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May 22, 2009

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U.S. Lowering Expectations for Obama's Cairo Speech - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
    American officials and Middle East diplomats are tamping down expectations that President Obama will unveil a detailed Israeli-Palestinian peace plan during his June trip to Cairo.
    Instead, they are painting the visit as one aimed at outreach to the wider Muslim world, with any new Middle East initiative coming later in the summer.

Israel Air Force Completes Drill to Combat Iran Strike (AFP)
    Israel's air force on Thursday wrapped up a large-scale four-day exercise aimed at testing its ability to counter rocket and missile attacks from Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Iran, as well as the infiltration of jets overland.

Pakistan May Have Helped Iran Develop New Missile - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
    According to Yiftah Shapir of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, the Sejil 2 medium-range ballistic missile test-fired by Iran this week is unlike the Shehab 3, whose known range is 1,300 kilometers and is based on Soviet and North Korean Scud technology.
    Rather, the Sejil 2 is closer to a Pakistani missile, the Shaheen II, which is based on Chinese technology.
    This suggests that it might be the Pakistanis who transferred technology to Iran for the development of the Sejil missile.

"Hawkish Dove" Joins Mitchell Team to Push for Palestinian State - Farah Stockman (Boston Globe)
    Mara Rudman, executive secretary of President Obama's National Security Council, once yelled at an Israeli ambassador over Israel's arms sales to China.
    State Department officials said Rudman, 46, will be appointed chief of staff to the team being assembled by Special Envoy George Mitchell to tackle the creation of a Palestinian state.
    A longtime figure on the progressive left, Rudman, is seen as a hawkish dove, inclined toward forceful, but incremental moves.
    Mitchell's three deputies will be David Hale, deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, focusing on political issues; Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, who has been training Palestinian forces, focusing on security; and Rudman, focusing on economics.
    The team also includes Fred Hof, focusing on Syria and Lebanon; Jonathan Prince, handling strategic communications; and State Department regional specialists Alon Sachar, Payton Knopf, and Gamal Helal.

Hizbullah Leader Nasrallah: The Israeli Entity Cannot Be Legitimate (Syrian Arab News Agency)
    On Monday, Secretary General of Hizbullah Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said the Israeli entity, which is based on usurpation, massacres, displacement and occupation, isn't a legitimate entity.
    Nasrallah affirmed that the Israeli entity is the cause of all wars, disasters and crises in the region, forcing the past, current and future generations to bear the repercussions and effects of this tumor festering in the region.

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Iran Threatens Azerbaijan for Contacts with Israel (Armenian News)
    Israeli President Shimon Peres will pay his first official visit to Baku, Azerbaijan, in the beginning of July. In his preparatory contacts for the visit, Peres emphasized that the Azeri people showed sincere friendship to the Jewish people over many centuries.
    Hasan Firusabadi, head of the Joint Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, has threatened Azerbaijan for its connections with Israel, saying he considered the "Zionist state president's visit to Baku to be an incorrect step" and that Baku has to take a careful approach to this issue.

Egypt Arrests Brazilians with "Pro-Israel Propaganda"  (AKI-Italy)
    24 Brazilian tourists were arrested in Cairo for carrying leaflets featuring the Yisrael Beiteinu party of Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.
    "The leaflets are in Portuguese and call on Brazilians to immigrate to Israel," said an Egyptian source, quoted by the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot.

Gaza War Is Battle Lab for Joint Combat Ops - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
    Israeli commanders say that the recent urban war in Gaza provided valuable lessons for improving joint war-fighting skills.
    The combined ground warfare and integration of air, naval and intelligence arms enhanced overall effectiveness, protected friendly forces and helped reduce unintentional targeting of Palestinian civilians.
    Lt. Col. Tzahi, from military intelligence, said intelligence and combat were so tightly interwoven that ground troops went into battle with names, addresses and even photos of Hamas commanders.
    By working alongside infantry and paratroopers, intelligence specialists were able to extract life-saving information from prisoners taken and items confiscated in the course of the fighting.

