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November 4, 2011

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Ban Ki-moon: Palestinian Membership of UN Agencies Is "Not Beneficial" (AP-Guardian-UK)
    The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has said Palestinian efforts to join other UN agencies beyond its cultural arm, UNESCO, are "not beneficial for Palestine and not beneficial for anybody."
    Millions of people could be affected if UN agencies see their funding cut as a result of the Palestinian bids, he said Thursday.
    Ban said the PA foreign minister had indicated that it would apply for membership of the 16 other UN agencies.
    See also PA Won't Pursue New UN Bids for Now - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
    Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki announced Thursday that the Palestinian Authority would not pursue admission to additional UN agencies at this time in order to focus its efforts on the UN Security Council and the bid to become a full member at the UN.

Israel Freezes UNESCO Funds (CNN)
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his country Thursday to freeze payments to UNESCO after that agency admitted the Palestinians as full members.
    The U.S. already had announced that it will withhold the $80 million it contributes annually.
    Israel is withholding its contributions because it says accepting the Palestinians is detrimental to potential peace talks.
    "Such steps will not advance peace; they will only push it further away," Netanyahu said. "The only way to reach peace is through direct negotiations without preconditions."
    The prime minister ordered that the $2 million it gives UNESCO yearly be used to fund similar initiatives in the region.

Islamist Jihad Ready for All-Out War with Israel - Crispian Balmer and Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
    The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, which traded deadly fire with Israel at the weekend in Gaza, does not expect a subsequent truce to last long and has at least 8,000 fighters ready for war, a spokesman said.
    "We are proud and honored to say that the Islamic Republic of Iran gives us support and help," Abu Ahmed, the spokesman for Islamic Jihad's armed wing, the Jerusalem Brigades, told Reuters in an interview. "We have every right to turn to every source of power for help."
    Jerusalem Brigades cells are dotted around Gaza and Abu Ahmed said there was huge demand from youngsters to join. "We take some, but can't accept everyone."
    The group got a boost to its standing in August when the new rulers in Egypt started dealing with it directly over truces, rather than through Hamas. Abu Ahmed said Hamas was not involved in the latest fighting and that all the talking was with Egypt.
    "Certainly in terms of ideology, there is no difference between Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. The difference is in the methodology," he said, adding that Hamas' governmental role meant that it was "more vulnerable to outside pressure."

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A New World Oil Map Centered Outside the Mideast - Daniel Yergin (Washington Post)
    For more than five decades, the world's oil map has centered on the Middle East and virtually all forecasts indicated that U.S. reliance on Mideast oil supplies was destined to grow. But today, the outline of a new world oil map is emerging, and it is centered not on the Middle East but on the Western Hemisphere.
    The new energy axis runs from Alberta, Canada, down through North Dakota and South Texas, past a major new discovery off the coast of French Guyana to huge offshore oil deposits found near Brazil.
    The Western Hemisphere's need for oil supplies from the rest of the world could fall by as much as half by 2020, which will mean declining imports from the Middle East. Oil that would have gone west will instead flow in increasing volumes to the east.
    See also Shale Gas Revolution - David Brooks (New York Times)
    In 2000, shale gas represented just 1% of American natural gas supplies. Today, it is 30% and rising.
    The U.S. now seems to possess a 100-year supply of natural gas, which is the cleanest of the fossil fuels.
    Today, natural gas prices are less than half of what they were three years ago, lowering electricity prices. Meanwhile, America is less reliant on foreign suppliers.

The Mideast's New Game - David Ignatius (Washington Post)
    Hamas has become weaker and more vulnerable. The group lost its old base in Syria when it backed the opposition movement challenging President Bashar al-Assad.
    Although Hamas controls Gaza, it needs an outside base. Egypt would be the first choice, but the military leadership in Cairo says no, for now, so the group is likely to shift its base to Turkey or Qatar.

Israel's Racism? - Richard Landes (Telegraph-UK)
    Israel's willingness to help other countries in need vastly outweighs its relative size in the global community. From Haiti and Japan to, most recently, Turkey (despite that country's belligerent behavior), Israel is at the forefront of helping other nations deal with disasters.
    Israeli hospitals are full of Arabs, including Palestinians, who get the same treatment as everyone else.
    From the Israeli point of view, it is Palestinian racism, with its hatred of Israeli life and contempt for Palestinian life, that lies at the core of the conflict.

