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May 18, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Boosts Funding for Israel's "Iron Dome" Defense System - Luis Ramirez (VOA News)
    The U.S. has fulfilled Israel's request for another $70 million for Iron Dome, a missile defense system aimed at protecting Israelis from rockets fired by militants in Gaza.
    U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said President Obama directed him to fill the Israeli request to fund a system that Panetta says has saved Israeli lives and can prevent an escalation of violence in the region.
    Pentagon spokesman George Little said, "Israel is in a tough neighborhood and we have for decades supported their independence and their security....We believe that an investment in Israeli security is important for Israel and important for the United States."
    In March, the Defense Department said the system was responsible for taking down 80% of several hundred rockets that were directed at Israel.
    See also Israel Thanks U.S. for Aid with Iron Dome (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday thanked U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta for helping Israel maintain its qualitative military advantage and for special assistance in acquiring additional Iron Dome anti-missile defense batteries.
    Barak noted that the additional assistance in buying Iron Dome batteries on an expedited basis "was given during a crucial period and we are grateful."

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Israel Prepares to Celebrate Jerusalem Day - Melanie Lidman (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel will celebrate the 45th Jerusalem Day on Saturday night and Sunday, on the Hebrew date of the 28th of Iyar, when Israeli soldiers liberated the eastern part of the city from Jordanian control.
    More than 40,000 people are expected to march toward the Western Wall on Sunday during the annual Dance of Flags.

*    *    *

    Explore a Panoramic View of the City of Jerusalem
    Video: Indivisible Jerusalem
    Video: Jerusalem - 4000 Years in 5 Minutes
    eBook: The "Al-Aksa Is in Danger" Libel: The History of a Lie - Nadav Shragai
    eBook: Jerusalem: Correcting the International Discourse - How the West Gets Jerusalem Wrong - Nadav Shragai (all from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

On-Line Quiz:
    How Much Do You Know about Jerusalem?
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    May 20 marks the 45th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967.
    Test your knowledge of Jerusalem current events and history with a short, interactive quiz.

Ex-Arafat Adviser: PA Funded Arab Israeli Parties - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Muhammad Rashid, the former economic adviser to Yasser Arafat who is wanted by the Palestinian Authority for embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars, told Al-Arabiya TV on Thursday that the PA had provided financial aid to Arab parties during general elections in Israel.
    He also demanded an investigation into the source of PA President Mahmoud Abbas' wealth.
  "When Mahmoud Abbas returned to the Palestinian territories [in 1993], I gave him $25,000 at the request of the late president Yasser Arafat," Rashid claimed.
    "Today, he and his sons have palaces and property estimated at 15 million Jordanian dinars [$21 million] in Palestine, Jordan, Tunisia and other places."

PA: Oust Israel from Olympic Committees - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Jibril Rajoub, chairman of the Palestinian Soccer Association, on Thursday called for Israel to be expelled from all international Olympic unions and committees until it "honors international agreements."
    He also voiced strong opposition to any form of normalization with Israel, particularly in the field of sports.
    He called sports "one of the methods of resistance" against Israel. "The youth sector in Palestine is the basic fuel for the liberation project," he said, emphasizing the youth's role in maintaining a "permanent state of confrontation" with Israel.
    Rajoub is the former head of the PA Preventive Security Service in the West Bank.

Iran's Ethnic Troubles - Guy Bechor (Ynet News)
    Iran is a country of minorities, where no one sect boasts a majority. The Persians themselves are below the 50% mark, and the other minorities are interested in joining neighboring countries and have no intention of supporting a regime that oppresses them.
    The second-largest minority is the Azeri people, some 20 million citizens who make up about one-quarter of Iran's population, including supreme leader Ali Khamenei and opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Many Azeris would like to be annexed by neighboring Azerbaijan, their cultural homeland.
    Another large minority are the Kurds, whose dream is to desert Iran and join the great Kurdish homeland, once it's established.
    Other minorities include the Tajik people, who wish to join Pakistan, and the Sunni Arabs, who dream of establishing a Sunni state within Iran to be called Ahwaz. Some 33% of Iranians are Sunnis, including the Arabs and Kurds.

