Support for Israel in U.S. Near All-Time High (Gallup)
A Gallup Poll released on Feb. 16 asked Americans if they felt favorably or unfavorably toward several countries. The results for Middle Eastern countries were:
Israel: 71% favorable, 24% unfavorable; Egypt: 47-47; Saudi Arabia: 42-54; Libya: 25-66; Iraq: 24-72; Palestinian Authority: 19-72; Syria: 17-72; Iran: 10-87.
Israel's "very favorable" rating (29%) was the highest in the past 23 years, while its overall favorable rating was the highest since 1991 (when it was 79% just after the First Gulf War).
Iranian Scientist's Wife Says Husband Sought Annihilation of Israel - Jeffrey Goldberg (Atlantic Monthly)
The wife of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan Behdast, the scientist assassinated in Tehran last month, says her husband's "ultimate goal was the annihilation of Israel."
Why would someone involved in Iran's peaceful nuclear program have as a goal the murder of six million Jews?
How could he possibly achieve his dream as an employee of such a peaceful nuclear program as Iran's?
Caught on Camera: Palestinian Hurls Brick at Israeli Woman Motorist - Yair Altman (Ynet News)
Zehava Weiss, a teacher, was on her way home to Karmei Tzur in the West Bank on Tuesday when she became the target of a rock salvo that smashed her windshield.
An AFP photographer standing nearby captured the instance when a Palestinian hurled a boulder at her car.
368 Palestinians were arrested in 2011 for throwing rocks, and 38 were arrested for hurling firebombs.
Over 100 Palestinians were arrested for similar attacks in January and February of 2012.
Egyptians Claim Israeli Goods Cause Disease, Infertility - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
Osama Selim, the head of Egypt's veterinary authority, said that chemicals smuggled from Israel are infecting his country's poultry with dangerous viruses, Ynet learned Monday.
He added that he does not rule out the possibility of a biological war with the Jewish state.
In addition, a television show called "The Truth" launched a campaign earlier this month aiming to prevent the entrance of Israeli products to Sinai after learning that they "cause cancer and infertility."
Several of the "offending" products included chocolate, coffee, biscuits and yoghurt. A member of the Sawarka Bedouin tribe, Muhammad al-Mani'i, who was interviewed on the show, also accused Israel of manufacturing "toxic" jeans that cause infertility.
"The Israeli products contain lethal poison," the show's host concluded. "Israel continues to be an enemy."
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- Ayatollah Khamenei: "No Obstacles Can Stop Iran's Nuclear Work" - Farnaz Fassihi
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told nuclear scientists and employees of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency on Wednesday that the Islamic Republic would move ahead with its nuclear program, despite growing international pressure. "Iran's nuclear path must continue firmly and seriously, with the help of God and by ignoring propaganda....Pressures, sanctions and assassinations will bear no fruit. No obstacles can stop Iran's nuclear work." (Wall Street Journal)
See also Israel: Iran Will Have U.S.-Range Missile in 2-3 Years
Israel believes that within 2-3 years Iran will have intercontinental missiles able to hit the United States.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz's assessment, in an interview with CNBC, was in line with an unclassified U.S. Defense Department report in 2010 that estimated Iran may be able to build a U.S.-range missile by 2015.
"They (the Iranians) are working now and investing a lot of billions of dollars in order to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles," said Steinitz.
"And we estimate that in two to three years they will have the first intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach the east coast of America. So their aim is to put a direct nuclear ballistic threat...to Europe and to the United States."
Three weeks ago, Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon said Iran had been working on developing a missile capable of striking the U.S. at a military base rocked by an explosion in November. Yaalon said the base was a research and development facility where Iran was preparing to develop a missile with a range of 10,000 km (6,000 miles). (Reuters)
- Ghastly Images Flow from Shattered Syrian City - Rod Nordland
During two minutes on Wednesday morning, 11 rockets slammed into a single apartment building in the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs in Syria. At least 22 bodies were recovered from the scene, according to accounts and videos compiled by activists. On the ground floor lay two foreign journalists, Marie Colvin, a veteran war correspondent, and Re'mi Ochlik, a noted photojournalist.
(New York Times)
See also Video: Homs, Syria, a City at War (Channel 4 TV-UK)
See also Top Syrian Military Officer Defects with Hundreds of Soldiers - Zvi Bar'el
A Syrian brigadier general has defected to the rebels along with some two hundred soldiers in the city of Idlib, opposition sources reported on Wednesday.
At least 57 people were killed Wednesday across Syria, the opposition Syrian Local Coordination Committee (LCC) reported. (DPA-Ha'aretz)
- Iran Research Center Had Key Role in Atom Work - Louis Charbonneau
Iran's Physics Research Center was established in 1989 "as part of an effort to create an undeclared nuclear program," according to David Albright, a former inspector for the UN International Atomic Energy Agency and president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).
A new ISIS report released on Wednesday reveals that the Iranian research center has played a key role in Tehran's atomic program. (Reuters)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Warns of Growing Hizbullah Powerbase in Western Africa - Yitzhak Benhorin
Israel's Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor warned the UN Security Council Tuesday that western Africa has become Hizbullah's powerbase in the region and a junction for running arms, drugs and money. "Israel is particularly concerned over Hizbullah's use of the area as a base of terror operations. Criminal initiatives bolster Hizbullah's efforts to create sleeper-cells in the area. The world can't stand idly by - this endangers more than just Africa but innocent lives the world over," he said, suggesting international collaboration to foil terror attacks worldwide.
