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June 19, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

Poll: Only 6% See U.S. Administration as Pro-Israel - Gil Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
    Only 6% of Jewish Israelis consider President Obama's administration pro-Israel, according to a Smith Research poll this week - down from 31% in May.
    50% saw the administration as more pro-Palestinian.
    88% of Israelis considered the Bush administration pro-Israel.
    The poll also found that 69% were against freezing construction in "large settlement blocs like Gush Etzion, Maale Adumim and Ariel."

Israel Seeks Policy Change No Matter Who Leads Iran (Reuters)
    Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday that Israel wanted to see Iran's policy change no matter who emerged as president.
    Despite Mir Hossein Mousavi's calls for closer ties with the West, Israelis eye him with concern for his role in initiating Iran's atomic plans as prime minister in the 1980s.
    Lieberman urged the West to impose stiffer economic sanctions against Iran to halt its nuclear development.

International Red Cross Presses Hamas over Captured Israeli Soldier (AFP)
    The International Committee of the Red Cross in Zurich called on Thursday for Hamas to give the family of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit regular access to him that he "is entitled to under international humanitarian law."
    Hamas has refused repeated requests from the ICRC to be able to visit Shalit so they could determine the conditions of his detention and treatment.
    Shalit, now 22, was abducted by Palestinian fighters in June 2006 after they tunneled under Gaza's border to attack an Israeli army post. Two other soldiers died in the raid.

Clear the Fog of War - with a Quiz - Dan Williams (Reuters)
    Israel's recent offensive in Gaza inflamed the debate about how the laws of war can be applied to guerrilla-style fighting.
    Far from the split-second decision-making of battle, one Israeli think-tank is offering a more leisurely way to gauge your understanding of what constitutes a war crime.
    The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs quiz, accessed on-line, poses 12 multiple-choice questions about various combat scenarios. You get a grade at the end.
    The quiz was offered in conjunction with a June 18 conference in Jerusalem on: "Hamas, the Gaza War, and Accountability under International Law."
    Take the Quiz (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Egypt to Join Nuclear Club with Help from Australia - Sue Lannin (ABC-Australia)
    Egypt has signed a deal with the Australian engineering company WorleyParsons to build a nuclear power station in the country.

PA Wants to Install Heavy Machine Guns on Russian-Made Armored Personnel Carriers - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    The transfer of 50 Russian-made armored personnel carriers from Jordan to the West Bank is being delayed by a disagreement on the installation of heavy machine guns.
    While the Palestinians claim that they need the guns to effectively crack down on Hamas, the IDF has voiced opposition to the transfer of heavy machine guns.

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New Lod Mosaic Archaeological Center to House Impressive 1,700-Year-Old Mosaic Floor (Art Daily)
    The Israel Antiquities Authority is beginning an archaeological excavation to restore a 1,700-year-old mosaic floor which is one of the most magnificent and largest mosaics in Israel.
    First uncovered in the city of Lod in 1996, the mosaic is an archaeological gem and extraordinarily well-preserved.
    It covers an area of approximately 180 square meters and is composed of colored carpets that depict in detail mammals, birds, fish, a variety of flora and the sailing and merchant ships that were used at the time.
    A recent generous gift from the Leon Levy Foundation and Shelby White - Chairman of the Friends of the Israel Antiquities Authority, will enable the IAA to establish the Lod Mosaic Archaeological Center on the site.
    The conservation and development work are scheduled to take two years.
    During that period, and because of the rarity and exceptional quality of the find, a section of the mosaic will be sent on exhibit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Archeologists Uncover Ancient Jerusalem Aqueduct to Sultan's Pool - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
    An ancient aqueduct that served as the principal water supply to the Sultan's Pool outside the Old City of Jerusalem has been uncovered during a recent archeological excavation, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Tuesday.
    The aqueduct was discovered in the city's Mishkenot Sha'ananim neighborhood which overlooks the pool.
    The aqueduct was repeatedly used and repaired for about two thousand years, dating back to the Second Temple period, to supply the many pilgrims who flocked to Jerusalem with drinking water, said Dr. Ron Beeri, director of the excavation at the site.

