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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
May 11, 2011

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Israel Under Cyber-Warfare Attack - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel has detected cyber-warfare attacks against critical state infrastructure, outgoing Israel Security Agency chief Yuval Diskin said last week.
    He said the ISA, which is responsible for defending state infrastructure - including the water system and electrical grid - from cyber attacks, has detected "fingerprints" and "tracks" of attempted attacks, "and they were treated."

Yemeni Man Tries to Enter Cockpit of American Airlines Flight (Reuters)
    Rageh Al-Murisi, 28, a Yemeni man, on Sunday tried to barge into the cockpit of American Airlines flight 1561 from Chicago to San Francisco with 162 people on board.
    About 20 minutes before the plane landed, Al-Murisi, yelling "God is greatest" in Arabic, tried to open the cockpit door, ramming his shoulder into it until a flight attendant and passengers subdued him. The 9/11 hijackers shouted the same thing.

Truth and Reconciliation? It Won't Happen in Syria - Robert Fisk (Independent-UK)
    According to a Syrian academic-in-exile, historian Farouk Mardam-Bey, Syria is "a tribal regime, which by being a kind of mafia clan and by exercising the cult of personality, can be compared to the Libyan regime," which can never reform itself because reform will bring about the collapse of the Baath party which will always ferociously defend itself.
    "It has placed itself - politically and juridically - upon a war footing," Mardam-Bey says of its struggle with Israel, "without the slightest intention of actually going to war."
    Another Syrian academic, Burhan Ghalioun, notes that "the existence of the regime is like an invasion of the state, a colonization of society" where "hundreds of intellectuals are forbidden to travel, 150,000 have gone into exile and 17,000 have either disappeared or been imprisoned for expressing their opinion."

