Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at www.dailyalert.org|
August 20, 2010
Iranian Gas Export Frustrated by Ban on Western Technology - Daniel Fineren (Reuters-ABC News)
Hizbullah Calls for Abolition of International Tribunal for Lebanon - Yusuf Diyab and Liyal Abu Rihal (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
Israel Exports to Turkey Up 32 Percent Despite Tensions (AFP)
Critics of Israel Slam BBC Flotilla Film - Jonny Paul (Jerusalem Post)
Dutch Muslim Group Fined over Holocaust Cartoon (Reuters)
Satellite Companies Provide Service to Hizbullah and Hamas Media (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
Senator Brownback Complains about Anti-Semitism in Norway (Norway, Israel and the Jews)
France Expels "Radical" Cleric - Again (Reuters)
Young Poles with Jewish Roots Visit Israel (Ynet News)
Israel's Top Technologies that Are Transforming the Web - Lisa Damast (Israel21c)
Video: Welcome to Gaza (ronen418)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The Obama administration, citing evidence of continued troubles inside Iran's nuclear program, has persuaded Israel that it would take roughly a year - and perhaps longer - for Iran to complete what one senior official called a "dash" for a nuclear weapon, according to American officials. "We think that they have roughly a year dash time," said Gary Samore, President Obama's top adviser on nuclear issues. Nuclear experts agree that the hardest element of producing a weapon is obtaining weapons-grade material.
For most of this year, Iran has added relatively few centrifuges - the machines that spin uranium at supersonic speed, enriching it. The public explanation by American officials is that the centrifuges are inefficient and subject to regular breakdowns. And while Iranian officials have talked about installing more advanced models that would be more efficient and reliable, only a few have been installed. "Either they don't have the machines, or they have real questions about their technical competence," Samore said. (New York Times)
See also What Is Iran's Competence in Operating Centrifuges? - David Albright, Paul Brannan and Andrea Stricker
A recent article in The Financial Times says that Iran's centrifuges are "only working at 20% efficiency." According to the latest IAEA data from May, however, each machine is achieving two to three times that efficiency, and perhaps even more. The 20% efficiency appears to derive from earlier calculations which were misinterpretations of the available data. Problems in operating centrifuge cascades and possibly sabotage have set back the Iranian centrifuge program. However, it is a mistake to believe that Iran is incompetent or is not progressing in operating large numbers of centrifuges. (Institute for Science and International Security)
See also White House Tells the Times What It Already Told The Atlantic - Jeffrey Goldberg
The Times article claims that Israel has been "persuaded" of a fact it already acknowledges. And by the way, the article quotes no Israelis agreeing to the premise of the article. Or disagreeing, for that matter. (Atlantic Monthly)
The Quartet of world powers will invite Israelis and Palestinians to begin direct talks on September 2 in Washington, a diplomatic source said on Thursday. The talks are intended to conclude a treaty in one year, and President Obama would be present at the talks, the source said. Israel insists it is ready for direct talks provided there are no preconditions. (Reuters)
Arab states have cut financial aid to the Palestinian Authority this year, and the UN has warned of a looming Palestinian cash crisis. "The Arabs are not paying. We urge them to meet their financial pledges," said Saleh Rafat, a member of the PLO executive committee. The failure of some wealthy Arab states to pay up is frustrating Western governments, which are big contributors to the Palestinian territories. Only 22% of PA budget support in 2010 came from Arab donors, the rest coming from international donors including the EU and U.S. This year Saudi Arabia had paid $30.6 million by August, compared to $241.1 million in 2009. The United Arab Emirates, which contributed $173.9 million in 2009, has yet to pay anything. (Reuters)
See also EU: Aid to PA Not Linked to Peace Talks
Aid to the Palestinians "is not linked to negotiations in any way," the head of operations at the Office of the EU Representative in Jerusalem said Thursday. Roy Dickenson categorically rejected the PA's accusations that donor countries were withholding assistance as the international community pushes for a return to direct peace talks. "We are actually making more money available and not less," he said. (Maan News-PA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Diplomatic sources say the Quartet's announcement on direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will not demand a continuation in the freeze of settlement building past September, Israel Army Radio reported Thursday. Israel has made it clear that it does not agree to the conditions set by the Quartet for direct negotiations, including the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. (Jerusalem Post)
A Lebanese vessel trying to break the blockade of Gaza may set sail from Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, Israeli officials said Thursday. Organizers of the ship, whom Israel has linked to Hizbullah, said the ship would set sail on Sunday from Lebanon. The Cyprus ambassador to Lebanon said that the vessel would not be allowed to enter a Cypriot port. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Cyprus Says "No" to New Gaza Aid Ship
"We are operating under the same policy: no vessels with Gaza as their final destination are allowed to dock in Cyprus," said police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos. Flotilla organizer Samar al-Hajj told AFP that Lebanon's president and prime minister refused to meet with her, apparently conveying the Lebanese government's lack of support. (Cyprus Mail)
See also Algerian Ship Leaves for Gaza
Another aid ship meant to break the IDF naval blockade on Gaza sailed out of Algeria, sponsored by the government, Israel Channel 10 television reported on Thursday. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process
The opening of direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians has been rumored for weeks, but it is hard to see how American mediation can succeed. Almost no one in the region shares Obama's audacity of hope. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas enters the talks as the reluctant dragon who wishes he did not have to be there. Neither Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor the Israeli public believes that sweeping steps like those advocated by many in the Obama entourage can be taken without unacceptable levels of risk to Israel's security.
