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February 26, 2010

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Dubai Passport Photos Were Doctored to Prevent Identification - Avi Issacharoff, Danna Harman and Liel Kyzer (Ha'aretz)
    The passport photographs of the agents who assassinated Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai were doctored so the agents would not be identified, a Ha'aretz probe has discovered.
    Various features of the people in the photographs, such as eye color or the line of a lip, were changed - slightly enough so as not to arouse suspicion at passport control, but still enough that the real agent could not be recognized.
    It had been assumed that publication of the photos of the 26 agents had blown their cover. Now it appears that the Dubai police still do not have viable information about their real appearance.

    See also Dubai Story Gets More Amazing - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
    The story just gets more and more amazing: 26 agents, perhaps even 30, sent to assassinate one person?
    And how could one think that Mossad agents would take cover in Iran?
    There is no doubt that more than a little of the information that Dubai's chief of police is disclosing or leaking to the media is part of a ploy in which bits of disinformation are planted.
    It began with a leak that there were signs of brute force on Mabhouh's body, evidence that he was tortured before he was killed. In fact, for ten days the Dubai police thought he had died of natural causes, so clearly had he not been tortured.
    The evidence linking Israel to the affair is still weak, certainly for courtroom purposes but also in the diplomatic sphere.
    But the saga also sends a message of deterrence to Hamas that the long arm of whoever carried out the operation can hit another senior Hamas official.

Adventures of the Green Prince - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
    "I wish I were in Gaza now," says Mosab Hassan Yousef by phone from California. "I would put on an army uniform and join Israel's special forces in order to liberate Gilad Shalit. If I were there, I could help. We wasted so many years with investigations and arrests to capture the very terrorists that they now want to release in return for Shalit. That must not be done."
    For more than a decade, Yousef, son of a Hamas leader in the West Bank, was an agent of the Israel Security Agency (ISA) and was known as the "Green Prince." His book, Son of Hamas, will be published next Tuesday.
    Yousef was a member of the Hamas students' organization at Birzeit University in the West Bank and was sent to prison after buying a gun in 1996.
    "I was in jail with Hamas people, with senior figures in the organization who ran an apparatus called Majad, a kind of internal security body of Hamas aimed at uncovering Israeli agents. They tortured prisoners, most of them from Hamas, whom they suspected of collaboration."
    "My job was to write down the confessions and testimonies. As the sheikh's son, I was trusted. It was there that I lost my faith in Hamas. They killed people for no reason. While everyone was warning me about the ISA, for the first time in my life I saw Hamas people torturing their comrades, members of their nation, with exceptional cruelty."
    "My handlers [in the ISA], for their part, respected me and treated me very well and even helped me with my studies. I was stunned by their behavior. They did not want to take action against the Palestinians as such, only against the extremists. I looked at these people, whom in the past I had so much wanted to kill, and discovered that everything I knew about them was incorrect."

Foreign-Based Lawsuits Prompt England to Rethink Libel Laws - Karla Adam (Washington Post)
    Amid growing concerns that England's tough libel laws stifle free speech, a parliamentary committee on Wednesday was expected to recommend broad changes that would make it harder to bring lawsuits and prevent foreigners from using English courts for defamation cases - called "libel tourism."
    Over the years, England has attracted waves of aggrieved plaintiffs, from U.S. celebrities to Ukrainian businessmen, who have sought to use English laws that make libel defense difficult and expensive. The burden of proof here is on the defendant, not the plaintiff - just the opposite of U.S. law.
    The U.S. Congress is considering legislation that would prohibit enforcement of libel judgments from outside the U.S., a move aimed at England.
    See also Libel Tourism: International Forum Shopping for Defamation Claims - Avi Bell (Global Law Forum)

What Israel Taught the U.S. about Drones - Joe Pappalardo (Popular Mechanics)
    Israel has been at the forefront of UAV development for decades, and taught the U.S. a thing or two about drones. The U.S. Air Force flew unmanned recon drones during the 1970s in Vietnam, but shut down all its UAV funding until the mid-1980s.
    Israel changed world opinion about UAVs in 1982 when it used small UAVs to trick radar installations into becoming active in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley; manned airplanes then moved in to destroy the radar sites after the unmanned planes revealed their locations.
    The U.S. realized UAV potential only after the Bekaa Valley campaign. The Defense Department is spending $5.4 billion on UAVs this year alone.

