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October 30, 2009

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Two Men Shot at North Hollywood Synagogue - Duke Helfand, Andrew Blankstein and Robert Faturechi (Los Angeles Times)
    Los Angeles police continued their search for a suspect and a motive in the shooting of two men early Thursday in the underground parking lot of Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic synagogue in North Hollywood, as police backed away from initial claims that the attack was motivated by religious hate.
    Law enforcement sources said detectives believe one of the victims was the target, and that the second victim may have been shot because he witnessed the attack.
    The victims, Maor Ben-Nissan and Allen Lasry, were both wounded in the leg.

FBI Nabs 1 of 3 Fugitives in Probe of Islamic Radical Group - Ben Schmitt, Robin Erb and Tammy Stables Battaglia (Detroit Free Press)
    The FBI asked the public for help in finding two suspects who remain at large, and could be dangerous, after Wednesday's raids in Detroit and Dearborn that resulted in a shootout and killing of Luqman Ameen Abdullah, the head of a radical Islamic fundamentalist group.
    Still at large are Yassir Ali Khan and Mohammad Alsahli. Eight others were arrested during the raids.
    Detroit FBI Agent in Charge Andrew Arena said Abdullah was armed and opened fire during the raid.
    Jihad El-Jihad, who said he belongs to Al-Haqq mosque, said its members have strong opinions about the world.
    "I envy that man [Abdullah]. I admire that man. I can only hope that if I'm in the same situation, I have the courage to go like he did," El-Jihad said.

Al-Qaeda Agent Sentenced to 8 Years in U.S. - Cam Simpson (Wall Street Journal)
    Ali al-Marri, 44, who admitted working with the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and was designated as an "enemy combatant" in 2003, was sentenced to eight years in U.S. District Court in Peoria, Ill., for providing material support to a terrorist organization.

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Book Review - Lost in the Sacred: Why the Muslim World Stood Still - Deirdre Sinnott (Foreword Magazine)
    Dan Diner, a professor of modern history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and director of the Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University in Germany, analyzes how the Middle East, which led in cultural, mathematical, and scientific innovation during Europe's Dark Ages, lost momentum.
    Diner believes that the preference for oral transmission of the Koran and the difficulty in learning high Arabic (as opposed to spoken Arabic) meant that the Arab world was slow to embrace the printing press.
    According to Diner, "Islamic purists saw these modern machines as the work of the devil challenging God's control over time....[They believed] such speeding up of the world's pace could only end badly."

Joint Israel-UK Projects Receive Research Grants - Jamie Romm (Jerusalem Post)
    Grants totaling £365,000 were awarded to 15 projects under the Britain-Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership, it was announced in London on Saturday.
    The projects, with topics such as galaxy clusters and motor neuron degeneration, received grants for research teams from top universities in the UK and Israel to carry out joint scientific research.

