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August 13, 2009

In-Depth Issues:

Reality Contradicts New Hamas Spin - Matthew Levitt and Stephanie Papa (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    Despite talk of a ceasefire and pursuit of a peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Hamas continues to engage in terrorist activities.
    Shooting attacks are still common along the border between Israel and Gaza.
    This summer, more than 120,000 Palestinian children attended Hamas-run summer camps that focused not only on Islamic teachings, but also on "semi-military training with toy guns."
    Even as Hamas advances its public-relations blitz for tactical gains, the group continues to advance its strategic goals through ongoing terrorist activities, robust radicalization, and the election of militant hardliners to leadership positions.

Kuwait Foils Al-Qaeda Plan to Attack Oil Refinery - Eman Goma (Reuters-Washington Post)
    Detained members of an al-Qaeda-linked group planned to attack Kuwait's Shuaiba oil refinery during Ramadan, a security official said on Wednesday.
    Kuwait said on Tuesday it had foiled a plan by the six-member al-Qaeda-linked network to bomb the U.S. Army camp of Arifjan, state security headquarters, and "important facilities."
    The cell used Google Earth to acquire images of the refinery, the camp and a state security building, al-Anbaa newspaper reported on Wednesday.
    Al-Qaeda leaders have repeatedly called for attacks on oil facilities and Western interests in the Gulf.
    Political analyst Shafiq Ghabra says the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq has not discouraged al-Qaeda from planning attacks on U.S.-allied Arab countries: "They are trying to hit wherever they feel there is a weakness."