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Britain as a Focus for Hamas' Political, Propaganda and Legal Activities in Europe (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
    For more than a decade, Britain has been a focus for Hamas' political, propaganda and even legal activities in Europe.
    In fact, Hamas, with Muslim Brotherhood support, has managed to take over a considerable portion of the Palestinian discourse in Britain, at the expense of the PA and Fatah, and has contributed to turning Britain into a center for extensive anti-Israeli activity.
    Its supporters are careful not to identify themselves formally as Hamas activists.
    See also No Longer Londonistan But Hamastan - Melanie Phillips (Spectator-UK)

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Iran Threatens Airline Ban over "Arabian Gulf" Tag (Reuters)
    Iran has threatened to ban airlines from using its airspace if they refer to the waterway between Iran and Arab states as the "Arabian" instead of the "Persian" Gulf.
   "The airlines of the southern Persian Gulf countries flying to Iran are warned to use the term 'Persian Gulf' on their electronic display boards," Iranian Road and Transport Minister Hamid Behbahani said. "Otherwise they will be banned from Iranian airspace."

Gaza Training Camp Blast Kills Hamas Militant (AFP)
    A Palestinian militant was killed and another seriously wounded in an explosion on Monday at a training camp in Khan Yunis in Gaza, medics said.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran, Syria Ridicule U.S. Policy; Ahmadinejad Speaks of Israel's "Annihilation" - Howard Schneider
    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ridiculed U.S. policy in a joint news conference on Thursday and spoke to a shared sense that Iran is gaining influence in the region despite U.S. efforts. Until the outcome of the broader struggle over Iran's nuclear program becomes clear, analysts say, it is unlikely Syria will change direction. Ahmadinejad spoke of Israel's eventual "demise and annihilation" and said the countries of the region could create a future "without Zionists and without colonialists." Assad criticized what he regarded as the United States' "new situation of colonialism" in the region, with troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, and pressure on Syria to split from Iran, a friendship Assad emphasized was secure.
        "If Iran is seen as being on the ascent, that strengthens all those people that oppose peace in the Middle East," said Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. "Those who are on the fence will come off the fence on the wrong side."  (Washington Post)
        See also Iran, Syria Leaders Brush Aside U.S. Call to Weaken Alliance - Roueida Mabardi (AFP)
        See also In Past Two Weeks, Iranian President Ahmadinejad Repeatedly Calls for Eliminating Israel
    In the past two weeks, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has several times reiterated his call for eliminating Israel. Ahmadinejad stressed that Iran would stand alongside Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinian organizations if they were to be attacked by Israel, and stated that this time there must be joint action to bring about Israel's end. (MEMRI)
  • U.S. Says It Does Not Seek Crippling Sanctions on Iran
    The U.S. said on Thursday it does not aim to impose crippling sanctions on Iran but rather to pressure the Iranian government to change course on its nuclear program while protecting ordinary people. "It is not our intent to have crippling sanctions that have...a significant impact on the Iranian people," said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. "Our actual intent find ways to pressure the government while protecting the people."  (Reuters-Washington Post)
  • U.S., Israeli Defense Chiefs Discuss Iran Sanctions
    U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak held talks in Washington Thursday that the Pentagon said were focused on diplomatic efforts to impose "robust" sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said both sides had agreed the time had come to tighten sanctions on Iran as Tehran had "spurned" diplomatic efforts so far. The U.S. shares many of Israel's concerns on the issue and "Iran's failure to respond to a year of sustained and genuine outreach has left the international community no choice but to pursue a robust regime of sanctions," Morrell said. He said the Israelis had been "understanding, if not outright supportive" of President Obama's previous diplomatic overtures to Iran. "And obviously we have come to a point where those efforts, that outstretched hand, has not been reciprocated - in fact, it's been largely spurned."
        The talks between Gates and Barak were also expected to touch on cooperation on missile defense systems and the Middle East peace process, including U.S. efforts to train PA security forces, officials said. (AFP)
        See also Israeli Delegation in China to Discuss Iran's Nuclear Plans - Anita Chang
    An Israeli government delegation led by Moshe Ya'alon, the Israeli minister in charge of strategic affairs, arrived in Beijing on Thursday to discuss sanctions against Iran for its nuclear ambitions. Israeli officials have been visiting foreign capitals in recent weeks in a bid to raise support for new sanctions. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for "sanctions that have teeth" during a visit earlier this month to Russia. (AP-Washington Post)
  • Islamic Bloc Wants UN Action to Stop Heritage Sites Renovation
    The Islamic bloc at the UN has called for international action to force Israel to rescind its decision to renovate two holy sites in the West Bank. Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari, speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) UN ambassadors, condemned the "illegality and illegitimacy" of the Israeli decision which they view as "null and void." They called on all relevant UN bodies "to take urgent, necessary measures to force Israel to rescind this decision."  (AFP-Ynet News)
