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September 25, 2009

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Iran's Missile Program Making Steady Progress - Interview with Uzi Rubin (Iran Watch)
    Previously, achieving accuracy was a daunting challenge that required the top technological brains in the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Today, you can buy GPS accuracy in any consumer electronics shop for less than $200.
    You still have to design a GPS system that will withstand acceleration and work in a vacuum, but that's a project for graduate students in aeronautical engineering at Tehran University. It doesn't require any great ingenuity.
    So Iran can make the missiles as accurate as they wish. An off-the-shelf GPS is accurate to the width of a street - 20 meters.
    Iran is building long-range strike power through missiles. And not only Iran is doing this, so is Syria, Hizbullah, Hamas...for them, the rocket is king, not the combat aircraft.
    Iran is making a lot of missiles...not just for saturation but also to take out specific targets. They believe that their cluster warheads can take out airfields.
    The writer oversaw the development of Israel's Arrow anti-missile defense system.
    See also New Developments in Iran's Missile Capabilities: Implications Beyond the Middle East - Uzi Rubin (ICA-Jerusalem Center)

Illinois Divests $133M from Companies Doing Business with Iran - Jane Charney (Jewish Federation of Chicago)
    Illinois State Sen. Jeff Schoenberg and Rep. Lou Lang announced Thursday the results of a significant state-level effort to curb Iran's nuclear threat: the divestment of $133 million in state pension funds from foreign companies doing business with Iran's energy sector.

British Army Chief Makes Secret Visit to Israel - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    The British chief of the defense staff, Sir Jock Stirrup, made a secret trip to Israel this week.
    An Israeli Foreign Ministry source said the visit reflects the upgraded military ties between Britain and Israel.
    The IDF was interested in arranging reciprocal visits to Britain by IDF officers, but such visits could not take place until Britain enacted legislation barring legal claims against Israeli officers for anti-terror action in the West Bank and Gaza, as occurred in the prominent case involving Maj. Gen. Doron Almog.

Foreign Office Official Convicted of Anti-Semitic Harassment - Riazat Butt (Guardian-UK)
    Rowan Laxton, who headed the British Foreign Office South Asia desk, was convicted Thursday of racially aggravated harassment after he launched an expletive-ridden tirade against Israel and Jews as he worked out at a London gym.
    Laxton was suspended from his post after the outburst and could now be sacked.

International Prosecutor May Charge Israeli with War Crimes - Dan Ephron (Newsweek-Ha'aretz)
    The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, is considering an investigation of IDF Lt. Col. David Benjamin for war crimes in Gaza.
    Benjamin served in the Military Advocate General's international law department, which authorized which targets troops would strike before and during the operation.
    Israel did not sign the treaty that created the ICC and thus is outside its jurisdiction, but the prosecutor believes he has the authority he needs to launch an inquiry: Benjamin holds dual citizenship in both Israel and South Africa, which has signed the ICC's charter, bringing Benjamin into the court's orbit.
    Benjamin said he was out of the country during most of the Gaza operation and had no role in its planning.

UN Marks 60th Year of Aid to Palestinian Refugees - Karin Laub (AP)
    The UN Relief and Works Agency was founded in 1949 to help Palestinians uprooted during the Mideast war of 1948.
    Today, it runs clinics, schools and social services for some 4.6 million refugees and their descendants in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
    In marking its 60th anniversary Thursday, the cash-strapped UN aid agency asked the world for more generous funding.

Syria Reorganizes Intelligence Services - Richard Sale (Washington Times)
    Syria's foreign intelligence operations have been transferred from the heavy-handed military intelligence agency, known as the Mukhabarat, to Syria's General Intelligence Agency (GI), which formerly handled domestic matters and now oversees relations with the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
    Richard Norton, a Levant specialist at Boston University, explained: "What Bashar [Assad] is doing is sidelining the old Ba'athist guard in military intelligence and replacing them with civilians loyal to himself."
    David Schenker, a Levant expert at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said, "Syria runs hot and cold. When they are interested in improving relations or pleasing us, they toss us a bone or they look to protect their flank."
    He said that the day after the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, Syrian intelligence delivered a high-value target to U.S. operatives in the hope of deflecting popular outrage at Syria's alleged responsibility for the murder.
    U.S. officials say Syria still permits some Arab suicide bombers to transit into Iraq and controls much of Lebanon's economy by means of counterfeiting, money laundering, and drug trafficking.