Palestinian Negotiators Avoided Shaking Tony Blair's Hand - Adrian Blomfield (Telegraph-UK)
    Senior Palestinian negotiators avoided shaking Tony Blair's hand and delivered a series of calculated snubs during a high-level meeting with international mediators last week, officials in the West Bank said.
    Senior PA officials vowed to ostracize Blair after claiming that he had lobbied European powers to vote against a Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN Security Council.

Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in Dutch Schools - Manfred Gerstenfeld (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
    In the Netherlands, substantial research has been undertaken on problems Jewish children encounter in schools, a disproportional part of which is caused by Muslim students.
    Dutch programs developed to fight anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism in schools have had a positive effect on a certain number of Muslim children. The percentage of Moroccan and Turkish students who remain anti-Semitic is however still high.
    Assessment of Dutch activities in this field can be useful as a model for similar analyses in other countries.

U.S. Police Officials in Israel for Counter-Terrorism Program - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    A delegation of senior American police commanders visited Israel as part of a counter-terrorism training seminar sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League.

Black Magic Widespread in Middle East - Rob L. Wagner (Media Line-Jerusalem Post)
    While greeted with skepticism in Western societies, Saudis would no more question the existence of black magic than they would Islam. Two surahs (chapters) in the Qur'an under Al Mi'wadhatyan address black magic and are often recited during or after prayer.
  In April, members of the Saudi Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice underwent special training to investigate black magic crimes.
    Casting spells is particularly common in Oman, Sudan, Yemen, Morocco and Indonesia.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Diplomats: France, Britain to Abstain from Palestinian UN Vote - Richard Roth
    France and Britain plan to abstain from a Security Council vote on the Palestinians' bid for statehood, two UN diplomats said Thursday. The UN Security Council is set to meet Nov. 11 to discuss whether or not to admit a Palestinian state as a UN member. The U.S. has warned it will veto the attempt. However, a veto may not be necessary if 9 nations - out of 15 on the council - don't support the Palestinians' bid. (CNN)
        See also Obama Asks Bosnia Not to Support Palestinian Bid - Aida Cerkez
    President Barack Obama has sent a letter to Bosnian leaders urging them not to support the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN Security Council, authorities said Thursday. Bosnia has a non-permanent seat on the Security Council. "The stand of the U.S. government is that the Palestinian effort on statehood in the UN and other places is not going to achieve what we want to see for both the Israelis and the Palestinians in the Middle East," U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia Patrick Moon said. "The solution we all want to see will be achieved through a negotiated settlement."  (AP)
        See also Palestinians Inch Closer to Rejection at UN - Neil MacFarquhar (New York Times)
  • Sectarian Violence Kills Dozens in Syria - Liz Sly
    Spiraling sectarian violence killed dozens of people in the Syrian city of Homs on Thursday. A doctor at the National Hospital in Homs said more than 70 bodies had been brought to the facility over the previous 24 hours, most killed by gunshot wounds. Many of those killed belonged to Assad's minority Alawite sect, while members of the majority Sunni sect had been shot down in retaliatory killings, as gunmen on both sides swarmed into each other's neighborhoods, abducting and shooting civilians.
        At the same time, Syrian security forces surrounded and bombarded three key protest flash points in the city, killing at least 16 people. The assault called into question the government's commitment to the Arab League plan under which Syria agreed to withdraw troops from residential neighborhoods. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Warns American Citizens, Turkey over Activists' Attempt to Break Israel's Gaza Blockade - Bradley Klapper
    U.S. citizens attempting to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza could face action for violating Israeli and American law, the Obama administration warned Thursday, as two boats sailed across the Mediterranean toward a potential confrontation with Israel. 27 pro-Palestinian activists from the U.S. and eight other countries were aboard the boats that set sail from Turkey on Wednesday.
        State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. was renewing its call to Americans "not to involve themselves in this activity." Israel's military says the blockade on Gaza is meant to keep weapons from reaching the Islamic militants and notes that it has been upheld as legal by a UN study.
        The U.S. has strongly backed Israel's right to prevent cargo from entering Gaza, pointing out that the territory is run by Hamas, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization. It has warned that Americans providing support to Hamas are subject to fines and jail. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Holds Drill Simulating Rocket Attack on Central Israel - Anshel Pfeffer
