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October 2, 2009

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Female Palestinian Security Prisoners Released in Exchange for Gilad Shalit Video - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    19 female Palestinian security prisoners were released Friday in exchange for a two-minute videotape of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in a deal brokered between Israel and Hamas.
    The prisoners were received with victory songs played over a loudspeaker system and Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is to greet the released prisoners at his office in Ramallah.
    14 of the released prisoners had been convicted of attempted murder.

Israelis Say Iran Report Boosts Case for Hard Line - Charles Levinson (Wall Street Journal)
    Israeli analysts said the revelation of a secret nuclear site belied Iran's claim that it has nothing to hide and is pursuing its nuclear program with purely peaceful motives.
    "If they don't have military intentions with their nuclear program, then why do they need a secret plant?" asked Dan Schueftan, the director of the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa.
    "Any sensible person cannot possibly doubt now that they have a military program and everything they are doing is directed at a military program."

Pressure Points to Make Iran Crumble - Rosemary Righter (Times-UK)
    Iran's nuclear program has long been a matter of intense national pride; but that is not the same as support for the bomb.
    Iranians broadly believed it when the mullahs assured them that Western claims of a secret plan to acquire nuclear weapons were lies. Millions now believe nothing that they are told by the regime.
    Any regime will cooperate if its interests are on the line. Sanctions will help, particularly if they hit the elite's wealth and the Revolutionary Guards' business empires.
    The cliche is that the West has no stomach for a fight. The threat from Iran cannot be mastered unless that cliche loses its currency.

Tehran's Worst Fear Is a Human Rights Campaign - Anne Applebaum (Slate)
    A sustained and well-funded human rights campaign must be a truly terrifying prospect for Iran.
    What if we told the Iranian regime that its insistence on pursuing nuclear weapons leaves us with no choice other than to increase funding for dissident exile groups, to smuggle money into the country, to bombard the airwaves with anti-regime television programming, and above all to publicize widely the myriad crimes of the Islamic Republic of Iran?
    What if President Obama held up a photograph of Neda, the young girl murdered by Iranian authorities, at his next press conference? What if he did that at every press conference?
    I bet that would unnerve President Ahmadinejad and even the supreme leader far more than the loss of some German machine tool imports or Dutch tomatoes.

No Doubt about Iran's Nuclear Intentions - Shaul Rosenfeld (Ynet News)
    Any logical person would realize that no state that is home to giant oil and gas reserves would be willing to pay intolerable economic, social, and diplomatic prices in order to acquire nuclear energy only for civilian needs.

Syria Seen Regaining Its Influence in Lebanon - Hussein Dakroub (AP/Washington Post)
    Earlier this year, Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa boasted that Damascus is stronger in Lebanon than it was when it maintained troops in the country.
    Lebanon's pro-Western politicians have been unable to form a government since winning June elections, and many of them blame Damascus, saying it is using its allies in Lebanon - led by Hizbullah - to stymie negotiations and show that nothing can get done without its say-so.
    The U.S. tried for the past four years to keep Syria out of Lebanon's politics and largely failed.
    Now the Obama administration's outreach has resulted in "the invigorating of Syria's role in the region, including Lebanon," said Wiam Wahhab, a pro-Syrian Lebanese politician.

Missiles Don't Win Wars - Guy Bechor (Ynet News)
    Our enemies are arming themselves with missiles all around us. More than these missiles are designed to be used, their aim is propaganda, deterrence, and to weaken our public.
    These missiles are a crime against humanity in every way, as they are being directed only at Israeli civilians.
    The military capabilities of Syria, Iran, Hamas, and Hizbullah are not highly developed. They arm themselves with missiles because then there is seemingly no need for tanks or advanced aircraft.
    However, missiles cannot decide wars. They are scary and they make for good photos, but no war has been decided only by missiles. Wars are decided by tanks, airplanes, and soldiers.
    The writer is a lecturer in Arab Law and Middle East Politics at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.

