Israeli App Waze Helped FEMA Deliver the Gas after Hurricane Sandy - Ryan Kim
With gas shortages rampant following Hurricane Sandy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA) and the White House turned to an Israeli invention, the crowd-sourced navigation app Waze, to gather data on where to send gasoline trucks.
Di-Ann Eisnor, Waze's VP of platforms and partnerships, said the government called up Waze Friday and asked for help.
Within an hour, Waze had a simple system up and running that allowed users who visited a gas station to get a system message that allowed them to report the conditions there.
The users were able to leave a chit-chat message explaining if there was gas available, how the lines were and how long the wait was.
The Waze app also displayed pins on its maps for local gas stations that were open.
After opening up a line of communication with New Jersey residents, Waze expanded its reporting program Saturday to Staten Island and Long Island.
See also Beat the Traffic with Waze - David Shamah (Israel21c)
Israeli startup Waze has developed the technology to truly revolutionize driving, allowing drivers to shave precious minutes off their commutes, providing real time updates of traffic conditions, and even generating real-time maps - all for free.
Eyewitness Report from Syria - Jonathan Spyer (Jerusalem Post)
In northern Aleppo province, the Assad regime only exists in the air. Its forces have pulled back to Aleppo city, leaving a swathe of land under the precarious control of the rebels.
There are rebel checkpoints all the way from the Turkish border to Aleppo city, operated by different brigades with clearly different military capabilities and political outlooks.
The Bab al-Salaam border crossing, jointly administered by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Turkish armed forces, is controlled from the rebel side by the Asaf al-Shamal (Storm of the North) battalion, a secular force led by Ammar al-Dadikhli.
Further toward the city are checkpoints operated by the Tawhid Brigade, the largest single force battling Assad in Aleppo. Tawhid is an Islamist force, adhering to an ideology of Muslim Brotherhood-type Islamism. Its fighters are well-equipped and said to be supported by Qatar and the Brotherhood.
There are still isolated areas in the hands of the regime.
At the entrance to the village of Fafeen, for example, the government controls a large military facility. But there were no sentries at the entrance, only a locked and imposing looking iron gate and an abandoned guard position.
My driver Ahmed explained: "For a while they'd try and put a checkpoint on the road, but the FSA would come along and kill the soldiers within a few minutes. So now they just stay in there. They bring the soldiers in and out in helicopters."
Israeli President Opens Moscow Jewish Museum (RIA Novosti-Russia)
Israeli President Shimon Peres officially opened a new Jewish Museum and Center of Tolerance in Moscow on Thursday.
The museum aims to demonstrate Jewish cultural traditions and customs and also show the history of Russia through the prism of one ethnic group, organizers say.
The Center of Tolerance will provide a platform for dialog on issues of tolerance, mutual understanding, respect and intercultural relations.
Peres took the opportunity to reiterate Israel's criticism of Iran, describing the Iranian authorities as "negators of the Holocaust who want to perpetrate a new Holocaust."
"We are praying that Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama pool their efforts in putting an end to terror and threats, to free mankind from bloodshed and despair," Peres said.
Fourth UK-Israel Strategic Dialogue Held in UK - Anna Sheinman
The fourth UK-Israel strategic dialogue was held in the UK last week.
Foreign Office Permanent Under-Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service Simon Fraser said:
"We focused on regional questions, including how to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, and how to bring an end to the bloodshed in Syria. We also looked at bilateral cooperation, agreeing on numerous steps to bolster our already strong relations in areas like science and technology."
"The Dialogue shows clearly that Britain and Israel are - as the Foreign Secretary has said - strategic partners, working together on many issues of shared concern, and talking constructively on the areas of difference."
Israel Eases Tax for Foreign Companies (Indo Asian News Service)
The Israeli parliament has voted to allow foreign companies to pay reduced tax if they promise to invest half of their profits in the country, Xinhua reported.
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- U.S. Sanctions Iran for Human Rights Abuses - Meera Louis
The U.S. Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on 17 Iranian individuals and entities related to the government's human rights abuses
and its support of terrorism.
