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August 30, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Assad Moving Prison Inmates to Military Targets as "Human Shields" - Jason Beattie and Chris Hughes (Mirror-UK)
    Thousands of Syrian prisoners have been moved to military targets to be used as human shields against Western air strikes, the opposition Syrian National Coalition claimed.
    In Damascus, residents said they saw buses filled with inmates being taken to sites the regime believes could be targets, such as the Mezzeh airbase.

Syrian Army Moves Scud Missiles to Avoid Strike - Khaled Yacoub Oweis (Reuters)
    President Assad's forces have removed several Scud missiles and dozens of launchers from a base north of Damascus, possibly to protect the weapons from a Western attack, opposition sources said on Thursday.
    At the headquarters of the army's 155th Brigade, a missile unit, rebel scouts saw dozens of mobile Scud launchers and missiles pulling out on Thursday. Other missile units were also reported to be moving.

U.S. Strike on Syria Likely to Extend beyond Damascus - James Rosen (Fox News)
    The impending U.S. military action in Syria is likely to extend beyond Damascus and would focus on delivery systems for chemical weapons, sources said.
    These systems include both command-and-control facilities in the capital as well as short-range missile launchers and artillery positions located in mountainous areas outside the city.

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The Tall Tales of Cairo - Ursula Lindsey (New York Times)
    On Tuesday, a front-page story of the state-owned newspaper Al Ahram purported to reveal the details of an agreement to "divide Egypt" allegedly struck between Khairat el-Shater, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, and U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson, which involved helping 300 armed fighters enter the country from Gaza.
    It also claimed that the police foiled a plan to take over government buildings and declare an independent state in southern Egypt ("with the previous promise of recognition from the United States and some European countries").
    This isn't journalism; it's disinformation. Conspiracy theories have a particular hold in Egypt.
    The idea of a foreign plot to keep Egypt down is both enraging and comforting in its simplicity. And it allows the authorities to intimidate dissenters and rally the public.
    Private TV channels and newspapers, owned by businessmen eager to ingratiate themselves with the military, have reported dozens of unverified plots, cheerleading the country's so-called war on terrorism - really, a campaign to destroy the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Middle East Has Gone from an Addiction to a Distraction. - Thomas L. Friedman (New York Times)
    America's rising energy efficiency, renewable energy, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling are making us much less dependent on the Middle East for oil and gas.
    The Middle East has gone from an addiction to a distraction.
    "We now use 60% less energy per unit of GDP than we did in 1973," explained energy economist Philip Verleger.
    "If the trend continues, we will use half the energy per unit of GDP in 2020 that we used in 2012."
    In 2006, the U.S. depended on foreign oil for 60% of its consumption. Today it's about 36%. This explains why Obama's foreign policy is mostly "nudging" and whispering.
    It won't make much history, but it's probably the best we can do or afford right now. And it's certainly all that most Americans want.

India and Israel: A Flourishing Relationship - Noah Beck (Commentary)
    Both India and Israel are homelands for ancient peoples who gained their independence from the British in the 1940s.
    Both states have gone on to create vibrant, multicultural democracies that have experienced dynamic, technology-driven economic growth.
    Each also has a large Muslim minority population, and each faces an ongoing terrorism threat from foreign and domestic Islamic extremists; indeed, both Israelis and Indians were targeted and killed in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
    Even more serious, India and Israel each faces ballistic missile threats from at least one close, hostile Muslim state.
    Israel is India's second largest arms supplier after Russia, and Israeli-Indian military cooperation extends to technology upgrades, joint research, intelligence cooperation, and even space (in 2008, India launched a 300-kg. Israeli satellite into orbit).

Israeli Navy to Buy New Fast Patrol Craft - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
    The Israeli Navy plans to buy new Super Dvora Mk-III fast patrol craft for counter-terror and interdiction missions, built by the Ramta division of Israel Aerospace Industries.
    The Dvora craft patrol Israel's coastal waters, identifying all irregular events and arriving at suspected sites "within mere minutes."

