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May 17, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Russia to Sell Jets, Air Defense Systems to Syria (AP)
    The head of Russia's arms-trading agency said Friday his nation has signed contracts to deliver fighter jets, air defense systems and armored vehicles to Syria.
    Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation chief Mikhail Dmitriyev said Russia will sell MiG-29 fighter jets, Pantsyr short-range air defense systems and armored vehicles.
    See also Israel: Russia Arms Sales to Syria "Don't Help Peace" (AFP)

Iranian Cleric Calls for Creation of "Greater Iran" - Ali Akbar Dareini (AP-Washington Post)
    Radical Iranian cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Bagher Kharrazi called Saturday for the creation of a "Greater Iran" that would stretch from Afghanistan to Israel, bringing about the destruction of the Jewish state, in an event that he said would herald the coming of Islam's expected messiah.
    "The Islamic United States will be an introduction to the formation of the global village of the oppressed and that will be a prelude to the single global rule of the Mahdi."
    Kharrazi's comments reveal the thinking of a growing number of hard-liners in Iran.

Hamas Teddy Bear Teaches Martyrdom (MEMRI)
    The Hamas children's show "Pioneers of Tomorrow" aired on Al-Aqsa TV on April 2, 2010:
    Nassur the Teddy Bear: "Dear children, when we grow up, we will become martyrs, God willing."
    Child host Saraa: "Greetings to our people in Holland....What would you like to sing for us?"
    Caller: "When We Become Martyrs."
    Teddy Bear: "Go ahead. Come on, cheer her on. Clap your hands."
    Caller (singing): "When we get martyred we will go to Paradise....Without Palestine our childhood means nothing."
    Teddy Bear: "Warm applause."

Jordanians Burn Israeli Produce - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
    Israeli goods were burned in Jordan Saturday, during protests against Israel marking Nakba Day.
    Hundreds of members of the Anti-Normalization Committee set fire to hundreds of fruit and vegetable crates imported from Israel in Amman's central marketplace, a day after Jordanian clerics issued a religious edict that forbids purchasing merchandise from Israel.
    See also Jordanian Children Demand "Right of Return" - Thameen Kheetan (Jordan Times)