Austrian Leader Slams Freedom Party's Anti-Israel Posters (Financial 24)
    Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann condemned the far-right Freedom Party Sunday for using anti-Semitic rhetoric ahead of the European parliamentary elections in June.
    In a new campaign ad published in the tabloid Kronen Zeitung on Sunday, the Freedom Party (FPOe) pasted in large red letters: FPOe veto for Turkey and Israel in the EU.
    Israel is not a candidate at all for the EU, Chancellor Faymann told the daily Der Standard. The only reason to mention Israel here is to stir up anti-Semitic prejudices, he said.
    Last weekend, a group of teenagers attacked Nazi camp survivors during commemoration ceremonies at the former Ebensee camp near Salzburg, shouting Heil Hitler and giving the Nazi salute before fleeing.

Hitler's European Holocaust Helpers (Der Spiegel-Germany)
    The Germans are responsible for the industrial-scale mass murder of 6 million Jews. But the collusion of other European countries in the Holocaust has received surprisingly little attention.
    The trial of John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian concentration camp guard, is set to throw a spotlight on Hitler's foreign helpers.
    What led Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu to murder 200,000 Jews? Why did Baltic death squadrons commit murder on German orders in Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine? Why did German Einsatzgruppen operated by the SS have such an easy time encouraging the non-Jewish population to wage pogroms between Warsaw and Minsk?
    "The Germans on their own wouldn't have been able to carry out the murder of millions of European Jews," says Hamburg-based historian Michael Wild.

Muslim-Jewish Relations in Australia - Interview with Jeremy Jones by Manfred Gerstenfeld (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
    Considerable tensions between the Muslim and Jewish communities arose as a result of Israel's Gaza operation.
    There are 350,000-400,000 Muslims in Australia, just over one-third are Australian-born. There are an estimated 120,000 Jews in Australia.
    There is a network of interfaith activity in Australia that includes dialogue and collaborative projects between Jewish and Muslim Australians.
    There are also many documented examples of anti-Jewish propaganda circulated by and among members of various Muslim communities in Australia.
    Jeremy Jones, director of international and community affairs of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, is a former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

