Arab from Jerusalem Is Outstanding IDF Soldier - Yehuda Schlesinger (Israel Hayom-Hebrew, 19Apr2012)
"S," an Arab from eastern Jerusalem, is one of the outstanding IDF soldiers who will be recognized at this year's Israel Independence Day ceremony at the President's residence.
"First of all, I'm an Israeli," he says. "For me, to continue to serve in the IDF is a dream."
"When I enlisted it was like I was reborn. Many possibilities opened up."
Two of his brothers have also decided to enlist.
Report: Iran Steals $17 Billion in Iraqi Oil Annually (Al Arabiya)
According to a report
by the London-based International Center for Development Studies, Iran is stealing large amounts of oil from neighboring Iraqi fields worth $17 billion a year.
The amount of oil is estimated at 130,000 barrels and mainly comes from four Iraqi fields: Dehloran, Naft Shahr, Beidar West, and Aban.
The transfer of oil is made possible through smuggling networks that take an average of 35,000 barrels a day into Iran.
In Egypt: A Crisis of Confidence - David Schenker (Weekly Standard)
Since the February 2011 revolution, Egypt's foreign reserves have dwindled from $36 billion to less than $15 billion and are falling at a rate of $600 million a month.
Short on cash and with precious few sources of revenue, Cairo is borrowing from domestic banks at interest rates in excess of 15% to help cover its $23 billion budget deficit.
As for Western institutional lenders, Egyptian populism and politics have made their money all but untouchable - 70% of Egyptians say they no longer want U.S. assistance.
Washington and its European allies should emphasize to Egypt - and the Islamists who will soon govern - the inverse relationship between radicalism and foreign direct investment.
Should Egypt's Islamists not behave responsibly, prospects for stability and economic recovery will remain remote.
The writer is director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
U.S. Supreme Court: Torture Victim's Family Can't Sue PA or PLO - Robert Barnes (Washington Post)
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that a federal law that allows torture victims to sue their overseas assailants authorized lawsuits only against individuals and not political groups such as the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The case involved a lawsuit against the PLO and PA filed by the family of Palestinian American Azzam Rahim, who was arrested by the PA and tortured and killed in a Jericho prison.
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- UN Cease-Fire Monitors Flee Syrian Protest after Gunfire
Syrian security forces opened fire Wednesday on anti-regime demonstrators in a suburb of Damascus surrounding the cars of a UN team meant to monitor a shaky cease-fire, sending the observers speeding off and protesters dashing for cover. At least eight people were wounded in the shooting.
Amateur videos posted online showed hundreds of demonstrators crowding around at least three UN Land Cruisers, waving Syrian flags and chanting against the regime. A handwritten sign taped by a demonstrator on one of the cars read, "The murderer keeps killing, the observers keep observing and the people keep up the revolution." (AP-USA Today)
See also U.S. Searches for a "Plan B" in Syria - Josh Rogin
The White House is searching for a new strategy for removing President Bashar al-Assad. "There was a fundamental decision made at the highest level that we need a real Syria policy with more options for the president," one administration official said.
There's a growing consensus inside the administration that the violence in Syria is not abating and that multinational diplomatic initiatives such as the plan put forth by UN special envoy Kofi Annan are not convincing Assad to yield power and step down.
See also Despite U.S. Demands that Assad Leave Power, Current Policy Reflects Belief He Won't Go Fast
The Obama administration's policy now reflects a consensus that Syrian President Assad has a firm hold on power and that nothing short of an outside military strike will dislodge him quickly. With rebel forces poorly armed and disorganized, efforts to pay them by Arab Gulf states failing, and sectarian divisions looming in Syria, the U.S. and its allies seem prepared to leave Assad where he is.
- In Gaza, Hope of a Better Life under Hamas Turns into Frustration - Karin Brulliard
The housing stipends, promised by Hamas social workers after much of housewife Umm Mohammed's neighborhood was demolished in the Gaza war three years ago, never came. The water barrels pledged by municipal authorities seemed to go only to Hamas cadres. Electricity is a rarity. After five years of rule, Hamas is fast losing popularity, and recent surveys indicate that it would not win if elections were held in Gaza today.
Hopes of Islam-guided fairness and an end to the graft that had tainted the tenure of the Fatah party that previously controlled Gaza have turned to widespread griping about Hamas corruption and patronage. Analysts say the top tiers of civil servants are filled by Hamas loyalists, and members of the Hamas elite are widely thought to have enriched themselves through investment in smuggling tunnels and taxes on the imported goods.
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- Tehran Marks Holocaust Remembrance Day with Cartoons Denying the Crimes - Sam Ser
Iran is marking Holocaust Remembrance Day by playing Holocaust-denying cartoons on public television, Israel Channel 2 TV reported Wednesday.
(Times of Israel)
- Poll: European Perceptions of Israel Colored by Anti-Semitism - Amir Mizroch
More than 70% of Polish people believe that Jews seek to benefit from their forebears' suffering during the Nazi era, according to a new report on racism and xenophobia in Europe published Wednesday by the German-based Friedrich Ebert Foundation. The report found the highest rates of anti-Semitism in Poland and Hungary, followed by Portugal and Germany. About half the respondents in Portugal, Poland and Hungary said their anti-Semitic sentiments were boosted by Israel's political activities. (Israel Hayom)
- Israeli Court: No Compensation for Gaza Chicken Coops Above Terrorist Tunnels - Joanna Paraszczuk
Israel is not liable to pay damages for two Gaza chicken coops demolished during a July 2006 IDF airstrike on a terrorist tunnel, the Beersheba District Court ruled on Wednesday. The tunnel was intended to be used to carry out terrorist attacks in Israel. Lawyers for the state admitted that the IDF had destroyed the coops, but argued that it was part of an act of war, since there had been no way to destroy the tunnels without also demolishing the property above them.
Judge Shlomo Friedlander ruled that there had been a "vital necessity" to destroy the tunnels to prevent terrorist activity, and the collateral damage had been proportionate. He said the plaintiffs should direct their compensation claims "to the terrorists, their agents and their collaborators responsible for digging the tunnels, and to the prevailing regime." (Jerusalem Post)
- Why Syria Is Still a War Zone - Michael J. Totten
The Syrian regime and the opposition are locked in a death struggle. If Assad loses, he'll be driven into exile or lynched like Gaddafi. His minority Alawite sect may suffer brutal reprisals for the crimes of his government, not only the current mass murder, but also the decades of totalitarian rule that preceded it. If the opposition loses, its supporters and fighters will be shot, forced into exile, buried in prison, or tortured to death.
Syrian opposition members have an alternative plan now that the UN's is failing: arm the local resistance; establish a safe haven and provide aerial support to the local resistance; increase diplomatic pressure; and encourage defections by top officials by providing a series of conditional amnesties.
The conflict might not even stop if Assad falls tomorrow. I recently had coffee with a Syrian Kurd in Tunis who said his community, which makes up 10% of the country, is no longer even thinking about Bashar al-Assad. They're all but certain he's doomed. Instead, he said, they're preparing themselves for the next stage of the war.
(World Affairs Journal)
- Palestinian Youth and the Arab Spring - Michele Chabin
In the March 2012 study "Palestinian Youth and the Arab Spring," Mona Christophersen, a researcher at the Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies in Oslo, found that Palestinian youth "have largely exited from politics, prioritizing personal affairs (family and job) when considering the current situation and their future."
Although the youths criticize the state of democracy, freedom of expression and human rights both in the West Bank and Gaza, "neither government is completely condemned, on account of their success in raising the level of security (Gaza) and economic prosperity (the West Bank)."
Most strikingly, "Palestinian youth do not seem to think that their situation is desperate enough to warrant any large-scale departure from the political routine."
Khalil, a 20-year-old university student from Bethlehem, said people his age don't have the stomach for another violent uprising.
"We, the younger people, spent the first decade of our lives living through the violence and fear of the [second] intifada," he said. "Now it's our turn to live life as normally as we can, getting an education and starting a family." Though Khalil would not rule out a Palestinian Arab Spring directed either inward or outward, he predicted that, "for the time being at least, things will remain quiet."
(New York Jewish Week)
Holocaust Remembrance Day - 2012 - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)
- Our enemies tried to bury the Jewish future, but it was reborn in the land of our forefathers.
On this day, when our entire nation gathers together to remember the horrors of the Holocaust and the six million Jews who were murdered, we must fulfill our most sacred obligation.
- This obligation is not merely an obligation to remember the past. It is an obligation to learn its lessons, and, most importantly, to apply them to the present in order to secure the future of our people.
This is especially true for this generation - a generation that once again is faced with calls to annihilate the Jewish state.
- Today, the regime in Iran openly calls and determinedly works for our destruction. And it is feverishly working to develop atomic weapons to achieve that goal.
- There are those who prefer that we not speak of a nuclear Iran as an existential threat.
But those who dismiss Iran's threats as exaggerated or as mere idle posturing have learned nothing from the Holocaust.
- To cower from speaking the uncomfortable truth - that today, like then, there are those who want to destroy millions of Jewish people - is to belittle the Holocaust and ignore its lessons.
- The truth is that a nuclear-armed Iran is an existential threat to the State of Israel.
The truth is that a nuclear-armed Iran is a political threat to other countries throughout the region and a grave threat to world peace. The truth is that Iran must be stopped from obtaining nuclear weapons.
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