Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 9, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Four More Generals Defect from Syrian Army: Rebels - Erika Solomon and John Irish (Reuters)
    Four more brigadier generals have defected from the Syrian armed forces and fled over the past three days to a camp for Syrian army deserters in southern Turkey, Lt. Khaled al-Hamoud, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army (FSA), said Thursday, bringing to seven the number of brigadier generals who have defected.
    "We have six brigadier generals who are now in Turkey and another, who has stayed to lead some battalions inside Syria," Hamoud said.
    The senior rebel officer remaining in Syria is Brig.-Gen. Adnan Farzat, who announced his defection in a YouTube video on Tuesday, saying he objected to the intensified shelling in his home town.

    New eBook:
Iran: From Regional Challenge to Global Threat

- Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira (ed.) (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    This anthology of 31 recent Jerusalem Center studies by 11 leading security and diplomatic experts outlines the Iranian threat to Israel, the Middle East region, and the West.
    View Contents (pdf)
    What Is Happening to the Iranian Nuclear Program? - Dore Gold (pdf)
    Purchase Amazon Kindle edition

AIPAC's Victory - Michael J. Totten (World Affairs Journal)
    I was invited to speak at the annual AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington and it's clearer to me now than ever that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby at the throbbing center of conspiracy theories on the far-left and the far-right, is actually at the center of an iron-clad bipartisan consensus in our nation's capital.
    Not only did President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak, so did a long list of senators and representatives from both political parties.
    Democrats and Republicans are here in equal numbers not only on the stage, but also in the audience. I've met as many liberals here as conservatives.
    There were 14,000 of us inside the convention center. I saw at most 20 protesters outside from Occupy AIPAC, a measly little anti-Zionist spinoff from Occupy Wall Street.
    AIPAC would get nowhere if its insistence on a close and special relationship between the U.S. and Israel didn't resonate powerfully with American public opinion.
    See also The Psychological Deterrence of Iran - Lenny Ben-David (Times of Israel)

In Israel, a Striking Absence of Panic - David Horovitz (Times of Israel)
    The concentrated glare on Iran seems to be creating the sense in some quarters that an Israeli assault on Iran's nuclear facilities might be just around the corner.
    But if war with Iran is about to begin, the usually perceptive Israeli public doesn't seem to have picked up on it.
    The subject is on our minds, but it is not dominating our national agenda to the exclusion of almost all else. We're not in a state of panic, or anything like it.

In Israel, Pondering a Threat, But Taking Panic Off the Table - Isabel Kershner (New York Times)
    Given the prospects of a military confrontation with Iran, observers noted that Israelis were used to taking doomsday situations in stride.
    "Our threshold for panic is very high," said Gadi Wolfsfeld, a professor of political science and communications at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
    "Anyone who has lived here long enough has been through so many different horrors," he added, citing the 1991 Persian Gulf war, when Israelis donned gas masks after having been threatened with chemical warfare, and the bus bombings of the second Palestinian uprising.
    With no real terrorism and no immediate threat of war, Wolfsfeld said, "for Israelis, this is as good as it gets."

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New York Times: Creating News Where There Is None (CAMERA)
    One of the underlying themes of New York Times coverage of the Middle East is blaming Israel as the perennial aggressor while the Palestinians are the perennial victims.
    And if there happens to be no particular Palestinian grievance to play up on a given day, the Times will do so anyway: by recycling an old picture.
    Take as an example the front page of March 8. The above-fold, full-color picture has nothing whatsoever to do with any breaking news from the region.
    Instead, the Times dredged up an old photo of soldiers with balls of fire at the tips of their guns with the caption: "Israeli soldiers fired at Palestinian stone throwers in the West Bank town of al Ram, near east Jerusalem, last month."
    Actually, the masked Palestinians were throwing both rocks and firebombs - not exactly peaceful, and yes, this was last month.
    Not only did a non-news photo take front page placement, but the front page story was a manufactured one about Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to the U.S. pushing news about Palestinian grievances off the front page.