Owls Replace Pesticides in Israel (BBC News)
    Scientists in Israel are working with farmers to deploy owls and kestrels as natural pest controllers. The farmers are installing nest boxes to encourage the birds, which hunt crop-damaging rodents.
    "Kestrels hunt during the day and barn owls at night," said Dr. Motti Charter, a researcher from Tel Aviv University and team leader of the Global Owl Project in Israel.
    According to the World Owl Trust, who have funded some of Dr. Charter's research, there are currently about 1,000 barn owl nest boxes in Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israeli Prime Minister Says Jerusalem Will Never Be Divided
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Jerusalem would "never be divided" and would remain the capital of the Jewish state. (Reuters)
        Speaking at the state ceremony at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem on Thursday marking Jerusalem Day, he said: "United Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Jerusalem has always been - and always will be - ours. It will never again be divided or cut in half. Jerusalem will remain only under Israel's sovereignty. In united Jerusalem, the freedom of worship and freedom of access for all three religions to the holy sites will be guaranteed, and it is the only way to guarantee that members of all faiths, minorities and denominations can continue living here safely."
        As a boy I remember the elation when we heard the news that the Temple Mount is in our hands. "The excitement we felt was something neither we nor any other Jew experienced for generations. It lifted the hearts of Jews all over the world....The liberation of Jerusalem and the Western Wall marked for all of us the deep connection to the roots of Jewish history. We felt that the dream of generations had finally come true." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also Netanyahu: I Clarified to Obama that We Will Never Divide Jerusalem - Barak Ravid, Nadav Shragai, Avi Issacharoff and Mazal Mualim
    Netanyahu also said, "It was important for me to participate in this ceremony and say the same things that I said in the United States: Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours." (Ha'aretz-Hebrew, 22May09)
  • U.S. Military: Iran Nuclear Bomb Would Be Calamitous - Andrew Gray
    Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday, "I'm one who believes that Iran getting a nuclear weapon is calamitous for the region and for the world." "It then, in my view, generates neighbors who feel exposed, deficient and then develop or buy the capability themselves," he said, suggesting Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapon likely would trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. "The downside, potentially, is absolutely disastrous." "Major leaders, internationally, have got to come together to arrest this growth or the long-term downside for the people in the world is really, really tragic and drastic," he said. (Reuters)
  • New York Bomb Plotters "Eager to Bring Death to Jews" - Susan Candiotti
    A bloodthirsty gang of four homegrown terror suspects was ordered held without bail Thursday in a plot to blow up two Bronx synagogues and shoot down a plane at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh. During brief court hearings, prosecutors branded the gang anti-Semitic would-be killers who dreamed of basking in the glory of their spectacular attacks. "It's hard to envision a more chilling plot to bring mass murder to," said Eric Snyder, an assistant U.S. attorney. "These are people who are eager to bring death to Jews."
        James Cromitie, 44, who recruited the other plotters, decided to bomb the synagogues because al-Qaeda already had brought down the best target, the World Trade Center, court papers said. "I hate those...[expletives deleted] Jewish bastards," he told the informant, court papers revealed. "I would like to get [bomb] a synagogue." The suspects met at their Newburgh mosque, Masjid al-Ikhlas, sources said, and at least three were jailhouse converts to Islam. The mosque's spiritual leader denounced the plot and disowned the suspects. (New York Daily News)
  • U.S. Reconfirms Nuclear Ambiguity Policy for Israel - Dan Williams
    The Obama administration will not force Israel to state publicly whether it has nuclear weapons, an Israeli official said Thursday. He said Washington would stick to a decades-old U.S. policy of "don't ask, don't tell." A senior Israeli diplomat, speaking after Prime Minister Netanyahu's summit with Obama in Washington this week, said this message had been conveyed "on the various levels of our bilateral talks." Historians say the Nixon administration forged a tacit policy of not pressing Israel on the matter. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • EU Will Now Back Tough Iran Sanctions - Herb Keinon
    President Obama's engagement policy with Iran has led to a "new spirit" in Europe and a growing consensus for stringent sanctions against Tehran if Obama's policy does not yield results, according to assessments received this week in Jerusalem. Since Obama said that he would reassess U.S. policy toward Iran at the end of the year, even the "weakest links" on Iran inside Europe - Sweden, Spain and Germany - have begun falling into line behind the possible need for much stiffer sanctions. With Obama now willing to give the engagement some six months, they are now indicating they would back the measures if the engagement failed.
