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Iran-India Oil Trade Halted in Germany - Brian Rohan (Reuters)
India has agreed to stop paying for its Iranian oil imports via Germany, a German official said on Tuesday, ending a trade conduit that had drawn strong disapproval from the U.S. and Israel.
Earlier, Handelsblatt business daily said Chancellor Angela Merkel had instructed Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank, to stop clearing payments from India headed to the bank, known as EIH, which is under U.S. but not EU sanctions.
Journalists Accepting Bribes from Arab Dictators - Khaled Abu Toameh (Hudson Institute-New York)
The current popular uprisings sweeping through the Arab world have revealed the fact that many journalists have been receiving funds from Arab dictators.
Gaddafi and his sons are said to have bankrolled dozens of Arab journalists in return for turning a blind eye to what the Libyan regime was doing to its people.
Senior Arab journalists living in London and Paris are also said to have been on the Libyan regime's payroll.
The regime of ousted Egyptian President Mubarak and oil-rich Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia have for decades offered bribes to Arab journalists.
This explains why many Arab journalists have refrained from reporting anything that reflected negatively on their paymasters.
Bernard Lewis: "Have No Illusions about the Muslim Brotherhood" - Bari Weiss (Wall Street Journal)
Historian Bernard Lewis, 94, said in an interview that hasty elections in Egypt might sweep the Muslim Brotherhood into power.
"We should have no illusions about the Muslim Brotherhood, who they are and what they want."
See also Muslim Brotherhood Calls to Establish Egyptian Modesty Police - David E. Miller (Media Line-Jerusalem Post)
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and "the Day of Rage" that Wasn't - Joshua Teitelbaum (BESA-Bar-Ilan University)
While unrest has rattled the Middle East in recent months, Saudi Arabia has taken all necessary measures to maintain stability within its own borders.
Its success stems from oil wealth and tradition. The royal family has appeased its citizens by pumping more money into the economy and into their pockets.
At the same time, religious inclinations as well as a lack of tradition of mass political activity have ingrained in most of the Saudi people a sense of loyalty toward its leadership.
The Islamic Reformation - Benny Morris (National Interest)
Afghan riots, triggered by the burning of a Koran in Florida, resulted in some two dozen deaths.
Yet the burning of Bibles around the Islamic world - in Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iraq - is an almost daily occurrence and goes unremarked, and is often accompanied by the arson of churches and the murder of parishioners.
And these acts never trigger murderous responses by Christians thousands of miles away.
The world Islam conquered in the seventh and eighth centuries, largely inhabited by Christians, is today almost bereft of Christians, they having over the centuries been massacred, expelled or forcibly converted to Islam.
Since the seventh century, non-Muslims have not been allowed to enter the holiest cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina, whereas Muslims have freely accessed and lived in, and still live in, the holy sites of Christendom (and Judaism).
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- Syrian Rights Groups Raise Death Toll from Unrest - Liam Stack
Human rights groups on Tuesday raised their estimates of the death toll from unrest in Syria, as protest organizers there continued their call for more demonstrations against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad. Wissam Tarif, the executive director of Insan, a Syrian rights group, said that at least 173 people had died in the unrest, including 15 in Douma, a suburb of Damascus, and 143 in and around Dara'a, the southern area where the protests began. The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights, working with the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies, said it had documented 22 deaths in Douma.
(New York Times)
See also West's Response to Syria Blasted - Jay Solomon
Human-rights activists and leaders on Capitol Hill are increasingly criticizing the West's tepid response to the Syrian uprising, saying it squanders a vital chance to weaken President Bashar al-Assad and his alliance with Iran. The White House and State Department have issued a series of statements calling for Assad to end a violent crackdown that is believed to have killed hundreds of Syrian demonstrators in recent weeks.
But neither Washington nor the EU has mapped out any specific penalties Assad's government would face.
This contrasts with the moves the White House and European states took to impose sanctions against Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi after his forces began a military offensive against protesters in February. Syrian democracy activists are calling for UN action as well as sanctions targeting the top members of Assad's government.