Peace Index: Israelis Favor Talks with PA But Don't Expect Success - (Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute-IMRA)
    A Peace Index survey conducted on Feb. 28-29 asked if Israelis favored or opposed holding peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority? In Favor: Israeli Jews - 67%, Israeli Arabs - 70%. Opposed: Israeli Jews - 29%, Israeli Arabs - 30%.
    Do you believe that negotiations will lead to peace in the coming years? Believe: Israeli Jews - 27%, Israeli Arabs - 31%. Don't Believe: Israeli Jews - 72%, Israeli Arabs - 69%.

Israel's "Tunnel Rats" Brace for New Guerrilla War - Lianne Gross (Reuters)
    Fearing a surge in tunnel and bunker construction by Lebanon's Hizbullah and Palestinian militants, Israel is training its troops to hunt below ground with robot probes and sniffer dogs.
    "We're gathering the information, studying it and building training facilities to train our soldiers," said a major from the Israeli engineering corps' Yahalom ("Diamond") commando unit.
    The Yahalom men were armed with pistols and snub-barrelled assault rifles to ease movement through narrow passages. Oxygen masks are an option, should ventilation prove problematic.
    During an exercise put on for the foreign media, soldiers blew up the door of a mock tunnel, then a camera-carrying robot was pulled out of a backpack and tossed inside.
    The Israelis use dogs to sniff out booby-traps in the tunnels and, if needed, to tackle the defenders.

