Refugees Say Neighbor Shoots Neighbor in Syrian Crackdown - Anne Barnard (New York Times)
Sunni Muslims who have fled Syria described a government crackdown that is more pervasive and more sectarian than previously understood.
Syrian Sunni refugees living in the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon said they saw the military give out rifles to residents of neighboring Alawite villages and that their neighbors then opened fire on them.
The refugees' firsthand accounts painted a picture of a section of western Syria that is more thoroughly under siege - and perhaps more widely in revolt - than has previously been depicted.
Assad Seems to Mimic Iranian Strategy for Survival - Rick Gladstone (New York Times)
With his country unraveling in what looks like a sectarian civil war, President Assad of Syria has been projecting himself as a confident and popular leader on the verge of victory, possibly, analysts said, borrowing lessons drawn from his only remaining regional ally, Iran, on how to resist outside pressure in a crisis.
French Police Detain 19 in Crackdown on Islamist Extremists, Seize Weapons (AP-Washington Post)
Police have detained 19 people in a crackdown on Islamist extremists in cities around France on Friday and more such raids are planned, French president Nicolas Sarkozy said.
Making a Federal Case Out of Jerusalem - Rick Richman (Commentary)
The State Department spokesperson was tortured with a series of questions Wednesday about whether Jerusalem is part of Israel.
Obviously acting on instructions to say only that Jerusalem is an issue to be resolved by negotiations, she gave the same answer to the question, "What is the capital of Israel?"
The reporter might have referenced the State Department website, which identifies Israel's capital as Jerusalem (and says Israel's area is 20,330 square km., "including Jerusalem"); or the CIA website, which says the same thing; or the Department of Defense website, which is replete with references including a picture of Secretary Gates and Prime Minister Netanyahu "during a working lunch meeting in Jerusalem, Israel."
This all could have been avoided if the White House had ended the charade about the city that has been Israel's capital since 1950; and stopped fighting a nine-year-old boy's passport designation in the Supreme Court.
Palestinian Prisoner Ends Hunger Strike (CNN)
Hana Shalabi, a Palestinian woman held by Israel for terrorist activity, ended her 44-day hunger strike Thursday after agreeing to be deported to Gaza, her lawyer said.
Sweden: Defense Minister Quits over Saudi Weapons Deal (Euronews)
After weeks of intense pressure, Sten Tolgfors has quit as Sweden's defense minister over reports the Nordic state planned to help Saudi Arabia build a weapons factory.
A public radio station initially published plans for a state-run defense agency known as FOI to help Saudi Arabia.
Agreements were struck with Saudi Arabia in 2005 and renewed in 2010.
Jordan Group Translates Babylonian Talmud to Arabic - Jeremy Sharon (Jerusalem Post)
A think tank on Middle East affairs in Jordan has for the first time published a translation of the Babylonian Talmud in Arabic.
The Middle East Studies Center based in Amman produced the 20-volume work, which took six years to complete and is the labor of 95 translators, language experts and editors. The center's director, Jawad Ahmad, would not speak with the Israeli press about the project.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar, director of the Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, said the Talmud is usually portrayed very negatively in the Muslim and Arab world. "I doubt this new translation was done out of the goodness of their heart."
"Israel is a puzzle for the Muslim world," Kedar said. "They don't understand how this can work; it looks like some kind of satanic enterprise to them when most Arab states are more or less failures, so they want to understand the cultural and religious roots of their enemy, to maybe solve this puzzle one day and perhaps in the end defeat Israel."
Don't We Have Anything Better to Do than Bash the Jews? - Abdul Haleem Abdul Rahiman (Malaysian Insider)
Opposition MPs are preparing to table a motion in Parliament to propose that Malaysia end all direct and indirect dealings with the Jewish state. But we have no diplomatic ties with Israel.
I bet at least 50% of the Malaysian population have never met a single Jew in their whole life. None of them is interfering with our daily life.
Enlighten me please. On what basis do we hate them so much? Why are we not standing up for our "brothers and sisters" in Iran?
See also Trading in Populism Instead of Common Sense - Farish A. Noor (Malaysian Insider)
With Malaysian elections around the corner, some opposition MPs intend to table a motion to ban the use of Malaysian ports "by any company that has a trade interest with the Zionist regime."