        One senior government official said there was an appreciation that Obama's engagement with Iran would only be successful if Tehran understood it had something to lose if the dialogue did not yield results. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Declares New PA Government "Illegal" - Avi Issacharoff
    No sooner had Tuesday's swearing-in ceremony of the new Palestinian Authority cabinet under Fatah's Salam Fayyad ended, when Hamas declared the new government illegal. "This is an illegitimate government overshadowed by an illegal president," said Hamas leader Ahmed Bakhar. At the same time, several Fatah-affiliated trade unions - specifically those of teachers, laborers and health workers - announced that they would not cooperate with the new government. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel to PA: Drop Demand for International Investigation of Gaza "War Crimes" - Daniel Edelson
    Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday addressed the Palestinian Authority's demand of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to investigate possible war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza. "You can't have it both ways. You can't accept our help on one hand and ask the ICC to charge us with crimes against humanity on the other....(Such actions) go against all of the treaties we have signed, in letter and in spirit, and there is no way we will agree to it. We are not looking for confrontations. We support negotiations and we are trying to come up with a solution for coexistence, but we are done groveling." (Ynet News)
  • Two Palestinian Terrorists Killed near Gaza Fence - Anshel Pfeffer
    Two Palestinian terrorists were killed by IDF forces early Friday morning as they sought to plant an explosive device near the Kerem Hashalom crossing on the Gaza-Israel border. (Ha'aretz)
  • Jerusalem Municipality: No Change in Demolitions of Illegal Buildings in Eastern Jerusalem, Reports Are Distorted
    Recent claims of an increase in the demolition of illegal buildings in eastern Jerusalem are distorted and erroneous and accompanied by much disinformation and irresponsible provocation. The numerical data shows there has been no change regarding the demolitions on average over the past years. Since January demolition orders have been executed throughout the city for 20 buildings in the west of the city and for 21 buildings in the east. It should be noted that the mayor is not permitted to intervene at all in the majority of the orders which are judicial orders issued by the courts. (Jerusalem Municipality)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Iran's Nuclear Shopping List - Editorial
    In testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this month that was largely ignored by the media, the legendary Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau opened a window on how Iran is secretly obtaining the ingredients for an arsenal of mass destruction. Morgenthau, whose recent cases have exposed illicit Iranian finance and procurement networks, has discovered what he calls "Iran's shopping list for materials related to weapons of mass destruction."
        Missile accuracy appears to be a key Iranian goal. In the prosecution of Chinese citizen Li Fang Wei and his LIMMT company for allegedly scamming Manhattan banks to slip past sanctions on Iran, the DA uncovered a list that included 400 sophisticated gyroscopes and 600 accelerometers critical for developing accurate long-range missiles. He also found that Iran was acquiring a rare metal called tantalum, "used in those roadside bombs that are being used against our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan."
        Morgenthau also noted that the material shipped by LIMMT "included 15,000 kilograms of a specialized aluminum alloy used almost exclusively in long-range missile production; 1,700 kilograms of graphite cylinders used for banned electrical discharge machines which are used in converting uranium," and other items. He added that "we have consulted with top experts in the field from MIT and from private industry and from the CIA....Frankly, some of the people we've consulted are shocked by the sophistication of the equipment they're buying." The least the U.S. administration can do is heed Morgenthau's central point about everything he's learned about Iran's nuclear progress: "It's late in the game, and we don't have a lot of time." (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Difficulty of Talking to Iran - Volker Perthes
    American and Iranian leaders have signaled that they're prepared to talk. That's good. But getting results may prove to be more difficult than they imagine. The fact is that the first round is unlikely to be successful. The positions and expectations on both sides, and their notion of who should take the first step, are too far apart. Wasn't Washington's readiness to participate officially in the nuclear talks a tangible step, I asked a senior Iranian official of the reformist persuasion? "Not really," my interlocutor responded. "It is only the correction of a mistake. So the ball is now in the U.S. court." American officials will certainly see this differently.
        Up to now, Iran has said that it is prepared to negotiate, but not to give up enrichment or any other part of its nuclear program. The "5 plus 1" group (the U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany), however, sees Iranian enrichment as the core problem. The Security Council has passed five resolutions demanding that Iran suspend enrichment. The writer is director of SWP, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. (New York Times)


