Goldstone Report Co-Author to Be UN Human Rights Rapporteur - Hillel Neuer (Times of Israel)
Christine Chinkin - co-author of the Goldstone Report which blasted Israel's actions during the 2009 Gaza war - has been nominated to replace Richard Falk as the UN's Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Although Indonesia's Makarim Wibisono had been widely reported as the slated pick, in the end the Arab states, following Ramallah's lead, only wanted Chinkin, a proven, pro-Palestinian legal campaigner.
Falk's wife, former Turkish government adviser Hilal Elver, will be named to another top UN human rights post.
The writer is executive director of UN Watch.
Syria Rebels Advance in Latakia by Mediterranean - Ariel Zirulnick (Christian Science Monitor)
Syrian rebels took parts of Latakia Province this week, President Bashar al-Assad's home province, securing their first coastal foothold.
After an offensive that began last Friday, the regime responded with reinforcements and airstrikes.
PA Religious Leaders:
Jews Have No Right to Pray at Western Wall in Jerusalem - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
Palestinian Authority Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash and the former Chief Justice of the PA's Religious Court Sheikh Tayseer Al-Tamimi both recently declared that the PA's Islamic belief and political position is that Jews are prohibited from praying at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount.
The PA claims that the area of the Muslim holy site, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, includes not only the mosque itself, but extends over the entire Temple Mount and includes Judaism's holy site - the Western Wall.
Accordingly, both PA religious leaders proclaim in the name of Islam that Jews are prohibited from praying there.
Development Trends at Israel Aerospace Industries - Amir Rapaport (Israel Defense)
Yossi Weiss, 65, CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries, said in an interview that air defense is an evolving field worldwide, "and we have a substantial share in it."
"All of the radar systems of the Iron Dome system, the David's Sling system and naturally the Arrow system are made by IAI. We know how to make radars for all ranges and all conditions."
"In the last year we had a significant event with the launching of the Amos-4 satellite - it is a fully operational communication satellite that already provides service to clients....It is much larger than the previous communication satellites we launched, it carries much more electronics and it provides very good solutions to all our expectations....We are currently building the Amos-6 satellite...[which] should be launched in late 2015."
"For Boeing, we serve as important sub-contractors, especially in the field of composite materials. We manufacture wing parts, doors and other elements for them."
"With Lockheed...we are their exclusive supplier of several elements for the F-16 fighter aircraft, including fuel tanks and other accessories.
Israeli Wins Women's World Thai Boxing Title - Jack Moore (International Business Times-UK)
Sarah Avraham, 20, from Kiryat Arba in Israel, has won the Women's World Thai-Boxing Championship in Thailand.
She had previously won the Israeli championship.
Besides training five times a week, Avraham also volunteers as a local firewoman.
Making Peace - The Story of the Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt, July 1978-March 1979 (Israel State Archives)
To mark the 35th anniversary of the peace treaty, the Israel State Archives presents a special publication of 67 documents, 18 of them in English, including telegrams and letters, records of conversations and meetings, and records of government meetings, declassified here for the first time.
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- Abbas Under Pressure to Extend Peace Talks - Ben Lynfield
Just hours after a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israel announced that the fourth round of Palestinian prisoner releases, which was supposed to take place on Saturday, would be postponed. "There will be no release on Saturday," Israeli Prison Authority spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said.
Officials reiterated Israel's demand that the Palestinians first pledge themselves to extending the deadline on peace talks, which is due to expire at the end of April. Since last summer, Israel has so far freed 78 long-serving prisoners in three batches.
See also Americans Pushing to Extend Israeli-Palestinian Talks - Jack Khoury and Barak Ravid
Senior American officials are attempting to formulate an agreement that will extend negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians past April 29.
A senior Israeli official said the Americans are putting great pressure on both sides. "There is a chance a deal will be reached, but the ball is in the Palestinians' court," he said.
- Obama Seeks to Calm Saudis as Paths Split - David D. Kirkpatrick
With President Obama arriving in Riyadh on Friday, the rulers of Saudi Arabia say they feel increasingly compelled to go their own way, pursuing starkly different strategies from Washington in dealing with Iran, Syria, Egypt and the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region. Saudi Arabian officials are pursuing their own course to try to contain Iran, oust President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and support the military-backed government that has taken over in Egypt.
For Obama, a central goal of his visit is to reassure Saudi Arabia that Washington's commitment to its security will not be compromised by negotiations with Iran. In Egypt, Saudi Arabia has effectively replaced the U.S. as Cairo's chief benefactor, in tandem with the UAE. Riyadh encouraged the military's ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood from power and the subsequent crackdown on its supporters.