Why Israel Is a Hotbed for Flash Storage Innovation - Lucas Mearian (Computerworld-Neowin)
    Apple purchased Israeli NAND flash design firm Anobit in January for an estimated $400-500 million, Reuters reported.
    "Particularly in flash memory they have really good talent over there," said Ryan Chien, an analyst with market research firm IHS iSuppli.
    Flash storage is at the forefront of technology powering current industry trends such as cloud services, virtualization and online transaction processing.
    Israel has long been home to flash storage development. USB flash drives were invented by the Israeli company M-Systems in partnership with IBM. M-Systems was bought out by flash drive maker SanDisk in 2006.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Clinton: We Don't Want the Iranians to Say "We'll Get Back to You" - Laura Rozen
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in an interview with USA Today Tuesday, said the U.S. and its P5+1 partners have reached a united position on what to seek from Iran in a near-term confidence building measure, and have relayed the outlines of the proposed deal to Iran ahead of new nuclear talks in Baghdad next week. "There is a unified position by the P-5+1 going into Baghdad which sets forth what we would expect to see Iran do on what kind of timetable to reassure the international community that it is not and will not seek nuclear weapons," Clinton said.
        "So once the unified position was agreed to, there has been outreach by the P-5+1 to the Iranians to say, 'Here is an idea of what we're expecting, that we want to see as the core of any negotiations, so we want you to come prepared,'" Clinton stressed, adding: "Because we don't want to just have a meeting where we present and they say, 'We'll get back to you,' because time is of the essence."  (Al-Monitor.)
  • Plans to Strike Iran "Ready," Says U.S. Israel Envoy
    U.S. plans for a possible military strike on Iran are ready and the option is "fully available," U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told Israel's Army Radio on Tuesday. Like Israel, the United States has said it considers military force a last resort to prevent Iran using its uranium enrichment to make a bomb. "It would be preferable to resolve this diplomatically and through the use of pressure rather than to use military force," Shapiro said. "But that doesn't mean that option is not fully available - not just available, but it's ready. The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it's ready."  (Reuters)
  • OPEC Sees Sanctions Taking Toll on Iran Oil Production - Thomas Erdbrink
    Oil production, the backbone of Iran's economy, fell by 12% in the first three months of 2012 and is likely to fall even more, industry experts say, as sanctions make it increasingly hard for the country to find markets for its crude. The decline, documented in a May report by OPEC, is sharply at odds with statistics provided by Iran's Oil Ministry that register no significant change in output.
        Once its storage capacity is exhausted, Iran will be forced to shut down some of its production, a potentially disastrous step that it is trying to avoid, analysts say. "Closing off valves sounds easy," but the consequences can be extremely damaging, said Reza Zandi, an oil specialist writing for Shargh, a newspaper that is critical of the government. "Technically it wrecks the oil wells, and we will never be able to bring their output back to previous levels."  (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Czech Prime Minister Hosts Netanyahu - Cnaan Liphshiz
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in the Czech Republic on Thursday on an official visit. Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas told the Jerusalem Post, "We've got a full understanding of Israel's situation as a small, democratic country in a very dangerous region with very dangerous neighbors."
        He said the Czech Republic would like to continue to be a strong supporter of Israel within the European Union. "We are concerned about the Iranian missile and nuclear programs," he said. "We've got a special feeling for Israel's situation - that of a small nation surrounded by enemies. We remember our situation in the 1930s, when the small democratic Czechoslovakia had neighbors that wanted to destroy it or take part of our territory."
        Netanyahu said Jerusalem "deeply appreciated" Prague's friendship. "Nowhere else in Europe are Israeli calls so well understood," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Senior Turkish Envoy Visits Israel, Meets Netanyahu
