagogues and Jewish facilities were ordered to be extra cautious and thoroughly check any items received by mail following the discovery of explosives bound for Jewish facilities in Chicago. Chicago police beefed up security around all the city's synagogues. (Ynet News)
        See also Bombs Were Built to Explode "In Flight" - Peter Finn
    "At this point we, I think, would agree with the British that it looks as though they were designed to be detonated in flight," John Brennan, President Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, said Sunday on the CBS program "Face the Nation." (Washington Post)
        See also Package Bomb May Have Downed UPS Plane on Sept. 3 - Bill Gertz and Eli Lake
    Western intelligence agencies now suspect that a UPS 747 cargo plane that crashed in Dubai on Sept. 3, killing two crew members, was downed by an explosive package in its cargo bay and not by an onboard fire, as initially suspected. (Washington Times)
  • Iran Will Not Discuss Nuclear Program at Talks with Global Powers - Ramin Mostafavi
    Iran will not discuss its nuclear program at talks with global powers, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, a media adviser to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Sunday. Iran said on Friday it was ready to resume talks with the West. "We will not be talking with the Western party about the nuclear energy issue in this round of the negotiations," Javanfekr said. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • UNESCO Declares Cave of Patriarchs, Rachel's Tomb as Palestinian Mosques
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday issued a statement condemning the UNESCO decision last week to define the historical sites of the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem as Palestinian. "The attempt to detach the people of Israel from its heritage is absurd. If the places where the fathers and mothers of the Jewish nation are buried - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Leah and Rachel - some 4,000 years ago are not part of the Jewish heritage, then what is?" "The State of Israel, in contrast to its neighbors, will continue to preserve freedom of religion at these sites and preserve them for future generations."
        The UNESCO board voted 44 to 1, with 12 abstentions, to declare Rachel's Tomb, which it referred to as the "Bilal bin Rabah Mosque," as "an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories." Israel says Muslims had also traditionally referred to Rachel's Tomb in Arabic as "Qubat Rachel," and the claim that it was a mosque was coined by Palestinians for political reasons only following Arab riots in 1996. (AP-DPA-Ha'aretz)
        See also Rabbi of Western Wall Denounces UNESCO Decision - Melanie Lidman
    The Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall strongly criticized the decision adopted by UNESCO regarding holy sites in Israel. "This decision is contrary to history and the truth, and political considerations are behind it," Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz said. "We have to condemn this organization, which is always acting against Israel, and to protest against their one-sided decisions which are undertaken without learning the history or understanding them," he continued. "The civilized world which knows the history should join us in our struggle to demand a change in the decision."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also The Palestinian Authority and the Jewish Holy Sites in the West Bank: Rachel's Tomb as a Test Case - Nadav Shragai
    For more than 1,700 years, Rachel's Tomb, which lies about 460 meters south of Jerusalem, has been a Jewish symbol. The building with the dome and olive tree has appeared in thousands of drawings, photographs, and artistic depictions on the covers of Jewish holy books. The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, signed on the White House lawn on September 28, 1995, dealt with the status of 23 places holy to Jews. Until a few years ago, official Palestinian publications contained not a single reference to a mosque at Rachel's Tomb. (ICA-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Turkey Declares Israel a "Central Threat"
    Israel Channel 10 reported on Saturday, citing Turkish media, that Turkey's National Security Council has amended Ankara's central policy paper outlining Turkey's foreign and home policy for the next five years to define Israel as "a central threat to Turkey." Turkish media noted the amendment represented the first time Israel had been seen as a threat on Turkey since 1949. The document fails to mention Iran or Syria as outside threats. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Istanbul Suicide Blast Injures 15 Police, 17 Civilians - Seda Sezer (Bloomberg)
        See also Israeli Minister Calls for Tourist Boycott of Turkey (AFP)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Free Jonathan Pollard - Lawrence Korb
    After his arrest and indictment 25 years ago, Jonathan Pollard agreed to plead guilty to one count of giving classified information to a U.S. ally. In return for his guilty plea and his cooperation with the U.S. government, the U.S. attorney pledged not to seek a life sentence for Pollard. The average sentence meted out to individuals convicted of giving classified information to an ally is seven years, with average time served about four years. Despite the terms of the plea bargain, in 1987 Pollard was sentenced to life.
        My former boss, Caspar Weinberger, the Secretary of Defense at the time, made a statement implying that some of the information that Pollard had supplied to Israel made its way to the Soviet Union, information that led to the loss of many lives. Weinberger's contention has since been debunked. The information that the Soviets received at the time most likely came from Soviet spies Aldrich Ames, a former CIA counter-intelligence officer, and Robert Hanssen, a onetime FBI agent. R. James Woolsey, the CIA director from 1993 to 1995, stated after examining the Pollard case file that none of Pollard's information went to the Soviet Union. The writer, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also U.S. Official: Pollard's Punishment Too Severe
    Lawrence Korb, a former U.S. deputy secretary of defense at the time of Jonathan Pollard's arrest, told Israel Army Radio on Sunday that Pollard has been sitting in prison longer than any other person who has been charged with spying for a friendly country. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Video: IDF Interview with Lawrence Korb (YouTube)
  • Israel Urges UN Not to Build Palestinian School Next to Hamas Arms Base - Tom Gross
    Israel's Defense Ministry is pleading with the UN agency UNRWA not to build a new school for Palestinian children next to a Hamas military installation in southern Gaza. While the ministry says it fully supports building new schools, to build a school adjacent to a Hamas military installation would be "shocking and highly irresponsible." In the past, Hamas has cynically placed its bomb laboratories next to schools in the knowledge that Israel will then be extremely reluctant to target them, even during wartime.
        As a consequence, children are regularly maimed when Hamas explosives accidentally explode while the group is preparing bombs and missiles. In the latest of several such incidents, in Rafah five children and two women were injured after a device in a Hamas weapons laboratory adjacent to a school accidentally exploded. (Hudson Institute New York)
  • Observations:

    The Open Racism of the Future State of Palestine - Shmuel Trigano (Scholars for Peace in the Middle East)

    • When considering the possibility that an outside force could be given the responsibility of overseeing the implementation of a planned agreement with Israel in the West Bank, PA President Mahmoud Abbas told the Egyptian press in Cairo at the beginning of August: "I am ready to accept a third party which supervises the implementation of the agreement, NATO forces, for example, but I will not accept the presence of Jews in these forces or a [single] Israeli on the Land of Palestine."
    • There is a perfect coherence between this demand and the refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
    • The Palestinian Authority is building a racist regime based on the principle of establishing an apartheid between a Palestine untainted by Jewish blood and a mixed State of Israel.
    • According to the draft constitution of the planned state, Palestine proper would be Arab and Islamic: "This constitution is based on the will of Palestinian-Arab people" (Article 1), "the Palestinian people are a part of the Arab and Islamic nation" (Article 2), "sovereignty belongs to the Palestinian Arab people" (Article 10), "the legal character of the Arab-Palestinian people will be embodied by the state" (Article 13), "Islam will be the official religion of the state" (Article 6).

      The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is professor of the sociology of politics at Paris University.

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