Israel Ranks 4th in Health Care Efficiency (Times of Israel)
    A study by Bloomberg ranked countries based on life expectancy and per capita cost of health care. Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan took the top three spots, with Israel next. The UK came 14th, Canada 17th, and the U.S. 46th.
    Israel's life expectancy is 81.8 years, and health care costs per capita were $2,426.
    By comparison, Americans have a life expectancy of 78.6 years and spend $8,608 per capita.

lndonesia to Use Israeli Technology to Build Roads in Papua - Rendi A. Witular (Jakarta Post-Indonesia)
    The lndonesian government will utilize advanced technology from Israel to build roads in the country's most eastern and poorest province of Papua, the chief expert of the Presidential Unit to Accelerate the Development of Papua and West Papua, Doddy Imam Hidayat, said on Tuesday.
    "With the technology, we don't need to spend money for road hardening. A certain chemical substance imported from Israel will be used to ensure the road is hard enough for cars and trucks for a long period of time."
    The government intends to construct at least 290 km. of mostly new access roads to connect remote areas in Papua.
    A presidential decree in May authorized the lndonesian military to deploy more than 700 soldiers from the Army's engineering detachment to do the work.

China, Israel Agree to Expand Flights - Sharon Udasin (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli and Chinese airport authorities have signed an agreement to allow for each state to operate up to 14 passenger flights - rather than today's three - in addition to seven cargo flights, the Israel Transportation Ministry announced Monday.