        See also below Observations - Netanyahu: No Change in Status Quo at Tomb of the Patriarchs (Prime Minister's Office)
  • EU Court: West Bank Goods Are Not Israeli - Robert Wielaard
    The European Union high court ruled Thursday that the disputed West Bank is not part of Israel and Israeli goods made there are subject to EU import duties. For trade purposes, it argues Israel has no standing in the area where its companies make cookies, pretzels, wines, cosmetics and computer equipment. The court said the EU trade accord with Israel "applies to the territory of the State of Israel."  (AP-Business Week)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Clinton: Goldstone Problematic for Other Countries - Yitzhak Benhorin
    A day before the UN General Assembly meets for a second discussion on the Goldstone Report, which accused Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday expressed her reservations about the report. Clinton warned that the U.S. would not be the only one to be affected if the Goldstone Report sets the international standards. Meanwhile, more than 100 congressmen have sent a letter to Clinton, urging the Obama administration to keep the Goldstone Report from reaching the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The letter was initiated by Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.).
        UN General Assembly President Ali Treki of Libya called a meeting on Friday to continue discussing the Goldstone Report, which will end with a decision giving Israel and the Palestinians five months to complete their investigations. The congressmen wrote: "We believe that the correct venue for investigating issues related to Operation Cast Lead is not the Security Council or the International Court of Justice, but the world-class Israeli justice system itself."  (Ynet News)
  • The European Lobby in Israel - Seth J. Frantzman
    Between 2002 and 2008, the European Parliament's European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) granted a total of $14 million to various Israeli NGOs. $5.5 million was directed specifically to causes for Palestinians, while a further $7 million went specifically to programs that benefit Israeli Arabs. Even when the EIDHR funded programs for women, it did so only for programs for Bedouin or Israeli Arab women. Not one cent was directed toward any of the diverse Jewish communities in Israel: Ethiopians, Russians, Yemenites, Persians or Jews from the Caucasus. Around $73,000 was directed towards former IDF soldiers to get them to provide testimony that might lead to a process whereby European courts might put soldiers or their officers on trial for war crimes.
        In addition, in its November 2009 report "Trojan Horse: The Impact of European Government Funding for Israeli NGOs," NGO Monitor illustrated that individual European embassies in Israel and other EU projects give lavishly to Israeli NGOs, sometimes even making up the majority of their budgets. In fact "foreign-funded local NGOs are responsible for a significant portion of the petitions brought before the Israeli High Court of Justice," says the report. The EU has created an internal lobby within Israel to get Israel to bend to its will. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Is the Iranian Regime Collapsing? - Menashe Amir
    To grasp Iran's ambitions and foreign policy it is necessary to understand the Islamic Republic's religious ideology which aspires to establish global Islamic rule - under Shi'ite leadership. This belief lies at the heart of Iran's foreign policy, including its ambition to acquire nuclear weapons. Ayatollah Khomeini ruled that a Muslim mustn't touch infidels, deal with them, or come into contact with them. Jews, in particular, are considered unclean. Iranian leaders call for the annihilation of Israel because these "unclean Jews" occupy the Muslim land of Palestine and hold the keys to the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque. When Ahmadinejad declared that Israel ought to be wiped off the map, he added that this was merely the first stage of the confrontation with the West, which means Christianity. Indeed, part of the animosity that Iranians express toward Judaism and Israel stems from the fact that they consider Judaism to be a pillar of the Christian faith.
        The Revolutionary Guards have taken over most of the economy, most of the political positions, and have infiltrated the judiciary system, though they continue to let Khamenei act as the face of their regime. Unlike the religious leaders of Iran, the Revolutionary Guards lack moral and religious values, with the exception of one very deep religious belief: that they are the messengers of the Mahdi, the vanguard of the messiah. In one possible scenario, the regime will collapse from the inside. Changes to the system of subsidies can only add to Ahmadinejad's unpopularity. In this context, international pressure and sanctions on Iran will very much influence the continuation of the struggle against the regime. Menashe Amir, one of Israel's leading experts on Iran, is the chief editor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Persian-language website and former head of the Israel Broadcasting Authority's Persian-language division. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The Berlin-Dubai-Tehran Axis - Matthias Kuntzel
