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October 29, 2010

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MI6 Chief: Spying Crucial to Stop Iran Nuclear Drive (AFP)
    Diplomacy is not enough to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons, Britain's MI6 intelligence chief John Sawers said Thursday, urging an "intelligence-led" approach to stopping nuclear proliferation.
    Sawers said that intelligence activities were responsible for Iran's admission last year of a second enrichment plant, which in turn led to tougher diplomatic pressure.
    "Stopping nuclear proliferation cannot be addressed purely by conventional diplomacy. We need intelligence-led operations to make it more difficult for countries like Iran to develop nuclear weapons."

D.C. Metro Bomb Suspect Aimed to Be Martyr (AP-Washington Times)
    Pakistani-born Farooque Ahmed was trying to enlist in a terrorist organization in January and was eager to become a martyr when he unknowingly walked into an FBI sting and began plotting to kill commuters on the nation's second-busiest subway system, according to court documents.
    Ahmed, 34, of Ashburn, Va., was caught on FBI surveillance video discussing his firearm, martial-arts and knife skills and offering to teach those deadly tactics to others, according to an FBI affidavit unsealed Thursday.

How the PA Views Security - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Gen. Adnan Damiri, spokesman for the Fatah-dominated Palestinian security forces in the West Bank, said Wednesday that Hamas was exploiting security coordination between the PA and Israel to discredit the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank.
    "We're not ashamed of security with the Israeli side," he explained. "This is a coordination between a warden and his prisoner. We are using this coordination to meet day-to-day needs of the people because this occupying warden controls everything."
    He said PA security forces recently seized many weapons belonging to Hamas in the West Bank, including rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles. "These weapons were not intended for use against the occupation," he said. "They were being stored to attack the Palestinian Authority."

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Israeli Translation of Egyptian Novel Infuriates Author (AFP)
    The translation into Hebrew of Egypt's hit novel The Yacoubian Building by the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) has infuriated its author, Alaa al-Aswany, who supports a cultural boycott of the Jewish state.
    "What the center and the translator did is piracy and theft, and I will be complaining to the International Publishers' Association," he said.
    "My position has not changed regarding normalization with Israel. I reject it completely."
    Egypt became the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, but virtually all of its artists and intellectuals continue to boycott the Jewish state.

Turkey's Muslim Identity - Irfan Husain (Dawn-Pakistan)
    Universities in Turkey are now permitting girls to attend in headscarves for the first time in many years.
    To many urban, sophisticated Turks, the use of the headscarf is an unwelcome reminder that their country has a strong Islamic identity that is now beginning to reassert itself after decades of being pushed into the mosques and the boondocks of Anatolia.
    500 members of the association of university professors recently signed a letter to the Higher Education Board, demanding that the ban on headscarves be retained.

