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December 20, 2010

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YouTube Removes Palestinian Media Watch Channel - Ron Friedman (Jerusalem Post)
    A video channel operated by Israeli NGO Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), which features videos of Palestinian incitement against Jews and Israelis, was removed by YouTube Sunday for repeatedly airing hate speech, following complaints by YouTube users.
    PMW Director Itamar Marcus said the video "that got us closed down, for example, showed a farewell video made by a Hamas terrorist, in which he called on Palestinians to drink the blood of Jews. But we're not the ones who produced it, it was broadcast first on Hamas TV in Gaza."
    See also YouTube Gets It Wrong on Online Hate - Andre Oboler (Jerusalem Post)
    A few months ago, efforts were made to shut down the YouTube presence of MEMRI, the institute that provides the English-speaking world with insight into the Mideast media.
    PMW's violation appears to be that it was posting "hate material." However, like MEMRI, that material was not shared for the purpose of incitement, but to expose and counter the spread of hate.
    Any argument that uses free speech to prevent the exposure of hate speech is deeply flawed.
    See also Censorship on YouTube - Melanie Phillips (Spectator-UK)
    PMW is not promoting hate speech but exposing it in order to bring about its elimination. The people who are promoting hatred and violence of the vilest kind are the Palestinians in the videos.
    YouTube Reactives Palestinian Media Watch Channel (Jerusalem Post)
    In response to criticism and outrage, YouTube reactivated the Palestinian Media Watch account on Monday.

Firefighter Succumbs to Injuries from Carmel Forest Blaze - Fadi Eyadat and Eli Ashkenazi (Ha'aretz)
    Danny Hayat, 35, who was injured trying to rescue cadets from the burning Prison Service bus two and a half weeks ago, died Saturday, the blaze's 44th fatality.
    Hayat fought the flames that engulfed the bus together with Uri Samandayev and volunteer fireman Elad Rivan, 16. Samandayev and Rivan died at the scene, while Hayat was rescued in critical condition, suffering from burns to 65% of his body.

Israel Air Force Targets Palestinian Terror Squad in Gaza Preparing to Launch Rockets (Reuters-Ha'aretz)
    An Israel Air Force strike "targeted and identified hitting a squad of terror operatives who were preparing to launch rockets toward Israeli territory" from Gaza on Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.
    Palestinian hospital officials said the five dead were members of Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees.
    The IDF said more than 200 cross-border missiles, rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza this year.
    See also PA News Agency: Five Martyrs Die in Mysterious Explosion in Gaza (IMRA-WAFA-PA)