Sweden Rejects Aid for Saudi Weapons Plant (Reuters)
    Sweden's government said Wednesday it would not allow any state authorities to help Saudi Arabia build an advanced weapons factory as it sought to quell a public outcry after reports a Swedish defense agency was doing so.
    See also Sweden to Build Saudi Weapons Plant (Defense-Aerospace-Radio Sweden)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Panetta: Pentagon Planning for Potential Iran Strikes - Yochi J. Dreazen
    The Pentagon is preparing an array of military options for striking Iran if hard-hitting diplomatic and economic sanctions fail to persuade Tehran to drop its nuclear ambitions, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told National Journal in an interview Thursday. Such planning has been underway "for a long time," a reflection of the Obama administration's mounting concern over Iran's continued progress towards a nuclear weapon.
        Panetta said a unilateral Israeli strike against Iran would be less effective than one conducted by the U.S., which has a significantly larger air force and an array of more powerful weapons, though an American strike doesn't appear imminent. "If they [Israel] decided to do it there's no question that it would have an impact, but I think it's also clear that if the United States did it we would have a hell of a bigger impact," Panetta said.
        Panetta stressed that the administration didn't simply believe that Iran's nuclear push posed a threat to Israel. Washington, he said, also saw Iran's efforts as a direct threat to the U.S. "I think they [the Israelis] also understand that we view Iran as a threat to our security as well."  (National Journal)
  • Ex-Mossad Chief: Iran Rational; Don't Attack Now
    Ex-Mossad Chief Meir Dagan discussed the Iranian nuclear program with Lesley Stahl in a "60 Minutes" interview to be broadcast Sunday, March 11 at 7 p.m. ET/PT. "The regime in Iran is a very rational one," he says. He doesn't advocate a pre-emptive Israeli military strike against Iran's nuclear industry anytime soon, an attack that he said would have to be against "a large number of targets." "An attack on Iran before you are exploring all other approaches is not the right way."
        In the meantime, he thinks that to foment regime change is a smarter tactic. "It's our duty to help anyone who likes to present an open opposition against their regime in Iran." "The issue of Iran armed with a nuclear capability is not an Israeli problem; it's an international problem," he adds. (CBS News)
  • Gaddafi Hid Arms in Libyan Embassies - Christian Lowe and Ali Shuaib
    Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was running a covert program to conceal weapons in Libyan embassies across the globe, a senior official in the new government said on Thursday. The weapons included handguns, grenades and bomb-making materials and were shipped via diplomatic pouch. Weapons found in Athens, Greece, included 30 handguns, two sub-machineguns, 15 kg. of plastic explosives, detonators, two hand grenades, silencers and wiretapping equipment. The weapons uncovered in Rabat, Morocco, included booby-trapped vehicles and rocket-propelled grenades. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: I'm Not Going to Allow Iran to Go Nuclear - Stuart Winer
    The moment of truth on Iran is "not days or weeks away, but neither is it years away," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israel Channel 2 TV in an interview Thursday. "We can't allow Iran to go nuclear....I'm not going to allow it." He said he hoped the international pressures on Iran would prompt the regime there to halt its nuclear drive, but that one way or another "the threat of a nuclear Iran must be turned aside." "If I don't make the right decision, there may be no one to explain it to" in the future.
        A Maariv report on Thursday claimed that in return for delaying a strike against Iran until at least the end of 2012, after the upcoming U.S. presidential elections, the U.S. will supply Israel with bunker-busting bombs and refueling planes to do the job should it be necessary. (Times of Israel)
        See also White House Denies Report of Deal with Israel over Iran - Kent Klein (VOA News)
  • Stabbed Soldier Kills Palestinian in West Bank - Yaakov Katz
    A Palestinian stabbed an IDF soldier in the village of Yatta in the South Hebron Hills on Thursday. The soldier then wounded the attacker and killed another Palestinian with him. The soldier was moderately wounded and evacuated to Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Protesting Jordanian Students Cancel Israeli Expert's Lecture in Amman - Roi Kais
    Hundreds of Jordanian students rallied outside Amman's University of Jordan on Thursday to protest a scheduled lecture by Israeli expert Dr. Gideon Anholt at a mental health conference on anxiety and depression. The university cancelled the lecture. The protesters also called on authorities to expel the Israeli ambassador from Jordan and cancel the 1994 peace treaty. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • U.S., Israel Pull Closer on Iran - Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee
    U.S. officials said they believed pressure has eased on Israel to attack Iran, after meetings Monday between American and Israeli leaders and tougher talk from the U.S. that moved it closer to Israel's approach. Israeli officials, meanwhile, said that President Obama's public and private acknowledgment of the Jewish state's sovereign right to defend itself was a crucial gain as the two countries seek to deter Tehran. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu also praised Obama's stated willingness in recent days to use U.S. military might to counter Iran.
        U.S. officials believe Obama succeeded in conveying to Netanyahu that he takes the issue seriously and is treating it as a top priority. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Lucy and the Football, Iran-Style? - Charles Krauthammer
    After ostensibly tough talk about preventing Iran from going nuclear, the Obama administration acquiesced this week to yet another round of talks with the mullahs. This, 14 months after the last group-of-six negotiations collapsed in Istanbul because of blatant Iranian stalling and unseriousness.
        These negotiations don't just gain time for a nuclear program about whose military intent the International Atomic Energy Agency is issuing alarming warnings. They make it extremely difficult for Israel to do anything about it (while it still can), lest Israel be universally condemned for having aborted a diplomatic solution.
        So what is Obama's real objective? "We're trying to make the decision to attack as hard as possible for Israel," an administration official told the Washington Post. The world's greatest exporter of terror (according to the State Department), the systematic killer of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, the self-declared enemy that invented "Death to America Day" is approaching nuclear capability - and the focus of U.S. policy is to prevent a democratic ally threatened with annihilation from preempting the threat? (Washington Post)
  • Politics Not Driving the Iran Debate - Aaron David Miller
    One of the most dangerous myths these days is that President Obama's Iran policy has been taken hostage by election year pandering to Israel and the pro-Israel community in America.
        At the AIPAC policy conference the president's rhetoric toughened, but his speech was smart politics and also smart policy. He has a stake in signaling the Iranians that this issue is at the top of his agenda and that they shouldn't be relaxed about military action; reassuring the Israelis that he takes their concerns seriously without giving into an irrepressible slide toward war; and communicating to the Russians and Chinese that he plans to raise the pressure on Iran while leaving open the possibility of diplomacy, however slim that may be.
        The reality is that if this were 2011, and not an election year, the president's policy would be very much the same: buy time to determine if nonmilitary pressure against Iran can work (oil sanctions will kick in this summer) and reassure Israel of his seriousness but don't give ironclad commitments (yet) that America will take care of the Iranian nuclear problem if Israel will stay its hand. This is hardly pandering.
        What will emerge is enough of a consensus to ratchet up pressure and avoid war for now. The writer is a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. (New York Times)
  • No Nuclear Compromise - Mehdi Khalaji
    Not only does Israel see a nuclear Iran as an existential threat, but also Arab countries - especially members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The only hope for a Middle East nuclear-free zone is to stop Iran from reaching nuclear capability.
        While Israeli nuclear capability primarily aims to protect a country surrounded by enemies, Iran's attempt to obtain such capability remains unjustifiable in the eyes of the West and also neighboring countries - who have made it a priority to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions. Without Saudi Arabian and Gulf countries' intensive efforts in enforcing sanctions on Iran, the Islamic Republic would not be as economically and politically isolated as it is today.
        Iran will not be able to survive existing sanctions, which unprecedentedly target the banking system and oil industry. The world should put maximum effort on enforcing current sanctions. An unbearable economic crisis is occurring in Iran and it would certainly divide the circle of policy makers, especially the influential Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. This would most likely bring significant change to Iran's nuclear policy. The writer is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • The Revolutionary Guards: Pillar of the Iranian Regime
    During the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, two organizations established their reputation as the pillars of the Iranian regime, organizations that even today would be willing to make great sacrifices in defending Iran against attacks: the voluntary militia of the Basij and the units of the Pasdaran, the Revolutionary Guards. In 2009, during the so-called Green Revolution, Basij and Pasdaran troops brutally attacked the Iranians who took to the streets to protest Ahmadinejad's manipulated reelection.
        While the Basij deteriorated into a group of thugs long ago, the Pasdaran are still widely respected. The Revolutionary Guards, with 125,000 men, are the backbone of the leadership. Their commander, Mohammad Ali Jafari, 54, commands an additional 300,000 reservists and the Basij, which has an estimated troop strength of at least 100,000.
        Pasdaran officers benefit from each additional tightening of sanctions, which leads to a booming black market and boosts smuggling activities, thereby strengthening the shadow economy controlled by some Pasdaran leaders. (Der Spiegel-Germany)
  • Are Israelis Paranoid? Yes ... and They Have Every Reason to Be When It Comes to Iran - Frida Ghitis
    In recent days I have heard people wondering if Israelis aren't making too much of the Iranian threat. But there is no arguing the question of whether Israelis are paranoid: You bet they are. And with good reason.
        Let's set aside the lessons of history, which are multiple, tragic and eerily repetitive. Let's focus instead on the present. On Feb. 3, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, the country's most powerful man and its spiritual leader, told the faithful in his Friday sermon that Israel is "a cancerous tumor that should be cut and will be cut." Iran, he said, would help anyone who wants to help carry this out.
        Khamanei admitted that Iran has already participated in recent wars. "We have intervened," he revealed, in the wars between Israel and Hizbullah in Lebanon in 2006 and Hamas in Gaza in 2009. During those wars, thousands of rockets were launched against Israeli civilians, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes and more than a million to live in shelters. So the prospect of rockets falling on Israelis requires no imagination.
        Journalists have photographed military parades displaying long-range missiles, capable of reaching Israel and Europe, draped with banners reading "Israel must be uprooted and erased from history." And to those saying Iran makes "rational" decisions, let's remember their rationality includes the belief that dying can be glorious. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  • Palestinians

