Needs Your Support
Diplomats Urge Regimes to Embrace Change to Block Islamist Radicals - Jay Solomon and Bill Spindle (Wall Street Journal)
The Obama administration intensified diplomatic pressure on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to initiate wide-ranging political overhauls.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior officials have decided not to seek wholesale political change in Cairo and other Arab capitals, but instead to prod their allies into embracing reform movements that, so far, appear to be largely secular and grass-roots in nature.
See also A Manifesto for Change in Egypt - Mohamed ElBaradei (Daily Beast)
Former U.S. Deputy Attorney-General: Pollard Didn't Harm U.S. - Gil Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard did not do any damage to the U.S. by passing classified information to Israel, former U.S. deputy attorney-general Philip B. Heymann wrote to President Obama Wednesday in a request to commute Pollard's sentence.
"Pollard's conviction was justified but his sentence was entirely out of line with others engaging in similar behavior and it was made less-than-legitimate by a treacherous recommendation of the then secretary of defense [Caspar Weinberger]," Heymann wrote.
"There is no evidence that Pollard intended to harm the United States or help its enemies."
Muslim Birth Rate Falls, Population to Grow More Slowly - Tom Heneghan (Reuters)
Falling birth rates will slow the world's Muslim population growth over the next two decades, reducing it on average from 2.2% a year in 1990-2010 to 1.5% a year from now until 2030, according to a new study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
Muslims will number 2.2 billion by 2030 compared to 1.6 billion in 2010, making up 26.4% of the world population compared to 23.4% now.
Anti-Semitism: The New Necessity for Arab Regimes - Mudar Zahran (Hudson Institute-New York)
Since 2008, the Jordanian printed media has been launching a fierce attack on almost everything Jewish.
Anti-Semitic-themed shows also have become common on many of the 300-plus Arab satellite networks, including media outlets owned by theoretically pro-Western Arab governments.
In January 2010, Jordanian state television aired an interview with former Prime Minister Faisal Al-Fayez, in which he threatened Israel with "six million Jordanian suicide bombers." Al-Fayez has recently been appointed Speaker of the House of the Jordanian Parliament.
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- In Egypt, Protests Show Signs of Cohesion - Sherine Bayoumi and Leila Fadel
The demonstrations in Egypt continued Wednesday despite a strong police presence and hundreds of arrests. There were secularists, socialists and Islamists all walking together and demanding change with a unity that for years eluded Egypt's opposition. "The psychological barrier of fear has been broken," said Shadi Hamid, director of research for the Brookings Doha Center. "Eighty million Egyptians saw [Tuesday's protests]. They saw that it's okay to come out and that there is safety in numbers." (Washington Post)
- As Arabs Protest, Obama Administration Offers Support - Scott Wilson and Joby Warrick
The Obama administration is openly supporting the anti-government demonstrations shaking the Arab Middle East, a stance that is far less tempered than the one the president has taken during past unrest in the region.
As demonstrations in Tunis, Cairo and Beirut have unfolded in recent days, President Obama and his senior envoys to the region have thrown U.S. support clearly behind the protesters, speaking daily in favor of free speech and assembly even when the protests target longtime U.S. allies such as Egypt.
- Iran's Allies Gain Clout - Brian Murphy
From Afghanistan to the Mediterranean, evidence of Iran's reach is easy to spot: as a power broker in Iraq, in deep alliances with Syria, and as a big brother to Lebanon's Hizbullah and Hamas in Gaza.
Tehran's proxy portfolio suddenly has a bit more aura after Hizbullah's latest successful political gambit in Lebanon. To those keeping score, it would appear that Iran is winning some important points around the Middle East at the expense of Washington and its allies.
"Certainly there is more visible Iranian influence around the region," said Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar. "But these are no longer just vassals of Iran. As they move into political roles, there will be changes that Iran cannot control." (AP-Washington Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu: "World Not Doing Enough to Condemn Iran's Anti-Semitism" - Michal Toiba, Gil Hoffman, and Gil Shefler
The world is remembering the Holocaust, but it is not doing enough to condemn Iran and its anti-Semitism, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset on Wednesday at a session marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day that will be observed on Thursday.
See also Prime Minister's Address Marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day (Prime Minister's Office)
See also Our Responsibility for the Jewish Future - Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (Jerusalem Post)
- IDF Soldiers Reveal What Happened Aboard the Mavi Marmara
This report describes the fighting waged by IHH operatives and their accomplices against
IDF soldiers aboard the Mavi Marmara, based on testimonies given
by the soldiers who participated.
The IDF force faced organized
resistance from scores of operatives armed with knives, clubs, axes, and iron bars. The soldiers were fighting a life and death battle at very close quarters against extremist terrorists who
were ready to die, were well equipped with weapons and had had military training.
