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Anti-Semitic Incidents Rise in U.S. (JTA)
The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. increased for the first time since 2004, according to the Anti-Defamation League's annual audit.
The ADL reported 1,239 incidents in 2010, up slightly from the 1,211 reported the previous year.
Last year, 22 physical assaults, 900 cases of harassment and 317 cases of vandalism were reported.
The top three states were California with 297 incidents, New York with 205 and New Jersey with 130.
See also 2010 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents (Anti-Defamation League)
Israel Spy Satellite to Double Precision (AFP-Space War)
Israel is to launch a spy satellite which will double the resolution of its images, Israel Channel 10 television reported on Wednesday.
The satellite's main task would be to keep a watch on Iran's nuclear program sites and its arms shipments to Hizbullah in Lebanon.
Do America's Gulf Arab Allies Still Trust Washington? - Eli Lake (Daily Beast)
Retired Gen. James Jones, who served as national security adviser in 2009-10, told a private meeting at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that America's Persian Gulf allies interpret the U.S.' handling of the Egyptian revolution as a sign that Washington will dump their monarchies or governments if enough demonstrators take to their streets, according to a recording of the speech.
"We have paid a price," Jones said. "Our policy with regard to Mubarak as interpreted by some of our closest Arab allies in the Gulf has not gone over well."
Demographic Optimism in the New Year - Yoram Ettinger (Israel Hayom)
On the eve of the Jewish New Year, the Jewish fertility rate of 2.97 births per woman exceeds the fertility rates in most Arab countries - down to 1.7 in Iran, 2.8 in Jordan, 2.5 in Egypt, 2.5 in most Persian Gulf states (except for Saudi Arabia), and 1.9 in North Africa.
From 80,400 births in 1995, the number of Jewish births surged by 56% to 125,500 in 2010.
Man Indicted for Plotting Attack on Pentagon, U.S. Capitol (CNN)
A federal grand jury in Boston has indicted Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, a U.S. citizen, for allegedly plotting to use remote-controlled model aircraft filled with C-4 plastic explosive to attack the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol, the U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday.
Ferdaus began planning a violent "jihad" against America in early 2010, authorities said, after apparently being radicalized by watching videos on the Internet.
He began supplying FBI undercover agents with cell phones rigged to act as electric switches for improved explosive devices, intended to be used to kill U.S. soldiers overseas.
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- UNESCO Executive Committee Backs Palestine Membership Bid - Gabriela Calotti
On Wednesday the UNESCO executive committee backed a Palestinian bid to become a member of the cultural body with the rights of a state. Despite intense U.S. and French opposition, the motion passed by 40 votes in favor to four against, with 14 abstentions. The Palestinian bid will now be submitted to the UNESCO general assembly at the end of the month for final approval. (AFP)
See also Clinton Tells UNESCO to Stay Out of Palestine Debate
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called UNESCO's deliberation "inexplicable" at a time when the Palestinian bid for UN recognition and membership was being examined by the Security Council.
"I think that that is a very odd procedure indeed and would urge the governing body of UNESCO to think again before proceeding with that vote."
The U.S. provides 22% of UNESCO's budget. Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), the chairwoman of the House panel that controls U.S. foreign aid, said,
"Making a move in another UN agency will not only jeopardize our relationship with the Palestinians, it will jeopardize our contributions to the United Nations."
See also Israel's Reaction to UNESCO Vote
"The Palestinians' actions at UNESCO negate both the bilateral negotiations route and the Quartet's proposal for continuing the diplomatic process. Their actions are a negative response to Israel's and the international community's efforts to promote the peace process....Israel thanks the United States, Germany, Latvia and Romania who opposed the decision." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- Hamas Popularity Hits a New Low - Kristen Chick
Fathi Abu Gamar, a gas station owner in Jabaliya in Gaza, says Hamas takes more than half his revenue from gas sales. But he quickly becomes quiet when a man, whom neighbors identify as a Hamas informer, begins hovering nearby, listening intently.
Hamas has been steadily losing support among Gaza's 1.6 million residents after winning elections in 2006. Gazans appear increasingly tired of a government that they see as just as corrupt as the Fatah one it replaced. Now, its popularity has fallen to a new low because of its opposition to a bid for Palestinian statehood at the UN.
A joke circulating in Gaza posits that the reason Hamas' armed wing, the Al Qassam Brigades, has stopped firing rockets at Israel is that the fighters' jeeps lack air conditioning. Residents tell stories of Hamas officials who used to drive modest cars now sporting luxury vehicles.
(Christian Science Monitor)
- Qatar Accused of Interfering in Libyan Affairs - Peter Beaumont
Concern has been mounting that Qatar is bypassing an internationally agreed assistance strategy to Libya. Rather than supporting the NTC, Qatar has chosen to back the Islamist head of Tripoli's military council, Abdul-Aziz Belhaj, and Libyan cleric Sheikh Ali Salabi, who resides in Doha. There has been growing friction between Salabi and the NTC's interim prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril. (Guardian-UK)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- IDF: Rock Throwing in West Bank Reaches New High - Chaim Levinson
There were 498 incidents of rocks being thrown at Israelis by Palestinians in the West Bank in September, the most violent month in the last year and a half, Israel Defense Forces figures reveal.
Rock throwing took the lives of two Israelis last month: Asher Palmer and his infant son Yonatan, who were killed in an incident in which rocks are believed to have been thrown from a passing car.