New Artillery Rocket Accurate within 10 Meters after 40 Km. - Nir Kosti (Bamahane-Israel Defense Forces)
    Israel Military Industries has developed an artillery rocket with an advanced navigation system and a 40 km. range that is able to hit a target with a precision of ten meters.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran to Ship Its Uranium to Turkey in Nuclear Deal - Alan Cowell and Alexei Barrionuevo
    Iranian state media said on Monday that Brazil and Turkey had brokered a compromise with Tehran in the international standoff over Iran's nuclear program, a development that could undermine efforts in the UN to impose new sanctions on the Iranians. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Iran had agreed to send some 1,200 kilograms of its lightly enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for a total of 120 kilograms enriched to a higher level - 20%. (New York Times)
        See also Iran Could Boost Ability to Enrich Uranium - Julia Damianova and Borzou Daragahi
    Iran has expanded the number of machines producing medical reactor-grade uranium, an incremental step that could increase its ability to produce the highly refined material necessary to build a nuclear bomb, said two diplomats in Vienna, home of the UN atomic watchdog agency. The envoys said they did not know yet whether a second machine installed next to the unit already producing 20% enriched uranium was being fed with uranium or sitting idle. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Clinton: No "Serious Response" Expected from Iran Without Sanctions
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday after a meeting with British Foreign Secretary William Hague: "The world leadership, as evidenced by the Security Council, has the direction of reaffirming the authority of the Security Council, of putting some real teeth into the sanctions, of uniting the world in a way that will send an unequivocal message to the Iranian leadership. And finally, I have told my counterparts in many capitals around the world that I believe that we will not get any serious response out of the Iranians until after the Security Council acts."  (State Department)
  • Hamas Destroys Dozens of Palestinian Homes in Southern Gaza - Rizek Abdel Jawad
    Hamas police wielding clubs beat and pushed residents out of dozens of homes in the southern Gaza town of Rafah on Sunday before knocking the buildings down with bulldozers, residents said. Hamas said the homes were built illegally on government land. For years, Palestinians have criticized Israel for destroying houses, mostly because they were built without permits. Now, Rafah residents complained, their own government has done the same.
        Nazira Abu Jara, 56, said policewomen wearing face veils typical of conservative Muslim women beat her with clubs until she fled her house with her husband and two children. Residents said between 30 and 40 homes were torn down and more demolitions were expected Monday. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Rahm Emanuel: U.S. "Screwed Up the Messaging" - Herb Keinon
    The Obama administration has "screwed up the messaging" about its support for Israel over the past 14 months, and it will take "more than one month to make up for 14 months," White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel on Thursday told a group of rabbis at the White House. Dennis Ross explained during the meeting that by calling for a nuclear-free Middle East, U.S. policy had not changed. Since 1995, Ross explained, the administration's policy, supported by Israel, was to push for a nuclear-free Middle East in conjunction with comprehensive peace. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also White House Meets with Rabbis to Assuage Concerns on Israel - Ron Kampeas (JTA)
  • Israel: True Reconciliation Needed, Not Just Two-State Solution - Herb Keinon
    The goal of the diplomatic process should be a historic reconciliation between Jews and Arabs, and not just a two-state solution, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Sunday. He said framing the upcoming discussions as trying to get to a two-state solution was to define the problem in too narrow a fashion. "For this to be a lasting peace," Ayalon said, "what was needed was reconciliation based on co-existence."
        Ayalon said that Israel would agree to a Palestinian state if this was the way the road had to go to lead to a historic reconciliation, but could not agree to a Palestinian state that would infringe on vital Israeli interests and not result in the longed-for historic agreement. "We want peace, and understand it will entail two states," Ayalon said. "But we can't be fatigued or impatient. We can't work under a time limit." Ayalon pointed out that in the 17 years since the Oslo process began in 1993, all Israeli parties have moved a long distance toward accepting the idea of a Palestinian state. By comparison, he said, "the Palestinians have not moved an inch."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Allows Building Material into Gaza After French Request - Herb Keinon
    In response to a request by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Israel allowed 30 tons of building material into Gaza Thursday to help rebuild the intensive care unit at Al Quds hospital, damaged in the fighting in 2009. Last November, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner allocated two million euro for the project. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Global Zero: An Israeli Vision of Realistic Idealism - Ariel E. Levite
    Israel's declaratory policy has always embraced nuclear disarmament as a coveted end-state. At the Conference on Disarmament on September 4, 1997, Israel formally committed to a vision of a Middle East free from nuclear and all other nonconventional weapons of destruction and ballistic missiles. Yet disarmament is seen as an end result of a long political process producing a fundamental and long-lasting transformation of relations between Israel and its neighbors.
        While seeing disarmament (including nuclear disarmament) as a desirable outcome, Israel nevertheless believes that it could and should not be pursued independently. Progress toward disarmament is clearly seen as a byproduct of attaining the more pressing goals of comprehensive peace and normalization. The writer is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (Washington Quarterly)
        See also Israel and the Question of a Nuclear-Free Zone in the Middle East - Dore Gold (ICA-Jerusalem Center)
  • Why Hizbullah Will Stay Armed and Dangerous - Mara E. Karlin
    Retaining arms is a key factor in Hizbullah's longstanding ability to subvert the Lebanese state. In May 2008, when rival Lebanese forces tried to undermine Hizbullah's communications infrastructure and minimize its covert security presence at the Beirut airport, the group responded violently, triggering the worst intra-Lebanese violence since the country's 15-year civil war. The group's patrons, Iran and Syria, play critical roles in perpetuating its armed status.
        Beginning in 1983 with its attack on the U.S. presence in Beirut, Hizbullah has repeatedly disrupted the region, generally to the benefit of Iranian and Syrian interests. For years, it has provided training to Iranian-backed militias in Iraq that target U.S. troops. Even if Hizbullah were interested in disarming and becoming just another Lebanese political actor (which no Hizbullah leader appears to be considering), it is not clear that the Iranian regime would permit such a move. Until the Middle East's larger political problems are resolved - including the unstable state of affairs in and around Iran - Hizbullah will remain armed and dangerous. The writer was Levant Director at the Pentagon in 2006-2007 and Special Assistant to the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy in 2007-2009. (Foreign Affairs)
  • Rising Tension between Iran and the Gulf States - Zvi Mazel
    The Arab Gulf states are feeling compelled to adopt an appeasement policy toward Tehran while with increasing dread they helplessly follow the nuclear crisis, epitomized by Iranian determination and aggression in the face of American weakness. The official Iranian news agency has warned them: "There is no lion in the region save for the one that crouches on the shore opposite the Emirate states. He guards his den which is the Persian Gulf. Those who believe that another lion exists in the vicinity (meaning the U.S.) - well, his claws and fangs have already been broken in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine." The writer served as Israel's Ambassador to Egypt and Sweden. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    The Middle East that Could Have Been - If Only Arab Leaders Hadn't Opted for War - Efraim Karsh (National Post-Canada)

