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October 7, 2011

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Will Iran Be the Next Chernobyl? (Fox News)
    The first Iranian nuclear power station is inherently unsafe and will probably cause a "tragic disaster for humankind," according to a document passed to The (London) Times attributed to a former member of the legal department of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.
    It claims that the Bushehr reactor, which began operating last month, was built by "second-class engineers" who bolted together Russian and German technologies from different eras; that it sits in one of the world's most seismically active areas but could not withstand a major earthquake; and that it has "no serious training program" for staff or a contingency plan for accidents.
    Bushehr was started in 1975 when the Shah of Iran awarded the contract to Kraftwerk Union of Germany. The Germans pulled out after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
    The reactor sustained serious damage in the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88 from airstrikes.
    The regime revived the project in the 1990s with Russian experts who wanted to start from scratch. The Iranians, having already spent more than $1 billion, insisted they build on the German foundations.
    This involved adapting a structure built for a vertical German reactor to take a horizontal Russian reactor. Of the 80,000 pieces of German equipment, many had become corroded or obsolete.
    "The Russian parts are designed to standards that are less stringent than the Germans' and they are being used out of context in a design where they are exposed to inappropriate stresses," the document says.

Canada Mounts Vigorous Defense of Israel at UN - Andy Levy-Ajzenkopf (Canadian Jewish News)
    Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told the UN General Assembly on Sept. 26:
    "Canadian tradition is to stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is popular or convenient or expedient." "We will not go along with the unilateral actions of the Palestinian Authority."
    "We uphold Israel's right to exist. We uphold its fundamental right, like any member state, to defend innocent civilians against acts of terrorism....Canada will not accept or stay silent while the Jewish state is attacked for defending its territory and its citizens."

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Israelis Happy at Home But Glum About Peace - Ethan Bronner (New York Times)
    With the start of the Jewish New Year, the public mood in Israel is one of growing disillusionment with the prospect of Middle East peace, yet a marked sense of satisfaction with life here.
    A survey of Israeli Jews published in Yediot Ahronot found that 2/3 of the respondents said there was no chance - ever - of achieving peace with the Palestinians. But asked if Israel was a good place to live, 88% said yes.
    View Poll Results (IMRA-Yediot Ahronot)

High-Tech Brainpower from Israel - Tom Gross (National Post-Canada)
    Israel continues to make astonishing contributions to science. This week, yet another Israeli won a Nobel Prize, when Daniel Shechtman of Israel's Technion institute in Haifa was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for chemistry.
    Ada Yonath won the 2009 Nobel Prize for chemistry. Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover won the 2004 Nobel Prize for chemistry.

