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FBI Chief: Muslim Brotherhood Supports Terrorism - Steven Emerson
(Investigative Project on Terrorism)
Elements of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group whose ideology has inspired terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, are in the U.S. and have supported terrorism here and overseas, FBI Director Robert Mueller told a House committee Thursday.
Obama administration intelligence and law enforcement officials told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the Brotherhood's ties in the U.S.
While Director of National Intelligence James Clapper characterized the Brotherhood in Egypt as a mostly secular umbrella organization, the Brotherhood's motto is "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."
See also Office of the Director of National Intelligence “Clarifies” Remarks on Muslim Brotherhood (ABC News)
Jamie Smith, director of the office of public affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said in a statement:
"To clarify Director Clapper's point - in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood makes efforts to work through a political system that has been, under Mubarak's rule, one that is largely secular in its orientation - he is well aware that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a secular organization."
U.S. Questions Security Council Middle East Mission (AFP)
The U.S. on Wednesday questioned Russia's call for a special UN Security Council mission to the Middle East to bolster the peace process.
U.S. ambassador Susan Rice stressed that no agreement has been reached. "A number of delegations, including our own, asked a series of important questions, such as what is this meant to achieve? Why now?"
Egypt's Orderly Transition Becomes a War of Attrition - Michael Singh (Foreign Policy)
The opposition fundamentally mistrusts the government, suspecting that Vice President Omar Suleiman will renege on his pledges as soon as demonstrators leave Tahrir Square.
They continue to demand not only the immediate resignation of Mubarak, but also perhaps of Suleiman and the entire parliament, as well as the suspension of the Constitution.
The writer is former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council.
U.S. Sanctions Lebanese Bank for Aiding Hizbullah - Evan Perez (Wall Street Journal)
The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday ordered sanctions against the Lebanese Canadian Bank SAL, that helped drug traffickers launder money and finance the Lebanese group Hizbullah.
U.S. officials alleged that hundreds of millions of dollars in drug proceeds were laundered through accounts at the bank.
Last month, Treasury officials designated Ayman Joumaa as a drug kingpin and sought to seize assets belonging to him and associates.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says the Joumaa network moves as much as $200 million per month through various conduits.
Egypt Takes Aim at Al-Jazeera for Protest Coverage - Ryan Lucas (AP-Washington Post)
The Egyptian government has made clear it believes a chief culprit stoking the anti-government protests is pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera.
Authorities have banned its Arabic and English language channels from broadcasting and revoked the press credentials of all of its journalists.
Pro-government thugs set the Qatar-based network's Cairo offices ablaze last week, along with the equipment inside.
Egyptian Unrest Undermines Gaza Tunnel Business - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
Unrest in Egypt has slowed the smuggling of some commercial goods into Gaza through border tunnels, a Palestinian smuggler said on Thursday.
Stores in Egypt that supply Gaza shops have run out of merchandise such as refrigerators, washing machines and computers due to a disruption of supplies from Cairo and other cities, said Abu Mahmoud, a Gaza-based smuggler.
The Intellectual Assault on Israel and Pro-Israel
Advocacy: How the American Jewish Community Should React - Steven Bayme (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-American Jewish Committee)
Notwithstanding the visibility of intellectual assaults on Israel's legitimacy and American support for Israel, American public opinion remains overwhelmingly pro-Israel as it has been consistently since 1948.
Thus far, candidates running for office remain quick to demonstrate their pro-Israel credentials. Americans also have no sympathy for boycotts of Israeli universities. American society at large remains open to persuasion that America's support for Israel is just.
A Jewish community in danger of losing its Judaic distinctiveness may, however, one day no longer be sufficiently committed to engage in pro-Israel activism.
Dr. Steven Bayme serves as Director of the Contemporary Jewish Life Department of the American Jewish Committee and of the Koppelman Institute on American Jewish-Israeli Relations.
From the book American Jewry's Comfort Level: Present and Future, by Manfred Gerstenfeld and Steven Bayme, available without charge.