    Sirens sounded throughout central Israel on Thursday as part of a Home Front Command drill simulating a rocket attack. Evacuation and absorption centers were opened as well as temporary centers to hand out gas masks. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Open Fire at IDF Forces on Gaza Border - Yoav Zitun
    Armed Palestinians on Thursday fired rifles and mortar shells at IDF forces working on the security fence near Kibbutz Zikim, north of Gaza. The IDF force responded, hitting several members of the terrorist cell. Palestinian medical sources said two gunmen were killed. (Ynet News-Jerusalem Post)
  • Death Penalty for the Crime of Driving While Israeli - Bradley Burston
    As of this week, my daughter's school is now within reach of rockets from Gaza that travel farther and with far more deadly payloads than the weapons we knew just a short time ago. With blasts strong enough to shatter apartment windows seven stories in the air. My daughter is an unarmed noncombatant. That should matter. It should matter, in particular, to progressives who believe, and justly so, that the inalienable rights of human beings, children in particular, take clear precedence.
        It should matter, as well, when progressives turn a blind eye to war crimes committed against Israel. Here, Islamic Jihad's calls of "Death to Israel" come wrapped in Iranian steel and 40 pounds of explosives: a call for genocide. "Death to Israel" means death to Israelis. It means death to the members of my family, a family which has long worked hard and consistently and intensively for the rights of Palestinians, Muslims and Christians alike, to live in safety and sovereignty in a country of their own. Last weekend, Moshe Ami, a father and grandfather killed by an Islamic Jihad rocket, was put to death on the streets of Ashkelon for the crime of Driving While Israeli. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Iran Is on the Verge of Getting the Bomb. It Is Time to Act - Con Coughlin
    Next week, the full extent of Iran's duplicity will be laid bare, with the publication of the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report on its nuclear ambitions. Unlike previous IAEA reports - which, under the leadership of Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, deliberately sought to obfuscate the true nature of Iran's activities - this one will demonstrate unequivocally that Iran is well on the way to acquiring nuclear weapons. It will show that the country is seeking to engineer and test components that are only used in the production of nuclear weapons, and that this illegal activity is taking place at sites that would not even exist if Iran was in compliance with its international treaty obligations.
        Why, for example, are Iranian scientists experimenting with triggers that are only used for detonating nuclear weapons? Why are Iranian technicians devoting so much energy to developing a ballistic missile warhead that can carry a nuclear warhead? And why have they designed simulation programs whose sole purpose is to test nuclear weapons systems? The inescapable conclusion is that the ayatollahs are close to achieving their long-held ambition of joining the nuclear-armed powers and that the sanctions regime has failed to have the desired effect.
        In fact, the only measures that have had any demonstrable effect on slowing Iran's nuclear progress have been undertaken by Israel, via a skilful combination of targeted assassinations and cyber-warfare. But as the IAEA report will demonstrate, the Iranians have overcome these setbacks to the point where their uranium enrichment activities have been fully reconstituted. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Obama Says Pressure Must Be Maintained on Iran - Laura MacInnis and Alister Bull
    U.S. President Barack Obama said he and French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed during talks on Thursday on the need for pressure to be maintained on Iran over its nuclear program. "The IAEA is scheduled to release a report on Iran's nuclear program next week and President Sarkozy and I agree on the need to maintain the unprecedented pressure on Iran to meet its obligations," Obama said. (Reuters)
  • Iran's Waning Influence on Iraq - Ray Takeyh
    Iran may have been able to project its influence in an Iraq beset by civil war, but Tehran increasingly is on the margins as Iraq reconstitutes its national institutions. Iran's governing template has no constituency among Iraqi Shiites. Iran's theocratic absolutism was always in contravention of Shiite political traditions, making its export problematic if not impossible. Iraq's most esteemed and influential cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, stands with mainstream clerics in rejecting the notion that proper Islamic governance mandates direct clerical assumption of power. Even the Iraqi Shiite parties which have long-standing ties to Tehran appreciate the untenable nature of the Iranian order.
        On the eve of the U.S. withdrawal, it may be difficult to see the extent to which Iran's policy in Iraq is in shambles. Iran's contentious vision for the future of Iraq and its divisive tactics have alienated Iraqis across the sectarian spectrum. The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Washington Post)
        See also Did We Lose in Iraq? No, and Here's Why - Michael J. Totten (New Republic)