Marine Corps Base Targeted in Jihad Plot - Ben Conery (Washington Times)
    Already charged with plotting to wage jihad overseas, Daniel Patrick Boyd, a Muslim convert, is now accused of obtaining a map of the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., and conducting surveillance there to help plan an attack, according to a new indictment unsealed Thursday.
    "These additional charges hammer home the grim reality that today's homegrown terrorists are not limiting their violent plans to locations overseas," U.S. Attorney George Holding said Thursday, "but instead are willing to set their sights on American citizens and American targets, right here at home."

"Buycott" to Fight Boycott - Andy Levy-Ajzenkopf (Canadian Jewish News)
    The Canada-Israel Committee's new "Buycott Israel" initiative alerts members about boycott attempts on Israeli products in Canada, and in response urges mass purchasing in support of the products.
    To register, visit

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The Politics of the American Response to Global Anti-Semitism - Rafael Medoff (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    In 2005, Dr. Gregg Rickman was appointed as the first U.S. envoy to combat anti-Semitism. He left office when the new administration took office in January 2009, yet more than eight months later, no replacement has been named.
    It is surprising how far down anti-Semitism appears to have slid on the new administration's list of priorities, particularly when it was the Democrats who fought so hard to create the position over the vehement opposition of the Bush administration.
    Foot-dragging on the selection sends a message that anti-Semitism is not of great importance to the U.S.
    The writer is founding director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.

