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Pushed by Goldstone, Israeli Army Embraces New "Smart" Warfare - Leslie Susser (JTA)
Despite Israel's rejection of the Goldstone report on the Gaza war, the international criticism it engendered has led the Israel Defense Forces to make a number of significant changes in policy and doctrine.
Among the changes made by the IDF were modifying the way soldiers fight in urban areas, teaching relatively low-level combat officers nuances in the laws of war, attaching humanitarian liaison officers to active forces, and making media relations a priority.
Part of the solution lies in technology: using super-accurate munitions that can pinpoint terrorist targets, and pilotless planes that can identify and attack would-be rocket launchers.
The new Iron Dome anti-missile system simultaneously located the launch points, enabling immediate attacks on them.
See also Israel to Arm Combat Soldiers with Cameras (AP)
The Israeli military is studying the wide distribution of cameras as a tool to make its case to the world.
There was a strong feeling in Israel that the world did not understand the difficulty of fighting militants who locate themselves among civilians.
The Future of Egyptian Politics - Barry Rubin (Jerusalem Post)
There are currently 20 candidates running for Egypt's presidency. I think the winner will be radical nationalist Amr Moussa, former Egyptian foreign minister and former secretary-general of the Arab League, who has far more name recognition than any opponent.
Moussa is not an Islamist in any way, which will appeal to the majority of Egyptians who don't want the Muslim Brotherhood to rule. And he knows how to be a demagogue.
Remember those young, pro-democratic Facebook liberals who supposedly were going to rule Egypt? Well, they're all running against each other, thus splitting an already small voting bloc into a microscopic one.
Taxpayers in Australian Town Won't Foot $3M Israel Boycott Bill - Stephanie Gardiner
(Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
The mayor of Marrickville insists ratepayers will not foot a $3 million bill to help it comply with a proposed boycott on products from Israel.
The Greens-dominated local council voted for the boycott on Dec. 14, but the boycott could cost taxpayers $3 million to replace all of the authority's Hewlett Packard computer systems.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement claims that HP technology is used at Israeli military checkpoints.
U.S. Black Student Leaders Slam "Apartheid" Characterization - Jordana Horn (Jerusalem Post)
African-American student leaders from a variety of historically black colleges and universities took out full page ads in numerous American college newspapers last week, displaying an "Open Letter to Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)," to convey that they were offended by SJP's use of the term "apartheid" at recent Israel Apartheid Week events.
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- U.S. Says Iran Helps Crackdown in Syria - Adam Entous and Matthew Rosenberg
Iran is secretly helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad put down pro-democracy demonstrations, according to U.S. officials, who say Tehran is providing gear to suppress crowds and assistance blocking and monitoring protesters' use of the Internet, cellphones and text-messaging. U.S. officials believe Iran's recent support for Assad reflects Tehran's concerns about losing a critical regional ally and military partner against Israel.
At the same time, communications intercepted by U.S. spy agencies show Tehran is actively exploring ways to aid Shiite hardliners in Bahrain and Yemen and destabilize longstanding U.S. allies there. The U.S. is also concerned large-scale solidarity protests could break out in Iraq, whose Shiite majority has close religious ties to Bahrain's Shiites. Last week, after talks in Riyadh, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the U.S. has "evidence" of Iranian interference in Bahrain and elsewhere.
(Wall Street Journal)
- In New Protest, Syrian Women, Kids Block Main Highway - Zeina Karam
Thousands of Syrian women and children holding white flags and olive branches blocked a main coastal highway Wednesday, demanding that authorities free people detained during a crackdown on opponents of the government, witnesses said. Residents and activists in Baida and Ejnad said hundreds of men, young and old, were arrested Tuesday when security forces and pro-government gunmen attacked the villages in an attempt to crush growing dissent in the northeast. (Washington Post)
See also Syria Protests Spread to Aleppo - Duraid Al Baik (Gulf News-Dubai)
See also Syrian President Assad's Emboldened Opponents
A summary of Syrian opposition groups and figures.
- Mubarak's Sons Sent to Prison - Hannah Allam and Mohannad Sabry
Cellblocks at Tora prison in Cairo now house Mubarak's prime minister, Ahmed Nazif; his longtime chief of staff, Zakariya Azmi; his interior minister, Habib el-Adly; the chairman of his National Democratic Party (NDP), Safwat el-Sherif; his friend and longtime supporter, steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz; and former parliament speaker Fathi Surour.
As of Wednesday, Mubarak's two sons, Gamal, his one-time heir apparent, and Alaa, a businessman, were there. The two received "four blankets, two mattresses and four white inmate uniforms" as they began a 15-day stay for questioning on corruption accusations, according to the state-backed Ahram newspaper. (McClatchy-Seattle Times)
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- Egypt to Raise Price of Gas for Israel - Guy Katsovich
The Egypt General Petroleum Corp. has reached understandings with the East Mediterranean Gas Co. Ltd. (EMG) to raise the price of natural gas sold to Israel in line with world prices. The agreement involves changing the price retroactively to 2008.
See also Mubarak Accused of Helping Israel on Gas
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been accused of helping his friend Hussein Salem's East Mediterranean Gas Co. (EMG) sell natural gas to Israel at reduced prices.
