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September 9, 2009

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Iranian Missiles in South America? The Emerging Axis of Iran and Venezuela - Robert M. Morgenthau (Wall Street Journal)
    With the election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, the relationship between Iran and Venezuela dramatically changed. Today Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have created a cozy financial, political and military partnership rooted in a shared anti-American animus.
    Over the past three years a number of Iranian-owned and controlled factories have sprung up in remote and undeveloped parts of Venezuela - ideal locations for the illicit production of weapons.
    Two of the world's most dangerous regimes, members of a self-described "axis of unity," will be acting together in our backyard on the development of nuclear and missile technology.
    The writer, the Manhattan district attorney, adapted this from a presentation Monday at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
    See also Venezuela to Export Gasoline to Iran - Ali Akbar Dareini (AP)
    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez sealed an agreement to export 20,000 barrels per day of gasoline to Iran, state TV reported Monday.

Al-Qaeda's Threat Has Not Gone Away - Andy Hayman (Times-UK)
    The magnitude and savagery of the attack eight years ago on Sept. 11 announced the arrival of al-Qaeda on the global stage - a terrorist group with the desire and capacity to mount indiscriminate suicide attacks causing mass loss of life.
    Between 2003 and 2006, not a year passed without the UK being the target of a serious al-Qaeda-directed plot.
    Some commentators argue that the worst is over. That is a theory I cannot buy into.
    The threat level has been reduced because known intelligence is telling the authorities that al-Qaeda is not as potent as it was a few years ago. But that should be seen as a short-term position. This is a lull in hostilities, not a cessation.
    The writer was Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations at Scotland Yard in 2005-08.

