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November 30, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Ahmadinejad: Iran's Nuclear Program Hit by Sabotage - Thomas Erdbrink (Washington Post)
    Iran's uranium-enrichment program has been the target of sabotage, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday.
    "They had been successful in making problems for a limited number of our centrifuges, with software they had installed in electronic devices," he said.

Iran Outraged as Star of David Revealed on Airport - Nayef Zidani (Al-Arabiya)
    A satellite image of Tehran airport taken by Google Earth has outraged Iranian government officials as it reveals a Star of David on the roof of the headquarters of the national carrier Iran Air.
    Iranian media explained that the building was constructed by Israeli engineers during the time of the Shah.

Italian, Israeli Air Force Complete Joint Aerial Exercise (Defense Update)
    The Israeli and Italian Air Forces concluded an extensive, two-week exercise in Sardinia Friday. Members from four Israel Air Force fighter squadrons participated in the exercise, flying F-15s and F-16s.
    The Italian element in the exercise played the "red team" of an adversary air force, challenging the Israelis with Eurofighter Typhoons, AMXs, Panavia Tornados and F-16s "aggressors."

Video: The Story of a Vote (ToldotYisrael)
    On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 1947, Abba Eban and the Jewish Agency delegation to the UN were concerned that the Zionists did not have enough support to pass the Partition Plan.
    Rodriguez Fabraget, Uruguay's UN delegate, kindly obliged Abba Eban's request for a filibuster that succeeded in postponing the vote until after Thanksgiving, to give them enough time to secure the requisite two-thirds majority to approve the establishment of a Jewish state.
    This is the story of the November 29, 1947, UN vote for the Partition of Palestine, when 20 centuries of Jewish homelessness came to an end.