Netanyahu is coming to the talks with ideas that can measurably improve the lives of the Palestinian people and move them toward their objective of a sovereign Palestinian state with territorial contiguity. The writer served for 23 years as foreign policy director of AIPAC. He now heads the Washington Project of the Middle East Forum. (Foreign Policy)
If the fractious Palestinian polity is in no way ready for a viable deal, and if imposing a solution on Israel is politically unfeasible and strategically self-defeating, what explains the full-court press to cajole Abbas to the table? The answer appears to be this: George Mitchell (for the American administration), Tony Blair (for the Quartet), and Catherine Ashton (for the EU) are deeply invested in the notion that Abbas is prepared to deliver on a historic two-state solution, and therefore even the illusion of momentum trumps the status quo.
But does it? Yes, Israel wants to achieve a breakthrough through direct talks. But ill-conceived negotiations, in which Abbas is encouraged to advance maximalist demands regarding refugees, borders, Jerusalem, and security, could prove as counterproductive this time around as at Camp David in 2000 - when, unprepared for compromise, the Palestinians unleashed a years-long paroxysm of violence. (Jewish Ideas Daily)
Despite earnest efforts by President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas, it will be extremely difficult for a final peaceful resolution to be achieved between Israel and the Palestinians in the near future. The major obstacle to peace is the international community which has emboldened Arab leaders into believing that Israel can be delegitimated and weakened through international pressure, and that if the Palestinians hold out long enough, they can end Israel's existence as a Jewish state accepted by the international community. Delay, it is believed, will help the Palestinians get a better deal, perhaps even preserving their so-called right of return - a "right" no Israeli government could ever accept.
The Palestinian Authority, led by Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, is escalating its demands, now demanding more than what it was offered by Prime Minister Barak in 2000-2001. And it is offering considerably less in return. Back then, the PA could have offered Israel real peace on all of its borders. Today, peace with the PA will not bring peace with Hamas in Gaza. In recent discussions in Israel, the issue of the Palestinians was clearly secondary to the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iran. Unless that threat is eliminated, or considerably delayed, many Israelis believe that they have little to gain from a partial peace with the Palestinians. (FrontPageMagazine)
According to what's known as "the demographic time-bomb," the Palestinian population will eventually outstrip the Jews in the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Yet a growing number of Israelis are asserting that the demographic balance is more favorable to Jews than previously thought: that Palestinians actually number far less in the West Bank than the official figure of 2.5 million - and that they are growing more slowly than the traditional projections.
Yoram Ettinger, a retired diplomat, spent the past several years poring over data from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and other sources, and discovered what he says are miscalculations in (among other things) the Palestinian birthrate and migration figures. Ettinger says that Palestinians have substantially inflated their numbers in the West Bank by continuing to count people long after they've taken up residence abroad; that the Palestinian fertility rate both in the West Bank and in Israel has been declining faster than projected; and that Jewish births have grown significantly over the past 15 years. "The demographic trend is Jewish," Ettinger concludes. "Anyone claiming that Israel must concede geography in order to secure demography is either mistaken or misleading." (Newsweek)
House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) and Ed Royce (R-CA), the ranking member of the terrorism subcommittee, recently sent a letter to Stuart Levey, the undersecretary for terror finance at the Treasury Department, stating that evidence "strongly supports" designating the Turkish charity IHH for its support of terrorist groups. IHH sponsored the flotilla designed to break Israel's blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza in May. Last week, Richard Verma from the State Department's Office of Legislative Affairs responded that "U.S. government agencies are taking a close look at IHH" for Treasury designation because "serious questions of support to terrorist organizations have been raised."