IDF Spokesperson Building New Media Branch - Rotem Caro Weizman (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Avi Benayahu told the Herzliya Conference that "the IDF is at the head of technology having a blog, blogger briefings, a twitter account, IDF English Website and soon a site in French and we are working on a Facebook page and other blogs."
Lt. Aliza Landes, head of the New Media desk at the IDF Spokesperson Unit, said, "The entire field of new media is about the democratization of information, making it available to as many people as possible. And we try to take dry information and make it more palatable, more accessible and visually stimulating," citing the unit's YouTube channel.
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- Mubarak Cedes Some Authority But Refuses to Quit - Craig Whitlock
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ceded some authority to Vice President Omar Suleiman on Thursday but refused to quit, insisting that he would stay in office to oversee a drawn-out transfer of power. His defiance stunned and angered hundreds of thousands of protesters in the capital, who responded with chants of "revolution, revolution."
Mubarak insisted that he would remain in office until the end of his term in September so he could oversee what he called a transition to "free and transparent" elections. Afterward, Sameh Shoukry, Egypt's ambassador to the U.S., told CNN that Mubarak had transferred all authority to Suleiman, making the latter the de facto president.
Earlier Thursday, CIA Director Leon Panetta had told Congress that "there is a strong likelihood that Mubarak may step down this evening."
After Mubarak finished speaking in a televised address, Suleiman followed, saying,
"The president puts the supreme interests of the country above everything else. He has empowered me to preserve its achievements and restore stability and happiness....We have opened the door to dialogue, and the door is still open to dialogue." (Washington Post)
See also Transcript of Mubarak's Speech (Washington Post)
See also Egyptian Military Pledges Support to Mubarak
Egypt's military has announced its support of President Hosni Mubarak's decision not to resign, saying Friday that it endorses his plan for a peaceful transfer of power, and for free and fair presidential elections later in the year. (AP)
- Obama Calls Mubarak's Latest Move Insufficient - Patricia Zengerle
President Obama said on Thursday Egyptian President Mubarak's statement that he would hand over power to his vice president was not enough to meet the demands of protesters clamoring for democratic change. "The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity," the U.S. president said in a statement.
- New Poll Reveals Egyptian Views on Protests - David Pollock
A public opinion poll of Egyptians taken by telephone in the midst of the current political upheaval provides an eye-opening perspective on how the Egyptian public is seeing these events. This is not an Islamic uprising. The Muslim Brotherhood is approved by just 15% of Egyptians - and its leaders get barely 1% of the vote in a presidential straw poll. Asked to pick national priorities, only 12% of Egyptians choose sharia (Islamic law) over Egypt's regional leadership, democracy, or economic development.
When asked two different ways about the peace treaty with Israel, 37% support it, while 27% oppose it - although a third say they "don't know" or refuse to answer. Only 18% of Egyptians approve either Hamas or Iran. A mere 5% say the uprising occurred because their government is "too pro-Israel." A straw poll asked: Who should be the next President of Egypt? The results - Arab League head Amr Moussa 26%, Omar Suleiman 17%, Hosni Mubarak 16%, Mohammed ElBaradei 3%.
The writer is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute and former chief of Near East/South Asia research at the U.S. Information Agency and Department of State.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Sharansky: Protests Offer Chance to Build New Pact with Arab World - David Horovitz
"If the free world helps the people on the streets, and turns into the allies of these people instead of being the allies of the dictators, then there is a unique chance to build a new pact between the free world and the Arab world," said Natan Sharansky, the dissident icon of the campaign to free Soviet Jewry who now chairs the Jewish Agency, in an interview Friday. "And we, Israel, will be among the beneficiaries, simply because these people will then be dealing with their real problems." "While we continue to be on guard, let's be glad that what's happening now on the Arab street is happening before the Muslim Brothers control the entire Middle East." (Jerusalem Post)
- Understanding Egypt - Guy Bechor
The moment it became clear that Egypt's immense defense establishment - millions of soldiers, police officers and security personnel - is standing by Mubarak and his officers, the matter was decided. The moment government institutions in Cairo were kept in the army's hands, it didn't matter how many protestors gathered at Tahrir Square.
