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March 10, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Jihad in Nigeria - Melanie Phillips (Spectator-UK)
    In appalling violence by Muslims against Christians in Nigeria, the latest tally after weekend attacks on three mostly Christian villages is some 500 dead.
    What is happening to Nigeria's Christians makes a mockery of the frenzied Western obsession with Israel.
    To understand the real cause of global tumult we should look carefully at Africa, and the appalling suffering of those upholding the religion that underpins the Western world.

Iranians Caught Using Stolen Israeli Passports - Dominic Waghorn (Sky News)
    Three Iranians were caught entering the Seychelles masquerading as Israelis using stolen Israeli passports, a report in Maariv newspaper claims.
    The Iranians were not arrested but simply sent back to Kenya, where they had flown from.

American "Jihad Jane" Arrested for Recruiting Muslim Terrorists - Richard A. Serrano (Los Angeles Times)
    Using e-mail, YouTube videos, phony travel documents and a burning desire to kill "or die trying," an American woman from Pennsylvania helped recruit a network for suicide attacks and other terrorist strikes in Europe and Asia, according to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed Tuesday.
    With blond hair and green eyes, Colleen R. LaRose, 46, who dubbed herself "Jihad Jane," bragged that she could go anywhere undetected, and that it was "an honor and great pleasure to die or kill for" jihad.
    Authorities said LaRose solicited funds for terrorist organizations, helped arrange phony passports and other travel records, and used the Internet to recruit women to kill in Europe and men in Asia.
    "A woman from suburban America agreed to carry out murder overseas and to provide material support to terrorists," said David Kris, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's National Security Division.
    See also Jihad Jane, an American Woman, Faces Terrorism Charges - Carrie Johnson (Washington Post)
    As an American citizen whose appearance and passport allowed her to blend into Western society, LaRose represents one of the worst fears of intelligence and FBI analysts focused on identifying terrorist threats.
    She looked for recruits whose physical appearance would "blend in with many people" and go undetected in Europe and the U.S. She allegedly agreed to marry one co-conspirator in an effort to ease his path to Europe.

Israel Pardons 77 Former Fatah Terrorists (Maan News-PA)
    Israel on Monday agreed to remove 77 Palestinians, nearly all of them former fighters in the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Brigades in the West Bank, from its list of "wanted" men as a continuation of its amnesty program, Palestinian sources said.