Prejudice in Sweden During the 2006 Lebanon War - Mathan Ravid (Jewish Political Studies Review)
    An analysis of the content of eight Swedish newspapers during the 2006 Lebanon War shows that many contained explanations which involved conspiracies, and alluded to notions with anti-Semitic or problematic anti-Zionist roots.
    Israel was depicted as a tool of an oppressive Western world, and Israeli actions as part of an "American imperialist plot." Concepts of Jewish power exerted over governments and media were also found.
    Most of the newspapers contained anti-Semitic concepts associating Israelis with Nazis.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran's Supreme Leader Calls Election Fair - Nazila Fathi and Michael Slackman
    Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Friday denied opposition claims that last week's disputed election was rigged, and called for an end to the protests that have brought hundreds of thousands of protesters onto the streets to back demands for a new election. He blamed "media belonging to Zionists, evil media" for seeking to show divisions between those who supported the Iranian state and those who did not. (New York Times)
        See also Opposition March Mourns Iranians Killed in Protests - Thomas Erdbrink
    A huge throng of opposition supporters took to the streets of Tehran on Thursday to mourn protesters killed by a pro-government militia and back a challenge to the proclaimed reelection of President Ahmadinejad. Press TV, an English-language version of Iranian state television, said the crowd numbered in the "hundreds of thousands."  (Washington Post)
        See also This Is for Real - David Ignatius
    The willingness of hundreds of thousands of people to risk their lives to protest injustice is what overthrew the shah of Iran in 1979, and it is now shaking the mullahs. This is politics in the raw - unarmed people defying soldiers with guns - and it is the stuff of which revolutions are made. Whether it will succeed in Iran is impossible to predict, but already this movement has put an overconfident regime on the ropes. (Washington Post)
        See also Iran's Conservative Leadership Divided Amid Unrest - Christiane Amanpour
    Iran's influential parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani on Thursday blamed the Interior Ministry for a bloody crackdown on civilians. Iran's Interior Ministry is aligned with Ahmadinejad, and Larijani and Ahmadinejad have had a tense relationship in the past. In addition, key religious conservatives such as Habibolah Asgharoladi, a senior member of a key voting bloc allied with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, have publicly complained of Ahmadinejad's treatment of the protesters. Hamid Dabashi, a professor of Iranian studies at Columbia University, said: "I am absolutely convinced that what we are witnessing is a turning point in the history of the Islamic republic. Even if the Islamic republic survives this crisis, it will no longer be as it used to be."  (CNN)
  • Senate Majority Leader's Pro-Israel Message to President Obama - David Nather
    Normally, there's not a lot of daylight between President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) - at least, not much that gets exposed to public view. On Monday, though, Reid released a public letter to Obama that seems designed to look more pro-Israel than Obama did in his speech in Cairo earlier this month. As the Senate majority leader, and as a former mentor who helped raise Obama's profile in the Senate, Reid can pick up the phone and call Obama anytime he wants. So it's fair to conclude that any public letter has some broader message Reid is trying to convey to the political world.
        In this case, Reid's letter is designed to put the spotlight back on the Palestinians' responsibilities in pursuing Middle East peace, and on the importance of stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Obama made some Jewish groups nervous in his Cairo speech with his comments about Israel's need to stop building settlements and Iran's right to pursue peaceful nuclear power. (CQ Politics)
        See also Sen. Menendez Takes Issue with Themes in Obama's Cairo Talk - Robert Wiener
    In a speech on Tuesday perceived by some as a subtle rebuke to President Obama's address to the Muslim world, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) defended Israel as "a stalwart democratic ally in such a critical part of the world." "While the Shoa has a central role in Israel's identity, it is not the reason behind its founding, and it is not the main justification for its existence," Menendez noted. "We can and must move forward in the peace process and look for ways to reach agreement between all sides. But we cannot erase the moral distinctions between tyranny and freedom, and we must not edit history," he said. He also said that while the U.S. might have "disagreements with our allies, in this case especially, it is critical to have those disagreements in private."  (New Jersey Jewish News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Foreign Minister Outlines Next Steps in Peace Talks with Palestinians - Natasha Mozgovaya
    Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday outlined his vision for the next stage of peace talks with the Palestinians. "There is more than one issue of dispute with the Palestinians, so I would like to start from the point where there are no disputes," he said in Washington. "We can begin with the roadblocks, the outposts, the establishment of a single security apparatus, the smuggling of illegal weapons, a [security and governance] pilot project like in Jenin, which we would like to expand." "If we begin with sensitive issues, like Jerusalem, the whole thing will break down."
        Lieberman said the subject of Israel's settlements was not central. "There are many issues that at this moment are on the negotiating table between us and the U.S., at least 20 different points, and I think that on 19 of them we have understanding and agreement. No one is interested in deepening the differences....We do not intend to alter the demographics of Judea and Samaria and build new settlements - but we are also not willing to choke our people." (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Says IAEA Head ElBaradei Biased on Syria - Herb Keinon
    Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, traded barbs with Israel's envoy at the IAEA meeting in Vienna over the UN nuclear watchdog's probe of Syria's alleged nuclear activities. The Israel Foreign Ministry called on ElBaradei "to prevent political bias in the investigation into Syria's covert nuclear activities," implying that a political bias was contaminating the investigation. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Palestinian Hate Industry Continues
    Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to inculcate the values of hate and support of terrorism in Palestinian children, viewed by those terrorist organizations as a highly important target audience. Hamas publishes a bi-weekly in London called Al-Fateh for children on Its goal is to inculcate children with the ideas of radical Islam and hate of Israel, the Jewish people, and even the West, and to instill the values of violence and terrorism (including explicitly calling for killing Jews) from an early age, and to turn Hamas operatives, including senior commanders and suicide bombers, into role models to be admired and revered. The June 2009 edition includes a poem called "My name is Palestinian," illustrated by a cartoon of an angry child holding the Palestinian flag: "All that is Arab inside me calls me to avenge and liberate [Palestine]."
        On June 3, 2009, a website associated with Islamic Jihad (Pal Today) published photographs from a graduation ceremony of kindergarten children at the Rashad al-Shawa Center in Gaza City. A show put on during the ceremony featured the children dressed in uniform and carrying toy guns confronting and killing IDF soldiers. The youngsters were seen shooting at soldiers, taking soldiers captive, and then performing a "victory" dance around corpses of IDF soldiers lying on the ground. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Iran's Election: Neither Real Nor Free - Editorial
    There is no transparency or accountability in Iran, so we may never know for sure what happened in the presidential election last week. But given the government's even more than usually thuggish reaction, it certainly looks like fraud. If the election were truly "real and free" as Mr. Ahmadinejad insisted, the results would be accepted by the voters and the government would not have to resort to such repression. The elections are another potent reminder that there can be no illusions about Iran's government and its malign intent. Iran's centrifuges are still spinning and its nuclear program is advancing at an alarming rate. (New York Times)
        See also Iran's Disputed Election: Neither Free Nor Fair - Editorial (Washington Post)
        See also Don't Call What Happened in Iran Last Week an Election - Christopher Hitchens (Slate)
  • Stealing the Village Vote - Eric Hooglund
    Is it possible that rural Iran provided Ahmadinejad the 63% of the vote he claims to have won? That would contradict my own research in Iran's villages over the past 30 years. In Bagh-e Iman, a village near Shiraz, people are seething with outrage because at least two-thirds believe that the presidential election was stolen by Ahmadinejad. During campaigning the week before, it became evident that support for Mir Hossein Mousavi was overwhelming. The president is unpopular in most of the villages around Shiraz primarily because of his failure to deliver on the reforms he promised in his 2005 presidential campaign.
        In previous elections, a committee comprised of representatives from each political faction had counted and certified the results right in the village. This time, Interior Ministry officials came from Shiraz, sealed the ballot boxes and took them away even before the end of voting at 9 p.m. The writer is professor of politics at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, and editor of Middle East Critique. (New York Times)