- Palestinian Television Still Glorifies Terror Attacks Against Israel - Avi Issacharoff
Palestinian television on Oct. 25 featured a "field report" from Tulkarem in order to relate the wonders of the master terrorist Abbas a-Said, who is jailed in Israel and was sentenced to 35 life sentences. The former head of the military wing of Hamas in the town, a-Said was responsible for the suicide bombing of a Passover Seder in the Park Hotel in Netanya in 2002. The PA TV reporter did not spare the superlatives: "We are outside the home of the warrior hero, the commander, the lion of the prison, Abbas a-Said."
Nan Jacques Zilberdik, an analyst at Palestinian Media Watch, explains that on Palestinian TV "there is no message of peace with Israel....There's no education toward peace." "The new Palestinian generation, who watches Palestinian television, does not hear that Tel Aviv or Ashkelon are Israeli cities. It hears about occupied cities that must be liberated." (Ha'aretz)
- What Next on Syria? - Elliott Abrams
The Assad regime is vicious and repressive. It has no legitimacy and holds on to power by brute force alone. It is also Iran's only Arab ally, the arms supplier to Hizbullah, and an enemy of the U.S. that worked hard to send jihadis to Iraq to kill Americans. So the fall of the regime should be an American policy goal, and in this we will have considerable Arab and European support. The likely Sunni-led replacement will not have the close relationship with Iran and Hizbullah that the Assad clique has established.
The Free Syrian Army, which began with little more than press releases, is now a force in the thousands and we should be helping arm and fund it. Why? Because the real questions in Syria now are who will win and how long will this take. We ought to find an Assad victory (or perhaps one should say an Assad, Russian, Chinese, Iranian, and Hizbullah victory) unacceptable. The writer is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at CFR.
(Council on Foreign Relations)
See also Indirect Intervention in Syria - Jeffrey White
Since direct international military intervention in Syria has been ruled out, indirect intervention - the provision of military and political assistance to the regime's opponents - offers an alternative option that could yield success with less risk and cost.
The U.S. and others could provide weapons, training and intelligence to resistance fighters, help build enhanced capabilities for sabotage operations, and support a campaign of political warfare. Such a campaign could include information and psychological operations directed at the regime, the jamming of Syrian government communications, and the undermining of loyalties to the regime through financial or personal security inducements (e.g., exemption from prosecution, visas, and offers of asylum). The writer, a former senior intelligence officer, is a defense fellow at The Washington Institute.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- Friendship Under Fire - David Makovsky
It is no secret that Netanyahu and Obama have never been close, but now is the time for the two leaders to find common ground over the Iranian nuclear issue. The U.S. and Israel clearly differ in where their red lines lie. The U.S. has put the focus on Iran actually gaining a nuclear weapon, while Israel - more vulnerable to Iranian missiles due to its geographic proximity - views the threshold as the Iranian regime's acquisition of enough low-enriched uranium to build a bomb, pending a political decision to convert it to weapons-grade fuel.
The other set of differences has to do with how long the U.S. and Israel are willing to wait before judging the international sanctions of Iran to be a success or failure. Israeli officials fear they might not have the time to wait and see whether the sanctions halt Iran's nuclear program peacefully.
Israeli considerations of a strike are rooted not in their ethos of self-reliance, but in the fear that the U.S. will ultimately fail to strike, even if sanctions fail. The U.S. and Israel need to come to a more precise understanding of U.S. thresholds for the Iranian nuclear program and American responses should they be breached, as well as an agreement on a timetable for giving up on sanctions. The writer is the Ziegler distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Hatred: Coming Soon to a Campus Near You - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Post)
- Anti-Israel hatred on campus crests each year during an event called Israel Apartheid Week.
With this ominous name and programs that thrive on ignorance and blind disregard for the facts, tens of thousands of college students are urged to rise up against Israel - painfully evoking the types of racist characterizations of the Jewish people which defined attitudes once heard in Europe in the middle of the last century. This year's display will come to a campus near you before the end of February.
- Typically, those hurling these charges against Israel hope their audiences are ignorant of the facts. In apartheid South Africa, blacks were not allowed to use white hospitals, they could not attend white universities and they could not participate in the South African parliament. Visit Hadassah Medical Center today, or any other health facility in Israel, and see Jewish and Arab doctors caring for Jewish and Arab patients. Witness for yourself at Hebrew University or any institution of higher learning as Jewish and Arab professors teach students of different backgrounds. Go to the Knesset, and observe the debates involving both Jewish and Arab parliamentarians.
- Given this reality, Justice Richard Goldstone, a former judge on the South African Supreme Court, wrote in The New York Times on October 31, 2011: "The charge that Israel is an apartheid state is a false and malicious one that precludes, rather than promotes, peace and harmony." Goldstone, it should be remembered, did not have a problem criticizing Israeli policies in the aftermath of its 2008-2009 military operation in Gaza. But when it came to calling Israel an apartheid state like the old South Africa, with which he was intimately familiar, he firmly rejected the charge, which was completely divorced from the reality of modern Israel.
- No nation has fought racism more consistently than the Jewish people.
The Jewish state was founded on the very same moral outlook, reflecting the Jewish value of "Tikkun Olam," or repairing the world, which is deeply held across the Jewish religious spectrum. When Israeli medical teams rushed to international disaster zones in Turkey (1999), Kosovo (1999), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2008), and Haiti (2010), helping the afflicted regardless of their race or creed, they were driven by the very same core Jewish value.
The writer is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a former ambassador to the UN and a former senior adviser to the prime minister.
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