Machiavelli wrote that there is nothing scarier than an impassioned crowd without a leader, but also noted that there is nothing weaker. Baradei is a Western joke, as he knows nobody in Egypt and lived in Europe for most of his life. As long as the protestors have no real power, the regime remains undefeated.
- No Overnight Miracles - Shlomo Avineri
It is relatively easy to topple a tyrannical regime, but much harder to establish and maintain a stable democracy. The formation of a democratic regime is not a dramatic, instant event, but rather a long series of processes requiring gradual steps and long-term partnerships of groups opposed to one another, and these things do not happen overnight. Apart from the army, the only effective organization in Egyptian society is the Muslim Brotherhood, but their commitment to democratic processes is not to be taken for granted. It is important to remember that the establishment of a stable democracy is not the inevitable or the only possible outcome of the toppling of Mubarak's regime. The writer, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, served as director-general of Israel's Foreign Ministry.
- Muslim Brotherhood: The Unreliable Ally - Jonathan Schanzer
The Muslim Brothers are notoriously bad political bedfellows. While the Brotherhood supported the secular 1952 coup known as the Free Officers Movement that gave rise to the current regime, the group overreached. It expanded power under then-Egyptian President Muhammad Naguib, and worked assiduously to spread its ideology among the ranks of the same military that had just granted the new regime its power. When Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrew Naguib in 1954, Nasser cleaned house and banned the Brotherhood.
When Anwar al-Sadat became president in 1970, he released many Brothers from jail in exchange for the group's renunciation of violence in Egypt. However, by the late 1970s, the Brotherhood spurned Sadat's peace overtures to Israel, and increasingly perceived him as insufficiently pious.
Sadat was assassinated in 1981 at the hands of an Islamist gunman. Though the assassin, Khalid Islambouli, belonged to the group al-Jihad, the Brotherhood paid for his sins. The writer, a former intelligence analyst at the U.S. Treasury, is vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
- Kurtzer: Beware of the Muslim Brotherhood - Rob Eshman
On Feb. 1, former U.S. ambassador to Egypt and Israel Daniel Kurtzer, who has known Hosni Mubarak for over 30 years, spoke at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University where he is Professor in Middle Eastern Policy Studies.
"The Muslim Brotherhood since its founding in 1928 has one single goal, and that is to transform Egypt into an Islamic state, and once that's achieved its goal is to transform the Middle East into a pan-Arabist Islamic state....The Brotherhood has tactical flexibility, but that doesn't change their goals one iota....There needs to be great caution in simplistic analysis in how the Muslim Brotherhood will act with respect to power. And the question of whether or not this movement will try to hijack a political movement for its own purposes will be kept squarely in mind. This is on the minds of the Egyptian military." (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
- Muslim Brothers Permitted to Lie to Defeat the Infidels - Tarek Heggy
The Muslim Brotherhood was launched in 1928 to restore a caliphate, a global religious government aimed at fighting the "non-believers" (specifically, Christians, Hindus, and Jews) and at spreading Islam. The group opposed the existence of any secular states in all Muslim societies throughout the Middle East. The Brotherhood remains extremely opposed to Western civilization and to a peaceful political settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict. One must know that the Brothers are likely to use taqqiyya [dissimulation], a principle which allows Muslims to lie if so doing assists them in ultimately defeating the infidels.
(Hudson Institute-New York)
- Israel Seeks Real, Lasting Peace - Frida Ghitis
The very fact that Israelis have to spend their nights worrying about what comes tomorrow in a country with which they signed a peace treaty more than 30 years ago shows the danger of relying on unelected dictators in the quest for peace.
