Iran Producing 3,000 Advanced Uranium-Enriching Centrifuges (AP-Washington Post)
Iran's nuclear chief Fereidoun Abbasi said Sunday his country is producing more than 3,000 advanced centrifuges which are used to enrich uranium.
Abbasi said last month that Iran has begun installing the newer IR-2 centrifuges, which can produce more enriched uranium in a shorter period of time.
Video: Ancient Syrian Synagogue Damaged by Regime Shelling (Al Arabiya-Jerusalem Post)
A video posted online by the Syrian opposition military council shows that one of the oldest synagogues in the world was severely damaged Friday after shelling by Syrian regime forces in the Damascus district of Jobar.
The 2,000-year-old synagogue was built atop a cave that, according to tradition, was used by the prophet Elijah to conceal himself from persecution.
The synagogue is said to have been built by the prophet Elisha and repaired during the first century by Eleazar ben Arach.
White House Names Philip Gordon New Coordinator for Middle East, Persian Gulf - Laura Rozen (Al-Monitor)
The White House on Saturday named Philip Gordon Special Assistant to the President and Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Persian Gulf.
Gordon has served as Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs since 2009.
Covert Auctions in Egypt Put Arms that Freed Libya into Hands of Terrorists - Paul Alster (Fox News)
The weapons that helped Libyan rebels oust Gaddafi are turning up for sale at clandestine auctions in Egypt's Sinai Desert, where buyers purchase firearms for al-Qaeda and Hamas.
"There are more and more contacts between al-Qaeda and the small groups in Sinai," said a senior source in the Israel Defense Forces.
"If at the beginning we saw these tribes supporting terror cells for the sake of money, now we see it becoming more an ideological support, and we see more and more cases that these groups of al-Qaeda-influenced extreme jihadists are becoming more powerful than the tribes."
Ethiopian Runner Wins Jerusalem Marathon (AP)
Abraham Kabeto Ketla of Ethiopia won the third Jerusalem marathon on Friday, setting a record for the race. About 20,000 runners took part.
Egyptian Court Acquits Jewish Leader of Fraud - Ariel Ben Solomon (Jerusalem Post)
Carmen Weinstein, the president of the Egyptian Jewish community, was acquitted last week of fraud and embezzlement of 3 million Egyptian pounds ($450,000) by the Abdeen Court of Misdemeanors.
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- Netanyahu: Iran Using Nuclear Talks to "Buy Time" for Bomb - Dan Williams
Renewed international efforts to negotiate curbs on Iran's disputed nuclear program have backfired by giving it more time to work on building a bomb, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday. After being briefed by senior U.S. diplomat Wendy Sherman who flew to Israel after the Kazakh-hosted talks, Netanyahu told his Cabinet: "My impression from these talks is that the only thing that is gained from them is a buying of time, and through this time-buying Iran intends to continue enriching nuclear material for an atomic bomb and is indeed getting closer to this goal." (Reuters)
- Kerry Criticizes Turkish Prime Minister over Zionism Remark - Michael R. Gordon
Secretary of State John Kerry chastised Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday for calling Zionism a "crime against humanity." A senior State Department official said, "This was particularly offensive. It complicates our ability to do all of the things that we want to do together."
In response to a question at a news conference in Ankara, Kerry said, "Obviously, we not only disagree with it. We found it objectionable." (New York Times)
See also UN Says Erdogan "Wrong" to Link Zionism with Fascism - Selcan Hacaoglu and Nicole Gaouette
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan for comments linking Zionism with fascism during the Fifth Global Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations in Vienna on Feb. 27.
"The secretary-general heard the prime minister's speech through an interpreter," Ban Ki-moon's office said Friday. "If the comment about Zionism was interpreted correctly, then it was not only wrong but contradicts the very principles on which the Alliance of Civilizations is based." (Bloomberg)
See also Canada Criticizes Erdogan's Remarks on Zionism - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
- U.S. Lawmakers Question Military Aid to Egypt, Citing Concerns about Israel - Ernesto Londono
Concerned about Egypt's political instability and the U.S. budget crunch, a growing number of American lawmakers are challenging the wisdom of providing $1.3 billion a year in military aid to Cairo. Lawmakers say that Washington's largess, which includes large fleets of M1A1 tanks and F-16 fighter jets, could backfire, given the unpredictability of Egypt's Islamist-led government and its fraught relationship with Israel.
Ensuring that Cairo continues to adhere to the terms of the Camp David Accords, a deal which is explosively unpopular on the Egyptian street, is the Obama administration's leading incentive to continue the aid. But the U.S. has other interests, including continued naval access to the Suez Canal. It also wants to help Egypt restore order in the Sinai Peninsula bordering Israel, that has become a breeding ground for Islamist militants.
During his confirmation hearing, Secretary of State John Kerry said cutting Egypt off would be harmful to U.S. interests.
"Egypt is a quarter of the Arab world....It is critical to everything we aspire to see happen in the Middle East." (Washington Post)
See also Kerry Announces $250 Million in U.S. Aid for Egypt - Michael R. Gordon (New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Palestinians Shoot at IDF across Gaza Border - Gili Cohen
Palestinians in Gaza fired at IDF forces stationed on the Israeli side of the border in the vicinity of Kfar Aza on Friday, according to an IDF report. Palestinians also hurled firebombs and burning tires across the border. No Israelis were wounded, but an IDF vehicle was damaged by a bullet.
In response, IDF soldiers fired at the Palestinian attackers, wounding three.