The Sajmiste Exhibition Grounds in Belgrade - Mladenka Ivankovic (Jewish Political Studies Review)
    In 1937 the Sajmiste national exhibition site opened in Belgrade. In 1941 it became a Nazi concentration camp called Sajmiste or Semlin.
    From the autumn of 1941 until mid-1942, the Semlin Judenlager was a Nazi concentration camp for Jewish women, children, and elderly, primarily from Belgrade. They either perished there or faced death in the mobile gas vans on the way to the Jajinci execution site.
    This was not recognized until the 1980s.
    Today, the area of the camp and its "hospital" have been transformed into a nightclub. The political changes of 5 October 2000 have relegated World War II, its context, and its results to public oblivion.
    The writer received a PhD in history at the faculty of humanities in Belgrade, and is currently a researcher at the Institute for the Recent History of Serbia in Belgrade.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Slams Syrian Interference in Lebanon
    U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said Thursday: "We continue to have deep concerns about Hizbullah's destructive and destabilizing influence in the region, as well as the attempts by other foreign players, including Syria and Iran, to undermine Lebanon's independence and endanger its stability.... Syria, especially, has displayed flagrant disregard for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity, and political independence of Lebanon under the sole and exclusive authority of the Lebanese government.... Additionally, Syria continues to provide increasingly sophisticated weapons to Lebanese militias, including Hizbullah."
        "Hizbullah remains the most significant and most heavily armed Lebanese militia. It could not have done so if not for Syria's aid and facilitation of Syrian and Iranian arms."  (U.S. Mission to the UN)
  • UN Undeterred by Attack on Investigators in Lebanon - Massoud A. Derhally
    The UN tribunal investigating the killing of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri said it is undeterred by an attack on its investigators at a clinic in southern Beirut. Two investigators and their interpreter were "violently attacked" Wednesday by "a large group of people" when they went to meet a doctor at a private women's clinic, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon said in a statement. The Lebanese army rescued the three and they received medical attention. (Bloomberg)
        See also Hizbullah Calls on Lebanese to Boycott Hariri Court (Reuters)
  • Hamas to Step Up Executions of Collaborators - Anne Barker
    Hamas authorities in Gaza have begun imposing the death penalty as part of a campaign against Palestinians found guilty of collaborating with Israel. Two men have been executed in Gaza this year for passing information to Israeli forces. Dozens more are in jail. Omar Kaware is one of 42 men who share a single prison cell in Gaza's main jail. The inmates share one toilet and one bathroom between them. Every one of these men is accused of spying for Israel. And several, including Kaware, have been sentenced to death. "They accused me of collaborating with the Israelis, but I'm innocent," he said.
        He says he was set up by a vengeful neighbor and was tortured into making a confession. He revealed scars on his hands and feet as evidence. "They beat me. They tied my arms to the ceiling, hit me all over," he said. (ABC-Australia)
        See also In West Bank, Hamas Beaten Down, But Not Out - Tom Perry
    For more than three years, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has tried to crush the Islamist movement Hamas and has weakened, but not wiped out, the group. Mass arrests, arbitrary detention and torture, documented by Palestinian human rights groups, are part of the PA's campaign against Hamas. The PA has fired hundreds of people, many of them teachers, for real or suspected Hamas ties.
        By its own admission, Hamas is a shadow of its former self in the West Bank, although PA security forces say Hamas continues to plot against Abbas' administration. On Oct. 8, Israeli forces killed two members of the Hamas military wing who were suspected of killing four Israelis in the West Bank. Thousands of Hamas supporters turned out for the funerals in a rare public show of strength. Hamas "is a big organization with wide support from the Muslim Brotherhood, Syria, Iran, Qatar," said Palestinian political commentator Hany al-Masri. "Its strength will retreat, but it will not lose it completely."  (Reuters)
  • Hamas-Fatah Divide Turns the Lights Out on Gazans - Liam Stack
    The streets in Gaza City hum with hundreds of diesel-powered generators, the only line of defense against a war-damaged electric grid that plunges the territory into 8-hour-long rolling blackouts each day. The lack of electricity is largely due to a protracted disagreement between Gaza's Hamas government and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in the West Bank over who will pay the territory's electricity bill, estimated at more than $20 million each month. From 2006 to November 2009 the EU bought fuel for a local power plant but since December 2009 the EU stopped paying. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Abbas: We May Seek UN Recognition
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that he would consider asking the UN to recognize a Palestinian state. Speaking in Ramallah, Abbas said the move, one of "seven options," could come within months. (Ma'an News-PA)
  • Netanyahu: Direct Talks Are Only Path to True Mideast Peace - Barak Ravid and Natasha Mozgovaya
