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Al-Qaeda Group Claims Responsibility for Rocket Fire from Lebanon - Mohammad Zaatari (Daily Star-Lebanon)
The militant al-Qaeda-affiliated group Abdallah Azzam Brigades has claimed responsibility for the rocket attack from southern Lebanon into Israel overnight Monday.
According to the el-Nashra news website, "On Tuesday morning, 29 Nov. 2011, a unit from the Abdallah Azzam Brigades shelled Zionist settlements in North Palestine from south Lebanon and the missiles have hit their targets."
On Nov. 23, the U.S. placed a suspected Saudi member of the Abdallah Azzam Brigades on its list of international criminals. The State Department said Hamad Al-Hablain was an explosives expert for the group.
A Lebanese security source said Lebanese troops found two rocket launch pads.
Iran Is Developing Low-Flying Cruise Missiles - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
Iran is developing an advanced low-flying cruise missile that could potentially carry a non-conventional warhead, Arieh Herzog, director of the Israel Defense Ministry's Homa Missile Defense Agency, told the International Aerospace Conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
In 2012, the Air Force plans to begin deploying the David's Sling missile defense system to protect against medium-range missiles including cruise missiles.
Islamist Group Hosts Tunisia's Muslim Brotherhood Leader on Capitol Hill - Andrew C. McCarthy
The Muslim Public Affairs Council was given space on Capitol Hill Tuesday to welcome Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of the Ennahda, the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate that recently won the election in Tunisia.
MPAC is an Islamist group whose founders included disciples of Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna as well as admirers of Hizbullah.
After 9/11, MPAC's current director, Salam al-Marayati, immediately pronounced that Israel should be on top of the list of suspects.
Only a few months ago, in an interview with an Arab-language website, Ghannouchi called for the destruction of Israel and expressed optimism that the Jewish state would soon disappear.
See also MPAC Proud to Host Radical Tunisian Leader - Steven Emerson (Investigative Project on Terrorism)
Israelis Save Drowning Iranians in Thailand - Reuven Weiss (Ynet News)
Shimshon Machani, 60, a former seaman and Tel Aviv lifeguard, and his son, Nimrod, 27, opened a surfboat business for local tourists in Koh Samui, Thailand.
Last week, as the father-son team went out on their daily rowing course, "On the way back, the weather changed all at once. The winds got stronger and the waves grew tall," Shimshon explained.
Suddenly, they noticed two swimmers crying out for help. "Their kayak had overturned in the storm and was swept away, they were left alone in the water," said Shimshon. "They didn't have much of a chance."
"When we reached them they were already at the point of exhaustion," Nimrod noted. "We loaded them on to the surf boat and kept rowing towards the shore, a kilometer away," battling against the winds and the waves.
"When they came around and started talking among themselves, I noticed they were speaking in Persian. I was born in Iran and speak the language. I told them in Persian: 'Don't be scared, you're in good hands'," Shimshon recalls.
When they reached the shore and "we told them we're Israelis, they just got up and fled," Nimrod noted.
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- A Second Iranian Nuclear Facility Has Exploded - Sheera Frankel
An Iranian nuclear facility has been hit by a huge explosion, the second such blast in a month, prompting speculation that Tehran's military and atomic sites are under attack. Satellite imagery seen by The Times confirmed that a blast that rocked the city of Isfahan on Monday struck the uranium enrichment facility there, despite denials by Tehran. The images clearly showed billowing smoke and destruction. Israeli intelligence officials told The Times that there was "no doubt" that the blast struck the nuclear facilities at Isfahan and that it was "no accident."
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, Israel's former director of national security, told Army Radio that the Isfahan blast was no accident. "There aren't many coincidences, and when there are so many events there is probably some sort of guiding hand, though perhaps it's the hand of God," he said.
See also Who's Blowing Up Iran? - Michael Ledeen
- Iran Protesters Storm UK Embassy in Tehran - James Reynolds
Protesters in the Iranian capital, Tehran, have broken into the UK embassy compound during a demonstration against sanctions imposed by Britain.
Militant students ransacked offices, burned the British flag and smashed embassy windows. The students clashed with riot police and chanted "the embassy of Britain should be taken over" and "death to England." (BBC News)
See also Beat Iran Back - Elliot Abrams
The attack on the British embassy in Tehran came just days after the Iranian parliament voted to expel the British ambassador, and therefore reeks of official complicity. The attack is a useful reminder of the nature of the regime in Tehran. These are thugs, whatever their religious titles.
