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August 11, 2010

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Jordanians Protest "Recognition of Zionist Entity" through Tourism (DPA-Ha'aretz)
    Opposition party leaders and prominent unionists from the National Committee for Resisting Normalization of Ties with Israel demonstrated before the Jordanian Ministry of Tourism on Monday to protest the offering of package tours to east Jerusalem because they involved obtaining visas from the Israeli embassy in Amman.
    "Applying for a visa from Israel is recognition of its existence," said Abdullah Obeidat, president of the Jordan Engineers Association, who on Sunday instructed the group's members to refrain from joining the package tours or lose their membership.

IDF West Bank Soldiers Told to Respect Ramadan - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    IDF soldiers in the West Bank have been asked to refrain from eating, drinking and smoking in public, particularly at the security crossings, during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which begins Wednesday.
    Soldiers have been asked to "demonstrate a high level of respect and understanding," the IDF said in a statement released Tuesday.

Middle East Coexistence at the Supermarket - Lenny and Shellie Ben-David (Pajamas Media)
    The parking lot of the new supermarket at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank is packed with Palestinian and Israeli vehicles.
    Palestinian families and Israeli "settlers" mingle in the aisles. At the checkout, one cashier was a Jewish woman from Kiryat Arba; at the cash register next to her was a Muslim woman from Halhul.
    A boycott of settlement products is supposed to be in force in the Palestinian Authority, but that's certainly not enforced at the supermarket.
    See also Israel Boycott Backfires on Palestinian Storeowners - Walid Shoebat (Walid Shoebat Foundation)
    Writing on the Arabic Media Internet Network (AMIN), Hiba Lama laments that the boycott of Israeli goods has simply bounced back on the Palestinians, as "numbers of Palestinians have abandoned their Palestinian shops after missing several items and went to stores in Israeli areas instead."
    "Hanna Rishmawi, owner of a shop in Beit Sahour, suffers from low sales since the boycott was established...[as the Israeli stores offer] low prices and many special offers."
    Abeer Taweel went to see the new supermarket everyone is talking about, only to find all her relatives, neighbors and acquaintances there purchasing all their needs for the whole week.
    At an emergency meeting, the PA Ministry of Economy adopted a policy to inspect all vehicles entering the Palestinian cities - Palestinian checkpoints to prevent their own people from exercising the freedom to shop.
    One thing is certain, cursing Israel was not a great idea after all.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Says It Will Make Up for Cutoff of U.S. Aid to Lebanon - Paul Richter and Alexandra Sandels
    Iran, reacting to a congressional freeze of U.S. aid to the Lebanese military, told Lebanese officials Tuesday that it would make up the potential $100-million loss. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also U.S.: Iran's Actions Compromise Lebanon's Sovereignty - Natasha Mozgovaya
    After Iran offered to support Lebanon's army if the U.S. were to discontinue military aid, U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Tuesday that "Iran's activities compromise Lebanese sovereignty." "I think that the statements by Iran are expressly the reason why we believe that continuing support to the Lebanese government and the Lebanese military is in our interest."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Lebanon Crisis Feared as Indictments Near in Assassination of Former Lebanese Prime Minister - Janine Zacharia
    Hizbullah's leaders are pressuring the Lebanese government to end its cooperation with UN investigators from the tribunal set up to try suspects in the 2005 killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri, amid indications that some Hizbullah members will be accused of Hariri's killing in indictments expected as soon as next month. Many in the country now fear the indictments could trigger a new political crisis or even sectarian bloodshed. Traditional power brokers in Lebanon, including Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, have flocked to Beirut in recent weeks to try to avert a crisis. Lebanese sources said Abdullah was so concerned about Hizbullah's warnings that he is working to delay the release of the indictments.
        On Monday, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah claimed in an elaborate two-hour broadcast from his hiding place that Israel was behind Hariri's assassination. Lebanon's prime minister, Hariri's son, Saad Hariri, 40, now faces the painful choice of whether to continue to try to find out who killed his father or to acquiesce to Hizbullah in order to maintain Lebanese stability. (Washington Post)
        See also Al Jazeera Spreads Hizbullah Conspiracy Theories - Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel
    Monday's speech by Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who tried to prove that his organization had nothing to do with the Hariri murder and conveniently pointed a finger at Israel, received widespread and often enthusiastic coverage in the Arab world, especially from Al Jazeera. In the Arab world today, Al Jazeera's support is as good as a court verdict, and is likely to be seen by many Arabs as proof positive of Israel's guilt. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Revises Israel Travel Warning after Complaint - Matthew Lee
    The State Department has revised its travel warning for Israel after the Israeli government complained it unfairly singled out the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat. The warning was replaced on Tuesday with a new version that eliminates references to Eilat, saying only that Americans in southern Israel "should follow the advice of the Government of Israel's office of Home Front Command." Israel's Tourism Ministry complained Monday the previous warning unfairly singled out Eilat for precautionary advice but not Aqaba in Jordan, where one person was killed by rockets fired at both cities. "This advisory gives a prize to terror and undermines regional stability and the sense of security that Israel gives to everyone who enters the country," the ministry said. "Differentiating Israel from its neighbor that actually suffered loss of life is improper and lacks balance."  (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Changes Approach to Lebanese Army - Hanan Greenberg
    The Israel Defense Forces has changed its approach to the Lebanese army after the exchange of fire on Israel's northern border last week. Brig.-Gen. Yossi Heiman, head of the Division for Strategic Planning and Foreign Relations in the IDF Planning Directorate, told the Lebanese chief of staff as well as senior UNIFIL officials that Israel would respond harshly to all aggressive moves. Until the incident, Lebanese soldiers were considered to be contributing to stability together with UNIFIL. Despite the state of war between the countries, the IDF would hold regular meetings with senior Lebanese officers via UNIFIL. Now, however, the IDF is accusing the Lebanese army of "treachery" after the incident in which an IDF commander was killed and another officer was severely wounded by a Lebanese army sniper. (Ynet News)
  • The IDF Underwater Missions Unit
    The Israeli Navy has released photographs of the work of its Underwater Missions Unit. The unit is mobilized to disable explosive devices discovered at sea, repair the external parts of ships in the water, and clean up after maritime accidents. "Our level of diving today is among the best in the world," claims unit commander Maj. Oren, whose duties include the controlled explosion of explosive material left in the sea from the 1940s. "If our enemies plant mines in the water, we have to clean it up."
        At the beginning of the year, the unit was called to deal with barrels of explosives launched from Gaza, and in April the unit pulled a Grad rocket out of the Gulf of Eilat. "In the Dead Sea we found ourselves dealing with anti-personnel blast mines that remain from the War of Independence and were revealed with the receding of the sea," explained Maj. Oren. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Time for Abbas to Talk Peace with Israel - Editorial
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has agreed to direct negotiations on a two-state solution; the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, is stubbornly resisting. It is time for him to talk. The proximity talks - the American envoy, George Mitchell, is shuttling again this week between Jerusalem and Ramallah - don't seem to be getting very far. Mr. Obama is pressing hard for direct talks and aides say he is losing patience with Mr. Abbas. Mr. Abbas has the backing of the Arab League, including crucial states like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Last month, the group formally gave him a green light - important political cover - to enter direct talks. They need to press Mr. Abbas to move now.
        If Mr. Abbas is not at the table, there is no serious way of testing Mr. Netanyahu's intentions and whether there is any real chance of peacefully achieving a Palestinian state. Mr. Abbas, who has long advocated a negotiated two-state solution, is seriously wrong if he thinks his leverage - and the future of the Palestinians - is in staying on the sidelines. (New York Times)
  • Is the Military Option Back on the Table? - Ephraim Kam
    During July, a few voices in the U.S., including former CIA head Gen. Michael Hayden, called for a reassessment of a military option against Iran. It appears that a certain change is emerging among certain elements in the American security establishment regarding the military option. The change of tone stems primarily from growing skepticism concerning the effectiveness of sanctions, and that at the end of the day, sanctions alone will not stop Iran's quest for nuclear weapons.
        Do these sentiments reflect a change in the American administration's stance regarding the military option? Not yet. As long as the administration believes that political moves, including the most recent round of sanctions, have not yet been exhausted, it will not tap a military option.
        But even if the administration continues to disapprove of military measures at this juncture, it apparently feels the need to draw attention to a military option in order to beef up the pressure of the sanctions on Iran. A second objective is to increase the pressure on other governments, specifically Russia and China, to cooperate with the implementation of the sanctions, with the implicit message that if they do not achieve the desired results, the administration will have no choice but to resort to military action. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Observations:

    A Nuclearized Iran: Approaching the Point of No Return - Jeffrey Goldberg (Atlantic Monthly)

    • The U.S. Central Command, whose area of responsibility is the greater Middle East, has already asked the Pentagon what to do should Israeli aircraft invade Iraq's airspace on their way to Iran. According to multiple sources, the answer came back: do not shoot them down.
    • If a strike does succeed in crippling the Iranian nuclear program, Israel will have removed from its list of existential worries the immediate specter of nuclear-weaponized, theologically driven, eliminationist anti-Semitism; it may derive for itself the secret thanks of the Middle East's moderate Arab regimes, all of which fear an Iranian bomb with an intensity that in some instances matches Israel's; and it will have succeeded in countering the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, which is a prime goal of the enthusiastic counter-proliferator who currently occupies the White House.
    • Israel has twice before successfully attacked and destroyed an enemy's nuclear program. In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, halting - forever, as it turned out - Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions; and in 2007, Israeli planes destroyed a North Korean-built reactor in Syria.
    • Iran is, at most, one to three years away from having a breakout nuclear capability (often understood to be the capacity to assemble more than one missile-ready nuclear device within about three months of deciding to do so). The Iranian regime, by its own statements and actions, has made itself Israel's most zealous foe; and the most crucial component of Israeli national-security doctrine is that no regional adversary should be allowed to achieve nuclear parity with the reborn and still-besieged Jewish state.
    • "You don't want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs," Netanyahu told me in 2009. "When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the world should start worrying, and that's what is happening in Iran." "Iranian leaders talk about Israel's destruction or disappearance while simultaneously creating weapons to ensure its disappearance."
    • An Israeli official who spends considerable time with the prime minister told me: "In World War II, the Jews had no power to stop Hitler from annihilating us. Six million were slaughtered. Today, 6 million Jews live in Israel, and someone is threatening them with annihilation. But now we have the power to stop them."

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