Group that Sings about Destruction of Israel Named National Band by Abbas - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    The Alashekeen song and dance group that has recently performed hate and violence promotion songs in the PA has been honored by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Former Congressman Stephen Solarz, 70 - Adam Bernstein (Washington Post-Jewish Virtual Library)
    Former U.S. Rep. Stephen J. Solarz, 70, a Brooklyn Democrat, died on Nov. 29.
    A reliable supporter of Israel over the years, he negotiated agreements for easing restrictions on Syrian Jews and enabled Jewish women living in Syria, where there was a shortage of eligible Jewish men, to join the Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Netanyahu: WikiLeaks Show Arab States Share Israeli Concerns about Iran's Nuclear Program - Janine Zacharia
    Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed hope Monday that U.S. diplomatic cables revealing that several Arab states share his country's concern about Iran's nuclear weapons program could build momentum for tougher international action. "More and more states, governments and leaders in the Middle East and the wider region and the world believe this is the fundamental threat," Netanyahu said. Regional leaders say the "greatest threat is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Netanyahu said. "But in reality, leaders understand that this narrative is bankrupt."  (Washington Post)
        See also WikiLeaks Helps Obama, Arabs Jointly Confront Iran Nuclear Program - Editorial (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Bombings Hit Iran's Atomic Experts - William Yong and Robert F. Worth
    One top Iranian nuclear scientist killed in bomb attacks Monday was Majid Shahriari, who managed a "major project" for the country's Atomic Energy Organization. His wounded colleague, Fereydoon Abbasi, is on the UN Security Council's sanctions list for ties to the Iranian nuclear effort. The two scientists are among the most prominent in the Iranian nuclear world. "They're bad people, and the work they do is exactly what you need to design a bomb," said a U.S. official who assesses scientific intelligence.
        Shahriari published dozens of articles on nuclear research, at least five of which list Iran's nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, as a co-author. The UN describes Abbasi as a senior scientist in the Ministry of Defense "working closely" with Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps whom Western intelligence considers a leader in Tehran's effort to acquire a nuclear warhead. "Abbasi is the big one," the U.S. analyst said. (New York Times)
  • Egypt's Machiavellian Electoral Gambit - Eric Trager
    Egyptians went to the polls Sunday, but few of their votes will be counted. The country's elections are, after all, a pseudo-democratic facade carefully choreographed to appease the regime's Western benefactors. During the last parliamentary contests in November 2005, which occurred at the height of the Bush administration's "Freedom Agenda," the regime's most immediate goal was evading Western pressure to promote political liberalization. In turn, the regime scaled back its repression of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, which won 88 of 444 contested parliamentary seats.
        In this election, Muslim Brotherhood leaders now expect to win as few as 20 of the 508 seats being contested. The ruling NDP will likely emerge holding over 80% of the parliamentary seats. (New Republic)
        See also O, Brotherhood, Where Art Thou? - Ashraf Khalil
    The Brotherhood's decision to re-enter the electoral arena essentially cut the legs out from under the reform movement headed by Mohamed ElBaradei. The former International Atomic Energy Agency chief had spent months cajoling Egypt's opposition forces to boycott the vote as a sweeping gesture of no-confidence in the Mubarak regime. (Foreign Policy)
        See also Islamic Brotherhood Would Cut Egypt-Israel Ties (UPI)
        See also Arab Elections: Free, Sort of Fair... and Meaningless - Shadi Hamid (Saban Center for Middle East Policy-Brookings Institution)
        See also Islamists Say Almost Erased from Egypt Assembly - Yasmine Saleh and Marwa Awad (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Appoints New Head of Mossad - Yossi Melman
    Tamir Pardo, 57, was named Monday as the new chief of Israel's Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations, the Mossad. Pardo served twice as deputy Mossad chief and was part of the organization for nearly 30 years. He succeeds Meir Dagan who served as Mossad chief for eight years. (Ha'aretz)
  • Visiting German President: Nazi Past Has Made It Our Duty to Defend Israel
    German President Christian Wulff on Sunday reiterated his country's pledge to protect Israel's right to exist, during his first official visit to the country. "The incomprehensible crimes of the Shoah have made the defense of Israel's right to exist a permanent duty for Germany and Germans," Wulff wrote in the guest book at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Intelligence Expert: Pollard Wrongly Blamed - Gil Hoffman
    Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard could not have revealed the identities of American spies for Russia because he did not have the necessary clearance to see such documents, American intelligence expert John Loftus revealed over the weekend in an interview with Ma'ariv. Loftus, a former U.S. government prosecutor and army intelligence officer, said Pollard was given a life sentence because he was wrongly blamed for betraying American agents. He said Aldrich Ames and Robert Hansen, who were later convicted of betraying the agents, had the clearance Pollard lacked. "Pollard's continued incarceration is due to horrible stupidity," Loftus said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also U.S. Wrongly Punishing Pollard for Crimes He Did Not Commit - Sarah Liebowitz-Daar (Ma'ariv-IMRA)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • WikiLeaks Bury Linkage between Peace Process, Iran - Herb Keinon
    The WikiLeaks cache revealed that there was no need for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before getting the "moderate" Arab nations in the region - Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf states, Egypt and Jordan - on board regarding Iran, because those nations were already fully on board, just waiting for action against Iran. Obama was well aware of the views of these Arab leaders, yet he continued to propagate what he must have known to be a falsehood - that these countries would only sign on to sanctions and otherwise support efforts to neutralize Iran if there were progress on the Israeli-Palestinian track. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also WikiLeaks Cables Tell Us: Linkage Was Nonsense - Jennifer Rubin
    The Obama team over and over again has made the argument that progress on the Palestinian conflict was essential to obtaining the help of the Arab states in confronting Iran's nuclear threat. We know that this is simply and completely false. The documents show that the Arab states were hounding the administration to take action against Iran. (Commentary)
  • Iran: The Flaws of Containment - Dustin Dehez
    A containment strategy vis-a-vis Iran seems to be the preferred fall-back option for the international community if sanctions fail. But containment will not stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program since Iran is not a rational actor. The Iranian elite still perceives its Islamic revolution as ongoing and the outlook of Shia Islam makes war a less frightening prospect for the Iranian leadership than for any rational actor. It is amidst the ensuing chaos of such war that the Iranian president expects the twelfth Imam to return and establish a new order.
        A nuclear capability at Tehran's disposal would give the Iranian leadership even more room for aggressive-to-reckless foreign policy maneuvers. Prof. Dustin Dehez is visiting professor at the Centre for European Studies, University of Economics Prague (VSE), and a lecturer in International Relations at the Otto Suhr Institute of the Freie Universitat Berlin. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
        See also Ahmadinejad Reports to the Hidden Imam - Amir Taheri
    Ahmadinejad claims he has a direct line of communication with the Hidden Imam, a Messiah-like figure in Shiite Islam who is supposed to emerge at the end of time to install eternal justice. Several times a year, Ahmadinejad takes his entire cabinet to Jamkaran, a suburb of the "holy" city of Qom, to report to the Hidden Imam. In Jamkaran there is a well that is supposed to lead to the place where the Hidden Imam is in hiding. In a solemn ceremony, Ahmadinejad throws copies of his government's budget and other edicts into the well for consideration by the Hidden Imam. (Wall Street Journal Europe)
  • Observations:

    WikiLeaks Reveal Deadly Fictions - Lee Smith (Tablet)

    • What the WikiLeaks documents reveal is a growing gap between the private assessments of American diplomats and allies in the Middle East and public statements made by U.S. government officials. While the Israelis are deeply concerned about Iran's march toward a nuclear program, it is in fact the Arabs who are begging the U.S. to "take out" Iranian installations through military force.
    • It is not just Israeli leaders who believe Iranian President Ahmadinejad is reminiscent of Hitler; U.S. officials think so too, as do Arab leaders, who use the Hitler analogy to warn against the dangers of appeasing Iran.
    • Furthermore, America's Arab allies do not believe that the Obama administration can separate Syria from Iran through any foreseeable combination of carrots and sticks.
    • What comes through most strongly from the WikiLeaks documents is that U.S. Middle East policy is premised on a web of self-justifying fictions that are flatly contradicted by the assessments of American diplomats and allies in the region.
    • Perhaps the most disturbing revelation in the documents is the extent to which both the Bush and Obama administrations have concealed Iran's war against the U.S. and its allies in Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, and the Arab Gulf states.

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