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August 18, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF Rejects Disgraceful Behavior by Former Soldier (Israel Defense Forces)
    Capt. Barak Raz of the IDF Spokesman's Unit responded to the disgraceful behavior of the former IDF soldier who uploaded shameful pictures to her Facebook profile showing her posing inappropriately next to Palestinians who had been arrested.
    The behavior displayed by this former soldier is not only disgraceful but in total opposition to the values and ethical code of the Israel Defense Forces.
    Any soldier who partakes in such an activity directly violates the IDF's code of conduct and will be dealt with severely.

Gaza's Once Vibrant Tunnel Trade Caves In - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
    Israel's decision to let imports flow more freely to Gaza has put many smuggling tunnels out of business and many workers out of a job.
    Locals say there are now just 50 operational tunnels, with only 10 working at any one time and dozens of others mothballed because Palestinian merchants are more willing to buy their goods from Israel rather than from the smugglers.

Israeli Arab Offers Different Perspective on Life in Israel - Michael Grant (Sunday Herald-Scotland)
    Glasgow Celtic midfielder Beram Kayal is an Arab from Haifa. He knows that for many who are unfamiliar with Israeli society it is surprising, even startling, that an Arab could integrate and prosper so successfully there.
    "What the television shows about Israel is totally different to what happens. The life between the Jews and the Arabs is very good. I'm an Arab and my agent is Jewish but we're like family."
    "The Jews and the Arabs live together in Haifa, which is a mixed city. Maccabi Haifa has seven or eight Arab players and that's normal. The only difference is their religion, but there's no conflict."