Broadcasting a Lethal Narrative: The World Council of Churches and Israel - Dexter Van Zile (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
    The World Council of Churches, an umbrella organization for 349 Protestant and Orthodox churches founded in 1948, has expressed concern for the safety and well-being of the Jewish people but has largely been hostile to their state, particularly during times of conflict.
    At these times, WCC institutions demonize Israel, use a double standard to assess its actions, and in some instances delegitimize the Jewish state.
    They have also persistently denied the intent of Israel's adversaries to deprive the Jewish people of their right to a sovereign state.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Former Nuclear Watchdog: The Iranians "Tricked and Misled Us"
    Olli Heinonen, the former deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, told Der Spiegel: "Today the facts are as follows: The conversion plant in Isfahan has produced 371 tons of uranium hexafluoride. Some 8,000 centrifuges in Natanz are being used to enrich this raw material. In February 2010, Iran began increasing enrichment to 20%. That's a significant step closer to making an atomic bomb because it takes only a few months to turn that into weapons-grade material. And at the beginning of this year, Fereydoun Abbasi was appointed the head of the atomic energy organization in Tehran....In early June, Abbasi announced that Iran was moving the 20% enrichment of uranium from Natanz to Fordow, where they are tripling production."
        "What's more, Tehran has announced that it intends to build 10 more enrichment plants, and Iranian experts have conducted experiments with neutron sources and highly explosive detonators that would only make sense for military applications. They're also making progress at the heavy-water reactor in Arak, so much so, that by 2014 they'll have enough plutonium to build an atom bomb." "I am...convinced that Tehran will reach the 'break-out capability' - in other words, the capacity to produce weapons-grade uranium - as early as by the end of next year."   (Der Spiegel-Germany)
  • Syria Uprising Deaths Exceed 2,900, UN Says - Nada Bakri
    The UN human rights office said in a report Thursday that at least 2,900 people have been killed in Syria since pro-democracy protests began there in mid-March. Activists in Syria said that at least 12 people were killed during clashes between armed men loyal to the government of President Assad and soldiers who deserted their ranks in the northern province of Idlib near the Turkish border. There have been signs in recent weeks that the Syria uprising is increasingly becoming an armed struggle. (New York Times)
  • Britain Blocks Attempt to Arrest Israeli Parliamentarian - Adrian Croft
    Britain's top prosecutor on Thursday blocked an attempt to seek the arrest of visiting Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni for alleged war crimes. Livni, a former foreign minister, is the first senior Israeli figure to visit Britain since the government changed a war crimes law which had kept her and some other Israeli officials away for fear of arrest. She was in Britain at the invitation of Foreign Secretary William Hague. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians Admit Throwing Rocks that Killed Two Israelis - Anshel Pfeffer and Chaim Levinson
    The Israel Security Agency has arrested two Palestinians from Halhoul who admitted to throwing a rock that caused a fatal crash near Kiryat Arba on September 23 in which Asher Palmer, 25, and his one-year-old son Yonatan were killed. The ISA also arrested three Palestinians on suspicion of stealing Palmer's gun after the crash. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel and Germany to Jointly Hunt Down Remaining Nazis - Ofer Aderet
    Israel and Germany are cooperating in a new legal campaign to find and put on trial thousands of Nazi war criminals. The joint project is the result of a recent precedent-setting ruling in Germany in the case of John Demjanjuk. There are about 4,000 names on the list of possible defendants, but probably very few are still alive. Demjanjuk, now 91, was convicted in May of 28,060 counts of accessory to murder for serving as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. It was the first time prosecutors were able to convict someone in a Nazi-era case without direct evidence that the suspect participated in a specific killing.
        Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center office in Jerusalem, said: "Even if only 2% of those people are alive, we're talking 80 people - and let's assume half of them are not medically fit to be brought to justice - that leaves us with 40 people, so there is incredible potential."  (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Friends Don't Let Friends Write Like Thomas Friedman - Seth Mandel
    "Helping" Israel by bashing it repeatedly is a time-honored tradition among Israel's "friends" in the media. "Friends don't let friends drive drunk," says Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times, imploring Israel to stop building homes for Jews in Jerusalem. Here was Thomas Friedman last year reacting to the news Israel planned to build more homes for Jews in Jerusalem: "Friends don't let friends drive drunk."
        Kristof whitewashes Palestinian violence, blames Israel for Turkey's turn away from the West, and scolds Israel for building new homes in areas he full well knows will be part of Israel in any peace deal. In fact, the latest round of building that upsets Kristof is taking place not in eastern Jerusalem, but in southwest Jerusalem - west, in fact, of the Knesset. (Commentary)
  • How Not to Help Palestinian Democracy - Elliott Abrams
    This week the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) admitted the Palestine National Council (PNC) as a "Partner for Democracy." PACE consists of people elected to their national parliaments. But the PNC is not the Palestinian parliament; that is called the PLC or Palestinian Legislative Council. The PNC is instead part of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and its members are not and have never been elected.