  • Egypt

  • Egypt's Military Seeks to Maintain Its Power - Jeffrey Fleishman and Amro Hassan
    Egypt's ruling military council is silencing critics while polishing its image amid increasing signs that it is plotting to stay in power behind the scenes, even after parliament is elected early next year. This week the military-backed interim government announced parameters for writing Egypt's new constitution. The proposals allow the generals to appoint 80% of the constitutional committee. They also state that the defense budget would be kept secret, and that the military would be the "guardian" of the constitution.
        State TV and newspapers are portraying Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi in a flattering light that echoes portrayals of Mr. Mubarak during his rule, including coverage of the "Egypt Above All" movement that has pasted posters of the field marshal across Cairo. "The military is...working on constitutional proposals to maintain their political and financial might and to rule the country from behind a curtain," said Nabil Abdel Fattah, an analyst at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. (Los Angeles Times)
  • The Muslim Brotherhood's Shrewd Election Tactics - Samuel Tadros
    On Oct. 21, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, as a member of the Democratic Alliance coalition, announced the coalition's lists of candidates in 20 of 27 governates. (After numerous defections, today the Alliance includes few parties other than the Brotherhood.) The Muslim Brotherhood broke its declared promise to run for only 50% of the seats. In fact, the Brotherhood is running for 77% of the total seats in parliament. Its decision not to field a single Christian candidate reflects the pressure the Brotherhood is feeling from its more radical competitors, the Salafis' Islamist Alliance.
        It is important to note the Brotherhood's high focus on the Shura Council (Egypt's higher chamber), which will be equally responsible with the lower chamber for selecting the members of the constitutional drafting committee. Other than the Brotherhood, few are fielding Shura Council candidates. The writer is a research fellow at the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom. (National Review)
  • How Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Will Win - Shadi Hamid
    The "good guys," whoever they are, don't always win. Indeed, if Islamist parties in Egypt do well - winning upwards of 50% of the vote - the alarmism and hand-wringing from Western quarters will be considerable. The important metric for Egypt's troubled transition, though, is if Egyptians have the opportunity to choose their own representatives free of intimidation and interference. Democracy, as Western democracies have long known, is about the right to make the wrong choice. The writer is director of research at the Brookings Doha Center and a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. (Foreign Policy)

  • The Arab World

  • Arab Spring or Islamist Surge? - Benny Morris
    The main result of the "Arab Spring" will be - at least in the short and medium terms, and, I fear, in the long-term as well - an accelerated Islamization of the Arab world. In Tunisia the Islamist al-Nahda Party won a clear victory in the country's first free elections, winning some 90 out of 217 seats. Speculation about whether the party is genuinely "moderate" Islamist or fundamentally intent on imposing sharia religious law over Tunisia is immaterial. The Islamists won, hands down and against all initial expectations, in a country that was thought to be the most secular and "Western" in the Arab world.
        In the tribal wreckage that is Libya, the Islamist factions appear to be the major force emerging from the demise of the Gaddafi regime. And much the same appears to be emerging from Egypt - the demographic, cultural and political center of the Arab world. All opinion polls predict that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood - which has long sought the imposition of strict sharia law and Israel's destruction - will emerge from next month's parliamentary elections as the country's strongest political party.
        The Sinai Peninsula bordering Israel and Gaza has become, following Mubarak's fall, a lawless, Islamist-dominated territory. Smugglers have collaborated with Islamists to plunder Gaddafi's armories, and Israeli intelligence says that many Grad rockets and sophisticated shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles have recently made their way into Gaza via Sinai. One anti-aircraft missile was fired at an Israeli helicopter in a recent skirmish on the Sinai-Israel border. The writer is a professor of history in the Middle East Studies Department of Ben-Gurion University. (National Interest)
  • A Dawning "Muslim Brotherhood Crescent" - Lee Smith
    An Islamist alliance drawn from the region's Sunni majority spells a kind of long-term trouble for U.S. and Israeli interests that may be equally or even more dangerous than a Shia crescent. The Muslim Brotherhood crescent is powerful because it both draws on the political aspirations of the regional Sunni majority and is deeply rooted in national sympathies. Given a choice in free and fair elections, Arab electorates will invariably put Islamists in power.
        "Moderate" is a word that gets thrown around recklessly when it comes to the Islamist groups that comprise the new Muslim Brotherhood crescent. Consider the leader of al-Nahda, Rashid Ghannoushi, who may well be Tunisia's next prime minister. He is routinely described as a moderate, even though he has praised the mothers of suicide bombers and believes that the "region will get rid of the germ of Israel."  (Tablet)
  • Syria's Choice: Murderous Secular Regime or Islamic Fundamentalists - Khaled Abu Toameh
    As Syrian dictator Bashar Assad continues to slaughter his people, the Muslim Brotherhood is clearly seeking to hijack the anti-Assad protests. In the past few months, there have been many signs of a "return to Islam" in Syrian society. Large banners urging women to wear the hijab have appeared in Damascus and other main cities and many restaurants and hotels have stopped serving alcohol in keeping with Islamic law. In addition, many of the daily anti-Assad demonstrations are being launched from mosques, especially after Friday prayers.
        The Muslim Brotherhood is by no means a "moderate" organization. Its motto leaves no room for questions about its true intentions: "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Koran is our law. Jihad [holy war] is our way. Dying for the sake of Allah is our highest hope." According to reports in the Arab media, Islamic fundamentalist groups have been smuggling weapons into Syria from Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.
        The main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, was formed in Istanbul last September with support from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the U.S. Out of the 19 members of the council's general secretariat, four belong to the Muslim Brotherhood and six are "independent" Islamists. (Hudson Institute-New York)
  • What to Expect from the New Saudi Crown Prince - Bruce Riedel
    The selection of Prince Nayef, 78, to succeed Prince Sultan as the new crown prince of Saudi Arabia ushers in the beginning of big changes at the top of the royal family in the midst of the Arab awakening. The new crown prince is very close to the country's Wahhabi clerical establishment and has long been among the most skeptical in the family about reforming the country to allow greater freedom for women, Shia and any form of dissidence. King Abdullah is in poor health, so Nayef may become king sooner rather than later.
        The powerful post of defense minister must be filled and the odds favor Sultan's eldest son, Khaled, but he is not a certainty. Khaled led Saudi forces last year in a campaign in northern Yemen against rebel Houthi tribes, which was not very successful. Saudi losses were high, and the rebels were never defeated. The writer, a career CIA officer, is a senior fellow in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. (National Interest)
        See also Prince Nayef: A Step Backwards for Saudi Arabia -  Ed Husain
    Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, the new Saudi crown prince, has been a vociferous enemy of al-Qaeda elements inside Saudi Arabia and eliminated hundreds of operatives, while arresting thousands since 2003. But this was not because he opposed jihadi ideology or Islamist thinking. His public attacks on the Muslim Brotherhood come because they seek to undermine the House of Saud.
        The same Nayef said after 9/11 that the attacks were a Jewish plot and "the Saudis [were] being framed." He only turned against al-Qaeda because they started attacking Saudi oil pipelines, ministries and embassies within the kingdom. The writer is a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. (CNN)