Pray tell, how many companies or countries do not have trade relations with Israel? Practically every major economy that Malaysia trades with - the U.S., Japan, China, India, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, the UK, Germany, France - trades with Israel.
The writer is a senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
See also Malaysia Denies Supplying Palm Oil to Israel - Patrick Lee (FMT-Malaysia)
Israeli Woman Is Europe's Top Young Researcher - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
Multinational cosmetics firm L'Oreal and UNESCO have named Weizmann Institute biologist Dr. Naama Geva-Zatorsky as "Europe's top young researcher" for her work in researching probiotics (beneficial bacteria) to treat disease.
Her work aims at using "good bacteria" to treat diseases from gastroenterological disorders and diabetes to immune disorders and cancer.
25 Microsoft Top Execs to Visit Israel (Globes-McClatchy-InfoTech)
25 senior executives from Microsoft will visit Israel in April to participate in two conferences organized by Microsoft Israel Ltd. and its R&D Center.
On April 22, at the Think Next Conference in Tel Aviv, 20 Israeli start-ups and 20 new technologies from Microsoft's R&D Centers in Israel and other countries will be presented.
The next day, at the Be Next Conference for the business sector, Microsoft Israel will unveil new enterprise products.
The company expects 4,000 technology people, including entrepreneurs, developers, investors, IT experts, and CIOs to attend the conferences.
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- Did U.S. Just Torpedo Israeli Deal for a Base in Azerbaijan? - Brad Knickerbocker
This week a widely cited report claimed that Israel is developing a "secret staging ground" in Iran's neighbor to the north - Azerbaijan - for a possible attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Quoting unnamed senior U.S. diplomats and military intelligence officials, a lengthy article in Foreign Policy magazine asserts that "Israel has recently been granted access to airbases on Iran's northern border."
"The Israelis have bought an airfield," a senior administration official is quoted as saying, "and the airfield is called Azerbaijan."
"We're watching what Iran does closely," said one U.S. intelligence source. "But we're now watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we're not happy about it." (Christian Science Monitor)
See also Azerbaijan Denies Israel Airfield Rumor - K. Zarbaliyeva
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry has denied a report in Foreign Policy magazine that Azerbaijan has allegedly provided Israel with an airfield near the border with Iran, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry, Teymur Abdullayev, said Thursday. Earlier, Azerbaijani Presidential Administration Social and Political Department Chief Ali Hasanov said Azerbaijan's territory will never be used for any actions against Iran. (Trend-Azerbaijan)
See also below Commentary: Israel vs. Iran - The Azerbaijan Incident
- Hard Line on Iran Places White House in a Bind - Mark Landler, Thom Shanker and Helene Cooper
As American and European diplomats prepare for crucial negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, the White House finds itself caught in a bind: for the diplomatic effort to work, American officials say, the Iranian government must believe that President Obama is ready and willing to take military action.
Yet tough talk, necessary as it might be for successful diplomacy, contributes to a sense that war may be unavoidable.
"For diplomacy to work there has to be a coercive side," said Dennis Ross, a former senior official at the National Security Council who handled Iran policy. "If the Iranians think this is a bluff, you can't be as effective. The message to the Iranians is: you've got an option." (New York Times)
- Israeli Troops on Alert for Land Day Protests
Israel has tightened security along its borders in anticipation of a series of planned demonstrations Friday by Palestinians and their supporters.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- PLO, Hamas Urge Participation in Land Day Protest - Khaled Abu Toameh
The PLO and Hamas urged Palestinians Thursday to participate in mass protests marking Land Day on Friday.
Pro-Palestinian supporters are also planning marches Friday from neighboring Arab countries to the borders with Israel as part of a solidarity event called "Global March to Jerusalem." Mahmoud Aloul, a senior Fatah official, said that most of the protests in the West Bank would take place at the main entrances to Jerusalem. He voiced hope that tens of thousands of Palestinians would participate.
- Defense Official: Hamas Behind Attacks on Israel - Amos Harel
Hamas is continuing to direct terrorist activity at Israeli targets through various means, despite its public declarations that it is committed to maintaining calm. Israeli intelligence sources acknowledged, however, that Hamas currently wishes to maintain a low profile in an effort not to anger the Egyptians and not be perceived as violating the current cease-fire.