Palestinians Embark on "Intifada of Graves" (Ha'aretz)
    For the past week, representatives of the Popular Palestinian Committees (PPC) have been urging West Bank residents to bury their dead in Israeli-controlled parts of the West Bank, identified as Area C. The plan has been endorsed by several ministers in the Palestinian Authority.
    Proponents of the "Intifada of Graves" believe it will be more difficult for Israelis to take control over parts of the West Bank in a final agreement if there are Arab cemeteries throughout the disputed territories.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • France Gives Lebanon Anti-Tank Missiles
    France will give Lebanon 100 anti-tank missiles, a Lebanese government official said Friday. "Prime Minister Saad Hariri was informed on Wednesday of the French decision to supply the army with 100...HOT missiles that will be used by the military's Gazelle helicopters," the official said. "The missiles will be delivered before the end of February and are being given with no conditions attached."
        In August, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, had said the missiles could end up being used against Israel. "Therefore, to sell weapons to Lebanon at this time would be very irresponsible and could jeopardize security and stability in the region."  (AFP)
        See also Western-Supplied Arms for Hizbullah? - Editorial
    Israeli defense officials have voiced concern over France's willingness to sell 100 HOT antitank missiles to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). One of the most advanced weapons of its kind in the world, the HOT missile has a range of up to 4 km. and the ability to penetrate about 1,000 mm. of armor. Israel's concern that these missiles will fall into the hands of Hizbullah and be used against the IDF are acute.
        The U.S. and other Western countries have argued that strengthening the LAF via military aid and arms sales promotes Lebanese sovereignty. But can a distinction be drawn between the LAF and the ever-more powerful Hizbullah? Is there a barrier between them that Western-supplied arms can be guaranteed not to cross? (Jerusalem Post)
  • Gas Prices Soar in Iran as Subsidy Is Reduced - William Yong
    Gasoline prices in Iran nearly quadrupled on Sunday, jumping from $.38 to $1.44 a gallon, and riot police guarded filling stations in Tehran as deep cuts in subsidies on fuel and other essential goods took effect. The reduction in subsidies comes as Iran's economy is starting to show signs of strain caused by international sanctions. (New York Times)
  • Were Israeli Soldiers Missing in Lebanon War Captured by Syria? - Jonathan Kalmus
    The British government is refusing to release documents which could shed light on the fate of three Israeli soldiers missing since 1982 because it says sensitive information could harm diplomatic relations with Syria. On June 11, 1982, three Israeli soldiers - Zachary Baumel, Yehuda Katz and Zvi Feldman - went missing after a battle with Syrian and Palestinian forces near the Lebanese village of Sultan Yaqub.
        Britain's ambassador to Syria, Ivor Lucas, filed a report to London on the day of the battle that Syrian forces reportedly paraded the captured soldiers through Damascus. In August, lawyers in Manchester acting for Zachary Baumel's mother Miriam submitted a Freedom of Information Act appeal against the Foreign Office over its refusal to release Lucas' report. Solicitor Daniel Berke said: "It is our view that the suggestion this 30-year-old document will cause some harm to Syrian-British relations is really quite a nonsense."  (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
        See also 1983 Letter from U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv
    TIME magazine correspondent Dean Brelis, who was in Damascus at the time, wrote the following confidential memo: "I did see the tank. It bore battle scars, Hebrew markings, and if it was a fake, it was a masterly job. The three Israelis were wearing the right uniform and the right boots. The Israeli crew looked exhausted, downcast, typically combat fatigued, and again, if they were actors, they were superior. When the crowd surged around them, taunting, they looked frightened."
        "The Syrians were driving the tank....It was a public parade, as it were, right through the center of Damascus, and once it passed, I never saw the tank or the Israelis again." Brelis said he talked to a source at the British Embassy who said he had heard that the tank had suffered a breakdown, was surrounded by a Syrian force, and the crew surrendered. (International Coalition for Missing Israeli Soldiers)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Tourist Stabbed to Death by Arabs near Jerusalem
    The body of American tourist Kristine Luken was found Sunday after a tour guide, Kaye Susan Wilson, reported that the two had been attacked by two Arab men in a forest outside Jerusalem within the "green line." Wilson was found with her hands bound and several stab wounds to her chest and back. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Wounded Victim Played Dead to Save Her Own Life - Yair Ettinger (Ha'aretz)
  • Rep. Berman: Palestinians Hurting Their Cause by Pursuing Unilateral Recognition of Statehood - Natasha Mozgovaya
    Asked about more countries recognizing a Palestinian state, U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), the outgoing chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Ha'aretz: "I think this is delusional on the part of the Palestinians. They are not going to get a state through this process. The U.S. is not going to support trying to get a state through this process. This is not going to produce what they want. I read somewhere that 104 countries have recognized the Palestinian state [since the 1988 PNC declaration], and it has made no difference in the Palestinians' situation."
        "The attempts of the Palestinians to pursue other countries to persuade them to recognize Palestine as a state - it's pursuit of a declaration, not a state. It's self-defeating, and it's going to hurt their cause."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Obama Urges Israel and Turkey to "Do Everything" to Repair Ties
    U.S. President Barack Obama has urged Turkey and Israel to "do everything they can to repair their relations," in an interview published Sunday by the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet. A senior Turkish source told Ha'aretz that the disagreement now revolves over the wording of the Israeli apology and not the issue of compensation. "Turkey and Israel are both key allies of the United States," Obama said. "I encourage both nations to do everything they can to repair their relations." (Ha'aretz)
        See also Erdogan: Israel Must Apologize for "Murder"
    Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said Monday that while there were recently high-level talks between the Turkish Foreign Ministry and Israel in Geneva, there were no changes in Turkish demands regarding the "Israeli aggression against the humanitarian aid ships in Gaza" and the "murder" of nine Turkish citizens, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported. Erdogan linked the return of relations to their normal state to Israel "apologizing to the Turkish republic and paying compensation."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Israelis and Palestinians Must Own Their Negotiations - Aaron David Miller
    The Obama administration needs to chill - and stop being so hard on itself when it comes to Arab-Israeli peace-making. No sooner has one approach to the peace process failed than the administration gets busy launching another. Message to President Barack Obama: Yes, Arab-Israeli peace is important; and no, you don't want to abandon the effort. But unless the Israelis and Palestinians own their negotiations and are ready for big tough decisions - right now they're not - there is little you can do to manufacture a breakthrough.
        As long as the administration doesn't overreach - as it did on the settlement issue - the current approach is right for now: Help Palestinians build a state from the bottom up and engage Israelis and Palestinians on all the core issues from the top down. The president should avoid bridging proposals - let alone a U.S. plan - unless he is certain that the parties are close to an agreement. The writer, a former Middle East negotiator, is a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. (Politico)
  • Examining the Options for Mideast Peace - Shlomo Avineri
    Before Obama was elected, the conventional wisdom pinned the lack of a peace agreement in the region on the unwillingness of President George W. Bush to apply pressure on Israel. But now we see that even an activist president like Obama, with firm views on the nature of such an agreement and without excessive fondness for the Israeli prime minister, cannot even get the negotiations to the starting block. For 17 years Israel and the Palestinians have been trying to reach a final agreement, either directly or with U.S. mediation. The gaps, it turns out, are too great. So the U.S. must abandon its fruitless efforts to obtain a final agreement in favor of examining the option of interim agreements or partial, perhaps even unilateral, measures. The writer, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, served as director-general of Israel's Foreign Ministry. (Ha'aretz)