Police in Chile Guard Jews after Anti-Semitic Attacks - Gil Shefler (Jerusalem Post)
    In recent weeks, schools, synagogues and cemeteries in the Chilean cities of Santiago, Concepcion and Temuco have been vandalized and desecrated, according to the American Jewish Committee.
    In Santiago, vandals scrawled "Juden Raus" (German for "Jews out") on the walls of the Chaim Weizmann school. In a separate incident, a video was posted on the Web showing people urinating in a Jewish cemetery in the city.
    Public opinion in Chile, home to 20,000 Jews, is often influenced by the country's politically powerful 200,000 Palestinian immigrants and their descendents.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel and Greece Seek to Expand Military Ties
    Wrapping up a two-day trip to Greece, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the two nations were "opening a new chapter." Israeli and Greek leaders discussed expanding military ties on Tuesday including sharing military know-how and holding joint war games. In a symbolic gesture, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou hosted Netanyahu on a missile boat Israel sold to Greece eight years ago.
        Israel sees Greece as more ready to build ties with it because it senses that Athens' traditional Arab allies seem less opposed than in the past, due to shared fears of Iran. "Relations are now developing at great speed due to our common interests," said a senior Israeli official. (Reuters)
  • Israel's Economic Growth Accelerates - Gwen Ackerman
    Israeli economic growth unexpectedly accelerated to an annualized 4.7% in the second quarter, its fastest pace in more than two years. The Israeli economy's rebound from the global financial crisis has been powered by exports, with sales abroad (excluding ships, aircraft and polished diamonds) increasing in July to $3.8 billion. (Bloomberg)
  • Lebanon Gives Palestinians New Work Rights - Nada Bakri
    Lebanon passed a law on Tuesday granting Palestinian refugees there the same rights to work as other foreigners, a step forward in improving their status. "We agreed to give Palestinians the minimum of rights...but we haven't moved any closer to making them citizens," said Christian lawmaker George Adwan. Palestinians would still be barred from working as engineers, lawyers and doctors.
        Palestinians, who constitute nearly a tenth of the country's population, have long been denied basic rights in Lebanon. They are not allowed to attend public schools, own property or pass on inheritances. The legislation does not address any of those issues. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Hostage-Taker Shot at Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv - Eli Senyor
    Nadim Injaz, a Palestinian from Ramallah, was shot at the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv Tuesday after he tried to take embassy workers hostage. His attorney said that Injaz sought political asylum in Turkey. As he was evacuated to a nearby hospital he called out, "Death to Israel" and "We will kill you all." In 2006 the same man barricaded himself in the British embassy. (Ynet News)
  • PA to Try Four Palestinians for Violating Settlement Boycott - Ali Waked
    The Palestinian Finance Ministry decided Tuesday to indict four merchants who violated the boycott on products made in West Bank settlements. (Ynet News)
  • Call to Boycott Israeli Ships Blocked at International Conference - Chaim Biyor
    The British transport union RMT and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions initiated a resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli shipping at the annual International Transport Federation conference in Mexico City, but the resolution was blocked due to behind-the-scenes action by representatives of Israel's Histadrut General Federation of Labor and the Sea Captain's Union, in cooperation with representatives from the U.S. and other countries. After Israeli union leaders failed to convince a majority of delegations to vote against the boycott, the Israeli unions decided to resign from the international body, at which point the boycott decision was canceled. (TheMarker-Hebrew, 17Aug2010)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Historical Fiction: Israel Is Not a Colonialist State - Dore Gold
    The argument that Israel is a colonialist entity is often marshaled to undermine the Jewish state's legitimacy. It claims that Israel was established as an outpost of another distant power imposing itself on the territory and its native inhabitants. But the fact is that Britain and the rest of the League of Nations considered Jewish rights in Palestine beyond their power to bestow because those rights were already there to be accepted. Thus the League of Nations gave recognition to "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine." In other words, it recognized a pre-existing right. It called for "reconstituting" the Jewish people's national home.
        The accusation that Israel has colonialist roots because of its connection to the British Mandate is ironic, since most of the Arab states owe their origins to the entry and domination of the European powers. Prior to World War I, the Arab states of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan did not exist. They became states as a result of European intervention, with the British putting the Hashemite family in power in two of these countries. Saudi Arabia and the smaller Gulf states emerged from treaties that their leaders signed with Britain.
        For many Palestinian spokesmen, it became important to deny the historical ties of the Jewish people to their land and to portray them as recent colonialist arrivals to the region - in contrast to the Palestinians, who were portrayed as the authentic native population. Arafat used to tell Western audiences that the Palestinians are descendents of the Jebusites, with ancient roots in the land. But in Palestinian society, one establishes one's status by claiming to be a relative latecomer, whose ancestors were from the Arabian families that accompanied the Second Caliph Umar bin al-Khattab when he conquered and colonized Byzantine Palestine in the seventh century.
        Even at that time, the Jews were still a plurality - and, perhaps along with the Samaritans, a majority - in the land, six hundred years after the Romans destroyed their ancient Temple and the Second Jewish Commonwealth. This emerges from Professor Moshe Gil's monumental 800-page A History of Palestine: 634-1099. (New Republic)
  • "Direct Talks" No Mideast Miracle Cure - Douglas Hamilton
    Responding to reports of an expected move from indirect talks to direct negotiations on the Middle East conflict, former Middle East adviser Aaron David Miller said, "It would be a mistake of epic proportions to conclude that we've now reached a fundamental turning point that is going to produce quick or easy progress, let alone results." President Obama would do better to "park" the issue until after November mid-term congressional elections, rather than risk "another fight with the Israelis," Miller said.
        "Between the years of 1993 and 2003, direct talks on (Middle East) permanent status issues have started ten times," said Miller, now a policy analyst at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. The problem is that even if the two sides can now agree on sitting face-to-face in the same room, they are so far apart and entrenched on the main issues that there is little hope that these talks will not fail like all others have before them. (Reuters)
  • Muslim Brotherhood, Army Veterans Call to Boycott Jordanian Elections - Samuel Segev
    The growing privatization in Jordan, combined with increased unemployment, rampant corruption and a sharp decrease in Arab financial assistance, has thrown Jordan into its sharpest economic crisis in years. In an effort to contain growing domestic unrest, King Abdullah dissolved parliament and set Nov. 9 for new elections. Yet both the Muslim Brotherhood and army veterans are calling for a boycott of the elections.
        The Muslim group, assisted by West Bank Palestinians who became full Jordanian citizens in 1950, are demanding the inclusion of about 1.2 million Palestinians who came to Jordan after the 1967 Six-Day War. Despite the fact that they are fully integrated into the economy, academia and the media, they are qualified as "displaced" and have no political rights. In contrast, the army veterans who number more than 700,000 are totally opposed to the participation of those "displaced" Palestinians in the next elections. They argue that should these 1.2 million Palestinians participate, the percentage of "authentic" Jordanians will decrease from 57% to 43%. "Jordan will not be Jordan anymore" and the country will be usurped by the Palestinians, they argued. (Winnipeg Free Press)
  • Observations:

    Strategic Competition with Iran: The Military Dimension - Anthony H. Cordesman, Vivek Kocharlakota and Adam Seitz (Center for Strategic and International Studies)

    • U.S. competition with Iran is a game that has been going on for some three decades. It is clearly unlikely to be ended by better dialog and mutual understanding.
    • Iranian conventional forces remain weak, and are aging more quickly than Iran can as yet modernize them in spite of major efforts to create a military-industrial base. Given the fact that the U.S. brings a far more decisive lead in air, naval, and missile warfare to the table, Iran is anything but the "hegemon of the Gulf."
    • Iran has far greater capability for asymmetric (or irregular) warfare than conventional warfare and has developed a wide mix of land, air, and naval capabilities that can threaten its neighbors, threaten Gulf exports, challenge the U.S., and affect other parts of the Middle East and Asia. They also include the capability to use state and non-state actors as proxies. These forces are the key military elements of Iranian strategic competition and are steadily increasing in size and capability.
    • Iran continues to develop the capability to produce nuclear weapons, has chemical weapons, and may have a biological weapons program. Iran has made the development and deployment of long-range missile forces a key priority.

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