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November 6, 2009

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13 Killed, 31 Wounded in Fort Hood Rampage - Robert D. McFadden (New York Times)
    Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, a U.S. Army psychiatrist, killed 13 people and wounded 31 others on Thursday in a shooting rampage with two handguns at Fort Hood in Texas in one of the worst mass shootings ever at a military base in the U.S., military officials said.
    Clad in a military uniform and firing an automatic pistol and another weapon, Hasan sprayed bullets inside a crowded medical processing center for soldiers returning from or about to be sent overseas.
    Military records indicated that Hasan had never served abroad and listed "no religious preference" on his personnel records.
    See also Biography of Maj. Nidal M. Hasan (Washington Post)
    According to Faizul Khan, former imam at the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring, MD, Hasan is devout and attended prayers at least once a day, seven days a week, often in his Army fatigues.
    See also Shooter Born in U.S., from Palestinian Family (BBC News)

Report: Iran Tested Advanced Nuclear Warhead Design - Julian Borger (Guardian-UK)
    The UN's nuclear watchdog has asked Iran to explain evidence suggesting that Iranian scientists have experimented with an advanced nuclear warhead design.
    According to a dossier compiled by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iranian scientists may have tested high-explosive components of a "two-point implosion" device which allows for the production of smaller warheads, making it easier to put a nuclear warhead on a missile.
    "It is breathtaking that Iran could be working on this sort of material," said a European government adviser on nuclear issues.

Report: U.S. Informed Israel of Arms Ship - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
    The Iranian arms ship seized by the Israel Defense Forces was discovered thanks to America, Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper reported Friday in London, quoting Israeli sources.
    The Americans spotted a suspicious Iranian ship entering the Gulf of Oman and docking at Dubai's Jebel Ali port in mid-October and reportedly informed Israel of the ship.
    Earlier this week the Iranians exerted great efforts to mislead intelligence officials monitoring the shipment by unloading the explosives in an Egyptian port and then loading them on the Francop, which was eventually caught.

Israel's Intelligence War Against Iran - Ronen Bergman (Ynet News)
    The seized arms ship is the latest success story in Israel's intelligence war against Iran.
    The list of success stories by what the other side believes to be Israel's intelligence agents is quite impressive. In the past four years, several strange mishaps maligned the Iranian nuclear project and significantly hindered the uranium-enrichment process.
    The disappearance of an Iranian nuclear scientist, the crash of two planes involved in the project, and fires that broke out in two labs only reinforced the sense that someone was trying to undermine the nuclear project.

ElBaradei: IAEA Found Nothing Serious at Secret Iran Site Near Qom (Reuters-New York Times)
    UN inspectors found "nothing to be worried about" in a first look at a previously secret uranium enrichment site in Iran last month, International Atomic Energy chief Mohamed ElBaradei said in remarks published Thursday.
    ElBaradei was quoted in a New York Times interview as saying, "The idea was to use it as a bunker under the mountain to protect things," alluding to Tehran's references to the site as a fallback for its nuclear program in case its larger Natanz enrichment plant were bombed.
    "It's a hole in a mountain," he said.

UK Students Bully Israel Envoy - Hagit Kleiman (Ynet News)
    Protestors at the University of Nottingham prepared a rude welcome for Israel's Ambassador to England, Ron Prosor. Hours before the visit, British police learned that students intended to place the Israeli envoy under citizen's arrest.
    "It's regrettable to see important academic institutions becoming hostages in the hands of radicals, who seek to silence any civilized discussion," Prosor said.
    "We will fight with all means available to us against academic boycotts, economic boycotts, and diplomatic-legal boycotts."

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Jerusalem: A Divided City? - John R. Cohn (Philadelphia Daily News)
    King David is said to have made Jerusalem his capital 3,000 years ago. The New Testament describes Jesus in Jerusalem and the existence of the Jewish Temple 2,000 years ago.
    Divided for just 19 years by Jordanian occupation, which ended in 1967, the place known as "East Jerusalem" has no more enduring historical validity than "East Berlin."
    Continued use of the term "East Jerusalem" suggests the natural condition of that ancient city is to be cut in two, with an ugly barrier running through its heart.
    The writer is a professor of medicine at Thomas Jefferson University.

