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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 17, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Israel: Sinai a "Nest of Terrorists" (AFP)
    If Egypt fails to restore order in the Sinai Peninsula it could come to resemble the Afghan mountain hideouts which sheltered the Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies, an Israeli military source warned on Thursday.
    He said that "thousands" of militants were holed up in the remote region where local Bedouin help them. "There are nests of terrorists there, big nests."
    "Sinai has turned into an area which is out of control," he said. "The Bedouins who control the area...they make money from smuggling and helping terrorists."
    Global jihad groups, he added, are looking for areas where there is a vacuum of central authority.

Image of Accomplice in Bulgaria Bus Bombing Released (Sofia News Agency-Bulgaria)
    Bulgaria's Interior Ministry published Thursday a new computer-generated image of a suspected accomplice in the July 18 bus bombing in Burgas.

Hamas Boasts of Achievements in PR Campaign - Selim Saheb Ettaba (AFP)
    A publicity campaign undertaken by Gaza's Hamas government has plastered news of its achievements at road junctions, across newspapers, on the Internet and on radio.
    Under the slogan "We are building the nation," the Hamas PR campaign combines environmental responsibility with opposition to Israel. "A clean environment for the people of the resistance," proclaims one poster which shows a worker cleaning a beach.
    "We continued to build, despite the siege," says another which shows Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya wearing a construction worker's hard hat, poring over plans with architects.
    Omar Shaaban, an analyst with the Gaza-based think tank Palthink, says Hamas wants to burnish its image which has been tarnished by a severe power crisis and sharp price increases.

Saudi Cleric: Jews Use Human Blood for Passover Matzos (MEMRI)
    Saudi cleric Salman Al-Odeh told Rotana Khalijiya TV on August 13, 2012: "It is well-known that the Jews celebrate several holidays, one of which is the Passover, or the Matzos Holiday."
    "Naguib Al-Kilani wrote a book titled Blood for the Matzos of Zion. This is the best story he ever wrote. It discusses what would go on in the Jewish neighborhood of Damascus or elsewhere. They would lure a child in order to sacrifice him in the religious rite that they perform during that holiday."

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Muslim Hotel Owner Discriminated Against Jewish Group, U.S. Jury Finds (JTA)
    A jury in Santa Monica, California, Superior Court on Wednesday found that Tehmina Adaya, a Pakistani-born Muslim owner of the Hotel Shangri-La, discriminated against the nonprofit Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.
    On July 11, Adaya abruptly ended a pool party that had been approved by the hotel's management, ordering that all informational brochures and the group's banner be removed from the premises. She allegedly yelled, "Get these [expletive] Jews out of my pool," according to testimony.
    Adaya and her hotel were found to have violated the state's Civil Rights Act which bars hotels and businesses from discriminating on the basis of sex, race, color or religion.
    The jury awarded the Friends of the IDF more than $1.2 million in damages.

United Church of Canada Votes Boycott of Israeli Settlement Products - Josh Tapper (Toronto Star-Canada)
    Members of the United Church of Canada, the country's largest Protestant denomination, voted Wednesday to affirm a controversial motion supporting a boycott of goods produced in Israeli settlements on the West Bank and in east Jerusalem.
    "The reaction of the Jewish community is one of unbridled outrage," Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said Wednesday. "It is beyond comprehension that (the United Church) would choose to so skew a commentary on the conflict and come out with so one-sided an approach."
    An online survey, commissioned by CIJA and Faithful Witness, an antiboycott group led by a United Church pastor, found 78% of church members believe the church should remain neutral on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    United Church Makes Ham-Handed Foray into Politics - Barbara Yaffe (Calgary Herald-Canada)
    The United Church of Canada has squandered enormous goodwill this week with its bungled foray into Middle East politics.
    In proposing a boycott of Israeli goods from east Jerusalem and the West Bank, a church working group either was naive and ill-informed, or mischievously biased against Israel.
    The episode almost certainly will damage a once-positive relationship with Canada's Jewish community, members of whom might wonder where this church was a few years ago, when Israeli young people were being blown up in pizza parlors and discos.
    The vote reflects the fourth time since 2006 that elements within the United Church have proposed Israel-related boycotts.

Iranian Jewry Today - Shai Secunda (Jewish Ideas Daily)
    Numbering approximately 30,000, the Jewish community in Iran has an ancient and illustrious history dating back to the Babylonian exile in the middle of the first millennium BCE.
    In practice, Iranian Jews can visit Israel via a third country. Receiving an exit visa is no longer the bureaucratic nightmare it once was, and technically speaking, many Iranian Jews could leave the country if they so desired.

Hamas Terrorist Killed in Accidental Explosion in Gaza (Maan News-PA)
    The Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, said Friday that one of its members, Majed Zaki Al-Kahlout, 40, from Jabalia in Gaza, had been killed on Thursday after an explosive device mistakenly detonated.

Israeli Tourism Is Booming - Aron Heller (AP)
    Despite the region's turmoil, Israel is enjoying an unexpected tourism boom as American and eastern European travelers are arriving in the Holy Land in record numbers.
    Nearly 300,000 tourists arrived in July, a record for the month and an 8% increase over the previous July, according to the Tourism Ministry.
    Uri Steinberg, head of the America department at the Tourism Ministry, noted that Israel has become a destination for specialized tourism, including bird watchers, opera fans, marathon buffs, and gay travelers.
    "Faith-based travel, though, is our bread and butter," said Steinberg. "There are 85 million Americans who identify as Evangelical, and they all want to visit."