  • Who Marginalized the Palestinians? - Jonathan S. Tobin
    For decades, the chattering classes have been working hard to teach us that the central issue of the Middle East region was not the Shia-Sunni conflict or the struggle for freedom by Arabs longing to rid themselves of autocratic monarchs or dictators. But in the past year, the main subjects of discussion have been the Arab Spring revolts and the debate over how best to stop the Iranian nuclear threat. The result is that the world is getting on with its business these days without obsessing about the Palestinians. All of which has left the Palestinians and their foreign cheerleaders mighty upset.
        Predictably, the Palestinians blame everyone but themselves. Yet if they want the answer, they need only look in the mirror. Having refused Israeli peace offers of a state including a share of Jerusalem three times from 2000 to 2008 and with the Palestinian Authority now allying itself with the Islamists of Hamas, the Palestinians have effectively painted themselves into a diplomatic corner.
        Even the Obama administration, which did more to tilt the diplomatic playing field in the Palestinians' favor than any of its predecessors, has seen all of its initiatives to push the Israelis to give in on Jerusalem, settlements and the 1967 borders rendered moot by the Palestinian refusal to negotiate. (Commentary)
  • A One-State Solution? - Amir Taheri
    The recent Harvard conference raised the profile of a new industry to promote a "one-state solution" to the Israel-Palestine conflict. The idea is that Israel, Gaza and the West Bank should become a single state for both Arabs and Jews.
        In the early decades of the 20th century, as Jews started migrating en masse to their ancient homeland and building their state, Arabs regarded Palestine (Ottoman provinces controlled by Britain after World War I) as just another chunk of their territory and rejected the idea of a distinct Palestinian people. Syria claimed that Palestine had always been part of its territory. Iraq sought Palestine for access to the Mediterranean. Egypt believed that, as the most populous Arab state, it should annex Palestine. And Trans-Jordan (later Jordan), a state carved out of the largest chunk of Palestine by Britain for its Arab clients from neighboring Hejaz, hoped to absorb the remainder.
        Why would anyone promote a one-state solution when majorities both in Israel and among Palestinians seek a two-state one? Because the one-state solution is not a solution at all: It's a cover for a hidden agenda to deny Israel's right to exist. The advocates of a one-state solution are in Tehran and in U.S. universities, including Harvard - but not in Israel or the Palestinian territories. (New York Post)