Jerusalem Shows Its Hip Secular Side - David Kaufman (New York Times)
    There is a secular, sophisticated Jerusalem far removed from the churches, synagogues and mosques at its core.
    Leading local institutions such as the Israel Museum, the annual Israel Festival, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Bezalel Arts Academy have given Jerusalem an urban edge.
    From its westernmost entry point to the gates of the Old City, its bustling downtown to the hills of Givat Ram and the valley of Ein Kerem, slick, design-driven, architecturally important new hotels, restaurants and cultural facilities are appearing across the city.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Reveals Second Uranium Enrichment Site
    Iran has revealed to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohammed ElBaradei the existence of a second uranium enrichment plant, sources are quoted as saying. The development encourages fears that Iran has other secret facilities that could be used to make a nuclear bomb. (BBC News)
        See also U.S.: Iran Has Secret Nuclear Fuel Facility - David E. Sanger
    President Obama and the leaders of Britain and France will accuse Iran Friday of building a secret underground plant to manufacture nuclear fuel, saying it has hidden the covert operation from international weapons inspectors for years. The three countries will demand that Iran allow an immediate IAEA inspection of the facility, said to be 100 miles southwest of Tehran. The newly discovered enrichment plant is not yet in operation, American officials said, but could be next year. American officials said Thursday they believe the facility was designed to hold about 3,000 centrifuges. (New York Times)
        See also Iranian Exiles Identify Two New Sites of Nuclear Bomb Research - Edward Cody
    An Iranian exile group, the Paris-based Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MEK), said Thursday it has identified two previously unknown sites in and near Tehran where Iranian scientists are researching and trying to manufacture detonators for nuclear weapons. Mehdi Abrishamchi, a senior member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, said the two sites were part of the Research Center for Explosion and Impact under the Defense Ministry.
        At one site in Tehran, scientists carry out computer simulations and other experiments to reach an effective design for high-explosive impact and penetration devices that could serve to detonate a nuclear weapon. The second site, about 20 miles east of Tehran, is used to manufacture parts needed to construct the detonators. Abrishamchi said the two sites are continuing work that was being done at Shian, a facility that was razed by Iranian authorities after being denounced by the MEK in 2003. He called on the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect the sites as quickly as possible. (Washington Post)
  • Quartet Calls on Israel, Palestinians to Ignore Roadmap Reciprocity
    The Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators issued a statement Thursday that "calls on Israel and the Palestinians to act on their previous agreements and obligations - in particular adherence to the Roadmap, irrespective of reciprocity - to create the conditions for the resumption of negotiations in the near term."  (U.S. State Department)
  • China Opposes New Iran Sanctions - Andrew Jacobs
    China will not support increased sanctions on Iran as a way to curb its nuclear program, Jiang Yu, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, said Thursday. "We always believe that sanctions and pressure are not the way out," she said. The announcement is sure to complicate President Obama's efforts to impose tougher penalties on Iran, should international talks over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, scheduled for Oct. 1, fail to make headway. (New York Times)
  • Terror Suspect in U.S. Bought Bomb Ingredients - David Johnston and Scott Shane
    Documents filed in court against Najibullah Zazi contend he bought chemicals needed to build a bomb and in doing so took a critical step made by few other recent terrorism suspects in the U.S. Zazi, a legal immigrant from Afghanistan, attended an al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan, received training in explosives, and stored in his laptop computer nine pages of instructions for making bombs from the same kind of chemicals he had bought.
        Dr. Jarret Brachman, a consultant to the government about terrorism, said the case was "shaping up to be one of the most serious terrorist bomb plots developed in the United States," one resembling the London public transit attacks of July 2005. "You don't manufacture homemade TATP explosives unless you want to kill people and destroy infrastructure," he said. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel: UNESCO Was Right to Reject Farouk Hosni - Haviv Rettig Gur