More Israeli Arabs Studying at Jordanian Universities - Ofri Ilani (Ha'aretz)
    A decade ago fewer than 100 Arab Israelis were studying at Jordanian universities, but last year this swelled to about 5,000.

Mainline American Christian "Peacemakers" Against Israel - Dexter Van Zile (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
    For the past several years, a group of five Protestant churches - the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America - have legitimized the increasingly virulent anti-Israel movement in the U.S.
    By aligning themselves with extremist groups who seek to delegitimize Israel as a Jewish state, these churches have contributed to the mainstreaming of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism in American society.
    Although these churches have suffered substantial membership declines since the mid-1960s, they still enjoy a considerable influence on the American scene thanks to their historical role and the affluence of their members.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • UN General Assembly Endorses Report on Gaza - Neil MacFarquhar
    The UN General Assembly on Thursday voted 114 to 18, with 44 abstentions, to endorse the report by a Human Rights Council panel led by South African judge Richard Goldstone that said there was evidence that both Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas committed war crimes during the Gaza war last winter. The assembly's resolution also pushes for Security Council attention. France, Britain and Russia were among the countries that abstained, and the U.S. voted against the resolution, suggesting that Council action is unlikely. (New York Times)
        See also Israel Rejects General Assembly Resolution
    The large number of member states who voted against or abstained demonstrates clearly that the resolution does not have the support of the "moral majority" of UN members. Israel rejects the resolution of the UN General Assembly, which is completely detached from the realities on the ground. During the Gaza operation, the Israel Defense Forces demonstrated higher military and moral standards than each and every one of this resolution's instigators. Israel, like any other democratic nation, maintains the right to self-defense and will continue to act to protect the lives of its citizens from the threat of international terrorism. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also Netanyahu: "The IDF Is a Moral Army Without Peer"
    Prime Minister Netanyahu said Tuesday: The international community has "chosen to assemble and condemn the IDF and the State of Israel, and to try and undermine our legitimate right to defend ourselves. I would like to make it as clear as possible: This will neither deter us nor prevent us from continuing to act in order to defend Israeli citizens because Israeli citizens know the truth, that the IDF is a moral army without peer, either qualitatively or morally. We know that it is the IDF and the security services of the State of Israel that stand against the war criminals who plan to perpetrate war crimes against Israeli citizens. I think that the time has come for the international community, at least its more responsible countries, to recognize the truth and not promote a lie."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Goldstone, Gold Debate UN Report on Gaza - James F. Smith
    International jurist Richard Goldstone offered a spirited defense Thursday of his bitterly disputed UN report on Gaza at Brandeis University, where he faced an equally spirited rebuttal from former Israeli diplomat Dore Gold, who called the report "the most serious and vicious indictment of the State of Israel bearing the seal of the United Nations" since an infamous resolution equating Zionism with racism in 1975. Gold said the Goldstone report all but ignored Israel's right to defend itself despite years of Palestinian rocket attacks and suicide bombings.
        "There's no question there was enormous damage in Gaza," Gold said. "But why doesn't Hamas appear as a responsible party for what happened? Who booby-trapped the buildings in Gaza? Who launched an eight-year war against Israel? Who built tunnels under people's homes? The Hamas political leadership, which seems to get off the hook."  (Boston Globe)
        See also Visual Presentation by Amb. Gold at Gaza Debate (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Student Stuns Iran by Criticizing Supreme Leader - Scheherezade Faramarzi
    An unassuming college math student has become an unlikely hero to many in Iran for daring to criticize the country's most powerful man to his face. On Oct. 28, Mahmoud Vahidnia, a gold medalist at the country's National Math Olympics two years ago, confronted supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at Tehran's Sharif Technical University. "I don't know why in this country it's not allowed to make any kind of criticism of you," said the student. "In the past three to five years that I have been reading newspapers, I have seen no criticism of you, not even by the Assembly of Experts, whose duty is to criticize and supervise the performance of the leader."
        The boldness of Vahidnia's comments underlines how Iran's postelection turmoil has undermined the once rock-solid taboo against challenging the supreme leader. "Vahidnia showed a new atmosphere which is the true characteristic of the Iranian people," Ataollah Mohajerani, a former pro-reform cabinet minister, wrote on his Web site. "If from now on in gatherings in the presence of the supreme leader one finds the courage to get up and speak in defense of justice and right, the climate of tyranny will suffocate."  (AP)
  • Israel Complains to UN over Hizbullah Arms Shipment - Louis Charbonneau
    Israeli UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev complained to the UN on Thursday about what she said was an Iranian attempt to skirt a UN arms embargo and supply weapons to Hizbullah. Israeli officials said on Wednesday that naval commandos had seized a ship carrying hundreds of tons of Iranian-supplied arms, including rockets, to the Shi'ite Muslim group. "These grave violations constitute a threat to peace and security, as well as non-compliance with international legal obligations," Shalev said in a letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
        "The weapons - concealed, wrapped and declared as civilian cargo in the ship's manifest - were hidden among hundreds of other containers aboard the ship that originated from the Islamic Republic of Iran," Shalev wrote. "Israel...requests the Security Council to take the appropriate action in view of these constant violations and to further investigate this complaint," she said. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Abbas Says He Won't Run for Re-election, But May Change Mind - Khaled Abu Toameh
    In a televised speech from Ramallah, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas announced on Thursday that he has "no desire" to run in the PA elections slated for Jan. 24. PA officials did not rule out the possibility that Abbas would change his mind, noting that his decision was not final. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Is Abbas Just Crying Wolf Again? - Zvi Bar'el
    Former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser used to threaten resignation to boost his public support, and Yasser Arafat would from time to time threaten to quit just to shake up public opinion. Mahmoud Abbas declared elections in January as a threat against Hamas and now he is saying he doesn't intend to stand for reelection, but has left open the door for reconsideration. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Abbas Seen as Gambling - Mohammed Assadi
    Mahmoud Abbas' announcement on Thursday that he did not want to stand for re-election could be a tactic rather than a serious declaration of intent. Abbas' comments appeared designed to encourage Washington to put new pressure on Israel over settlement building. "It's a tool of pressure directed at the Americans and it does not mean he will resign in the current circumstances," said George Giacaman, a lecturer at Birzeit University in the West Bank. The fact that the Fatah movement has no obvious alternative to Abbas means it will be hard for him not to stand, even if he does not want to. (Reuters)
  • The Haul: 320 Tons of Katyushas, Other Rockets, Shells and Bullets - Yaakov Katz
    The IDF issued photos Thursday showing that the Katyusha rockets discovered last week by UNIFIL troops in Lebanon are of the same make as the rockets seized by the Navy from the Francop cargo ship Wednesday. The final weight of the cache was 320 tons and included 9,000 mortar shells, thousands of 107-mm. Katyusha rockets that have a range of 15 kilometers, some 600 Russian-made 122-mm. rockets with a 40-km. range and hundreds of thousands of Kalashnikov bullets. Most of the weaponry appeared to have come from the Far East and Russia, a senior officer said, while some of it was made in Iran. Most of it appeared to have been manufactured in the past few years.
        Defense officials Thursday said Egypt had failed to properly inspect the Iranian containers as they sat waiting to be loaded onto the Francop at Diametta Port. The containers were clearly marked as belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), a company known to assist in illegal arms trafficking to Hizbullah. "UN Security Council Resolution 1803 explicitly asks countries to board and inspect IRISL ships and containers," one official said. "The Egyptians could have done more."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also How Israeli Naval Commandos Seized the Francop - Yaakov Katz
    On Tuesday night, the commando teams waited on a small, fast patrol boat as the INS Eilat, one of the navy's Sa'ar 5-class corvettes, blocked the Francop's course as it made its way toward Lebanon filled with hundreds of tons of weaponry en route from Iran to Hizbullah. The commandos scaled ropes and climbed aboard the ship without encountering any resistance. They lined up the crew and searched the cargo containers until they discovered the weaponry. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also IDF Won't Use Seized Arms - Hanan Greenberg
    The thousands of rockets, mortar shells and other weapons that were in Iran just 10 days ago and were seized on Wednesday were transferred to IDF warehouses in Israel. Lt.-Col. Itzik Gershon, head of the IDF's munitions center's operations branch, said the military does not plan to use the weapons except for research purposes. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    UN Report on Gaza

  • The Goldstone Illusion: What the UN Report Gets Wrong about Gaza and War - Moshe Halbertal
    In 2000, I was asked by the Israel Defense Forces to join a group of philosophers, lawyers, and generals for the purpose of drafting the army's ethics code. The aim of the IDF ethics code is to strike a coherent and morally plausible position that provides Israel with the effective tools to protect its citizens and win the war while also setting the proper moral limits that have to be met while legitimately securing its citizens.
        Three principles are articulated in the IDF code concerning moral behavior in war. The first is the principle of necessity. It requires that force be used solely for the purposes of accomplishing the mission. If, for example, a soldier has to break down the door of a home in order to search for a suspected terrorist, he has no right to smash the TV set on his way in.
        The second principle articulated in the code is the principle of distinction. It is an absolute prohibition on the intentional targeting of noncombatants. In the first minutes of the war, Israel targeted Hamas police, killing dozens. Goldstone's accusation that targeting of the police forces automatically constitutes an attack on noncombatants represents a gross misunderstanding of the nature of the conflict. Israeli intelligence claims that it has clear proof that in Gaza the police force was just a way of putting combatants on the payroll of the state, while basically assigning them clear military roles.
        The third principle is proportionality, that the foreseeable collateral death of civilians will be proportionate to the military advantage that will be achieved by eliminating the target. The IDF code states that soldiers have to do their utmost to avoid the harming of civilians. The claim that Israel intentionally targeted civilians as a policy of war is false and slanderous.
        To create standards of morality in war that leave a state without the means of legitimate self-protection is politically foolish and morally problematic; but real answers to these real problems cannot be found in the Goldstone report. What methods can Israel legitimately apply in the defense of its citizens when more lethal and accurate missiles strike the center of Tel Aviv, causing hundreds of civilian deaths? The writer is a professor of philosophy at Hebrew University and the Gruss Professor at New York University School of Law. (New Republic)
  • A Blind Eye to Hamas Atrocities - Robert Goot
    From the moment the UN Human Rights Council decided to establish 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 throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the current aggression," it was obvious that it was not intended to, nor would it be an impartial inquiry. The terms of reference were crafted to ignore the hundreds of rockets deliberately aimed and fired by Hamas at civilians in Israel prior to the Gaza war, and to pillory Israel for defending its citizens. The writer is president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. (The Australian)
  • To Shoot or Not to Shoot - Adam Kredo
    At a Capitol Hill briefing, IDF Col. Ben-Tzion Gruber showed news footage of a wounded Arab man with a Kalashnikov rifle lying by his side, as an arm is suddenly seen removing the smoking weapon. This, said Gruber, was a media-savvy tactic to makes it appear as though the IDF has injured a civilian. According to military estimates, 295 civilians were killed during the Gaza war, compared with 709 known combatants. "The meaning of those numbers is that we work with a laser knife," Gruber said, labeling claims that the IDF intentionally targeted civilians nonsense. Gruber also showed footage of seven gun-wielding Hamas militants emerging from the back of a UN-marked ambulance. "They use almost every place as a shield," he said. (Washington Jewish Week)


  • Iran's Nuclear Diversion - Ray Takeyh
    Amid their merciless efforts to systematically eviscerate the democratic opposition and consolidate power, President Ahmadinejad and his allies see discussion of the nuclear program as a means to silence the criticism that their domestic behavior merits. In the coming months, Iran will no doubt seek to prolong negotiations by accepting and then rejecting agreed-upon compacts and offering countless counterproposals. Tehran will sporadically offer to discuss the nuclear issue to whet the appetite of Western powers - before moving against its remaining domestic detractors.
        The Iran problem is not limited to illicit nuclear activities, and it is somewhat incomprehensible that the U.S. can contemplate nuclear transactions with a regime that maintains links to a range of terrorist organizations and engages in brutal domestic repression. Western officials would be smart to disabuse Iran of the notion that its nuclear infractions are the only source of disagreement. Iran's hard-liners need to know that should they launch their much-advertised crackdown, the price for such conduct may be termination of any dialogue with the West. Only through such a policy can the U.S. advance its strategic objectives while standing up for its moral values. The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Washington Post)
  • Who's Really Running Iran's Pro-Democracy Movement? - Mehdi Khalaji
    Nearly six months after the demonstrations that followed June's disputed presidential election, Iran's pro-democracy "green movement" is as strong as ever. But the solidarity on the streets hides wide - and growing - splits within. The ostensible leaders of the movement, Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mohammad Khatami, and Mehdi Karroubi, are former high-ranking officials of the Islamic Republic who would likely keep much about the Islamic Revolution in place. Contrast this with the young men and women on the streets, and you see differences that go beyond the generational. The protesters are aiming to bring down the very system of which their leaders are a part. The bulk of the movement and most of the demonstrators are students, women, human rights activists, and political activists who have little desire to work in a theocratic regime. The writer is senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Foreign Policy)

    Other Issues

  • Spain, Israel, and the Fight over UNIFIL - Soeren Kern
    Reports have surfaced that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had secretly asked Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi to keep Italy in command of the 13,000-strong UNIFIL force in Lebanon for six months longer than planned, instead of allowing Spain, which has 1,000 troops, to take over. Italian General Claudio Graziano is scheduled to turn the command over to a Spanish general in February 2010. Considering that Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero leads what is arguably the most anti-Israel government in Europe, Netanyahu is probably justified in having some misgivings about a Spanish-led UNIFIL. Zapatero gave the keynote address at an anti-Israel rally during the Lebanon war wearing a Palestinian kaffiyeh, where he demonized Israel for acting "illegally."
        Europeans are afraid that if they take a hard line against Hizbullah, their troops in Lebanon may be attacked. They are also afraid that Hizbullah (which is said to have operatives in every EU country) may activate sleeper cells to carry out attacks inside Europe. And Europeans are afraid of inciting the thousands of Muslim immigrants throughout "Eurabia." Indeed, the fear of angry Muslims is so pervasive in Europe that in practical terms Islam has already established a de facto veto on European foreign policymaking.
        After six Spanish peacekeepers were killed in a bomb attack in Lebanon in June 2007, Spanish intelligence agents met secretly with Hizbullah militants, who agreed to provide "escorts" to protect the Spanish UNIFIL patrols. The quid pro quo is that Spanish troops must look the other way as Hizbullah rearms for its next war against Israel. The writer is Senior Analyst for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Strategic Studies Group. (Pajamas Media)
  • How Egypt Views Normalization with Israel
    To mark the 30th anniversary of the Camp David Peace Accords, the Egyptian weekly Roz Al-Yousuf published a special supplement on normalization with Israel. The editorial states: "As far as the public and the ideological [climate] are concerned, the Egyptian people...still sees Israel as an enemy in [the Arabs'] midst." The renowned Egyptian poet 'Abed Al-Rahman Al-Abnodi, who writes for the government daily Al-Akhbar, explains that the Egyptian peasant "is well aware that Israel has found its way into Egypt's arteries and is [poisoning its blood]." Dr. Wahid 'Abd Al-Magid, deputy director of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, contends that "a journalist who travels to Israel a plumber who descends into a sewer: he has to, because it is his job."  (MEMRI)
  • Comparing Islamic Anti-Semitism to Nazi Germany at its Worst - Robert S. Wistrich
    In 1938, only a fortnight after "Crystal Night," the SS journal Das Schwarze Korps chillingly prophesied the final end of German Jewry through "fire and sword" and its imminent complete annihilation. Today, the specter of such apocalyptic anti-Semitism has returned to haunt Europe and other continents. In the Middle East, it has taken on a particularly dangerous, toxic and potentially genocidal aura of hatred, closely linked to the "mission" of holy war or jihad against the West and the Jews. Islamist anti-Semitism is thoroughly soaked in many of the most inflammatory themes that initially made possible the atrocities of Crystal Night and its horrific aftermath during the Holocaust.
        The scale and extremism of the literature and commentary available in Arab or Muslim newspapers, journals, magazines, caricatures, on Islamist websites, on the Middle Eastern radio and TV news, in documentaries, films, and educational materials, is comparable only to that of Nazi Germany at its worst. Yet the Western world largely turns a blind eye to the likely genocidal consequences of such a culture of hatred, much as it did 70 years ago. The writer is director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the author of A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad (2010). (Ha'aretz)

    Weekend Features

  • Latest Ancient Finds Go on Display in Jerusalem - Danielle Rothman
    The Israel Antiquities Authority will open a new exhibition on Nov. 11 at the Davidson Center and in the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden, just south of the Temple Mount. Many of the artifacts have not previously been shown to the public. The exhibition features a sarcophagus lid inscribed with the words "Ben HaCohen HaGadol" - "Son of the High Priest" - most likely referring to a High Priest who officiated at the Temple between 30 and 70 CE. One display presents Jerusalem as a metropolis during the late Second Temple Period, while another exhibits artifacts from the time of the destruction of the Second Temple.
        Many of the coins on display date back nearly 2,000 years. Some of the coins, from as far away as Persia and France, testify to Jerusalem's importance as a metropolis for Jews at the time. In accordance with religious law, no human images appear on the Jewish coins. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Scientists Find Drug that Could Help Cure Cancer - Ofri Ilani
    Israeli scientists have identified a substance that can kill cancerous cells without harming healthy ones, paving the way for more effective cancer treatment, the journal Breast Cancer Research reported. "We actually found the Achilles heel of the cancer cell," said Prof. Malka Cohen-Armon from Tel Aviv University, who headed the research team. "As soon as you can target cancerous cells without killing healthy ones, you can produce medications that would cause a lot less suffering to the patient. We can even give a much more aggressive treatment without worrying about harming healthy tissues."
        The substance, which delays cell proliferation in healthy and cancerous cells, is a component of a drug developed a decade ago to preserve nerve cells and prevent them from dying after a stroke. While the drug causes the rapid death of cancer cells, healthy cells activate a mechanism that overcomes the delay in proliferation within hours, and those cells continue to proliferate exactly like cells not exposed to the substance. "We don't even fully understand why this is happening, but we see cancerous cells die and healthy cells overcome this obstacle," said Cohen-Armon. (Ha'aretz)
  • Start-Up Nation: Israel's High-Tech Success - Amity Shlaes
    A survey last May of non-American companies on the Nasdaq counted three Korean companies, five Irish businesses, five from the UK and six from Japan. Israel had 64. In 2008, Israel drew more than twice the venture capital per citizen than the U.S. It drew 30 times as much VC cash as continental Europe. As Dan Senor and Saul Singer point out in Start Up Nation, the Israeli record of innovation has to do with a high level of education for both men and women, financial reforms, Israeli tolerance for failure, the immigrant personality - that of the self-selected risk-taker willing to start over, and advantages related to military service. (Bloomberg)
  • Observations:

    Iran's Nuclear Program and Israel - Ehud Yaari (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • Israel has no great appetite for taking on Iran on its own, recognizing the difficulties involved in an attack as well as the potential that Iran could retaliate either with its Shehab-3 missiles, already operational, by embarking upon a large-scale terrorism campaign, or by having Hizbullah ignite a conflict on the Lebanese front. The Israeli leadership would, therefore, prefer action by the U.S. to stop Iran from acquiring a bomb either through diplomatic dialogue, effective sanctions, or - if it came to it - military strikes. Needless to say, a U.S. attack is bound to be much wider in scope and more devastating than any blow delivered by the Israel Defense Forces.
    • At the same time, many in Israel feel strongly that the country does possess the military capability to launch a successful strike against a limited number of Iranian nuclear installations to delay the pace of Iran's nuclear program by at least a couple of years. At least some in Israel believe that Iranian reprisals would be more restrained than public warnings from Tehran might indicate. Some Israelis argue that Iran would not necessarily retaliate against the U.S. and its Arab allies in the Gulf or Iraq for fear of compelling President Obama to strike back.
    • The Israelis are well aware that they would not be able to completely eliminate Iran's nuclear capabilities, but Israel feels it could gain time for additional efforts by the U.S. and others to persuade the Iranians to give up their nuclear ambitions. From an Israeli point of view, delaying the threat by a few years is a worthy goal.
    • The majority view is that Hamas seeks to avoid a repetition of the Gaza operation, even if it were promised that Israel would also be engaged on the Lebanese front and exchanging blows with Iran itself. Hamas leader Khaled Mashal has already quietly warned his Iranian sponsors that any nuclear attack against Israel is bound to hit many Palestinians.
    • The current assessment in Israel is that although the Iranian regime long ago decided to get "within reach" of a bomb, no decision has yet been made to go for a "breakout." The reason is that Iran would not risk the consequences of a breakout for a bomb or two but rather would only contemplate such a dramatic step when it had enough enriched uranium for an "arsenal" of half a dozen bombs.

      The writer is a Washington Institute Lafer international fellow and Middle East correspondent for Israel's Channel Two Television.

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