  • Other Issues

  • Palestinian "Moderates" Praise Terror to Arabic Media; Talk Peace to the West - Jonathan S. Tobin
    The assumption of the essential moderation of the Palestinian Authority and its leader Mahmoud Abbas is one that can only be maintained by ignoring virtually everything the PA does and says. The latest examples are the statements by Abbas and his aide Jibril Rajoub in which they praised the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit by Hamas. Abbas told an interviewer the crime was a "good thing," while Rajoub saluted all those involved with Shalit's abduction.
        While Palestinian leaders portray themselves as moderate peace seekers to the West, the official Palestinian media run by Abbas and his government is a font of incitement against Israel and Jews. Abbas' goal of international recognition for Palestinian statehood without first making peace with Israel is based on his unwillingness to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn. (Commentary)
  • Neighbors Warily Eye a More Muscular Turkey - Shlomo Avineri
    Erdogan's threat to consider using the Turkish Navy as a military escort for further flotillas to Gaza borders on saber rattling, as does his declared willingness to use force to prevent the Republic of Cyprus from exploring for gas in its continental shelf. Indeed, Erdogan's has warned of a diplomatic rupture with the EU if Cyprus accedes to the EU's rotating presidency in 2012. At the same time, renewed violent incursions into northern Iraq in pursuit of alleged guerillas suggest a reversion to hardline anti-Kurdish policies. The withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq only seems to have encouraged Turkey's will to create a cordon sanitaire on the Iraqi side of the border.
        During Erdogan's recent visit, many Egyptians were not happy about his hectoring them - and other Arabs - to follow Turkish policies and to regard Turkey as their Muslim leader. A new sultanate? Erdogan as the new Saladin? Turkey could be a bridge between the West and the East, between Islam and modernity, and between Israel and the Arabs. But it runs the danger of succumbing to the arrogance of power, which has corrupted and sidelined many strong states in the past. The writer, a professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is a former director-general of Israel's Foreign Ministry. (Japan Times)
  • The Russell Tribunal on Palestine Dishonors Victims of Apartheid - Robin Shepherd
    This weekend's Russell Tribunal on Palestine, held in South Africa, will designate Israel an "apartheid" state. It's a kangaroo court, run by the usual suspects. The attempt to smear the world's only Jewish state with a label designed to leverage hatred and disdain is simultaneously to insult the memory of apartheid South Africa's victims by adopting a strategy that inevitably sanitizes the word "apartheid" itself.
        The animating idea behind apartheid was white supremacy. The more cunning operators inside the Israeli-apartheid brigade know that no Israeli leader has ever believed that Jews are racially superior to Arabs. They know that Arabs vote just like Jews do, and that Arabs sit in the Israeli Parliament. They know that Arabs and Jews can ride in the same buses, lie on the same beaches, and eat at the same restaurants. The writer is director of international affairs at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think-tank. (Mail and Guardian-South Africa)
  • Lies Told about Israel Are Beyond Belief - Benjamin Pogrund
    Yelling slogans to the effect that "Israel is apartheid" and "Zionism is racism" doesn't make any of it true. No one objects to Saudi Arabia having only Muslims as citizens. No one objects to Pakistan and Iran and others declaring themselves an "Islamic state." They are ethnic states. Yet why is the "Jewish state" singled out for condemnation? Arabs are 20% of Israel's population. They have the vote and all citizenship rights. The bottom line is that in Israel there is nothing remotely like South African apartheid.
        A flood of anti-Israel propaganda is about to pour over South Africa through the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. The "International People's Tribunal" is theater: the actors know their parts and the result is known before they start. Israel is to be dragged into the mud. The writer was deputy editor of the Rand Daily Mail. (Times-South Africa)