Israelis had complained about the "cold peace'' they had with Egypt, worried about the poisonous anti-Israel sentiment that President Hosni Mubarak did little to stop in his country. The standard reply was that "cold peace" is better than "hot war." No question about that.
But the anti-Israel conspiracy theories that wafted in the winding alleys of Arab bazaars came with the encouragement of dictators throughout the Middle East, who needed, as every dictator knows, an external enemy to keep them in power. The dark sentiment raised the danger that any relationship Israel developed with an Arab country could collapse the day the hated dictator fell. And everyone knew that sooner or later the people would say "Enough!" to the despots ruling over them. Israel needs to build a new relationship on more solid ground; not peace with one man or one regime, but real, lasting, peace with an Arab country and with its people. (Miami Herald)
- The Need for Minds over Hearts in the Egyptian Crisis - Hillel Frisch
Supporting Egyptian Vice President Omar
Suleiman in the current crisis will prevent a Muslim Brotherhood takeover of
Egypt and avoid a bloody and protracted Egyptian civil war marked by
foreign intervention. The West should support Suleiman and the military
both for strategic reasons and out of concern for those demonstrators with
democratic ideals who otherwise are likely to fall prey to a far worse fate
than the regime they are attempting to overthrow.
The writer is a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for
Strategic Studies and a professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University.
(BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
- The Claim for Recognition of Israel as a Jewish State: A Reassessment - Tal Becker
The term "Jewish state" is sometimes misconceived as
implying an aspiration for a Jewish theocracy. Properly
understood, however, the claim seeks no more and no
less than public recognition of the right of the Jewish
people to self-determination in a state of their own. The demand for recognition is no different
from the self-determination claims advanced by many
other peoples under international law.
The claim should also not be seen as an attempt
to negate the corresponding Palestinian right to self-determination. Indeed, it is Israel's acceptance of a Palestinian
nation-state that justifies parallel Palestinian acknowledgment of the Jewish nation-state.
resolution of the conflict can only come when the legitimacy of Jewish and Palestinian collective rights is acknowledged.
An agreement without such recognition betrays a Palestinian unwillingness to ever
genuinely bring the conflict to an end.
The writer served as senior policy advisor to Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2009.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- Book Review: Fallible Memory - Benny Morris
In Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis, 1956-1978, Kai Bird writes of Israel as a "society marked by trauma and paranoia." What really caught my eye was the word "paranoia." Israel is the sovereign state of the Jewish people. During the previous two thousand years, on and off, the Jews, in their lands of exile, were discriminated against, persecuted, and murdered by their pagan, Christian, and Muslim hosts; and less than seventy years ago, some six million were murdered by the Germans and their French, Dutch, Belgian, Norwegian, Italian, Polish, Ukrainian, and other helpers.
Since its inception, Israel itself has been subjected to a series of wars and unremitting terrorist assault by Arabs and their allies; and today it is under existential threat from a nuclearizing Iran, whose president almost daily announces the Jewish state's imminent demise, and its regional sidekicks, Hizbullah and Hamas (and, perhaps, Syria). Right now Israel watches anxiously as Egypt is destabilized and cast into political uncertainty. So are Jewish Israelis really "paranoid"? Or do they have very real enemies of whom they are, quite understandably, fearful?
Practically nothing that Bird tells his readers about the Arab-Zionist conflict conforms with the facts of history. Take the Palestinian revolt of 1936-1939. "Initially," says Bird, "their protests were entirely nonviolent. They demanded free elections, based on majority rule." This is nonsense. From the first, from the gang-style execution of two Jewish drivers on the Anabta-Tulkarm road on April 15, 1936, which marked the start of the revolt, and the subsequent chain of deadly attacks in Jaffa, there were daily shootings and minings directed against the Jewish settlers and the British rulers of the land.
- Realism on Israel - Jonah Goldberg
Former U.S. national security advisor Gen. James Jones said in 2009 that if he could solve just one problem in the world, it would be the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the "epicenter" of U.S. foreign policy.