See also Egypt to Revise All Foreign Gas Deals (AFP)
- Jews Demonized, Martyrdom Praised in PA Textbooks - Joshua Hamerman
The Palestinian Authority still has a long way to go before textbooks in its schools begin to teach true coexistence with Israeli Jews, according to a study released Tuesday by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE).
The organization reviewed 118 textbooks currently used in Palestinian schools and 22 teacher guides distributed by the PA Ministry of Education. "There is generally a total denial of the existence of Israel - and if there is an Israeli presence it is usually extremely negative," said Eldad Pardo, head of IMPACT-SE's Palestinian textbook research group and a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
In geography textbooks, Israel usually does not appear in maps of the Middle East; instead "Palestine" is shown to encompass Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Jewish cities such as Tel Aviv are not shown. One textbook included a map of the Old City of Jerusalem - which did not contain the Jewish Quarter.
No Israeli is depicted as a friend or partner, the Oslo Accords are rarely mentioned, and political agreements in general are presented as resulting from Arab and Muslim weakness. The bulk of funding for PA textbooks comes from the EU.
- Syria's Bloody Repression - Editorial
Now that demonstrations have erupted in dozens of Syrian communities, the prevailing view seems to be that the regime, which has offered no reforms, is capable of putting them down by brute force.
Syrians craving an end to one of the region's most vicious police states have received no significant help from the U.S. or other nations that claim to support freedom in the Middle East, although steps are readily available: sanctions against those carrying out the repression; referral of Syria's behavior to the UN Security Council for a resolution of condemnation; withdrawal of the ambassador dispatched to Damascus last year.
All these would be blows against a regime that is Iran's closest ally in the Middle East; that supplies Hamas and Hizbullah with missiles to fire at Israeli cities; that destabilized Lebanon's pro-Western government with a string of murders; and that tried to secretly build a nuclear reactor with the help of North Korea.
- All Set to Be a Failed State - Rick Richman
The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, presented a report on Palestinian state-building efforts designed to assist the social promotion of the Palestinians in September, through a resolution by a body that lacks the authority to confer statehood on anyone, much less anyone as patently unprepared as the Palestinians. The Palestinians have yet to complete Phase I of the "Performance-Based Roadmap," which required that they put an end to all incitement, dismantle all terrorist groups and their infrastructure, and produce a constitution. Eight years later, the incitement continues, the premier terrorist group was voted into office in Gaza, and the constitution is unfinished.
If your "president" is in the seventh year of his four-year term; if you have no functioning legislature and cannot hold parliamentary elections; if half your putative state is occupied by terrorists; if your education system is a cesspool of anti-Semitism; if you insist upon dedicating public squares to those who massacred civilians; if your ruling party is corroded by corruption; if you have no free press or independent judiciary; if you cannot implement anything in negotiations that you refuse to conduct in any event; and if you haven't finished Phase I of the Roadmap...well, you might not be ready for a state.
- The Palestinians' Own Goal - Khaled Abu Toameh
The assassination of Juliano Mer-Khamis, a well known Israeli Arab actor who moved to the West Bank to help Palestinians establish a theater, has seriously embarrassed the Palestinian Authority.
The Western-backed PA chooses to endorse anti-normalization campaigns with Israel, paving the way for threats and violence against well-meaning people like Mer-Khamis, who are trying to promote understanding and tolerance between Jews and Arabs.
Mer-Khamis, who was born to a Jewish mother and a Christian Arab citizen of Israel, was trying to promote cultural activities as an alternative to suicide bombings and terror.
In the past, Mer-Khamis received death threats from Palestinians who did not like his activities and mere presence. The theater he managed was firebombed twice and leaflets distributed by Palestinian activists made it clear that he would be liquidated one day.
(Hudson Institute-New York)
Why Did Goldstone Change His Mind? - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi (Canada-Israel Committee)
- Judge Richard Goldstone says that if he had known then what he knows today in light of the investigation conducted by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), his final report would have been totally different. However, at the time the members of the UN fact-finding mission were gathering evidence, they preferred to ignore a huge amount of easily available information. When such information was brought to their attention, they dismissed it as unreliable or meaningless.
- Goldstone says in his article in the Washington Post that it only recently became clear that the number of Hamas operatives killed during the military operation corresponds to Israel's figures. I personally prepared a detailed report on Hamas casualties with similar conclusions, and submitted it to the UN mission through the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. The mission doubted its credibility, even though it was based on Palestinian sources and mainly on Hamas accounts.
- For unknown reasons, while interrogating Palestinian eye witnesses, mission members refrained from posing any questions on terrorist activities or the presence of gunmen in areas that were subject to Israeli attacks. All Goldstone had to do was read the official announcements from Hamas and Islamic Jihad to confirm that Palestinian terrorists were at the scene at the time of the attacks.
The writer is the research director for the Orient Research Group and a research fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
See also Palestinian "Policemen" Killed in Gaza Operation Were Trained Terrorists - Jonathan D. Halevi (ICA-Jerusalem Center)
See also How the Goldstone Commission Understated the Hamas Threat to Palestinian Civilians - Jonathan D. Halevi (ICA-Jerusalem Center)
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