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November 27, 2009

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Iranian Pilgrims in Mecca Chant "Death to America, Death to Israel" - Adel Zaanoun (AFP)
    Thousands of Iranians chanted "Death to America, death to Israel" inside a huge tent on Thursday during the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
    Ayatollah Muhammed Rishari, the representative of Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said:
    "We need all Muslims, Sunni and Shiite, to be unified and focus on important issues: Al-Aqsa (mosque in Jerusalem), the occupation of Palestine, the problems in Iraq, the Afghan occupation, and the fighting between brothers in Yemen. We need to be purified from all infidels."
    Faisal, 52, a Palestinian pilgrim from Israel, said he was praying for "all Muslims to be unified soon to liberate Al-Aqsa and Palestine."

Iran Confiscates Dissident's Nobel Peace Prize Medal (Reuters)
    Norway accused Tehran on Thursday of confiscating the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to human rights campaigner Shirin Ebadi in 2003.
    The Foreign Ministry said Ebadi's gold Nobel medal and her award diploma had been removed from her bank box together with other personal items.

Solomon Islands' Opposition Leader Criticizes Iran Ties (Radio New Zealand)
    The Solomon Islands opposition leader, Manasseh Sogavare, says the government is being insensitive to Israel by forging diplomatic ties with Iran's regime which doesn't recognize the Jewish state's right to exist.
    Israel's Foreign Ministry, which lodged a protest with Solomon Islands over its recently-forged ties with Tehran, claims Iran is bribing small countries to vote against Israel in the UN.

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Belgian Pleads Guilty in U.S. Jet Parts Sale to Iran (Reuters)
    A Belgian man, Jacques Monsieur, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Mobile, Alabama, on Monday to charges of conspiring to illegally export F-5 fighter jet engines and parts from the U.S. to Iran, the Justice Department said.
    He was arrested in August. In February, Monsieur contacted an undercover agent seeking engines for F-5 fighter jets and the C-130 military transport aircraft the U.S. sold to Iran before the 1979 revolution.
    The parts were to be sent to Iran via Colombia and the United Arab Emirates.

Al-Qaeda Tied to Iraqi Baathists in Syria? (UPI)
    U.S. intelligence officials worry the Syrian border with Iraq will become a terrorist safe haven like the Pakistani tribal areas, an intelligence review stated.
    A U.S. intelligence official who spoke with the online Long War Journal said, "a major concern is that eastern Syria will begin to look like northwestern Pakistan."
    The Journal report says al-Qaeda in Iraq is turning to disenfranchised Sunni elements and members of the deposed Iraqi Baath Party to threaten the government in Baghdad.
    The report suggests al-Qaeda leaders in Syria played a role in the massive suicide operations that rocked the Iraqi capital in August and October. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for both attacks, while Baghdad pointed to Baathist elements in Damascus as the planners of the operations.

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IBM to Buy Israeli Start-Up for $225M - Guy Griml (Ha'aretz)
    IBM, the U.S. computer giant, is buying Israeli high-tech company Guardium for $225 million.
    Guardium develops solutions that allow secure access to enterprise data, including databases from IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and others.
    It also monitors the software for possible break-ins and unauthorized access.

How French Society Views the Jews - Interview with Shmuel Trigano by Manfred Gerstenfeld (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
    The French media's obsession with Israel and Jews is well evident on the country's television. The media's anti-Israeli narrative leads to enmity against Jews, who are placed in the role of the representatives of Israel.
    The French perception of Jews is different from how Jews see themselves.
    Various roles for Jews in French society have developed. These include as a positive model for Muslim immigrants, an instrument for the authorities to maintain social peace, a witness to the tolerance of Muslims, or as whitewashers for French problems such as anti-Semitism.
    Shmuel Trigano is professor of sociology at the University of Paris-Nanterre and director of the College of Jewish Studies at the Alliance Israelite Universelle.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • UN Nuclear Agency: Iran Inquiry at "Dead End" - Jack Healy
    Mohamed ElBaradei, the departing director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, warned Thursday that the agency's investigation into Iran's nuclear program had "effectively reached a dead end" after more than a year of stonewalling by Tehran. "It is now well over a year since the agency was last able to engage Iran in discussions about these outstanding issues," ElBaradei said in remarks to the agency's governors in Vienna. "We have effectively reached a dead end, unless Iran engages fully with us." ElBaradei also said he was "disappointed" that Iran had not accepted a UN-brokered deal that would oblige it to send most of its low-enriched nuclear fuel abroad. (New York Times)
        See also Iran Rebuked over Nuclear Cover-Up by UN Watchdog
    The UN nuclear watchdog's governing body has passed a resolution condemning Iran for developing a uranium enrichment site in secret and demanded that Iran freeze the project immediately. The resolution, the first against Iran in nearly four years, was passed by a 25-3 margin with six abstentions. (BBC News)
        With rare Russian and Chinese backing, the vote sent a message of increasing international resolve to challenge Iran over its disputed nuclear ambitions. The measure won blanket Western backing. Cuba, Malaysia and Venezuela voted "no," while Afghanistan, Brazil, Egypt, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey abstained. (Reuters)
  • Israel: Up to Palestinians after Settlement Offer
    "The ball is now in the Palestinian court," Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Thursday, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a 10-month easing of new Israeli construction in the West Bank. The move was praised by the U.S. as a step towards relaunching peace talks, but the Palestinians said it fell far short of their demand that a complete settlement freeze precede any negotiations.
        "We have done everything possible for Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas]," Lieberman told Israeli public radio. "The government has made unprecedented gestures and all we have received in return is blows and anti-Israeli maneuvers on the international front by the Palestinian Authority."  (AFP)
  • Half-Truths Dim Chances for Renewing Mideast Talks - Ethan Bronner
    As Palestinian officials like to point out, trained Palestinian security forces have been keeping order in West Bank cities for more than a year and claim to have successfully ended violence. The Israeli military begs to differ. Yes, its officers say, the Palestinian forces are better trained than in the past, and yes, they have worked seriously in their new roles. But without nightly Israeli raids into Palestinian cities, the violence would never have stopped. "Last night we carried out between 15 and 20 actions," noted a top Israeli commander, speaking of the West Bank raids in a recent interview. "That was a fairly typical night. It's like throwing a blanket on a fire. If we stop for a minute, we will go backwards very quickly. We call it cutting the grass."
        And, Israeli officials note, there is still Gaza, ruled by the Islamists of Hamas who remain dedicated to Israel's destruction. Since PA officials dare not even set foot there, it is hard to credit their claim to have dismantled terror networks. (New York Times)
  • Israeli Bomb Experts Help UK Soldiers - Anshel Pfeffer
    British bomb experts have received training from the IDF's central weapons laboratory on the types of bombs used by Islamist terrorists. The Substances Laboratory, part of the IDF Ground Command's Experiment and Quality Control Unit near Tel Aviv, is a mecca for explosives specialists from around the world. One of the main roles of the lab is to analyze all bombs and ammunition used against Israeli forces and civilians and devise methods of countering them.
        Lt.-Col. Eran Tuval, the lab's commander, has hosted officers from the U.S., Britain, Germany and Italy. "They come here to learn how the IEDs are built and work and how to deal with them." "After the bomb attacks in London in 2005, experts from Scotland Yard came here," says Tuval. "They were trying to analyze the bombs that hadn't gone off....We were also asked to help them after the case of the shoe bomber."  (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Begins Ten-Month Settlement Freeze - Tovah Lazaroff and Herb Keinon
    Following the security cabinet announcement of a 10-month moratorium on housing starts in the settlements, Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday suspended all permits for building projects where contractors have not yet broken ground. Barak also announced the approval of plans to build 28 public buildings, most of them educational facilities needed for the coming school year. Prime Minister Netanyahu had indicated in announcing the moratorium Wednesday that construction of public buildings, as well as construction in eastern Jerusalem, would continue.
        Discussing the freeze, Barak said: "We are talking about a unilateral step, at the government's initiative, which has been coordinated with the United States, with the intention of advancing the diplomatic process with the Palestinians." Minister Yossi Peled said that if the process remains deadlocked, "we will return to regular building."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Intensifies Attacks on Settlement Freeze - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinian Authority on Thursday stepped up its rhetorical attacks on Israel, accusing the government of Prime Minister Netanyahu of "political maneuvering" and "deception" following its decision to freeze construction in West Bank settlements for 10 months. The PA is also furious with the U.S. administration for hailing the decision as a step forward toward resuming the peace process in the Middle East. Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior PLO official who also serves as a spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, said the PA leadership would not agree to resume the peace talks unless Israel halted all construction work in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. Abed Rabbo called for increased pressure on Israel to force it to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, including eastern Jerusalem. Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned the Israeli decision as a "dangerous scheme," arguing that it was aimed to appease the Americans. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Hits Gaza Cell Preparing to Fire Rockets