    "Farouk Hosni's latest anti-Semitic outburst shows that UNESCO was right not to elect him to the head of an organization that is supposed to combat the epidemic of anti-Semitism around the world," a senior Israeli official said Thursday. Hosni said Wednesday that a Western conspiracy "cooked up in New York" prevented him from winning, and that "European countries and the world's Jews" wanted him to lose. The official said, "the primitive notion that Jews are to blame for everything is not fitting for someone who competed for the job of UNESCO head."
        Israel had not opposed his candidacy after Prime Minister Netanyahu reached a deal over the matter with Egyptian President Mubarak. Official Israel remains mum over Hosni's loss, seeking to avoid tension with Egypt. (Jerusalem Post)
  • What to Do for Mideast Peace - Aluf Benn
    In New York, President Obama spoke of the critical importance of solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but Israelis don't think the establishment of a state headed by Abbas will improve their situation in any way. The Israeli political center in effect accepts the assessment of Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Lieberman that a solution to the problem is not possible, that the Arabs will never recognize a Jewish state, and that Israel's only strategic option is deterrence backed by the use of force. On Wednesday at the UN, Obama spoke of the "girl in Sderot who closes her eyes in fear that a rocket will take her life in the night." His concern is touching, but most Israelis believe that the Gaza operation reassured the children of Sderot far more than the peace process Obama proposes. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Time for Biting Economic Sanctions on Iran - Thomas L. Friedman
    After stealing June's elections, Ahmadinejad's ruling cartel is now more unpopular and illegitimate than ever. As a result, his government can ill afford real biting sanctions that would make life in Iran not only politically miserable but even more economically miserable - and his dictatorial clique even more unpopular. This is a brutal, cynical, corrupt, anti-Semitic regime that exploits the Palestinian cause and deliberately maintains a hostile posture to the West to justify its grip on power. A regime that relates to its own people with such coercive force is not going to be sweet-talked out of its nuclear program. Negotiating with such a regime without the reality of sanctions and the possibility of force is like playing baseball without a bat. (New York Times)
  • The Clocks Are Ticking on Iran - Doyle McManus
    On Oct. 1, the U.S. and other great powers will restart talks with Iran, a new round in a long and so far fruitless effort to stop Tehran's march toward nuclear weapons. How will the U.S. and its allies make this round different? First, by insisting on action, not words. Iran will have to slow its work on nuclear technology in some tangible way. "The measure of [the negotiating process] is that it affects their nuclear clock," a top U.S. official told me. Second, the negotiators will set a deadline for Iranian action: the end of the year, with no wiggle room. "The end of the year means the end of the year," the official stressed.
        That remorseless nuclear clock is very much on the administration's mind. U.S. officials say they believe Iran could achieve "breakout capability" - the ability to quickly build a nuclear weapon - in one to three years. There's also an Israeli clock. When Iranian leaders say they'd like to remove Israel from the map, Israelis - a sensitive people when it comes to their existence - take it literally. The October talks are designed to enable the Western powers to start a clock of their own: action from Iran or else "crippling sanctions," in Secretary of State Clinton's words. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also The Lengthening List of Iran Sanctions - Greg Bruno (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • The Chavez-Iran Alliance: A Menace to the Western Hemisphere - Jaime Daremblum
    Venezuela's burgeoning alliance with Iran represents the greatest threat to hemispheric stability since the Cold War. Both governments have supported international terrorist groups operating in South America (including Hizbullah). Both have embraced other terror-sponsoring regimes (such as Syria). Both have initiated an arms buildup. Both have pursued close military cooperation with Russia. Both share a visceral anti-Americanism and are committed to undermining U.S. interests throughout the Western Hemisphere. And, as announced earlier this month by both governments, Venezuela and Iran are now collaborating on the development of nuclear technology. The writer, who served as Costa Rica's ambassador to the U.S. from 1998 to 2004, is director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the Hudson Institute. (RealClearWorld)