  • Syria

  • Islamism and the Syrian Uprising - Nir Rosen
    James Clapper, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, warned last month of al-Qaeda taking advantage of the growing conflict in Syria. The Syrian regime and its supporters frequently claim that the opposition is dominated by al-Qaeda-linked extremists.
        Syria's uprising is not a secular one. Most participants are devout Sunni Muslims and often come from conservative areas. A minority is secular and another minority is comprised of ideological Islamists. The majority is made of religious-minded people with little ideology, like most Syrians. They are not fighting to defend secularism or to establish a theocracy. But as the conflict grinds on, Islam is playing an increasing role in the uprising.
        As the crackdown increases, as the local opposition's sense of abandonment by the outside world increases, and the voices calling for jihad get louder, there will likely be more radicalization. The writer spent four months in Syria reporting on the uprising for al Jazeera. (Foreign Policy)
  • The Fate of Syria - Raymond Ibrahim
    Consider which groups in Syria are especially for or against Assad - and why. Christian minorities, who, as 10% of the Syrian population, have the most to gain from a secular government and the most to suffer from a state run by Islamic Sharia law, have no choice but to prefer Assad. Many of the hundreds of thousands of Christians who fled post-Saddam Hussein Iraq went to Syria.
        While it is true that not all of Assad's opposition is Islamist - there are anti-Assad Muslims who do not want a state that will be run by Islamic Sharia law - the Islamists are quite confident that the overthrow of Assad will equate with their empowerment. And why shouldn't they be? Wherever Arab tyrants have been overthrow - Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen - it is Islamists who are filling the power-vacuums. The writer is an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum. (Stonegate Institute)