Drive for Palestinian Unity Exposes Fractured Society - Isabel Kershner (New York Times)
    Louai Faisal, 27, a Palestinian resident of the West Bank city of Hebron, spent three periods in Israeli prisons, starting in 2003 when he was sentenced to two and a half years as a would-be suicide bomber for Hamas.
    More recently, he has spent three terms in Palestinian Authority prisons.
    Faisal said he was never tortured in Israel, only in the Palestinian Authority prisons, where the treatment, he said, was "much worse."
    This week, residents of Amari, a poor neighborhood of Ramallah where Fatah is still popular, recalled the anger they felt when Hamas took over Gaza. "If someone slaps you in the face, you will never forget that," said Ali Hussein, 67.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN: Sanctions Slowing Iran's Nuclear, Ballistic Missile Programs
    Iran is continuing to use front companies and other concealment methods to circumvent UN sanctions, but the bans have succeeded in slowing its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, according to a report by UN experts obtained Tuesday by AP. The expert panel said sanctions have made it harder, costlier and riskier for Iran to acquire items needed for its banned nuclear and missile activities. The report added that most violations of the ban on Iran exporting conventional arms involve Syria. (AP-Washington Post)
  • Syrian Elite to Fight Protests to "the End" - Anthony Shadid
    Rami Makhlouf, Syria's most powerful businessman and a confidant and cousin of President Bashar al-Assad, warned Monday in an interview: "If there is no stability here, there's no way there will be stability in Israel."  (New York Times)
        See also Threat of Regime Collapse in Syria Creates Uncertainty in Region - Liz Sly
    With Syria's minority Alawite government overseeing a majority Sunni population, its strategic location and its web of alliances including the radical Hamas and Hizbullah movements, regime change could look a lot more like it did in Iraq than in Egypt. Many believe that is why the international community, including the U.S., has offered such a tempered response to the bloodshed in Syria.
        "For the Obama administration, the last thing they want, just at the time they're withdrawing from Iraq, is a destabilized Syria that would lead to open season for jihadis to cross the border into Iraq,'' said David Lesch, a professor at Trinity University in Texas. Iraq's Shi'ite government also views with alarm the upheaval across the border, mindful that the collapse of Syria's minority government would almost certainly herald the rise of a Sunni state on its doorstep. (Washington Post)
  • Would-Be President of Egypt: "The Nuclear Issue Means Israel and Then Iran" - Lally Weymouth interviews Amr Moussa
    In an interview, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said: "Iran is not the natural enemy of Arabs, and it shouldn't be. We have a lot to gain by peaceful relations - or less tense relations - with Iran.
    Q: The United States is focused on the nuclear issue.
    Moussa: "The nuclear issue in the Middle East means Israel and then Iran."
    Q: If you become president, would you keep the [peace] treaty with Israel?
    Moussa: "The treaty is a treaty. For us, the treaty has been signed, and it is for peace, but it depends also on the other side."  (Slate)
        See also Egypt's New Foreign Policy Tests Old Alliances - Jeffrey Fleishman
    Egypt's new government has embarked on adventurous diplomacy that is less compliant with the U.S. and Israel, including improved relations with Hamas and reopening the Rafah border crossing into Gaza after years of blockade to stop weapons smuggling. In recent weeks, Egypt also announced it wants to "open a new page" with Tehran. "We are witnessing a sequence of Egyptian moves that do not bode well, including comments that the Camp David agreements have run their course and public opinion polls showing support for undoing the peace treaty," Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom told Israel Radio. (Los Angeles Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Defense Minister: Demand that Hamas Recognize Israel
    Speaking in honor of Israel's Independence Day on Tuesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said: "I call on countries of the world, firstly the United States, to demand that Hamas explicitly state that they recognize Israel."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel to Upgrade Satellite Capability - Yaakov Katz
    The Israel Defense Ministry is set to invest millions to upgrade Israel's space communication capabilities, to enable reconnaissance and surveillance satellites used by the IDF to provide real-time intelligence. Currently, Israeli satellites can only download their data when they fly directly over Israel - which can mean a delay of up to 90 minutes, a critical handicap in times of conflict. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Photo Gallery: Israel Air Force Flyover on Independence Day (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Engaged to Hamas - Editorial
    Last week's deal to bring Hamas into the Palestinian government means that a Palestinian leadership that lives off outside aid continues to think that hostile actions carry few consequences. And the West sounds willing to indulge them, fearing that any other response could jeopardize their near religious pursuit of the peace process. The terrorist group that's now confined to Gaza will have access to billions in foreign aid. There's no way for any donor or for Israel, which transfers customs and other receipts to the Palestinian Authority, to ensure that money won't be used by Hamas to launch more rockets on Israeli school buses.
        Hamas leader Khaled Meshal said on Sunday that Hamas may continue to fight Israel even after the formation of a Palestinian state. The Palestinians aren't going to get their state as long as their leaders include committed terrorists. Israel tried this route with Yasser Arafat in the 1993 Oslo accord, and Hamas was one result. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Why the Hamas-Fatah Deal Is Bad for the Palestinians - Jonathan Schanzer
    Last week's unity deal between Hamas and Fatah signals that Fatah no longer believes U.S. recognition and support are essential to their national aspirations. The Hamas-Fatah reconciliation is a blow to U.S. policy, and makes it more difficult for Washington to support a Palestinian state. Washington rightly regards Hamas as a terrorist organization for its decades-long involvement in attacks against Israeli civilians. The State Department lists Hamas as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, barring all formal diplomatic engagement with it. The Treasury Department also lists Hamas as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity, banning direct U.S. aid to all institutions in which Hamas is involved.
        Abbas knows this. So his decision to embrace Hamas was a deliberate choice to run around Israel and the U.S. The writer, a former intelligence analyst at the U.S. Treasury, is vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Weekly Standard)
  • They Should Be Condemning Syria - Editorial
    Syrians have shown extraordinary courage, defying a bloody government crackdown to demand greater political rights and freedom. Their courage, and their blood, should shame the many governments that are cynically supporting Syria's election later this month to the UN Human Rights Council. It is outrageous that Syria is even being discussed for membership. (New York Times)
        See also Syria Not Running for UN Rights Council - Edith M. Lederer
    Kuwait is slated to replace Syria as a candidate for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, Western diplomats said Tuesday, after an intense behind-the-scenes campaign to prevent Syria from being elected. (AP)
        See also Assad Has Gone Too Far - the West Must Reject Him - Simon Tisdall
    Syrian troops backed by tanks are sent into target towns at night, firing guns in the air, breaking down doors and seizing anybody suspected of anti-regime sympathies. Those who resist risk being shot. Those arrested simply disappear. An increasingly efficient press and social media clampdown ensures silence shrouds their fate. It's not credible to go on blaming people around Bashar Assad. The man ultimately responsible for Syria's suffering is the man who leads it. Britain and its allies should break with Assad - and demand he step down. (Guardian-UK)

The Arabs Should Take a Good Hard Look in the Mirror - Shlomo Avineri (Ha'aretz)

  • The very concept of Nakba, the Arabic word for catastrophe or disaster - as though the events of 1948 were a natural disaster rather than the result of human action - blurs the historical context of the events. The so-called Nakba was not a natural disaster. It was the outcome of military and political defeat resulting from political decisions for which specific people were responsible.
  • One sometimes hears comparisons between the Nakba and the Holocaust. But the very comparison is morally obtuse: What happened to the Palestinians from 1947 to 1948 was the result of a war in which they were defeated, while the Holocaust was the planned, methodical mass murder of civilians. The 6 million Jews of Europe who were killed in the Holocaust had not gone to war against Germany. German Jews were in fact good German patriots.
  • The Palestinian discourse does not address the fact that Arab political decisions are what brought the terrible disaster down on the Palestinians. To this day there is no willingness to deal with a simple fact: The decision to go to war against the UN resolution to partition Mandatory Palestine was a terrible political and moral mistake on the part of the Arab world.
  • If the Palestinians and the Arab countries had accepted the partition plan, the Arab state of Falastin would have been established in 1948 and there would have been no refugee problem. It was not the establishment of the State of Israel that created the refugee problem, but rather the fact that the Arabs went to war against the establishment of a Jewish state in part of Palestine. When you go to war and lose, there are consequences.

    The writer, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, served as director-general of Israel's Foreign Ministry.

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