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November 9, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Bush Ordered Pentagon to Plan Iran Attack - Heidi Blake (Telegraph-UK)
    Former U.S. president George W. Bush laid plans for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, his memoirs have disclosed.
    Bush wrote on Iran: "I directed the Pentagon to study what would be necessary for a strike.... This would be to stop the bomb clock, at least temporarily."
    "One thing is certain. The United States should never allow Iran to threaten the world with a nuclear bomb."
    See also Bush Outraged Over U.S. Intelligence Report on Iran Nukes - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
    Amid his rising conviction that Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapon, Bush described the "eye-popping declaration" by his own intelligence agencies in the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that judged with "high confidence" that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program.
    "Israel and our Arab allies found themselves in a rare moment of unity. Both were deeply concerned about Iran and furious with the United States over the NIE."
    Bush concludes, "whatever the explanation, the NIE had a big impact - and not a good one."

Why Do Palestinians Attack Israeli Doctors and Ambulances? - Khaled Abu Toameh (Hudson Institute New York)
    Lately, there have been a number of incidents where Arabs hurled stones at Israeli ambulances in Jerusalem and other parts of the country, often when they arrive at an Arab neighborhood to help Arabs.
    Last week, two Israeli ambulances that rushed to an Arab village in Jerusalem were attacked by local youths, causing much damage to the vehicles.
    In a separate incident last month, dozens of Arabs hurled stones at paramedics who came to treat a man seriously injured in a car accident near the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm.
    Israeli hospitals have always been full of Arab patients, who often praise the doctors and nurses for offering them the best treatment. Even Arabs from neighboring countries seek treatment in Israeli hospitals.
    This is why it is hard to understand why any Arab would ever consider attacking Israeli medical staff. How do such attacks help the Palestinian cause or any Arab or Islamic cause?

Israeli Know-How Helping to Combat Hunger in Africa - Danielle Nierenberg and Janeen Madan (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel has been a leader in developing innovative drip-irrigation systems that reduce the amount of water needed for farming.
    The Family Drip Irrigation System (FDIS) was developed by the International Program for Arid Land Crops at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in partnership with the Israeli irrigation company Netafim.
    The Israel Foreign Ministry is partnering with local government agencies and NGOs to introduce FDIS in countries across Africa.

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  • Israel Plans Housing in East Jerusalem - Joel Greenberg
    Israel's Interior Ministry said Monday that it was moving ahead with plans for construction of about 1,300 new apartments in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem, including 978 apartments in Har Homa [current pop. 12,000] and 320 in Ramot [pop. 50,000]. An Israeli official said that in every peace plan considered in recent years, the Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem would remain part of Israel. "Building in these neighborhoods in no way contradicts our desire to move ahead toward peace and a two-state solution," he said.
        State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, "We were deeply disappointed by the announcement of advanced planning for new housing units in sensitive areas of east Jerusalem. It is counterproductive to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties."  (Washington Post)
        See also Har Homa Neighborhood in Jerusalem Is Built on Jewish-Owned Land (Jerusalem Municipality)
  • Iranian Nobel Laureate Says Opposition Growing
    Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi said Monday that opposition to the Iranian government is growing, spurred by an increase in government violence, more human rights violations and deepening poverty. During a visit to the UN, Ebadi urged the international community "to bring the voice of the people of Iran and the political prisoners to the outside world," stressing that the human rights situation in Iran "is very bad...(and) is worsening."  (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Netanyahu: "Containment Will Not Work Against Iran"
    Prime Minister Netanyahu told the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in New Orleans on Monday: "The greatest danger facing Israel and the world is the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. Iran threatens to annihilate Israel. It denies the Holocaust. It sponsors terror. It confronts America in Afghanistan and Iraq. It dominates Lebanon and Gaza. It establishes beachheads in Arabia and in Africa. It even spreads its influence into this hemisphere, into South America. Now, this is what Iran is doing without nuclear weapons. Imagine what it would do with them."
        "If the international community, led by the United States, hopes to stop Iran's nuclear program without resorting to military action, it will have to convince Iran that it is prepared to take such action. Containment will not work against Iran."
        "Israel also wants a secure peace [with the Palestinians]. We do not want to vacate more territory only to see Iran walk in and fire thousands of rockets at our cities. That is exactly what happened after we left Lebanon and Gaza. We don't want to see rockets and missiles streaming into a Palestinian state and placed on the hills above Tel Aviv and the hills encircling Jerusalem. If Israel does not maintain a credible security presence in the Jordan Valley for the foreseeable future, this is exactly what will happen."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Netanyahu Slams UNESCO Decision to Classify Ancient Jewish Holy Site as Mosque
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday discussed a recent ruling by UNESCO that West Bank heritage sites such as Rachel's Tomb would be considered Palestinian. Netanyahu said, "the profound link between the Jewish people and the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb had existed for close to 4,000 years." "Over a billion people know of this bond and it is documented in the Bible....Historical facts should not be distorted in the name of politics."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also below Observations: Rachel's Tomb, a Jewish Holy Place, Was Never a Mosque - Nadav Shragai (ICA-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Taking Stock of Israeli-Palestinian Mediation - David Makovsky
    Abbas felt trapped by Obama's call for a complete settlement freeze in the spring of 2009. He had never insisted upon a settlement freeze being a precondition for talks during previous negotiations with Olmert. Nor had Arafat made this a precondition in negotiations with Rabin and Barak. Abbas has blamed the U.S. for instilling a settlement freeze as his own precondition. He could not appear to be less pro-Palestinian than President Obama.
        There were no rallies in Israel saying "Yes to Obama" once Netanyahu said he was already willing not to geographically expand the settlements. If the administration had instead assumed the position of non-expansion instead of a total freeze, this issue would have been defused. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • The Real Choice Turkey Has to Make When It Comes to Israel - Michael Singh
    It appears that Ankara's recent antagonism toward Israel is a result of its pursuit of "strategic depth," a concept popularized by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davotoglu. "Strategic depth" has meant distancing Turkey from the West and cultivating closer relations with Middle Eastern states like Iran and Syria.
        Far from bolstering Turkish influence, however, deteriorating ties with Israel can only diminish Ankara's standing. Turkey had enjoyed the trust of both Israel and its Arab neighbors, which allowed Turkey to serve as a mediator in Israeli-Syrian peace talks from 2007 to 2008. Turkey has not only sacrificed the trust of Israel since then, but through its outspoken defense of Hamas and Iran, has distanced itself from the positions of Arab states who see Tehran and its proxies - and not Israel - as their "principal threat." The writer is a former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council. (Foreign Policy)
        See also Changes in the Turkish Threat Perception: Strategic Significance for Israel - Gallia Lindenstrauss (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Observations:

    Rachel's Tomb, a Jewish Holy Place, Was Never a Mosque - Nadav Shragai (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • UNESCO has declared that Rachel's Tomb near Jerusalem is the Bilal ibn Rabah mosque - endorsing a Palestinian claim that first surfaced only in 1996 and which ignores centuries of Muslim tradition.
    • As opposed to the Temple Mount and the Cave of the Patriarchs which also serve as the location of mosques, Rachel's Tomb never served as a mosque for the Muslims. The Muslim connection to the site derives from its relation to Rachel and has no connection to Bilal ibn Rabah, Mohammed's first muezzin.
    • Rachel's Tomb, located some 460 meters south of Jerusalem's municipal boundary, has been identified for over 1,700 years as the grave of the Jewish matriarch Rachel. Many generations of Jews have visited the place for prayer. The depiction of Rachel's Tomb has appeared in thousands of Jewish religious books, paintings, photographs, stamps, and works of art.
    • There is a Muslim cemetery on three sides of the compound mainly belonging to the Bedouin Taamra tribe, which began burying its dead at the site due to its proximity to a holy personality. Members of the Taamra tribe harassed Jews visiting the tomb and collected extortion money to enable them to visit the site. With this background, Moses Montefiore obtained a permit from the Turks to build another room adjacent to Rachel's Tomb in 1841 to keep the Muslims away from the room of the grave and to help protect the Jews at the site.
    • Jewish caretakers managed the site from 1841 until it fell into Jordanian hands in 1948. In contravention of the armistice agreement, Jordan prevented Jews from accessing the site during all the years of its rule (1948-1967). On October 19, 2010, the anniversary of her death, some 100,000 Jews visited Rachel's Tomb.
    • In 1830 the Turks issued the firman that gave legal force to Rachel's Tomb being recognized as a Jewish holy site. The governor of Damascus sent a written order to the Mufti of Jerusalem to fulfill the Sultan's order: "the tomb of esteemed Rachel, the mother of our Lord Joseph...they (the Jews) are accustomed to visit it from ancient days; and no one is permitted to prevent them or oppose them (from doing) this."
    • Ironically, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, whose government has been described as "neo-Ottoman" in outlook, told the Saudi paper al-Watan (March 7, 2010) that the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb "were not and never will be Jewish sites, but Islamic sites."

          See also Ottoman Imperial Decrees Debunk Erdogan's Claim
      Former Israeli UN ambassador Dore Gold noted on Monday that "Erdogan did not even bother to have his people check the Ottoman records before making such an outlandish comment about Rachel's Tomb never being a Jewish holy site." The Turkish premier's comments constituted "another example of how leaders who view themselves as Israel's adversaries are ready to deliberately distort history in order to advance their narrow political objectives."  (Jerusalem Post)

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