A senior Israeli defense official said Hamas "understands that this language [of violence] is currently less acceptable in the international arena....Attacks clearly committed by Hamas would not be compatible with the spirit of the times, and the group also doesn't want to give Israel a reason to send the IDF back into Gaza, but Hamas terror from Gaza is continuing all the time, especially - and openly - via Sinai."
The assessment in Israel is that Hamas and Islamic Jihad understand very well that the decision to fire Fajr missiles into Tel Aviv could come at the cost of another Israeli invasion of Gaza.
- Palestinian Who Stabbed IDF Soldier in Jerusalem Says He Was Inspired by Radical Arab Media - Aviad Glickman
The Jerusalem District Prosecution indicted Mohammed Shuman, 18, for the attempted murder of Israeli soldier Yehudit Aharon, 19, on Jerusalem's Light Rail in early March. Shuman - an avid viewer of Al-Jazeera, Al-Quds and Al-Manar TV stations - was frustrated by what he perceived as the unfair treatment of Palestinians and decided to kill the soldier. (Ynet News)
Israel vs. Iran - The Azerbaijan Incident
- U.S. Leaking Information to Media to Thwart Israeli Strike on Iran - Ron Ben-Yishai
The U.S. Administration recently shifted into high gear in its efforts to avert an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities by the end of the year, as seen in the flood of reports in the American media in recent weeks. The most important American objective is to eliminate potential operational options available to the IDF and the State of Israel. It is blatantly clear that reports in the past week alone have caused Israel substantive diplomatic damage, and possibly even military and operational damage.
Another Administration objective is to convince the Israeli public that an Iran strike will not achieve even the minimum required to justify it. The report of only a six-month delay in Iran's nuclear program was meant for the Israeli public as the Americans try to prove the futility of a strike. The third objective of the recent publications is to scare the Israeli public via an apocalyptic account of possible retaliation by Iran and its "clients."
The American publications caused the following damage:
Iran now has a decent picture of what Israel's and America's intelligence communities know about Tehran's nuclear program and defense establishment, including its aerial defenses. The Iranians now know about the indications that would be perceived by Washington and Jerusalem as a "nuclear breakthrough." Hence, Iran can do a better job of concealment.
Needless to say, this is not how one should be treating an ally, even by a superpower. The U.S. campaign also sharply contradicts President Obama's declaration at the AIPAC Conference, whereby he and the U.S. recognize Israel's sovereign right to defend itself by itself. One cannot utter these words and a moment later expose Israel's vulnerabilities and possible strike routes to its enemies.
There is a difference between legitimate persuasion efforts and practical steps to thwart Israeli plans and eliminate them.
What we are seeing here is not a trickle of information, but rather, a powerful current, a true flood that leaves no doubt as to the existence of an orchestrated media campaign with clear aims.
- Bolton Accuses Administration of Leaking Story on Israeli Planning along Iran Border
Former U.S. diplomat John Bolton alleged Thursday that the Obama administration leaked a story about covert Israeli activity in order to foil potential plans by the country to attack Iran's nuclear program.
An article in Foreign Policy quoted government sources claiming Israel had been granted access to airfields in Azerbaijan - along Iran's northern border.
"I think this leak today is part of the administration's campaign against an Israeli attack," Bolton claimed on Fox News.
Bolton said tipping the Israelis' hand by revealing "very sensitive, very important information" could frustrate such a plan.
"Clearly, this is an administration-orchestrated leak," he said. "This is not a rogue CIA guy saying I think I'll leak this out."
"It's just unprecedented to reveal this kind of information about one of your own allies." (Fox News)
- Israel and Azerbaijan: Unlikely Allies? - Phoebe Greenwood
A senior Israeli official suggests that Iran's outrage at Azerbaijan's burgeoning relationship with Israel may actually be pushing the unlikely allies closer together. "The more pressure applied by Iran, the more they unveil plots to carry out terror attacks on Azerbaijani embassies, the more they [Azeris] are co-operating with us," the official explained.