  • Other Issues

  • America Is Stuck with the Mideast - Walter Russell Mead
    The reality is that the U.S. remains the paramount power in the Middle East and will remain committed to it for a long time to come. America's interests in the Middle East remain simple and in relatively good shape. The U.S. wants a balance of power in the region that prevents any power or coalition of powers inside or outside the region from being able to block the flow of oil to world markets by military means. It wants Israel to be secure. And in the middle to long term, it hopes to see the establishment of stable, democratic governments that can foster economic growth and peace.
        In today's Middle East, core U.S. goals enjoy wide, even unprecedented support. As the Sunni Arab world joins hands with Europe, pushes back against Iran, and works to overthrow Syria's Bashar al-Assad, a strong coalition has formed around Washington's most urgent regional priority - the Iranian drive for regional hegemony capped by its nuclear program.
        U.S. objectives command enormous support across the region. If this is decline, we could use more of it. Often hated, rarely loved, the U.S. remains indispensable to the region's balance of power and to the security of the vulnerable oil-producing states on the Gulf. (Wall Street Journal)
  • How to Kill the Egyptian Economy - Lee Smith
    The sale of Sinai gas to Israel was one of the few major trade agreements between the two states and a symbol of normalized relations after decades of war. Despite the belief that the anti-Mubarak protests had nothing to do with Israel, the reality is that the peace treaty was always one of the major beefs that the opposition - Islamists, Arab nationalists, and leftists alike - had with the regime. The widespread belief that Israel and Mubarak had conspired to cheat Egypt out of gas revenues bespeaks an abiding hostility to the treaty.
        In the 13 months since the uprising, there have been 12 attacks on the pipeline that supplies Egyptian natural gas to Israel (and to Jordan). There were 245 days during which no gas flowed, and when it did flow, the gas came in substantially smaller quantities.
        After agreements were signed in 2005, Egyptian gas didn't reach Israel until 2008. In May 2009, the Egyptian government amended the gas purchase agreement to double the price, while also applying a higher price retroactively to gas that had already been supplied. Israel was now paying Egypt more than what Cairo was charging customers like Jordan, and twice what it paid for its own gas.
        Egypt is going begging to the Arab states, the IMF and World Bank, while it is sitting on natural gas that it refuses to profit from for political reasons. And if Egypt fails to meet its contractual obligations to Israel, it is difficult to see investors taking further risks in a political climate dominated by Islamists. (Weekly Standard)
  • Why Golda Meir Was Right - Burak Bekdil
    Since last August the Syrian death toll has moved from 2,000 to over 7,000 - about five times more than the Palestinian casualties during Israel's Gaza Operation in 2009. These distressing figures forcefully remind us of Prime Minister Erdogan's famous dictums: 1. Muslims don't kill, and 2. (Jews) know well how to kill.
        Simple Middle East research will give you 1 million deaths in the all-Muslim Iran-Iraq war; 300,000 Muslim minorities killed by Saddam Hussein; 80,000 Iranians killed during the Islamic revolution; 25,000 deaths from 1970 to 1971, the days of Black September, by the Jordanian government in its fight against the Palestinians; and 20,000 Islamists killed in 1982 by the elder al-Assad in Hama. The World Health Organization's estimate of Osama bin Laden's carnage in Iraq was already 150,000 a few years earlier.
        In a 2007 study, Gunnar Heinsohn from the University of Bremen and Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, found that some 11 million Muslims have been violently killed since 1948, of which 35,000, (0.3%) died during the six years of Arab war against Israel, or one out of every 315 fatalities. In contrast, over 90% who perished were killed by fellow Muslims.
        Time magazine quotes a one-legged revolutionary singer undergoing medical treatment in Turkey in the most recent wave of refugees, as saying: "We'd rather accept Israel than Bashar....The Israelis didn't do to the Palestinians what Bashar has done to Syria." Who, really, knows better how to kill? (Hurriyet-Turkey)
  • Israel and the Plight of Mideast Christians - Michael Oren
    Middle Eastern Christians' share of the region's population has plunged from 20% a century ago to less than 5% today and falling. In Egypt, 200,000 Coptic Christians fled their homes last year after beatings and massacres by Muslim extremist mobs. Since 2003, 70 Iraqi churches have been burned and nearly a thousand Christians killed in Baghdad alone, causing more than half of this million-member community to flee. Conversion to Christianity is a capital offense in Iran, where last month Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death. Saudi Arabia outlaws private Christian prayer.
        As 800,000 Jews were once expelled from Arab countries, so are Christians being forced from lands they've inhabited for centuries. The only place in the Middle East where Christians aren't endangered but flourishing is Israel. Since Israel's founding in 1948, its Christian communities (including Russian and Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Armenians and Protestants) have expanded more than 1,000%. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the U.S. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Middle East's Real Apartheid - Efraim Karsh
    Israel actually is the only apartheid-free state in the Middle East - a state whose Arab population enjoys full equality before the law and more prerogatives than most ethnic minorities in the free world, from the designation of Arabic as an official language to the recognition of non-Jewish religious holidays as legal days of rest.
        By contrast, the Middle East's Arab and Muslim nations have continued to legally, politically and socially enforce discriminatory apartheid against their hapless minorities for over a millennium. Arab/Muslim apartheid includes religious intolerance, ethnic inequality, racism, gender discrimination, denial of citizenship, labor inequality, slavery, and political oppression.
        It is time to denounce these discriminatory practices and force Arab/Muslim regimes to abide by universally accepted principles of decency and accountability. Only when Arab and Muslim societies treat the "other" as equal will the Middle East, and the rest of the Islamic world, be able to transcend its malaise and look forward to a real political and social spring. The writer is research professor of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King's College London, and director of the Middle East Forum (Philadelphia). (Jerusalem Post)
  • Deconstructing "Israeli Apartheid" - Alex Safian
    Israeli Apartheid Week, and charges of Israeli apartheid generally, are based on a monstrous series of lies, an inversion of reality that targets an open liberal democracy - the only such state in the entire Middle East. Whether based on alleged racial discrimination, ethnic cleansing, water theft, infant mortality rates, or being barred from acquiring or accessing land, etc., the apartheid charges against Israel have been revealed to be baseless.
        Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank didn't experience anything at all comparable to apartheid. In fact, in many ways they had more rights under Israeli rule than they have today under Hamas rule in Gaza, or under PA rule in the West Bank, and more rights also than the citizens of any Arab country. (CAMERA)
  • Israel's Unknown Heroes - Giulio Meotti
    There are the maimed military heroes. Some have no legs. Others have no arms. Some are blind. Others suffer from burns all over their bodies. Many have been tortured. Today they work in banana fields and teach at universities. They are architects, writers, lawyers, artists, members of Knesset. Formerly, they were pilots, paratroopers, artillery officers and jeep drivers.
        And there are the civilian survivors of terror attacks. The Second Intifada produced 17,000 wounded, a figure which in the U.S. is the equivalent of 664,133 injured. They are a microcosm of the unfailing spirit so many in the world associate with being Israeli. Such people epitomize courage and determination, faith and resistance. The writer, a journalist with Il Foglio, is the author of A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism. (Ynet News)