There were 3,484 incidents of rock throwing against IDF forces and cars in the West Bank in the first nine months of 2011 - an average of 387 per month - up from 303 per month in 2010.
- 1,000-Year-Old Holy Books Rescued from Syria - Uri Misgav
Yediot Ahronot has revealed the amazing rescue of 11 Bibles, some dating back 1,000 years, from Damascus. The Jewish community had guarded them meticulously, and the Israeli government decided to bring the books to Israel in 1995. The defense establishment, governmental organizations and immigrants from Syria took part in the secret operation. The ancient Bibles made their way to Israel from Syria via New York inside a grey container, without anyone guessing its priceless contents.
The mystery surrounding the books' journey from Damascus has not been fully cleared, and some parts of the story cannot be published. The operation "cost a lot of money," said Eliyahu Hasson, chairman of the community of Damascus Jews in Israel, who served as director-general of the Transportation Ministry at the time. "Whoever did it acted wisely and knocked on the right doors." (Ynet News)
See also Bible Manuscripts from Damascus Go on Display - Matti Friedman (AP)
- The Real Obstacle to Palestinian Statehood - Yossi Klein Halevi
The Arab world's insistence on defining the Jews out of their own national identity isn't only insulting: It prolongs the conflict by encouraging rejection of Israel's legitimacy.
If the Jews have contrived their national identity, what, then, is the meaning of their history and attachment to their homeland? The Palestinian solution is to turn Jewish history, too, into a lie.
Palestinian media routinely dismiss the Jewish narrative: There was no ancient Jewish presence in the Land of Israel, there was no temple on the Temple Mount, and the Holocaust has been exaggerated or entirely invented.
The denial of Jewish history and identity - widespread in the Arab world - is ultimately the greatest threat to peace. The writer is a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.
(Globe and Mail-Canada)
- Iran Is Losing from the Arab Uprisings - Rami G. Khouri
Quite a few Arab governments or political movements are now openly criticizing and resisting Iran and its Arab allies or surrogates. Saudi Arabia is leading an overt anti-Iranian campaign that is focused most directly these days on Bahrain (supporting the king), Lebanon (opposing Hizbullah), and Syria (weakening or toppling the Assad regime). The decisive Saudi-led harnessing of Gulf Cooperation Council political, military and economic assets to put down the uprising in Bahrain is the most striking manifestation of this explicit pushback against Iran.
If the Assad regime in Syria is weakened or falls, Iran is likely to lose a strategic partner that represents one of its few foreign policy gains in the Arab region since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. A change in Syria will have consequences for Iranian-Hizbullah logistical links that are certain to be significant.
Iran's attempts to gain Arab favor by rhetorically attacking Israel are being almost totally marginalized by two concurrent developments: the center of gravity of Arab-Israeli issues is shifting to the UN and other diplomatic arenas; and Turkey has stepped up and assumed the role of regional power that is challenging Israel diplomatically in a far more credible manner than Iran has ever done.
In addition, the Arab world is preoccupied with its own uprisings that seek to establish more accountable and democratic political systems, making the Iranian model of a centralized, security-dominated, economically rapacious state less and less appealing.
- Turkey Seen Now as More Part of the Problem than the Solution - Michael Young
The Turks have sought to ride the wave of Ankara's popularity in the Middle East - primarily a result of its rift with Israel and vocal support for the Palestinian cause. For nearly a century Turkey has focused on Europe. Ankara's renewed attention southwards poses a challenge to Arab states and Iran, which are little prepared to make room for what can come across as an overbearing Turkish government with a tendency to overplay its hand.
Turkish spokesmen erred in announcing before his Egypt trip that Erdogan might enter Gaza. Neither Egypt nor Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas relished such a prospect, and ultimately the Turkish prime minister backtracked.
Erdogan's ability to exploit regional transformations has been neutralized by his outspokenness. Today, Israeli ill-feeling against Erdogan, the Palestinian leadership's refusal to see their position undercut by the prime minister's demagogical instincts, and international recognition that Turkey is now more a part of the problem than the solution, have effectively sidelined Ankara. (The National-Abu Dhabi)
Protocols of the Elders of Crazy - Eric T. Justin (Harvard Crimson)
One of my parents is Jewish, and my Jewish identity has always been light. But in Jordan, a whole genre of anti-Semitic "history" and literature mocked me in every bookshop, a whole field of anti-Semitic media from historical documentaries to music videos followed me on every television, and an interpretation of Islam that demonizes Judaism frequently bewildered me in conversations.
- I heard and overheard countless anti-Semitic remarks in the summers I have spent in Egypt and Jordan. In my experience, arguments about politics almost inevitably turned to "those Jews," and conspiracy theories wafted through the room like cigarette smoke. It was suffocating.
I anticipated encountering anti-Semitism, but I could not anticipate, nor could I have truly imagined, its systemic nature.
- An example of the exaggerated attention given to Israel is the popularity of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fraudulent treatise about the pending Jewish plans for world domination. According to Princeton historian Bernard Lewis, former Arab leaders like King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, President Sadat of Egypt, President Nasser of Egypt, and President Arif of Iraq all read The Protocols as historical truth.
Quite simply, one cannot understand mass politics in the Arab world without admitting the role of anti-Semitism. It matters.
See also The Jewish Conspiracy: A Strategic Weapon
to Demonize Jews and Delegitimize Israel - Judge Hadassa Ben Itto (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
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