"Iran's fear that its considerable Azeri minority may have aspirations for independence is the current bed of its relations with Azerbaijan. As a result, Azerbaijan is very interested in firming up its relationship with Israel." More than 30% of the Iranian population are ethnic Azeris (including Ayatollah Khamenei). Last month Israel confirmed the sale of drones and anti-aircraft missile defense systems to the former Soviet state in a $1.6 billion arms deal. (Guardian-UK)
- Diplomacy and Iran - Clifford D. May
When conducted between reasonable, peace-loving people, the "art and practice of conducting negotiations" can lead to compromise and the resolution of conflicts. But when dealing with despots, people who respect only power and see even mercy as weakness, there are no talking cures.
A new round of diplomacy is scheduled to begin next month in Geneva. For there to be any small chance of success, Iran's rulers will need to feel pressured and vulnerable - they will need to take seriously the possibility that Americans and Israelis have rocks and are prepared to use them.
The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
- Generational Change in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force: Brigadier General Iraj Masjedi - Ali Alfoneh
Though little is known in the U.S. about Brig.-Gen. Iraj Masjedi of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force (IRGC QF), he serves in an influential role as senior adviser to IRGC QF Commander Qassem Suleimani.
Masjedi is part of an emerging group of leaders in Iran - Base Ramezan veterans from the 1980s Iran-Iraq war who formed bonds with Iraqi insurgents to enhance war tactics in the border region.
Masjedi's career illuminates a cycle of generational change within the IRGC QF, and examining his background can help identify who else may rise to power in the IRGC QF. (Middle Eastern Outlook-AEI)
- Assad's New Scam - Tariq Alhomayed
Russia wasted no time congratulating the Assad regime's acceptance of Kofi Annan's six-point proposal on Syria, while the Arab ministers taking part in the summit in Baghdad also seized the opportunity to welcome this step, while also rejecting foreign intervention. But
Assad will not implement this plan. Indeed, it would be extremely difficult for Assad to execute this plan because it would result in his ouster.
The legitimacy of dictatorial regimes is based on force and intimidation. They govern on the basis of divide and rule, not convergence or bringing people together around them.
Assad accepted this plan because he understood the message that Moscow was sending him when it stated that Annan's mission was his last chance; therefore, the drowning Assad grabbed the Russian life preserver to buy more time. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
- The Annan Plan Will Bring More Violence - Michael Young
The Syrian regime has accepted the Annan proposal, and one can immediately see why. It ensures that Assad will remain in office to bargain with the opposition in the "Syrian-led process." In that way, Annan has effectively undermined an Arab League plan demanding that the Syrian president step down and surrender power to his first vice president. Annan's plan also buys the Syrian security services more time to suffocate the uprising, since it will take weeks to bring all the machinery in place.
We should have no illusions. Russia and China consider the Annan plan a formula for saving Bashar Assad, not getting rid of him. But Obama's focus is elsewhere. He prefers to subcontract Syria to regional states, even to the feckless Russians, so that he can pursue America's strategic reorientation away from the Middle East.
The Syrian opposition will refuse to deal with their killer; those who do so will be marginalized. There will be war, all because no one dares show Bashar Assad the exit.
- Will Annan Save Assad? - Aaron David Miller
Annan's plan won't end the crisis; it will make it worse.
The plan is an ill-timed lifeline to a murderous regime that will exploit Mr. Annan's diplomacy to buy time, to reload and to divide the opposition and the international community. In the end, everyone except the Assad family will be weaker for having pursued it.
Every element of the Annan plan is a trap. A cease-fire offers Assad's troops time and space to rest and plan.
But the greatest danger is the "political process," which offers Assad a get-out-of-jail-free card. It shifts the international community's focus from getting rid of him to seeing what he will give in the way of political reforms.
We've seen this before many times since the Assads came to power. (New York Times)
See also Ousting Syria's Assad through a "Soft Landing" - David Ignatius (Washington Post)
See also Russia Stares Down the West on Syria - Vladimir Radyuhin (The Hindu-India)
- Erdogan, Iran, Syrian Alawites, and Turkish Alevis - Stephen Schwartz
Erdogan has turned his frustrations over Syria against Turkey's heterodox Alevi religious community.
Beginning last year, AKP leaders including Erdogan accused Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the Alevi leader of Erdogan's main political opponents, the secularist Republican People's party (CHP), of support for Assad, and alleged "sectarian solidarity" between Turkish Alevis and Syrian Alawites.
Kilicdaroglu has been outspoken in his condemnation of Erdogan's alienation from Israel but has argued against military intervention in Syria.