    A senior Turkish envoy sent to Israel by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has been meeting with high-ranking officials, among them Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel Channel 10 News reported Thursday. According to the report, the official was sent to Israel in an attempt to normalize ties between Turkey and Israel. (Times of Israel)
        See also Report: Turkey Scrambles Jets after Israeli Aircraft Enters Turkish Cyprus Airspace
    Turkish military officials said an Israeli aircraft repeatedly violated the airspace of Turkish Cyprus on Monday, prompting Turkey to scramble jets in order to confront the Israeli plane, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reported Thursday. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Clearing Landmines at Jordan Border - Yoav Zitun
    Israel detonated some 700 anti-tank landmines along the Israel-Jordan border on Wednesday, bringing the number of cleared landmines to some 60,000. An additional 14,000 landmines are still to be removed. IDF troops are also clearing thousands of anti-personnel mines. The operation, which began seven years ago and is scheduled to be completed in the next 18 months, will see the cleared area converted into agricultural land. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Iran on the Threshold - Amos Yadlin and Yoel Guzansky
    Iran's nuclear efforts would be far less threatening and would arouse less suspicion and opposition if the Iranian regime did not have a reputation for deceit and concealment of nuclear activity, for issuing detailed threats to the country's neighbors, for intervening in the internal affairs of states in the region, and for financing and assisting terrorist organizations.
        Israel is not convinced that the United States is capable of identifying an Iranian breakout to nuclear weapons, and in any case it is not prepared to take the risk of such a breakout. For Israel, the red line is much nearer than the United States acknowledges. The most difficult problem from Israel's point of view is the need to rely on intelligence systems to provide adequate warning of the assembly of nuclear weapons. Israel feels that reliance on such an intelligence warning is not a reasonable gamble.
        A "good deal" will include significant restrictions on continued uranium enrichment in Iran, the removal of most of the enriched uranium from the country, the closure of the facility in Fordow, an Iranian response to the open questions from the IAEA, and Iranian agreement to close inspection (including implementation of the IAEA's Additional Protocol). However, there is very little likelihood that Iran will accept the terms of such an agreement.
        The talks with Iran will limit Israel's ability to present a credible threat to use force, which is an essential element in the attempt to change Iranian policy. A prolonged round of talks with Iran is likely to aggravate the trend toward international acceptance of a situation in which Iran is slowly becoming a nuclear state. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin is the Director of INSS. Yoel Guzansky is a research associate at INSS. (Strategic Assessment-Institute for National Security Studies)
  • Iran's Leader Must Choose Between Enmity and Economy - Ray Takeyh
    Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's theocratic state needs an American enemy and some degree of estrangement from the international community to sanction its grip on power. For a long time, he believed he could advance the nuclear program at a tolerable cost to Iran's economy. Yet now, persisting with convenient enmities will further erode the economy - and could threaten his hold on power.
        Nuclear empowerment has become a core element of the Islamic Republic's strategic conception. An enhanced nuclear capacity allows Iran to assume a more domineering role in the region. It is therefore no surprise that Khamenei is averse to concessions that would arrest Iran's nuclear trajectory.
        The Western powers would be wise to stress that sanctions will not be lifted until Iran takes a fundamentally different approach. The European boycott of Iranian oil scheduled for July should therefore be implemented irrespective of the offers Iran is sure to dangle between now and then. It is entirely possible that the Supreme Leader will opt to preside over a country with a nuclear program and a permanently degraded economy. The writer is a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Financial Times-UK)