  • Some Questions about a Palestinian State - Daniel Doron
    Should not the establishment of a Palestinian state - which the Europeans so strongly promote - adhere to the European Union's 1993 Copenhagen Political Criteria for new members, which states, "Membership criteria require that the candidate country must have achieved stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, rule of law, human rights, and respect for and protection of minorities"? Clearly a Palestinian Authority state will not even remotely meet such criteria. What moral justification is there, then, for forcing a vulnerable Israel, threatened by an irredentist Palestinian state, to help establish it when a powerful EU refuses to take much smaller risks in the case of Turkey?
        Until Oslo, relatively free economic interaction between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs resulted in spectacular economic growth in the West Bank and Gaza. This created an informal peace process that greatly improved Arab life and promoted a Palestinian civil society committed to peace.
        The argument that the Arabs seek the restoration of "stolen Palestinian lands" is sheer fabrication. The area of the former British Mandate of Palestine was for centuries under the Ottomans an empty, deserted land. It was so desolate that a national Palestinian Arab state never existed there. Only after Jewish pioneers, in the second half of the nineteenth century, miraculously revived it did the Arabs start identifying themselves as Palestinians.
        The claim that "illegal settlements" are an obstacle to peace is absurd too. Jewish settlements occupy less than 4% of the West Bank territory, mostly constructed on deserted government land. The reason the Arabs want them removed is that their radical leadership cannot tolerate any Jews living among them. The writer is president of the Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress. (Forbes)
  • Palestinians Aren't Ready for Statehood - Editorial
    The expression "two-state solution" is a handy cliche that assumes that creating a Palestinian state will actually solve something. We beg to differ. Experiments in Palestinian self-rule have not been auspicious. Yasser Arafat became president of the Palestinian National Authority in 1994 under the Oslo Accords, and he quickly purged any moderate voices among the Palestinian leadership. He erected a kleptocracy that has continued under Mahmoud Abbas that subsists largely on Western aid and shows little sign of political or economic development.
        Hamas, which seized power in Gaza in 2007, created an Islamic terror state that launches rocket attacks on Israel as a matter of policy, proving the emptiness of the complimentary platitude "land for peace." Pressuring Israel to accept a bad deal with people fundamentally unready for self-rule will leave the Middle East with two states and no solution. (Washington Times)
  • Do the Arabs Want a Two-State Solution? - Jeff Jacoby
    International consensus or no, the two-state solution is a chimera. Peace will not be achieved by granting sovereignty to the Palestinians, because Palestinian sovereignty has never been the Arabs' goal. Time and time again, a two-state solution has been proposed. Time and time again, the Arabs have turned it down. To this day, the charters of Hamas and Fatah, the two main Palestinian factions, call for Israel's liquidation. "The whole world" may want peace and a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want something very different. Until that changes, there is no two-state solution. (Boston Globe)

    Other Issues

  • Netanyahu in Washington: What Has Changed? - Sever Plocker
    I accompanied then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he traveled to the U.S. for an official visit in July 1996, a month after his narrow victory over Shimon Peres. I heard the speech delivered by Netanyahu before Congress, and I kept a copy of it in my private archive. I read it again this week: With the exception of two or three sentences, Netanyahu could have delivered the same speech this time around.
        Netanyahu dedicated a significant part of his speech to Israel's desire for peace. We have no quarrel with Islam, he said, and we reject out of hand the claims of an inevitable clash of civilizations. Netanyahu declared that peace was premised on three pillars: Security, reciprocity, and democracy. Security meant an uncompromised end to terror. The second pillar was defined as "reciprocity" vis-a-vis the Palestinians and the Arabs. The third component of peace - human rights and democracy - was perceived as a surprising innovation at the time. The fact that an Israeli prime minister called for democratization of the Middle East and conditioned comprehensive peace with Arab states on a change of regime there was met with great skepticism by America's public opinion in 1996.
        Netanyahu raised another urgent issue: Iran. Should Iran acquire nuclear weapons, he warned, this would have destructive implications not only for the Middle East but for the whole of humanity. He urged the international community to prevent it. (Ynet News)
  • Muslim Brotherhood Falters as Egypt Outflanks Islamists - Yaroslav Trofimov
    Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is on the defensive. Just recently, the Brothers' political rise seemed unstoppable. Candidates linked with the group gained a record 20% of seats in Egypt's 2005 parliamentary elections. Across the border in Gaza, another election the following year propelled the Brotherhood's Palestinian offshoot, Hamas, into power. Since then, Egypt's government jailed key Brotherhood members, crimped its financing and changed the constitution to clip religious parties' wings. "When we're not advancing, we are retreating. And right now we are not spreading, we are not achieving our goals," the Brotherhood's second-in-command, Mohamed Habib, said in an interview.
        The regime pressed its public-relations campaign against the Brotherhood last month, when it said it had cracked a cell of Lebanon's Hizbullah militia that was spying in Egypt and smuggling weapons to Hamas. State media painted the Brotherhood as an unpatriotic hireling of Iran, which sponsors Hamas and Hizbullah.
        The latest controversy surrounding the Brotherhood stemmed from its behavior during the Gaza war. The Brotherhood organized two massive street demonstrations in Alexandria and Cairo during the war, attacking President Mubarak's regime for failing to help Gaza's Hamas rulers. But calls by some Brotherhood leaders to send fighters to Gaza alienated many Egyptians who have no desire to see their own country, at peace with Israel since 1979, embroiled in war. "They went too far and just frightened the street," says Mahmoud Abaza, the leader of the Wafd party and the leader of the opposition in parliament. "It was a miscalculation. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Hizbullah's Growing Regional Role Piques Arabs - Hamza Hendawi
    Arab governments are starting to see the fingerprints of Lebanon's Hizbullah all over the Middle East, adding to their growing alarm over Iran's power and a widening Sunni-Shiite rift. Egypt recently accused the Lebanese Shiite group of organizing a cell to carry out terror attacks inside Egypt. Yemen's president has accused Hizbullah operatives of training Shiite rebels there, while Saudi Arabia has repeatedly warned of Iranian influence across the region. Outside Lebanon, Hizbullah is known to have operated clandestinely for years - including in Arab countries - to raise money, gather intelligence and seek weapons. In Iraq, it also is accused of training Shiite militiamen in conflict with Iraq's central government, and of helping to plan a brazen 2007 attack on U.S. troops. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Are Islamists Really Motivated by the Palestinian Issue? - Melanie Phillips
    British Foreign Secretary David Miliband says "Palestinian statelessness is the biggest recruiting sergeant for Islamic extremism around the world." Ah yes - Palestinian statelessness was obviously uppermost in the minds of the Islamists who blew up Mumbai; it was obviously the reason they bombed Spain to help the restoration of the caliphate. It's obviously the driving passion of the Chechen Islamist separatists; it's obviously the rallying cry of the Islamists in Indonesia who intend to Islamize southern Asia. It's obviously the reason Islamists are persecuting, murdering and driving out Christians across the Third World from Sudan and Nigeria to Bethlehem. (Spectator-UK)
  • Israeli Ambassador: We Are Fed Up - Kurt Sansone
    Israeli Ambassador Gideon Meir says Israelis are fed up with ceding land for peace and getting war in return. "There is a new government that was elected by the Israeli people and it is the people who have made it clear that they are fed up. For 16 years we made concessions, giving up land for peace and peace did not come....Israel gave up land and in return all it got was more war, more terror. We withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 and we got Iran on our borders through Hizbullah, which is its proxy. In 2005 we pulled out of Gaza and we got Iran there through its other proxy, Hamas. We Israelis have concluded that we want a different approach."
        "The Palestinians [in Gaza]...bombarded us day in, day out for eight whole years and the international community, the Europeans, were quiet. Unfortunately, when Jews are being killed it does not matter to the world....For eight years 9,200 missiles were fired into Israeli towns and cities. Where was Europe's voice?" (Times of Malta)