Israel Economic Growth Stronger than Expected - Steven Scheer (Reuters)
    Israel's economy grew at a faster than expected annualized rate of 3.2% in the second quarter, data showed on Thursday, indicating that growth was continuing despite the global slowdown.
    Exports - which account for more than 40% of Israel's economic activity - rose 10.3% after declines in the prior three quarters.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Ahmadinejad: "Tumor" of Israel Will Soon Be Destroyed
    Israel is a "cancerous tumor" that will soon be finished off, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday told demonstrators holding an annual protest against the existence of the Jewish state. "The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumor. Even if one cell of them is left in one inch of (Palestinian) land, in the future this story (of Israel's existence) will repeat," he said. "The nations of the region will soon finish off the usurper Zionists in the Palestinian land....A new Middle East will definitely be formed."  (AFP)
        See also Iran's Supreme Leader: Liberation of Palestine Responsibility of All Muslims
    Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei underlined the importance of this year's International Quds [Jerusalem] Day rallies, and reiterated that liberating Palestine from the grip of Israel and its allies is a religious duty for all Muslims across the world. The Leader described the occupation of the Palestinian territories and the formation of the Israeli regime as the root of evil in the Middle East. International Quds Day was started by the late Founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini. (Fars-Iran)
  • White House Studying Potential Oil Reserve Release - Jeff Mason
    The White House is dusting off plans for a potential release of oil reserves to dampen rising gasoline prices and prevent high energy costs from undermining the success of Iran sanctions, a source said on Thursday. Washington did not want rising oil prices to create a windfall for Iran while the oil embargo and international sanctions were having an effective impact. (Reuters)
        See also U.S. Reliance on Saudi Oil Heads Back Up - Clifford Krauss
    The U.S. is increasing its dependence on oil from Saudi Arabia, raising its imports from the kingdom by more than 20% this year even as domestic oil production is soaring. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Iran Strike Worthwhile Even to Delay Iran Nuke Program - Herb Keinon
    Setting Iran's nuclear plans back a few years to buy time for regime change or other unforeseen developments would be good in its own right, even if Israel cannot completely take out Iran's nuclear program, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said recently in private meetings, the Jerusalem Post has learned. He said such an attack - one that demonstrates the vulnerability of the regime - could hasten regime change inside Iran. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel Wraps Up National SMS Missile Alert Test - Stephen Weizman
    Israel on Thursday wound up nationwide testing of an SMS warning system against missile attack, a military spokeswoman said. The army says the warning messages were being sent in Hebrew, Arabic, English and Russian. They are meant to warn of an imminent missile attack by Iran or Lebanon's Hizbullah. (AFP)
  • Hamas Helps Egypt Hunt for Sinai Terrorists - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hamas security forces have detained dozens of members of radical Islamic groups in Gaza as part of an effort to help the Egyptians lay their hands on the terrorists who killed 16 Egyptian border guards in Sinai on August 5, sources in Gaza said. The clampdown is being carried out in coordination with Egyptian intelligence officers who were sent to Gaza following the Sinai attack. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel "Does Not Want the PA to Crash" - Tovah Lazaroff
    Last month, Israel granted the Palestinians an additional 5,000 permits to enter Israel for construction work, for a total of 24,500. As a gesture to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the Defense Ministry wants to grant Palestinians an additional 6,000 permits. The idea of an additional 6,000 work permits came from the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot, in collaboration with Israeli immigration authorities, the construction workers union and the Defense Ministry, the COGAT spokesman said.
        "We do not want the PA to crash," he said. Palestinians who work in Israel earn a salary that is 2.5 times higher than in a comparable job in the Palestinian territories, he said. A strong Palestinian economy and the Palestinian ability to earn a livable wage are key to improving stability and security in the West Bank, he said. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Israel to U.S.: Show Us that You'll Really Stop Iran, or We May Have To - David Horovitz
    Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, head of IDF Military Intelligence from 2006 to 2010, is today executive director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. Yadlin, one of the pilots who bombed Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981, said in an interview Wednesday: "What the prime minister and the defense minister that all the strategies being employed against Iran have either failed or are not working. The diplomatic negotiations that took place in Istanbul, Baghdad and Moscow produced nothing."
        "Therefore if you're not prepared to live with an Iran with a nuclear bomb, you are left with only one option and that's the option of military intervention....The Israelis cannot ask the Americans to do the job for them. No American soldier has ever fought for Israel since the state was established. That's a basic principle for us."
        "But the Americans can say, look, this isn't something we're doing for you. We're doing it for ourselves. And we have more time....Our air force has a great many capabilities that yours doesn't. B-1 bombers, B-2 bombers, bunker busters that are much heavier than yours, Stealth bombers. Therefore, we can do it after you think that you can't."
        "The American threat has to be a great deal more credible. It cannot be that the secretary of defense will stand up publicly and say that an attack on Iran will plunge the world into World War III or the Middle East will go up in flames. That shows that you don't really mean to do it."  (Times of Israel)
        See also A Conceptual Framework and Decision-Making Model for Israel about Iran - Amos Yadlin (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Obama's Moment of Truth on Iran - Ari Shavit
    According to a report on President Obama's desk, Iran has an advanced weapons team that is developing a sophisticated nuclear warhead. In contrast to previous American assessments, Iran has progressed not only in missile building and uranium enrichment, but also in weapon production. The argument that it will take Iran a long time to make the breakthrough to a nuclear bomb has lost its validity. So has the argument that the U.S. will know in good time of any secret Iranian move. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Obama's Last Chance Before Israel Bombs Iran - Benny Morris
    The tragedy in all this is that the international community failed to impose severe sanctions against Iran back in 2000 or 2005. Then, the cumulative effect of several years of such sanctions might have persuaded the ayatollahs to abandon their nuclear ambitions. Now it is too late; sanctions will not do the job in time and, indeed, will only energize the Iranians to reach the nuclear finish line as quickly as possible. Which leaves the world only with the military option, Israeli or American - or the prospect of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons. (Daily Beast)
  • Are Israel's Iran Threats Intended to Push the World into Action? - Laura Rozen
    "Part of [the Israeli leadership's] motivation for being as public as they have been [regarding their intentions on Iran] is to motivate the rest of world," former top Obama White House Iran strategist Dennis Ross said in an interview Tuesday. "The second reason is to condition the rest of the world not to be surprised if or when they are going to act militarily," Ross said. "And to get the Israeli public ready as well....Those who say it is just a bluff are misreading."
        "Words also have an effect. If the Iranians think that basically the only thing they are facing is economic pressure, they look at time one way. If they begin to believe that force could possibly be used against them, their sense of timing may be different."  (Al Monitor)
        See also Ex-Obama Official Warns: Take Israel Iran Threat "Very Seriously" - Laura Rozen
    Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Colin Kahl, who traveled to Israel 13 times during his tenure as the Obama administration's top Pentagon Middle East civilian policy advisor from 2009 to 2011, said in an interview Tuesday that he takes the signs that Israeli leaders are contemplating a strike on Iran "very seriously."
        "I think it is more likely Israeli leaders are preparing the Israeli public for a strike, and creating a narrative for the international community that diplomacy and sanctions have failed and thus Israel has no choice," Kahl said. "There is clearly a crescendo emerging, and there is a lot of detailed, point-by-point argumentation...laying the foundation for a potential strike....At the end of the day, the Israeli leadership is building the case that they can trust no one but themselves on this issue."  (Al Monitor)
  • Iran's Asian Lifeline - Ilan Berman
    As Western countries have weaned themselves off of Iranian oil, today four Asian countries - China, India, South Korea and Japan - cumulatively buy more than half of Iran's total energy exports. Earlier this year, these nations slashed their imports significantly. But today there are signs that they are coming back to the Iranian marketplace.
        After a temporary dip in oil imports earlier this year (largely due to a pricing dispute), Beijing has reportedly resumed being Tehran's largest customer. China is now importing more than 100,000 barrels a day more from Iran than it did in 2011. Tokyo this month doubled the quantity of oil it is importing from Iran. For Western sanctions to truly stand a chance of altering Iran's behavior, Asia's economies must be forced to back away from their business with the Islamic Republic. The writer is vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Arab World