The writer is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
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- Israel Approves Release of PA Tax Funds - Herb Keinon
Israel's inner cabinet decided Wednesday to release $100 million in Palestinian tax revenue that Israel has been withholding since UNESCO voted to accept the Palestinians as a full member. According to government sources, Prime Minister Netanyahu believes that if the PA returns to its proactive efforts at the UN, Israel could once again freeze the funds. (Jerusalem Post)
- Israel Is Not Alone Against Iran - Amos Harel
Former Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin told the Institute for National Security Studies on Tuesday, "Once Iran decides finally to move forward in developing a nuclear weapon, a whole new range of opportunities will open up for a fight which the international community will fight." "Israel is not alone in the game," Yadlin said. "When the Iranians publicly reveal that they are pushing toward a nuclear weapon, Israel will no longer be the central player in the game." "This situation requires us to maintain good channels of dialogue and understanding with those who have better operational abilities than us," Yadlin added.
- Egypt: From Arab Spring to Economic Winter? - Zvi Bar'el
Egypt's foreign currency reserves, estimated at $36 billion at the beginning of 2011, dropped in October to $22 billion. Tourists have almost entirely left the country, new foreign investments are staying away, and local manufacturing has taken a beating.
Iron and steel production has dropped 40% since January, as new projects have stalled. Over a thousand small and medium-size factories have closed over the past two months.
Foreign investors in Egypt's stock exchange have been withdrawing alarming amounts, causing the stock market to lose about $8 billion in the last month alone. Expected economic growth in Egypt, according to the World Bank, will be 1.2%, compared with 5.5% during Mubarak's last year in office.
- What the Storming of the British Embassy in Tehran Tells Us - Michael Rubin
According to Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency, the radical students who stormed the British embassy in Tehran
carried placards with photographs of Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Qods Force.
Suleimani is responsible, according to American diplomatic cables, for running terror networks across Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon and is perhaps responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and dozens of British troops. As the Revolutionary Guards consolidates power inside Iran, Suleimani maintains an increasing chance to become president as Ahmadinejad finishes his last term.
Iran's latest outrage at the British embassy indicates that the Iranian leadership is far more sensitive to international sanctions than they will ever admit.
Tehran scarcely reacted when the UN Security Council designated specific companies and individuals involved in proliferation or Iran's nuclear program, but as soon as London went after Iran's Central Bank, Iranian officials reacted. The attack on the British compound suggests that the Iranian government fears economic isolation much more than diplomatic isolation.
The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
- Reading the Arab Elections: Not an Islamist Wave - Amir Taheri
Is a green wave of Islamism soon to cover the whole of North Africa or is talk of the "triumph of Islam" premature? The Islamist parties entered the elections and removed all reference to Islam or religion from their names and platforms. Even Egypt's radical Salafists contested the election as the Nour (Light) Party.
The Islamists focused their campaigns on economic development, income redistribution and ending corruption. They steered clear of such old Islamist preoccupations as Israel, anti-Americanism, the vilification of minorities and anti-feminism.
They also shut out the theologians. Instead, Arab Islamists have fielded a leadership of academics, engineers and MDs. They've also agreed to give women a share of the parliamentary seats: 50% in Tunisia, 25% in Egypt and 20% in Morocco.
Arab Islamists have so far failed to win a straight majority in any election. Nor are they likely to do so anytime soon. Thus, wherever an Arab country has relatively clean elections, up to two-thirds of the electorate votes against Islamist parties. Now we know that parties harping on Islamic themes hardly secure more than a third of the vote in free elections.
If it's foolish to overestimate their strength, it's deadly to underestimate their capacity for harm when they seize all levers of power. (New York Post)
- The Arab Spring and Anti-Semitism - Jeffrey Goldberg
The desire of Arabs to be free of their dictators is sometimes expressed in grotesquely anti-Jewish terms. Now in Cairo, and across the Arab Middle East, Israel and the Jews are serving once again as universal boogeymen. This truth doesn't conform to the generally accepted narrative of the Arab Spring, but ignoring it won't make it disappear.
Cairo is rife with anti-Semitism. On my last visit, I met with leaders of ostensibly liberal parties who were convinced Jews were conspiring to bring about the collapse of the Egyptian economy (something that Egypt's military rulers are accomplishing all by themselves).