(Wall Street Journal)
More Bloodshed in Syria - Editorial (VOA News)
The Syria of Bashar al-Assad: At a Crossroads - Eyal Zisser
For now, the Syrian regime is surviving the deluge
that brought down the Arab regimes in Egypt and Tunisia and has maintained its integrity and grip on the army and security apparatus. Nonetheless, it cannot put out the fire that is
smoldering in the country and flares up regularly, albeit on a low level, every Friday after
the prayer services in the mosques. Prof. Eyal Zisser is Dean of Humanities at Tel Aviv University. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Obama Meets with Peres, Calls for Intensified Peace Efforts - Hilary Leila Krieger
Israeli President Shimon Peres met with U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday at the White House. "With the winds of change blowing through the Arab world, it's more urgent than ever that we try to seize the opportunity to create a peaceful solution between the Palestinians and the Israelis," Obama said following their meeting. Both Peres and Obama agree that it's important to have an actual negotiating process, not simply another ceremony.
At the same time, Peres warned the Europeans against making an effort to force a solution on the sides.
"If they try to impose a solution, they will stand with only one side," he declared.
Peres also brought up the case of Jonathan Pollard and asked for clemency on humanitarian grounds. (Jerusalem Post)
- Israel's Gilad Praises Egypt's Tantawi and Ruling Egyptian Council - Herb Keinon
Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces embodies the best of Egypt and deserves the "full support of the world," Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry's diplomatic-security bureau, said Tuesday. The stability in Egypt was due to Field Marshall Muhammed Hussein
Tantawi's "smart and sophisticated use of power in [the] face of unprecedented events."
Gilad, a key Israeli interlocutor with Egypt, added that the Supreme Council was committed to the peace agreement with Israel.
He also noted that the supply of natural gas from Egypt has been renewed, adding that the Egyptians are committed to upholding that agreement as well.
Gilad also said he was favorably impressed by the stability in Jordan. Even though King Abdullah II is facing "challenges there that are not simple, they [the Hashemites] know how to maneuver."
"All the terrorist organizations are trying to use Jordan as a platform" for attacks on Israel and the Palestinian Authority, he said - but they failed "because of the qualitative performance and the wisdom of the regime."
- Deputy Japanese Foreign Minister Visits IDF Medical Clinic - Naor Leev and Nadav Shtrauchler
Deputy Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Kikuta toured the IDF medical clinic in the city of Minami-Sanriko on April 4.
"Your excellent work here, which was impossible to ignore in media reports throughout Japan, is very much appreciated by us and the Japanese people," Kikuta said. "I was very impressed by the medical staff," she continued. "Israelis have strong character and I was impressed by the orderly way that you operate." Kikuta praised the Israeli medical team for being the first to offer aid to the Japanese people.
(Israel Defense Forces)
See also Video: IDF Delegation and Japanese Children (IDF Spokesperson)
- Will the U.S., the UN and the Palestinians Renege on Prior Agreements? - Jennifer Rubin
Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the UN and adviser to multiple prime ministers, debunked the mantra that at Camp David "we were never so close to peace" (or its other incarnation - "everyone knows what the final deal will be"). A cottage industry of peace processors seemed determined to propagate the idea that if only Bill Clinton had hung in there a few more weeks, we'd have had peace. This is false. Gold said that at a December 2000 cabinet meeting under Ehud Barak, the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces said the deal would be "a threat to the vital interests of Israel." Moreover, the Palestinians never gave up the right of return or agreed to the cessation of war against Israel.
He said the real issue is whether the U.S. and its Quartet partners will live up to the commitments made in UN Resolution 242 and by presidents of both parties to ensure that Israel has defensible borders. The April 14, 2004, letter from President George W. Bush to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon,
made as part of the U.S. inducement for the Gaza disengagement plan, said: "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." This arrangement was endorsed in the House by 407-9 and in the Senate by 95-3, including Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.).