  • Monopolizing Power in Egypt - Michael Wahid Hanna
    During the course of transition after Mubarak's fall, the ambitions of the military leadership expanded to include a constitutionally enshrined custodial role that would have placed the military establishment beyond scrutiny and enabled it to intervene in the political process. While the military will continue to enjoy extensive privileges and exercise considerable political power, the maximalist designs of the military leadership have now been foreclosed, absent a coup. These are salutary and necessary developments for the establishment of a democratic, civilian-led political order.
        But this should not provide cover for a new iteration of the power grabs that have distorted modern Egyptian political life. Even overlooking the extralegal nature of President Morsi's actions as the only available means to take on the extralegal political and legal framework erected by the SCAF, there is simply no excuse for constructing a parallel system of unchecked authority. The writer is a fellow at The Century Foundation. (Foreign Policy)
  • Was Insufficient Economic Growth a Critical Factor in Syria? - Ehsani
    Countries like Egypt, Yemen and Syria need to engineer China-like economic growth rates in order to survive. Without such growth, their young populations will keep revolting for years to come. In the 25 years between 1980 and 2005, Yemen's total fertility (children per women) averaged 7.5. Iraq's was 5.7. Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Egypt averaged 5.4, 5.2, and 4.3 respectively. In contrast, the U.S. and Western Europe averaged 2.0 and 1.6. Over the same period, real economic growth in the Arab world was largely stagnant. When populations double every twenty-five years and real incomes stay constant, future revolutions are baked in the cake.
        With no vibrant industrial policy, insufficient energy and renewable water resources, an outmoded education system, and median house price-to-income ratios close to 10 (the U.S. is at 3), Arab countries are riding their Titanics straight into their respective icebergs. Yes, the Arab world could do with less corruption and more democracy and freedom, but none of this is likely to matter. Expect the Tahrir Square of every Arab capital to occupy our evening news for years to come. The writer is a Syrian-American banker. (Syria Comment)
        See also Climate Change and the Syrian Uprising - Shahrzad Mohtadi
    A drought unparalleled in recent Syrian history lasted from 2006 to 2010 and led to an unprecedented mass migration of 1.5 million people from farms to urban centers. Because the Assad regime's economic policies had largely ignored water issues and sustainable agriculture, the drought destroyed many farming communities and placed great strain on urban populations. (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)
  • Will the West Bank Become the Next Islamic Emirate? - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Those who think Hamas and other Islamic groups do not have a strong presence in the West Bank are completely detached from reality. These groups lack arms and ammunition, but they still enjoy broad public support. For now, security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is all that is preventing Muslim fundamentalists from taking over the West Bank.
        While the PA has been waging a fierce battle against supporters of Hamas and other radical groups, the tough security clampdown has not been able to stop Hamas and its allies from increasing their political power in the West Bank. Hamas continues to operate in the West Bank under the cover of hundreds of Islamic charities and organizations. The movement also has a strong presence at most Palestinian universities and colleges under labels such as the Islamic Bloc and Islamic Union. Hamas, moreover, still has direct and indirect control over many mosques.
        In recent years, Hamas has been challenged by Hizb-ut-Tahrir [Party of Liberation], an international pan-Islamic organization seeking to unify all Muslims under an Islamic caliphate ruled by Islamic law. In the past few months, in Ramallah and Hebron, Hizb-ut-Tahrir held two major rallies calling for an Islamic caliphate, attracting tens of thousands of supporters. Hamas, Hizb-ut-Tahrir and their allies have been emboldened by the "Arab Spring," which has seen the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to power in a number of Arab countries, including the largest Arab country, Egypt. They have further been encouraged by the apparent emergence of an Islamic emirate in Sinai, next to the one that already exists in Gaza. (Gatestone Institute)