    Since China still opposes new UN sanctions, the responsibility for stopping the Iranian bomb rests with a "coalition of the willing." Yet hundreds of German manufacturers remain determined to continue doing business as usual with Tehran. Much of that business goes undetected via Dubai. Iran's mullahs use the United Arab Emirates as a back door through which to funnel goods that cannot be brought in through the front door because of existing sanctions. Dubai is already the "gateway to the Iranian market" - and not only for German companies. The emirate is considered the hub for much of the world's illegal trade with Iran.
        Some 8,000 Iranian firms and 1,200 Iranian trading companies are registered in the emirate, and 80% of all Emirati imports are re-exported, one-quarter of which goes to Iran via Dubai. Between 2005 and 2009, the value of goods exported from Dubai to Iran tripled, reaching $12 billion. (Wall Street Journal Europe)
  • Ahmadinejad's Visit to Syria Delivers Snub to U.S. - Jonathan Spyer
    The visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Damascus is testimony to the enduring strength of the Iran-led "resistance bloc" and to Syria's membership in it. It is hard not to see it also as a calculated snub by the Syrian president to the U.S. U.S. officials have been vocal in recent days in expressing their hopes of what will result from the current policy of engagement with Damascus, after the naming of a new ambassador to Syria. By hosting the Iranian president, Bashar Assad once more drove home that Syria's alliance with Iran is deep, and it isn't going anywhere, any time soon. The writer is a senior researcher at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)
  • With Mohamed ElBaradei Out of the Way, the Truth Can Now Be Revealed about Iran's Nuclear Weapon Program - Con Coughlin
    Has anyone else noticed that, now that Mohamed ElBaradei is no longer in charge of the UN's nuclear watchdog, we are suddenly seeing a more realistic assessment of what the Iranians are really up to with their nuclear program? For years the International Atomic Energy Agency  has pulled its punches, even when confronted with the most glaring evidence that Iran was trying to mislead the West as to its true intentions. Now that ElBaradei is no longer with the IAEA, we are receiving a more sober assessment of what the Iranians are really up to. Its new report unequivocally accuses Iran of carrying out work to build a nuclear bomb.  Specifically it says that Tehran has now processed enough enriched uranium to make a bomb. Thanks to ElBaradei's policy of appeasement towards Iran, the world is now a far more dangerous place. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also What the IAEA Knew - Anne Bayefsky
    For almost a decade, the IAEA and its director general stalled for time on behalf of Iran. They lied about what they knew and actively stood in the way of efforts to prevent the world's most dangerous regime from acquiring the world's most dangerous weapon. (Forbes)
        See also Will ElBaradei Run for Egypt's Presidency? - An Interview - David Kenner (Foreign Policy)
  • Saudis: Short-Term Solution to Iran Needed - Michael Young
    It is painfully obvious that the international community has no idea how to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. The Obama administration is right to hesitate about going to war against Iran, but it is wrong to take the option off the table so explicitly. Doing so may actually make a military confrontation more likely by persuading the Iranian regime that it can pursue uranium enrichment with impunity. No one believes that the new round of UN sanctions Washington is seeking to impose on Iran will interrupt its nuclear ambitions. In fact when Secretary of State Clinton visited Saudi Arabia, she heard her Saudi counterpart, Saud al-Faysal, say: "Sanctions are a long-term solution, but we see the issue in the shorter term, maybe because we are closer to the threat. So we need an immediate resolution rather than a gradual resolution." The writer is opinion editor of the Daily Star in Beirut. (The National-UAE)
  • The Decisive Factor - Ronen Bergman
    It's easy to come up with weighty arguments against an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear project. Yet the decisive factor will be the extent to which the memory of the Holocaust beats in the hearts and minds of every person in this country, not as distant history, but rather as something that could happen again tomorrow. The factor that will tilt the balance is the same one that prompted Prime Minister Begin to bomb the Iraqi reactor, and the same one that prompted the bombing of the Syrian reactor.
        Should Israel receive information that Iran is close enough, too close, to a nuclear bomb, and should all efforts to thwart this prospect fail, any Israeli prime minister will be taking one decision only. The way to prevent the bombing is not through pressure on Israel. It won't make a difference. Rather, the only way is to impose effective sanctions on Iran, so that Tehran realizes that it is precisely the continuation of the nuclear project that threatens the regime's stability and very existence. (Ynet News)
  • Immediate Strong Sanctions Needed on Iran - U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Cal.)
    The Senate and the House of Representatives have now passed new sanctions legislation aimed towards trying to avert Tehran's nuclear ambitions, but have not worked out their differences to send the bill to the President. The President should not wait for Congress. He should act to immediately impose sanctions on Iran using his existing authority and mount a relentless campaign to recruit other nations to follow suit. The Iranian regime has used every delay in imposing tougher sanctions so far to its advantage and hopes to keep a divided and indecisive world at bay while it makes its nuclear arsenal a fait accompli. Strong American leadership is needed if reluctant nations, such as China and Russia, will turn away from short-term advantage and realize a nuclear-armed Iran is not in their interests either. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)


