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June 24, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

81% of Americans Say Palestinians Must Recognize Israel's Right to Exist (Rasmussen Reports )
    81% of U.S. voters agree with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that Palestinian leaders must recognize Israel's right to exist as part of a Middle East peace agreement. Just 7% disagree.
    But only 27% believe it is even somewhat likely, and only 6% say it is very likely.
    48% say the president's Middle Eastern policy is about right, but 35% say he is not supportive enough of Israel. Just 10% think the president is being too supportive of Israel.
    74% say it is unlikely there will be lasting peace between the Palestinians and Israel within the next ten years.
    Just 32% believe most Islamic nations want to have a positive and peaceful relationship with the U.S.

Israel Denies Approving 300 New Settlement Homes - Baz Ratner (Reuters)
    The Israeli government denied a media report Tuesday that it had authorized 300 new homes for a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.
    An Israeli official said 30 buildings had been added to Talmon under an authorization issued nine months ago - before the current government took office. "These houses have been completed, and there has been no approval given for new houses," the official said.

New Nixon Tape: Anti-Semitism "Is Going to Happen in America If These People Don't Start Behaving" (New York Times)
    The Nixon Presidential Library on Tuesday released audio recordings revealing new details on former President Richard Nixon's views.
    In a Feb. 21, 1973, phone conversation with evangelist Billy Graham, Nixon said: "Anti-Semitism is stronger than we think...and now it's going to happen in America if these people don't start behaving.... It may be they have a death wish. You know that's been the problem with our Jewish friends for centuries."

Documents Back Saudi Link to Extremists - Eric Lichtblau (New York Times)
    Documents gathered by lawyers for the families of Sept. 11 victims provide new evidence of extensive financial support for Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups by members of the Saudi royal family.
    Internal Treasury Department documents said that a prominent Saudi charity, the International Islamic Relief Organization, heavily supported by members of the Saudi royal family, showed "support for terrorist organizations" at least through 2006.
    A witness in Afghanistan said in a sworn statement that in 1998 he saw an emissary for a leading Saudi prince, Turki al-Faisal, hand a check for one billion Saudi riyals (now worth $267 million) to a top Taliban leader.

