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Report: Russia Delivers Supersonic Cruise Missiles to Syria (AFP)
"Yakhont supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles have been delivered to Syria" based on a contract Russia signed in 2007, a military source told the Interfax news agency.
Another Russian official told Interfax that the missiles, which operate as part of the Bastion mobile coastal defense system, "will be able to protect Syria's entire coast against a possible attack from the sea."
Each Bastion system is equipped with 36 cruise missiles as well as truck-mounted radar.
EU and U.S. Hit Syrian Government with New Sanctions - Jones Hayden and Massoud A. Derhally (Bloomberg)
The EU and U.S. toughened sanctions against Syrian President Bashar Assad's government Thursday. "Trade in Syrian public bonds and the provision of insurance and reinsurance to the Syrian government will be prohibited in the EU," the bloc said.
The EU also halted new commitments for grants and concessional loans by EU countries to the Syrian government.
The U.S. Treasury said it imposed economic sanctions on Assad's uncle, Muhammad Makhlouf, and on a commander of Syria's 4th Armored Division, Gen. Aus Aslan.
Report: Syrian Army Rebels Attack Intelligence Base, Kill Eight (Reuters)
"A group of army defectors...attacked the Air Force Intelligence center" on Thursday in Idlib province between Jisr al-Shughour and Latakia, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Friday.
"A clash ensued for three hours which led to the death of at least eight members of the Air Force Intelligence."
India Monitoring Iranian Ship Carrying Armed Men - Frank Jack Daniel (Reuters)
India's navy spokesman Commander P.V.S. Satish said on Thursday the navy was monitoring an Iranian cargo ship, with armed men on board, which had been moored off the country's southern coast close to Lakshadweep islands for more than a month without explanation.
The ship MV Assa is owned and operated by Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), a company facing sanctions from the U.S. and the EU. The
Indian government had made an official complaint to Iran about the vessel.
Controversy over Israeli Film Festival in Dublin - Mick Heaney (Irish Times)
The Israeli Film Days festival organized by the Israeli embassy has attracted protests from pro-Palestinian supporters, which in turn have prompted a diplomatic response from the Israeli ambassador.
The festival seems largely unobjectionable, featuring a selection of light comedies, coming-of-age dramas, sitcom episodes, Holocaust documentaries, and a concert by Ashdot, a veteran rock star who has recently incorporated Irish influences into his music.
See also Israel's Irish Envoy Proclaims Triumph - Marcus Dysch (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
Anti-Israel protesters repeatedly disrupted Ireland's biggest ever showcase of Israeli films during a major four-day festival.
At the opening event, police officers were forced to remove around 50 protesters, as dignitaries, including Irish Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore, and Justice Minister Alan Shatter, arrived.
Israeli ambassador to Ireland Boaz Modai said: "We were tackled with vicious anti-Israeli activity, by people who pretend to understand the reality of our region better than those who live there."
An embassy spokesman said: "We think [the protesters] are now reeling from the shock of the festival going ahead and that the Irish government supported it in such a way."
Tom Carew, chairman of the Ireland-Israel Friendship League, said: "The fanatical fringe did not win, nor will they or their jihadi idols ever win."
Boycott Israel Effort Leads to Increased Sales for Israeli Shoemaker - Sharona Schwartz (The Blaze-Ynet News)
An effort by pro-Palestinian activists to convince Canadian shoppers to boycott the Israeli comfort shoe store Naot in Montreal has unleashed a boomerang effect resulting in a surge in sales.
Furthermore, for 20 years the company has employed hundreds of Palestinian workers.
Video: Israel Inside - How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference (JerusalemOnlineU-YouTube)
When people think about Israel, they think about war or religion or even falafel. But when I think about Israel, I think about the triumph of the human spirit.
Israelis, surrounded by enemies, turned a desert with hardly any natural resources into a flourishing, productive, and caring society.
Video: The First Motion Picture in Jerusalem - 1896 - Lenny Ben-David (Israel Daily Picture)
In 1896, Frenchmen Auguste and Louis Lumiere produced the first motion picture made in the Holy Land, a 51-second film from a train leaving Jerusalem station.
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- Syria Would Cut Iran Military Tie, Opposition Head Says - Jay Solomon and Nour Malas
A Syrian government run by the country's main opposition group would cut Damascus' military relationship to Iran and end arms supplies to Middle East militant groups such as Hizbullah and Hamas, Burhan Ghalioun, the president of the Syrian National Council, said Wednesday. He said such moves would be part of a broader Syrian reorientation back into an alliance with the region's major Arab powers. Ghalioun also called on the international community to take aggressive new steps, including the possible establishment of a no-fly zone in Syria.