  • Armistice Now: An Interim Agreement for Israel and Palestine - Ehud Yaari
    More than 16 years after the euphoria of the Oslo accords, the Israelis and the Palestinians have still not reached a final-status peace agreement. The prospects of a deal between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PA leader Mahmoud Abbas are slim, since Abbas already rejected former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's far-reaching proposals - the sort of offer Netanyahu would never make. The best option for both the Israelis and the Palestinians is to seek a less ambitious agreement that transforms the situation on the ground and creates momentum for further negotiations by establishing a Palestinian state within armistice boundaries. (Foreign Affairs)
  • Out of Date and Out of Touch - Barry Rubin
    Whenever I deal with Palestinians, Arabs, or their supporters, whether in the Middle East or in the West, what makes the greatest impression is their total lack of knowledge about Israeli positions toward peace-making. Among Palestinians, and more broadly with most of the public in the Muslim world and many of those in the elite classes in Europe, there exists a mythical Israel, reminiscent of the fabricated anti-Semitic stereotypes of the past and which has little to do with reality.
        They have no idea what Israel actually offered during the 1990s peace process, or at the Camp David summit in 2000, or what is in the current Israeli government's peace offer. All proposed the creation of an independent Palestinian state. Equally, many don't seem to realize that Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and that if Hamas didn't persist in attacking Israel or openly planning for future attempts to destroy it, Israel would leave that area alone entirely.
        Anyone who actually lives in Israel knows, whether or not they agree, that the overwhelming majority is ready to accept an independent Palestinian state as long as it is willing to end the conflict and live side by side in peace. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Many Gazans Regret Their Choice of Hamas - Linda Gradstein
    Open criticism of Hamas is growing in Gaza. Hamas, which won Palestinian elections in 2006 and then seized sole control of Gaza in June 2007, remains firmly in control. But Israel's boycott of Hamas, which Israel imposed after Hamas captured an Israeli soldier three and a half years ago, is making life in Gaza harder. Despite the frustration, there doesn't seem to be a viable alternative political leadership. Many senior members of the Fatah movement fled after Hamas seized control.
        Taxi driver Iyad al-Shafi says that he voted for Hamas in 2006 but that if elections were held today, he would look for another party to support. "Nobody likes Fatah because they're corrupt," he said. "But when Fatah was in charge here, people were working and had money. There were no shortages, and, most important of all, we could leave Gaza."  (Slate)