        It is simply scandalous that the PNC was admitted to any form of relationship with the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly. The PACE members were not willing to apply normal democratic standards to Palestinian political life. Once again they have engaged in what George W. Bush called "the soft bigotry of low expectations" and in so doing have abandoned those Palestinians truly engaged in a struggle for democracy. (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • Palestinian Extortion - Khaled Abu Toameh
    American diplomats who arrived in Ramallah this week for a reception in honor of Palestinian partner organizations and U.S. exchange program alumni were greeted by angry Palestinian protesters who shouted anti-U.S. slogans and hurled shoes at their armored vehicles. The message is: If you do not endorse our position and if you cut off financial aid, we will turn against you. It is called extortion. Instead of demanding changes in behavior, the Western governments always seem to pay up with no demands, and then look surprised when there are no changes and each time the ransom demand goes up.
        In recent weeks, PA officials have been encouraging Palestinians to stage anti-U.S. demonstrations and rallies to condemn Washington's "bias" in favor of Israel. PA media outlets, including some that had benefited from U.S. and EU financial aid and training, have also been taking part in the incitement against Washington's policies.
        What the Americans do not understand is that all the money in the world will not help them win the hearts and minds of a majority of Arabs and Muslims. But without Israel, the Middle East would be a more ugly and dangerous place to live in. Israel is the only democracy here and we need it. (Hudson Institute-New York)
  • Jordan: All Quiet on the Eastern Front? - David Schenker
    The Jordanian parliament is voting on 42 proposed changes to the kingdom's constitution in a reform project by King Abdullah aimed at preempting the kind of protests that brought down regimes in Egypt and Tunisia. By being proactive on the political reform front, the monarchy has put itself "ahead of the curve" for now. The kingdom's perennial economic woes will be more difficult to remedy, but if Gulf Cooperation Council pledges are met, the generous financial assistance should likewise help ameliorate the immediate crisis.
        Jordan is not another Egypt, where populist politics have embraced disdain for the peace treaty with Israel since the revolution. King Abdullah remains publicly committed to the Jordanian treaty with the Jewish state. For the time being, King Abdullah seems to have come up with a formula to ensure stability and secure the realm. The writer is director of the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Israel's Success at the IAEA 2011 General Conference - Shimon Stein and Ephraim Asculai
    Egypt views the annual conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), held this year on Sept. 19 in Vienna, as a proper forum for advancing its efforts to dismantle Israel's alleged nuclear capabilities. Last year the IAEA defeated a proposal on Israel in a 51-46 vote. In the end, estimating that they would not be able to guarantee a majority in this year's conference plenum, the Arab nations decided to withdraw their draft resolution.
        Some would explain the Arab failure by the difficulty in agreeing on a uniform stance and inadequate inter-Arab coordination, apparently in light of the Arab spring, which deflected the attention of the Arab nations towards what they regarded as more urgent issues. In addition, Israel's success may be attributed to an improved diplomatic campaign and better coordination with the U.S. and EU. Yet Egypt and its Arab partners will likely not miss future opportunities to denounce Israel on the nuclear issue. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Taking More Risks for Peace? - Amiel Ungar
    U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta lamented Israel's isolation in the region, while arguing that the American security commitment should embolden Jerusalem to take risks for peace and reach out to Turkey and Egypt. Do the Americans expect a groveling apology to sway Turkey's Recep Erdogan the Magnificent, who undoubtedly enjoyed seeing Israel's Arabs commemorate the anniversary of their October 2000 insurrection by flying Turkish flags along with the standard PLO banners? This demonstrated the success of Turkish penetration of the Arab world, using Israel bashing as an entry card. Can Israel expect to fare better with the current Turkish government than the hundreds of imprisoned Turkish military officers and journalists?
        As for Egypt, Israel apologized for the killing of Egyptian soldiers during the August firefight with terrorists who attacked Israel from Egyptian territory. Israel did not utter a discouraging word when our embassy was attacked a few weeks later and then trashed. When the Egyptian minister of social justice, Gouda Abdel Khalik, called Israel "the Zionist enemy" on Egyptian state TV, respectful silence prevailed. Israel cannot do more. If Hamastan in Gaza and indeed Oslo itself do not constitute unrequited risks for peace, then we cannot meet Panetta's expectations. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Faces Numerous Double Standards - Manfred Gerstenfeld
    The Cambridge dictionary defines a double standard as: "A rule or standard of good behavior which unfairly some people are expected to follow or achieve, but others are not." The use of double standards against Jews has been at the heart of anti-Semitism throughout the centuries.
        The targeted killing of Osama bin Laden by the U.S. in 2011 was praised by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. The killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin in 2004 by Israel was condemned by then-Secretary General Kofi Annan. The Arab states convened an emergency special session of the General Assembly regarding Israel's building of condominiums on Har Homa hill in Jerusalem. No such emergency sessions were called when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan or Czechoslovakia, when Vietnam invaded Cambodia, or when Turkey invaded Cyprus. (Ynet News)