(Wall Street Journal)
- In Egypt, No Alliance with Ultraconservatives, Islamist Party Says - David D. Kirkpatrick
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party on Thursday denied that there was any alliance with the ultraconservative Al Nour Party to form "an Islamist government." Unofficial reports indicate that the Brotherhood's party had won about 40% of the vote and Al Nour about 25% in the first of three rounds of voting for the lower house of Parliament. The Brotherhood reiterated that it hoped to form a unity government with the more liberal parties in Parliament. (New York Times)
- Senate Votes Unanimously to Sanction Iran Central Bank - Siobhan Hughes
The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted 100-0 to adopt economic sanctions against Iran's central bank similar to those announced by the UK to block Iran's entire banking sector from the UK financial system. The vote came in spite of warnings from the Obama administration that the sanctions would alienate allies and drive up oil prices.
Lawmakers say the Obama administration needs to show a greater sense of urgency in the wake of reports from the UN nuclear agency that Iran has been developing technologies needed to produce a nuclear weapon. Lawmakers also point to U.S. allegations that Iran was plotting to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington.
(Dow Jones-Wall Street Journal)
See also EU Tightens Iran Sanctions; Mulls Oil Ban - David Brunnstrom and Justyna Pawlak
The European Union tightened its sanctions against Tehran on Thursday and laid out plans for a possible embargo on Iranian oil.
In Brussels, EU foreign ministers decided new sanctions on energy, transport and financial sectors should be drawn up for their next meeting in January.
- Al Qaeda Says It Holds Abducted American Aid Worker in Pakistan - Scott Shane
Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of al-Qaeda, said Thursday that the terrorist group was holding a veteran American aid worker kidnapped in Pakistan in August and demanded the end of airstrikes on militants and the release of prisoners held in the West in return for his freedom.
Warren Weinstein, 70, who has lived in Pakistan for seven years, was taken at gunpoint from his home in Lahore on Aug. 13. Addressing imprisoned Qaeda and Taliban members, Zawahri said: "In order to release you, Allah the great and almighty guided us to capture the American Jew Warren Weinstein."
In return for Weinstein’s release, he demanded free movement of people and goods between Egypt and Gaza; the end of bombing by the U.S. and its allies in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Gaza; the emptying of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and the release of a half-dozen prominent Qaeda prisoners held in the West.
(New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Seeks New Friends to Counter Islamism - Herb Keinon
Israel is actively looking for friends and allies to counterbalance dramatic Islamic gains in its immediate neighborhood, a senior government official said this week.
Israel is looking at three clusters of states as allies and possible counterweights. The first is the eastern Mediterranean circle, made up of Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria - countries that are historic rivals of Turkey.
The second is in sub-Saharan Africa - Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nigeria and South Sudan - whose concern about Islamic terrorism at home has led to growing political and security cooperation with Israel.
The third includes countries in the region that are in contact with Israel on issues regarding Iran.
Yet Israel has not closed the door on ties with Egypt, one government official clarified on Thursday.
"We haven’t given up on Egypt....It is quite possible we will be moving into a period in our relationship where we will not have the same intimacy, but hopefully the same fundamental interest of both parties will prevail," he said. "Israel and Egypt fought a war in 1948, in 1956, 1967 and 1973. Thousands of people were killed. Is that what they want to go back to? Is that what they are proposing?" (Jerusalem Post)
- Iran Planning Attacks on U.S. Forces in Germany
Iran is planning to attack U.S. armed forces stationed in Germany in the event of a U.S. attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, the German daily Bild reported on Thursday. German authorities are investigating a German businessman suspected of espionage with intent to sabotage who they believe is in contact with the Iranian Embassy in Berlin.
- Why Egypt's Salafis are Not the Amish - Ed Husain
Reports of their electoral success in the first round of Egypt's parliamentary elections have injected Egyptian Salafis with confidence in their religious agenda and struck fear in the hearts of millions of Egyptians. Those who denied that Egypt had a problem with Muslim radicalism were sharply awoken from their sleep. Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and every other major Islamist terrorist came directly from the Salafist or Wahhabi school of thought.
Almost all Salafis believe and constantly remind each other of the need to be loyal only to Muslims, and to hate, be suspicious of, not work in alliance with, and ensure only minimal/necessary interaction with non-Muslims. (Council on Foreign Relations)
- An Egyptian Voter's Lament - Mohamed El Dahshan
Outside my polling station in Heliopolis in the east of Cairo, some volunteer "popular committee for election security," with the army and police's explicit approval, were organizing the lines while handing out flyers for the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). The FJP had set up a full-fledged booth 10 meters away from the station, despite rules forbidding any campaigning within 100 meters of the polls. (When I asked both the army officer in charge of security outside and the judge supervising the vote inside the station, both told me a variant of: "It makes little difference, people here know what they're voting for anyway."
