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November 5, 2010

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Hamas Admits 700 Palestinian Fighters Were Killed in Gaza War (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
    On Nov. 1, Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad told the London-based Al-Hayat: "On the first day of the war Israel struck police headquarters and killed 250 members of Hamas and the various factions, in addition to the 200-300 operatives from the al-Qassam Brigades. In addition, 150 security personnel were killed."
    The overall number is consistent with the findings of the Israeli defense establishment, which reported 1,166 Palestinians killed. 609 were Hamas terrorist operatives and security forces. One hundred more were operatives from other terrorist organizations, so that the overall number of terrorist operatives killed was 709 (about 60% of the total number of deaths).
    During and after the war, Hamas employed a policy of hiding the real number of its operatives killed by the IDF. The policy was implemented to prevent demoralization and to reinforce the (false) message that Israel was deliberately directing its military actions against civilians.
    Reducing the number of terrorist operatives killed and greatly exaggerating the number of civilians killed served Hamas in dealing with the Goldstone Commission. The Hamas policy of hiding the actual number of Hamas operatives killed outlived its usefulness after the Goldstone Report was issued.
    The Goldstone Report states that according to the Palestinian NGO statistics, only one of every five casualties was a "combatant" [20% - instead of the actual 60%].

Sign Petition for Red Cross Visits to Captured Israeli Soldier (Magen David Adom UK)
    Magen David Adom UK has set up an online petition to highlight kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit's plight and demand the basic human right, as set out in the Geneva Convention, for Shalit to be visited immediately by the International Red Cross.

Five-Star Hotel Opens in Ramallah - Joseph Krauss (AFP)
    The Movenpick Hotel Ramallah in the West Bank which opened Monday, a locally owned franchise of the Swiss-based chain, is aimed primarily at corporate clients.
    The $40 million hotel includes 171 rooms and suites, an outdoor pool, fitness center and seven conference rooms. The main restaurant has an Italian chef and a downstairs cigar bar that will serve up 20-year aged whiskeys.
    A string of chic new bars and restaurants have already turned the town into an easy-going Palestinian approximation of Tel Aviv, the transformation underpinned by the $4 billion in foreign aid the Palestinian Authority has received since 2007.

Internet Helped U.S. Muslim Convert Embrace Extremism at Warp Speed - Tara Bahrampour (Washington Post)
    For months, radical young Muslim convert Zachary Chesser had been waging war online, championing violent jihad from his computer in Northern Virginia.
    He converted to Islam in 2008, and by the time federal agents arrested him in July for trying to travel to Somalia and join the Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab, he'd gone from breakdancing high school kid to bearded radical in little more than two years.