  • Other Issues

  • The Politically Incorrect Guide to U.S. Interests in the Middle East - Aaron David Miller
    What are America's vital national interests in the Middle East today? To keep commerce free (meaning oil), the U.S. supports the authoritarian Saudi kings. To keep the region secure, it backs the repressive Khalifa monarchy in Bahrain, which gives the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet the port access that allows it to project power across the Gulf. And to stand up for Israel, the U.S. gives the Egyptian military $1.3 billion per year to protect the peace treaty.
        The U.S. has a number of vital national interests that it really cares deeply about and is prepared to use force to protect. Its main interest is stopping an attack on the U.S. with conventional and unconventional weapons. Americans are safer since the 9/11 attacks - but not safe. There are still transnational groups that want to inflict catastrophic harm on the U.S. The U.S. military will whack bad guys with drones whenever it can, regardless of the protestations of local governments.
        On the issue of a conflict-ending agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, every previous breakthrough was preceded by some act that the locals initiated. Unless that ownership is present, the U.S. should stop pretending that it can somehow fix this. (Foreign Policy)

  • Weekend Features

  • Enlisting from Afar for the Love of Israel - Jodi Rudoren
    Josh Warhit, 22, who grew up in New Rochelle, N.Y., and graduated from the University of Rochester after spending several summers in Israel, was one of 127 soldiers-to-be who landed Tuesday morning at Ben-Gurion International Airport. Part of a growing cadre of what are known as lone soldiers, they left behind parents, girlfriends, and cars to become infantrymen, intelligence officers, paratroopers and pilots. According to a military spokeswoman, Israel has enlisted 8,217 men and women from other countries since 2009, 1,661 from the U.S., second only to Russia's 1,685.
        They serve side by side in even elite combat units with native Israelis drafted out of high school. "Their motivation is often way higher than the average Israeli," said Col. Shuli Ayal, who oversees the lone-soldier program. The soldiers were among 351 new immigrants arriving on a flight chartered by Nefesh b'Nefesh, a 10-year-old group that has helped bring 30,000 people to Israel. (New York Times)
  • The Man Who Saved 900 Jewish Boys Inside a Death Camp - Brad Rothschild
    Last month, Yad Vashem awarded its Righteous Among the Nations honor to Antonin Kalina, a Czech communist who saved over 900 boys in Buchenwald. In late 1944 the Nazis began liquidating their death camps, placing Jewish prisoners on brutal "death marches" toward the German hinterland. Buchenwald, a camp established in 1937 to imprison political opponents of the Nazi regime, swelled to over 100,000 inmates in the final months of the war.
        Antonin Kalina was the block elder of Kinderblock 66 deep in the filthy quarantine area where the SS was loathe to go. In April 1945, the Nazis decided to eradicate Buchenwald's Jews and the camp's commanders ordered all Jews to report for assembly. Kalina refused to comply. He commanded the boys not to report and changed the religion on their badges to Christian. When the SS came looking for Jews, Kalina told them that block 66 had no more. When the Allies liberated Buchenwald on April 11, 1945, over 900 Jewish boys survived. The writer is the producer of the documentary film "Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald."  (Times of Israel)
  • "Tami Mommy" Faces Danger on Sinai Border with Hope and Sandwiches for IDF Soldiers - Ben Sales
    At the Kerem Shalom crossing between Gaza and Israel, Tami Muyal, 62, sits smiling in a purple food truck. Bold letters on the side of the truck advertise: "To soldiers with love, from the loving Tami Mommy." Muyal has been operating the truck for 12 years, including the past 3 1/2 years in this location. "There's no way a soldier gets to me and leaves hungry or thirsty," she said.
        From 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Muyal offers soldiers anything from popsicles to baguette sandwiches at a discount or even for free, depending on how much cash they have on hand. "I had a dream to open a rest stop for soldiers," said Muyal, formerly a bookkeeper who has lived in the area for 40 years and raised four children. (JTA)
  • National Geographic Calls Israel Trail "Epic" - Sharon Udasin
    National Geographic has included the Israel National Trail in its list of the world's 20 most "epic trails." The list's author, Doug Schnitzspahn, calls the selected paths "the holy grails of trails across the world" and specifically describes the Israel Trail as one that "delves into the grand scale of biblical landscapes as well as the everyday lives of modern Israelis." The Israel Trail was established by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and is more than 1,000 km. long, from Kibbutz Dan in the north to Eilat in the south. (Jerusalem Post)