(New York Times)
- Obama Appears Ready to Expand Covert Assistance to Syrian Opposition - David Ignatius
The Obama administration, stung by reversals in Ukraine and Syria, appears to have decided to expand its covert program of training and assistance for the Syrian opposition, deepening U.S. involvement in that brutal and stalemated civil war. The enhanced aid program would have a counterterrorism focus.
The U.S. would help train Free Syrian Army fighters to combat al-Qaeda extremists, even as the rebels launch guerrilla attacks against Assad's army.
Syrian opposition forces would be trained in camps in Jordan, northern Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The number of Syrian opposition fighters receiving training would roughly double, to about 600 per month. Saudi Arabia has agreed to exclude any fighters who have worked with three jihadist groups: Ahrar al-Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
- As Iran Sanctions Ease, Western Firms Seek a Way In - Benoit Faucon
Tehran is still choking from a reeling currency, inflation of more than 30% and shortages of water, fuel and medicine. But a steady flow of Western executives through here in recent weeks signals that economic detente with the rest of the world may be on the horizon.
Businesses exploring the Iranian market "do so at their own peril right now," U.S. President Barack Obama said last month, "because we will come down on them like a ton of bricks." But that hasn't stopped companies from boosting their presence or sending in advance teams.
(Wall Street Journal)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Experts Pessimistic on Chances for Peace Agreement with Palestinians - Ariel Ben Solomon
Israeli experts and former government officials voiced pessimism regarding the chances for any agreement with the Palestinians at a conference Thursday at Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA). BESA director
Efraim Inbar noted that Asian Muslim countries want relations with Israel, but are not too concerned about the Palestinian issue. The Palestinian economy is better than in much of the Arab world, he added. "The economy of Gaza is better than Egypt."
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan, former IDF deputy chief of staff and Israeli national security adviser, said the Palestinians will not sign an agreement that says it is the end of the conflict.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaacov Amidror, also a former national security adviser, said that while the Israeli government accepted a Palestinian state,
the Palestinians "did not move an inch."
Prof. Uzi Arad, another national security adviser, said, "I can't name a single concession of the Palestinians since 1994."
"It is now patently clear that no agreement on final status issues is likely," he added.
It is not in Israel's interest to take security risks for a deal if it is not in the context of an end of the conflict, he concluded.
- Hamas Announces New Islamist Legal Code - Nasouh Nazzal
Faraj al-Ghoul, head of the Legal Department at the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza, recently announced that the Palestinian parliament in Gaza will impose a new legal code to replace the current one dating from 1936. A senior Hamas official said the new law "is inspired by" Sharia (Islamic law).
The law stipulates a minimum of 20 lashes for a minor offense, with the number of lashes increasing with the seriousness of the offense. A minimum of 80 lashes is to be imposed in criminal cases. The law also widens the use of the death penalty and stipulates the cutting off of the hand of a thief.
- Israel Low in Car Crash Fatalities - Adrian Hennigan
A person is less likely to die in a car crash in Israel than in almost any other country in the world. According to the World Health Organization, about four people in every 100,000 died on Israel's roads in 2011 - just one-third of the number dying in the U.S. Additionally, Israel Transport Ministry figures show that the total number of fatalities on the roads in 2012 was the lowest in 50 years (although there was a 5% rise in 2013).
- Syria War Victory Seen as Key to Iran's Leadership of Muslim World - Amir Taheri
According to Gen. Ismail Qaanai, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Quds Force deputy commander, the expected "victory" in Syria is only a prelude to "the greatest victory" (fath al-mobin) that awaits Iran. "We cannot stop at Syria," Qaanai said last month. "Our aim is and has always been to lead the whole Muslim world." He added: "It is obvious that no other power has the capabilities needed to assume leadership in the Muslim world."
Part of the cockiness in Tehran is due to the belief that the U.S. has knocked itself out of the regional, if not international, equation. "The Americans know that we could hit them hard everywhere, including inside their own territory," says Islamic Revolutionary Guards Commander Mohammad-Ali Jaafari.
- A Sign of Rejection - Yoav Sorek
Big red signs beside Israeli roads leading to Palestinian-governed territories say in three languages:
"This road leads to Area 'A' under the Palestinian Authority. Entry for Israeli citizens is forbidden, life-threatening, and against Israeli law." As those of us who live here know all too well, a trip inside one of these areas can indeed prove fatal.
Yet not all Israelis need avoid entering these areas. Israeli Arabs come and go freely. Only Jewish Israelis are at risk of death. One encounters such signs on the fringes of Jerusalem and the outskirts of Tel Aviv, just a few miles from Ben-Gurion International Airport. (Mosaic)
- Israel Is the "Jewish State": Why It Matters - Kenneth J. Bialkin
The importance of the issue of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state by the PLO lies primarily in the refusal of the Palestinian leadership to agree to that recognition.