  • Arab World

  • Turn the Tide Against Bashar al-Assad - Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.)
    More than nine months after President Obama declared that Bashar al-Assad must go, it is clear that neither diplomacy nor sanctions alone will dislodge the Syrian dictator. Unfortunately, the United States is not yet doing anything decisive to turn the military tide against Assad - nor will any other country or coalition of countries do enough, absent U.S. leadership.
        After two visits in the past month to the Middle East, one message I consistently heard from both the Syrian opposition and U.S. partners is frustration about why the United States, which called for Assad's ouster, has done so little to bring it about. What is happening in Syria is a humanitarian catastrophe, with at least 10,000 dead, more than 1 million people displaced and horrific human rights abuses perpetrated daily.
        Events in Syria are also of strategic importance for the region. The fall of Assad would represent the greatest setback Iran has suffered in a quarter-century. Conversely, the Syrian opposition is worried that the longer this conflict continues on its current path, the more Syrian society will balkanize and radicalize. That is why stopping Syria's slide into civil war and anarchy is not just a mission of mercy but also an imperative for U.S. national security.
        We must dramatically step up efforts to provide the Syrian opposition with the means to defend themselves against Assad. Our partners in the region have the funding, weapons and territory necessary for a full-scale effort to train, equip and sustain a more capable, professionalized and inclusive resistance against Assad. (Washington Post)
  • Brotherhood Candidate an Underdog as Political Winds Shift in Egypt - Ernesto Londono
    Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate, is running an underdog campaign. The group which became the dominant force in parliament early this year has to contend with an uncharismatic candidate and a shift in public opinion. The Brotherhood's political stock is plunging, analysts and ordinary Egyptians say, because its political party has backtracked on promises and accomplished little since a predominantly Islamist cadre of lawmakers was sworn in in January.
        Morsi's main competitors are former foreign minister Amr Moussa, the Arab League's erstwhile chief whose appeal stems largely from his name recognition and his hard-line stance against Israel, and Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a former Brotherhood leader who broke away from the group. (Washington Post)
        See also Brotherhood Faces New Challenges in Egypt Power Quest - Tom Perry (Reuters)
        See also Israel Becomes a Target in Egypt's Presidential Vote - Edmund Blair
    Israel has become a punching bag for politicians in Egypt's presidential race. An ex-air force commander boasts of bringing down Israeli aircraft in the 1973 war with Israel. One Islamist often refers to Israel as the "Zionist entity," and describes it as an "enemy." A leftist candidate pledges to support the Palestinian resistance against Israel. None of the candidates want to tear up the peace treaty signed in 1979, but they repeatedly warn in rallies and debates it should be reviewed. (Reuters)

  • Other Issues

  • How Did Israel Go from Inspiring Underdog to Supposed Oppressor? - Michael Oren
    Israel may seem like Goliath vis-a-vis the Palestinians, but in a regional context it is David. Gaza is host to 10,000 rockets, many of which can hit Tel Aviv, and Hizbullah in Lebanon has 50,000 missiles that place all of Israel within range. Iran, which regularly pledges to wipe Israel off the map, is developing nuclear weapons. Israel remains the world's only state that is threatened with annihilation.
        Whether in Lebanon, the West Bank or Gaza, Israel has acted in self-defense after suffering thousands of rocket and suicide attacks against our civilians. Few countries have fought with clearer justification, fewer still with greater restraint, and none with a lower civilian-to-militant casualty ratio. Israel withdrew from Lebanon and Gaza to advance peace, only to receive war in return.
        Having failed to destroy Israel by conventional arms and terrorism, Israel's enemies alit on a subtler and more sinister tactic - the systematic delegitimization of the Jewish state. Israel must confront the acute dangers of delegitimization as it did armies and bombers in the past. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the U.S. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Israel's Image Revisited - Aaron David Miller (Foreign Policy)
  • Wanted: A Responsible Peace Process - Zalman Shoval
    According to recent reports, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that now that the Kadima party has joined Israel's government coalition, there is no excuse for peace talks with the Palestinians to remain stalled.
        The Palestinian Authority is demanding that Israel concede, ahead of final-status talks and without debate, to its extreme demands on borders and construction beyond the Green Line, including in Jerusalem. The PA views these demands as preconditions for entering into talks.
        While the Palestinians are listing their demands, they are simultaneously unwilling to consider measures such as revoking their "right of return" claims or even accepting Israel's legitimate request to recognize it as the home of the Jewish people. The unity government was established to promote a real peace process instead of engaging in farcical negotiations or caving in to ultimatums that damage Israel's essential interests. The writer served twice as Israel's ambassador to the U.S. (Israel Hayom)
  • The Truth about the Nakba - Robert Werdine
    Another momentous event shares the Palestinians' nakba anniversary: the fall of the Etzion Bloc in the early spring of 1948, where the consequences awaiting the Jews of Palestine, if defeated, were brought home to one and all. Besieged since January, the bloc was warned by the Arab mayor of Hebron that the local Arabs had resolved to "remove the Jews from the area in the event of the outbreak of hostilities." He warned them to "leave in any event you will be removed by force."
        On May 4 an Arab Legion armored column attacked the bloc, and about 40 of the defenders were killed and wounded. On May 12, the Legion's 6th Battalion and thousands of local militia surrounded the bloc and attacked again, battering it with heavy artillery, and its armored cars slicing into the settlement of Kfar Etzion. Seeing the hopelessness of their situation, the 133 defenders (men and women) sought to surrender. The Arabs then told the prisoners to sit with their hands raised while a photographer snapped pictures. Then they opened fire on the prisoners. After slaughtering all but four of the 133 prisoners, the militiamen and Legionnaires looted and razed all of the houses and buildings of Kfar Etzion.
        According to historian Benny Morris, after the pan-Arab invasion on May 15, Arab armies similarly looted and razed all of the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City, as well as Jewish settlements such as Beit Ha'arava, Neve Ya'akov, Atarot, Masada, Sha'ar Hagolan, Yad Mordechai, Nitzanim, and Kfar Darom.
        The frankly expulsionist ambitions of the Arab forces during the war has received scant attention from today's nakba-day protesters. Had the Arab armies and militias been successful in their attacks, the evidence of the Etzion Bloc, the Jewish Quarter, and others make perfectly clear that it would have been the Jews who would have been fleeing to safety, and seeing their cities, towns and kibbutzim razed to the ground. (Times of Israel)