Expressions of anti-Semitism are common even at the higher reaches of Egyptian politics. Presidential candidate Tawfiq Okasha, speaking on the television station he owns, recently said, "Not all the Jews in the world are evil. You may ask: Tawfiq, what is the ratio? The ratio is 60-40. 60% are evil to varying degrees, all the way to a level that words cannot describe, while 40% are not evil." He added that even among the 40% of non-evil Jews there is only one in a million who is blameless. In Cairo today, this might count as a progressive idea. (Bloomberg)
Arab Protests about Jerusalem Renovation Reveal the Real Obstacle to Peace - Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary)
See also The Mughrabi Bridge Must Be Replaced - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)
No better example exists of the abiding hatred for Jews that has become entrenched in Arab political culture than how the renovation of a ramp leading to Jerusalem's Temple Mount has become the subject of intense controversy.
Any actions by Israel have been regarded by the so-called "Arab street" as a conspiratorial plot to destroy the mosques on the Temple Mount or otherwise offend Muslim sensibilities. The fact that even an anti-Israel institution like UNESCO regards the ramp demolition as in no way compromising Muslim rights or shrines is meaningless to Israel's Arab foes.
- The resentment the Temple Mount project has generated is rooted in a belief that Jews have no right to be in Jerusalem. Indeed, the carrying on about anything Israel does with the adjoining Western Wall or the tunnels leading to it have never been about any harm to Arabs or Muslims. After all, in an act of magnanimity that has never been equaled in the annals of war, Israel handed over control of the Temple Mount - the most sacred spot in Judaism - to the Muslim Waqf almost immediately after the city was unified in 1967. But Israel got no credit for Moshe Dayan's attempt to appease Islamic sensibilities. In the decades since this gesture, the Waqf has redoubled its efforts to foment violence.
- The threats over the ramp allow us to see the deep-seated nature of anti-Israel bias.
If there is to be any hope for peace between Israel and its neighbors it will have to wait until there is a sea change in the political culture of a Muslim world still stuck in their irrational hatred for the Jews.
See also Jordan: The Western Wall Is Muslim (Jordan Times)
- During the winter of 2004, rainstorms, snow, and a minor earthquake destroyed the old Mughrabi Ascent connecting the Western Wall plaza to the Mughrabi Gate to the Temple Mount. A "temporary" wooden ramp was erected while a new bridge was planned. Jerusalem's chief engineer has now determined that the wooden ramp is dangerous, a fire hazard, and must be dismantled immediately.
- Some irrational Muslim leaders, intoxicated by their own lies, have intimidated Israel into inaction.
Israel must not cave in to the insanity of Muslim extremism. The Mughrabi Bridge must be replaced.
See also The Mughrabi Gate to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem:
The Urgent Need for a Permanent Access Bridge - Nadav Shragai (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
See also UNESCO: Jordan Had Agreed to the Renovation of the Mughrabi Bridge - Akiva Eldar (Ha'aretz)
A senior official at the Jordanian Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs explained on Monday that "Jordan and Palestine share the same goal: to preserve Al Haram Al Sharif [the Noble Sanctuary, known in Judaism as the Temple Mount] and all its facilities, plazas, gates and walls for the Muslim nation."
- He stressed that the Mughrabi Gate is "a holy entrance to Al Haram Al Sharif as it is situated in the Buraq area where the Prophet Mohammad tethered his steed for Al Israa' wal Miraaj" [Muhammad travels on the steed Buraq to "the farthest mosque" where he ascends to heaven].
- "The Mughrabi Gate, its pathway and the Buraq/Western Wall are indivisible parts of Al Haram Al Sharif which is an Islamic Waqf that Israel must respect."
Two months ago, Israeli officials traveled to Jordan and worked out a detailed agreement to put up a bridge to the Mughrabi Gate that will not cause an iota of harm to the interests of the Waqf, the Muslim religious trust. All was done in agreeable consultation with UNESCO officials, who are supposed to monitor the work.
According to a UNESCO document dated Oct. 4 obtained by Ha'aretz, its executive board received minutes of meetings in which Israel and Jordan agreed on coordination procedures for renovating the site.
- At the last minute, Jordan's King Abdullah got cold feet and asked that the renovation be postponed.
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