    Other Issues

  • What the U.S. Can and Can't Do in the Middle East - Shlomo Avineri
    The U.S. has been and can be extremely powerful and helpful when either of the following scenarios unfolds: 1) a shooting war erupts and threatens to unleash dire regional or even global consequences; or 2) the contending parties have already made, on their own, significant steps towards reaching an agreement but still need a helpful push from the outside. In the first case, the U.S. can function as an effective firefighter and bring about a cessation of hostilities. In the second, it can act as a midwife and help clinch the deal.
        Towards the end of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in the last stages of Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and during the Gulf War in 1991, America exerted intense pressure to make Israel stop its military operations on a dime. The Israeli-Egyptian peace and the 1993 Oslo negotiations were both initiated by the two sides with the U.S. left completely out of the loop, while the U.S. served as a midwife for the final agreements. The U.S. can, then, be of assistance. But when a shooting war or bilateral negotiations are not already underway, it falls flat on its face. Every American attempt to reach an agreement in the absence of these conditions has ended in spectacular failure.
        Dennis Ross and David Makovsky, in Myths, Illusions and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East, discuss a number of basic myths and illusions such as "linkage," "engagement," and promotion of regional democracy. They show how the linkage theory is faulty, both factually and historically. The writer, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, served as director-general of Israel's Foreign Ministry in the first government of Yitzhak Rabin. (Jewish Review of Books)
  • The Dark Side of Israeli Apartheid Week - Leonard Stern
    Beginning Monday, Canadian university campuses play host to an annual event known as Israeli Apartheid Week, where Israel is assigned the role of Jew among the nations - singled-out, cursed and harassed. The whiff of something medieval hangs over this March ritual. One activist group behind Israeli Apartheid Week, the Ottawa Public Interest Research Group, refused in 2008 to promote a lecture on African development because Jewish students at the University of Ottawa happened to be organizing it. The event had zero connection to Israel, but OPIRG said it wouldn't partner with the Jewish students' union due to the latter's "relationship to apartheid Israel."
        Of all the sponsors of Israeli Apartheid Week, the participation of gay and lesbian groups is most disheartening. Harvard University's Alan Dershowitz reminds us that Israel is the one country in the Middle East where they'd be able to hold a gay rights sign in public and not be lynched. Criticizing Israel does not make one an anti-Semite anymore than criticizing the government of France makes one anti-French. But it's one thing to criticize France and another to declare the French nation illegitimate and to advocate its dismantling. For that's what Israeli Apartheid Week is about. It is the fanatical, disproportionate focus on Israel - no other country is subjected to a week-long hatefest at university campuses - that points to something darker going on. (Ottawa Citizen-Canada)
  • "Israeli Apartheid" Week
    Apartheid Week is an affront to Palestinian and Israeli moderates who seek to reach peace through compromise and mutual recognition. It opposes equality and tolerance by seeking to do away with the Jewish people's right to self-determination. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that Israel, which he described as "one of great outposts of democracy in the world," has an "incontestable" right to exist. (CAMERA)
        See also Canadian Parliament Members Unite to Condemn "Odious" Israeli Apartheid Week - Robert Benzie (Toronto Star-Canada)
        See also The Campaign to Delegitimize Israel with the False Charge of Apartheid - Robbie Sabel (Global Law Forum)

    Weekend Features

  • Israeli Videos Portray Europeans as Gullible
    The Israeli government has produced a series of satirical videos portraying how it believes the country is perceived by gullible Europeans. The main aim of the website is to offer tips to Israelis traveling abroad on how to correct common myths and misperceptions about their country.
        In one clip, a British TV reporter introduces the camel as a "typical Israeli animal, used by the Israelis to travel from place to place in the desert where they live." "It is the means of transport for water, merchandise and ammunition. It is even used by the Israeli cavalry," he says. In a second clip, a breathless anchorwoman in a French TV studio has breaking news of "the sounds of war" in Israel. "Our special envoys report shooting and heavy explosions across the country," she gasps, as Israel innocently celebrates its independence day with fireworks displays and fly-pasts. A third shows an Israeli barbecue, where a Spanish TV reporter informs her audience: "Most Israeli homes don't have electricity or gas, so they use ancient cooking methods, like meat roasted on charcoal."
        "Are you fed up with how we are being presented in the world?" asks a voice after each clip. It goes on to say volunteers can help improve the country's image by being image ambassadors and countering anti-Israel prejudice. (Telegraph-UK)
  • The Dream of Jerusalem - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Jerusalem Conference last week: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel; Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people; Jerusalem is unified, it is indivisible and it will stay that way. The vision and foundation on which the State of Israel was established and stands today is the idea of Zionism. This name is derived from the word "Zion," and Zion is, after all, Jerusalem. In other words, the Zionist vision is the vision of Jerusalem. It could be called "the dream of Jerusalem."
        The dream of Jerusalem built Tel Aviv. It built the entire country and revived our land. The longing for Jerusalem brought waves of immigrants here: from Russia, from Yemen, from Poland, from Morocco and from Ethiopia. The dream of Jerusalem is the source of energy that drove the pioneers and fighters and the founding fathers of the army, the Israeli economy, Israeli culture and Israeli society. For 3,000 years, Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people, and it was never the capital of some other people, only ours. However, everyone in Jerusalem has freedom of access, freedom of movement and freedom of worship. (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Observations:

    Netanyahu: No Change in Status Quo at Tomb of the Patriarchs (Prime Minister's Office)

    Prime Minister Netanyahu on Thursday discussed the inclusion of the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb in Israel's national heritage plan.

    • Some elements in the international system mistakenly think that this is a diplomatic decision, a political decision. In fact, it is neither. It seeks to preserve a heritage that has existed with us for close to 4,000 years. We are not determining anything new.
    • The Patriarchs of the Jewish People, our forefathers, are buried there. This is an existing fact. We will not decide otherwise and it is absurd to think so. Neither are we overlooking the Islamic context there. We are simply seeing to it that there are proper conditions for Jewish and Muslim worshippers alike. There is an international desire to maintain heritage sites, to preserve them. But our intention is not to change the existing arrangements at all.
    • This issue needs to come off the agenda. Apparently, there has been a misunderstanding because there is no intention here - and no plan - to alter the status quo. We will maintain freedom of worship and strengthen the existing arrangements for Jewish and Muslim worshippers alike.
    • The Islamic Waqf carried out some repair and maintenance work at the Islamic prayer sites. For example, they installed fans in the main prayer hall. They installed chandeliers. They brought in rugs. They repaired the floor in the entranceway to the prayer room. They repaired the roof and painted a mosque for women. These repairs were appropriate. They were done in coordination with us and we want to do the same maintenance and preservation work for Jewish worshippers.
    • The Tomb of the Patriarchs is a prayer site with an almost 4,000-year-old heritage. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Patriarchs of the Jewish People, and Sarah, Rebecca and Leah, the Matriarchs, are buried there. We know that it is also a holy place for Muslims; we honor both. We are not changing the status quo at the site and we will not, in any way, harm freedom of worship for Muslims, just as we will preserve freedom of worship for Jews.

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