  • Weekend Features

  • Remembering the Yom Kippur War - Netanel Lorch
    At 2 p.m. on 6 October 1973, the Jewish Day of Atonement - Yom Kippur - the combined forces of Egypt and Syria attacked Israel simultaneously. The Government of Israel was taken by almost complete surprise. Only at 9 a.m. had the order to mobilize the reserves been issued, which did not allow sufficient time for mobilization and transportation to the front.
        Both the Egyptians and the Syrians had initial successes, gaining territory and inflicting grievous losses. It was only during the night of October 15/16 that the first Israeli troops were able to establish a bridgehead west of the Suez Canal. On October 16, Prime Minister Golda Meir addressed the Knesset at its first session since the outbreak of the war. Read her address and the debate in the volume Major Knesset Debates. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also MKs Recall Experiences from Yom Kippur War - Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Video: The 1973 Yom Kippur War (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Israel Marks 70 Years Since Babi Yar Massacre - Aron Heller
    With tears in his eyes, Michael Sidko laid a wreath of flowers at Israel's official Holocaust memorial during a solemn ceremony Thursday marking 70 years since the World War II massacre at Babi Yar outside Kiev, Ukraine. In the two-day killing spree in September 1941, Nazi troops gunned down more than 33,000 Jews including Sidko's mother and two of his siblings. At 76, he is one of the few living survivors of the atrocity that marked a turning point in the German plan to "solve the Jewish problem."
        After the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Einsatzgruppen paramilitary death squads were sent out to follow the German armies. Babi Yar was one of the first mass killing sites. The Jews were forced to hand over valuables, strip and line up on the edge of the ravine. They were then shot with automatic fire. Babi Yar also served as a slaughterhouse for non-Jews, such as Gypsies and Soviet prisoners of war. (AP)
  • Photos: The Golden Gate of Jerusalem's Old City - Lenny Ben-David
    The Library of Congress has recently digitalized a collection of over 10,000 photographs taken in Jerusalem between 1881 and the 1940s. They include photos of the Golden Gate (Sha'ar Harachamim, Gate of Mercy) of Jerusalem's Old City wall. If the gate were opened, it would lead directly onto the Temple Mount.
        Unlike most of Jerusalem's other gates, the Golden Gate was originally built at least a millennium before Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in 1540. Indeed, some archeologists believe that the original gate, dating back to Herod's construction or even Nehemiah's period (440 BCE), still exists beneath the current gate. Perhaps because of the great religious significance of the gate to Jews and Christians as the Messiah's route into Jerusalem, it is believed Suleiman sealed the gate and permitted the construction of a Muslim cemetery in front of the gate.
        The theory of an ancient gate received support in 1969 when archeological student James Fleming was inspecting the current gate. Suddenly the rain-soaked ground beneath him opened and he found himself in a pit of bones looking at the top of another gate eight feet beneath the surface. Fleming photographed his discovery. When he returned the next day, the tomb had been sealed with a cement slab by the Islamic custodians of the cemetery. (Jerusalem Post)

The Mounting Hizbullah Threat in Latin America - Roger F. Noriega and Jose R. Cardenas (American Enterprise Institute)

  • Hizbullah's capacity to move operatives across the U.S. border was noted in a 2007 Homeland Security Committee staff report on threats along the border: “Members of Hizbullah, the Lebanon-based terrorist organization, have already entered to the United States across our Southwest border."
  • Salim Boughader Mucharrafille, a Mexican of Lebanese descent who owned a small restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico, just south of San Diego, smuggled 200 people, reportedly including Hizbullah supporters, into the U.S.
  • Mahmoud Youssef Kourani pled guilty in 2005 in the U.S. to providing material support to Hizbullah. Kourani had bribed a Mexican official in Beirut for a visa to travel to Mexico. From there, he crossed the U.S. border and made his way to Dearborn, Michigan, where there is a sizable Lebanese expatriate community, and began raising funds for Hizbullah in Lebanon.
  • Hizbullah's other focus is making common cause with drug trafficking networks in Mexico (and elsewhere in the Americas). According to Michael Braun, a former high-ranking Drug Enforcement Administration official, Hizbullah relies on "the same criminal weapons smugglers, document traffickers and transportation experts as the drug cartels."
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