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New Turkish Satellite Could Publish Uncensored Images of Israel - Dan Williams (Reuters)
The Turkish GokTurk satellite, due in orbit by 2013, will sell higher-resolution commercial images of Israel than are currently available.
"We try to ensure that we are not photographed at high resolutions, and most (countries) accommodate us," a senior Israeli defense official said.
He said such measures helped prevent "sensitive material falling into the hands of terrorists."
An amendment to the 1997 U.S. National Defense Authorization Act bans disseminating satellite images of Israel of a high resolution.
UK: Iranians "Would Not Be Missed" If They Boycott London Olympics - Justin Cohen (TotallyJewish-UK)
After Iran's Olympic Committee hinted that it may stay away over the 2012 Olympic Games' logo, which it claims spelled out the word "Zion,"
Prime Minister David Cameron said in an interview: "It's completely paranoid. If the Iranians don't want to come, don't come, we won't miss you."
He also warned that athletes unwilling to compete against Israelis in 2012 would not be welcome at the games.
"Israel stands as a beacon of democracy in the region. I am encouraged that the people rising up in neighboring countries seem to be doing so not out of religious extremism but motivated by the prospect of more political freedom," he added.
Where Is the Outcry Against Arab Apartheid? - Khaled Abu Toameh (Hudson Institute-New York)
Mohammed Nabil Taha, an 11-year-old Palestinian boy, died this week at the entrance to a Lebanese hospital after doctors refused to help him because his family could not afford to pay for medical treatment.
This tragic case highlights the plight of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live in Lebanon and who are the victims of an apartheid system that denies them access to work, education and medical care.
Ironically, the boy's death coincided with Israel Apartheid Week, a festival of hatred and incitement organized by anti-Israel activists on university campuses in the U.S., Canada and other countries.
And this is happening at a time when tens of thousands of Palestinian patients continue to benefit from treatment in Israeli hospitals.
Last year alone, some 180,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza entered Israel to receive medical treatment. Many were treated despite the fact that they did not have enough money to cover the bill.
In Israel, even a suicide bomber who is - only - wounded while trying to kill Jews is entitled to the finest medical treatment.
India Anti-Missile System Uses Israeli Radar (Strategy Page)
On March 6, India successfully tested its anti-missile system, intercepting a ballistic missile fired from a mobile launcher.
Nine years ago, India ordered two Israeli Green Pine anti-ballistic missile radars, originally developed for Israel's Arrow anti-ballistic missile system.
India wanted to buy the entire Israeli Arrow system, but the U.S. refused to allow the sale (which involved a lot of American technology).
India has since developed, with Israel, the Swordfish radar, which has similar capabilities.
It's possible to equip incoming missiles with decoys, in an attempt to get the interceptor missile to miss, but Israel has technology designed to deal with these decoys, and India can probably purchase that.
Israeli-Palestinian Cooperation Is Growing in Jordan Valley - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
Amid al-Masri, a Palestinian agricultural landowner in the Jordan Valley, says: "Cooperation between us and Israel began at the end of the second intifada because we had much to learn from you....We cooperate with many Israeli companies on issues like de-infestation, irrigation and seedlings."
Palestinian farmers export their produce to countries through major Israeli companies. In addition, 60% of West Bank crops are sold in Israel.
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- Gaddafi Forces Bear Down on Strategic Town as Rebels Flee - Anthony Shadid
The momentum shifted decisively Thursday in the Libyan uprising as rebels fled from the strategic refinery town of Ras Lanuf under a sustained land, air and sea assault by government forces. "We are coming," Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, told reporters in Tripoli. There was a growing sense among the opposition, echoed by leaders in opposition-held Benghazi and rebels on the front, that they could not single-handedly defeat Gaddafi's forces.
(New York Times)
See also Gaddafi's Forces Have Momentum in Libya War on Rebels, U.S. Officials Say - Tony Capaccio
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's better-equipped forces have gained momentum against the rebels trying to drive him from power, senior U.S. intelligence officials said. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday that Gaddafi's forces have superior logistics and that the "regime will prevail" if the war goes on for a long time.
"My own view is that the important dimension is logistics, and I think the regime has more logistical forces in terms of the first-line equipment," Clapper said.
Gaddafi is relying primarily on two special brigades "which are very, very loyal," Clapper said. "They are the most robustly equipped with Russian equipment to include air defense, artillery, tanks, mechanized equipment, and they appear to be more disciplined about how they treat and repair that equipment."
Army Lt.-Gen. Ronald Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said momentum "has started to shift" to Gaddafi.
"We have now reached a state of equilibrium where the initiative may actually be on the regime side." Gaddafi "seems to have staying power," Burgess said.
See also Inside Libya's Chaotic, Secretive Rebel Leadership - Clare Morgana Gillis (Atlantic Monthly)
See also White House Announces Steps to Isolate Gaddafi - David E. Sanger
The White House announced a five-point program on Thursday of steps to isolate Libyan Col. Muammar Gaddafi and ultimately drive him from power, all stopping well short of military action. The steps include a partial embrace of the opposition movement as well as threats to track and prosecute, in international courts, Gaddafi loyalists who commit atrocities.
(New York Times)
- Israel: Iranian Experts Operating in Gaza - Josef Federman
Hamas looks "much like an army," thanks in part to direct assistance from Iranian and Hizbullah agents operating in Gaza, a senior Israeli military official said Wednesday.
The official said Hamas now has a "vast amount" of anti-tank and anti-aircraft rockets, a "very big arsenal" of rockets that can strike deep inside Israel and a sophisticated communications system. He says Hamas could not develop this expertise without foreign help.
He said Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hizbullah, frequently send in experts to train Hamas forces, crossing through tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt border that are also used to smuggle in weapons. Some foreign experts are even stationed in Gaza, he said.
"We have spotted them," he said. "We know the people. We have names."
He notes Hamas' newfound expertise in making roadside bombs planted along Gaza's border with Israel and its recent use of a sophisticated Kornet anti-tank rocket.
On Thursday, Israel's deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, charged that arms smuggling through the tunnels into Gaza has increased in the past two months in parallel with the political upheaval in the Arab world. He accused Gaza militants of "trying to take advantage of the uncertainties in the region to boost their capabilities to attack Israeli cities and Israeli citizens." (AP)
- Mossad Ex-Chief Halevy Says Mideast Talks Won't Settle Borders - Jonathan Ferziger
Israelis and Palestinians probably won't agree anytime soon on borders for a new state, leaving them to maintain current political arrangements for another generation, former Mossad Director Efraim Halevy said Thursday.
Even if Palestinians declare a state later this year and garner significant support at the UN, the move will have little practical significance, he said.
See also Halevy Doubts Chance of Final Deal with Palestinians - Greer Fay Cashman
The most feasible peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority would involve interim borders, and though a final peace treaty would be desirable, it is unlikely that one could be implemented, said Efraim Halevy, who currently heads the Shasha Center for Strategic Studies at Hebrew University, which in a new study analyzed all the variants related to a sustainable agreement. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- IDF: Hamas Planning to Resume Attacks in West Bank - Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel
Hamas headquarters in Damascus and Gaza are pressuring Hamas cells in the West Bank to resume efforts to kill Israeli soldiers or civilians and abduct their bodies, Palestinian and Israeli security sources have told Ha'aretz. Hamas plans to kill them and then negotiate returning their bodies to Israel, in view of the effect IDF soldier Gilad Shalit's abduction has had on Israeli public opinion. The Palestinian Authority and Israel have recently captured five cells in the Ramallah region planning to kill Israelis and abduct their bodies.
- Iran Supreme Leader: U.S. Will Share Fate of Fallen Mideast Regimes
The U.S. will suffer the same defeat as that experienced by despotic Mideast regimes, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Thursday. "Not only corrupted and despotic rulers but the United States and other world powers with an aggressive nature will finally suffer a defeat by nations and God's promises will come true," Khamenei said.
- Obama Seeks a Course of Pragmatism in the Middle East - Mark Landler and Helene Cooper
With the spread of antigovernment protests from North Africa to the Persian Gulf, President Obama has adopted a policy of restraint. He has concluded that his administration must shape its response country by country, aides say, recognizing that American national security interests weigh as heavily as idealistic impulses. That explains why he has dialed down the vocal support he gave demonstrators in Cairo to a more modulated call for peaceful protest and respect for universal rights.
Obama has thrown his weight behind attempts by the royal family of Bahrain, the home of the Navy's Fifth Fleet, to survive, although protesters say their demands have not been met. He has said little about political grievances in Saudi Arabia, a major oil supplier, where there were reports on Thursday of a violent dispersal of Shiite protesters. And he has limited White House critiques of Yemen, where the government is helping the U.S. root out a terrorist threat, even after that government opened fire on demonstrators.
The more cautious approach contrasts sharply with Obama's response in North Africa, where he abandoned a 30-year alliance with Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and has demanded the resignation of Col. Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. Obama is balancing his idealistic instincts against his reluctance to use military action in Libya, where the U.S. does not have a vital strategic interest.
(New York Times)
- Egypt Amends View of Islamists - Yaroslav Trofimov
Hundreds of Islamic radicals escaped from prison during the Egyptian uprising last month.
Now, protesters are pressing for the release or civilian retrial of the country's remaining political prisoners - including, to the alarm of U.S. officials, militants involved in scores of terror attacks. In a narrative taking hold among Egypt's new revolutionaries, these al-Qaeda-affiliated militants are seen as having been pushed to violence by the excesses of the overthrown dictatorship. Now, these people say, the militants represent no threat to the future democracy.
Many of the Islamist prisoners in Egypt belong to Gamaa Islamiyya, a movement that was responsible for killing hundreds of foreign tourists, policemen and secular intellectuals, in addition to involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York.
Some 500 prisoners jailed for links to Gamaa Islamiyya have been set free over the past two weeks.
"The euphoria of the popular revolution shouldn't make us Pollyannaish about the reality of terrorism," said Juan Zarate, the U.S. deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism from 2005 to 2009. "Al-Qaeda is trying to take advantage of the events on the ground. One of the primary concerns of the U.S. government is to find out which hard-core jihadis have escaped, and which role could they play in the reinvigoration of al-Qaeda's presence in Egypt." (Wall Street Journal)
See also Egypt Rulers Order Two Sadat Plotters Freed - Sarah El Deeb
Egypt's military rulers on Thursday ordered the release of Abboud and Tarek el-Zomor, serving multiple sentences for their role in the shooting death of then-president Anwar Sadat during a Cairo military parade in 1981. (AP-Washington Post)
- Homegrown Islamic Radicalization: Worth Studying - Editorial
The Justice Department recorded nearly four dozen terrorism cases involving U.S. citizens or residents in 2009, including those who planned attacks on American soil. In 2010, the department noted roughly 20 such cases. More time should be spent understanding the role of Web sites and chat rooms in the radicalization of impressionable young men. And more effort must be expended in working with the Muslim community to detect and defuse the forces that would lead a few to join the ranks of the violent.
- Assad Regime Has Reputation of Countering Protesters with Annihilation - Arnaud de Borchgrave
In 1982, Syrian President Hafez Assad was on an official state visit to Mali when the Muslim Brotherhood almost succeeded in killing him.
He ducked a burst of AK-47 fire and then kicked a hand grenade to one side before hurling himself under a table - and survived with a few metal fragments in his legs.
Hours later, almost 1,000 Islamist prisoners were murdered in their cells by units loyal to the president's brother, Rifaat.
Word of the massacre reached Umar Jawwad (aka Abu Bakr), a local guerrilla commander, who called for a general uprising in the city of Hama.
The president mobilized 12,000 troops, including 200 tanks, ringed the city, and warned through loudspeakers that anyone who didn't leave immediately would be considered an insurgent and killed.
A three-day air bombardment was followed with artillery shelling.
The few survivors were lined up against walls and executed. Later, Rifaat bragged that they had killed at least 38,000. It was genocide by any definition.
- How Israel Could Revolutionize the Global Energy Sector - Dore Gold
New developments in the energy sector could alter Israel's standing in the world, especially with respect to Europe.
Gas discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean, which began to produce commercial quantities of natural gas in 2004, include the Tamar field which should begin production in 2013. It is expected to supply all of Israelís domestic requirements for at least 20 years. The Economist suggested in November 2010 that the recently discovered Leviathan field, which has twice the gas of Tamar, could be completely devoted to exports. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that there are 122 trillion cubic feet of gas in the whole Levant Basin, most of which is within Israelís jurisdiction.
Even more dramatic is the work being done on Israelís oil shale. A new assessment by Dr. Yuval Bartov, chief geologist for Israel Energy Initiatives, says Israel's oil shale reserves are actually the equivalent of 250 billion barrels (that compares with 260 billion barrels in the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia). Israel could emerge as having the third largest deposit of oil shale, after the U.S. and China. New technologies being developed for Israeli shale seek to separate the oil from the shale rock 300 meters underground, using a method that has none of the negative ecological side-effects of earlier oil shale efforts.
When will the West begin to treat Israel as a powerful energy giant and not as a weak client state that must be pressured? In the case of the Saudis, it was when the U.S. realized the true extent of their oil reserves. In the case of Israel, updated international reports verifying the true dimensions of both its undersea gas and oil shale should be forthcoming in the next year.
The writer is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and served as ambassador to the UN. (Jerusalem Post)
- Israeli TV Coming to America - Amy Chozick and Joshua Mitnick
American television floods the world, but more and more, clever TV ideas also travel in the other direction. The Israeli TV series "Hatufim" traces what happens when two soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces return after being held captive by Syria for 17 years. Their wives and families become household names, and their ordeal sparks national debate about how Israel should handle prisoners of war.
Could this be America's next hit show? The pay-cable channel Showtime is currently developing "Homeland," a psychological thriller based on "Hatufim," starring Claire Danes as a globe-trotting CIA agent. It's one of several Israeli series being adapted for U.S. audiences.
Last month Fox launched "Traffic Light," a sitcom based on "Ramzor," about a group of guys in various stages of relationships and their urges to revert to primordial guydom.
HBO and Lionsgate are developing "The Naked Truth," based on an Israeli drama about police officers investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl from a powerful family. HBO's much-praised "In Treatment," with Gabriel Byrne, finished its third season in December.
Israel is culturally more aligned to American TV tastes than almost any other country. The nation's small, but highly educated, technologically advanced work force largely speaks English and has grown up on U.S. shows and movies, even if their own shows are in Hebrew. (Wall Street Journal)
Lubrani: Clear U.S. Demand for Freedom in Iran Would Be "Electrifying" - David Horovitz and Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
Uri Lubrani, who has advised Israel's leaders on Arab affairs for decades and is currently on the staff of Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon, is urging U.S. President Barack Obama to issue a clear public demand for freedom and democracy in Iran, and to pledge to support by all legal means the efforts by the Iranian people to achieve it.
- The U.S. has "to come out publicly," Lubrani declared in an interview in Friday's Jerusalem Post. "That would electrify the Iranians," he added. "And we need a decision to the same effect in both houses of Congress."
- Lubrani, who headed Israel's mission in Tehran in the mid-1970s and warned the U.S. and Israel ahead of the shah's demise, added that "you must also bring about a situation in which the army - the most neutral organization - will be prepared to do something. The army has a long score to settle with the regime."
- All of this, however, he said, required the U.S. to change tack. So far, the Americans have been giving the impression that they hope to engage with the regime on the nuclear issue, he said. "It's either self-delusion or an effort to sweep it all under the carpet. From the moment that Obama entered the White House, the Iranians have been having a ball with the engagement approach. There's not a chance in the world that they'll halt their uranium enrichment."
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