  • A Palestinian State Established Prematurely Will Implode - Alon Pinkas
    It is an excruciating dilemma that the Palestinians cannot govern the West Bank effectively and guarantee security. A Palestinian state may be supported all around the world on grounds of self-determination, but if it is established prematurely, it will implode and fail. A failed state on its border is a perilous development that Israel cannot and should not accept, considering the Palestinians' proclivity for terrorism.
        Studying the past two decades of peacemaking and analyzing his predecessors' policies would indicate clearly to Obama that there is no causal relationship between the Israeli occupation and the Palestinians' failure to gain their desired state. While settlements are a perfectly legitimate issue for negotiations, the failure should be attributed to Palestinian recalcitrance and lack of statesmanship when it mattered most. Had the Palestinians accepted what was offered at Camp David in 2000, they would be celebrating their fifth independence day this year.
        One of the enduring conclusions Israelis draw from the past years of negotiations is that the Palestinians seem not to want to resolve "1967 issues" concerning borders and sovereignty. Rather, they reject any accommodation unless "1948 issues" - the very establishment of Israel (and refugees) - are dealt with to their full satisfaction. This is not realist statesmanship but a recipe for continued conflict. The writer is a former Israeli consul general in New York. (Politico)
  • Toward Peace in the Middle East - Aaron David Miller
    In the West Bank, a Palestinian Humpty Dumpty offers itself up as a prospective peace partner for Israel. Abbas and Fayyad are good, reasonable men who know that history compels them to do pragmatic diplomacy. But although they have the incentive to make peace with Israel, they do not have the power. Hamas, on the other hand, has the power but not the incentive to settle with Israel. Empowering Abbas makes sense on paper, but it is beyond the capacity of this Israeli government or even the U.S. The writer, a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, served as a U.S. Middle East negotiator. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Meet the Next Palestinian Leader - Barry Rubin
    Muhammad Ghaneim, often known as Abu Mahir, 72, is the leading candidate to succeed PA leader Mahmoud Abbas. A founding member of Fatah in 1959, Arafat appointed Ghaneim commander of Fatah's forces in Jordan in 1968. Ghaneim didn't return with Arafat in 1994 because he rejected the 1993 Oslo accords as too moderate. Only armed struggle, total victory, and Israel's destruction were worthy goals in his eyes. Finally, Ghaneim decided to return and support Mahmoud Abbas. But this is not the man to choose if your top priorities are making peace with Israel and maintaining good relations with the West. He is the man you would choose if you intend to reject compromise, rebuild links to Syria and Hamas, and perhaps return to armed struggle.
        At the Fatah Congress last month, Ghaneim finished first in the Central Committee elections, far ahead of every other candidate. Ghaneim's success, and the others elected, show that the old Arafat crowd is still in control. If Ghaneim becomes leader of Fatah, the PA, and the PLO, you can forget about peace. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Prime Minister Has No Mandate at Home - Ben White
    The U.S. and the international community have placed significant trust in the leadership of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Yet he lacks either a support base or affiliation to the main parties, Fatah and Hamas. Fayyad forms an important part of talking up the "peace process," but a poll revealed that only 24% of Palestinians saw his government as legitimate. Fayyad's Western media blitz and photo-op traversing of the West Bank are the moves of a man seeking to create a mandate from almost nothing. (Guardian-UK)
  • Peace Process or War Process? - Daniel Pipes