    Jerusalem Day

  • The Battle for Jerusalem - Michael Freund
    The emperor Vespasian must be rolling over in his grave. Some 19 centuries after the nefarious Roman ruler sent his legions to pillage Jerusalem under the command of his son Titus, the city once again serves as the united capital of a sovereign Jewish state. Friday marks 42 years on the Hebrew calendar since that wonderful day back in 1967 when Israel liberated the Old City and proudly raised the blue-and-white over the Temple Mount.
        Yet it is hard not to escape the gnawing feeling that with each passing year, the reunified city of Jerusalem is increasingly coming under siege. Most of the world is demanding that we "share" or "internationalize" the city, and criticize even the most mundane of governmental actions regarding Jerusalem. Where else in the world does the enforcement of local building codes generate such condemnation? It is a sign of how obsessed the international community has become with twisting our collective arm to redivide the city in order to make way for a Palestinian state. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Mayor's Aide: New Deal for Jerusalem Palestinians - Karin Laub
    Jerusalem city councilman Yakir Segev, 32, elected in 2008 on Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat's list, holds the portfolio for eastern Jerusalem. He says he believes treating Jerusalem's Arabs more fairly will strengthen Israeli claims to all of the disputed city, and says he's seeking ways to legalize thousands of unlicensed Arab homes vulnerable to demolition. Both Segev and his boss staunchly oppose a future partition of the city. But Segev says he does want to narrow the gap between Jewish and Arab neighborhoods.
        Arabs have little say in city politics because they largely boycott municipal elections, fearing votes could be interpreted as acceptance of Israeli rule. Segev said a Jewish majority is important for Israel's claims to the city, but should be achieved by attracting more Jews, not limiting Palestinians. In reviewing licensing practices, "our goal is that the majority of the residents will receive a solution," he said. Unlicensed homes in residential areas would likely win retroactive approval, while those built on public land or areas earmarked for roads and schools would be demolished.
        Segev, who lost his left arm in a childhood accident and overcame huge odds to get into the Egoz commando unit, displays the same can-do attitude now. "I would like to see to it that the (Arab) population feels that we are serious," he said. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Looking East - Peggy Cidor
    Segev added: "When we say we expect the residents in the eastern part of the city to respect the law, especially where building permits are concerned, we have to...offer fair solutions. If we want the city to be ours, we have to treat it as real owners treat their property. We have to provide solutions to the needs of the residents." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Ancient Handle with Hebrew Text Found in Jerusalem - Joseph Marks
    Archaeologists digging on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives have discovered a nearly 3,000-year-old jar handle bearing ancient Hebrew script, a find significantly older than most inscribed artifacts unearthed in the ancient city. The Iron Age handle is inscribed with the Hebrew name Menachem, which was the name of an Israelite king and is still common among Jews, said archaeologist Ron Beeri, who directed the excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority. This is the first time an artifact bearing the name has been unearthed in Jerusalem, Beeri said. Based on the style of the inscription, he dated the handle to around 900 BCE, the time of the first Jewish Temple in Jerusalem as recounted in the Bible. (AP/Washington Post)
  • First Temple Seal Found in Jerusalem's City of David
    A Hebrew seal that dates to the time of the First Temple was found in an excavation in the Walls Around Jerusalem National Park. The seal, made of bone, is engraved in Hebrew with the name of the seal's owner: Shaul. The name is known from both the Bible (Genesis 36:37; 1 Samuel 9:2; 1 Chronicles 4:24 and 6:9) and from other Hebrew seals. (Israel Antiquities Authority)