    The Palestinians

  • How to Achieve Israeli-Palestinian Peace - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
    For decades, the Arab world has been engaged in a process of intense soul-searching as to how to cope with the forces of change in its midst, including the rising expectations of a rapidly growing younger generation, the destabilizing escalation of regional conflicts, and the swelling tide of radicalism and extremism. Egypt has long been at the forefront of confronting these challenges, whether in being the first to extend our hand for peace with Israel, addressing the dangers posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, or confronting the threat of terrorism through the moderation and tolerance at the heart of our religious heritage.
        A historic settlement is within reach, one that would give the Palestinians their state and freedom from occupation while granting Israel recognition and security to live in peace. With President Obama's reassertion of U.S. leadership in the region, a rare moment of opportunity presents itself. Egypt stands ready to seize that moment, and I am confident that the Arab world will do the same. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Over to You, Mr. Abbas - David Horovitz
    Netanyahu emphatically espoused the vision of a Palestinian state living at peace alongside Israel, precisely as the new American president would have wished, and reaffirmed that Israel would build no new settlements and take control of no more West Bank land. But Israel could countenance Palestinian statehood only if, philosophically, the Palestinians publicly acknowledged Israel's essence as the homeland of the Jewish nation and, practically, if Palestine were demilitarized.
        This was a classic display of Netanyahu's longstanding insistence on reciprocity. You want Israel to support statehood for the Palestinians? he was saying to the Americans. Well, then, give me the guarantees that their independence will not come at the expense of ours. Netanyahu at a nuanced stroke lobbed the peacemaking ball back into the Palestinian court. (Jerusalem Post)