Gold explained that Abbas wants recognition of a Palestinian state without recognition of Israel, without giving up the right of return and without ending the conflict. He emphasized that to ask Israel now to make unilateral moves, when it does not know the identity of its neighbors, is "simply not serious." (Washington Post)
See also below Observations: Report to Congress on
Israel's Requirements for Defensible Borders
in a Rapidly Changing Middle East - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- The Goldstone Report and Israel's Moral Standing - Richard Cohen
Judge Goldstone has retracted his findings. He no longer believes that Israel intentionally targeted civilians during the Gaza war (although he still believes Hamas did) and says that any deaths were inadvertent - the usual fog of war. Once again, rockets are being fired into southern Israel from Gaza, some of them going up the coast as far as Ashkelon, a major city and port. Before the last war, from April 2001 to the end of 2008, 4,246 rockets and 4,180 mortar rounds were fired into Israel, killing 14 Israelis and wounding more than 400. The rockets have since been improved.
Goldstone is a symptom of something larger. That his report was accepted in much of the world testified to how much Israel's moral standing has plummeted. Much of the world believed Israel would purposely kill civilians.
As Goldstone acknowledges, Israel has looked into every charge of war crimes - incident by incident. Overall, Israel adheres to a morality we all recognize and admire - and its enemies, Hamas in particular, do not. (Washington Post)
- Goldstone's Mea Culpa Has Come Too Late - Michael Weiss
Goldstone's mea culpa should be welcomed for its better-late-than-never candor, but the damage his notorious report has caused Israel on the world stage cannot be exaggerated. For two years, this document has served as a byword for rogue statehood, a cudgel taken up not only by rabid anti-Zionists but by seemingly dispassionate observers of human rights and international law to further Israel's delegitimization. Israel's reasonable acts of self-defense have been categorically dismissed as government "spin" because of the taint that Goldstone lent to its military motives.
See also Damage of UN Goldstone Report Cannot Easily Be Undone - Editorial (The Australian)
Report to Congress on
Israel's Requirements for Defensible Borders
in a Rapidly Changing Middle East - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Jerusalem Center President Amb. Dore Gold, IDF Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan, and Brig.-Gen. (res.) Udi Dekel appeared at a briefing for the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington on Tuesday, April 5, at the request of Committee Chairman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. In his presentation, Amb. Gold emphasized:
The briefing was based on two Jerusalem Center projects: Israel's Critical Security Needs for a Viable Peace and Defensible Borders for a Lasting Peace.
- Israel is confronting a new diplomatic assault that could well strip it of the territorial defenses in the West Bank that have provided for its security for over forty years, leaving it in a very precarious position against threats that are likely to emerge to its east in the years ahead.
- Traditional U.S. policy recognized that Israel is not expected to withdraw from all the territories it captured in the 1967 Six-Day War. This was enshrined in UN Security Council Resolution 242 and in repeated letters of assurance by U.S. secretaries of state from Henry Kissinger to Warren Christopher.
- These new demands of Israel are being proposed at a time when the entire Middle East is engulfed in flames. Just as Israel faces complete strategic uncertainty with regard to the future of the Middle East, it is being asked to acquiesce to unprecedented concessions that could put its very future at risk.
- How can Israel be expected to sign agreements, predicated on it withdrawing from strategic territories, like the Jordan Valley, when it cannot be certain if the governments it negotiated with will even be there in the future?
- The present wave of anti-regime rebellions is loosening control of the central governments over large parts of several Arab states. This has created a vacuum in many areas, which is being filled by regional terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda and its affiliates.
- The biggest question is the future orientation of Iraq, where the Iranians have been supporting a number of key Shiite parties. Iraq is roughly 210 miles from the Jordan River. Israel cannot rule out Iraq, under Iranian influence, re-engaging in the Arab-Israel conflict.
- The pressures Israel faces at this time to agree to a full withdrawal from the West Bank and to acquiesce to the loss of defensible borders pose unacceptable risks for the Jewish state. They also stand in contradiction to international commitments that were given to Israel in the past. The 1993 Oslo Agreements envisioned a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with borders to be decided by the parties themselves and not imposed by international coalitions or by unilateral acts.
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