    • On Nov. 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the partition of Palestine into two independent states - one Jewish, the other Arab - linked in an economic union. For Jews all over the world, this was the fulfillment of a millenarian yearning for national rebirth in their ancestral homeland. For Arab political and intellectual elites, it was a shameful surrender of (a however minute) part of the perceived pan-Arab patrimony to a foreign invader. The response of the Arab Higher Committee, the effective "government" of the Palestinian Arabs, headed by the militant ex-mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin Husseini, was an all-out war.
    • Nowhere at the time was the collapse and dispersion of Palestinian Arab society - "the catastrophe," as it would come to be known in Palestinian and Arab discourse - described as a systematic dispossession of Arabs by Jews. To the contrary: With Arab leaders throughout the region being brutally candid about their determination to subvert the partition resolution by force of arms, there was no doubt whatsoever as to which side had instigated the bloodletting and the attendant defeat and exodus.
    • As Sir John Troutbeck, head of the British Middle East Office in Cairo and no friend of Israel or the Jews, discovered to his surprise during a fact-finding mission to Gaza in June 1949: "While [the refugees] express no bitterness against the Jews, they speak with the utmost bitterness of the Egyptians and other Arab states. 'We know who our enemies are,' they will say, and they are referring to their Arab brothers who, they declare, persuaded them unnecessarily to leave their homes."
    • It was only from the early 1950s onward, as the Palestinians and their Western supporters gradually rewrote their national narrative, that Israel, rather than the Arab states, became the Nakba's main, if not sole, culprit. If it is understandable for leaders and politicians, culpable for their nation's greatest ever disaster, to revert to hyperbole and lies in their quest for personal and collective exoneration, it is inexcusable for future generations of scholars and intellectuals to substitute propaganda for incontrovertible facts.
    • They reveal that there was nothing inevitable about the Palestinian-Jewish confrontation, let alone the Arab-Israeli conflict; that the claim of premeditated dispossession is not only baseless but the inverse of the truth; and that far from being the hapless victims of a predatory Zionist assault, it was Palestinian Arab leaders who, from the early 1920s onward, and very much against the wishes of their own constituents, launched a relentless campaign to obliterate the Jewish national revival which culminated in the violent attempt to abort the UN partition resolution.
    • Had these leaders, and their counterparts in the neighboring Arab states, accepted the resolution, there would have been no war and no dislocation in the first place, for the simple reason that the Zionist movement was amenable both to the existence of a substantial non-Jewish minority in the prospective Jewish state on an equal footing, and to the two-state solution, raised for the first time in 1937 by a British commission of inquiry and reiterated by the partition resolution.

      Professor Efraim Karsh is Head of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Studies at King's College, University of London.

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