Those sanctioned include Ali Fazli, deputy commander of the Basij militia, which has launched attacks against websites; Reza Taghipour, minister of communications and information technology, who has been responsible for jamming satellite television and blocking Internet connectivity; Rasool Jalili, who has been involved in attempting to acquire Internet monitoring equipment; and Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, head of the Iranian police, for his role in directing the monitoring and tracking of Internet activities in Iran.
- Syrian Opposition Unity Plans Fall Apart - Ruth Sherlock and Carol Malouf
Syrian opposition groups were due to convene in the Qatari capital Doha on Thursday to appoint a new and supposedly more representative leadership. But on the eve of the conference three of the dissident bodies included in the U.S.-backed initiative refused to attend. Representatives from the National Coordinating Committee, the Syrian Democratic Platform, and the Kurdish ethnic minority rejected the plan.
"There are too many people against this initiative for it to work now," said a Western diplomatic source in Doha.
The plan's failure is a blow to Hillary Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state, who had announced it unexpectedly a week ago. "Everyone feels that this initiative is imposed," said Ahmed Zaidan, the deputy head of the Revolutionary Council, a body that coordinates with armed groups inside Syria.
See also Rebels' Missteps Weaken Support among Syrians - Anne Barnard
Syria's rebel fighters are losing crucial support from a public increasingly disgusted by the actions of some rebels, including poorly planned missions, senseless destruction, criminal behavior and the cold-blooded killing of prisoners. A dampening of support undermines the rebels' ability to fight and win what has become a devastating war of attrition.
The rebel shortcomings have been compounded by changes in the opposition, from a force of civilians and defected soldiers who took up arms after the government used lethal force on peaceful protesters to one that is increasingly seeded with extremist jihadis - radicalization that has made Western nations more reluctant to give rebels the arms that might help break the deadlock.
(New York Times)
- Palatial West Bank Homes Cost Palestinians Greatly
A group of Palestinians who have spent years working overseas have returned to the West Bank to build their ideal luxury home.
In Mazraa al-Sharqiya, only around 5,000 of the village's 12,000 residents actually live in the West Bank. The rest are working overseas, most of them in the U.S.
Rafae Hamida, president of a local village charity, estimates that 67% of the village currently lives in either the U.S., Peru or Brazil.
"And every one of them wants to build a house that's better than the next," he says.
The houses are often distinctive, giant homes that far exceed the regular size of Palestinian houses, the facades covered with stone and adorned with huge pillars. In some cases they look more like fairy tale palaces than regular homes.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Prime Minister Netanyahu Speaks with President Obama
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Thursday with U.S. President Barack Obama and congratulated him on his reelection. The prime minister said it was "a vote of confidence in your leadership."
Netanyahu said he looked forward to continuing to work with the president to address the great challenges facing the U.S. and Israel and to advance peace and security in our region.
(Prime Minister's Office)
- Terrorists Explode Tunnel Near Gaza Border - Yaakov Lappin
Terrorists in Gaza on Thursday blew up a massive tunnel they had dug toward Israel, the IDF said.
Soldiers had entered Gaza following a string of bomb attacks in recent days including one on Tuesday that wounded three soldiers.
The soldiers uncovered several bombs after crossing the border, some of them very powerful, IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai said.
"As soldiers worked to fix the fence in the area, the tunnel blew up under the [fence] route," Mordechai said. "It was a very large explosion, leaving a four- to five-meter crater."
"It was a very big tunnel, the likes of which we haven't seen in a long time." (Jerusalem Post)
- Fatah: Oslo Accords Will Cease to Exist after UN Bid - Khaled Abu Toameh
The Oslo Accords between the PLO and Israel will cease to exist the day after the UN votes in favor of upgrading the status of a Palestinian state to non-member, Abbas Zaki, member of the Fatah Central Committee, told the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi on Thursday. He also said: "Once we become a recognized state, we will go to all UN agencies to force the international community to take legal action against Israel,"
and pursue Israel for "war crimes" in the International Criminal Court. (Jerusalem Post)
- Dennis Ross: Obama to Focus on Iran - Yitzhak Benhorin
Dennis Ross, President Obama's senior advisor on Middle East policy and Iran until a year ago, said Thursday that the Iranian issue will keep Obama busy from day one of his second term. Ross said Iran's leaders are openly admitting that the sanctions are having brutal effect and there is growing recognition in Iran that a diplomatic solution makes the most sense. Hence the chances for a diplomatic solution are greater than in the past. He noted that no American president will mobilize forces before showing the American people and the world that he has done everything in his power to prevent war.