    Will trying harder or being more clever end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Palestinians interpreted previous Israeli efforts to "make peace" as signals of demoralization and weakness. "Painful concessions" made the Jewish state appear vulnerable, and incited irredentist dreams of annihilation. Each gesture by Israel further exhilarated, radicalized, and mobilized the Palestinian body politic to war.
        Wars end not through goodwill but through victory. Peace nearly always requires one side in a conflict to be defeated and thus give up its goals. Since 1993, the Arabs have sought victory while Israelis sought compromise. But to survive, Israelis eventually must return to their pre-1993 policy of convincing Palestinians and others that the Jewish state will endure and that dreams of elimination must fail. Israel need only deter the Palestinians, not the whole Arab and Muslim populations, which take their cues from the Palestinians and with time will follow their lead.
        Palestinian acceptance of Israel means overhauling the educational system to take out the demonization of Jews, telling the truth about Jewish ties to Jerusalem, and accepting normal commercial, cultural, and human relations with Israelis. Diplomacy aiming to shut down the Arab-Israeli conflict is premature until Palestinians give up their anti-Zionism. When that happy moment arrives, negotiations can re-open and take up anew the Oslo issues - borders, resources, armaments, sanctities, residential rights. But that is years or decades away. In the meantime, an ally needs to win. The writer is publisher of Middle East Quarterly and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. (Middle East Quarterly)
  • Palestinian Leaders Deny Jerusalem's Past - Bari Weiss
    Sheik Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, chief Islamic judge of the Palestinian Authority, says that Jews have no history in the city of Jerusalem: They have never lived there and the Temple never existed. His claims would be laughable if they weren't so common among Palestinians. As President Obama gears up to propose yet another plan for Israeli-Arab peace, he would do well to notice that top Palestinian intellectual and political leaders deny basic truths.
        Jerusalem is the holiest city in Judaism, mentioned more than 600 times in the Hebrew Bible. Three times a day, religious Jews face toward the city when they pray. At Jewish weddings, the couple shatters a glass to acknowledge Jerusalem's still unfulfilled redemption. The Koran itself refers to Solomon's Temple as a "great place of prayer" and the first Muslims referred to Jerusalem as the "City of the Temple." In 1924 the Supreme Muslim Council in Jerusalem published a booklet stating that the Temple Mount's "identity with the site of Solomon's Temple is beyond dispute."
        Palestinian leaders insist that Jews are transplants in the region, nothing more than white European colonialists. These sentiments are echoed in Palestinian primary-school textbooks, preached at mosques, and printed in official newspapers. The Palestinian leadership is stating, in full voice, that Israel has no right to its most basic historical and religious legacy. This is no foundation for "peace talks."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • How to Help Palestinians Leave Their Camps - Lenny Ben-David
    Recently announced plans for Rawabi, a new, upscale Palestinian settlement in the West Bank, are impressive. Why are Palestinian refugees stuck in refugee camps when new towns like Rawabi could be built for them? With the help of Gulf countries, any number of communities and industrial zones could be built on land controlled by the PA and Hamas for many who have been on the UNRWA dole for 60 years.
        Has any part of Rawabi been set aside for refugees? It's unlikely; it is apparent that Rawabi is to serve the housing needs of the grown children of the Palestinian bourgeois and the yuppie offspring of Palestinian Authority officials on the West Bank. The Palestinian track record dating back to 1947 provides little evidence that the Palestinians' new-found national identity trumps their clan, religious, political, or class differences. (National Review)