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Survivor: Saudi Royal Edition - Michael Crowley (New Republic)
    The Washington Institute for Near East Policy has a chart illustrating the main line of succession within the Saudi monarchy to date.
    When you look at the family history of the Saudis' current octogenarian leaders, King Abdullah (age 86) and Crown Prince Sultan (85), you can't help but marvel at the various unpleasant ends met by their predecessors:
    Three "assassinated," one "executed," three "deposed," two "lost control," one "captured by foreign enemies," and one "forced to flee."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel: We Will Hold Only Direct Talks with Syria - Dan Williams
    Israel will insist that any new negotiations with Syria be direct and not under Turkish auspices. "We have enormous respect and great appreciation for the Turkish efforts. But they have not succeeded... because of Syrian intransigence," Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said in an interview. "If they (Syria) are really serious on peace, and not just a peace process which may serve them to extricate them from international isolation, if they are really serious, they will come and sit with us."  (Reuters)
  • Latin American Jews Contend with Spike in Anti-Semitism - Sara Miller Llana
    In May, as Jewish families in Buenos Aires were headed downtown to celebrate the 61st anniversary of the State of Israel, an event sponsored by the city, about 30 young men and women began wielding sticks amid the dancing and singing, leaving 10 wounded. At least five people, from a group identified as the Front for Revolutionary Action, a leftist radical group, were arrested on charges including violation of antidiscrimination laws. "If it happened once, it can happen again," says Jorge Elbaum, the executive director of the Delegation of Argentine Jewish Associations, who has called off all public events until further notice.
        Across Latin America, Jewish leaders say they are contending with a new level of anti-Semitism that heated up after Israel's military operation in Gaza in December. Anti-Zionism has given anti-Semitism a new voice in Latin America. "It is politically incorrect to be anti-Semitic," says Elbaum, "but it is politically correct to be anti-Zionist."  (Christian Science Monitor)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel-Bashing in Brazil - Yaakov Ahimeir
    As an Israeli member of the media I had been invited to participate in a UN-sponsored seminar on "Middle East Peace" in Rio. Its stated purpose: to bridge the gaps between the people of the region, minimize controversy and create dialogue. However, after two days of discussions, I felt that the very opposite had been accomplished. The UN conference inflamed hatred towards Israel; it was like a trial in which Israel was the accused, but with no right to defend itself.
        The Rio conference was a UN-sponsored hate-fest against Israel in which most of the speakers represented the Palestinian side; the chairmen of the debates knew which members of the audience to give the floor to - those who would bash Israel; one of the chairmen did not allow MK Ronit Tirosh (from Kadima) to finish a sentence; all the chairmen were generous of spirit (and time) toward those who "delivered the goods" - including members of the local Jewish community who placed Israel in front of a firing squad. The writer is the host of Israel Television's weekly news magazine. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Two Israelis Hurt in West Bank Shooting - Amos Harel and Chaim Levinson
    Two Israelis were wounded on Wednesday after Palestinian gunmen opened fire on their car between Eli and Ma'ale Levona in the West Bank north of Ramallah. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Protests Exclusion from International Archeological Conference in Ramallah - Gil Hoffman and Josiah Daniel Ryan
    The Israel Antiquities Authority condemned the World Archeological Congress on Wednesday for holding an international conference in Ramallah whose program was full of condemnations of Israeli archeology. IAA deputy director Dr. Uzi Dahari accused the organization of excluding Israelis, not informing the IAA of the event in advance, and allowing an academic forum to be used for political propaganda against Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Two-State Solution Doesn't Solve Anything - Hussein Agha and Robert Malley
    Mr. Netanyahu underscores that Israel must be recognized as a Jewish state - and recalls that the conflict began before the West Bank or Gaza were occupied. Palestinians, in turn, reject recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, uphold the refugees' rights and maintain that if Israel wants real closure, it will need to pay with more than mere statehood. The conflict can be settled only by looking past the occupation to questions born in 1948 - Arab rejection of the newborn Jewish state and the dispossession and dislocation of Palestinian refugees.
        Both positions enjoy broad support within their respective communities. Few Israelis quarrel with the insistence that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state. It encapsulates their profound aspiration, rooted in the history of the Jewish people, for a fully accepted presence in the land of their forebears - for an end to Arab questioning of Israel's legitimacy, the specter of the Palestinian refugees' return and any irredentist sentiment among Israel's Arab citizens. Even fewer Palestinians take issue with the categorical rebuff of that demand, as the recent Fatah congress in Bethlehem confirmed. In their eyes, to accept Israel as a Jewish state would legitimize the Zionist enterprise that brought about their tragedy.
        These stands run against the grain of a peace process whose central premise is that ending the occupation and establishing a viable Palestinian state will bring this matter to a close. It is hard today to imagine a resolution that does not entail two states. But two states may not be a true resolution if the roots of this clash are ignored.
        Hussein Agha is a senior associate member of St Antony's College, Oxford. Robert Malley, director of the Middle East Program at the International Crisis Group, was special assistant for Arab-Israeli affairs to President Clinton (1998-2001). (New York Times)
  • Questions About the Two-State Solution - Jeffrey Goldberg
    Hussein Agha and Robert Malley make the following statement: "For years, virtually all attention has been focused on the question of a future Palestinian state, its borders and powers. As Israelis make plain by talking about the imperative of a Jewish state, and as Palestinians highlight when they evoke the refugees' rights, the heart of the matter is not necessarily how to define a state of Palestine. It is, as in a sense it always has been, how to define the State of Israel."
        Events are moving me into the camp of people who believe there isn't an actual solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and it seems as if events are moving Agha and Malley in this direction as well. But if they're arguing that the conflict will only end when Israel ceases to define itself as a Jewish state, they should say it outright. It's not an appealing notion - that there is room in the Middle East for twenty-three Muslim-majority states, but not room enough for one Jewish state. (Atlantic Monthly)
  • The One-State Solution Is a Fraud - Marty Peretz
    Why the essential Jewish character of Israel should be problematic when all of the neighboring states define themselves as both Arab and Muslim is difficult to assess. (New Republic)
  • Israelis, Palestinians and History - David Harris
    In discussing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, Agha and Malley stress dislocation and subsequent refugee status as core Palestinian grievances. But the Palestinians became refugees, in large measure, because of bad choices they made, especially rejecting the 1947 UN partition plan and joining a war to destroy the new State of Israel. Since then, the UN has protected the Palestinians by creating a separate agency, UNRWA, while all other refugees worldwide are under the mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. A separate definition of refugee eligibility has been created for Palestinians, allowing their descendants, without limitation, to fall under the purview of UNRWA, thus perpetuating a culture of victimization.
        Isn't it high time for the Palestinians to confront current realities and historical failures, and move on to embrace a pragmatic peace accord that promises a better future for all, Israelis and Palestinians alike? The writer is executive director of the American Jewish Committee. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    How to Solve the Arab-Israeli Conflict - Khaled Abu Toameh (Hudson Institute New York)

    • While recent reports about an "economic boom" in the West Bank may be exaggerated, there's no ignoring the fact that there has been improvement in the living conditions of the Palestinians living there, mainly the result of a U.S.-led effort to boost "moderate" Palestinians and thwart any attempt by Hamas to extend its control to the West Bank.
    • However, the billions of dollars won't change Palestinians' negative attitude toward Israel, especially not when anti-Israel incitement and fiery rhetoric continue. The donors must insist on an end to incitement and inflammatory statements.
    • This conflict is actually about accepting Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people in this part of the world. The Palestinian media should be asked to "lower the tone" and start relating to Israel as a potential peace partner and not as an alien body that needs to be uprooted from the Middle East.

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