    A Palestinian terrorist was killed on Friday morning when the Israel air force struck a Gaza terror cell preparing to fire rockets at Israel, the IDF said. The terrorist belonged to Jaljalatt, a Salafist movement operating in Gaza with influence from al-Qaeda. Some 770 Kassam rockets, mortar shells and Grad missiles have been fired at Israel since the beginning of 2009. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Foils Terror Attack along Egypt Border - Anshel Pfeffer
    IDF troops patrolling the border with Egypt near Eilat late Wednesday spotted a suspicious figure carrying a bag who they suspected was trying to infiltrate into Israel. When the troops tried to arrest the man, he fled back to Egypt, leaving behind the bag, which was found to contain a 15-kg explosive. On Thursday, Palestinians from Gaza fired five mortars into Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Ninety Fatah Terrorists Pardoned - Yaakov Katz
    In an effort to bolster PA leader Mahmoud Abbas in the face of a potential mass prisoner swap with Hamas, the Israel Security Agency on Thursday pardoned 92 wanted members of the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah's military wing, on condition that they refrain from engaging in terrorist activity. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Health Clinic for Gondar Jews Reopens in Ethiopia - Ruth Eglash
    The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)-run health clinic in Gondar, which closed last May, re-opened Thursday following a $125,000 donation from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) and also from an anonymous donor from New York. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Muslim Birthrate in Israel Declining
    The birthrate of the Muslim community in Israel is declining, according to data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics. More than 1.24 million Muslims currently live in Israel. In the south, Muslim families have an average of 6.9 children, and in the north 3.9 children, while Jews have an average of 2.9 children, Druze 2.5, and Christians 2.1. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israeli Prime Minister Improving Conditions for Palestinians - and Prospects for Peace - Patrick Martin
    When it comes to making peace, no matter what initiative he announces or policy he implements, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is usually met with criticism from all sides. Yet a closer look reveals a concerted effort to make real inroads. Driving through the towns of the West Bank, one can see and feel the difference. The cities of Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron all display new-found vitality. Jenin has become a shopping destination for Israeli Arabs. Nablus' historic market is packed with Palestinians from all over the West Bank. Ramallah and Hebron are bustling cities where people enjoy normal lives. The reason is the withdrawal of Israeli soldiers in recent months and the elimination of many of the checkpoints between Palestinian communities.
        When Netanyahu was elected in February, he played down the importance of endless negotiations and urged what he called an economic peace, a simple improvement in the daily lives of Palestinians. Daily life is a lot better than it has been for years. On Wednesday, Netanyahu announced a 10-month freeze on construction in Israeli settlements in the West Bank - another move in the direction of peace. (Globe and Mail-Canada)
  • West Bank Commander Tells How to Prevent Terrorism - Amos Harel
    This week IDF Col. Eran Niv, 39, concluded two and a half intense years as commander of the Ephraim Brigade, whose sector includes Kalkilya and Tulkarm in the West Bank. "In 2007 the cities here were in a state of neglect and the louts from Fatah collected protection money and harassed women on the street. Now the PA is demonstrating sovereignty here," he said. "Good intelligence, operational freedom of action, and the separation fence are what prevent terrorism. And if the PA is helping us with this, so much the better." "Today we insist on every last detail in the agreements with the PA being carried out. There is no rolling of eyes and no backslapping. I am not their pal, but I work with them. Honoring agreements is a far better basis for success than eating hummus together."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Manipulating the Marketplace of Ideas - Gerald M. Steinberg
    For over a decade, European governments have been major sources of funding for dozens of Israeli and Palestinian organizations claiming to promote human rights and similar moral causes, when in fact their agendas are more political than moral. This often hidden support helps pay for expensive newspaper advertisements; the salaries of lawyers involved in dozens of High Court cases about the security barrier, treatment of Palestinian terrorists, etc.; and a flood of statements submitted to the UN condemning Israeli policies. Recipient NGOs have a major influence on many issues in our lives, and on the decisions of our democratically elected government.
        The nature and scale of European influence is unique - in no other case do democratic countries use taxpayer money to support opposition groups in other democracies. Imagine the French response to U.S. government financing for promoting Corsican separatists under the guise of human rights. Would Spain tolerate foreign government funding of NGO campaigns involving the violent Basque conflict? But here, as in other areas, Israel is singled out and subject to different rules.
        Taken together, the large sums provided to NGOS by European governments through secret processes constitute a major effort to manipulate the Israeli marketplace of ideas. This is inherently colonialistic, undermining the goals of Zionism and Jewish sovereign equality. Prof. Gerald Steinberg, of the Political Studies Department at Bar-Ilan University, is executive director of NGO Monitor. (Ha'aretz)
  • Islamic Imperialism: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Middle East - Thomas O. Hecht
    Unfortunately at this moment in history, it is fanatics who set the tone in Islamic countries. Their impact on ordinary citizens manifests openly with the mass celebrations in Islamic countries when "infidels" are killed or Muslim terrorists are released from prison. It is fanatics from the Muslim world who slaughter children and non-Muslim tribal groups daily in Darfur, and are progressively taking over segments of Africa, be it Nigeria or Somalia. Islamic fanatics bomb, behead, murder, and carry out "honor" killings. They also stone rape victims and homosexuals. Muslim fanatics teach in the schools the virtues of becoming suicide bombers and acquiring the coveted status of a shahid (martyr). Therefore, the peaceful majority is not always relevant.
        There is a rebirth of the Islamic struggle to reassert control over parts of the world, with jihad, or its modern manifestation - international terrorism - as its tool. The U.S. is losing its dominance in the Middle East and is gradually being replaced by Iran. The Western world is in urgent need of a leader who will powerfully defend Western values against the growing influence of radical Islam. Dr. Hecht is the founder of the BESA Center and chairman of its international advisory board. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Hizbullah Has Global Fundraising Reach
    Hizbullah has a global reach and uses its connections to raise funds and to provide smuggled military equipment to supplement what it gets from Iran and Syria. In October 2008, U.S. and Colombian law enforcement authorities broke up a Hizbullah cocaine-smuggling ring funding the group's armed wing through banks from Panama to Hong Kong to Beirut. In June 2008 the Treasury Department froze the U.S. assets of two Venezuelans with strong family ties to Lebanon who officials said were Hizbullah activists. (UPI)

    Weekend Features

  • Sharansky Fighting to Connect Jewish Youth with Israel - Rita Poliakov
    Natan Sharansky fought against the Communist regime in his native Soviet Union in the 1970s. Now, as the new chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel, he's fighting to connect Jewish youth with Israel. During a recent visit to Toronto, Sharansky recounted speaking at York University a few years ago. "The first question was, 'Why do I need Israel?'" Sharansky explained. "You're giving [students] the opportunity to belong," he said. "We're talking about their desire to be proud to belong to this path of history."
        Sharansky paraphrased a lyric from the song "Imagine" by John Lennon: "There is nothing to die for," he said. "It is very important to prove that this is a false idea. In a world where there is nothing to die for, there is nothing to live for." "If you believe that it's better to live in a world where people have no identity...we're powerless to defend ourselves against our enemies," he said. (Canadian Jewish News)
  • Book Review: The Long, Toxic Afterlife of Nazi Propaganda in the Arab World - Jeffrey Herf
    In a 2007 book, Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11, the German political scientist Matthias Kuentzel details how Nazi ideology influenced Islamist ideologues like Hassan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, as well as the Palestinian leader Haj Amin al-Husseini. More recent examples abound. The founding charter of Hamas recapitulates conspiracy theories about Jews that were popular in Europe in the 20th century. Al-Qaeda's war against "the Zionist-Crusader Alliance" and the anti-Zionist rants of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran also display a blend of anti-Semitic themes rooted in Nazi and fascist, as well as Islamist, traditions. (Chronicle Review)
  • Discovering Jewish Music - Bari Weiss
    Charles Krauthammer, a Washington Post columnist, credits a class on Maimonides at McGill University for the understanding "that Jewish philosophy was not parochial, was not superstitious, but was at the level of the great philosophies of Western culture." His great-great-grandfather, he jokes, a chief rabbi of Krakow, "spent his life writing commentaries on the Torah. I spend my life writing commentaries on New York Times editorials."
        Together with his wife, Robyn, Krauthammer runs Pro Musica Hebraica, a concert series they launched last year to change the common view that "Jewish music" is hava nagila, liturgical music, klezmer and not much else. Earlier this month, Pro Musica Hebraica presented its fourth concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington. There is a rich tradition of Jewish classical music, though it is largely unknown even within the Jewish community. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    The Crime of Being a Zionist - Karl Pfeifer (Ha'aretz)

    • I am an 81-year-old survivor of the Holocaust. A journalist, I had been invited by the left-wing anti-fascist student group Antifa AG at Bielefeld University [in Germany] to give a lecture on "Racism and Anti-Semitism in Hungary" on Nov. 19.
    • Two days before I was to appear, several people raised an objection to my speaking, saying they had received information that during Israel's War of Independence, when I served in the Palmach (the pre-state strike force of the Haganah), I had participated in a massacre in a Palestinian village, alleging that I myself had actively participated in the killing.
    • Those accusing me did not name the place where this alleged massacre was committed, or provide any other details. When pushed for corroboration, they settled the matter by explaining that "Pfeifer is a Zionist." Of course, no one asked me to respond to the accusations before they decided to rescind the invitation.
    • To accuse someone of having participated in a "massacre" - in this case, with no details and no proof - is an act of projection that is unfortunately not unusual in certain European circles. The best-known and most widespread example of projection of guilt is the defamation of Israelis as the "Nazis of today." This is one of the most objectionable forms of anti-Semitism in the era after Auschwitz.
    • As far as I can tell, my real crime apparently is being a "Zionist," which I can only understand as being guilty of being a Jew who defended himself and who favors the existence of a Jewish and democratic state. In Germany, I had the feeling that I was being judged by those arrogant anti-Semites not on the basis of what I have done or am doing, but for what I am.

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