Iran Can't Be Allowed Nuclear "Capability" - Sens. Robert P. Casey (D-Pa.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) (Wall Street Journal)

  • The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is a threat to the entire world, including particularly the U.S., and its destabilizing consequences are not containable. If Iran succeeds in acquiring a nuclear-weapons capability, neighboring Arab states will seek their own atomic arsenals. The Middle East will become a nuclear tinderbox, and the odds of nuclear material falling into the hands of rogue terrorists will dramatically increase.
  • Iran itself is already the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism in the world. If it acquires a nuclear-weapons capability, its proxies - groups such as Lebanese Hizbullah and Shiite militias in Iraq that have the blood of hundreds of Americans on their hands - will become significantly more dangerous, because they could strike at us and our allies while being protected from retaliation by Tehran's nuclear umbrella.
  • A nuclear-armed Iran would also threaten the global economy by holding Middle Eastern oil supplies hostage. Recently, Iran's leaders threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz. If Iran tried to do so now, the U.S. and our allies would have an overwhelming military advantage. But what if Tehran had nuclear missiles?
  • It is imperative that the U.S. and its partners accelerate and expand economic pressure on Tehran. Sanctions must threaten the very existence of that regime in order to have a chance of stopping its illicit nuclear activities.
  • We introduced a bipartisan resolution last month that explicitly rules out a strategy of containment for Iran and reaffirms that the U.S. has a vital national interest in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear-weapons capability. Some have asked why our resolution sets the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a "nuclear weapons capability," rather than "nuclear weapons."
  • The reason is that all of the destabilizing consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran will ensue as soon as Iranians have the components necessary for a weapon - and by then, it will be too late to stop them. That is why the comprehensive sanctions legislation passed by Congress in 2010 and signed into law by President Obama identified the U.S. goal as preventing a "nuclear-weapons capability."
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