    Weekend Features

  • Israel's Arab Citizens - Khaled Abu Toameh
    I have been working as a journalist for the past 27 years in the Palestinian areas. I am an Arab Muslim living in Jerusalem. I am also an Israeli citizen because my father belongs to the Israeli-Arab community inside Israel which numbers nearly 1.4 million people. I also happen to be a Palestinian because my mother is a Palestinian from the West Bank. We Arabs have been exposed to many good things inside Israel. We learned about democracy. We learned about freedom of debate. We learned about freedom of the media. When I used to work for a PLO newspaper, we used to say that we hope one day we will have a free media like the one these Jews have, where a writer can bring down a minister through an investigative report.
        But things have been going in the wrong direction ever since the peace process began. The concept of the Oslo Accord and the two-state solution is wonderful, although it is not practical and will never work. The way it was implemented brought disaster to both Jews and Arabs. The assumption back then in Israel, in America and in Europe was that if we bring Yasser Arafat into the West Bank and Gaza, give him billions of dollars and guns, he will do the job for us and there would be nothing to worry about. Arafat will even fight Hamas, prevent terrorism and foil suicide bombings. So they established the Palestinian Authority, a one-man show run by Arafat and his corrupt cronies. Instead of building a hospital, Arafat built a casino, as if the Palestinian revolution has been aspiring for 40 years to build a casino.
        Arafat drove many Palestinians into the open arms of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. By establishing a corrupt regime, by cracking down on human rights activists, newspaper editors and political opponents, Arafat actually boosted Hamas' popularity among the Palestinians. The international community gave Arafat money to open a TV and radio station and Arafat used the media to tell his people how bad and evil the Jews are. So the Palestinians said to themselves, "Well, that means Hamas is right about the Jews. If these Jews are so evil and so bad, why are we making peace with them?" Israel is a wonderful place to live and we are happy to be there. Israel is a free and open country. If I were given the choice, I would rather live in Israel as a second class citizen than as a first class citizen in Cairo, Gaza, Amman or Ramallah. (Hudson Institute New York)
  • The IDF West Bank Emergency Response Team - Abe Selig
    The IDF's Military Emergency Response Team acts as first responder for Palestinian residents and military personnel near its base in the northern West Bank. The team enters Palestinian villages to treat people who have been injured in car accidents or even those wounded from physical violence that erupts between feuding families. Sometimes they even treat terrorists. "We've been shot at, hit with Molotov cocktails - one time someone even threw a wheelbarrow onto our roof," said Lt.-Col. A. at a base outside Nablus on Thursday. "The kids throw a lot of rocks. But the same people who throw rocks and shoot at us could very well end up being our patients tomorrow."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Companies Seek Global Profile - James Flanigan
    Israel has long been successful in combining government and private money to promote small-business innovation. Now, it wants to build larger companies to compete better in a global economy. "We have to enhance the Israel brand by creating big, long-term companies," said Eran Wagner, president of North American operations for cVidya Networks, "and not be seen as just a bunch of people with great ideas." Erel N. Margalit, the founder of Jerusalem Venture Partners, spoke, too, about a global imperative. "Israelis have a great tradition as storytellers, movie makers, educators," he said. "We have to create new ways to bring those skills" to video games and personal communications.
        Glenn Yago, director of capital studies at the Milken Institute in Santa Monica, said that "Israeli scientists own 7,000 patents in the United States, a remarkable statistic for a country of only 7 million people" and a gross domestic product that is only 1% that of the U.S. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    The Obama-Netanyahu Meeting and Arab-Israeli Peacemaking - Robert Satloff (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • The new innovation the Obama administration seems ready to inject into Arab-Israeli peacemaking is the transformation of the Saudi-inspired Arab Peace Initiative (API) into an operational plan that could incentivize progress on the bilateral track. The relevance of such an approach will depend on whether the Arab contribution to peacemaking is connected to political realities.
    • Today, in the jaded era of suicide bombers, Kassam rockets, and the Hamas coup in Gaza, Israelis are far more concerned with basic security matters than with peripheral political achievements. If Arab states can contribute on that front - by taking unprecedented action to cripple Hamas, strengthening the Palestinian Authority, and working with Israel to prevent smuggling of weapons, money, and technology to anti-peace elements - then a regional initiative has a real chance of bolstering peace prospects. The same is true of Arab states providing a diplomatic umbrella for Palestinians to make historic compromises on key issues of refugees and Jerusalem.
    • A second key element of the Obama-Netanyahu exchange was, effectively, the resurrection of the Roadmap as a point of reference for progress in Israeli-Palestinian relations. Israel welcomes a return to the Roadmap because it offers a sequence of performance-based peacemaking steps.
    • The elephant in the room was the absence of any common strategy for dealing with the division between Hamas-controlled Gaza and the PA-led West Bank. The structural impediment to peace is the persistence of Hamas rule in Gaza and the threat that Hamas poses to PA governance in the West Bank. Without a solution to this problem, diplomatic progress between Israel and the PA has no chance.

      The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute.

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