Inside the polling station, where two well-meaning polling officials insisted that I stand and fill my ballots on the window sill "to save time," I insisted on doing it behind the metal curtain set up for this purpose.
- Hamas and Fatah: The Unity Government That Isn't - and Won't Be - Khaled Abu Toameh
Each time Fatah and Hamas announce that they are close to ending their dispute, the Palestinians quickly discover that the two rival parties are not telling the truth. In fact, the two parties have a common interest in maintaining the status quo for as long as ever.
Fatah is now sitting in the West Bank and benefiting from the millions of dollars that are being poured into its coffers every month.
Ironically, Israel's security presence in the West Bank is one of the main reasons why Abbas and Fayyad are still in power. The Fatah leaders know that the day Israel withdraws from the West Bank, Hamas will become so strong that it will seize control of the area in a matter of days or weeks.
For Hamas, the status quo is good because the Islamist movement continues to control Gaza without facing real challenges. Both Fatah and Hamas know that unity means losing the financial backing of their patrons in the West and Tehran and the Arab world.
(Hudson Institute-New York)
- The Palestinian Authority: A Dependency Rather than a Country - Walter Russell Mead
The Israeli government has announced it will turn tax revenues over to the Palestinian Authority, allowing the Palestinians to meet payroll and cover some other basic expenses. Holding the payments back was Israel's response to the Palestinian quest for statehood at the UN.
The key difference between states and other entities is sovereignty: the ability and power to manage their own affairs. The Palestinians do not collect their own taxes; handouts from donors and the delivery of tax receipts from Israel keep the PA alive. An authority that must beg for the money that keeps it alive may call itself a state, and may for political reasons be called a state by other people, but as a matter of fact and truth it is a dependency rather than a country.
By withholding money from the PA, Israel was delivering a pointed reminder that the Palestinians can only have a state as a result of Israeli actions. And there is no way to actual, as opposed to nominal, statehood except through negotiations with the neighbors.
- Abbas Toys toward Terror Link - Unity with Hamas Would End U.S. Aid to Palestinians - Joel Mowbray
Summing up the widespread view among lawmakers, Rep. Steven R. Rothman (D-NJ), who sits on the powerful panel that writes the foreign aid bill, says flatly, "There has been great disappointment in Abbas." (Washington Times)
- Time for Europe to Ditch Iran - Saba Farzan
Two generations of Iranians inside Iran have grown up respecting what the West stands for and hoping that someday their own country, too, will stand for liberty and democracy. The Islamic Republic is weaker now than anyone has imagined. It is weakened inside the country. It is weakened because the end of Syrian butcher Bashar Assad is near. It is weakened by isolation in the international community.
(Wall Street Journal Europe)
- Why I Now Think Assad Will Fall - Fareed Zakaria
Earlier this year, I thought the Syrian regime would be able to persevere. It has been extraordinarily brutal and, unfortunately, if governments are willing to open fire on their people with utter disregard for human life, it often works. Syria is not an oil regime. It doesn't have that much cash. The UN sanctions are actually quite effective in cutting down trade. And Turkey is now going to impose its own sanctions on Syria, which will squeeze Assad even tighter.
Assad leads a minority regime that has been able to stay in power by bribing key members of the Sunni elite in both the business community and the military. At the end of the day, that game becomes much more difficult to play once the money runs out. I now think this regime is going to collapse after all.
- Threats to the West in the Eastern Mediterranean - Efraim Inbar
The turmoil in the Arab world is changing the
strategic landscape around Israel. In the eastern Mediterranean, elements of radical Islam
could gain control. Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey
display Islamist tendencies, leaving Israel and Greece as the only Western allies.
A review of the political dynamics in the states in the region generates great concern about the ability of the West to continue
enjoying unrestricted access to this area. The writer is a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and director of the
(BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
- The Meaning of "I Support Israel's Right to Exist" - Jonathan Kalmus
At the Big Tent Israel advocacy conference in Manchester Tuesday, which focused on countering political campaigns to delegitimize Israel, the Israeli Ambassador to Britain, Daniel Taub, condemned those who "call themselves" Israel's friends because they "support its right to exist."
"I can't count the number of times I've heard somebody say, 'I'm a friend of Israel and I support its right to exist.' And I wonder, can you image anyone saying that in relation to any other country? I support Australia's right to exist or Guatemala's right to exist - as though that somehow makes me a friend of Guatemala. In relation to what other country does a discussion or policy descend into a question mark over the very existence of that state?"