Experts or Ideologues? Human Rights Watch's Focus on Israel (NGO Monitor)
    This detailed, empirical research study reviews HRW's activities concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict from 2001 through the middle of 2009.
    Our investigation shows a consistent pattern of ideological bias, lack of professional qualifications, and unsupported claims based on faulty evidence and analysis.
    Five detailed case studies of HRW campaigns and publications show consistent bias, false and contradictory statements, and the use of irrelevant evidence and inappropriate methodologies that are neither credible nor verifiable.
    A broader quantitative analysis of HRW publications from 2002 to 2009 shows greatly disproportionate emphasis on Israel, double standards in the use of terminology such as "war crimes" and "collective punishment," and distorted use of international legal terminology.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Netanyahu Makes Secret Visit to Russia over Iran
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Moscow on Monday to discuss Russian arms sales to arch-foes Iran and Syria, Yediot Ahronot reported Wednesday. (AFP)
        See also Netanyahu Pays Secret Visit to Russia - Barak Ravid
    A senior Jerusalem official confirmed Wednesday that Prime Minister Netanyahu visited Russia on Monday in order to discuss the Kremlin's arms deals with Iran and Syria, and the transfer of Russian military hardware to Hizbullah. Israel reportedly presented Russian officials with evidence that a great deal of Russian weaponry was making its way to Hizbullah, posing a serious threat to Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Iranian Cleric Stands His Ground Against Authorities - Ramin Mostaghim and Borzou Daragahi
    White-turbaned cleric Mehdi Karroubi, 72, was a confidant of Ayatollah Khomeini and served seven years as speaker of parliament. In the wake of Iran's disputed presidential election, he has become the fiery heart of a protest movement that has shaken the republic's foundations. On Tuesday, Iranian authorities stormed his party's headquarters and arrested Mohammad Davari, editor of his website. They also arrested Ali-Reza Beheshti, a top aide to Karroubi's ally Mir-Hossein Mousavi.
        Karroubi's popular daily newspaper was shut down weeks ago. Hard-line commanders of the Revolutionary Guard and President Ahmadinejad have repeatedly called for his arrest. Karroubi has called for opposition supporters to join in street rallies Sept. 18 during Quds Day celebrations, an annual march in support of Palestinians and against Israel. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Iran's Revolution? The Hardliners Won - Simon Tisdall
    What happened to the Iranian revolution of 2009? The hardliners won. A raid on the Tehran office of vanquished presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, crude threats against leading opposition figures, pre-emptive arrests of students returning to university, more fierce rhetoric aimed at foreign "plotters" - these are the latest unpleasant manifestations of the regime's retrenchment. Ahmadinejad's reviving confidence is evident, too, in his mockery of Western countries keen to revive talks about Iran's nuclear program. Is Iran taking Western concerns seriously? No, it is not.
        Two choices remain. One is to admit the Israelis may be right in arguing that military action is the only sure way to hinder or stop Iran's nuclear advances. The other is to do nothing - and hope that Iran's repeated assurances that it does not seek the atom bomb are true. (Guardian-UK)
  • Wrong Man for Top Job at UNESCO? - Edward Cody
    Egypt's Culture Minister Farouk Hosni, 71, seemed like a shoo-in to become UNESCO's next director general. But as pre-election maneuvers got underway this week at the Paris headquarters of UNESCO, Hosni's chances were clouded by a chorus of charges that he is the wrong man for the job - specifically that he is filled with unremitting hatred for Israel and has long played a key role in Egypt's stultifying censorship bureaucracy. The controversy has put the U.S. and other Western allies of Egypt in an uncomfortable position. Egyptian President Mubarak has made Hosni's election a point of honor for his government.
        A senior administration official in Washington said, "There's no way we can support this guy....We did everything we could to get the Egyptians to support another candidate." However, Israeli Foreign Ministry officials dropped their opposition after Prime Minister Netanyahu visited Cairo in May seeking Mubarak's cooperation in preventing arms smuggling to Gaza and other issues important to the Jewish state. Voting begins Sept. 17 and can last several days. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Defense Official Warns of Hizbullah Threat If Iran Gets Nukes
    Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, told the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism Tuesday: "The good news is that there is deterrence before Hamas and Hizbullah, based on the image that Israel is intent on destroying each of them." However, he warned that the threat from Hizbullah would become more severe if Iran obtained nuclear weapons. "It won't be a terror threat but a military threat based on deterrence, and they will have a free hand in committing a large-scale terror attack without fear of an Israeli response."  (Ynet News)
        See also Gilad: Syria Losing Clout over Hizbullah (Reuters-Ha'aretz)
  • Egypt Briefs U.S. on Gaza Tunnel Sensors
    U.S. military officials were briefed by Egyptian security officials Tuesday about U.S.-backed counter-smuggling efforts at the Gaza border. The U.S. officials came to check the installation of sensing equipment designed to locate underground tunnels used by smugglers. Egyptian security sources said the underground sensors along the border has already begun to work and had successfully discovered some tunnels. (Maan News-PA)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Palestinian Children Taught Holocaust Revisionism in School - Editorial
    Palestinian refugee camp committees complained to the UN that a proposed change to the Gaza school curriculum "confirms the Holocaust and raises sympathy for Jews." The camp committees said they "categorically refuse to let our children be taught this lie created by the Jews and intensified by their media." Children in Gaza are raised on a diet of unreasoning, bitter hatred against Jews, the better to inspire them to grow up to be radicals, terrorists and suicide bombers. Learning about the Holocaust might introduce more beneficial emotions, like empathy, understanding and compassion. Start down that road, and who knows where it could lead. Peace, perhaps. (Washington Times)
  • Tel Aviv Tiff at Toronto Film Festival - Editorial
    "Tel Aviv is built on destroyed Palestinian villages" observes an ad hoc committee of artists and filmmakers heaping scorn on the Toronto International Film Festival for daring to program a Tel Aviv segment, as Israel's biggest city marks its 100th anniversary. While the UN awarded Tel Aviv to Israel more than six decades ago, the subtext is that Tel Aviv is akin to an illegal Jewish settlement.
        Anti-Israel diatribes are becoming a bore: Complaints against the Royal Ontario Museum for showing Israel's biblical Dead Sea Scrolls; "Israel Apartheid Week" for high-minded student activists; public employee union locals calling for a boycott of Israeli academics; and the latest Pride parade featuring a float that attacked gay-friendly Israel for apartheid policies (ignoring other Middle Eastern regimes that persecute gays).
        What a strange plot twist: Canadian filmmakers who pay lip service to free expression trying to bring the curtains down on Israeli filmmakers whose art is tainted by their Tel Aviv origins. But why not castigate city hall for twinning Toronto with Chongqing, given China's human rights abuses? Or demand that Toronto sever its "friendship" links with Volgograd because of Russia's political sins? Tel Aviv, it seems, makes for a more tempting target. (Toronto Star)
        See also Boycotting Israeli Films Is Just the Beginning - James Morton and Karen Mock
    The usual suspects are deploring the Toronto Film Festival's spotlight on Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv can indeed be highlighted as a beautiful city by the ocean, founded near Jaffa a century ago by idealists who dreamed of Jews being accepted as just another nation among nations. Secular and diverse, Tel Aviv is a success story. Ironically, Israel is the only state in the Middle East where films are made freely and without censorship of any sort. Its film industry benefits Israelis of all racial and religious backgrounds. It is the only country in the region where a film festival like the Toronto Film Festival could be held. (National Post-Canada)
  • Anti-Israel Bias at the New UN Website - Anne Bayefsky
    The UN has just rolled out a new, overhauled website and the amount of UN webspace dedicated only to Palestinian claims is huge. There is the "UN Information System on the Question of Palestine," and the anti-Israel "NGO network on the Question of Palestine." Added to that is the material churned out by the only UN Division focused on a single people - the UN Division on Palestinian Rights. Then there is the UN Human Rights Council, which has adopted more resolutions and decisions condemning Israel than all other 191 UN states combined. The writer is director of Touro University's Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust. (New York Daily News)
  • Observations:   Elliott Abrams vs. Jimmy Carter: Round Two

    Terrorism Prevents Palestinian State - Elliott Abrams (Washington Post)

    • In his response to my Sept. 8 op-ed, Jimmy Carter continues his practice of assuming that his travelogues constitute evidence and dismissing data that contradict his claims.
    • The question is not whether Palestinians would prefer to see Israeli soldiers leave; no doubt they would, and no doubt those soldiers would rather be at home. But Carter overlooks the fact that after Israel captured the West Bank in 1967, it did not quickly institute a restricted road network or travel restrictions on Palestinians, nor did it build its security fence. Those came decades later, in the face of vicious acts of terrorism.
    • What puts Carter's goal of a two-state solution at risk is not settlements, but terrorism. It is terrorism that prevents Israel from leaving the West Bank entirely in Palestinian hands today, for Israelis learned a lesson after leaving Gaza and South Lebanon.
    • A negotiated settlement is still possible, and it does not require a settlement freeze; instead it requires that Palestinian terrorists stop trying to kill Israelis, or that a Palestinian government be in place that is ready, willing, and able to prevent them from succeeding.

          See also A Genuine Effort for Peace - Jimmy Carter (Washington Post)

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