It is puzzling that IHH has not already been designated. The group advertises the fact that it is a participating member of the Saudi-based umbrella organization Union of Good. In 2008, the U.S. listed the Union as a terrorist entity, stating that the group was "created by Hamas leadership to transfer funds to the terrorist organization." Germany banned its IHH affiliate in July, noting the group's close and continuing ties to Hamas, which the EU classifies as a terrorist organization. An Israeli military spokesman announced that one of the flotilla passengers was Hussein Urosh, a Turkish IHH member who was trying to smuggle al-Qaeda operatives via Turkey to Gaza. The writer, a former intelligence analyst at the U.S. Treasury, is vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Foreign Policy)
Mavi Marmara records reveal that the ship was registered in the Comoros, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, while still flying the Turkish flag. This is important because, according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, Article 110/d, a warship which encounters a foreign ship on the high seas can interfere if it has grounds for suspecting that the ship is without nationality, and according to Article 92 of the same convention, "A ship which sails under the flags of two or more States, using them according to convenience, may not claim any of the nationalities in question with respect to any other State, and may be assimilated to a ship without nationality."
Those laws should end the debates about intervention in international waters. Mavi Marmara was sailing under two flags and, according to UN conventions, Israeli forces had a right to intercept it. The writer is a Turkish law student. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
The August 3 fatal shooting of an Israel Defense Forces officer by a Lebanese Armed Forces soldier has sparked debate regarding the utility and wisdom of the U.S. military assistance program to Lebanon. In recent months, Syrian influence has returned to Lebanon, while Hizbullah has secured enough political power to effectively reverse many of the 2005 Cedar Revolution's gains.
U.S. assistance to the LAF remains a long-term, aspirational program aimed at preparing the military to someday exert sovereignty over Lebanese territory. Ironically, when considered alongside the LAF leadership's increasingly strident rhetoric on Israel, the shooting incident appears to reflect a more aggressive posture - one more in line with Hizbullah. Indeed, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah has laid out a vision for Lebanon that marries the LAF to Hizbullah, so that "the army defends the resistance and the resistance has the honor to be defended by the army." (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
See also Unease in Beirut Over Hold on U.S. Military Aid - Michael Young (The National-UAE)
Lebanon's parliament this week granted Palestinians, some living in UN-run refugee camps for five generations, the legal right to work in the country - as foreigners. The new law only underlines an anomaly: The only places in the world that won't accept Palestinians as citizens with equal rights are the Arab countries. Lebanon and the other Arab states absolutely refuse to grant equal rights to the Palestinians whom they have warehoused for generations as "refugees." The Arab states won't give up their propaganda tool.
The U.S. needs to tell the Arab states explicitly that they must help solve a problem they're largely responsible for: They must offer citizenship to large numbers of refugees and their descendants. As long as the Arab states insist that the only solution is the one that ends the Jewish character of Israel, the camp residents will continue to suffer - and peace negotiations will lead nowhere. (New York Post)
See also Is Lebanon Finally Integrating Palestinians? - Andrew Lee Butters (TIME)
By failing to deal resolutely and forcefully with Tehran's nuclear ambitions, we've been sending a clear message to other rogue-nation nuclear wannabes that we don't really care. Syria has been steadily working on a nuke-weapons program. In 2007, Israeli jets pounded a site in Syria's remote eastern desert where, it was thought, Assad's scientists were working with North Korean help on making a bomb.
Ironically, just five years ago, Assad's vicious, unpopular regime seemed on the ropes. It had been chased out of Lebanon by the democratic "Cedar Revolution" and stood in international disgrace for its links to the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Assad today sees Iran become a regional power by supporting terror - even killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq and giving Scud missiles to Hizbullah to aim at Israel - while the West did nothing. He has seen that the best way to bolster a faltering dictatorship is to pursue a nuclear-weapons program. As long as U.S. power looks impotent and America's will to confront and deal with troublemakers recedes, we will encourage more predatory regimes like Iran and Syria and Venezuela. (New York Post)
In August 2009, Scottish authorities released Abdel Basset al-Megrahi - the Libyan terrorist responsible for the deaths of 270 passengers in the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. Libya's acceptance of responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and agreement to pay compensation to the families of victims had been key requirements of the 2003 resumption of U.S.-Libya relations in the wake of that country's dramatic, voluntary surrender of its weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Although Libya moved quickly to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, leader Muammar Qadhafi has yet to dispose of the country's chemical weapons cache, and he later retracted the initial acceptance of responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing - instead providing al-Megrahi with a hero's welcome home last August.
Given Qadhafi's backtracking on key provisions of the arrangement and the persistence of Libyan foreign policy behavior in direct opposition to U.S. interests, many are asking how much fundamental change has occurred in Tripoli. The notion that the dramatic reset of U.S.-Libya relations established a successful model for persuading other hardline states to change course falls short. Instead, today's Libya may serve to demonstrate the problems America will face as it pursues diplomatic engagement with rogue regimes. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
A continent-wide study conducted by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence at the University of Bielefeld in Germany, released last December, found that 46% of the Europeans surveyed somewhat or strongly agree with the following statement: "Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians." And 37% agreed with this statement: "Considering Israel's policy, I can understand why people do not like Jews." "(There is) quite a high level of anti-Semitism that is hidden beneath critics of Israel's policies," said Beate Kupper, one of the study's researchers. Kupper said that in places where there is a strong taboo against expressions of anti-Semitism, such as Germany: "Criticism of Israel is a great way to express your anti-Semitism in an indirect way."