Benedict XVI, the Lefebvrians, the Jews, and the State of Israel - Sergio I. Minerbi (Jewish Political Studies Review)
    The visit of Pope Benedict XVI could have bettered the relations between the Vatican and Israel, but was biased by a pro-Palestinian stand.
    The question now is whether a Catholic Church which is becoming more traditionalist and more distant from Vatican Council II will be able to maintain or improve its relations with the Jews.
    The writer is a former Ambassador of Israel to the EEC, Belgium and Luxembourg.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Counters UN on Uranium Plan - Glenn Kessler and Thomas Erdbrink
    Iran on Thursday appeared to reject a key element of a UN-backed proposal aimed at quickly reducing its stockpile of enriched uranium, offering an informal oral counteroffer that diplomats said fell far short of a tentative deal reached earlier this month. Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told the Iranian ambassador to the UN agency that the counteroffer would not be acceptable. A central element of the plan conceived by the Obama administration is that Iran must ship the enriched uranium out of the country in one batch by the end of the year.
        The long-awaited Iranian answer appeared to dash hopes that Tehran would be willing to quickly embrace engagement with the West on its nuclear program. Obama administration officials will now need to assess whether engagement has run its course - and whether to shift toward tougher sanctions. (Washington Post)
        See also Iran Rejects Deal to Ship Out Uranium - David E. Sanger, Steven Erlanger and Robert F. Worth (New York Times)
  • Iran Accused of Playing Games on Nuclear Deal - Richard Spencer
    Britain and other EU nations were preparing to reject Iran's counterproposal on sending its uranium abroad for enrichment, raising the threat of a protracted confrontation and new sanctions. Britain, France and Germany believe Iran is trying to use the deal merely as a starting point for another protracted round of talks. During that time they think the Iranians could continue to enrich uranium and conduct more research on the scientific know-how necessary to turn it into a nuclear weapon. "It's like playing chess with a monkey," said one diplomat close to the talks. "You get them to checkmate, and then they swallow the king."  (Telegraph-UK)
  • Poll: U.S. Anti-Semitic Attitudes Match Lowest Level Recorded
    A nationwide survey of the American people released Thursday by ADL found that 12% of Americans hold anti-Semitic views, a decline from 15% in 2007 and matching the lowest figure ever recorded by ADL, in 1998. ADL national director Abraham Foxman said, "We can't dismiss that 12% of the American people means that there are still over 30 million Americans that hold anti-Semitic views." "The significant diminution of widespread prejudice against Jews is tempered by the manifestation of violence, conspiracy theories and insensitivities toward them."
        "Some bad news remains a constant, such as 30% believing that American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America, and 29% believing that Jews are responsible for the death of Christ. Equally of concern is that more than a quarter of African-Americans - 28% - hold anti-Semitic beliefs and more than a third of foreign-born Hispanics - 35% - have such attitudes."  (Reuters)
        See also 2009 Survey of American Attitudes toward Jews in America (Anti-Defamation League)
  • Qaeda-Linked Group Claims Rocket Attack on Israel
    A Lebanon-based al-Qaeda-linked group calling itself the Battalions of Ziad Jarrah claimed responsibility Thursday for a rocket attack against Israel this week. The group is named after a Lebanese who was among the 19 suicide attackers that carried out the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel and U.S. Train Together Against Threat Scenarios - Anshel Pfeffer
    The biennial Juniper Cobra exercise this week, aimed at improving coordination between American and Israeli missile defense systems, was the largest joint Israeli-American military exercise in history. "This is the first time we've deployed all these systems, the THAAD missile, the Aegis system and the X-band radar all together against threat scenarios," U.S. Col. Tony English said this week. The U.S. X-band radar system - the first and only permanent deployment of U.S. troops in Israel - has tripled Israel's ability to detect missiles fired from Iran. Relations between the countries' armed forces have never been closer. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi says he speaks with the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, at least once a week.
        Officially, Israel has no involvement in the fighting in Afghanistan. But the newly purchased Israel Aerospace Industries Heron unmanned aerial vehicles by the German Luftwaffe will join similar Israeli-designed drones used there by Canada, Spain and the U.S., while on the ground will be combat vehicles covered in armor plating designed at Kibbutz Sasa. In addition, many of the forces facing threats from suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) operate according to doctrines adapted from those developed by the IDF when facing Hizbullah and armed Palestinians. (Ha'aretz)
  • Fatah Helping to Organize Temple Mount Riots - Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel
    The pattern repeats itself: Muslim clerics, Palestinian politicians and members of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel urge Muslims to flock to the Al-Aqsa Mosque to defend it from Jewish "takeover attempts," even though nothing has changed on the ground at the Temple Mount. The man who holds the Jerusalem portfolio for Fatah, Hatem Abdel Qader, was arrested there this week on suspicion of incitement. On Sunday, the bureau of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas released an extraordinarily scathing statement condemning Israel for "extremist activities at Al-Aqsa," using such terms as "resistance" and "battle."
        The problem is that members of Fatah's military wing - who dropped out of the armed struggle against Israel after Hamas' violent coup in Gaza in June 2007 - could take the talk about resistance literally, and go back to initiating attacks. By the same token, Fatah's attempts to help organize the riots on the Temple Mount are liable to exact a high price in violence. The PA, whose leaders urged Israel to take stronger action against Hamas in Gaza last January, played a key role in the anti-Israel campaign launched over the Gaza operation and the ensuing affair of the Goldstone report about the war. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Muslim Officials Quietly Pleased with Israeli Action Against Temple Mount Riot Inciters - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Heads of the Waqf Department in Jerusalem have quietly expressed their satisfaction with the Israeli authorities' recent measures against Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, and top Fatah operative Hatem Abdel Qader, a senior official with the Israel Ministry for Internal Security said on Thursday. The two have been banned from entering the Old City of Jerusalem. The official said the Waqf Department, which reports to the Jordanian government, had refrained from joining the "wild campaign of incitement" against Israel in recent weeks. "We have a common interest with the Waqf Department," the official said. "Both of us are aware of the dangers coming from Fatah and the Islamic Movement."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • 150,000 Take Their Prayers to Rachel's Tomb - Tovah Lazaroff
    Close to 150,000 people arrived from all over the country to mark the anniversary of the biblical matriarch's death by praying for her help at Rachel's Tomb between Jerusalem and Bethlehem on Wednesday night and Thursday. The mass commemoration of the matriarch's death has grown rapidly in the last few years. Twenty years ago, fewer than a thousand people would come to mark the anniversary, while last year close to 80,000 people came. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Time for Sanctions on Iran - Robert Kagan
    The Tehran regime is now desperately trying to buy time so it can regain full control of the country in the face of widespread anger after the fraudulent presidential elections in June and a still-vibrant Iranian opposition. For the clerics, an endless negotiating process is not merely a means of putting off any real concessions on its nuclear program. It is also, and more important, a way of putting off any Western sanctions that could produce new and potentially explosive unrest in their already unstable country. That is the best card in Obama's hand right now. It's time for him to play it. The writer is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (Washington Post)
  • Getting Ready for the Islamic Bomb - Editorial
    Iran is the number one state sponsor of terrorists, supplies Hamas and Hizbullah with rockets and conventional weapons, and gives materiel, training and intelligence support to extremists in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran is directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of more American military personnel than any other country since the Vietnam War. Tehran does not lack the will to stand up to the U.S. even without nuclear weapons. It's chilling to consider how much more bold Iran will be with an atomic arsenal. A war is brewing, and the U.S. should get serious about which side it wants to be on. (Washington Times)
  • Israelis Brace for the Next Missile Attack - Yossi Klein Halevi
    The postcard from the IDF Home Front Command that recently arrived in my mailbox had a map of Israel divided by color into six regions. In each region, residents have a different amount of time to seek shelter from an impending missile attack. If you live along the Gaza border, you have 15 seconds after the siren sounds. Jerusalemites get a full three minutes. But as the regions move farther north, the time drops again, until finally, along the Lebanese and Syrian borders, the color red designates "immediate entry into a shelter." In other words, if you're not already inside a shelter don't bother looking for one.
        American attempts to reassure the Israeli public of its commitment to Israel's security in the face of a possible Iranian nuclear attack on Tel Aviv have largely backfired. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent threat to "obliterate" Iran if it launched a nuclear attack against Israel only reinforced Israeli fears that the U.S. would prefer to contain a nuclear Iran rather than pre-empt it militarily. The writer is a senior fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Tehran's Nuclear Ambitions Are the Biggest Security Problem - David Blair
    Today, Iran's nuclear program is the number one preoccupation of those charged with protecting our safety, outranking Afghanistan, Pakistan and the general field of counter-terrorism. America, Britain and France have all pledged to review their entire approach towards Iran by the end of this year. Assuming that Tehran does not suddenly obey five separate UN resolutions and stop enriching uranium, this reassessment will be far from routine. Officials familiar with the issue say that everything will be on the table. Pressing the Security Council to impose more economic sanctions will be the most obvious next step, but the whole idea of negotiating with Iran on the nuclear issue using the present framework will also be up for grabs. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Turkey Shifts Its Allegiances to Anti-Western Islam - Editorial
    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was among the first to offer Ahmadinejad a congratulatory call after June's fraudulent elections and has called Iran's nuclear program "peaceful and humanitarian." Turkish relations with Syria have never been warmer: The two countries are even planning joint military exercises. What has happened to Turkey's foreign policy since Erdogan and his Islamist AKP party came to power in 2003 looks like a fundamental shift in Turkey's strategic priorities. As a secular Muslim state, Turkey has been a pillar of NATO and a bulwark against the political radicalism of its various neighbors. Now Erdogan may be gambling that Turkey's future lies at the head of the Muslim world, rather than at the tail of its Western counterpart. (Wall Street Journal)

    Weekend Features

  • Scientist Solves Jewish Genealogy Riddles - Peter Goodspeed
    Dr. Karl Skorecki works on the cutting edge of molecular science, revolutionizing medicine through genetics and the use of stem cells to test anti-cancer therapies. As a sideline, he has become world famous for applying genetics to genealogy and transforming history. He has found evidence to support traditional claims that modern-day Jewish priests, Cohanim, are descended from a single common male ancestor - biblically said to be Aaron, the older brother of Moses. He has also found that 40% of Ashkenazi Jews can trace their descent to four "founding mothers" who lived in Europe 1,000 years ago, and evidence that all Jewish communities share a common paternal origin in the Near East.
        The Y chromosome consists almost entirely of non-coding DNA, which is passed from father to son without recombination. Therefore the genetic information on a Y chromosome of a man living today is basically the same as that of his ancient male ancestors, with rare mutations that occur along hereditary lines. By tracking those neutral mutations or genetic markers, scientists can come up with the genetic signature of a man's male ancestry. Skorecki's test found an array of six common chromosomal markers in 97 of the 106 Cohens he tested. Calculations based on variations of the mutations rooted the men's shared ancestry 3,300 years ago, or the approximate time of Exodus. He also discovered the common set of genetic markers in both Ashkenazi (European) and Sephardic (North African) Cohens, indicating they shared the same ancestry before their communities were separated more than 1,000 years ago.
        "It's like an archeological finding. But instead of digging up in the sand, we dig in contemporary DNA," Skorecki says. Skorecki moved from Toronto to Israel in 1995, where he is now director of the Rappaport Family Institute for Research in Medical Sciences and a researcher at the Rambam-Technion University Medical Center in Haifa. (National Post-Canada)
  • New Israeli System Saves Water by Sealing Leaks
    The World Bank estimates that 88 billion liters of treated water is lost from leaking urban pipelines every day from what is called "background leakage" - small cracks that drip water continuously. Indeed, background leakage is so pervasive that water suppliers accept 3,500 liters of water per km. of pipe per day as the minimum achievable loss. Now an Israeli company called Curapipe has developed a system that aims to seal leaks cheaply with only a small disruption to the water supply. Curapipe's system works together with the system commonly used to clean urban water mains, sealing cracks. The system may also be suitable for sealing leaks in oil and gas pipelines. (Economist-UK)
  • Observations:

    The Myth that Fuels the Mideast Conflict - Bob Feferman (RealClearWorld)

    • Israel's enemies claim that the Jewish state was created at the expense of the Arabs of Palestine in order to ease the conscience of the world over the tragedy of the Nazi Holocaust. The main spokesman for this myth is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who believes that if you deny the Holocaust, you can deny Israel its legitimate right to exist. It is this myth - that Israel was born in sin - which continues to fuel the fires of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In order to bring about peace, we must retell the story of Zionism to reaffirm Israel's legitimate right to exist.
    • In 1947, the UN Special Committee on Palestine, with representatives from 11 countries, found during their visit a well-organized Jewish community that had already created the institutions necessary for an independent state. As Professor Kenneth Stein of Emory University wrote, "The United Nations decided to partition Palestine into an Arab and Jewish state because of the realities on the ground, not because of collective emotions of guilt." During the 50 years of intense Zionist nation-building activity prior to 1947, the Jewish community of Palestine had created Hebrew-speaking schools, Hebrew newspapers, Hebrew theatre, agriculture, industry, a health care system and a Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
    • The Zionist organization was created in 1897 with the goal of creating a Jewish state in Palestine, the ancient homeland of the Jewish people. Land was legally purchased from Arab landowners by the Jewish National Fund. Prior to the outbreak of World War II, and the Nazi Holocaust, the Jewish population of Palestine had already numbered 450,000. When the members of UNSCOP made their decision in 1947 to recommend the partition of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, they were simply validating a reality that already existed.
    • In November 1947, the UN General Assembly voted to accept the partition of Palestine. On Dec. 1, the London Times published an editorial that supported the decision: "It is hard to see how the Arab world, still less the Arabs of Palestine, will suffer from what is mere recognition of an accomplished fact - the presence in Palestine of a compact, well-organized, and virtually autonomous Jewish community." The Jewish people earned the right to statehood through the hard labor and sweat of Jewish pioneers. Recognition of this fundamental truth will open the door to peace through the two-state solution.

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