    Direct peace talks are the only path to achieve genuine Middle East peace, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Thursday, hours after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinians were considering a unilateral declaration of statehood. Netanyahu said Israel expected the "Palestinians to live up to their obligations by holding serious direct negotiations, without malice and without preconditions."
        "Any attempt to bypass direct talks by appealing to international bodies will do nothing to advance the true peace process." The two peoples could achieve "a secure and stable peace solely through direct negotiations, a path I hope we shall return to in full force soon."
        UN diplomats, responding to Abbas' threat of a unilateral declaration, said earlier this week that such a move would represent a severe strategic error on Abbas' side, calling Palestinian hopes of a possible U.S. abandonment of its traditional support of Israel in the UN Security Council a "wild dream." "U.S. support of Israel is part of its DNA," a senior diplomat said. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Netanyahu: Settlement Building Won't Affect Final Status Peace Deal
    Speaking after a meeting with U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman on Thursday, Netanyahu said the settlement issue was "not substantial" and that construction in the settlements "will not influence the peace map."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Knesset Speaker: Settlements Are "Palestinian Excuse" for Refusal to Negotiate - Roni Sofer
    Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin met with the president of the French Senate, Gerard Larcher, in Paris and discussed Europe's intervention in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. "Hundreds of thousands of Israeli people live in the settlements, and they are not an obstacle to peace. You can't ignore the fact that Bush's letter recognizes many of them. It's just an excuse for Palestinians at the negotiating table," Rivlin told Larcher. "The feeling is that Abbas is getting into the talks out of a sense of obligation and cannot convince his people to make compromises." "The people of Israel want peace and not illusions. We must make an effort to live together."  (Ynet News)
        See also PA TV: Tel Aviv Residents Are Also "Settlers" - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
    PA TV on Oct. 6 broadcast a program about the history of Jaffa (today, southern Tel Aviv), with pictures of a Muslim cemetery that included the caption: "Jaffa's holy sites are in the hands of the settlers."  (Palestinian Media Watch)
  • Jordan Slams UN Official for Urging Palestinian Refugees to Resettle in Arab States
    Jordan has condemned remarks by a UN official saying Palestinian refugees must not be deluded about their right to return and that Arab countries must resettle them. Wajih Azaizeh, who directs Jordan's Palestinian Affairs Department, on Thursday called remarks by Andrew Whitley, the N.Y. director of UNRWA, the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees, "irresponsible." Speaking at a National Council for U.S.-Arab Relations conference last week, Whitley said: "If one doesn't start a discussion soon with the refugees for them to consider what their own future might be - for them to start debating their own role in the societies where they are rather than being left in a state of limbo where they are helpless, but preserve rather the cruel illusions that perhaps they will return one day to their homes - then we are storing up trouble for ourselves."
        "We recognize, as I think most do, although it's not a position that we publicly articulate, that the right of return is unlikely to be exercised to the territory of Israel to any significant or meaningful extent," he said, adding that "It's not a politically palatable issue, it's not one that UNRWA publicly advocates, but nevertheless it's a known contour to the issue."  (Jordan Times-AP-Ha'aretz)
        See also below Observations - The Refugee Question: The Bedrock of Palestinian Rejectionism - Ben S. Cohen (Huffington Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Palestinian Gambit for Statehood Puts Israel Against Wall - Leslie Susser
    With talks at a stalemate, the Palestinians are playing a new card: an end game to statehood through an appeal to the international community. If Israel remains in control of large swaths of the West Bank after a Palestinian state is declared and recognized, even if it's just in the General Assembly, it would provide additional fodder for the campaign to delegitimize Israel. "The Palestinians will declare a state. Virtually the whole world will recognize it. And we will be left without security arrangements," Israeli Trade and Industry Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer said Monday.
        Behind the scenes, Israeli diplomats have been warning their colleagues in Washington and Europe that if the Palestinians act on the UN strategy, the current peace process, and the Oslo process on which it is based, would be over. (JTA)
  • Will the Palestinians Take Their Case to the UN? - Tony Karon
    Palestinian leaders have begun telling the world that they are considering taking matters to the UN Security Council. The downside of the Palestinian UN option is that while UN recognition of a state based on the 1967 borders would "give" the Palestinians more territory than they might achieve in a U.S.-mediated negotiation process, the international body would not address the problem of getting Israel to concede possession - and the "facts on the ground" created by Israel since 1967 include nearly half a million Israelis. So getting UN recognition of Palestinian statehood on the 1967 borders would establish a principle, but brings its implementation no closer - and would probably be the prelude to a protracted struggle between the two sides. (TIME)