  • Weekend Feature

  • How an Israeli Doctor Saved a Palestinian Baby - Sheri Shefa
    Mohammed Abu Mustafa, a four-month-old Palestinian boy from Gaza, was born without an immune system. In 2007, Dr. Raz Somech, a pediatric immunology specialist at Tel Hashomer Hospital in Tel Aviv, asked Shlomi Eldar, an Israeli Channel 10 TV correspondent in Gaza, to broadcast a plea to Israelis to help fund a $55,000 bone marrow transplant or Mohammed would die. An anonymous Israeli man whose son, a soldier, had been killed in the line of duty donated the entire amount. A 2010 Israeli documentary "Precious Life" documents the story.
        Mohammed's mother, Raida Mustafa, revealed in the film that Gazans had been accusing her of collaborating with Israel. During a conversation Eldar had with Mustafa during Mohammed's hospital stay, she said: "For you life is precious, but not for us....After Mohammed gets well, I will certainly want him to be a shahid [martyr]." Mohammed, who is now three years old, is completely well. (Canadian Jewish News)

IDF Ready to Strike Iran - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)

  • The fact that Israel is holding training sessions seen as practical preparations for striking Iran's nuclear sites is no secret. Israel will not tolerate nuclear arms in Iranian hands. No less importantly, the international community and the Iranians fully realize that Israel is seriously considering such a strike in order to curb or at least delay the Iranian race to the bomb, assuming there is no non-military option to secure this aim.
  • However, this is contingent upon absolute certainty that Iran has already started to produce the bomb and that all other ways to prevent Tehran from doing so have been exhausted.
  • In such a case, Israel would have no choice but to thwart the existential threat we face as a result of nuclear arms in Iranian hands, even at the price of the casualties and damage sustained by Israel as a result of Iran's response and that of its allies. However, this scenario is still relatively far off.
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta came to Israel a few weeks ago and said that decisions on Iran must be taken in coordination between Jerusalem and Washington. "Nobody would believe that you operated without coordinating it with the U.S., and hence, as we too would sustain damages, we demand at least an advance warning," said a senior American official who recently visited Israel.
  • The lively public debate on the issue grants more credibility to the Israeli strike threat. It signals to Washington, Moscow and Beijing: either you stop the Iranian race to the bomb or we shall be forced to act, and then all of us shall pay a heavy price.

        See also The Latest War Scare Over Iran - Barry Rubin
    Israel understandably has plans for a possible attack against Iran if needed and its military trains for that contingency. Israel leaks this fact to unnerve Iran and give Western countries incentives to increase sanctions and work harder to block Tehran from getting nuclear weapons. Recent reports - including the new one from the International Atomic Energy Agency - don't add anything to what Israel already knows.
        Iran has shown itself to be aggressive and dangerous but not insane. Iran is nowhere near having a strong enough nuclear strike force to let it attack Israel without receiving a devastating Israeli retaliation. (National Post-Canada)

        See also Poll: If Iran Gets Nuclear Bomb Will You Consider Leaving Israel? Yes 11%, No 84% (IMRA-Ha'aretz)
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