Turkish and Kurdish Alevis have almost nothing in common with Syrian Alawites. The similarity of their names is misleading; Alevis and Alawites both honor Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad and the fourth caliph to succeed the Muslim prophet.
The contrast between the Arabic-speaking Alawites and the Turkish-Kurdish Alevis could not be clearer to those who know the latter. Where the Alawites are esoteric, Alevism is an enthusiastically public faith. Its religious songs and texts are published and widely distributed. Alevi women not only are treated as equal to men, but take a leading role in Alevi rituals. (Weekly Standard)
- The Palestinians' Confidence-Destroying Behavior - Editorial
Every now and then, at regular intervals, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has demanded tangible displays of "confidence-building measures" from Israel. Occasionally, the government of Israel complies. It releases Palestinian prisoners, decreases the number of roadblocks, or increases trade, commercial or other permits for Palestinian businessmen, entrepreneurs and merchants.
But the reverse has never happened. The Palestinians have seldom, if ever, extended any confidence-building measures toward the people of Israel.
In fact, the Palestinian leadership regularly does the opposite. It diminishes the level of confidence that the "ordinary" Israeli yearns to feel toward them.
Last week, we saw the latest dispiriting, confidence-destroying behavior.
Following the precedent of the infamous Goldstone inquiry for which the PA clamored after Israel's war with Hamas in Gaza in 2008, the PA sought and obtained last Thursday from the UN Human Rights Council the establishment of an "independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem."
Like the discredited inquiry into Israel's conduct in the Gaza war, this latest UN inquiry of Israeli conduct will be a travesty to truth, a sick parody of real concern over human rights abuses around the world.
As Israel's foreign ministry said: "Had the Palestinians wanted to solve the settlements issue, they would resume without delay a direct and unconditional negotiation on all core issues within the framework of a comprehensive agreement." (Canadian Jewish News)
- How Israel Referendum
at Food Co-op Was Defeated - Zach Campbell
The Park Slope Food Co-op has been a politically minded institution since its formation in 1973. It has joined boycotts of products made by Coca Cola, Pepperidge Farm, Coors and Tropicana, as well as products from South Africa during apartheid and from Chile after the 1973 coup.
Two local producers have also been boycotted for their alleged labor practices.
But, according to Joe Holtz, the co-op's coordinator and one of its founders, "the Co-op has never really taken a position on any boycott that was at all controversial."
"We have held our co-op community together by only taking positions on boycotts that had overwhelmingly wide support," he continued. "This current proposal to join BDS [against Israel] does not have similar co-op-wide support." (Brooklyn Daily Eagle)
See also "Get Out the Vote" Effort Helps Win Battle at Food Co-op - Doug Chandler
Nearly 2,000 of the co-op's 16,000 members attended the store's monthly meeting Tuesday. One reason for the size of the crowd was the concerted effort mounted by a number of groups to boost the attendance of pro-Israel members of the co-op, said Hindy
Poupko, director of Israel and international affairs at the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.
The groups distributed flyers, posters, e-mail blasts and postcards with the same message aimed at appealing to a progressive audience: "Say yes to a Jewish state. Yes to a Palestinian state. No to BDS."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg was asked Monday about his views.
"I think it has nothing to do with the food," Bloomberg said. "The issue is there are people who want Israel to be torn apart and everybody to be massacred, and America is not going to let that happen." (New York Jewish Week)
- New eBook: The "Al-Aksa is in Danger" Libel - Nadav Shragai
In 1929, Jerusalem mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini concocted the "Al-Aksa is in danger" libel to help build a Palestinian national identity. After 1967, Al-Aksa became a trademark and national symbol. The terror gangs of Fatah are called the Al-Aksa Brigades. The Second Intifada that erupted in 2000 was called the Al-Aksa Intifada.
This study by veteran Israeli journalist Nadav Shragai documents nearly a century of Arab violence against Jews in Israel triggered by the commonly believed myth that the Jews are seeking to destroy the Al-Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem. Shragai describes the leaders who used the libel to further their political careers, including its current champion, Raed Salah of the Islamic movement in Israel.
To refute the lie, Shragai takes us to all eight archeological digs in Jerusalem that were claimed to have endangered the mosque - where in many cases local Muslim authorities actually visited and approved the work. All were located at considerable distance from the mosque.
See Contents and Prologue (pdf);
Aerial Photo: The Site of Ancient Jerusalem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- IDF Medic Talks about Army Life - Josh Sayles
Of the approximately 500 soldiers in Sharon Grisero's battalion in the Israel Defense Forces, there are only two women. Grisero, 20, is one of them.
The combat paramedic spoke on March 19 about her experiences in the IDF.
Being a combat paramedic, she explains, is "someone who is trained to give prehospital medical treatment in the field during operations." A female combat medic is rare in the IDF - women only serve in combat roles if they volunteer to do so.
Her most memorable moment, she says, came at 1 a.m. during a shift in the West Bank, when a Palestinian taxi pulled up to the gate. Out came an entire family carrying an unconscious 15-year-old boy with no pulse.
"We treated him for 15 minutes with all the medical supplies we had and all the training we had, and he regained his pulse and we took him by ambulance to an Israeli hospital," says Grisero. "At that moment, I looked at myself and thought, 'I'm a 20-year-old girl, I have a year of training and I was able to save a life.'"
Still, she is wary of terrorists feigning an injury or illness in order to get close to Israeli soldiers.
"Before I get to a patient, there's a whole team of people that come and search the patient (for weapons), and also while I'm treating (a patient), they're protecting me in a circle around me so that people won't use the situation to hurt us," she says.
(Jewish News of Greater Phoenix)
- Israel's Golden Age - David Siegel
Tiny Israel of 7.5 million people, comparable to the size of Rhode Island, is breaking ground in so many areas these days, and the world is finally starting to take notice.
Whether it's Israel's 10th Nobel Prize; Israeli wines winning global awards; Apple opening its first-ever R&D center outside California; 162 other U.S. high-tech R&D centers in Israel; or the Technion together with Cornell winning an international bid to build a super science center in New York - this is the Israel that people may not know, but will, very soon.
Start-Up Nation, the global best seller about Israel's high-tech miracle, has been translated into 16 languages, and tops business lists around the world, most intriguingly, in Asia.
Experts on international economic affairs say Israel is actually forging a unique path, distinct from other highly developed countries, due to its extraordinary ability to innovate across so many fields.
Southern California may well be facing severe water challenges in the years ahead, and water recycling is one solution that Israel can share with California, since Israel recycles far more water (over 80%) than any other nation in the world.
A March of Folly to Jerusalem - Ron Prosor (Jerusalem Post)
On Friday, some of the world's most notorious terrorists, tyrants and radicals are organizing a mass attempt to violate Israel's sovereignty, calling it a "Global March to Jerusalem." Iran, Hamas, Hizbullah and the Muslim Brotherhood are bankrolling the event. They accuse Israel of "Judaizing Jerusalem" - but these accusations come about 3,000 years too late.
Ever since King David laid the cornerstone for his palace in the 10th century BCE, Jerusalem has served as the eternal capital of the Jewish people. While Jews were once forcibly removed from the city, they restored a clear-cut majority in the mid-19th century and have maintained that position ever since.
- In other corners of the world, such an event would draw laughter instead of participants. Can you imagine a march on Capitol Hill to accuse Congress of Americanizing Washington?
- Last month, PA President Mahmoud Abbas made another stop on his extended vacation from peace negotiations with Israel, traveling to Doha for a conference on the so-called "Defense of Jerusalem." In his keynote address, Abbas declared that the narrative of Jewish history could not be proven, especially the existence of "what [the Jewish people] call the Temple."
- Speakers lined up in Doha to accuse Israel of "ethnic cleansing" in Jerusalem, even though the percentage of Arab residents in the city has grown from 26% to 35% since 1967. While the world puts a magnifying glass over every "Jewish" apartment block built, 2,500 homes in Arab areas of the city have recently been approved in addition to community centers and hotels. The truth is that under Israeli rule, Jerusalem has enjoyed unprecedented prosperity and equal rights for all of its inhabitants. Holy sites that were once sealed off along religious lines are now permanently open for worship by all peoples.
- By trying to erase the Jewish people's connection to their ancient homeland, Arab leaders are undermining the foundation for future coexistence, as the seeds of intolerance are being planted in the next generation.
The writer is Israel's ambassador to the UN.
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