The Jewish identity of Israel lies in the DNA of the Jewish People, driven by the dreams and tears of thousands of years of longing of the patriarchs, prophets, dreamers and fighters for a return to Zion.
So if Jewishness is so firmly instilled in Israel, why must it demand such recognition from the Palestinians? The answer lies in the outspoken refusal of the Palestinians to recognize and accept the obvious truth. It reflects a failure of sincerity to fulfill a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israel conflict, a stubborn refusal that betrays a hatred that may never disappear and contains the seeds of future wars.
In short, without that recognition, Israel cannot believe in the sincerity of an Arab world that continues to practice the incitement of hatred of Israel and of Jews. Making peace is not like a business deal, like buying a car or a house. There must be trust that you can live together. Without that trust, there should be no deal. (New York Jewish Week)
- Why Palestinians Should Learn About the Holocaust - Mohammed Dajani Daoudi and Robert Satloff
Should Palestinians (and other Arabs) learn about the Holocaust? We - a Muslim-Palestinian social scientist and a Jewish-American historian - believe it is essential that Arabs learn about the Holocaust.
Entire chapters of history have been expunged from the curricula that Arab governments teach their students.
This is particularly true of the Holocaust. A world that has known terrible atrocities has seen none greater than the effort by Nazi Germany and its allies to exterminate the Jewish people. So methodical, so vicious and so exhaustive was the Nazi effort that a new word was coined to describe it - "genocide."
If Arabs knew more about the Holocaust in particular and genocide in general, perhaps Arab voices would be more forceful in trying to stop similar atrocities.
With all the suffering Palestinians have endured, their struggle with Israel is still, at its core, a political conflict, one that can end through diplomacy and agreements. The Holocaust was not a political conflict: the very idea of a "Nazi-Jewish peace process" is absurd.
Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi is the founder of the Wasatia movement, which promotes moderation in Islam, and the director of the American Studies department at Al-Quds University. Robert Satloff is executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
(New York Times)
- Chinese Believe that Jews Are Clever - Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore
In China, Jews are widely perceived as clever and accomplished, and these are meant as compliments. Scan the shelves in any bookstore in China and you are likely to find best-selling self-help books such as 101 Money Earning Secrets from Jews' Notebooks and Learn to Make Money with the Jews. The Chinese recognize, and embrace, common characteristics between their culture and Jewish culture. Both have a large diaspora. Both place emphasis on family, tradition, and education. Both boast civilizations that date back thousands of years.
Prof. Xu Xin, 65, launched the Institute of Jewish and Israel Studies at Nanjing University in 1992, once diplomatic relations between Israel and China were established. Today there are more than half a dozen similar programs across the country, many started by Xu's former students. One course at the institute is "Jewish Culture and World Civilization," which attracts 200 undergraduate students per term. He is the author of the best-selling A History of Jewish Culture, and translated the Encyclopedia Judaica into Chinese. The institute is funded largely by foreign Jewish donors.
Chinese state media has long championed positive portrayals of the Jews, in part because Judaism, with its ethnically-based and non-evangelical nature, has proved less of a threat to the Communist Party than other foreign monotheistic religions, like Christianity or Islam.
- Israel Shoe Technologies Help People Avoid Falls - Abigail Klein Leichman
Biomechanical engineer Yonatan Manor noticed as his father aged and began to fall frequently. With electronic engineer partners Abraham Stamper and Aharon Shapiro, Manor dug the heel out of a sneaker and installed a sensor-driven motorized mechanism that can drive the shoe backward in a controlled and gentle manner to prevent falling. People who tried shoes from B-Shoe Technologies said they felt it improved their balance.
The Step of Mind company makes Re-Step high-tech shoes used by physical therapists to train cerebral palsy (CP) patients, stroke and brain injury patients how to walk. (Israel21c)
Iran Reshaping Regional Dynamics in Its Favor - J. Matthew McInnis (American Enterprise Institute)
- By expending vast resources to bolster the Assad regime and Lebanese Hizbullah, Iran has been able to prevent its Syrian ally's overthrow.
- Meanwhile, Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei appears to be looking to rebuild Iran's alliances with Sunni states and groups. Hamas and Iran have recently renewed their bilateral relations after a three-year freeze.
- The growing foreign policy rift between Qatar and Saudi Arabia has led to a split in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates are determined to combat Iran's regional ambitions, whereas Oman and Qatar see Tehran as a manageable partner.
- Iran's recent $60 billion, 25-year contract with Oman shows the Supreme Leader's willingness to employ an array of economic incentives to reshape regional dynamics in Iran's favor.
- Khamenei has enjoyed watching the Saudi-American alliance fray as negotiations for a final deal on the Iranian nuclear program proceed and the U.S. commitment to the region is increasingly questioned.
The writer, a former senior analyst at the U.S. Department of Defense (1998–2013), is a resident fellow at AEI.
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