Such thinking falls somewhere between wild exaggeration and dangerous nonsense. Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Al-Qaeda remains dedicated to our destruction. Turkey, a once-staunch ally, is Islamifying. Russia is careening toward autocracy and China is on the march. Oh, and the United States is fighting two land wars. But the national security advisor's No. 1 priority was keeping Israelis from building houses in east Jerusalem? Really?
Any effort to take attention off the Palestinians is greeted with outrage from an anti-Israel industry that cravenly singles out Israel as the worst human rights abuser in the neighborhood. Israel puts Arab critics in the Knesset. Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia put them in jail or in an unmarked grave.
All of this would be just as true if Israel retreated to the 1949 armistice lines tomorrow.
(Los Angeles Times)
- What the Palestine Papers Reveal - David Horovitz
If the Palestinian public wills it, the Palestine Papers episode could mark the beginning of the honest internalization that the Jews have sovereign rights here - and that maximalist demands for the "right of return," for every inch of disputed territory, for unchallenged control of every holy place, are simply not going to fly. If there is to be a Palestinian state, there will need to be dramatic Palestinian compromise.
The Palestine Papers reveal a Palestinian leadership that considers almost all compromise on their side to have been completed in their grudging ostensible tolerance for an Israel in its pre-1967 lines. Their positions show no notice of Jewish claims in Judea and Samaria, and scant awareness of the fact that Israeli security concerns have been heightened by decades of conflict and by the impact of the Palestinian strategic resort to terrorism in the Second Intifada.
Furthermore, the transcripts negate the conventional wisdom that the details of a permanent deal are essentially clear; and that all that is needed is the mutual will to sign off on them and proceed to implementation. Actually, the two sides, as revealed in these papers, are far, far apart on the core issues of border demarcation, settlements and Jerusalem.
Abbas should be telling his people that the Jews do actually have sovereign claims here; that there's going to have to be territorial compromise;
that so long as his people insist on the "right of return," they will never gain the right to statehood; that those who shriekingly reject all talk of compromise are keeping the Palestinians from independence.
- Israel's Never Looked So Good - David Suissa
Calling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the "Middle East peace process" assumes there are only two countries in the Middle East.
While tens of millions of Arabs have been suffering for decades from brutal oppression, the world has obsessed with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As if Palestinians - on whom the world has spent billions and who have rejected one peace offer after another - were the only victims in the Middle East.
As if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has anything to do with the 1,000-year-old bloody conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, or the desire of brutal Arab dictators to stay in power, or the desire of Islamist radicals to bring back the Caliphate.
While Israel bashers have scrutinized every flaw in Israel's democracy, they kept silent about the oppression of millions of Arabs throughout the Middle East. Do you ever recall seeing a UN resolution or an international conference in support of Middle Eastern Arabs not named Palestinians?
Now that the cesspool of human oppression in the Arab world has been opened for all to see, how bad is Israel's democracy looking? Don't you wish the Arab world had a modicum of Israel's civil society?
- Dreaming of Damascus - Gary C. Gambill
Syria is the only majority Sunni Muslim polity in the modern era to be ruled by a largely heterodox Muslim governing elite (in this case, Alawite). The very idea of a "heretical" Islamic sect governing the faithful carries an enormous stigma in the predominantly Sunni Middle East. The fact that non-Syrian branches of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood are friendly with Assad's "apostate regime" and that al-Qaeda largely ignores him is entirely the result of Assad's demonstrable anti-Zionist and anti-American credentials.
Even if Israel were willing to give up the Golan Heights, a Syrian peace treaty with the Jewish state would inevitably mean sacrificing the Assad regime's anti-Zionist pedigree, obviating its primary justification for autocratic rule. In addition, fully ending Syria's logistical support for jihadist infiltration into Iraq would leave the regime vulnerable to subversion by al-Qaeda. A governing elite whose claim to speak for the entirety of its people is so exceptionally weak cannot follow in the footsteps of Egypt and Jordan.