    Weekend Features

  • Israel Wins Cambridge University Debate - Yaniv Halili
    Last Thursday, Israel secured an unexpected triumph at the Cambridge University debate club on the topic: "Israel is a Rogue State," Yediot Ahronot reported Monday. The Israeli side was represented by Ran Gidor, the Israeli embassy's political advisor and a Cambridge graduate, and Shiraz Maher, a former radical Islamist who has become an enthusiastic Israel supporter. The opposing side was represented by journalist and publicist Lauren Booth, the sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Mark McDonald, who heads the Labour party's Friends of Palestine.
        After both sides concluded their arguments, the audience was asked to vote for the side that they deemed more persuasive. Surprisingly, the Israeli side won with 74% of the votes. (Ynet News)
        See also Lauren Booth Would Do Anything to Get in with the Tough Kids - Julie Burchill (Independent-UK)
  • Jews in Arab Lands - Zvi Zameret
    An Israeli who seeks a reliable depiction of past events cannot accept a mendacious historiography that portrays Jews as living prosperously and happily in Islamic states until Zionist colonialism and "Zionist aggression" ruined the idyll. Anti-Jewish attacks and massacres were perpetrated in Arab states during the course of the 20th century. In anti-Jewish riots in Iraq in 1941, 180 Jews were murdered and 700 were injured. In violent demonstrations in Egypt in November 1945, 400 Jews were hurt, and much Jewish-owned property was looted and damaged. In rioting in Libya in November 1945, 130 Jews were murdered and 266 were injured. December 1947 riots in Syria left 13 Jews dead (8 of them children) in Damascus, and 26 wounded. At the same time in Aden, Yemen, 97 Jews were murdered and 120 were injured. (Ha'aretz)
  • Eureka Moment for Israeli Chief Scientist - Sara Toth Stub
    As the new chairman of the EUREKA Network, an organization of mainly European countries working to promote industrial innovation and research and development, Israeli chief scientist Eli Opper said his priorities include developing innovative funding tools, enhancing cooperation with Asia and North America, and promoting the development of cleantech. At a meeting in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, EUREKA approved a total investment of €51 million in 56 R&D projects in member countries, including 17 projects in Israel or with Israeli participation.
        Israel, which joined EUREKA in 2000, is the only member country that is not also a member of the EU or geographically in Europe. Coined the "Start-Up Nation" in a 2009 book by Saul Singer and Dan Senor, Israel, with 3,800 start-ups, has the most start-ups per capita. In 2009, the Israeli government spent 4.9% of GDP on civilian R&D, compared with 2.8% in the U.S., according to the OEDC. (Wall Street Journal)
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce Sees Israel Opportunities - Myron Brilliant
    This month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launches the U.S.-Israel Business Initiative, a national effort to strengthen and advance U.S.-Israel commercial relations. After a global summit in Washington with government leaders, top innovators and entrepreneurs from both countries, the Chamber is implementing a program that includes the development of grassroots and online educational tools, a high-level forum for American and Israeli business exchanges, and events that deepen the commercial connection. As America works to reboot its economy, increased trade with Israel can provide a promising avenue for creating more high-quality jobs in the U.S. (Globes)
  • Simple Blood Test Developed in Israel that Diagnoses Cancer - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
    An innovative, simple blood test that can diagnose a variety of diseases, including cancer, has been developed by researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and was reported in the Proceedings of the [U.S.] National Academy of Sciences. While current blood tests for cancer merely note whether cancerous cells are still in the blood stream, the new test will be able to differentiate between different kinds of cancers and tumors as well as other diseases. (Jerusalem Post)
  • New IDF Infantry Fighting Vehicle Designed in Israel, Built in America
    Israel is having the U.S. firm General Dynamics manufacture 600 of the new Namer IFV (infantry fighting vehicle) over the next eight years. The first hundred were built in Israel, but the rest can be built more cheaply in the U.S. The Namer is based on the chassis of the Merkava tank and has thicker armor than the U.S. Stryker. (Strategy Page)
  • The IDF Unit that Is Hizbullah's Nightmare - Hanan Greenberg
    Egoz unit commandos are training for close-range combat against Hizbullah. A recent training exercise, which was conducted for the most part with complete uncertainty over what to expect, included some of the toughest physical and mental conditions the IDF has to offer. A senior officer described Hizbullah's methods of operation, which include munitions charges, anti-tank missiles, and guerilla fighting. An officer explains the uniqueness of Egoz: "From the dawn of its foundation the unit has sanctified the value of striving for contact, of close range combat."  (Ynet News)
  • Researchers Unearth Ancient Water Secrets at Royal Garden Dig
    Researchers at Tel Aviv University, in collaboration with Heidelberg University in Germany, have uncovered an ancient royal garden dating back to the 7th century BCE at the site of Ramat Rachel near Jerusalem. A main feature of the Ramat Rachel gardens is its intricate irrigation system, the likes of which have never been seen before outside of Mesopotamia. (Science Daily)
  • Observations:

    The Refugee Question: The Bedrock of Palestinian Rejectionism - Ben S. Cohen (Huffington Post)

    • For simply articulating a truth known by very many, not the least the Palestinian leadership, for decades, Andrew Whitley, the N.Y. director of UNRWA, was chastised by the Jordanians for urging Palestinian refugees to resettle in Arab states, while Hamas demanded his dismissal: one more example of how speaking your mind can land you in scalding water with those who regard freedom of speech as contingent on what you say.
    • Still, it's hard to fault Whitley's logic. Of the 50 million people who lost their homes because of war and conflict in the twentieth century, practically none of the original displaced returned to their homes, never mind their descendants. The historical record shows that refugees are invariably absorbed by host countries.
    • Offers made by Netanyahu's predecessors would have resulted in a contiguous, viable Palestinian state in nearly 100% of the West Bank, had they been accepted. They were rejected because resistance to the notion of two states side by side runs counter to the main currents of Palestinian nationalism.
    • It is this refusal to break with the narrative of Zionism's "original sin" which has derailed the peace talks for nearly two decades. The persistence of refugee status for millions of Palestinians remains the physical bedrock of rejectionism.

      The writer is associate director of communications for the American Jewish Committee.

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