- Three Syrian Mortars Land in Israel - Yoav Zitun
Three mortar shells fired in Syria landed in Israel's territory on Thursday.
One landed in the Golan Heights community of Alonei HaBashan. The IDF said it believed the fire was part of clashes between Syrian security forces and rebels and did not target Israel.
President Obama's Second Term
- U.S. and Israel Must Work Together to Prevent Iran Nukes - David Makovsky
While it is safe to assume Netanyahu personally preferred Mitt Romney, he in fact did not endorse Obama's Republican challenger - despite every Israeli reporter's efforts to entice him into doing so.
At the end of the day, Obama and Netanyahu will have to focus their energies on an array of challenges that will require them to work together. Too much is at stake for both countries.
Israel and the U.S. are going to need to be in closer consultation than ever about Obama's highest foreign-policy priority: ensuring that Iran does not go nuclear and that a nuclear arms race does not break out in the region.
Failure would mean the end of Obama's plans to promote nuclear nonproliferation, and it would also cripple U.S. credibility after three administrations - Democrat and Republican alike - have vowed that Iran will not get the bomb.
The writer is director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
- Obama's Foreign Policy Agenda - Mark Landler
Atop Obama's list, administration officials and foreign policy experts agree, is a deal with Iran to curb its nuclear program. The U.S. is likely to engage the Iranian government in direct negotiations in the next few months, officials said, in what would be a last-ditch diplomatic effort to head off a military strike on its nuclear facilities.
Officials insist they have not set a date for talks nor do they know if Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has blessed them. But with Iran's centrifuges spinning and Israel threatening its own strike, the clock is ticking, and it may put pressure on the Iranians to make a deal.
For Obama, the Middle East is generally less a landscape for bold new initiatives than a place for triage. But unfinished business remains - not least his frustrated efforts to broker a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. But several experts expressed doubt that the president would thrust himself again into the role of Middle East peacemaker.
(New York Times)
- The U.S.-Israel Relationship: What's Love Got to Do with It? - Steven A. Cook
For a variety of political, strategic, and moral reasons, Washington and Jerusalem have what is known as a "special relationship." This is essentially a fact of U.S. Middle East policy.
Presidents Eisenhower, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Clinton all, at one time or another, had trouble with their Israeli counterparts. None of this was a function of animus, but rather the different way the world looks from Washington and Jerusalem.
U.S.-Israel relations still work extremely well. According to Colin Kahl, who was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East from 2009 until late 2011, the Obama administration did more than any of its predecessors to ensure Israel's qualitative military edge, has forged unprecedented intelligence cooperation with the Israelis, and put together a broad international coalition to sanction Iran over its nuclear program. All of this is intended to help ensure Israel's security. The point is that the U.S.-Israel relationship is robustly institutionalized.
The writer is a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
(Council on Foreign Relations)
- What Does Obama's Win Mean for Netanyahu? - Michael Koplow
Think of the myriad of ways in which Obama supported Israel during his first term. There is absolutely nothing to suggest that all of a sudden funding for Iron Dome, joint military exercises, vetoing of anti-Israel UN resolutions, and other similar actions are going to stop now that Obama doesn't have to worry about another election. I would bet there is no drop-off in the administration's support of Israel in the security and diplomatic spheres.
Finally, the suggestion that Obama is now going to tell Netanyahu that the U.S. has no interest in confronting Iran makes little sense to me based on previous U.S. actions and Obama's long record of statements indicating that he views an Iranian nuclear bomb as a real problem. Aside from Stuxnet, crippling sanctions, and an increased carrier presence in the Gulf, Obama has made clear that preventing nuclear proliferation is perhaps the foreign policy issue that he holds most dear. The writer is program director of the Israel Institute.