- Oren at AIPAC: Netanyahu Has Taken Risks for Peace, Palestinians Must Too - Chemi Shalev
Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren opened AIPAC's 2013 Policy Conference on Sunday, saying the Palestinians must follow Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's lead and take risks for peace. Oren added that if Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas went forward with his reconciliation with Hamas in Gaza, it would be a "game ender" for the peace process. (Ha'aretz)
- Trains, Bikes and Shoppers: The Quiet Unification of Jerusalem - Matti Friedman
In recent years, new infrastructure projects in Jerusalem have quietly but dramatically created a reality that is reducing divisions between Israelis and Palestinians. The light rail system, an upscale shopping plaza outside the Old City, a new bike trail, and the sheer force of everyday life and business are slowly but surely drawing the city's disparate parts closer together. Jerusalem in 2013 is a more integrated city than it has been in decades.
(Times of Israel)
- How Iran Went Nuclear - Interview with Veteran Weapons Inspector Olli Heinonen - David Feith
In the fall of 2003, International Atomic Energy Agency deputy director-general Olli Heinonen was in his office in Vienna when a man appeared claiming that Iran was replicating its existing uranium-enrichment facility in an underground site near Qum. And so it was, as the IAEA and Western spy agencies later confirmed.
Also under construction in Iran, he said, was a duplicate of the Arak heavy-water facility designed to produce plutonium. In other words, he said that Iran had at least two secret sites, and he was correct on the first. What about the second - is there a plutonium facility that remains secret today?
Heinonen explains that Iran might be past the nuclear point of no return and that Iran's breakout would likely outpace the ability of the "international community" to respond. Heinonen's implication is that an Iranian bomb is now simply a matter of Tehran's will, not capability - despite two decades of international effort to prevent it. Short of military force, there is only so much that outsiders can do to stop a determined regime.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Iran's Pre-Islamic Legacy - Sohrab Ahmari
"I sought the safety of the city of Babylon and all its sanctuaries," Persian emperor Cyrus declares in his account of the 6th-century BCE
conquest. "As for the population of Babylon...I soothed their weariness; I freed them from their bonds." That tolerance earned Cyrus the reverence of exiled Babylonian Jews, whose temple in Jerusalem he subsequently restored, according to Biblical accounts.
The Islamic Republic looks pretty awful when measured by Cyrus' yardstick: Discrimination against minorities is enshrined in law. Iranian theocrats detest Iran's pre-Islamic legacy. Ayatollah Khomeini once declared: "We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world." (Wall Street Journal)
- Yes, Europe, Hizbullah Is a Terror Group - Jeff Jacoby
Winston Churchill understood about Europe's appeasers that "Each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last." They thought the best way to confront the threat posed by Nazi Germany was to avoid confronting it. "All of them hope that the storm will pass before their turn comes to be devoured."
Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said of Hizbullah in 2008, "they make al-Qaeda look like a minor-league team." In 2002, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage argued that "Hizbullah may be the A-team of terrorists and maybe al-Qaeda is actually the B-team."
So what can explain the European reluctance to blacklist Hizbullah as a terrorist organization and shut down its fundraising and logistical operations? "There's the overall fear if we're too noisy about this, Hizbullah might strike again," said Sylke Tempel, the editor-in-chief of the German foreign affairs magazine Internationale Politik.
Combating Incitement to Terror and Violence - Amb. Ron Prosor (Algemeiner)
Israel's Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor addressed a conference at the United Nations on "Incitement to Terror and Violence," organized by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on Feb. 28, 2013.
- 64 years ago, the UN ratified the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, with the horrors of the Holocaust still fresh in the mind of the international community. One of the Convention's key provisions made it a crime to "directly and publicly incite" to commit genocide.
- Last August, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went on public television and insisted that "the very existence of the Zionist regime is...an affront to all world nations." He called on "all human communities to wipe out the Zionist regime from the forehead of humanity."
Yet, in the face of this explicit cry to destroy a UN member state, the UN barely said anything.
- Terrorism does not begin with an attack on a bus or a raid on a village. That is how terrorism ends.
Terrorism begins when its perpetrators are indoctrinated with words and thoughts of hate.
- Just south of Israel's border, in Gaza, the Hamas government has created an atmosphere of extremism that vilifies Israelis and Jews to the next generation.
Gaza kindergarten graduations feature "terrorist dress-up," where five-year-olds stage plays that glorify jihadists and suicide bombers.
Families in Gaza watch public television sermons featuring Hamas ministers like 'Atallah Abu Al-Subh, who recently claimed that "the Jews are the most despicable and contemptible nation to crawl upon the face of the Earth."
- Incitement is no less prevalent under Abbas in the West Bank. Under the PA, students learn history from textbooks that glorify terrorists - and learn geography from atlases that erase Israel from the map.
Official PA "educational" television featured a young girl saying: "Our wars are for the Al Aqsa Mosque, and our enemy, Zion, is a Satan with a tail."
- Counter-terrorism does not just mean combating terrorists wherever they seek to strike and dismantling terrorist infrastructure.
True counter-terrorism means disrupting the ecosystem of extremism in which terror thrives and showing zero tolerance for the indoctrination that causes it to thrive.
- Just as the international community has an obligation to bring terrorists to justice, it must also pursue those who build the foundations of terror by teaching children to detest and despise.
We have already lost an entire generation to incitement. We cannot afford to lose another.
See also Prosor to UN: Address "Ecosystem of Extremism" - Michael Wilner (Jerusalem Post)
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