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Israeli Security Invention Wins Award (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
    The 2010 Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Award in the area of physical security will be awarded to the Israel-based BriefCam company for its innovative solution to quick review of information from security cameras.
    The invention was developed by Prof. Shmuel Peleg of the Benin School of Computer Science and Engineering at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The Expulsion of the Jews from Muslim Countries, 1920-1970: A History of Ongoing Cruelty and Discrimination - Shmuel Trigano (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
    Between 1920 and 1970, 900,000 Jews were expelled from Arab and other Muslim countries. Today, they and their descendents form the majority of the French Jewish community and a large part of Israel's population.
    In the countries that expelled Jews, a combination of six legal, economic, and political measures aimed at isolating Jews in society was instituted: denationalization; legal discrimination; isolation and sequestration; economic despoilment; socioeconomic discrimination; and pogroms or similar acts.
    While some say that Zionism was responsible for this development, the region's anti-Semitism would have developed even without the rise of the State of Israel because of Arab-Islamic nationalism, which resulted in xenophobia.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Saudi Prince Rules Out Engagement with Israel - Glenn Kessler
    Saudi Arabia will refuse to "directly or indirectly engage Israel" until it leaves all land captured during the 1967 Six-Day War, Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi ambassador to the U.S., said Thursday, dashing any hopes the Obama administration might have had for rapprochement before a final peace deal. "For us to take any steps toward any form of normalization with the Israeli state before these Arab lands have been returned to their rightful legitimate owners would undermine international law and turn a blind eye to immorality," he told the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Turki, though out of government, is considered a candidate to succeed his ailing brother, Saud al-Faisal, as foreign minister. (Washington Post)
        See also Ex-Saudi Envoy Presses Washington on Peace Process - Laura Rozen
    Former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to the U.S. Prince Turki al-Faisal laid into the arguments of those urging the Obama administration to ease up on pressure on Israel over settlement building and efforts to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. (Politico)
        See also Saudi Prince: Iran Nuclear Program on "Explosive" Path
    Iran is on an "explosive" course in the Middle East with its pursuit of nuclear enrichment and needs to clear up questions surrounding its program, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal said on Thursday. (Reuters)
  • Britain Promises to Protect Visiting Israeli Officials from Arrest "within Weeks" - Adrian Blomfield
    Foreign Secretary William Hague on Thursday promised during a visit to Israel that Britain would introduce measures protecting visiting Israeli officials from arrest "within weeks." A British legal loophole allows pro-Palestinian activists to bring private prosecutions against visiting Israeli dignitaries. "We feel it's about time things should move in the right direction and think this is very welcome news," said Yigal Palmor, an Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Iranian Protesters Bash U.S. and Britain in Rallies - Nasser Karimi
    Demonstrators chanted "Down with America" outside the former U.S. Embassy and pelted the British diplomatic compound with eggs and tomatoes Thursday in separate rallies. The protests outside the former American Embassy were well-scripted events to mark the anniversary of the 1979 storming of the site - which began a 444-day hostage crisis and severed Washington's ties with Iran. Crowds - including many school children bused to the event - chanted anti-American slogans and taunted effigies of Uncle Sam and President Barack Obama. The anti-British demonstration included the Union Jack going up in flames. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Iran Praises Washington for Placing Insurgent Group on Terrorism List - Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim
    Iran's Foreign Ministry praised Washington for placing an Iranian militant group on a list of outlawed terrorist organizations. In a rare moment of accord between the two nations, ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast praised the announcement Wednesday that the Obama administration had placed the ethnic Baluchi group Jundallah on its terrorism list. Iran executed the group's leader, Abdulmalak Rigi, in June. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Iran Risks Unrest as It Cuts Food and Fuel Price Subsidies - Robin Pomeroy
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad will begin to eliminate the $100-billion subsidies which have kept prices of food and fuel in Iran artificially low for decades. Foreign economists agree that reform is needed but say that, if handled badly, it could cause massive inflation and possibly reignite street unrest. Inflation rose to 9.2%, Iran's Central Bank announced on Wednesday. (Globe and Mail-Canada)
        See also Iran Is Drying Up - Guy Bechor
    The government in Tehran announced that on Nov. 21 it will end fuel subsidies for private vehicles. Until now, each driver received his first 60 monthly liters of fuel for 10 cents a liter, and dozens more at a low cost. The world should continue focusing on sanctions. The Iranian regime is very concerned, and now is the time to keep pressing it. (Ynet News)
  • Easing of Gaza Blockade Leaves Many Smugglers Idle - Ibrahim Barzak
    Israel's easing of its Gaza blockade has devastated the once thriving smuggling industry. Now that most consumer goods can again reach Gaza through Israel - after three years of tight border closures - many of the hundreds of smuggling tunnels have simply shut down, with only a few dozen still active. The sharp decline is not believed to have affected a steady influx of weapons and other contraband through special Hamas-controlled tunnels. (AP)
        See also Gaza Tunnels Don't Just Run One Way - Kristen Chick (Christian Science Monitor)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Prepares to Resume Talks with U.S. Over Deadlocked Negotiations with Palestinians - Attila Somfalvi
    After the conclusion of the midterm elections in the U.S. on Tuesday, Israel is preparing to step up talks with the American administration regarding the stalemated negotiations with the Palestinians, sources in Jerusalem said on Wednesday. Experts estimated that the outcome of the elections will not affect the American president's attitude toward Prime Minister Netanyahu or the negotiations. The officials noted that Obama will most likely continue pressuring Israel to jumpstart direct talks with the Palestinians, including an extension on the construction freeze in the West Bank. Netanyahu is scheduled to visit the U.S. next week, and meet with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Ynet News)
        See also Clinton: U.S. Working Non-Stop to Advance Talks
    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday in New Zealand: "I want to reiterate that we are working on a nonstop basis with our Israeli and Palestinian friends to design a way forward in the negotiations. I am convinced that both leaders - President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu - are committed to pursuing the two-state solution. And it is clear that that can only be achieved through negotiations. So I am very involved in finding the way forward, and I think that we will be able to do so."  (U.S. State Department)