  • Weekend Features

  • What Israel Can Teach China - Jiang Xueqin
    Last week, twenty students and I traveled to Israel for six days to study what makes Israel "a start-up nation." If China is the world's sweatshop, then Israel is the world's laboratory. The Technion's Water Research Institute is building a new "water-wise" building which aims to meet 80% of its water needs by harvesting rainwater on its roof, and recycling "gray" water from showers and sinks. These are technologies that, once developed, can be profitably exported to countries that have severe water shortages.
        What makes Israel so innovative? Israel's answer is simple: Ask questions. When we visited a public high school in Tel Aviv, we saw teachers interrupt the principal, and learned that Israelis consider "shyness" a learning disability. To ask questions is difficult enough for many a Chinese student. It entails a radical re-ordering of how you relate to yourself, and to the world around you - it requires a willingness to overturn the world if need be. That's what makes Israel such an innovative culture. (The Diplomat-Japan)
  • Thousands Flock to Israel's AgriTech 2012 - David Shamah
    This year's two-day AgriTech show in Tel Aviv features over 250 exhibitors. Some 5,000 visitors from abroad came from South America, nearly all of the Far East (including sizable delegations from China and India) and just about every country in sub-Saharan Africa, said event chairman Dani Meiri. There are even unofficial delegations from Arab countries. Altogether, there were 80 official delegations from foreign countries. India sent 2,000 farmers to the show, with over 1,200 from the Indian states of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
        One significant Israeli agricultural accomplishment is technology to enhance milk production. "Israeli cows are the world's most productive, with cows able to yield up to 12,000 liters of milk annually," said Meiri. "Farmers come from all over the world to learn how we do it, and we export that technology as well. Right now we have a huge project in Vietnam, where we are working to improve production of 32,000 cows."  (Times of Israel)

The Relegitimization of Israel and the Battle for the Mainstream Consensus - Joel Fishman (Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs-Israel Council on Foreign Relations)

  • The purpose of delegitimization on the international level is to isolate an intended victim from the community of nations as a prelude to bringing about its downfall or even destruction. The side that initiates a campaign of delegitimization endeavors to obliterate the history, national identity, culture, and rights of the other as a sovereign state, particularly the right of self-defense. There should be no misunderstanding: The ultimate goal of delegitimization is neither reconciliation nor peace but politicide.
  • After the Second Intifada failed to bring about the collapse of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and its allies, notably Iran, have resorted to intensive political warfare.
  • To reverse this process, a serious campaign of relegitimization is necessary in order to retake lost ground and take new ground. There is a need to change the world consensus of public opinion, which is a major, decades-long project. A campaign of good news about Israel may be suitable for marketing and branding but does not come to grips with the real problem.
  • Even a torrent of "good news" will not move elite public opinion, which is comprised of intellectuals, newspaper and TV editors, professors, teachers, clergymen (and women), writers of textbooks, and policy-makers. This group needs to be engaged, challenged, and convinced.
  • If Israel intends to regain its legitimacy, it must advance its historical claims aggressively and forcefully. The Jewish state cannot permit others to define its identity or distort its past. It is necessary to discredit the fraudulent claims of the other side and expose its lies. Israel must defend its sovereignty and take its rightful place in the community of nations. These are the responsibilities of nationhood.

    The writer is a historian and a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
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