Ask Razan Naaim About Israeli "Apartheid" - Liat Collins (Jerusalem Post)
    Razan Naaim, a two-year-old Palestinian girl, is recovering from cardiac surgery performed by the "Save a Child's Heart" program at Wolfson Medical Center.
    Last week, EU Ambassador in Israel Andrew Standley visited Razan and launched a new project to provide cardiac treatment for at least 150 Palestinian children, and post-graduate training in pediatric cardiac care for eight Palestinian physicians.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Seeks a Stronger Stance on Iran - Glenn Kessler and Janine Zacharia
    Israeli officials are beginning to signal impatience with the slow pace of diplomacy aimed at restraining Iran's nuclear ambitions. In Jerusalem on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed the need for the international community to join a U.S. sanctions push aimed at limiting Iran's nuclear program. "The stronger those sanctions are, the more likely it will be that the Iranian regime will have to choose between advancing its nuclear program and advancing the future of its own permanence," Netanyahu said. He added: "I think that the international community and the leading countries in the international community have to join the American effort. And Israel has been helping out with key countries and continues to do so."
        The Obama administration had said that after a year of outreach to Iran, it would get tough in 2010, promising "crippling sanctions." UN sanctions were to be enacted quickly, followed by EU sanctions and then even tougher unilateral sanctions by a group of like-minded countries. "We were led to believe that by now, or the end of the month, that sanctions would be in place," said a senior Israeli official. "Iran is the litmus test" for American power, he said, and any failure to deal toughly with Iran will only encourage America's enemies. (Washington Post)
        See also Israel: Outlook for Tough UN Steps on Iran "Grim" - Louis Charbonneau
    The outlook for imposing tough new UN sanctions on Iran is increasingly grim, as Russia and China work to slow down a U.S. and European drive for swift action, Israel's UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev said Tuesday. "The chances now seem grim regarding sanctions that will be crippling," she said. (Reuters)
  • In Hebron, Renovation of Holy Site Sets Off Strife - Janine Zacharia
    The Tomb of the Patriarchs - a site revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians as the burial place of their common forefather, Abraham - needed bathrooms and a new roof over an outdoor prayer area. To the spokesman for Hebron's Jewish community, that should not have been grounds for international scandal. "In any normal country, people would take a site like that and turn it into a nationally recognized monument," David Wilder said. Demonstrators threw rocks in Hebron last week after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that Israel would spend $100 million rehabilitating 150 "national heritage" sites, including the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem. Most of Hebron is a bustling, modern Arab city filled with honking taxis, vendors and shops - a thriving hub of West Bank commerce. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Netanyahu: We Didn't Seek to Embarrass Biden over Jerusalem Construction - Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff
    Israel's Interior Ministry announced Tuesday that the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee had approved 1,600 new housing units to ease the ultra-Orthodox community's housing shortage for young couples in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, a community of 20,000 in northern Jerusalem. Interior Ministry officials rejected claims that the plan's authorization was intended to scuttle efforts to renew proximity talks between Israel and the PA, or to otherwise compromise Vice President Biden's visit. The program had been drafted three years ago and the work of district planning committees is not under the direct authority of Israel's political leadership, which tries not to interfere with their work.
        Prime Minister Netanyahu reportedly told Biden, "No one was seeking to embarrass you or undermine your visit - on the contrary, you are a true friend to Israel." A high-ranking Israeli official said Netanyahu has "no problem" with construction in Jerusalem and has no intention of apologizing for building there. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday that the construction announcement does not represent a new development. "This is an ultra-Orthodox city very close to the 'green line,' and these are housing units for people who are struggling and cannot buy elsewhere," he said. (Ha'aretz)
        See also U.S. Slams Approval of New Jerusalem Homes
    Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday condemned Israel's approval of 1,600 new housing units for young haredi families in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo. "The substance and timing of the announcement, particularly with the launching of proximity talks, is precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now," Biden said, warning that "unilateral action taken by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations." White House spokesman Robert Gibbs also condemned the announcement. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Minister: Timing of Announcement Unfortunate
    Interior Minister Eli Yishai told Army Radio that the timing of the announcement of a Jerusalem building plan was not discussed with him or other senior ministry officials. "The approval is a purely technical matter and we have no intention of insulting or seeking a confrontation with the U.S. vice president," Yishai said. He said he regretted the timing of the decision, adding that if he had known about the matter he would have recommended that the announcement be delayed by a week or two. However, he does not plan to cancel the building plan because the government's construction freeze in the territories does not apply to Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Biden Assures Israel of Security Support - Roni Sofer
    Vice President Joe Biden assured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday that Israel enjoyed Washington's unstinting support for its security and repeated U.S. intent to curb Iran's nuclear program. "There is no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to Israel's security," Biden said following talks in Jerusalem. (Ynet News)
  • Israel to Start Formally Monitoring PA Incitement - Barak Ravid
    Israel is to begin officially monitoring incitement in the Palestinian Authority and will periodically issue a report on it, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last week. Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of Military Intelligence's research department, will serve as government coordinator for incitement in the PA. "We will set parameters by which to measure the level of incitement," Netanyahu told the committee. "People must know exactly what is happening on this issue, because for a peace agreement, education toward peace and acceptance of Israel are needed."
        Building a "culture of peace...should not wait until the day a state comes into being," a senior Israeli government official said. The "incitement index" will be produced by monitoring broadcasts in the official PA media, statements and actions by senior PA officials and textbooks. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • From Proximity to Peace? - Editorial
    President Obama and George Mitchell erred last year by raising expectations that a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations could be achieved relatively quickly. Even now Arab leaders, who endorsed the new process last week, may hold lingering hopes that the U.S. president will impose a solution. Yet as the new administration discovered in 2009, there are limits to how far the U.S. can push Middle East diplomacy. On the whole it is better to have Israelis and Palestinians talking than not. But Mitchell must aim for a quick transition to direct negotiations - and he should avoid raising expectations about what they can accomplish. (Washington Post)
  • For Israel's Arabs It Is Not Apartheid - Khaled Abu Toameh
    An Arab member of the Knesset who goes all the way to the U.S. and Canada to tell university students and professors that Israel is an apartheid state is not only a hypocrite and a liar, but is also causing huge damage to the interests of his own Arab voters and constituents. If Israel were an apartheid state, what is this Arab doing in the Knesset? Doesn't apartheid mean that someone like him would not, in the first place, even be permitted to run in an election?
        Fortunately, Arab citizens can go to the same beaches, restaurants and shopping malls as Jews in this "apartheid" state. The Arab community has a free media that many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza envy. Ironically, an Arab newspaper in Nazareth or Haifa that is licensed by Israel enjoys more freedom than the media controlled by Hamas and Fatah, as well as most corrupt Arab dictatorships.
        The Arab Knesset member's presence on these campuses plays into the hands of those Israelis who accuse the Arab citizens, the majority of whom remain loyal to the state, of being a "fifth column" and an "enemy from within." The more the Jews are afraid of their fellow Arab citizens, the more the latter will suffer. (Hudson Institute New York)
  • Observations:

    Disproportionate Reactions to Israel Are a Scandal - Walter Russell Mead (American Interest)

    • If we compare the attention and care that the international community has extended to the Palestinians with our attention and support for other victims in other places, a disturbing pattern emerges. Whatever the wrongs of Israel's occupation policy, the Palestinians, especially in the West Bank but even in Gaza, live much better than many people in the world whose suffering attracts far less world attention - and whose oppressors get far less criticism.
    • The disproportionate reactions to Israel's treatment of Palestinians constitutes a genuine scandal and pretty much proves that anti-Semitism did not die. I believe that unconscious but real anti-Semitism informs many contemporary attitudes toward the Jewish state. I've run across a surprisingly large number of people who believe that Israel's right to exist is conditional: that Israel has to earn and keep re-earning its legitimacy by behaving better than other countries. I have also been told many times that the Jews are not a "real" people.
    • These views are anti-Semitic, pure and simple. The Jews are a real people, a nation, and they have the same right to self-determination that other nations have. The Jewish state is the expression of their natural right to self-determination and whether that state behaves well or badly, wisely or foolishly, it has the same right to exist as Finland, the U.S., or Egypt. To deny the right of the Jews to a state is to deny them a basic human right on account of their nationality; I'm sorry, but this is anti-Semitic behavior.
    • The belief that only Israeli recalcitrance prevents the outbreak of peace in the Middle East strikes me as delusional. Outside powers like Syria and Iran are meddling constantly in Palestinian politics for reasons of their own. Weak leadership, fragile institutions, and a lack of a sufficiently strong consensus among Palestinians worldwide to accept partition as the final outcome to the long struggle would continue to obstruct a peace settlement even if all the Israeli obstacles were to disappear. And if the Palestinians and Israelis reach an agreement, other countries in the Middle East are likely to continue to stir the embers of hatred for generations to come.
    • Managing unhappiness rather than building utopia is what we Americans are likely to be doing in the Middle East for the foreseeable future.

      The writer is the Henry A. Kissinger senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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