        See also PA Gives U.S. Two More Weeks to Get Direct Talks Restarted - Hilary Leila Krieger and Tovah Lazaroff
    The Palestinians are willing to give the U.S. at least two more weeks to break the impasse in the peace process and to return both sides to the negotiating table, despite the fact that the Arab League on Oct. 9 gave the U.S. only 30 days to find a way to continue the talks, PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat indicated Thursday in Washington. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Indicts, Jails Palestinian Merchant for Buying from Jewish Settlement - Khaled Abu Toameh
    In the first case of its kind, a Palestinian merchant from Bethlehem has been indicted for violating a Palestinian Authority call to boycott goods made in settlements. He has been charged with "carrying out commercial transactions with residents of a hostile state," the Bethlehem-based Maan news agency reported. The man, who is being held in a PA prison, was caught trying to bring in wood products manufactured in a settlement, said Amin Abu Akil, director of the Customs Authority in the Bethlehem area. A PA magistrate's court remanded the suspect into custody until the end of proceedings. (Jerusalem Post)
  • UN in Gaza Given Submachine Guns for Protection Against Hamas - Chaim Levinson
    Israel last week approved the entry into Gaza of four submachine guns for the security detail guarding the heads of UNRWA in Gaza. The director of UNRWA's activities in Gaza, John Ging, said his life is in constant danger and he needs more suitable protection than the handguns his bodyguards had been carrying. UNRWA told Israeli security officials that its personnel are being threatened by Hamas. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF, U.S. Army Coordinate Medical-Military R&D - Yaakov Katz
    The IDF Medical Corps and the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command held a joint seminar in Israel last week aimed at coordinating research and development efforts in new military-medical fields. The workshops have been ongoing for 30 years. IDF sources described ongoing Israeli research projects such as freeze-dried blood that will enable soldiers to carry a unit of their blood into a battlefield and hook up to it intravenously if wounded. An IDF Medical Corps study conducted recently with Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv showed that Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) - a specialized MRI scan which measures neural activity - could be an effective tool in diagnosing and treating PTSD. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Post-War Iraq Is a Pawn in Middle East's New Cold War - Mohamad Bazzi
    Nearly eight months after the March 7 parliamentary elections, both Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his main rival, Iyad Allawi, the former premier whose coalition won the elections by two seats, insist that they have the right to form the next government. Washington and its Arab allies prefer Allawi as the next leader of Iraq, while Iran wants to ensure that al-Maliki or one of its other Shiite allies remains in power.
        More broadly, relations between Sunnis and Shiites throughout the Middle East are badly strained by the sectarian bloodletting in Iraq. Sunnis are worried about the regional ascendance of the Shiite-led regime in Iran; its nuclear program; its growing influence on the Iraqi leadership; and its meddling in other countries with large Shiite communities, especially Lebanon.
        The Iranian regime has gained the upper hand in the latest political maneuvering. Tehran has brought together two of its staunchest Shiite allies: al-Maliki and the anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Al-Sadr's political ascendance threatens to stoke sectarian tensions: his followers were responsible for some of the worst atrocities against Sunnis during Iraq's recent civil war. His militia, the Mahdi Army, unleashed death squads that assassinated Sunnis and drove them out of Shiite neighborhoods. The Mahdi Army is among several Iraqi Shiite militias that received training and weapons from Iran, according to U.S. documents in the WikiLeaks archive. The writer is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a journalism professor at New York University. (National-Abu Dhabi)
  • What Europe Does Best - Rory Miller
    In recent weeks the EU's representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Catherine Ashton, rushed to the region from Washington to shore up the floundering peace talks following criticism that she failed to raise the international profile of the recently launched European External Action Service - a new mechanism designed to give the EU a stronger voice. If current U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell can't keep the Palestinians and Israelis talking, then it seems inconceivable that there is anything the EU can bring to the table that will. So what should Europe do? Recently Marc Otte, the EU's special representative for Middle East peace, looked forward to the day that the EU would be "a full player" in the politics of the conflict.
        But the EU should stop measuring its success in contributing to peace in terms of its ability to score political points over the U.S., or gain a political role commensurate with its economic weight. When a Palestinian state is finally established, the EU will play a crucial role in doing what it has done best in Europe over the past half century - promoting consensus and economic cooperation among former enemies in the interests of regional prosperity and long-term stability. Europe, Israel and the Palestinians would all be well served if the EU fully acknowledged the importance of this role, not as a pretext for political influence, but as an end in itself. The writer is director of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at King's College London. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Anti-Semite's Pointed Finger - Ruth R. Wisse
    Anti-Semitism cannot be arrested by any remedial action of the Jews. There are harmful consequences for pretending that concessions from Jews can stop the aggression against them. Anti-Semitism forces a choice between protection of the Jews and, under the guise of liberalism, complicity with their enemies. (Commentary)
  • When Jews Are Targeted, Terrorism Is Graded on a Curve - Gil Troy
    The news that Islamist terrorists sent package bombs to two Chicago-area synagogues should have stirred worldwide outrage, not just hysteria. Most journalists ignored the terrorists' potential victims. Alas, Jews being targeted is not news. Once again we have to wonder, why do they hate us - and why does the hatred against us often invite indifference? Many opinion leaders and elites in the West somehow justify terrorists targeting Jews and Israelis. When Jews and Israelis are involved, terrorism is graded on a curve, the world's outrage dulls. The writer is professor of history at McGill University. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Confronting Israel Boycotters Head On - Editorial
    The Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs want local communities to be able to spring into action in defense of Israel on a regular basis. That's why they are gearing up to launch a multimillion-dollar joint initiative to combat anti-Israel campaigns. These actions come not a moment too soon. The BDS (boycott, divest and sanction) movement is a sinister campaign designed to erode the very basis of Israel's legitimacy. Israel's supporters must quickly do what they can to stem the damage by confronting boycotters head on.
        Though we may not always agree with all of Israel's policies, we all stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel in defense of the Jewish homeland and its right to exist. (Washington Jewish Week)