    Other Issues

  • Israel Seeks to Keep Jerusalem as Its Capital - Luis Ramirez
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his recent speech, proclaimed Israel's intentions to keep Jerusalem as the united capital of the Jewish state. An Israeli development plan - known as E-1 - seeks to link Jerusalem to Maale Adumim, Israel's largest settlement in the West Bank. With its dry rocky hills, much of this swathe of land resembles a moonscape. Its terrain is barren and unfit for farming, yet its political and religious value is such that for years, Israel has been determined to develop it. Israel's aim is to protect the contiguity of Jerusalem. Author Nadav Shragai, a proponent of E-1, disputes the Palestinians' claims to the eastern part of Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. (VOA News)
        See also Protecting the Contiguity of Israel: The E-1 Area and the Link Between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim - Nadav Shragai (ICA-Jerusalem Center)
  • Obama Is Right, It's Time for Honesty - Daniel Gordis
    In a speech addressed primarily to the Muslim world and delivered in Egypt, Obama insisted that the U.S.-Israel relationship could not be upended. He mentioned the Holocaust, (implicitly) berated Iranian President Ahmadinejad for his Holocaust denial, quoted the Talmud and called on Hamas to recognize Israel and abandon violence. Not bad.
        However, Obama's articulated position for an absolute freeze on natural growth in "settlements," even in places where settlements are essentially cities, is both unfair and thoroughly unrealistic. And linking Israel's right to exist to the Holocaust is a significant intellectual and moral mistake. The writer is senior vice president of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Where Anti-Semitism Is Mainstream - Richard Cohen
    In vast parts of the Islamic world, too many people not only deny the Holocaust but embrace the thinking that made it possible. We have almost 2,000 years of experience with anti-Semitism and know by now its immense power. That anti-Semitism is now a part of Middle Eastern culture. It has infiltrated textbooks; it is recited in mosques. It is aired on television - for instance, the broadcast of a play produced at Gaza's Islamic University in which Jews were portrayed as drinking Muslim blood.
        Holocaust Museum shooter James W. von Brunn was quickly segregated from the American mainstream and designated the crackpot he is. In the Middle East, though, he would be no such thing. If Arab leaders do not attempt to rebut and eliminate the hatred of Jews that is poisoning their societies, they will find that the peace that most of them undoubtedly want will not be possible. (Washington Post)
  • Anti-Semitism: Return of a Perennial Horror - Walter Reich
    The murder of a guard, Stephen T. Johns, at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington last week was a tragedy. But it's also a reminder of anti-Semitism's return. The museum is a memorial to, and tells the story of, the greatest spasm of anti-Semitic violence ever. By murdering 6 million Jews in so ferociously focused a way, the Holocaust made plain the consequences of a hatred that has been widely felt, and frequently articulated, for some two millennia.
        Anti-Semites now speak in the language of anti-Zionism. They focus obsessively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ignoring all other countries and zones of war. Certainly, one can be an anti-Zionist without being an anti-Semite. But there are few, if any, anti-Semites who aren't also anti-Zionists. For them, anti-Zionism is primarily a way to express anti-Semitism without being labeled an anti-Semite. It's a cover.
        We have to wake up to the reality that anti-Semitism wasn't eradicated after the Holocaust. We have to take seriously the reality and potential of anti-Semitism when it's expressed. We have to stop those who threaten to wipe out the Jews or the country in which almost half of them live, especially if they have, or are readying, the means to do so. And we must be sure that Jews have a haven within which they can defend themselves.
        When anti-Semitism rises, other evils, universal and destructive, invariably follow. So when anti-Semitism rises, people of all races and religions should be alert and should do all they can to avert its consequences. The writer, former director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, is Professor of International Affairs, Ethics and Human Behavior at George Washington University and a Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center. (Baltimore Sun)
  • The Israel Factor - Leonard Stern
    For decades Muslim dictators, monarchs and presidents-for-life have postponed democratization on the grounds that they are at war against the Zionist imperialists. Obama himself rebuked illiberal Arab governments for using the conflict with Israel as a means to distract from their own internal dysfunctions. However, the dysfunctions that have retarded progress in the Arab-Muslim world exist independent of Israel. Making the Middle East Judenrein will not bring peace, order and good government to the Arab-Muslim world. If anything, eliminating the lone outpost of modernity would make the region even more hopeless. (Ottawa Citizen-Canada)
  • The Myth of Zionist Imperialism - Eli Kavon
    Professors on university campuses brand the State of Israel the creation of a racist and colonialist European imperialism. This libel of the Jewish state betrays an ignorance of the history of the Jews and the story of the Zionist movement. From the beginning, the Zionist movement has been a foe of imperialism. If the Zionist founders of the State of Israel were, indeed, imperialists, what empire did they represent? It is true that the Balfour Declaration of 1917 committed British imperialists to the creation of a Jewish home in Palestine. In the end, however, the British Empire betrayed the Jews of Europe to curry favor with the Arab world. It shut the gates of Jewish immigration to Palestine, abandoning the Jews to their fate in Nazi-occupied Europe. If only the Jews had the power of an empire, perhaps millions of Jews could have been saved from genocide.
        Finally, to brand Zionism as imperialism is to deny the connection of the Jews to the Land of Israel that goes back 3,000 years. The British in India and the French in Algeria did not have an ancient connection to the lands they colonized. The Jewish pioneers settled in Palestine to find a place to live as free men and women, free of the domination of imperialists in the European and Islamic world. To label as imperialist a small nation of Jews that flourished despite the power of great empires is absurd. The writer is on the faculty of Nova Southeastern University's LifelongLearning Institute in Davie, Florida. (Jerusalem Post)
  • History and a Jewish State - George Jonas
    "Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people," said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his speech last week, summing up in nine words why the Middle East conflict is intractable. Being the Jewish nation-state is precisely what the Arab/Muslim world can't accept about Israel. Had the Arab/Muslim world accepted the boundaries within which Israel was created by the UN in 1947, it could legitimately say that settlements built on territories occupied after the war of 1967 fell outside them. But had the boundaries been accepted, there would have been no 1967 war. (National Post-Canada)
  • Observations:

    Settlements, Borders and "Natural Growth" - Rick Richman (Commentary)

    • The Obama administration has repeatedly demanded that Israel meet an obligation to stop "natural growth" in its settlements, but is unable itself to define that obligation in practical terms. This week U.S. special envoy George Mitchell said, "there is no universally used and accepted definition. The most common definition is by the number of births, but there are many variations of that. I've had numerous discussions with many Israeli and other officials, and there are almost as many definitions as there are people speaking."
    • It is hard to charge Israel with violating a Roadmap obligation regarding "natural growth" when everyone has a different definition, and the person handling the issue for the Obama administration cannot define it.
    • It is clear that over the last five years Israel kept the U.S. informed of its interpretation of its "natural growth" obligation and set forth guidelines to which the U.S. did not object (permitting building as long as Israel did not build new settlements, expand the boundaries of existing ones, or provide subsidies for people to move there). Mitchell suggests the "most common" measure of the obligation is to restrict the number of births, but he does not assert Israel ever agreed to such an unrealistic measure, nor does he explain why Israel's own guidelines were not more reasonable.
    • There may not have been what Hillary Clinton calls an "enforceable" agreement regarding "natural growth," but there appear to have been oral agreements and/or tacit understandings that the Obama administration has simply decided it does not want to observe.
    • The more important point, however, is that the major settlement blocs are located on strategic high ground, or in other militarily significant locations, which are undoubtedly part of the "defensible borders" promised to Israel in the 2004 Bush letter - as part of an agreement relating to the Gaza disengagement that should be deemed "enforceable." There is no definition of "defensible borders" in the letter, but the one thing everyone knows it does not mean is the 1967 borders.
    • It is ludicrous for the U.S. to be negotiating with Israel on the number of births that can be permitted in areas already effectively promised to Israel as part of the borders necessary to defend itself.

          See also Mitchell on Natural Growth in Settlements (State Department)

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