- The City of David - Jennifer Rubin
Today I learned that the "Old City of Jerusalem" is not what really is old. Below a parking lot outside the walls of the "Old City" (contained within a wall that is a mere 450 years old) is the most magnificent excavation site in Israel. We see the homes from which the Jews were expelled to Babylon, and then we traverse back to 1000 BCE, to the city King David captured.
Our guide from the Ir David Foundation has a Bible in hand. Here the Bible is the archaeologists' guide. Within the same site they found two seals identifying two figures described in the Book of Jeremiah. You are standing in the palace of David, verifiable with Phoenician designs. And then you descend further through the underground water system that supplied the City of David with water and through which David and his army, in a commando-style raid, seized the city from the Jebusites. And there, on the spot covering the spring, as described precisely beginning in Kings 1:1, is the spot where Solomon was anointed king. And down you go to the spring, the existence of which fixed Jerusalem's location.
The Bible is a sort of message in the bottle to the future to tell us that yes, the Jews were here in this spot, at that time.
And mind you all of the City of David is in what the Palestinians would claim as their capital.
It's more than a religious and historical site of immense meaning. It is the answer to those who would have us believe Jews lack a verifiable claim to land dating back 3000 years and beyond.
In contrast to what Obama lectured us from Cairo at the beginning of his term, Israel is not merely recompense for the Holocaust. It is the ancestral home of the Jewish people. And if you doubt it, spend a morning in the City of David.
- The Bedouin Trackers of the IDF - Rotem Eliav
In spite of pressures from Islamic movements, many Israeli Bedouin continue to voluntarily enlist in the IDF where many serve as trackers, a vital part of the military force. The Bedouin lead a semi-nomadic, Muslim lifestyle. Entrenched in their culture are the value of peace of mind, enhanced senses, and an unparalleled familiarity with the land. "Since we live in the desert and work as shepherds, we come to know the land," explains Master Sergeant Muhammad El Walidi. "When one of our sheep goes astray, we track it down by following its footprints."
He adds: "The IDF allows us to improve skills other than tracking. We are given the opportunity to complete 12 years of basic education, extra help for those who need it, and some even get two years of industrial engineering courses at the university. Israel also helps our villages with organized rides to schools and medical services. Since the IDF and Israel take care of us, it motivates us to serve."
"The IDF is like one big family, once each soldier puts on that uniform we are all brothers and our purpose is clear - to protect the State of Israel. I joined the trackers unit because it's the best way I can give to the nation." (Israel Defense Forces)
Egyptian Turmoil Snaps Israel Out of Decades of Peace Reverie - Abraham Rabinovich (The Australian)
History is turning the page on a new chapter in the Middle East saga, but for Israelis, the story appeared to be moving backward rather than forward.
The sudden prospect of the Mubarak regime in Egypt being overthrown snapped Israelis out of the 32-year reverie they permitted themselves since the peace agreement with Egypt was signed following the Yom Kippur War.
The chaos in Egypt raised the prospect that a hostile regime could again rise in Cairo and renounce the treaty.
Should that happen, Jordan would likely renounce its treaty with Israel too and the informal relations Israel has developed with several other Arab countries would wither. Once again, Israel would find itself surrounded only by hostile neighbors.
- As long as Egypt, with its million-man army, was no longer part of the confrontation, Israel felt no existential threat.
Thus, Israel was able to wage two wars in Lebanon (in 1982 and 2006), put down two Palestinian intifadas and undertake a massive incursion into the Gaza Strip (in 2009) without having to cover its Egyptian flank.
- In addition, the benign regime of Hosni Mubarak brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and attempted to keep foreign asylum-seekers and armed militants from entering Israel across the long border the countries share. Mubarak cooperated with Israel in curbing Hamas, keeping his border with Gaza closed while Israel imposed an embargo from its end.
- Retired Israeli Major General Giora Eiland said this week: "Even if the worst-case situation happens, it will take the new (Egyptian) regime a few years to shape its policies. So...we will have enough time to prepare."
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