    Weekend Features

  • The Last Two Survivors of Treblinka Nazi Extermination Camp - Aron Heller
    Samuel Willenberg and Kalman Taigman, 87-year-old Israelis, are believed to be the last two survivors of the Treblinka extermination camp in occupied Poland where 875,000 people were systematically murdered in World War II, almost all of them Jews. Only 67 people are known to have survived the camp, fleeing in a brazen revolt on Aug. 2, 1943, shortly before Treblinka was destroyed. Along with Belzec and Sobibor, Treblinka was designed with the sole intention of exterminating Jews. Victims, transported there in cattle cars, were gassed to death almost immediately upon arrival. Only a select few - mostly young, strong men like Willenberg and Taigman, who were both 20 at the time - were assigned to maintenance work instead. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Video: Alice Dancing Under the Gallows
    The oldest Holocaust survivor in the world is Alice Herz-Sommer, a concert pianist in Prague who was sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp, where she played concerts from memory. She still plays the piano, and this month will celebrate her 107th birthday. (YouTube)
  • IDF Opens Flickr Photo Website
    The Isral Defense Force's new flickr account features photographic content taken by the IDF Spokesperson's film department. The first albums released include: "Becoming a Soldier," "Women of the IDF," "Celebrating Diversity," "Flotilla Operation, May 2010," "IDF Aid Delegation to Haiti, January 2010," and "The Francop Weapons Ship, November 2009."  (IDF Spokesperson)
  • Observations:

    Dear Archbishop Desmond Tutu - Warren Goldstein (Jerusalem Post)

    • By recently adding your iconic voice to the campaign for sanctions against Israel, I believe you are making a terrible mistake. I am convinced that the sanctions campaign against Israel is morally repugnant because it is based on horrific and grotesquely false accusations against the Jewish people. The truth is that Israel is simply not an apartheid state. In the State of Israel all citizens - Jew and Arab - are equal before the law. Israel has none of the myriad apartheid laws South Africa had.
    • Israel accords full political, religious and other human rights to all its people, including its more than 1 million Arab citizens, many of whom hold positions of authority including that of cabinet minister, member of parliament and judge at every level, including that of the Supreme Court. All citizens vote on the same roll in regular, multiparty elections; there are Arab parties and Arab members of other parties in Israel's parliament. Arabs and Jews share all public facilities, including hospitals, universities, malls, buses, cinemas and parks.
    • The other untruth is the accusation of illegal occupation of Arab land. There is no nation that has a longer, deeper or more profound connection to its country than the Jewish people have to the Land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. All the books of the Old Testament describe the deep connection between the Jews and the Land of Israel, including the West Bank, known in the Bible as Judea and Samaria - the area that contained the great cities of the two previous Jewish commonwealths, such as Jericho, Shiloh, Beit El, and Hebron.
    • The Arab/Israeli conflict is not a struggle against apartheid or occupation. It is a century-long war against the very existence of Jews and a Jewish state in the Middle East. Since 1967, one aspect of this century-long conflict has been the demand for a Palestinian state. In spite of the deep historical and religious roots of Jews in all of Israel, generations of Jewish leaders have been prepared, for the sake of peace, to give up ancestral and covenantal land to establish a Palestinian state.
    • So why has there not been peace? The African National Congress (ANC) taught us you can't make peace on your own. No matter how deeply the ANC was committed to a peaceful resolution of the South African conflict, until the National Party was prepared to accept that black South Africans had a place in their own country, there could be no peace. And so too, until the Arab/Muslim world accepts that Jews have a right to a state of their own on their ancestral land, there will be no peace.

      The writer is chief rabbi of South Africa.

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