    The UN Goldstone Report

  • At the UN, Terrorism Pays - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak
    The UN Human Rights Council produced a 600-page report alleging that Israel carried out war crimes in Gaza. Enduring eight years of ongoing rocket fire, thousands of Israeli children living in southern Israel had to study, play, eat and sleep while being preoccupied about the distance to the nearest bomb shelter. When I accompanied then-presidential candidate Barack Obama on his visit to the shelled city of Sderot, he said: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing."
        When the Goldstone mission gathers testimony from local residents in Hamas-ruled Gaza, but forgets to ask them whether they happened to notice any armed Palestinians during the Israeli operation, or didn't realize that its impartially chosen witnesses happened to be known Hamas operatives according to Israeli intelligence, I begin to question the methodology of such a "fact-finding" effort. The time has come for us to put an end to this calculated erosion of common sense. Democracies should be concentrating on defending themselves from extremism - not from accusations by kangaroo courts. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also How the Goldstone Commission Understated the Hamas Threat to Palestinian Civilians - Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi (ICA-Jerusalem Center)
  • Response to the UN Report
    The report represents a political assault directed against Israel and against every state forced to confront terrorist threats. It advances a narrative which ignores the threats to Israeli civilians, as well as Israel's extensive diplomatic and political efforts to avoid the outbreak of hostilities. The report engages in creative editing, misrepresentations of facts and law, and repeatedly adopts evidentiary double standards, attributing credibility to every anti-Israel allegation, and invariably dismissing evidence that indicates any wrongdoing by Hamas. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Goldstone Report Is a Barrier to Peace - Alan Dershowitz
    There are many things wrong with the Goldstone report, which accuses Israel of deliberately targeting civilians in order to punish the people of Gaza. First, its primary conclusions are entirely false as a matter of demonstrable fact. Second, it defames one of the most moral military forces in the world, along with one of the most responsive legal systems and one of the freest nations in the world when it comes to dissent. Third, it destroys the credibility of "international human rights," and proves that this honorable concept has been hijacked for political purposes directed primarily against one nation - Israel.
        But fourth, and most important, it has set back prospects of peace by making it far more difficult for Israel to withdraw from the West Bank. If Israel were to leave, rockets fired from the West Bank would endanger far more Israeli civilians and threaten to close Ben-Gurion Airport. Israel now knows that if it were to try to defend itself against such rockets, it would once again be condemned by the UN. (Hudson Institute New York)
        See also Goldstone Report an Attack on Israel - Alan Dershowitz (Huffington Post)
  • A Case of Moral Blindness - Isaac Ben-Israel
    During our War of Independence, our enemies sought to exterminate us. We fought for our lives and sustained blows (we lost about 1% of our population), but we also hit our enemies hard and prompted what they refer to as their "Nakba." At the end of the day, the blow they sustained was graver than the one we did, yet in our view it was a just war because our enemies launched it with the intention of exterminating us.
        The Goldstone Report judges the results, not the intentions. In the view of its drafters, any war, even if it is an act of self-defense and even if it is just, constitutes a crime - because its results are terrible. The report constitutes a case of moral blindness that does not distinguish between aggressors and victims. Knesset Member Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Isaac Ben-Israel was the head of IDF R&D and chairman of the Israel Space Agency. (Ynet News)
  • UN Report a Victory for Terror - Michael Oren
    Just as the U.S. entered Afghanistan in response to an unprovoked attack on American civilians in 2001, so, too, did Israel's intervention, which followed more than 7,000 Hamas rocket and mortar strikes on Israeli towns and villages since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. Given the UN Human Rights Commission's silence in the face of this aggression, and Hamas' rejection of Israeli offers to renew a cease-fire, Israel exercised its unassailable right to defend its citizens.
        The UN report is not about justice. Rather, it is the latest initiative designed to delegitimize Israel and deny its right to self-defense. The UN report not only endangers Israel. It bestows virtual immunity on terrorists and ties the hands of any nation to protect itself. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the U.S. (Boston Globe)
  • Geopolitics, Human Rights and Israel - Jeffrey Robbins
    On the subject of Israel, the die is always cast at the Human Rights Council, for reasons that have everything to do with geopolitics, and little to do with human rights. Dominated by the overlapping trifecta of the Organization of Islamic Conference, the formidable purchasing power of petrodollars, and a political war against Israel that continues to metastasize, the Council regularly devotes most of its agenda to denouncing Israel. Therefore, the Council's most recent denunciation of Israel's latest attempt to stop those pledged to annihilating it from rocketing its civilians as "crimes against humanity" was unsurprising.
        What exactly should Israel be expected to do in the face of the unrelenting assaults on its civilians? Should it really be required to endure them indefinitely, and to do nothing to stop them, because to do so will, thanks to the positioning of those launching the assaults, endanger civilians? Is there really any country that would be expected to do so? The writer was a U.S. delegate to the UN Human Rights Commission during the Clinton administration. (Boston Globe)
        See also The Catastrophe at the UN Human Rights Council - Lauren Vriens
    Despite a high-profile effort to reform the world's top human-rights panel, the new UN Human Rights Council continues to face the same criticisms that plagued its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights - including bloc voting, loose membership standards, and bias against Israel. (Newsweek)
  • When Everything Is a Crime - Yagil Henkin
    In April 2002, Israel was accused of committing massive war crimes during Operation Defensive Shield. These claims primarily focused on the battle in Jenin, where 52 Palestinians were killed, most of them combatants, and 23 IDF soldiers lost their lives. In Jenin, the IDF began using tanks only after 40 hours of battle, and employed bulldozers to create safe passageways only after an ambush killed thirteen IDF soldiers. No artillery was used, and no bombs were dropped.
        The wholesale condemnation of the IDF in the wake of Defensive Shield contributed to the IDF taking a different approach during the Gaza operation. Thus, human rights organizations caused more harm than good to their case, since wild claims and exaggerations after Defensive Shield contributed to Israel's change of tactics in Gaza. If you not only act in accordance with international law but go above and beyond the legal requirements to minimize collateral damage, while paying the price in soldiers' lives, yet are still blamed for "massacres," and treated worse than countries that have committed them, the incentives to make this extra effort are inconsequential. Organizations that blame Israel for "lack of proportionality" should first examine themselves and their claims - since their own lack of proportionality also affects human lives. The writer is an associate fellow at the Adelson Institute. (Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies-Shalem Center)

    Other Issues

  • The Stumbling Block of the Arab Initiative - Shlomo Avineri
    In the wake of a Sep. 12 op-ed in the New York Times by Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia, it seems possible to better understand the Arab League's peace initiative, since the prince is in great part the moving spirit behind the Arab initiative. The Arab initiative does not speak of negotiations. It demands that Israel first withdraw from all the territories (including east Jerusalem) - involving the evacuation of more than a quarter million Israelis - and only then will negotiations on the normalization of relations and on the refugees begin. This is truly not a serious proposal. It does not matter how peace-hungry Israelis interpret the Arab initiative. We have been given an authorized interpretation by one of the people behind it.
        The initiative should not be ignored, because it includes an Arab declaration of willingness for peace, but its meaning should not be mistaken. At this stage it is not calling for negotiations, but rather unconditional acceptance of the Arab position, and that is also its main stumbling block. The writer is former director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Ha'aretz)
  • Nudging Israel for Peace - David Harsanyi
    The U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists - but we insist Israel do so without preconditions. We will remove missile defense systems in Eastern Europe so we do not needlessly provoke our good friends in Russia - but we have no compunction nudging Israel to hand over territory with nothing in return. The last time Israel withdrew from disputed lands without pre-conditions to allow the potential of the Palestinian people to shine through was in Gaza. The Arabs, hungering for the light of freedom, used the gift to elect Hamas - now an Iranian proxy and always a terror organization - to rain rockets down on the civilians that voted to allow the first democratic Arab entity in history.
        If the president really anticipates a Palestinian state will be "contiguous territory," what he expects is that Israel can't be contiguous. And when he uses the word "occupation," he is negotiating for the Palestinians. None of the lands up for discussion are "occupied" territory. There has never, in history, been a Palestinian state to occupy. Why would the U.S. support an arrangement that scrubs the West Bank of all its Jews? Why is it so unconscionable to imagine that Jews could live among Muslims in the same way millions of Arabs live within Israel proper? Of course, we all know the answer to this question: Jews would be slaughtered, bombed from their homes, rocketed from their schools. This indisputable fact reveals the fundamental reality of these negotiations. (Denver Post)
  • Trade Unions Should Focus on Iran, Not Israel - Benny Weinthal and Eric Lee
    The decision Britain's Trades Union Congress (TUC) took to support boycotts, sanctions and divestment targeting Israel was the wrong one. The energetic campaign to target the most democratic and lively trade union federation in the Middle East, the Israeli Histadrut, is a disappointing case of misplaced priorities. Iran, not Israel, should have been the focus of TUC attention this year. The Iranian regime's wholesale destruction of independent labor activity includes the imprisonment of key trade union leaders.
        Iranian workers would give anything to have the political freedoms, including the right to strike, that Israelis - including Israeli Arabs - have had for decades. That helps to explain why more than 40 North American unions as well as continental Europe's largest trade union movement, the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB), vehemently oppose boycotts of Israel. (Guardian-UK)
  • Observations:

    Israel to the UN: The Jewish People Are Not Foreign Conquerors in the Land of Israel (Prime Minister's Office)

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly on Thursday:

    • Nearly 62 years ago, the United Nations recognized the right of the Jews, an ancient people 3,500-years-old, to a state of their own in their ancestral homeland. Yesterday, the man [Ahmadinejad] who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. To those who refused to come here and to those who left this room in protest, I commend you. You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honor to your countries.
    • The Iranian regime is fueled by an extreme fundamentalism that burst onto the world scene three decades ago. The struggle against this fanaticism pits civilization against barbarism, the 21st century against the 9th century, those who sanctify life against those who glorify death. If the most primitive fanaticism can acquire the most deadly weapons, the march of history could be reversed. The greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and the weapons of mass destruction, and the most urgent challenge facing this body is to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
    • A recent UN report on Gaza falsely equated the terrorists with those they targeted. For eight long years, Hamas fired from Gaza thousands of missiles, mortars and rockets on nearby Israeli cities while not a single UN resolution was passed condemning those criminal attacks. In 2005, hoping to advance peace, Israel unilaterally withdrew from every inch of Gaza. We didn't get peace. Instead we got an Iranian-backed terror base fifty miles from Tel Aviv. Life in Israeli towns and cities next to Gaza became a nightmare.
    • All of Israel wants peace. If the Palestinians truly want peace, I and my government, and the people of Israel, will make peace. But we want a genuine peace, a defensible peace, a permanent peace. In 1947, this body voted to establish two states for two peoples - a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews accepted that resolution. The Arabs rejected it. We ask the Palestinians to finally do what they have refused to do for 62 years: Say yes to a Jewish state. The Jewish people are not foreign conquerors in the Land of Israel. This is the land of our forefathers.
    • We recognize that the Palestinians also live there and want a home of their own. We want to live side by side with them, two free peoples living in peace, prosperity and dignity. But we don't want another Gaza, another Iranian-backed terror base, abutting Jerusalem and perched on the hills a few kilometers from Tel Aviv. The Palestinians should have all the powers to govern themselves except those handful of powers that could endanger Israel.

          Video: View Netanyahu's UN Speech (YouTube)

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