The Congressional Resolution and the Peace Process - Rick Richman (Commentary)

  • The Palestinians are upset at the unanimously adopted Congressional resolution which opposes any attempt to establish a Palestinian state outside a negotiated agreement. The resolution calls on the administration to lead a diplomatic effort against a unilaterally declared state, affirm that the U.S. would not recognize it, and veto any UN resolution seeking to establish one.
  • The resolution - and the Palestinian reaction to it - caps a series of clarifying developments over the past year and a half:
    • First, the Palestinians refused to negotiate unless Netanyahu endorsed a two-state solution and froze settlement construction; Netanyahu did both, and the Palestinians refused to negotiate. They had to be dragged into "proximity talks" and then dragged into "direct negotiations" and then left.
    • Second, the Palestinian Authority canceled local elections in the West Bank. The PA is now headed by a "president" currently in the 72nd month of his 48-month term, with a "prime minister" appointed by the holdover "president" rather than by the Palestinian parliament (which, unfortunately, is controlled by the terrorist group the Palestinians elected five years ago). As a democratic state, "Palestine" is already a failed one.
    • Third, the peace-partner Palestinians rejected the criteria that Netanyahu set forth for a peace agreement: recognition of a Jewish state and demilitarization of the Palestinian one. The Palestinians cannot have a state and a "right of return" to the other one; there cannot be a two-stage plan to obtain a second state and then work to change the character of the first one.
  • Israel is currently faced with a PA that is unwilling to meet the basic requirements of a permanent peace, lacks the political authority to enter into a peace agreement (much less the ability to implement one), and wants a state simply imposed on Israel by the U.S. or the UN. If the Congressional resolution helps disabuse it of these notions, it will be a significant contribution to the current non-peace non-process.

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