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January 27, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel Flying Aid Remains in Haiti Caring for Children, Requests Urgent Donations (PRWeb)
    While those at the Israel Defense Forces field hospital in Haiti pack their supplies and take down their green tents, Israel Flying Aid has announced that it plans to move its humanitarian relief tent camp to a nearby orphanage.
    On Monday, Israel Flying Aid and the IDF visited an orphanage in Haiti where they examined 50 children who were suffering from severe starvation.
    Israel Flying Aid and Orange Israel Telecommunications announced they plan to create an orphanage in Haiti to eventually absorb over 200 children.
    "We urgently need help those children who were injured and/or abandoned. We have supplies for the children in Haiti for just a few more weeks; we need additional funds which will last them throughout the year and the hurricane season," said Gal Lusky, CEO and founder of IFA.

Iran Leader Predicts Destruction of Israel (AFP)
    Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted on his website Wednesday saying: "Surely, the day will come when the nations of the region will witness the destruction of the Zionist regime."
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad has often said that Israel is "doomed to be wiped off the map" and has termed the Holocaust a "myth."

Arkansas Recruiting Center Shooter Claims Ties to Al-Qaeda in Yemen (CNN)
    Abdul Hakim Muhammad, formerly known as Carlos Bledsoe, is charged with killing Pvt. William Long and wounding Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula on June 1, 2009, at a recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas.
    In a letter to the judge dated Jan. 12, Muhammad said he did not want a trial and insisted the shooting was "justified" under jihad.
    He claimed he had links to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, a group that has claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing of a U.S.-bound airliner on Christmas Day.

The Middle East Has Always Been Hard - Michael J. Totten (Commentary)
    President Obama admitted in an interview with TIME that he was "too optimistic" about his ability to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that it's "just really hard." Most Westerners who get involved in the Middle East come away disappointed and disillusioned after a while.
    One common problem is a kind of projection, a belief that the region is more like our part of the world than it actually is.
    The Arab-Israeli conflict may not be as intractable as the one between Sunnis and Shias - that has lasted for more than 1,000 years - but nobody can fix this right now.
    The Middle East doesn't need a diplomatic process; it needs a revolutionary transformation of its political culture. This is not going to happen because Obama tweaks our foreign policy.

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  • U.S. in Joint Operations with Yemeni Troops Against Al-Qaeda - Dana Priest
    U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people, among them six of 15 top leaders of a regional al-Qaeda affiliate, according to senior administration officials. The operations, approved by President Obama and begun six weeks ago, involve several dozen troops from the U.S. military's clandestine Joint Special Operations Command, whose main mission is tracking and killing suspected terrorists. The American advisers do not take part in raids, but help plan missions, develop tactics, and provide weapons and munitions. Highly sensitive intelligence is being shared with the Yemeni forces, including electronic and video surveillance.
        The collaboration with Yemen provides the starkest illustration to date of the Obama administration's efforts to ramp up counterterrorism operations. Obama has ordered a dramatic increase in the pace of CIA drone-launched missile strikes into Pakistan in an effort to kill al-Qaeda and Taliban members along the Afghan border. There have been more such strikes in the first year of Obama's administration than in the last three years under President Bush. Obama also sent U.S. military forces briefly into Somalia as part of an operation to kill Saleh Ali Nabhan, a Kenyan sought in the 2002 bombing of an Israeli-owned resort in Kenya. (Washington Post)
        See also Clinton Arrives in London for Yemen, Afghan Talks (AFP)
        See also When Yemen Meets Gaza - Matthew Levitt
    According to intelligence officials, up to a few dozen foreign fighters have entered Gaza from Yemen and other Middle Eastern and European countries. Some are experienced fighters there to provide training, while others seek to be trained and experience jihad. The writer is a senior fellow and director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (
  • 54 Congressmen Urge Obama to Pressure Israel to Ease Gaza "Blockade" - Andy Birkey
    Spearheaded by U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), 54 congressmen sent a letter last week urging President Obama to use diplomatic pressure to resolve the blockade affecting Gaza. "We recognize that the Israeli government has imposed restrictions on Gaza out of a legitimate and keenly felt fear of continued terrorist action by Hamas and other militant groups. This concern must be addressed without resulting in the de facto collective punishment of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip," they wrote. "We ask you to press for immediate relief for the citizens of Gaza as an urgent component of your broader Middle East peace efforts."  (Minnesota Independent)
        See also Israel Responds to Congressional Letter on Gaza - Natasha Mozgovaya
    The Israeli Embassy in Washington responded to the letter: "The Hamas government in Gaza does not meet the conditions set forth by the international community and the Quartet. As long as Hamas continues to attack Israel with missiles and other means, Israel will not open the border crossings. With this, Israel is doing everything possible to ensure that humanitarian aid enters Gaza in a controlled manner so that it is ensured that the population receives what it needs, including medical care in Israel. But Israel will not allow a neighbor that calls for its destruction to enjoy the benefits of an open border."  (Ha'aretz)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Leaders in Europe for International Holocaust Remembrance Day
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid a wreath on Tuesday at a memorial to Holocaust victims at the Umschlagplatz in Warsaw, the spot where German Nazis in 1942 loaded 320,000 Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto into cattle cars and sent them to the Treblinka death camp. President Shimon Peres is in Germany where he will address parliament to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israeli Delegation in Poland Confronted with Posters of Barak, Livni "Wanted for War Crimes" - Tzvika Brot
    Israeli Knesset members visiting Poland for ceremonies marking International Holocaust Day were surprised to see posters in Krakow on Tuesday offering 10,000 euro for information on the expected arrival in Europe of Defense Minister Ehud Barak or Opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who were "wanted for war crimes."  (Ynet News)
  • Key Congressman Calls on Abbas to Return to Peace Negotiations - Natasha Mozgovaya
    U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Cal.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Tuesday: "It is time for Palestinian Authority President Abbas to come to the negotiating table....The United States cannot negotiate on the Palestinians' behalf by proxy, as some have reported President Abbas would like. It would be unfortunate indeed if the Palestinians chose to stay on the sidelines rather than negotiate for the statehood they have long craved." "We may have done [Abbas] a disservice by not making clear at the outset of the administration that negotiations should not be linked to a settlement freeze," he added. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Don't Want Serious Talks - Sever Plocker
    The Palestinians engaged in talks with all Israeli governments since the Oslo Accords. Arafat conducted intensive negotiations with Netanyahu during his first term in office. However, since Netanyahu was sworn in as Israel's prime minister for the second time last April, the Palestinian leadership is coming up with constant excuses to avoid significant dialogue with Israel. Those who carefully read the full Obama interview with TIME realize that he has lost patience with the Palestinians' elusive conduct. Officials around Obama have spoken harshly: They charged that the Palestinians humiliated the president and screwed up his policy.
        The Palestinians do not wish to negotiate with Netanyahu because they perceive him as a practical politician seeking practical solutions. Palestinian leaders did not mind talks with former Prime Minister Olmert because they knew he had no mandate to finalize any deal, and certainly not a "final-status agreement" which the talks focused on. In fact, they liked the futile talks and arguments. Yet when the possibility of a practical agreement first came up and they had to respond to it, they left the talks and did not return.
        A very senior Palestinian figure says in closed-door sessions: "The current situation serves us well. Palestine is growing, the security situation is decent, Hamas is under siege in Gaza, and global public opinion endorses us and opposes the occupation. There is no rush for us....We have no incentive for entering talks with an Israeli prime minister who wants to get down to business."  (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • How Obama Can Reverse Iran's Dangerous Course - Robert Kagan
    President Obama has a once-in-a-generation opportunity over the next few months to help make the world a dramatically safer place by helping the Iranian people achieve a new form of government. Given the role that the Islamic theocracy in Tehran has played in leading and sponsoring anti-democratic, anti-liberal and anti-Western fanaticism for the past three decades, the toppling or even substantial reform of that regime would be second only to the collapse of the Soviet Union in its ideological and geopolitical ramifications. Those who have long advocated a "grand bargain" were right to talk about the immense global benefits if Iran could be integrated into the international order. Their big mistake was thinking such a bargain could be had with virulently anti-Western leaders.
        Regime change is more important than any deal the Obama administration might strike with Iran's present government on its nuclear program. Regime change in Tehran is the best nonproliferation policy. With tougher sanctions, public support from Obama and other Western leaders, and programs to provide information and better communications to reformers, the possibility for change in Iran may never be better. The writer is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (Washington Post)
  • A Different Forum Needed for Goldstone - Adam Yoffie and Noah Pollak
    On Wednesday, Justice Richard Goldstone will give the George Herbert Walker, Jr. Lecture in International Studies at Yale University. Justice Goldstone accepted a mandate from the UN Human Rights Council, a body used by some of the world's worst human rights abusers to deflect attention from their own authoritarianism and brutality, to investigate Israel, and only Israel, over its attack last year on the internationally-recognized terrorist group Hamas.
        The report he produced is a perversion of human rights and international law. It treats Hamas' allegations with meticulous credulity, but Israeli claims with flippant skepticism. It is riddled with factual errors and twisted accounts of the war. The members of Goldstone's staff have long histories of anti-Israel political activism. The report makes frequent and unsupported editorial declarations against Israel and included testimony from residents of Gaza who feared retaliation from Hamas. Justice Goldstone himself has admitted that nothing in the report would be admissible as credible evidence in a court of law.
        It is astonishing that Yale would attempt to legitimize Goldstone by awarding him the Walker Lecture - and thereby take sides in a bitter controversy. We believe that Justice Goldstone should come to Yale. But if he is to make an officially sanctioned appearance on campus, it should be in a debate in which his alleged judicial impartiality can be challenged - not a coronation that seeks to sanitize his work and shield him from much-deserved criticism. (Yale Daily News)
  • Observations:

    We Are Still in the Shadow of the Holocaust - Michael Gove (Telegraph-UK)

    • This Wednesday we remember the greatest crime ever inflicted by man against his fellow man. Holocaust Memorial Day allows us to reflect on the bleakest chapter in the history of the 20th century. And there is a special urgency in the call to remember this year, of all years - because the shadow of the Holocaust continues to fall over the world today.
    • Mass murder is still deployed as a political tool by tyrants. Racism is returning to the streets of Europe. And anti-Semitism is creeping back into the corridors of power. The extremism of the British fascists of the BNP is mirrored in the equally toxic ideology of anti-Semitic groups such as Islam4Uk and Hizb-ut Tahrir.
    • The history of the Holocaust is the history of a society which blamed the Jews for its miseries, sought to push them to the margins and then sought, literally, to make them vanish from sight. In our time we can see the same trends returning. The calls for boycotts of Jewish thinkers at Israeli universities, the rise in anti-Semitic incidents on our streets, the inflamed rhetoric of vilification which culminates in Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call to wipe Israel off the map, are all connected.
    • Now it is Jewish identity expressed through the right of Israel to self-determination which is the focus of anti-Semitism. Many of Israel's enemies now risk repeating one of the greatest errors of history by infusing anti-Semitism with a new and toxic vibrancy. As the chief rabbi, Lord Sacks, has pointed out, what starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews.
    • History teaches us many lessons, if we are willing to pay attention. And one of the most profound is that the best guide to the health of a society has always been how secure its Jewish community feels. Throughout history the freest societies have been those in which Jewish people have felt safest. And over the ages the surest sign that a country is moving away from liberalism has been a growing prejudice towards the Jewish community.
    • It is because that lesson of history is so important that Holocaust Memorial Day is so crucial. The resurgence of anti-Semitism requires us all to unite against this most poisonous of prejudices.

      The writer is the British shadow secretary of state for children, schools and families.

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