Terrorism Information Center)
See also Israeli Navy Doctor: We Saved Flotilla Rioters' Lives - Hanan Greenberg
Following the publication of the Turkel Committee report into the events surrounding the Turkish flotilla to Gaza, senior officers told the navy's official website that each and every thing the commandos did was necessary. "The Marmara incident was heroic," said Lt.-Col. D. "I am proud to be associated with an operation like this, in which people operated with true heroism. Our mission was to tie up six ships and bring them into harbor - and all six ships were in the Ashdod harbor by morning."
The officer in charge of the doctors, Lt.-Col. Dr. A, said, "I can't remember a navy operation that involved so many senior doctors and the amount of medical equipment." The medical team estimates that "the lives of seven rioters were saved and medical complications were avoided in the cases of 12 rioters. In total, 55 wounded passengers received different levels of medical care." (Ynet News)
- The Palestine Papers: Al-Jazeera Has an Agenda - Pinhas Inbari
Al-Jazeera, the powerful Qatari satellite television station, has been publishing documents leaked to it from the PLO Negotiations Support Unit.
The release of the documents has caused great damage to the reputation of the PA and the PLO negotiating team. The PA's success in gathering support for statehood recognition was turning Hamas rule in Gaza into a liability. Once Ramallah is recognized as representing a state, the international community might turn against the separate entity in Gaza and seek to end the problem.
For years al-Jazeera has sought to advance the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood against the Arab regimes. Now, after al-Jazeera has brainwashed Arab minds with charges of PLO treason, no declaration of statehood can be expected.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- UN Resolution for Palestinians Is Counterproductive - Bernard Gwertzman interviews Elliott Abrams
Q: Any ideas on what the U.S. should do now in the Middle East?
Abrams: The administration has to figure out a way to get [Palestinian] President Mahmoud Abbas back to the table. It may be that the thing to do is not so much to hammer him as it is to talk to others in the Arab world to see if they would give him the political cover to return to negotiations.
Q: The Palestinians seem eager to bring a resolution to the Security Council on the Palestinian state. That would put the U.S. in a difficult position.
Abrams: Palestinians have two resolutions. One we're looking at now would call for a settlement construction freeze by the Israelis. The second resolution, which would come later, would endorse Palestinian statehood. The administration's trying very hard to persuade the Palestinians not to push that first resolution now, because it hasn't vetoed any resolution in two years, and I think it wanted to try to go through four years without a veto. So there's a lot of pressure on the Palestinians to pull back or rewrite the resolution in a way the administration can escape the veto.
Q: It's ironic, because Obama supports the idea of a freeze.
Abrams: That's exactly the kind of argument the administration is making to the Palestinians: You're going to corner us into a veto that we don't want [and] you don't want, and none of us is going to be helped by this.
(Council on Foreign Relations)
- What Palestinians Are Saying Online - Jonathan Schanzer
A recent nine-week study by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) of online Palestinian political sentiments found that Palestinian Internet users often derided diplomatic initiatives, and their discussion of the peace process was overwhelmingly negative. The study revealed several troubling trends among Palestinian social media users - notably the prevalence of Islamism, fissures between factions, and the inability of liberal reformers to be heard - that cast doubt on both the prospects for peace and the likelihood that a democratic Palestinian state will emerge.
Most Palestinian activists do not reveal their names online. Indeed, few Palestinians maintain personal Facebook or Twitter accounts, presumably to ensure that their posts cannot be attributed to them. Rather, the majority engage in political debate on impersonal discussion boards, writing under pseudonyms.
These web forums typically provide space for like-minded people to express their views. For example, some are pro-Hamas, whereas others are pro-Fatah. Most are dominated by sympathizers of the owner faction.
In a sense, the tribalism and factionalism that traditionally dominate Palestinian society can be observed in similar groupings online. Groups allow individuals to break with their thinking, but only to a point. (Middle East Quarterly)
Israelis Warily Eyeing Egypt - Isabel Kershner (New York Times)
Israel has a special stake in Egypt's stability. The two countries share a long border and signed a historic peace treaty in 1979, a cornerstone of the regional balance that has endured more than 30 years.
- Israeli officials and analysts said they believed that Mubarak's government was strong enough to withstand the protests, at least as long as it had the backing of the Egyptian Army.
- But with Mubarak, who came to power in 1981, now an ailing octogenarian, Israelis were in any case looking ahead to a transition of some sort in Egypt.
- Oded Eran, director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University and a former Israeli ambassador to Jordan, said that almost any government in Egypt would want to maintain the peace treaty with Israel, even at a low profile, because so much is hinged on it, including Egypt's relations with, and aid from, the U.S.
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert