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April 1, 2011

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In-Depth Issues:

Saudi Nukes in the Gulf? - Arnaud de Borchgrave (Washington Times)
    Prince Turki Al-Faisal, the man who headed the Saudi intelligence service for a quarter of a century before his appointment as ambassador to Britain and later the U.S., has launched a drive for the GCC countries to acquire nuclear weapons.
    At the annual conference of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies, he called for a joint Gulf army "acquiring the nuclear might to face that of Iran."
    Between Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain and Oman, there is no shortage of cash to bankroll a nuclear weapons program. They can pay top dollar for nuclear scientists and engineers from Western powers and Russia.

Kuwait Condemns Three for Spying for Iran (Peninsula-Qatar)
    Kuwait's criminal court condemned to death two Iranians and a Kuwaiti on Tuesday for passing information about Kuwaiti and U.S. troop deployments in the Gulf to Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Israeli Active Armor Stops Anti-Tank Guided Missile (Strategy Page)
    For the second time in a month an Israeli Merkava tank used its APS (Active Protection System) to defeat an incoming missile.
    The first incident, three weeks ago, involved a rocket-propelled grenade.
    But this time it was an ATGM (Anti-Tank Guided Missile), possibly a modern Russian system like the Kornet E. This is a laser-guided missile with a range of 5,000 meters.
    The system was introduced in 1994 and has been sold to Syria (which apparently passed it on to Hizbullah and Hamas).

Israeli UAVs in Battle Against Mexican Drug Cartels (Strategy Page)
    Mexico has ordered the same model UAV that the U.S. Border Patrol has been using for the last seven years, the Israeli Hermes 450. Brazil has also bought this model, along with some 20 other nations.
    The Hermes 450 has day/night vidcams for surveillance and a communications relay that enables troops in remote areas to stay in touch with each other.
    The Hermes 450 can stay in the air for 20 hours at a time and go as far as 200 km. from its base.

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The Archeology War - Alex Joffe (Jewish Ideas Daily)
    The Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) was founded in 1979 by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
    It has three basic goals. The first is to spread a Saudi version of Koranic education throughout the Islamic world. The second is to publicize Islam to the non-Islamic world, both positively, by touting Islamic civilization and its accomplishments, and negatively, by protesting what it calls the "anti-Islamic campaign." The third goal is to oppose the "Judaization of Al-Quds" - i.e., Jerusalem.
    Now ISESCO is planning to broaden its campaign by bringing lawsuits against Israel in international courts, part of the widening conduct of "lawfare" against Israel, whereby any and every international venue is exploited to investigate, isolate, and indict the country and its citizens.
    How long will it be before Israeli archeologists are unable to get off a plane in London lest they be served with a subpoena initiated by a Palestinian NGO?

Muslim Sovereigns Who Needs Our Support - Andrew Rosemarine (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    Shimon Peres used to say that the future of the Middle East peace process lay in the hands of three Kings of the Orient: the monarchs of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Morocco.
    This proved prescient. The kings of Jordan - Hussain and Abdullah II - have been stalwart supporters of the peace process. Saudi's Fahd and Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz designed peace plans.
    Hassan II of Morocco was active in fostering better relations between Israel and its neighbors, and Israel helped build his security wall in the desert.
    Under his son, Mohamed VI, Moroccan and Israeli security services co-operate in secret.

British Government Should Acknowledge Israeli Restraint - Daniel Korski (Spectator-UK)
    Israel has recently been the victim of a series of violent attacks. In the face of the onslaught, however, the Israeli government has shown amazing restraint.
    The Israeli government is clearly keen to avoid derailing the events in the rest of the Middle East.
    For governments that are always quick to criticize Israeli actions - which now, sadly, includes the Cameron administration - this is an occasion to express sympathy with, and understanding of, Israel's situation and its show of restraint.

Europeans Should Support Negotiations, Not Unilateral Moves - Christoph Heil (New Europe)
    If Palestinian statehood is declared unilaterally, so could many of the separatist movements of Europe, such as Catalonia, Scotland and Northern Cyprus, and the rest of the world.
    Such an action could come back to bite Europeans. Lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians can only come about through negotiations that settle all issues.
    The writer is Director for European Affairs at The Israel Project, Jerusalem.

Kibbutz Builds Dairy Farm in West Bank - Ofer Petersburg (Ynet News)
    After building dairy farms in China and Vietnam, Kibbutz Afikim is building one in the West Bank city of Hebron.
    Dr. Ismail Jubrani, one of the dairy farm's owners, said, "We turned to Kibbutz Afikim because the Israeli milk industry is No. 1 in the world, and we are happy to be able to use the knowledge and modernization of our neighbors to help us increase the amount of milk in the PA."

Former IDF Troops Launch Website (Friend-a-Soldier)
    Friend-a-Soldier is an interactive website which allows anyone to meet, talk to and befriend an Israeli combat soldier.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • NATO Rules Out Arming Libyan Rebels - Daniel Michaels and Charles Duxbury
    NATO officials said they aren't considering arming Libyan rebels. NATO took full control of operations in Libya on Thursday. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Libyan Rebels Losing Their Nerve - David Zucchino
    The nascent rebel effort in eastern Libya has begun to fray in the face of chaotic battlefield collapses. For many rebel fighters, the absence of competent military leadership and a tendency to flee at the first shot have contributed to sagging morale. Despite perfunctory V-for-victory signs and cries of "Allahu akbar!" (God is great), the eager volunteers acknowledge that they are in for a long, uphill fight. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Turkey Tells UN It Seized Illegal Iran Arms Shipment - Louis Charbonneau
    Turkey has informed the UN Security Council's Iran sanctions committee that it seized a cache of weapons Iran was attempting to export in breach of a UN arms embargo, according to a document obtained by Reuters on Thursday. The weapons, which were listed as "auto spare parts" on the plane's documents, were bound for Aleppo, Syria, through Turkish airspace. A search of the Iranian "YasAir Cargo Airlines" Ilyushin-76 revealed a number of "prohibited military items" - 60 Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles, 14 BKC/Bixi machine guns, nearly 8,000 rounds of BKC/AK-47 ammunition, 560 60-mm mortar shells, and 1,288 120-mm mortar shells. (Reuters)
  • Judge Allows Lawsuits over Israel Bombings to Proceed
    A New York judge has concluded that he has jurisdiction to preside over litigation resulting from a lawsuit filed against the Palestine Liberation Organization by victims of bombings in Israel. Federal Judge George Daniels in Manhattan said in a written order Wednesday that the PLO had offices in Washington and New York during a three-year period when the bombings occurred, which creates enough of a connection to the U.S. to allow the lawsuit to proceed. The ruling came in a 2004 lawsuit that seeks up to $3 billion in damages as a result of attacks between January 2001 and February 2004. The Jerusalem-area attacks killed 33 people and wounded hundreds, including scores of U.S. citizens. (AP-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Drills for Multi-Front War - Yaakov Katz
    In the face of a changing Middle East, the IDF held a set of war games this week aimed at preparing the military for a large-scale war on multiple fronts. The scenarios simulated during the drill included a war with Hizbullah in Lebanon, sparked by a terrorist attack overseas as well as the involvement of Syria, Hamas and Iran. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Another Israel-Hamas War Is Inevitable - Barry Rubin
    Hamas is a revolutionary Islamist movement which genuinely views itself as directed by God, considers Jews to be subhuman, believes that a willingness to court suicide and welcome death will ensure victory, and is certain that it is going to destroy Israel and then transform Palestinian society into an Islamic Garden of Eden. The well-being and even physical survival of the people it rules is of little importance to it.
        The defeat Hamas suffered in the 2008-2009 war forced it to retrench and become cautious for a while. But with better weapons, Hamas will go to war. It's only a matter of time. The Egyptian revolution removed a regime that defined the national interest as having an anti-Hamas policy. Hamas knows it now has an ally rather than an enemy at its back. Moreover, there is no incentive in Egypt to block arms smuggling into Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Against All Odds, Injured Bedouin Tracker Vows to Return to IDF - Matan Tzuri
    Major Falah Al-Heib, 29, an officer in the tracker unit of the IDF Gaza Division, lost both legs in a roadside bomb explosion during Israel's 2009 Gaza operation. After more than a year at the rehab department, learning to walk and function again, Al-Heib began studying for a bachelor's degree in political science and Israel studies at Haifa University. In addition, he will soon come back to the IDF as a tracking instructor, and in the future he intends to return to the field as well.
        "From a young age, I was taught to love the country and defend the homeland," he said. "That's how it is in my family. We are Zionists, and are prepared to do anything for the protection of the state....My father, my grandfather, they both fought for the state. That's how I am, and that's how I will raise my children." Al-Heib, a resident of the northern Israeli Bedouin community of Beit Zarzir, is a married father of two. His father, Col. Nimer Al-Heib (res.), served until two years ago as the commander of a tracker unit in the IDF's Northern Command. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Arab World

  • We in Israel Welcome the Arab Spring - Israeli President Shimon Peres
    The Middle East has to make a historic choice: to join the new global age of democratic peace and liberal economy, or to stay clinging to its history of closed societies and autocracy. Israel welcomes the wind of change, and sees a window of opportunity.
        Peace is needed and can be achieved by direct negotiations. This was the case with Egypt and Jordan, and can happen with the Palestinians. Israel is more than willing to offer our experience in building a modern economy, in spite of limited resources, to the whole region. We seek only acceptance from our neighbors and the opportunity to play a full role in the life of the region. (Guardian-UK)
  • Syria's "Reformer" - Charles Krauthammer
    It was hoped that President Assad would be a reformer when he inherited his father's dictatorship a decade ago. Wrong. Assad has run the same iron-fisted Alawite police state as did his father. Bashar made promises of reform during the short-lived Arab Spring of 2005. The promises were broken.
        There are rare times when strategic interest and moral imperative coincide completely. Syria is one such - a monstrous police state whose regime consistently works to thwart U.S. interests in the region. During the worst days of the Iraq war, this regime funneled terrorists into Iraq to fight U.S. troops and Iraqi allies. It is dripping with Lebanese blood as well, being behind the murder of independent journalists and democrats. This year, it helped topple the pro-Western government of Saad Hariri and put Lebanon under the thumb of the virulently anti-Western Hizbullah. Syria is a partner in nuclear proliferation with North Korea. It is Iran's agent and closest Arab ally, granting it an outlet on the Mediterranean. (Washington Post)
        See also Is Assad Capable of Reform? - Volker Perthes
    Assad, in contrast to the image of him that some Western leaders have developed, is not a reformer. He can better be described as a modernizer. He gave Syria a more modern face and made some things work more efficiently, but he also made sure that the basic system - which relies on the heavy hand of the security services, on personal ties, and on a form of tolerated corruption that allows loyalists to enrich themselves - remained intact. The writer is director of SWP, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. (New York Times)
        See also The Myth of Syrian Stability - Mustafa Nour (New York Times)
        See also The Future of Syria - Khaled Abu Toameh (Hudson Institute-New York)
  • A White House Divided on Syria - Michael Singh
    One of the key departures President Obama made was in his approach toward Syria. Rather than continuing to heap pressure on the Syrian regime, the Obama Administration returned to the policy of engaging Syria practiced by past administrations. After two years, this approach to Syria has not only been unsuccessful, it was flawed in its conception.
        There is little reason to believe that Bashar al-Assad is truly interested in a Syrian-Israeli peace; Syria's state of war with Israel provides his justification for permanent "emergency laws," and the relations with Iran and Hizbullah which he would need to sacrifice to make a deal profit his regime greatly. A more creative approach is needed, which should include reinvigorated economic and political pressure using sanctions and support for Syrian democracy activists. The writer is managing director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Foreign Policy)
  • Redrawing Borders in the Middle East - Mordechai Kedar
    The fundamental problem characterizing Middle Eastern states is that they have no legitimacy in the eyes of their citizenry because their borders were marked by European colonial interests. Included within these borders were ethnic, religious, denominational and tribal groups who, throughout history, were often unable to live together in peace. Every one of the Arab states, except the Gulf Emirates, is a conglomeration of these traditional groups.
        If the world wishes to bring stability to the Middle East, there is no choice but to let the modern Arab countries - whose boundaries were set by colonialism - collapse and break up into small states, each based on one homogeneous group. It is time to re-think colonialism and the problematic legacy it bequeathed the Arab world. The Kurds in Iraq are already implementing this idea, having formed their own state in the north. (Bar-Ilan University-IMRA)
  • Other Issues

  • Israel's Military Justice System in Times of Terror - Judge Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Amnon Strashnov
    Israel and the world must fight terrorism without any reservations and without any concessions, since terrorism endangers everyone. On the other hand, Israel has an obligation to guard the basic rights of the local population in the West Bank and Gaza.
        Why should Israel keep the rules of engagement and follow international law while fighting terrorists when the terrorists do not adhere to the rules of engagement? Because Israel is a civilized state and the Israeli soldier is not the same as the Palestinian terrorist. We do not shoot at civilians or kill women and children, and we do not put bombs in buses.
        Every inhabitant of the West Bank has the right to petition Israel's Supreme Court. This is unique and unprecedented in the rules of international law - that a resident of an administered area can turn to the High Court of the administering state to ask for a remedy based on justice. In many cases the Court has accepted these petitions. The writer is a former IDF Military Advocate General. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • What America Can Learn from Israel's Experience - Amos N. Guiora
    From its founding in 1948 to the present day, Israel has been at war with one or more nations, has faced mortal threats to its national survival, and has been the target of countless acts of terrorism against its civilian population, with devastating losses of life.
        Even in the midst of hostilities and warfare, under Israeli law, all detainees, regardless of nationality or the circumstances or location of their seizure, have a right of access to counsel and to independent courts empowered to review the basis for their detention and, when warranted, to order their release. This is true even when judicial review takes place amid continuing terrorist attacks or large-scale Israeli military operations.
        I was - and remain - convinced that Israel's robust judicial review is both necessary to maintain the rule of law and makes for effective counterterrorism policy. As a former military commander, I know that a robust and independent court review process helps to ensure that we are properly detaining the right people, and not those wrongly picked up in sweeps, or who are otherwise innocent. IDF Lt.-Col. (ret.) Amos N. Guiora, a former commander of the IDF School of Military Law, is a professor of law at the University of Utah. (McClatchy)
  • Defund UNRWA - Asaf Romirowsky and Alexander H. Joffe
    In all Arab states except for Jordan, legal restrictions prevent Palestinians from leading normal lives, forcing them instead to remain, as they have for over 60 years, dependent on the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The organization meant to help the Palestinians is also a major obstacle to their well-being and peace with Israel. UNRWA facilities are hotbeds of anti-Israeli, anti-Western and anti-Semitic indoctrination, and according to the Palestinian Press Agency, Hamas has stored weapons in tunnels dug beneath UNRWA schools. Its staffers intimidate anyone from taking a stand in favor of peaceful coexistence with Israel.
        This helps explain why the Canadian government announced last year that it would defund UNRWA and divert taxpayer monies to specific projects to help Palestinians. The U.S. is the largest Western investor in UNRWA, providing a third of its total budget. Americans and Europeans alike would do well to follow Canada's example and use tax money to promote independent Palestinian organizations and private-sector growth instead. (Wall Street Journal Europe)
  • "Time Warp" in UNRWA Palestinian Refugee Camps - Rhonda Spivak
    My recent visit to two Palestinian refugee camps run by the UN near Bethlehem left me with the impression that the Palestinians as a whole are far from giving up on the right of return to their 1948 homes and villages in Israel. I saw first hand how these Palestinians live in a "time warp," as these UNRWA camps perpetuate the illusion of them one day returning to former homes and villages in pre-'67 Israel.
        In 1989 when I co-founded the chapter of Peace Now in Winnipeg, it was because I believed that Palestinians would forego the right of return to 1948 Israel and would live in a future Palestinian state that would co-exist alongside Israel. But on my recent visit, I saw that in UNRWA camps people live in streets according to the villages they came from and children's sports teams are divided according to former villages. In Aida refugee camp, I saw several long blocks of huge murals of all the Palestinian villages to which the refugees talk about returning. One of the villages depicted Beersheba as a small village. Today it is a developed Israeli city of 200,000 people.
        Who in Palestinian society is coming forward to level with Palestinian refugees and their descendents to say that they aren't going back to their villages in Israel? Who in the PA leadership is telling the people in the UNRWA camps I saw near Bethlehem that it's time to start planning on the Bethlehem area as being their permanent residence, and to begin redirecting their energies towards rebuilding their lives and their future? (Winnipeg Jewish Review-Canada)
  • Fighting Back Against Campus Anti-Semitism - Kenneth L. Marcus
    Last March Jessica Felber, a Jewish undergraduate at the University of California at Berkeley, was holding a placard bearing the words: "Israel Wants Peace," when Husam Zakaria, a leader of Students for Justice in Palestine, rammed Felber from behind so hard with a loaded shopping cart that she had to be taken to the university's urgent medical care facility. Felber fought back, charging this month in a federal lawsuit that UC Berkeley has ignored mounting evidence of anti-Jewish animus and should be held liable for the injuries she suffered. Her suit also contends that "physical intimidation and violence were frequently employed as a tactic by SJP and other campus groups in an effort to silence students on campus who support Israel."
        University of California Santa Cruz lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin makes a similar case against her own employer. "Professors, academic departments and residential colleges at UCSC promote and encourage anti-Israel, anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish views and behavior," she insists. She filed a civil rights action with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, arguing that UCSC has created a hostile environment for Jewish students.
        The problem does not reflect a broad-based resurgence of anti-Semitic attitudes on college campuses, nor does it even suggest a widespread collegiate rejection of Israel in favor of the Palestinian cause. The problem is that a small minority of anti-Israel and perhaps anti-Semitic academics have gained disproportionate influence on many campuses. The writer is Executive Vice President of the Institute for Jewish & Community Research. (Minding the Campus)
  • Progressives Should Support Israel - Steve Sheffey
    The progressive movement has been tarred by a vocal minority that seeks to criticize Israel at every opportunity. It's time for the progressive community to stand up and show its support for Israel. Israel is a progressive's dream: universal education, universal health care, equal rights, minority rights protections, strong activist courts, and gays and lesbians openly serving in the military. As progressives, we should be outraged by the way the Arabs, including the Palestinians, treat women, gays and other minorities. We should be outraged that the Palestinians demand that no Jews should be allowed to live in the West Bank, even as over one million Palestinians live within pre-1967 Israel.
        If the Palestinian leadership is so upset about the "occupation," why did it twice in the past decade reject the opportunity to establish a state on the West Bank? Israel's entire history is an unending willingness to trade land for the hope of peace despite Arab intransigence and Arab unwillingness to partner with Israel for peace. (Huffington Post)
  • Weekend Features

  • Israel, The Third Nation on the Moon? - Daniel Freedman
    If all goes according to plan, by December 2012 a team of three young Israeli scientists will have landed a tiny spacecraft on the moon, explored the lunar surface, and transmitted live video back to earth, thereby scooping up a $20 million prize (the Google Lunar X Prize) and making the Jewish state the third nation (after the U.S. and Russia) to land a probe on the moon. And they're doing it in their spare time.
        Three engineers who have high-level day jobs in the Israeli science and technology world recruited around 50 volunteers and gained support from academic institutions, including the prestigious Weizmann Institute of Science. According to the X Prize organizers, the 29 competing teams will spend between $15 million and $100 million on the project, with the earliest launch not scheduled until 2013. The Israelis aim to spend around $10 million and to launch before 2013. (Forbes)
  • What is Beneath the Temple Mount? - Joshua Hammer
    Being an amateur archaeologist at the Temple Mount Salvage Operation wasn't as easy as it sounded. A chunk of what looked like conglomerate rock turned out to be plaster used to line cisterns during the time of Herod the Great, some 2,000 years ago. When I tossed aside a shard of green glass I thought was from a soft-drink bottle, my supervisor snatched it up. "Notice the bubbles," she told me. "That indicates it's ancient glass, because during that time, oven temperatures didn't reach as high as they do now." I also retrieved a rough-edged coin minted more than 1,500 years ago and bearing the profile of a Byzantine emperor.
        In 1999, the Muslim religious authority that controls the compound, the Waqf, announced plans to create an emergency exit for the El-Marwani Mosque. But instead of a small emergency exit, the Waqf dug a pit more than 131 feet long and nearly 40 feet deep. Dump trucks carted away hundreds of tons of Temple Mount soil to the Kidron Valley. This material is now being explored by archaeologist Gaby Barkay, ten full-time staffers and a corps of part-time volunteers. (Smithsonian)
  • In Israel, Treasures for Those Willing to Dig - Sam Roberts
    The six-week Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon ( draws an eclectic mix of college students and mostly other young adult volunteers who discover themselves - and often their vocation - as they uncover and connect with the past. It is sponsored since 1985 by the Leon Levy Foundation, administered by the Harvard Semitic Museum, and conducted under the auspices of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
        Ashkelon was the site of 20 cities from the Bronze Age (around 3500 BCE) through the Crusader period and was occupied by Canaanites, Israelites, Philistines, Babylonians, Phoenicians, Mycenaeans, Greeks and Romans. Ashkelon is so rich in artifacts that, recently, a storm collapsed a cliff to reveal a 2,000-year-old white marble statue of a woman wearing a toga and sandals.
        The expedition is a mix of Outward Bound and summer school. The classes are all outdoors - below ground, mostly - in deep pits excavated in grids marked on a 130-acre bowl atop an eroding cliff that overlooks the beach below, part of a national park. "It's like an adult sandbox," said supervisor Kathleen Birney. (New York Times)

YouTube Interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)

Prime Minister Netanyahu was interviewed Wednesday for the YouTube World View series:

  • Netanyahu: We're all on the same side - America, Israel, the democratic world - we all want to see the triumph of democracy. We all want to see people from Iran to Tunis have democracy because democracy is a friend of peace. But we're all concerned that the democracy will be hijacked by radical regimes or militant Islamic regimes. The genuine emergence of democracy is no threat to any of us. There's only one country in the Middle East that has no tremors, no protests, and that's Israel because we're the only genuine democracy.
  • The reason we don't have peace is because the Palestinians so far have refused to recognize a Jewish state in any border. The fact that a few hundred houses are built on less than 1% of the land in dispute is not a big issue. It's disputed land. We have historical connection there. You know my name is Benjamin. The first Benjamin, the son of Jacob, walked these hills four thousand years ago, so we have some connection to this land. The Palestinians claim it - we need to sit down and negotiate for it and so far the Palestinians refused to do so.
  • Q: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the Jewish presence in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem is morally and politically unsustainable and must come to an end.
    Netanyahu: Anyone in his right mind knows that this is part of the ancestral Jewish homeland - it's in the Bible. We've been there for four thousand years. We understand another people lives there. We have to have some kind of compromise. But it can't be that we'll kick out 350-400,000 Israelis who live there.
  • Before there was a single Israeli in any one of these settlements, for fifty years, from 1920 until 1967, the Arabs attacked us again and again. They did it because they refuse to recognize the right of Israel to exist in any border. Negotiations will have to get the Palestinians to say, yes, we recognize a Jewish state. Yes, Israel will be here permanently. And so far they refuse to say that and most people around the world don't know that.
  • How many people know that 20% of Israel's citizens are Arabs. There are Arab members in our parliament, there have been Arab ministers in the government, there are Arab doctors, lawyers, judges - there's an Arab judge on Israel's Supreme Court, and an Arab judge in a district court recently sentenced the former Israeli president. This is the only place where Arabs have full rights under the law. Arab women have full rights.

        View the Video: Interview with Prime Minister Netanyahu (YouTube)
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