Israel Developing Freeze-Dried Blood to Save Soldiers' Lives - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli biotechnology company Core Dynamics is working with the Israel Defense Forces to turn blood from newly enlisted soldiers into a freeze-dried powder and send it with them to the battlefield.
    If those soldiers are ever wounded, water could be added to produce their own blood instantly for a lifesaving infusion.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Obama Condemns Iran's Iron Fist Against Protests - Helene Cooper and David E. Sanger
    President Obama on Tuesday condemned the Iranian government for its crackdown against election protesters and accused Iran's leaders of fabricating charges against the U.S., telling a news conference at the White House that he was "appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings and imprisonments of the past few days." He praised the courage and dignity of the demonstrators, saying, "Those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history."  (New York Times)
        See also Iranian Activist: The West Must Act Against These Monsters - Babak Zamanian (Times-UK)
  • Opposition Candidate Karroubi Assails Iran's State-Run Media, Compares Ahmadinejad Government to Taliban
    Opposition candidate Mehdi Karroubi wrote to Ezattollah Zarghami, head of state-run radio and television, scolding Iranian media for blaming recent violence on the demonstrators. The "assaults, beatings and murder of innocent people" were committed by plain-clothed security forces, not by demonstrators, Karroubi said. "You know well that those who support Mr. Ahmadinejad's government today are promoters of fanatic and Taliban-like Islam," he said. (CNN)
        See also Clerics Join Iran's Anti-Government Protests - Octavia Nasr
    A photo showing Iranian clerics prominently participating in an anti-government protest speaks volumes about the new face of Iran's opposition movement. (CNN)
  • Iran Vows to Make Example of Arrestees - Thomas Erdbrink and William Branigin
    The Iranian government stepped up pressure Tuesday on opponents challenging the reelection of President Ahmadinejad, setting up a special court to try detained protesters, carrying out new arrests and launching a campaign to publicly vilify those calling for a new vote. (Washington Post)
        See also Iran "Retires" Soccer Players Who Protested at World Cup Match - Robert Tait
    Four Iranian soccer players who sported green wristbands in a recent World Cup match in protest against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election have been "retired" from the sport. (Guardian-UK)
        See also Western Journalists Among Reporters Detained in Iran - Tara Bahrampour (Washington Post)
  • U.S. to Send Ambassador Back to Syria
    President Obama has decided to send a U.S. ambassador back to Syria, a sign of reconciliation between the two countries. "It's in our interests to have an ambassador in Syria," a senior administration official said Tuesday. "We have been having more and more discussions, and we need to have someone there to engage." The U.S. withdrew its ambassador four years ago in protest at the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Washington accuses Syria of being behind the killing. (CNN)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel, U.S. Working on Settlement Deal - Herb Keinon
    Israel and the U.S. are continuing to negotiate the parameters of a settlement construction freeze, diplomatic officials said Tuesday. Prime Minister Netanyahu, currently on a visit to Europe, said there were attempts to reach an agreement with Washington on the issue. After meeting with Italian Premier Berlusconi, Netanyahu said, "We will not build new settlements, we will not expropriate land to expand settlements, and we accept the principle that the discussions about the settlements will take place in final-status negotiations." But at the same time, he said, "we don't want them to forbid us to carry on with normal life in the settlements in Judea and Samaria." "The more we spend time arguing about this, the more we waste time instead of moving toward peace."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Removes Roadblocks Across the West Bank - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
    The Israel Defense Forces have lifted some of the main roadblocks in the West Bank in recent weeks. Currently, there are only 10 manned roadblocks within the West Bank, down from 35 a year and a half ago. The roadblocks surrounding the city of Nablus have now all been lifted. Moreover, the defense establishment has allowed several hundred Palestinian businessmen free access to Israel. An Israeli security source said the improved security situation in the West Bank permitted the lifting of the roadblocks. "When there is law and order, [and] there are no armed [Palestinians] in the streets and efforts are made to prevent terrorism, then there is no need for roadblocks." The lifting of the roadblocks is being done with the authorization of Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak, IDF Chief of Staff Ashkenazi and with the blessing of the Israel Security Agency. (Ha'aretz)
  • Legal Experts Say International Law Will Adjust to War Against Terrorism - Dan Izenberg
    Speakers at a conference on international law and terrorism last week in Jerusalem said Israel must continue to abide by international law and that the law will eventually adjust itself according to real-world experiences. At the conference on "Hamas, the Gaza War, and Accountability under International Law," Tel Aviv University law Prof. Yoram Dinstein noted that the terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda in the U.S. on 9/11 paved the way for broad international acceptance of a convention prohibiting the financing of terrorist organizations and a covenant determining that suspected terrorists can be extradited.
        Columbia Law School professor George Fletcher stressed that the first principle of international law was the right of every independent state to self-defense and to repel attacks against its territory. The conference was convened by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs with support from the Legacy Heritage Fund and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Summaries of International Law Conference Presentations (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Persian Paranoia - Christopher Hitchens
    One of the signs of Iran's underdevelopment is the culture of rumor and paranoia that attributes all ills to the manipulation of various demons and satans. But you have no idea how deep is the primitive belief that it is the British - more than the CIA, more even than the Jews - who are the puppet masters of everything that happens in Iran. The best-known and best-selling satirical novel in the Persian language is My Uncle Napoleon, by Iraj Pezeshkzad, which describes a family member who subscribes to the "Brit Plot" theory of Iranian history. At last Friday's prayers, as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei viciously slammed the door on all possibilities of reform, he droned, "The most evil of them all is the British government."
        These ravings have real-world consequences. There is nothing at all that any Western country can do to avoid the charge of intervening in Iran's foreign affairs. The deep belief that everything - especially anything in English - is by definition an intervention is part of the very identity and ideology of the theocracy. It is a mistake to assume that the ayatollahs are acting rationally. They are frequently in the grip of archaic beliefs and fears.
        There is then the larger question of the Iranian theocracy and its continual, arrogant intervention in our affairs: its export of violence and cruelty and lies to Lebanon and Palestine and Iraq and its unashamed defiance of the UN, the EU, and the IAEA on nuclear weapons. Coexistence with a nuclearized, fascistic theocracy in Iran is impossible even in the short run. (Slate)
        See also Iran Expels British Diplomats, Britain Expels Iranian Diplomats in Retaliation (AP)
  • Tehran Suffers Image Damage Amid Turmoil; Unrest Makes Other Regimes Wary - Yaroslav Trofimov
    The turmoil in Iran is threatening to reshape the balance of power in the Middle East, denting the Islamic Republic's regional standing and spooking some Arab regimes with the specter of similar people-power uprisings. Not long ago, Iran seemed to be inexorably rising as the major regional power, with Ahmadinejad's fiery rhetoric against America and Israel garnering him a devoted following on the Arab street. But, over the past week, the vivid TV images have punctured Iran's carefully constructed image as a champion of the oppressed masses. "It's no longer the same Iran - Iran suddenly appears to everybody as not a very successful country internally," says Ilter Turkmen, a former Turkish foreign minister.
        Mahmoud Musleh, a prominent Hamas member of the Palestinian legislature, charged that "Israel is standing behind what's going on in Iran" and added that the Islamic Republic will defy its foes' expectations and emerge strengthened by the current crisis. "Iran will overcome this ordeal easily," Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah declared. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    Iran's Regime Will Never Be the Same - Edward N. Luttwak (Wall Street Journal)

    • The current protests could be repressed, but this is not a regime that can last many more years. The unity of the ruling elite established by Ayatollah Khomeini that allowed the regime to dominate the Iranian people for almost 30 years has now been shattered.
    • Huge numbers of Iranians haven't been demonstrating at risk of beatings and worse for the only marginally moderate Mousavi. His courage under pressure has certainly raised his popularity, but he is still no more than the accidental symbol of an emerging political revolution.
    • After years of humiliating social repression and gross economic mismanagement, the more educated and the more productive citizens of Iran have mostly turned their backs on the regime.
    • Had Mousavi won the election, modest steps to liberalize the system would only have triggered demands for more change, eventually bringing down the entire system of clerical rule. In the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev's cautious reforms designed to perpetuate the Communist regime ended up destroying it in less than five years.
    • Even if he remains in office, Ahmadinejad cannot really function as president. The parliament is unlikely to confirm his ministerial appointments.

      The writer is a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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