Report: Al-Qaeda-Linked Groups in Gaza Reject Hamas Proposal to Disarm - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
    Attempts by Hamas to disarm al-Qaeda-linked gunmen in Gaza have failed, the London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Friday.
    Hamas had offered the Jihad organizations in Gaza a full pardon and incorporation into Hamas' ranks.

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EU Sending Israeli Wind and Hydroelectric Turbines to Africa - Ehud Zion Waldoks (Jerusalem Post)
    Leviathan Energy announced this week that it has signed a letter of intent worth $2.5 million to provide wind and hydroelectric turbines to the Luxembourg Center of Excellence for Urban Renewable Energies, which will then transfer them to central Africa as part of the EU Cooperation Program.

Holocaust Traumas Still Cause Distress and Disrupt Sleep for Many Survivors - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    More than 60 years after World War II, many Holocaust survivors in Israel and the U.S. still experience anxiety, emotional distress and sleep disturbances, according to a study published Thursday in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
    Researchers interviewed 145 European-born Jews who had survived the Holocaust: 55 had been in concentration camps, 36 in ghettos or in hiding, and 54 had fled their countries to escape the Nazis.
    While anxiety disorders, emotional distress and sleep disturbances were more frequent among Holocaust survivors, symptoms of depressive disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder were no more common among Holocaust survivors than among a comparison group.

Justifying the Holocaust and Promoting a Second One - Manfred Gerstenfeld (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
    Although most current promotion of a second Holocaust focuses on the destruction of Israel, it also at times aims at Jews elsewhere.
    Sometimes the perpetrators refer to Hitler or the Germans as having failed to complete the extermination of the Jews and say their activities should be continued.
    One prominent variant of Holocaust promotion is propagating the view that the Jewish state is illegal and has no right to exist.
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad is the first head of state since World War II who regularly calls for actions that are tantamount to incitement of genocide.

Useful Reference:

The Only Existing Film Images of Anne Frank (Anne Frank House-Netherlands)
    July 22, 1941: The girl next door is getting married. Anne Frank is leaning out of the window of her house in Amsterdam to get a good look at the bride and groom.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran, Major Powers Reach Agreement on Series of Points - Glenn Kessler
    The U.S. and Iran on Thursday reached an agreement with major powers that would greatly reduce Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium and reset the diplomatic clock for a solution to Iran's nuclear ambitions. The sudden show of cooperation by Tehran reduces for now the threat of additional sanctions. Under the tentative deal, Iran would give up most of its enriched uranium to Russia in order for it to be converted into material for a medical research reactor in Tehran. Iran also agreed to let international inspectors visit the newly disclosed uranium-enrichment facility in Qom within two weeks, and then to attend another meeting with negotiators from the major powers by the end of the month.
        Despite the drama of sudden movement on an issue that has been in stalemate for seven years, all sides agreed that they are months, even years away from a resolution. The ultimate U.S. goal is suspension of Iran's uranium-enrichment activities - and Tehran insists that it will never take that step. (Washington Post)
        See also below Commentary: Geneva Talks Rehabilitate Iran's Beleaguered Regime - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
  • Obama Warns Iran: "Our Patience Is Not Unlimited" - Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller
    President Obama Thursday demanded that Iranian leaders take concrete actions to defuse international tensions regarding its nuclear program, beginning with allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency "full access" to Iran's nuclear facility at Qom within the next two weeks. "Our patience is not unlimited," he said. "The United States will not continue to negotiate indefinitely, and we are prepared to move towards increased pressure." He said Thursday's meeting "was a constructive beginning, but it must be followed with constructive action by the Iranian government."  (ABC News)
  • U.S. to PA: Peace Process More Important than Goldstone Report - Amy Teibel and Paisley Dodds
    The Palestinian Authority, under heavy pressure from the U.S., has withdrawn its support for a UN Human Rights Council resolution on alleged war crimes in Gaza, diplomats in Geneva said Thursday. Diplomats said the Palestinian delegation's surprise turnaround means any resolution on the Goldstone report would likely be delayed until next March. Arab and Muslim countries who control the body may be reluctant to press ahead with the resolution Friday without Palestinian support.
        A senior U.S. official said the Palestinian decision came after "intense diplomacy" by Washington to convince the Palestinian leadership that going ahead with the resolution would harm the Middle East peace process. The U.S. would likely block a referral of the issue to the International Criminal Court because of its close ties to Israel and out of fear that the same logic could be applied against U.S. officials engaged in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Washington already has reacted coolly toward the Goldstone report. (AP)
        See also UN Delays Action on Gaza War Report - Rory McCarthy (Guardian-UK)
  • Ex-Argentina President Charged with Obstructing Jewish Center Bombing Probe
    Argentina's former president Carlos Menem was charged Thursday with obstructing a probe into the 1994 bombing of a building housing Jewish charities in Argentina that killed 85 people and wounded some 300. Federal Judge Ariel Lijo charged Menem with "instigating" several crimes, including concealing evidence and abuse of authority. Lijo also charged the ex-president's brother Munir Menem, former intelligence services chief Hugo Anzorregui and retired judge Juan Jose Galeano. Buenos Aires accuses Iran of having masterminded the car bombing and of using the Lebanese militant group Hizbullah to execute it. (AFP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Netanyahu: "Strange" Palestinian Demands Holding Up Negotiations - Herb Keinon and Hilary Leila Krieger
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that the Palestinian demand for an absolute settlement freeze was holding up negotiations. The demand for a total freeze was "strange," Netanyahu said, since the PA never made similar demands of any previous Israeli government. Netanyahu told the cabinet that the U.S. has come out against a settlement freeze as a precondition for talks.
        Meanwhile, AP reported that Fatah Central Committee member Muhammad Dahlan said, "Settlements and negotiations are two parallel lines that will never meet." "There is systematic backtracking by President Obama," Dahlan said. "There is a changing of the foundations and reference points of the negotiations, and therefore I don't expect a quick return to negotiations."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel to Fight "Delegitimization" - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Netanyahu directed the defense, justice and foreign ministers at Thursday's cabinet meeting to present him with proposals by next week on how to fight what he called the delegitimization of Israel that goes beyond the Goldstone commission report. "We have to now deal with this trend of demonizing Israel," Netanyahu said. "It is bigger than Goldstone."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Quartet Discards the Principle of Reciprocity in Israeli-Palestinian Agreements - Dore Gold
    The Quartet issued a new policy statement in New York on September 24 about the state of Israeli-Palestinian contacts that was extremely disturbing. The statement discarded the principle of reciprocity, which is a fundamental axiom of international law. The Quartet called on both parties to "act on their previous agreements and obligations - in particular adherence to the Roadmap, irrespective of reciprocity." The Roadmap was issued in March 2003 by the Quartet, which was formed by the Bush administration to provide European states with a formal peacemaking role in exchange for gaining their support for the Iraq War.
        But the original Roadmap was "performance-based" - movement from one stage to the next was contingent upon the fulfillment by both Israelis and Palestinians of their respective responsibilities. The new formal position of the Quartet provides the final blow to the Roadmap's carefully structured conditionality. The writer is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former Israeli ambassador to the UN. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Geneva Talks Rehabilitate Iran's Beleaguered Regime - Editorial
    Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency won't find anything incriminating at the Qom facility. Having lied about it for years, the Iranians now have plenty of time to clean the place out. A freeze on enrichment used to be the U.S. precondition for talks with Iran. Now the U.S. and Europeans say that in exchange merely for a promise to send low-enriched uranium outside Iran for enrichment, they'll freeze any additional sanctions. Iran has timed its olive branch well. The Europeans are more frustrated with past Iranian stalling than is Washington and have started to hanker for tougher measures. Those demands will now be muted.
        Expect Iran to follow the North Korean model, stringing the West along, lying and wheedling, striking deals only to renege and start over. In the end, North Korea tested a nuclear device. On long evidence, the regime has no intention of stopping a nuclear program that would give it new power in the region, and new leverage against America. This supposed fresh start in Geneva only gives Ahmadinejad and Iran's mullahs new legitimacy. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Iran Has Bought Itself Time - But It Has Lots to Prove - Catherine Philp
    The most striking observation of diplomats negotiating with the Iranians was the gulf between the belligerent rhetoric pouring out of Tehran in recent days and the intense but more nuanced conversations inside the Geneva villa. Those involved said that last week's public unveiling of the underground plant at Qom was the game-changer - not just for Iran, but also for Russia, which made it clear that it was unimpressed by being lied to.
        Tehran has much to prove. While foreign reprocessing of its low-enriched uranium stockpiles would slow any sprint towards a nuclear bomb, the centrifuges keep spinning. And without a tougher inspections regime, Tehran's claims that the Qom plant was its only hidden site are hard to prove. The heat is off Iran for now - but it will not stay that way forever. (Times-UK)
  • Will Talks with West Recoup Iranian Regime's Legitimacy? - Gerald F. Seib
    Iran, it appears, was more cooperative than many expected in its talks about its nuclear program. The classic fear about such negotiations is that they become an end in themselves - that the goal of talking becomes continued talking. That's a particularly acute concern now, because of worries that Iran may string out the process precisely so it can keep enriching uranium. There's also a risk that the embattled Iranian regime may hope to use protracted negotiations because Its leaders see talking with world powers as helping them "recoup the enormous legitimacy they've ceded domestically" because of the summer's disputed presidential election, says Karim Sadjadpour, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Clock Is Ticking on Iran - Charles Krauthammer
    The Obama administration offered the outstretched hand, and it implied there was a deadline in mid-September for Iran to show its seriousness. What we got in mid-September was a five-page piece of gibberish on which the Iranians said they want to talk about saving the planet, et cetera, and not a word about the nuclear issue. They have declared the nuclear issue closed. Then last week, Obama announces the discovery of this facility in Qom, a secret enrichment site, which is obviously illegal and obviously overwhelming evidence of their desire to achieve a nuclear weapon.
        What we're getting is the Iranians stalling. And the reason this is not harmless, even though it is sort of a farcical dance, is because with every week that passes, and now over eight months, Iran is approaching the day in which it goes nuclear. And time is short. Everyone knows the clock is ticking. (FOX News)
  • A Nuclear Iran: The World Was Warned - Uri Dromi
    In 1993, when I was the spokesman of the Israeli government, my boss, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, made a dramatic turn in his perception about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Contrary to his previous declarations that the PLO was not a credible partner for peace, Rabin unexpectedly gave his blessing to the Oslo process. I was curious to find out what made him change his mind. He was not a man of elaborate explanations. Sometimes you just had to guess from his body language what made him tick. It was in the middle of an interview when a European journalist mentioned Iran in passing, that Rabin banged the table and said: "Exactly!'' The rest came out during a later interview: We have to mend fences with our closer neighbors (the Palestinians and Jordanians), Rabin said, so that we can brace ourselves to tackle the bigger challenge rising over the horizon: Iran. (Miami Herald)
  • Beware of Iranians Bearing Talks - Ray Takeyh
    The Western world knows Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the rabble-rouser, the Holocaust denier and the election-rigger. This week, they'll come to know another version of Ahmadinejad - a leader propelled by weakness at home, who will say he is willing to talk but may offer only tantalizing, unconvincing proposals. At this week's talks, Iran's representatives are likely to subtly hint of cooperation to come - but only if the talks continue. However, such gestures do not mean Iran is prepared to offer meaningful concessions and impose any restraints on its nuclear ambitions.
        With Iran, the U.S. should insist on discussing several issues: the nuclear program, of course, but also Iran's sponsorship of terrorism, its interference in the affairs of its neighbors and its human rights record. It is hard to see how Ahmadinejad could use such talks to relegitimize his tainted rule. Ahmadinejad should not be afforded the luxury of international forums and dialogue with the great powers without being held accountable for his country's flawed electoral processes and its entanglements in terrorism, as well as its nuclear violations. The writer, who until last month served as a senior adviser to the Obama administration on Iran, is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Washington Post)
  • Talk to Iran, But Keep a Plan B - Editorial
    Iran's apparent pursuit of nuclear weapons is the gravest security challenge facing the Obama administration. President Obama is running out of time to persuade Iran's leaders to accept safeguards such as outside inspections of nuclear sites and tight controls on enrichment that can keep the country's nuclear program from being used to build weapons. Obama's offer to negotiate with Iran is the right first step, but he also needs a backup plan if Iran refuses to budge. A nuclear-armed Iran would make the Middle East far more volatile. Apart from the risk that Iran might use or transfer nuclear weapons, some of its neighbors would likely seek their own nuclear weapons - multiplying the chance that a device will fall into the wrong hands. Obama must be prepared to impose more stringent sanctions if Iran's leaders continue to refuse to curb their nuclear ambitions. (Boston Globe)

    The Palestinians

  • Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's Two-Year Path to Palestinian Statehood: Implications for the Palestinian Authority and Israel - Dan Diker and Pinchas Inbari
    The one-sided establishment of a Palestinian state would contravene a key provision of the Oslo Interim Agreement, according to which: "Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status agreement." Hizbullah's 4,000 rocket attacks from the north in 2006 and Hamas' 10,000 rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, culminating in the 2009 Gaza war, both underscore the potential rocket threat against Israel's cities that could emerge from a Palestinian state in the West Bank if Israel were to withdraw to the pre-1967 lines. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Will American Training of PA Forces Be Utilized to Kill Israelis? - Aaron Klein
    Training received at American-run courses for Palestinian militiamen will likely be utilized to kill Israelis, U.S.-trained Palestinian gunmen said this week. Seven members of the PA security forces interviewed were former leaders of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist group who were granted amnesty by Israel as part of a gesture to bolster PA Chairman Abbas' Fatah organization against Hamas.
        Asked why they agreed to be interviewed, one former Brigades leader replied, "Because we know people call us [U.S. Gen.] Dayton's poodles, and we want everyone to know that in the next intifada we will be the leaders." "All the training we received from Dayton and company will not affect our loyalty to our people and the resistance," he said. "The minute we see the negotiations with Israel are in vain, we will lead the confrontation just like we led it in the last intifada," said another of the gunmen. "What we received from Dayton, we will use when the day comes for a confrontation," another said. (WorldNetDaily)
  • Is the Palestinian Authority at Peace with Israel? - Khaled Abu Toameh
    During the day, the PA acts and speaks as if its leaders had never signed a peace treaty with Israel. During the day, Israel is the enemy that continues to deny the Palestinians their rights, seize their lands, arrest and kill their innocents, and expand existing settlements. But during the night, the Israeli enemy becomes a friend and peace partner with whom it's legitimate to conduct security coordination and eat in fancy restaurants.
        During the Gaza operation, Palestinian security officers in the West Bank provided Israel with valuable intelligence that contributed to the elimination of many Hamas operatives and "military targets." The PA even told Israel to continue bombing Gaza until Hamas surrendered. As soon as the war ended, the same PA started accusing Israel of committing "war crimes." At the same time, the PA is holding some 1,000 Hamas "supporters" in its prisons without trial.
        These days the PA is leading a fierce campaign against what it calls Israel's efforts to destroy the Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem. Palestinian spokesmen and Abbas advisers have been exploiting every available platform to tell millions of Arabs and Muslims that the Jews are destroying Islam's third holiest site. Earlier this week, this campaign resulted in an outburst of Palestinian violence on the Temple Mount - the worst in years. Israeli government officials say that there is no such thing as an Israeli "conspiracy" to destroy the mosque. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Islamic Republic of Gaza - Jonathan Spyer
    Reliable sources confirm the growing dominance of Islam in Gaza. A new "Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice" security force, which operates under the command of the Ministry of the Islamic Endowment (Waqf), has been tasked with enforcing Islamic codes of behavior. Its members patrol beaches, parks and public areas, ensuring proper Islamic modesty. One man wearing shorts while sitting on his own balcony in southern Gaza was advised that this must not happen again. Rules ban men from bathing topless, and women from laughing or smiling while bathing. A special all-female unit within the police numbering 100-150 officers has been created to enforce female modesty.
        Every mosque now has an individual who functions as a kind of political commissar on behalf of the authorities. His task is to observe the prayer habits of all members of the mosque, and to intervene and offer help where insufficient devotion is diagnosed. These developments do not represent any Hamas master plan for the creation of an Islamic republic. Rather, they are taking place because of grass-roots agitation and insistence on the part of ultra-religious elements both within Hamas and outside it. The writer is a senior researcher at the Global Research in International Affairs, IDC, Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israelis Place High Value on Even One Life - Ofer Bavly
    Gilad Shalit, abducted from Israeli territory by Hamas terrorists while serving in the Israel Defense Forces and standing watch over the border between Israel and Gaza, has spent the last 40 months in captivity. All international humanitarian laws as well as moral standards and basic decency have been trodden upon by Gilad's captors. In over three years of captivity, they have allowed absolutely no access to him - neither to his family nor to the Red Cross or any other humanitarian organization. The ransom that Hamas demands is the release of over 1,000 Palestinian terrorists presently serving jail sentences in Israel, guilty of having killed innocent Israelis in terrorist bombings or planning and helping to carry out such attacks.
        1,000 terrorists and radicals are serving prison sentences after having stood a fair and just trial, represented by lawyers. They had recourse to due process of law. Their families have full visitation rights and the prisoners enjoy a list of privileges including correspondence with their families, the receipt of packages from them, access to television, computers and telephones, and granted the most humane treatment. At the same time, in Gaza, there is a young Israeli man whose rights are denied, who was never accused of anything and never tried for anything. Ofer Bavly is Consul General of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

    Other Issues

  • UN Fact-Finding Mission: A Case of Politicizing the Law - Robert P. Barnidge Jr.
    During Israel's military effort to stop thousands of Hamas rockets from being launched into southern Israel from Gaza at the turn of the year, it was truly amazing to see the streets of major international capitals filled with the protests of self-proclaimed "human rights" and "peace" activists joined in lock step with militant Islamists and anti-Semites. It seemed as if Hamas could do no wrong and Israel could do no right.
        The UN Human Rights Council on Jan. 12 adopted a resolution which called for a fact-finding mission to "investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian people." Rather than appreciating the good-faith efforts the Israel Defense Forces had made to comply with the laws of war and international human rights law in a complex urban environment of asymmetrical warfare, the mission seemed more interested in caricature than dispassionate inquiry. Unfortunately, this report is just the beginning of a process that will continue to unfold in the coming months as it seeks to set in motion a series of actions against Israel by the UN Security Council and General Assembly and the International Criminal Court. The writer teaches international law and terrorism and the laws of war at the School of Law at the University of Reading in England. (Washington Times)
  • Judging Israel - William Choslovsky
    What kind of country would construct high walls, ditches, blockades and checkpoints and use sophisticated surveillance and armed border patrols to keep two people divided? The U.S. is building a 2,000-mile fortress with Mexico. Israel's still incomplete 300-mile divide between itself and its Palestinian "neighbors" is puny in comparison. Both work. As the U.S. Department of Justice reported, after we increased border security, alien arrests fell to 25-year lows near San Diego. Crime rates fell more than 40% in border towns like Nogales, Ariz. Our enhanced, beefed-up divide was originally a Clinton administration initiative.
        Imagine what we would build - or do - if instead of trying to take a job, those on the other side were trying to take our lives. Imagine what we would do if people 10 miles away lobbed rockets each day at our children and "taught" their children with textbooks that have maps that omit our country. Imagine what we would do if instead of suffering one terrorist attack since 2001, almost 20,000 were attempted against our people. Viewed in this light, I ask, what took Israel so long? (Chicago Tribune)
  • Some Egyptians Don't Think Farouk Hosny Deserved to Head UNESCO - Michael Slackman
    Some observers in Cairo said that Farouk Hosny's failure in his bid to lead UNESCO represented more a rejection of the authoritarian leaders of Muslims and Arabs. Hosny, a favorite of President Hosni Mubarak, was roundly despised by many members of the nation's cultural elite, who say he did little or nothing in his 22 years as culture minister to encourage cultural development and did much, particularly through the enforcement of strict government censorship, to stunt it.
        In the independent newspaper Shorouk, Fahmy Howeidy wrote: "I am not exaggerating when I say that the failure of Mr. Farouk Hosny is not due to his hostility against Israel, as it was said, but the important reason that contributed to his failure is he represents a country that ranks among the politically failed states, where a monopoly of power and governing the state under emergency rule for more than a quarter of a century, where it suppresses public freedom, affects the image of its candidate." (New York Times)
        See also Egyptian Blogosphere Lauds Hosny's Defeat - Rania Al-Malky
    The Egyptian blogosphere was elated at the good news that one of the stalwarts of a despotic regime has been so publicly humiliated. Hosny's loss was a victory to Egyptians whose human and civil rights have been trampled for almost three decades and who didn't want to see their subjugators being rewarded with the prestigious appointment. How can a 22-year minister of a country where culture, education, health and science have regressed to the Dark Ages become the head of UNESCO?" (Daily News-Egypt)
  • The Demons of Arab-Israeli Normalization - Uriya Shavit
    Israeli-Arab peace negotiations have often been based on the assumptions that normalization means a lot to Israelis, and can be easily handed out by Arab states, should they only decide to do so. Both assumptions are false. In fact, normalization is not so important to Israelis. Most do not want to integrate culturally into the region - they just want their neighbors to let them live in peace.
        At the same time, Arab regimes and citizens alike view normalization as a deep strategic threat. For a regime such as Syria's, the prospect of thousands of tourists coming from a free society such as Israel and telling locals about free elections or freedom of speech poses a potential risk to its foundations. Furthermore, to welcome Israelis essentially entails a legitimization of the Zionist project, which Arab publics strongly object to. According to a survey in the Saudi magazine al-Majala published on April 4, 2007, 60% of Moroccans, 54% of Kuwaitis, 74% of Palestinians, 76% of Jordanians, and 74% of Algerians believe that the Arab world should not recognize Israel as a Jewish state in the Middle East, regardless of progress on the Palestinian front.
        Perhaps most importantly, many Arabs view Israel as part of a "Western cultural attack" against Muslim society: to recognize Israel is to blindly support what many see as a Western master-plan aimed at destroying Muslim and Arab identity. A day will come when Israel lives in peace and cooperation with Arab countries, but we must give it time. (Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies-Shalem Center)
  • Observations:

    The Unintended Consequences of the UN's Latest Indictment of Israel - Yossi Klein Halevi (New Republic)

    • If a large part of the international community endorses the Goldstone report's conclusions and opts to put Israel on trial - symbolically or literally - the clear message to Israel will be the rescinding of its right to self-defense against Hizbullah and Hamas, both of which are embedded in civilian populations. In the decades following the Six-Day War, Israeli policy, upheld by successive Labor and Likud governments, was to deny terrorists a foothold along any Israeli border. Israel's two unilateral withdrawals - from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005 - both resulted in the creation of terror enclaves on its borders.
    • In both the 2006 operation against Hizbullah in Lebanon and this year's operation against Hamas in Gaza, Israel opted not to uproot the terrorist enclaves, hoping that the partial flexing of Israeli power would deter further aggression.
    • The Goldstone report may well mark the end of Israel's limited wars against terrorist groups. Israel cannot afford to continue to be drawn into mini-wars against terrorists hiding behind their own civilians to attack Israeli civilians, given that each such conflict inexorably draws the Jewish state one step closer toward pariah status. Limited victories on the battlefield are being turned into major defeats in the arena of world opinion.
    • That untenable situation may leave Israel no choice but to return to the policy of preventing altogether the presence of terror enclaves on its borders. Better, Israelis will argue, to deal decisively with the terror threat and brace for temporary international outrage than subject our legitimacy to constant attrition, even as the terrorist threat remains intact.

      The writer is a senior fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.

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