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July 21, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Palestinians in the Arab World: Why the Silence? - Khaled Abu Toameh (Hudson Institute New York)
    When was the last time the UN Security Council met to condemn an Arab government for its mistreatment of Palestinians?
    How come those who call themselves "pro-Palestinian" turn a blind eye to the fact that Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and many more Arab countries continue to impose severe travel restrictions on Palestinians?
    A news story on the Palestinians that does not include an anti-Israel angle rarely makes it to the front pages of Western newspapers.
    The demolition of an Arab-owned illegal building in Jerusalem is, for most correspondents, much more important than the fact that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in Lebanon are denied the right to own property, do not qualify for health care, and are banned by law from working in a large number of jobs.

Turkey in Cyprus vs. Israel in Gaza - Daniel Pipes (Jerusalem Post)
    This week marks the anniversary of Turkey's invasion of Cyprus. Is Israel in Gaza really worse than Turkey in Cyprus? A comparison finds this hardly to be so.
    The Turkish occupation of 37% of Cyprus amounted to a "forced ethnic cleansing," according to William Mallinson in a just-published monograph from the University of Minnesota. In contrast, if one wishes to accuse the Israeli authorities of ethnic cleansing in Gaza, it was against their own people, the Jews, in 2005.
    The Turkish government has sponsored what Mallinson calls "a systematic policy of colonization" on formerly Greek lands in northern Cyprus. Turkish Cypriots in 1973 totaled about 120,000 persons; since then, more than 160,000 citizens of the Republic of Turkey have been settled in their lands. At the same time, not a single Israeli community remains in Gaza.
    And then there is the ghost town of Famagusta, where Turkish actions parallel those of Syria under the thuggish Assads.
    After the Turkish air force bombed the Cypriot port city, Turkish forces moved in to seize it, thereby prompting the entire Greek population (fearing a massacre) to flee. Turkish troops immediately fenced off the central part of the town, called Varosha, and prohibited anyone from living there.

Israel and the Palestinians: Finding a Way Forward Without Academic Boycotts - David J. Skorton and Robin L. Davisson (Chronicle of Higher Education)
    It is more important than ever for faculty colleagues to resist and oppose academic boycotts against Israeli institutions, to reject fatalism, and, instead, to enlist faculty, students, staff and higher-education leaders throughout the world to connect with colleagues in Israel and the Palestinian territories: facilitating bidirectional student and faculty exchange; combining our aggregate knowledge, skills, resources, and spirits; learning about each other, one interaction at a time.
    David J. Skorton is president of Cornell University. Robin L. Davisson is a professor at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • New Sanctions Crimp Iran's Shipping Business as Insurers Withhold Coverage - Thomas Erdbrink and Colum Lynch
    Just weeks after the U.S. and the UN imposed new rounds of sanctions on Iran, Tehran's ability to ship vital goods has been significantly curtailed as some of the world's most powerful Western insurance companies cut off Iranian shippers. "Iranian-flagged ships are facing problems all over the world as they currently have no insurance coverage because of the new sanctions," said Mohammad Rounaghi, deputy manager of an Iranian company that provides services for international ship owners and maritime insurance companies. "Basically, most ports will refuse them entry if they are not covered for possible damages."
        Maritime insurer Lloyd's announced this month that it would stop underwriting gasoline imports to Iran, a move that analysts say will probably prompt other insurers to follow. The new sanctions have also led fuel suppliers in Europe and the Middle East to refuse to refuel Iranian planes. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Court Fines North Korea for 1972 Terror Attack in Israel - Ashish Kumar Sen
    A U.S. court has found North Korea guilty of aiding terrorists and has fined Pyongyang $300 million in connection with a 1972 terrorist attack in Israel. However, it is unlikely North Korea will recognize the court decision and pay the fine. "North Korea's demonstrated and well-known policy to encourage, support and direct a campaign of murder against civilians amply justifies the imposition of punitive damages against it," Judge Francisco A. Besosa of the U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico said in a ruling Friday.
        The lawsuit was filed by the family of Carmelo Calderon-Molina, a U.S. citizen who had traveled to Israel on a pilgrimage to Christian religious sites and was killed in the attack at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. The attack was carried out by the Japanese Red Army and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), with material support from North Korea and North Korea's Cabinet General Intelligence Bureau. (Washington Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Taking Steps to Reduce Civilian Casualties in Future Wars - Lahav Harkov
    Israel has committed to reduce the number of civilian casualties in future wars in a new response to the Goldstone Report released by the Foreign Ministry. The IDF has committed to a number of operational changes in its combat doctrine to minimize civilian casualties, including restricting the use of white phosphorous in urban areas and integrating a Humanitarian Affairs Officer in each combat unit, as well as defining new regulations regarding the destruction of private property when necessary. The 37-page report was delivered to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Turkish Foreign Minister Meets with Hamas Leader in Damascus - Roee Nahmias
    Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met Monday in Damascus with Hamas' Political Bureau Chief Khaled Mashaal. The Turkish minister reiterated his country's support for the Palestinians and said Ankara continues to devote great efforts to breaking the Gaza siege. He added that Turkey insists on an Israeli apology over the Gaza flotilla raid and an independent international probe of the incident. (Ynet News)
  • New Anti-Rocket System Doesn't Cover All Threats - Reuven Pedatzur
    The new Iron Dome anti-rocket system does not provide a solution to all threats. The system is designed for rockets with a range of more than 4.5 km. The distance from the outskirts of Beit Hanun in Gaza to Sderot is less than 4 km. In addition, the price of one Iron Dome missile is $100,000. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel's Iron Dome Missile Defense System Not a Silver Bullet - Joshua Mitnick (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Obama's Turnabout - Aluf Benn
    President Barack Obama's campaign of wooing Israel reflects a fundamental about-face in U.S. policy in the Middle East. U.S. priorities have changed: At the top are the intensifying problem of Iran and concerns about the change of leadership in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Under such circumstances, Israel is perceived as a vital ally, and not an obstacle to warmer ties between the U.S. and the Muslim world, as was the view at the start of Obama's tenure.
        When Obama came into office he hoped to reach an agreement on sharing influence with the regional power, Iran. So he cooled toward Israel and pulled out of the closet the well-worn club called "settlements." But that didn't work. The Iranians waved off Obama's goodwill gesture, and the Arab states ignored the Palestinian issue and made it clear that blocking Iran was more important. This is the reason for the turnabout in Obama's approach. (Ha'aretz)
        See also U.S. Rethinks Tactics for Middle East - Ehud Yaari
    President Obama's foreign policy team have reached the conclusion that picking unnecessary fights with Israel was not going to advance the peace process. They are not getting anything in return from the Arab world. There has also been a change of heart in Washington concerning Iran. I have solid information that the top echelons of the administration have concluded that the U.S. cannot adopt the option of containing a nuclear Iran. There is an understanding that in no way can Iran be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon. How do we know this? Among other things, because this is what the Americans have been telling Arab leaders over recent weeks.
        I believe Obama and some of the people around him are reaching the conclusion that a policy based on engagement doesn't really work. They got a "no" for an answer from the Syrians, they repeatedly get a "no" from the Iranians, and they get slapped back all over the place. They are saying to themselves, "That's about as much as we are prepared to take." The writer is Lafer International Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Middle East commentator for Channel 2 news in Israel. (The Australian)
  • Who's Against a Two-State Solution? - Efraim Karsh
    After the Six-Day War in 1967, nobody envisaged a two-state solution. In UN Security Council Resolution 242, Palestinian nationhood was rejected by the entire international community, including the Western democracies, the Soviet Union, and the Arab world itself (as late as 1974, Syrian President Hafez al-Assad openly referred to Palestine as "a basic part of southern Syria"). Instead, under Resolution 242, it was assumed that any territories evacuated by Israel would be returned to their pre-1967 Arab occupiers: Gaza to Egypt, and the West Bank to Jordan.
        The ascendance of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), coupled with Jordan's renunciation of its claim to the West Bank, led to a reinterpretation of Resolution 242 as in fact implying a two-state solution. Conveniently ignored was that the PLO rejected any such solution. In June 1974, the organization adopted a "phased strategy" - it would seize whatever territory Israel was prepared or compelled to cede and use it as a springboard for further territorial gains until achieving the "complete liberation of Palestine."
        After Arafat signed the Oslo Accords in 1993, he depicted the accords as transient arrangements required by the needs of the moment and made constant allusion to the "phased strategy." At the same time he discredited the idea of "two states living side by side in peace and security" by launching a sustained campaign of hatred and incitement that indoctrinated Palestinians in the illegitimacy of the State of Israel and the lack of any Jewish connection to the land.
        Is there in fact a fundamental distinction between Hamas and Fatah when it comes to a two-state solution? Neither formally accepts Israel's right to exist; both are formally committed to its eventual destruction. The writer, editor of the Middle East Quarterly, is professor of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King's College, University of London. (Middle East Forum)
  • Observations:

    Lebanon: Ayatollah Fadlallah's Death and the Expansion of Iranian Hegemony - Shimon Shapira (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Shiite religious leader Sayyed Muhammed Hussein Fadlallah played a leading role in the increasing Islamic radicalization of Lebanese Shiites and laid the foundations for Hizbullah's ideology of violent struggle against the West and Israel. He endowed the need to employ violence with religious sanction.
    • When Islamic radicalism blew in from Khomeini's Tehran in the 1980s and swept up the Shiites in Lebanon into jihad against Israel and the West, Fadlallah provided them with a guide. He served as a leading ideologue and supplied an organized doctrine for the mujahid who is ready to sacrifice his life for the Imam.
    • According to Fadlallah, "Death for those (Muslim fighters) is not a tragedy....Death has been transformed into a carefully calculated step that is not predicated on emotion. Death does not exist together with despair. The objectives and goals remain alive." It came as no surprise that Fadlallah praised the murder of eight innocent Jewish students at the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem in 2008.
    • Yet it is also true that Fadlallah displayed a measure of political courage in opposing the aspirations of Iran to establish an Islamic republic in Lebanon. Fadlallah was not prepared to recognize the status of Iran's Khamenei as vilayat-i faqih (rule of jurisprudent) because he did not view him as sufficiently learned, and also because he opposed this principle that had been invented by Ayatollah Khomeini.
    • Fadlallah's death removes one of the major obstacles to Iran's quest to establish an Islamic republic in its own image in Lebanon. Indeed, Iran and Hizbullah are already acting to incorporate Fadlallah's memory under their auspices, as though they were always a part of his flesh and blood.

      Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira is a senior research associate at the Jerusalem Center.

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