Stephen Hawking Reaffirms Support of Israel Boycott - Jonny Paul (Jerusalem Post)
On Wednesday, University of Cambridge physicist Prof. Stephen Hawking reiterated that
he pulled out of the fifth President's Conference in Jerusalem because he supports an academic boycott of Israel.
"I have received a number of emails from Palestinian academics," Hawking said in a letter. "They are unanimous that I should respect the boycott. In view of this I must withdraw from the conference."
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, noted,
"His whole computer-based communication system runs on a chip designed by Israel's Intel team."
Report: Hizbullah Has Sleeper Cells in Australia - John Lyons (The Australian)
Sheik Bilal Radwan, an influential Sunni cleric in Tripoli, Lebanon, told The Australian:
"There are sleeper cells for Hizbullah in Australia. I warn your government about such a thing.
It is well known that they have sleeping cells like Abu Abbas, Abu Jafaar and Zaiter. All these are operating on the Australian ground."
He also said as many as 50 Australians have gone to Syria to join rebels fighting against the Assad regime.
Majlis Shura al-Mujahidin: Between Israel and Hamas - Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi (Middle East Forum)
Majlis Shura al-Mujahidin fi Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis, a jihadi group sympathetic to al-Qaeda, has been part of the Salafi protest in Gaza against the ruling Hamas government.
While the group will continue to attempt to carry out attacks on Israel, it will avoid an open fight against Egypt or Hamas.
1.5 Million Jews Fought in Allied Armies in World War II - Daniel Estrin (AP)
Every year on "Victory in Europe" Day, which falls on Thursday this year, Jewish World War II veterans in Israel from the former Soviet Union parade in uniform to celebrate Nazi Germany's surrender.
About 1.5 million Jews fought in Allied armies, including 550,000 in the American army, 500,000 in the Red Army, 100,000 in the Polish army and 30,000 in the British army, according to Israel's Holocaust museum Yad Vashem.
About 200,000 Soviet Jewish soldiers fell on the battlefield or into German captivity. About 7,000 Jews who served in the Soviet Red Army are still alive today and living in Israel.
Ancient Quarry Unearthed in Jerusalem - Matti Friedman (Times of Israel)
Archaeologists working in Jerusalem have discovered a 2,000-year-old stone quarry, along with an iron key and masonry tools, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday.
The large quarry adjacent to the modern-day neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo dates to the first century CE and would have been active around the time of the Second Temple.
See also Photos: 2nd Temple Era Quarry Exposed in Jerusalem -
Judy Lash Balint (Demotix)
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- Israel Warns U.S.: Russia Plans Syria Arms Sale - Jay Solomon, Adam Entous, and Julian Barnes
Israel has warned the U.S. that a Russian deal is imminent to sell advanced S-300 ground-to-air missile systems to Syria. If Syria were to deploy the systems, it would make any international intervention in Syria far more complicated, according to U.S. and Middle East-based officials.
Syria has been making payments on a 2010 agreement with Moscow to buy four batteries for $900 million. The first shipment could come over the next three months. (Wall Street Journal)
- Turkey's IHH Seeks $1B from Israel for Flotilla Victims
Turkey should demand $1 billion from Israel as compensation for its raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla ship in 2010, according to the chairman of the Turkish group IHH, which led the convoy. Bulent Yildirim said Wednesday:
"Not only the martyrs, but also all of us, all participants [in the flotilla] including the injured and heavily injured will receive compensation....The amount of compensation that should be given is not $1.5 million, but at least $1 billion."
Turkish and Israeli officials are holding negotiations on how much Israel should pay the families of the Mavi Marmara victims.
There have been reports that Turkey is demanding that Israel pay $1 million to each family of all of the nine dead, while Israel is willing to pay only $100,000. Furthermore, Israel reportedly suggested paying the same amount paid by the Turkish military to the families of its fallen soldiers - around $70,000.
See also Turkey, the Global Muslim Brotherhood, and the Gaza Flotilla - Steven G. Merley (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Senate Bill Would Halt Iran's Access to $100 Billion in Cash - Rick Gladstone
A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation on Wednesday that would deny the Iranian government access to its foreign exchange reserves parked in the banks of other countries, estimated to be $100 billion, mostly in euros. Iran has been able to work around the worst effects of sanctions against it by tapping its foreign currency reserves overseas, which are largely beyond the reach of current restrictions.
"Closing the foreign currency loophole in our sanctions policy is critical in our efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability," said the sponsors, led by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.).
(New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu, Obama Discuss Syria - Barak Ravid
Prime Minister Netanyahu, now on a visit to China, spoke on Wednesday by phone with President Obama. A senior American official said the conversation dealt mainly with the situation in Syria, as well as ways to move the peace process forward.
- Thousands of Hizbullah Fighters in Syria Protecting Assad Regime's Escape Route - Amos Harel
Hizbullah fighters in Syria are taking an active part in the battle to secure the narrow corridor linking Damascus to the cities of Hama, Homs and Aleppo, and to the Alawite enclave in northwestern Syria.
Some 180 Hizbullah fighters reportedly have been killed and 500 have been injured.
Sources in Israel say they doubt Assad's statement Monday that he would respond to what he said were Israel's attacks by "renewing resistance on the border of the Golan Heights" by Palestinian groups. Most of the Palestinian factions have already cut ties with the Syrian regime and favor the Sunni opposition. The main Palestinian group still standing by the regime, Ahmed Jibril's group, has lost most of its operational capabilities in recent decades.
- Hamas Terror Cell Arrested in West Bank - Yaakov Lappin
Security personnel arrested a Hamas terror cell in the West Bank that plotted to manufacture and fire rockets, and kidnap and kill a soldier, the Israel Security Agency said Wednesday. The cell was headed by Ahmed Fahida, 26, an attorney from Ras Karkar, northwest of Ramallah, who was in contact with Ahmed Uda, a Hamas member in Gaza.
Fahida was ordered to kidnap a soldier, steal his ID and cellphone to be used for negotiations with Israel, and then kill and bury his victim.
Fahida and an accomplice had begun to gather weapons and materials to build rockets.
Days before the arrests, Fahida informed his handlers in Gaza that the cell members were ready to begin the attacks.
- The Arab Spring Brought Varieties of Anarchy - Edward Luttwak
The Arab Spring has indeed been consequential in awakening populations from passivity. But this merely precludes dictatorial rule, even while these countries' fundamental conditions continue to preclude democracy. Only varieties of anarchy remain.
Tunisia would seem to have the preconditions for democratic governance. Yet it is now ruled by an ineffectual Islamist party that is plainly incapable of restarting the economy and cannot or will not protect secular institutions from Salafi attacks. Libya is a tapestry of heterogeneity that devolves into a multitude of rival tribes, some of which are locked in blood feuds. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood won the elections, while a Salafi movement that seeks to import Saudi extremism grabbed some 20% of the vote. The writer is a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
- The "Start-Up Nation" and the Chinese Dream - H.E. Gao Yanping
On May 5, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embarked on an official visit to China, the first by an Israeli prime minister since 2007. Two-way trade between China and Israel has increased from $50 million in 1992 to $9.91 billion in 2012. Netanyahu's visit is of great significance, and will promote a new high in China-Israel relations.
The friendship between the Chinese and Jewish nations dates back more than 1,000 years. The Jewish people in then-Chinese capital Kaifeng enjoyed equal rights to the Chinese. From the 1880s onward, thousands of Jews went to northeast China because of rising anti-Semitism in Russia and Eastern Europe. Before and during World War II, when Jewish people were struggling for survival against the Nazi Holocaust, Shanghai became the only city in the world open to Jews. The writer is the People's Republic of China's ambassador to Israel.
See also The Geography of Sino-Israeli Relations - Binyamin Tjong-Alvares
As China and Israel complete their 20th year of diplomatic
relations, the two nations are poised to explore the
abundance of synergies that bind them through deeper and broader interaction and a
shared goal of bringing those benefits to the wider world. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
- Condemn the Iranian Government for Limiting Who Can Run for President - Mehdi Khalaji
On May 12, Iran's Guardian Council - 6 of whose 12 members are directly appointed by the Supreme Leader - will begin deliberations to decide which candidates are permitted to run in the June 14 presidential election.
Iran's hardliners have put forward a great many candidates for the presidential race, though none have emerged as a clear frontrunner.
They are all running a rhetorical race to prove their own loyalty to Khamenei. Thus, the Guardian Council will have difficulty narrowing the field. Most have served in government and criticized the reformists, so the council has no real justification to disqualify them.
Washington should show its concern for the people's democratic demands. Taking a strong stance against electoral manipulation would show the Iranian people that the target of U.S. pressure is the regime, not them. Supporting their calls for democracy and civil rights is the most effective way to neutralize the government's anti-American propaganda.
The writer is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Kerry Betting on the Wrong Horses - Khaled Abu Toameh (Gatestone Institute)
- The Arab League dispatched a high-level delegation to Washington to brief the U.S. Administration on the Arab position regarding the resumption of peace talks with Israel. Headed by Qatar's Hamad bin Jasim al-Thani, the delegation that met with Secretary of State John Kerry also included PA Foreign Minister Riyad Malki.
- Following the meeting, the Palestinian Authority said it was not prepared to talk about any territorial concessions to Israel before the Israeli government accepts the pre-1967 lines. Even worse, the Arab League proposal, which mentioned "land swaps," is being viewed by many Arabs and Palestinians as part of an "American-Zionist conspiracy" to force the Palestinians to accept Israeli "dictates."
- For Kerry, who is trying to resume the peace process, this is all bad news.
It is bad news that the PA still does not have the courage to tell the Palestinians that without some form of compromise there will never be real peace with Israel.
It has also become clear that the Arab countries, including the wealthiest and most influential, have no influence on the Palestinians.
- The U.S. needs to understand that the Arab League is an incompetent and ineffectual body that has long been ridiculed by most Arabs. It has never played an instrumental role in solving Arab crises such as the Lebanese Civil War, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, or the ongoing bloodshed in Syria.
Neither the Arab League nor the PA leadership have a mandate to offer any concessions to Israel or recognize its right to exist.
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