(Ottomans and Zionists)
- A Strategy for Peace with the Palestinians - Max Singer
Peace is not possible now because Palestinian society is not yet ready
to give up the goal that it has shared with the Arab world since before
Israel was created: to prevent the establishment of and eliminate the
existence of a Jewish country. This can be known from the statements
and actions of Palestinian leaders. It is confirmed by the
Palestinian leadership's denial of Jewish history in the land and the
systematic teaching of hatred of both Israel and the Jewish people in
Palestinian schools and official propaganda.
The current political environment in the Arab-Muslim world is too
hostile towards Israel and the West for there to be any hope of a
decisive change in Palestinian opinion at this time. It is only when the
Arab-Muslim debate about hostility to the non-Muslim world changes
that the Palestinians will
be able to consider giving up their goal of eliminating Israel.
there will be Palestinians who lead their people away from
The most effective way for Israel to
pursue peace is to act to convince Palestinians that Israel wholeheartedly believes in its own rights to the land, has an unshakeable
determination to protect itself against all challenges, and is growing in
power. When more of the Arab world is ready to give up its effort to
defeat the West and the goal of removing the Jewish state from
"Muslim territory," there will be opportunities to pursue peace. The writer is a Senior Fellow and Trustee Emeritus at the Hudson Institute.
(Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
- The Coming Oil Glut - Leonardo Maugeri
The price of oil continues to be set by fear, not by supply and demand. World-wide oil production is growing quickly. By the end of the year, it will probably surpass 92 million barrels per day, with additional spare capacity of more than 3.5 million barrels, thanks in part to the shale oil revolution in the U.S.
Meanwhile, oil demand is growing sluggishly, a consequence of the troubled global economic situation, which will probably prevent demand this year from exceeding 89 million barrels per day. At the same time, the exploration and production of oil and gas is experiencing unprecedented investment.
No one anticipated the very fast recovery of Libyan oil production, the limited impact of falling Iranian oil exports, the astonishing growth of U.S. shale production, or the new records of Russian and Iraqi oil production. The writer, a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, previously served as a top executive at the Italian energy company Eni.
(Wall Street Journal Europe)
- IDF Service Still a Gateway into Society - Alan Johnson interviews Amos Harel
Amos Harel, a defense analyst for Ha'aretz, noted the continuing important role of the Israel Defense Forces in Israeli society.
"The IDF is still in many ways the rite of passage in Israeli society. Ethiopian Jews, for example, go to combat units much more than any other part of society....Once they are paratroopers they expect to be treated differently, and to a certain extent they are."
"If you put together two average Israeli males in their forties who haven't met before, the second or third thing they'll ask each other is 'where did you serve in the army, what did you do?' And immediately it will be a case of 'oh, my brother was in the same unit' or 'my cousin was your commander.'" (Fathom Journal-BICOM)
Obama Faces Second-Term Middle East Challenges - Jeremy Bowen (BBC News)
- The Middle East is in a process of change that will take a generation. However much the U.S. would like to influence, the people of the region show every sign of wanting to take back control of their lives from foreigners and their current and former allies.
- President Obama shows every sign of realizing America's limits. You get the feeling that President Obama would love to be able to turn his back on the Middle East. The trouble with that is the Middle East is too important to be left alone.
- If by next summer the U.S. and its key allies still believe that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, despite talks and sanctions, President Obama will have to decide whether or not to attack Iran's nuclear sites, or to give Israel a green light to go to war.
- Barack Obama will not want his presidency to be remembered as the time when Iran became a nuclear weapons power.
If Iran rebuffed an offer that President Obama considered fair, and if he felt Iran was going to go nuclear, there is every chance that he would order an attack.
- Behind every decision that crosses the president's desk will be the knowledge that, despite its huge military power, America's political leverage in the Middle East is in decline.
- Compliant, reliable, authoritarian allies have been deposed. And a new generation that sees America as an adversary, not a friend, is being empowered.
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