He also said, "When a leading newspaper publishes antisemitic words, such as we heard on the release of Gilad Shalit alleging that this deal shows that Zionists value the lives of the 'chosen' more than they value the lives of anyone else - as if we wouldn't have begged to reduce the number of terrorists that should have been released - yes, that's insulting to Israel, but more than that, it's a sign of a great sickness inside media and inside British journalism." (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
- The Liberal Case for Israel - Jonathan Miller
Israel is not simply the region's only democracy and the U.S.' strongest ally; it also models liberal and progressive values as well as - or even better than - any other nation today. More than 120,000 Ethiopian Jews have emigrated to Israel in recent decades. Thus, Israel is the only nation in world history to deliver huge numbers of black men, women, and children out of slavery in Africa, into freedom abroad.
From a very young age, Israeli children must develop survival skills. My touring group visited one kindergarten, within range of Hamas rockets in Gaza, that uses a board game to teach 5-year-olds how to find bomb shelters.
See also What Is the Progressive Case for Israel? - David Hirsh (Labour Friends of Israel)
It Depends on Your Definition of "Peace" - George Jonas
The last White House-sponsored Middle East peace conference was held at Annapolis, Md., on Nov. 27, 2007. For peace negotiations to succeed, both sides must ascribe the same meaning to the term. Israel wants peace and so does the Arab/Muslim world, but Israel wants peace with the Arab/Muslim world and the Arab/Muslim world wants peace without Israel. (National Post-Canada)
- The Boar Libel Returns:
Israelis Wage War Against Palestinian Farmers - Nasouh Nazzal
Palestinian farmers have been fighting a relentless battle against an invasion of Israeli wild pigs.
Vast areas of lands have been wrecked by the pigs as part of a well-designed Israeli plan to force farmers to leave after incurring losses. "The Israelis have released huge numbers of those pigs near our areas, knowing exactly the grave damage those pigs can cause to our crops," Medhat Abu Khader, a Palestinian farmer, told Gulf News. (Gulf News-Dubai-27Nov11)
See also Abbas Condemns Israel Over Training Wild Pigs to Attack Palestinians - 2011
On the eve of his departure to New York to attend the UN General Assembly, President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Israel's training of dogs and wild pigs to attack Palestinians. (WAFA-PA-16Sep11)
Wild Boars Uprooting Crops - 2009 (Maan News-10Oct09)
Settlers Release Boars in Palestinian Farmlands - 2007 - Saed Bannoura (IMEMC-PA-22Feb07)
Video: Wild Boars in Israel (YouTube)
- In the Field with Israelis Prepping for Disaster - John R. Cohn
I recently returned from Israel where I, along with a dozen other American physicians, witnessed Israelis hoping for the best while preparing for the worst.
The program, now in its eighth year, is run by the Disaster Management Division of Israel's Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Israel Defense Forces' Surgeon General and American Physicians and Friends for Medicine in Israel. At the height of the Palestinian intifada, American physicians started going to Israel to learn from colleagues as they coped with terror. Since then, their trauma expertise has gone mainstream, saving military and civilian lives around the world. An Israeli-developed "bandage," for example, stopped Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' bleeding after she was shot early this year.
At Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, we saw the construction of a three-story underground garage, designed to be a secure healthcare complex if Hizbullah fires some of the 50,000 rockets they have stockpiled in southern Lebanon. During Israel's 2006 war with Lebanon, a Hizbullah missile crashed through the
windows of the ophthalmology wing at the Western Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya and exploded. Everywhere, Israeli doctors and nurses are practicing and preparing.
The writer is professor of medicine and assistant professor of pediatrics at Thomas Jefferson University.
(Philadelphia Jewish Exponent)
- More Female Soldiers in More Positions in the IDF
Women make up 33% of the IDF. 51% of IDF officers are females serving as both career soldiers and reservists. Women make up 3% of combat soldiers and 15% of technical personnel.
Today, almost every single position in the IDF is open for female soldiers including combat, field instruction, intelligence and more. Combat positions include artillery, field intelligence, Home Front Command, and search and rescue. The Karakal infantry battalion was created to enable female IDF soldiers to serve in a combat position alongside males. The K9 unit, Oketz, also drafts females as elite combat soldiers. (Israel Defense Forces)
Egyptian Foreign Policy after the Election - Geneive Abdo (Foreign Affairs)
- Egypt's spring revolution was largely directed at Mubarak's failed domestic leadership. But Egyptians were fed up with his foreign policies as well. No matter which party picks up the most seats in parliament, the new Egypt will be less compliant to U.S. demands and cultivate warmer relations with Iran.
- Egypt's alliance with Washington unnerved the Egyptian public. They felt that their country's standing in the Arab world was slipping, and that Mubarak was to blame. In interviews during a recent trip to Cairo, activists, experts, and candidates from across the political spectrum agreed that Egypt should seek significantly friendlier relationships with Iran and its allies.
- Among elites and as well as the general public, animosity toward Israel transcends religion and political affiliations. The September attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo tapped into decades of desire for a dramatic show of Egyptian society's disdain for Israel.
The author is a Fellow at the Century Foundation.
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