Israeli Wins Gold Medal at Judo World Championships (Ynet News)
    Yarden Gerbi, 24, became the first Israeli to win a gold medal at the Judo World Championships in Rio de Janeiro when she defeated the European champion, France's Clarisse Agbegnenou, in the final in just 43 seconds on Thursday.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Obama Set for Limited Strike on Syria Despite British Vote - Mark Landler, David E. Sanger, and Thom Shanker
    President Obama is prepared to move ahead with a limited military strike on Syria, administration officials said Thursday, despite a rejection of such action by Britain. All indications suggest that a strike could occur soon after UN investigators leave the country on Saturday.
        The White House presented its case for military action to Congressional leaders on Thursday. The administration said the U.S. had both the evidence and legal justification to carry out a strike aimed at deterring the Syrian leader from using chemical weapons again. President Obama has made clear that while he welcomed international participation, he was not depending on foreign forces for what would essentially be an operation conducted largely by U.S. naval vessels. (New York Times)
        See also France Still Supports Strike on Syria
    French President Francois Hollande says his country can go ahead with plans to strike Syria for using chemical weapons despite the British parliament's failure to endorse military action. "The chemical massacre of Damascus cannot and must not remain unpunished," Hollande told Le Monde on Friday. (AP-Washington Post)
  • UK Parliament Rejects Military Strike on Syria - Robert Winnett
    British Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to abandon plans for Britain to participate in military strikes against Syria after a motion in Parliament backing the use of force "if necessary" was rejected by 285 votes to 272. It is the first time that a British government has been blocked from executing a military deployment and highlights the deep mistrust of official intelligence in the wake of the Iraq war.
        The prime minister said that he understood that there was not support for British action against Syria and indicated he would abandon any such plans. The prime minister had played a leading role in persuading President Obama of the need for action against Syria - with Britain tabling a draft UN resolution. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also below Observations - The Case for Humanitarian intervention in Syria: The UK Government Legal Position (Prime Minister's Office-UK)
  • U.S.: Iran Unable to Access Oil Money - Marjorie Olster
    Nearly half of Iran's monthly earnings from crude oil exports are accumulating in accounts overseas because of sanctions that restrict Tehran's access to the money, a senior U.S. official said. About $1.5 billion in crude oil revenues is piling up in restricted foreign accounts every month. New sanctions imposed in February require an already reduced pool of oil importers to pay into locked bank accounts that Iran may access only to purchase non-sanctioned goods in that country or humanitarian supplies. If importers do not comply, they face being shut out of the U.S. financial system. (AP-ABC News)
  • IAEA: Iran Expands Nuclear Capacity, Delays Plutonium Reactor - Fredrik Dahl
    Iran plans to test 1,000 advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges it has completed installing, the UN atomic agency's quarterly report showed. Iran had also informed the IAEA that the planned commissioning of the Arak plutonium research reactor - which could yield potential bomb material - had been delayed from early next year.
        Further, since the previous IAEA report in May, Iran's reserve of uranium gas refined to 20% was 186 kg. - below the 240-250 kg. "red line" needed for a bomb - as Iran stepped up conversion of the material into oxide to make fuel for a medical research reactor in Tehran. (Reuters-Chicago Tribune)
        See also Report: Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in Iran - August 28, 2013 (International Atomic Energy Agency)
        See also Analysis of IAEA Iran Safeguards Report (Institute for Science and International Security)
  • U.S. Admits It Spies on Israel - Barton Gellman and Greg Miller
    The budget summary for the U.S. National Intelligence Program states that counterintelligence operations "are strategically focused against [the] priority targets of China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Israel."  (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Assad Has Been Using Chemical Weapons for Some Time - Amos Harel
    The general view among senior Israeli defense officials is that Assad has been using chemical weapons systematically for months, whenever he was unable to dislodge rebel forces from strategically important areas. But he has been using them only on carefully chosen targets and in low doses - just enough to be effective against the rebels, without causing enough casualties to rouse a sleeping world. But something went wrong last week, resulting in more casualties than expected. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Warns Assad through Russian Intermediaries - Shlomo Cesana
    A senior defense official said that Israel was receiving constant updates on the U.S.'s plans and that Israel would be told of a specific American strike several hours before it commenced. According to the official, Israel has issued stern warnings through various intermediaries, including the Russians, that any attempt to harm Israel would result in an attack on Damascus and the toppling of the Assad regime. (Israel Hayom)
        See also Israel Will Hold Assad Responsible If Hizbullah Attacks - Herb Keinon
    Israel will hold Damascus responsible if Hizbullah bombards Israel in the coming days, Israeli officials indicated on Wednesday. "They cannot play the game that Hizbullah is somehow an independent actor," one official said. "We have seen over the last few months that Hizbullah is coordinated very closely with the Assad regime, and it is the Iranians that have orchestrated that close cooperation."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Reject Western Attack on Syria - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Abbas Zaki, a top Fatah official, said that his faction was strongly against Western intervention in Syria. "Targeting Syria would mean targeting all Arabs," he cautioned. "This would only benefit Israel." He said that although he had no doubt that chemical weapons had been used in Syria, "the West is using this as an excuse to meddle in Syria's internal affairs."
        Hamas spokesman Salah Bardaweel on Thursday said, "The Americans do not want the good of Syria or the Syrian people. The Americans only want to serve American and Israeli interests."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Uganda to Absorb African Migrants from Israel - Ben Hartman and Lahav Harkov
    Uganda has agreed to accept thousands of African migrants to be deported from Israel. Uganda will also allow migrants to use its territory as a transit point to return to their home countries or go elsewhere. Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar explained that migrants "are not refugees....This is purely economic migration." Sa'ar promised that the illegal migration will end. "We are humanitarians, we follow international law, but we are also committed to protecting Israel as a Jewish and democratic state."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also 450 Ethiopian Immigrants Brought into Israel - Yori Yalon
    Two special flights carrying 450 Ethiopian Jews landed in Israel Thursday. Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said that 92,000 Jews from Ethiopia had immigrated to Israel. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • U.S. Military Intervention in Syria - Amos Yadlin and Avner Golov
    The fact that Assad's army carried out a large-scale attack with chemical weapons clearly cannot be ignored. The declared U.S. objective is to punish Assad for the use of chemical weapons and to deter him from further use of these weapons.
        A pinpoint "punitive" attack targeting the units that took part in the recent chemical attack, military targets, or regime assets would strengthen American credibility, but its chances of restoring U.S. deterrent power are slim. It has the ability to prevent large-scale use of chemical weapons, but it is doubtful that it would have an impact on Assad's considerations regarding the continued massacre of his people.
        At this time, there is no military option that could immediately stop the slaughter in Syria, force Assad to leave, and ensure a moderate, democratic regime. Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, a former chief of Israeli military intelligence, is director of the INSS, where Avner Golov is a researcher. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Assad's Standing in Syria on the Eve of U.S. Action - Dore Gold
    Assad's decision to use chemical weapons last week was because, to a large extent, he is already feeling that his back is against the wall. After all, he used his chemical arsenal against a rebel stronghold not in some remote region but right outside of Damascus, which could have become the springboard for a final offensive against the regime. The fact that Assad and his Iranian allies have not been able to win the war, despite all the outside assistance they have received to date, indicates that Assad's situation must be much worse than it seems on the outside.
        If Assad is indeed weaker than anyone thought and his chemical attack was more an act of desperation rather than a statement of self-confidence, then U.S. military action could potentially accelerate the end of his regime.
        While Iran pours Shiite militias into Syria, rival Sunni jihadist forces have built up their military capacity, as well. In the years ahead, Syria could well become a far more dangerous sanctuary for jihadist organizations than Afghanistan ever was. Syria, after all, is situated on the Mediterranean, right across from Europe.
        The real danger from doing nothing about Assad's chemical attack is that it signals that there are no boundaries in modern war that the Great Powers insist on. Any tolerance of a Syrian chemical strike also lowers the international barriers against the use of biological and nuclear weapons. The writer, a former Israeli UN ambassador, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Israel Hayom)
  • Iran's Threats over Syria - Majid Rafizadeh
    Senior Iranian military generals and members of parliament issued clear threats and warnings to the U.S. and its allies on Tuesday that any military strike on the Syrian government would not only lead to a retaliatory attack on Tel Aviv, but would also engulf the entire region. According to Iranian leaders, the U.S. and its allies will encounter "the flames of outrage" and "perilous consequences" from Tehran and Damascus if they carry out military strikes against the Syrian government.
        Militarily speaking, Iran can launch Shahab ballistic missiles on Tel Aviv. Additionally, the Iranians have the ability to order Assad to strike Israel and can make use of Hizbullah. Yet by analyzing Tehran's isolated position in the region, it becomes obvious that Iran's warnings are merely political rhetoric. Any strike against Israel, the U.S., or Arab countries would be political suicide for Iranian leaders. Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American scholar, is president of the International American Council. (Al Arabiya)
  • Don't Expect Iran to Fight for Assad - Meir Javedanfar
    In case of a military attack by the U.S. against Syria, there is little chance that Iran will become directly involved. This is despite Iran stating that it would consider such an attack as crossing its "red line." It's also quite unlikely that a U.S.-Syria conflict would lead to Iran permanently breaking off nuclear negotiations with the P5+1. Here again, the reason is related to Iran's own pressing priorities. Should Iran walk away from talks, that would give those in the West who want to ratchet up sanctions even more justification to do so. Ayatollah Khamenei can live without Assad in power, but he can't live without a functioning economy.
        With his forces likely to become battered from air attacks, Assad will need more money and weapons than before, both of which are likely to put increasing pressure on Iran's own dwindling resources. The writer teaches contemporary Iranian politics at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. (Al Monitor)
  • Assad Senses West's Weakness - Ron Ben-Yishai
    According to reports from the field, the Syrian army used missiles equipped with warheads loaded with sarin gas. The missiles were fired indiscriminately with the purpose of causing mass casualties. Eyewitness accounts indicate that the sarin gas was blended with other substances and was therefore not as lethal.
        The use of chemical weapons has become almost routine in Syria. The regime is using these weapons to deter the opposition and the rebels by attacking the non-combatant civilian population. This is a war crime that is taking place without any response from the international community.
        In addition, as the Assad government becomes less and less apprehensive about using chemical weapons, and should the regime feel it has nothing to lose, it may also use chemical weapons against Israel. (Ynet News)
  • What Will Assad Learn from a Western Missile Strike? - Jeffrey Goldberg
    So what exactly is the most telegraphed missile strike in history meant to achieve? Is it meant to signal to Syria's barbaric president, Bashar al-Assad, that he should please resist the urge to kill his country's children with chemical weapons and instead limit himself to killing children with bullets and bombs, which he has used effectively and without much outside interference for more than two years?
        Assad's plan is to hunker down, survive whatever attack is materializing on the horizon, and emerge from his bunker declaring victory over the perfidious Americans. He may also conclude that every brutal thing short of Obama's chemical-weapons red line is permissible. (Bloomberg)

  • Other Issues

  • Saudi Arabia Blames America for the Turmoil in Egypt - Bruce Riedel
    In a scathing statement, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah urged Muslims to stand behind the Egyptian Army in fighting terrorism and extremism. Speaking in sorrow, Abdullah blamed outsiders ignorant of Arabism, Islam, and Egypt for senseless interference in the politics of the Arab world's most populous state. Clearly referring to President Obama's decision two years ago to push for Hosni Mubarak's ouster, the king suggested Washington played with fire and has now been burned.
        The Saudis don't want an open break with Washington, so their critique is indirect. Riyadh still wants to work with Washington on Iran, al-Qaeda, Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, and other issues. The Saudis value an alliance that dates back to 1945. But the alliance has always been based on shared threat assessments - not shared values. The writer is a senior foreign policy fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings. (Daily Beast)
  • Pressure Rises on Hamas as Patrons' Support Fades - Jodi Rudoren
    The dismantling of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has Hamas reeling. With Gaza's economy facing a $250 million shortfall since Egypt shut down hundreds of smuggling tunnels, the Hamas government has begun to ration some resources. "Hamas was dreaming...that the Islamists were going to take over in all the capitals. Those dreams have been dashed," said Akram Atallah, a political analyst and columnist.
        With Egypt's military crackdown, smuggling between Gaza and Egypt has come to a virtual halt. That means no access to building materials, fuel that costs less than half as much as that imported from Israel, and many other cheap commodities. In addition, the new emir of Qatar, another benefactor, is said to be far less a fan than his father and predecessor. (New York Times)
        See also Hamas in Gaza Is Running Out of Friends - William Booth (Washington Post)
  • The Unlikely Winner of the Arab Revolutions Is Israel - Dominique Moisi
    For the time being, Israel seems to be the only clear winner of the "Arab Spring" revolutions. The Muslim Middle East is too preoccupied with internecine struggle to worry about the Palestinians or the existence of Israel. War with Jews or Christians has necessarily taken a back seat.
        In some cases, there is explicit cooperation with Israel. Because it is fighting for its own survival, the Jordanian regime needs Israel's security collaboration. Israeli and Jordanian forces are working together to secure their respective borders against infiltration by jihadists from Iraq or Syria, while Egypt and Israel now share the same objective in Sinai.
        Thus, the Arab revolutions have contributed to Israel's integration in the region as a strategic partner for some countries. At this point, more Arab lives have been lost in Syria's civil war than in all of the Arab-Israeli wars combined. The writer, a professor at the Institut d'etudes politiques de Paris, is a senior adviser at the French Institute for International Affairs (IFRI). (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • The Israeli Spring - Victor Davis Hanson
    In terms of realpolitik, anti-Israeli authoritarians are fighting to the death against anti-Israeli insurgents and terrorists. Each is doing more damage to the other than Israel ever could. For the last three decades, Arab dictatorships routinely subsidized Islamic terrorists to divert popular anger away from their own failures to the West or Israel. Now, terrorists have turned on their dictator sponsors.
        Israel no doubt prefers that the Arab world liberalize and embrace constitutional government. Yet the current bloodletting lends credence to Israel's complaints that it never had a constitutional or lawful partner in peace negotiations. The writer is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. (National Review)
  • The Struggle for Middle East Mastery - Joschka Fischer
    The last illusions about what was called, until recently, the "Arab Spring" may have vanished with Egypt's military coup. Neither the Islamists nor the generals have even a rudimentary understanding of how to modernize the economy and society. So, whichever side gains the upper hand, authoritarianism and economic stagnation will prevail once again.
        The Egyptian situation is part of a regional drama characterized primarily by a massive loss of order. The U.S.-backed order in the Middle East is breaking down, yet no new order is emerging. Instead, there is only a spreading chaos that threatens to reach far beyond the region's borders.
        The U.S. is no longer willing or able to shoulder the burden of being the last force for order in the Middle East. It is withdrawing, and there is no other power to take its place. While regional powers are increasingly trying to replace the U.S. as a force for order, none of these powers is strong enough to shoulder the American burden. The writer was German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor from 1998-2005. (Project Syndicate)

  • Weekend Features

  • Outrage: U.S. Returning Artifacts Looted from Iraqi Jews to Iraq, Instead of Lawful Owners - Harold Rhode
    The U.S. National Archives is readying an exhibit of Iraqi Jewish artifacts due to open on Oct. 11. Appallingly, the U.S. government has agreed to then return the Iraqi Jewish archives - including holy books - to Iraq, which systematically expelled its Jewish community, by June 2014.
        After American forces entered Baghdad in May 2003, the head of the Jewish and Israel section of Saddam Hussein's Mukhabarat (intelligence agency) told of Jewish archives hidden in the basement of the Mukhabarat headquarters. The basement was flooded, but over four weeks we rescued books, papers, and other materials.
        Finally, American archival restorers arrived and took possession of the archive in June 2003. The materials were flown to Texas where they were vacuum-freeze-dried, and in fall 2003 they were brought to the National Archives. In 2011, the State Department kicked in over $3 million for stabilizing, digitizing, and packing the material.
        After Israel became a state in 1948, martial law was declared in Iraq and many Jews left in the mass exodus in 1950-51. Almost all of those who remained behind left by the 1970s. They were allowed one suitcase with clothing and were forced to leave everything else behind. Do the Iraqi authorities have the right to demand the archives back? The Iraqi government "acquired" this material by stealing it from the Jewish community.
        The stolen property must be returned to its original owners - according to international law. Today, about 85% of the Iraqi Jews and their descendants live in Israel. These people are the rightful owners of the Iraqi Jewish archives, not the Iraqi government, which has never taken responsibility for Iraq's role in destroying the more than 2,500-year-old Jewish community. The most logical place for the material is the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center outside of Tel Aviv, the only museum in the world dedicated to the history of Iraqi Jewry. The writer, former Advisor on Islamic Affairs in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, worked as an analyst at the Pentagon for 28 years. (PJ Media)
  • 60 Years Ago: Israel's First International Rescue Mission - David Saranga
    On Aug. 12, 1953, a number of old frigate-class warships in Israel's fledgling navy were on their way back to Israeli shores after four weeks of intense training in the Aegean Sea when a series of deadly earthquakes, measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale, struck the Greek islands. The Israeli fleet, 15 hours away from the site of the disaster, doubled back and sailed past the American and British fleets, which could not access the area due to the immense size of their warships.
        Yiftach Kozik described the scene: "On the island of Kefalonia...not a building remained standing, and thousands were wounded in critical condition....The flotilla's senior physician, Dr. Ashkenazi, along with his younger colleague, Dr. Seelenfreud, were in charge of medical treatment, distributing the limited medical resources, and performing triage. The Israeli teams performed emergency surgeries."
        Since the Israeli navy was the first to land on Kefalonia it took charge and also directed the rescue operations of the American and British fleets. For three days the 450 Israeli naval men struggled side by side with the Americans and the British to provide relief to the residents of the Greek islands, saving hundreds from a sure death and transporting 400 seriously wounded casualties to the mainland.
        Since the Greek government had not yet recognized the State of Israel, official recognition would arrive only 37 years later. The writer is head of the European Parliament Liaison Department in the Israeli Mission to the EU. (Huffington Post)
  • Heroes Who Risked Lives to Save Jews Remembered in Israel - Gwen Ackerman
    At Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial, the "I Am My Brother's Keeper" exhibition marks 50 years of honoring what Israel calls the Righteous Among the Nations, built around the rescue stories of those who provided shelter to Jews at a time of great risk. Yad Vashem has recognized more than 24,000 Righteous Among the Nations from 47 different countries. "They had a basic belief in humanity, in giving a hand to a fellow person no matter who he was," said curator Yehudit Shendar. "We are talking about quite unusual people who did something completely out of the ordinary."  (Bloomberg)
        See also I Am My Brother's Keeper (Yad Vashem)

The Case for Humanitarian intervention in Syria: The UK Government Legal Position (Prime Minister's Office-UK)

  • The UK government published a document on Thursday presenting its position regarding the legality of military action in Syria following the chemical weapons attack in eastern Damascus.
  • "The use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime is a serious crime of international concern, as a breach of the customary international law prohibition on use of chemical weapons, and amounts to a war crime and a crime against humanity."
  • "However, the legal basis for military action would be humanitarian intervention; the aim is to relieve humanitarian suffering by deterring or disrupting the further use of chemical weapons."
  • "If action in the [UN] Security Council is blocked, the UK would still be permitted under international law to take exceptional measures in order to alleviate the scale of the overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe in Syria by deterring and disrupting the further use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime."
  • Under the doctrine of humanitarian intervention, three conditions must be met. "All three conditions would clearly be met in this case."

        See also UK: "Highly Likely" that Syrian Regime Was Responsible for Chemical Weapons Use in Syria
    Jon Day, the Chairman of Britain's Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), reported to the prime minister on Thursday: "The JIC concluded that it is highly likely that the [Syrian] regime was responsible for the CW (chemical weapons) attacks on 21 August."  (Cabinet Office-UK)
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