Will America Act Against Iran? - Dore Gold (Israel Hayom)

  • In the internal debate in Israel over Iran, it is assumed by many that at the end of the day the U.S. will destroy Iran's nuclear infrastructure when it becomes clear that sanctions and negotiations have failed. But is that a reliable assumption? Writing in Ha'aretz on August 8, Israel's former ambassador to the U.S., Sallai Meridor, warns that it cannot be assumed that Washington will act in the Iranian case. He correctly noted that in the past, the U.S. in fact condemned Israel's 1981 attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor and refused to take military action against the Syrian nuclear program.
  • The case of North Korea stands out as an instance in which the U.S. would not take action against a dangerous rogue state that was developing a nuclear weapons capability. In March 1994, North Korea blocked inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from inspecting its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon. By June, it appeared that the North Koreans were about to take the spent fuel rods from the reactor and extract enough weapons-grade plutonium for five or six bombs.
  • Just like today, high-level U.S. officials said that all options are on the table - but that was as far as they went. Negotiations were launched with North Korea that led to the signing of the "Agreed Framework," which the North Koreans violated within a few years. In December 2002, North Korea removed the IAEA seals from the containers with the spent fuel rods and began to produce plutonium from them. North Korea then expelled the IAEA inspectors and announced in early 2003 that it was withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Four years later on October 8, 2006, the North Koreans conducted their first underground test of an atomic bomb.
  • Why has the U.S. not taken more forceful action against rogue states crossing the nuclear threshold? First, there is the issue of intelligence. Even a superpower, like the U.S., may not have a sufficiently clear intelligence picture that would allow it to detect that a state like North Korea, which is isolated from the world, is about to conduct a nuclear test. This is also a problem for the American intelligence agencies in Iran. Just two years ago, secretary of defense Robert M. Gates was quoted as saying about the Iranians: "If their policy is to go to the threshold but not assemble a nuclear weapon, how do you tell that they have not assembled? I don't actually know how you would verify that."
  • Finally, it must be remembered that the U.S. is a superpower with global commitments. That means it has conflicting priorities, which constrain its ability to take on missions against rogue states that are in the last phase of assembling nuclear weapons. The Bush administration was focused on Iraq and Afghanistan, which undoubtedly affected its approach to North Korea - and later Syria. Perhaps, in the near future, the Obama administration will be involved in supporting an international intervention against the Assad regime in Syria, and will not be focused on the Iranian issue.
  • Thus, while the U.S. unquestionably has the military power to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons by the world's most dangerous states or organizations, repeatedly, successive administrations have been reluctant to use their vast military capabilities for that purpose because of the international circumstances they faced.

    The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

        See also What Will the U.S. Actually Do about Iran? - Patrick Clawson
    Given Washington's reactions to nuclear tests by North Korea, Pakistan, and India, Iranian leaders may well believe that harsh U.S. rhetoric about prevention and closing diplomatic windows does not reflect what the U.S. will actually do.
        In addition, U.S. policymakers often fail to appreciate how deeply Israelis mistrust the notion of relying on foreign security guarantees. A formative experience for Israeli security doctrine came at a time of great need in June 1967, when President Lyndon Johnson refused to honor his predecessor's explicit, written pledge guaranteeing security of navigation through the Straits of Tiran - a firm promise that had been central to Israel's agreement to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula in 1957. That episode reinforced the state's founding principle: that the Jewish people can never rely on others to protect them. For many Israelis, this principle is the single most important guide to foreign policy.
        It is difficult to send a tough message abroad during an election campaign, when a certain skepticism is warranted about whether presidential statements are aimed at the home audience rather than accurately reflecting what policy will be after the election. The writer is director of research at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
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