According to Bassam Tibi, professor emeritus of international relations at the University of Gottingen in Germany, Muslims form a significant subset of this problem. "The growth of the Muslim diaspora in Europe is affecting the Jews," said Tibi. He said many European Muslims think "every Jew is responsible for what Israel is doing and can be a target."
"Sweden is a microcosm of contemporary anti-Semitism," said Charles Small, director of the Yale University Initiative for the Study of Anti-Semitism. "It's a form of acquiescence to radical Islam, which is diametrically opposed to everything Sweden stands for." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Canada and Israel have much in common. We're also tied for eighth place among the happiest people on Earth. Gallup conducted their polls from 2005 to 2009, and during that time, Israel fought two wars. Shouldn't all those wars make Israelis miserable? Not really.
The country was absolutely behind the war against Hizbullah. Overseas, people may have been confused over what the war was about, but Israelis all knew they'd been attacked without provocation. Standing together in the face of aggression doesn't make people miserable; quite the contrary. It puts fire in the belly and the warmth of fellow feeling in the heart.
Similarly, while people overseas may have been confused by the media coverage, Israelis know that their operation against Hamas in Gaza was one of the most justified wars in history - that it was an answer to naked terrorism after all other solutions had been tried and failed. For years, Hamas had tormented the townsfolk of Sderot with daily rocket and mortar attacks that struck schools, homes and health clinics. The whole country supported the cause.
The status of Jerusalem is one of the major stumbling blocks to an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Why not hold a referendum? Ask Jerusalem's Arabs if they want the continuing happiness of being part of a compassionate and caring liberal democracy or if they prefer the abject misery of living under the infinitely corrupt Palestinian Authority. The Israeli Arab weekly Kul Al-Arab polled the Arabs of Um al Fahm to ask what they thought of their city joining a Palestinian state. Only 11% were in favor; 83% said they preferred to remain Israeli. A referendum among Arab Jerusalemites would have a similarly lopsided result. (National Post-Canada)
On Wednesday, Palestinian student Mujahid Sarsur, 21, led a delegation of 22 Arab students to Israel's official Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem. The students, fasting for Ramadan, listened closely to their Arabic-speaking guide's explanations, and were left wide-eyed by the gruesome images of the death camps. Girls in Muslim head scarves turned away in horror at the sight of Jewish corpses being shoveled into pits. They huddled together as they watched film from Auschwitz, where about 1 million Jews were put to death. "The Holocaust is a huge part of Israeli society. We live so close to them and we need to understand them better if we are ever to live in peace," said Sarsur, a junior at Bard College in New York. Noor Amer, 15, a Palestinian who attends high school in Jordan, said that while he still rejects Zionism, the Yad Vashem visit helped him understand that "the Jews had nowhere else to go" after the Holocaust. (AP)
A 19-year-old Cork student who has just returned from two months working as a volunteer for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) says she has become the victim of a hate campaign. Cliona Campbell says she has received public abuse, emails and messages telling her to "keep her head down" after writing a piece for the local paper on her experiences. She says most of the reaction has been because she spoke highly of her time with the army and maintains her own strong beliefs about their work.
"I have a huge interest in the Jewish people and always have had so I had no hesitation about going out there." Campbell applied through Sar-El, a volunteering project. "Some of the people writing to me and about me say they now see me as a terrorist and that they don't even see me as Irish anymore. I stand up for what I believe," she says. (Sunday Tribune-Ireland)
See also An Irish Volunteer in Israel - Cliona Campbell
My decision to fly 5,000 km across the globe from my comfortable suburban existence to the sweltering heat and harsh discipline of the Israeli army was never one based on impulse. Ever since the age of nine, I have been captivated by the Jewish people - a nation which has endured hatred, persecution and genocide, and yet still retains an unyielding will to survive, unifying them in an unbreakable kinship.
Volunteers in the army are not afforded preferential treatment. We don the same uniforms, sleep on the same squeaky bunk beds, survive on the same food, and carry out work that the soldiers themselves would otherwise be doing. By night we would sit outside the barracks with the combat soldiers as we chatted animatedly about our favorite bands and Tel Aviv hang-outs. I gazed at the myriad of faces surrounding me. Moroccans, Russians, Yemenites, Ethiopians - all sporting the same khaki green uniform, all calling each other "achi" - "my brother." The final day of volunteering felt almost like a bereavement, as the commander's words echoed in my mind. "We have no oil, no precious metals, and a chronic water shortage. The only resource we do have is our people." (Sar-El - Volunteers for Israel)
Iran's Nukes Are Not Just about Israel - Christopher Hitchens (Slate)
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert