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January 28, 2011

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South Sudanese General Talks of Secret Ties with Israel - Danna Harman (Ha'aretz)
    When he landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport in 1969, the Israeli officers receiving him said: "Welcome, Gen. Joseph Lagu. We have been waiting for you."
    When the South Sudanese commander, now 81 and retired, returned home from his clandestine Israel mission, he carried with him Prime Minister Golda Meir's promise of weapons and training - critical help, he says today, that subsequently turned the south's struggle for freedom around.
    "It helped set us on the path to where we are today," he says, "and that will never be forgotten."
    Last week the people of South Sudan voted overwhelmingly for independence in a historic referendum after half a century of on-and-off civil war.
    Soon after his visit, a shipment of weapons reached Juba in South Sudan via Uganda - mortars, anti-tank missiles and light machine guns taken from Arab countries during the 1967 war.
    "They did not give us new weapons, or ones that were manufactured in Israel," Lagu explains, "as they did not want to be publicly known to be helping us."
    Later, an Israeli military advisor, a technician and a doctor joined the rebels in the bush.
    The Israeli assistance, Lagu explains, was what tipped the scales: "This helped transform my movement, and we became a force to be reckoned with."

Olmert Memoir Cites Efforts for Peace Deal - Ethan Bronner (New York Times)
    In excerpts from his memoirs published Thursday in Yediot Ahronot, and in an interview with the New York Times, Ehud Olmert, the former prime minister of Israel, said Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, had agreed that Israel could keep some land in the West Bank on which settlements had been built, but they disagreed over how much.
    Olmert wanted 6.5% of the area but would go as low as 5.9%; Abbas offered 1.9%.
    "Abu Mazen [Abbas] said that he could not decide and that he needed time," Olmert writes. "I told him that he was making an historic mistake."

Abbas Gives Terrorist's Family $2,000 - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    Earlier this month a Palestinian terrorist attempted to attack an Israeli checkpoint. Carrying two pipe bombs, he ran toward the Israeli soldiers, screaming "Allahu Akbar" - and was shot and killed before he could detonate the bombs.
    The Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported on Jan. 25 that PA Chairman Abbas gave financial aid in the amount of $2,000 to the relatives of the "martyr."

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Yad Vashem Holocaust Archive Now Available Online - Josh Lederman (AP-Washington Post)
    Israel's Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, teamed up with Google to make a collection of 130,000 photos interactive and searchable on the Internet, in a project launched Wednesday.
    The collection is expected to expand to other parts of the memorial's vast archives in the future.
    See also 30 Photos from the 1945 Liberation of Buchenwald - Ofer Aderet (Ha'aretz)
    Thirty photographs shot by American forces in April 1945 at the Buchenwald concentration camp and the Ohrdruf sub-camp were published Thursday by the German daily Bild to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
    The Buchenwald concentration camp functioned from 1937 until 1945, during which about a quarter million people passed through the camp on the way to death camps. About 65,000 people perished at Buchenwald itself.

American Muslims: The Community and Their Relations with Jews - Noam Ivri (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
    Muslims in the U.S. number slightly under three million and are among the wealthiest, most educated, and most ethnically diverse Muslim communities in the world.
    † Three well-funded political and civil rights organizations form the core of Muslim advocacy, working to advance Muslim interests, but frequently presenting their community as victims of widespread Islamophobia.
    †Leaders in all three have drawn controversy for support of extremist groups, and are overall hostile to Israel.
    Muslims from certain circles have demonstrated hostility to Jews in recent years, worrying many in American Jewry.
    †Some college campuses have turned into centers of Israel-bashing and overt anti-Semitism, often spearheaded by Muslim student groups.

Israel and U.S. Team to Develop TATP Explosive Detector (Passenger Terminal Today)
    The Israel Institute of Technology, or Technion, has been working with a U.S. researcher to produce a prototype to detect TATP, a peroxide bomb detonator used in many terrorist attacks including the unsuccessful attempt to bomb a U.S. airliner in December 2009.
    Ehud Keinan, a Technion professor, said, "It's a next-generation tool. Most airports are not equipped with any devices of this nature."
    The device, developed in research funded by the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation, could detect as little as five micrograms of the explosive powder.
    Executives said the device, called Acro-PET, or peroxide explosives tester, could be employed at airports, critical facilities, and mass ground transportation.

Indian Navy Commissions Second UAV Squadron from Israel - Arie Egozi (Flightglobal)
    The Indian navy has commissioned its second unmanned air vehicle squadron, which will operate Israel Aerospace Industries-supplied Herons and Searcher IIs over the northern Arabian Sea.
    IAI and Hindustan Aeronautics are co-operating on a project to deploy the Indian-developed Dhruv advanced unmanned helicopter from navy ships.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Arab Unrest Shows Israel-Palestinian Conflict Not the Core of Regional Instability - Joel Greenberg
    Hizbullah's rise to political dominance in Lebanon is not interpreted in Israel as a harbinger of renewed hostilities. "We don't see Hizbullah or other elements creating a provocation along the Israeli-Lebanese border," said Moshe Ya'alon, a vice prime minister and minister of strategic affairs, who spoke to foreign journalists Thursday. Hizbullah, as a military arm of Iran held in reserve for a possible confrontation with the West or Israel, is restrained from squandering its arsenal of missiles in a conflict that would not directly serve Iran's interests, he said.
        To Israeli officials, the unrest across the region, with Israel on the sidelines, proves an assertion that has been a point of contention with the Obama administration. "For us it is very clear," Ya'alon said, "the core of this instability in the Middle East is not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."  (Washington Post)
        See also Palestinians Preventing Middle East Peace Deal, Says Israeli Deputy PM - Harriet Sherwood
    An agreement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not happen in the next "one or two years," Moshe Ya'alon, Israel's deputy prime minister, said Thursday, blaming the Palestinians for the lack of progress. "We're fed up with giving and giving and giving, and not getting any real substance [in return]," he said.
        He dismissed the concessions offered by Palestinian negotiators, revealed in the leaked documents, saying they were insignificant compared to the "core of the conflict - our right to exist." The Palestinians' refusal to recognize Israel as "the nation state of the Jewish people" was preventing a peace settlement, he said. Ya'alon urged Palestinian political leaders to re-educate a new generation in a "culture of peace, coexistence and reconciliation."  (Guardian-UK)
  • Muslim Brotherhood Set to Join Egypt Protests - Souad Mekhennet and Nicholas Kulish
    The Muslim Brotherhood, the largest organized opposition group in Egypt, announced Thursday that it would take part in demonstrations on Friday, lending new strength to the protests. (New York Times)
        See also Egyptís Leader Uses Old Tricks to Defy New Demands - Mona El-Naggar and Michael Slackman
    As always, the Egyptian government has responded to the unrest primarily as a security issue, largely ignoring, or dismissing, the core demands of those who have taken to the street. The Egyptian leadership, long accustomed to an apolitical and largely apathetic public, remains convinced that Egypt is going through the sort of convulsion it has experienced - and survived - before. (New York Times)
  • Arab World Unrest Has Jordan's King under Pressure - Jamal Halaby
    After two weeks of widespread protests, Jordan's King Abdullah II, a key U.S. ally, has been making promises of reform in an attempt to quell domestic discontent over economic degradation and lack of political freedoms, but the Muslim Brotherhood called for fresh demonstrations on Friday. Prime Minister Samir Rifai announced a $550 million package of new subsidies in the last two weeks for fuel and staple products like rice, sugar, livestock and liquefied gas used for heating and cooking.
        Still, human rights abuses in Jordan are far fewer than in Tunisia and Egypt. "Nobody wants to see a regime change in Jordan, like in Tunisia or Egypt," said analyst Labib Kamhawi. "But people here want to see accountability, transparency, an end to corruption in government circles and wider public freedoms and popular participation in the decision-making."  (AP-Washington Post)
  • Christian Missionary Kristine Luken Mistaken for Jewish by Palestinian Killers - Jacob Rascon
    Four Palestinian men have been indicted in the stabbing death of American woman Kristine Luken who the suspects say was killed because they thought she was Jewish. Four more Palestinians from the West Bank have been arrested for providing logistical support to the killers. Luken was stabbed to death while hiking in a forest outside Jerusalem with a friend, Kaye Susan Wilson, Dec. 17, 2010. Israeli police arrested Kifah Ghneimat and Iyad Fatafa, who confessed to the murder within 48 hours of the attack, but kept the arrests secret because they realized that more suspects were involved, and that the group was responsible for a wave of violent crimes. The cell is accused in a string of murders, rapes, robberies and shooting attacks against the Israeli military and Jewish civilians dating back to 2009. (ABC News)
  • Blair Sounds Warning on Iran
    Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the Iraq war inquiry last week that the world had to use force if needed to curb Iran's nuclear drive. "This is a looming and coming challenge," he said. "At some point, we've got to get our head out of the sand. The West has got to get out of this wretched posture of apology for believing we are causing what these Iranians are doing, or what these extremists are doing. We are not."
        "They carry on with the terrorism, they carry on with the destabilization, they carry on with the nuclear weapons," he said. "They'll carry on doing it unless they are met by the requisite determination and, if necessary, force."  (AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Ya'alon: Hizbullah Has Agents in Gaza Training Terrorists
    Vice Premier and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Thursday that Hizbullah has infiltrated agents into Gaza in order to train Palestinian terrorists. Ya'alon, a former IDF chief of staff, told reporters that "Hizbullah experts can get into Gaza like the Iranian rockets are coming to Gaza." He said Hizbullah terrorists can go from Lebanon to Sudan, then to Egypt and on to Gaza.
        Ya'alon said Hizbullah has a special unit, called 1800, to deal with the Palestinian terrorists. He said the Lebanese terrorists also operate in the West Bank, paying operatives. Ya'alon's office said Hizbullah has been infiltrating Gaza quietly since Israel withdrew in 2005. (AP-Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestine Papers - U.S. to PA: Obama "Completely Committed" to Your Objective, "Begin Negotiations as Fast as Possible" - Herb Keinon
    According to leaked Palestinian documents released by Al-Jazeera on Wednesday, U.S. envoy George Mitchell told PA negotiator Saeb Erekat in October 2009 that "President Obama is not like previous administrations. In U.S. politics, there never was and there never will be a president as determined to resolve this conflict....So you can argue over words and delay indefinitely, so you lose the most important thing - this opportunity: the presence of a U.S. president completely committed to achieving the objective you want....All that points to the need to begin negotiations as fast as possible."
        "We wonít have a perfect ToR [terms of reference], or perfect negotiations, or a perfect outcome. Thatís life. I understand the frustration and the burden of history, but please, donít let this opportunity slip by."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Police: Israeli Shot Palestinian in Self-Defense - Yair Altman
    Israeli police said Thursday that a man believed to be Israeli who shot and killed a 19-year-old Palestinian Thursday in the West Bank had been attacked by a group of Arabs and was acting in self-defense. A police investigation has concluded that the man was walking on a path near the village of Iraq Burin when he was attacked. The police are relying on testimony given by one of the Arab youths, as well as footage from an IDF security camera at the scene. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Egyptian Protesters Feel World Has Passed Them By - Griff Witte
    Every one of the tens of thousands of Egyptians who joined the unexpectedly massive demonstrations that have rattled Egyptian authorities and continue to threaten the 30-year rule of the once invincible President Hosni Mubarak had personal reasons for doing so. But for many it came down to a pervasive sense that the world has passed Egypt by, that money and power have become hopelessly entrenched in the hands of the few and that if the country is ever going to change, it has to do it now.
        "The elections are fraudulent. The people in power monopolize all the resources. There are no jobs. There's no health care. And I can't afford good schools for my children," said protester Abdel Zaher Dandarwi, 53, a lawyer. The protests have no clear leader, but with demonstrators driven by deep resentments and long-suppressed rage, police have been unable to squelch the nascent movement. The protesters in Egypt have been largely middle class - lawyers, doctors, university students and professors. They have something to lose if this nation of 80 million descends into anarchy, but they also say they may not have much left if Egypt does not shift course. (Washington Post)
        See also Egypt Will Never Be the Same - Kareem Amer (Wall Street Journal)
  • Obama Administration Could Still Get It Right on Egypt - Jackson Diehl
    The Obama administration's embrace of Mubarak, even as the octogenarian strongman refused to allow the emergence of a moderate, middle-class-based, pro-democracy opposition, has helped bring the U.S.' most important Arab ally to the brink of revolution. The Obama administration assumed that the damage done to relations by George W. Bush's "freedom agenda" was a mistake that needed to be repaired. In fact, Bush's pushing for political liberalization was widely viewed, in Egypt and in the region, as the saving grace of an otherwise bad administration.
        On Tuesday, when - disastrously - Secretary of State Clinton called Mubarak's government "stable" and claimed it was responding to "the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people," hours later, riot police attacked the thousands of demonstrators who had gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Rightly or wrongly, Egyptian opposition activists now say, Clinton and the U.S. are being blamed in popular opinion for that crackdown.
        Egyptian opposition leader Saad Eddin Ibrahim told me Thursday that Mubarak should step down and be replaced by a transitional government, headed by opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei and including representatives of all pro-democracy forces. That government could then spend six months to a year rewriting the constitution, allowing political parties to freely organize and preparing for genuinely democratic elections. Given time to establish themselves, secular forces backed by Egypt's growing middle class are likely to rise to the top in those elections - not the Islamists that Mubarak portrays as the only alternative. U.S. support for a peaceful transition from Mubarak's government to a new democracy could be decisive. (Washington Post)
        See also U.S. Diplomats Opposed Any Alternative to Hosni Mubarak - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Mubarak Is Put on Notice - Editorial (New York Times)
  • What Are the Protests in Egypt Really About? - Lee Smith
    For all the excitement surrounding the demonstrations, itís worth remembering that the nominally docile Egyptian masses take to the streets with some regularity. More to the point, it is an unfortunate fact of modern Egyptian history that its people are often susceptible to ideological politics. For instance, Nasser led the country to disaster and yet, compared to Sadat the peacemaker or Mubarak the stolid pharaoh who has kept the country stable, if static, it is Nasser who owns the affections of the Egyptian masses. (Weekly Standard)
  • Arab Paper: Israel Is Now Dependent on Egyptian Protesters - Abd Al-Bari Atwan
    The fire of protest has begun to lick at the edges of the moderate Arab regimes, one after the other, in a way that threatens these dictatorships, known for aligning themselves with America's foreign policy. Three countries are facing profound change that could topple their regimes, namely, Egypt, Yemen, and Lebanon. Each meets a strategic need of the U.S.: Egypt provides security for Israel, leads the Arab plans for normalization with Israel, and combats all forms of political and Islamic extremism that oppose its regime. Yemen is considered to be the cornerstone of America's war on al-Qaeda. Lebanon is considered to be the spearhead of the resistance camp and of Iran's geopolitical and military aspirations.
        The state of stability and well-being that Israel has enjoyed for the past 30 years is now dependent upon the Egyptian protesters. Israel is surrounded: a "democratic" intifada armed with 40,000 missiles and with a martyrdom-seeking leadership [i.e., Hizbullah], a popular revolution with a 7,000-year history [i.e., the protesters in Egypt], a Palestinian Authority that has lost its authority, and a Jordanian government that is on the brink of collapse. (Al-Quds Al-Arabi-UK-MEMRI)
  • "We're Living on a Volcano," Israeli Security Experts Warn - Yaakov Lappin
    Israeli security experts are casting an uneasy eye at the civil unrest spreading through the region as Yemen joined the list of Arab states experiencing unprecedented demonstrations, and Egypt braced for more civil unrest. "We need to understand that we are living on a volcano," said Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ya'acov Amidror, former head of the IDF's Research and Assessment Directorate. "We are on thick ice, but even that melts eventually."
        Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, a former national security adviser, and a senior research fellow at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), said, "There's a reasonable chance that if a revolution takes place in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood would rise to power. That would be bad not just for Israel but for all democracies." The true struggle in Egypt was not between "Mubarak and pro-democracy elements, but between Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood," Eiland said.
        Shlomo Brom, director of the program on Israel-Palestinian relations at the INSS, said, "We can't forget that in Iran, at the end of the 1970s, the uprising against the shah was led by [pro-democracy] youths who took to the streets Ė but this was taken over by Islamists in the end."  (Jerusalem Post)

  • Other Issues

  • What the Palestine Papers Reveal about the Peace Process - Frida Ghitis
    Al Jazeera has portrayed the leaked Palestine Papers as evidence that Palestinian leaders betrayed their people by making huge concessions to Israel. But what the documents and the reaction to them really show is something quite different. As anyone who has followed the peace process closely knows, there is little that is really new in the files. Practically every detail painted as a shocking concession has been part of the agreed baseline of a peace deal. In fact, most of the "shocking" concessions had already been signed on to by Palestinian negotiators as far back as 2000.
        Israelis have been vigorously discussing the details of exactly what compromises they should make for peace, while Palestinian leaders have publicly trumpeted maximalist positions to their own people, making it taboo to accept compromise. In the long run, the Palestine Papers controversy will serve the useful purpose of letting Palestinians know about the compromises required for peace. (World Politics Review)
  • One Doesn't Boycott the Only Free Society in the Mideast - Bernard-Henri Levy
    In the matter of the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) campaign, we are faced here with a skillfully orchestrated but calumnious, bellicose, anti-democratic and, in a word, despicable campaign. One boycotts totalitarian regimes, not democracies. One can boycott Sudan, guilty of the extermination of part of the population of Darfur. One can boycott China, guilty of massive violations of human rights in Tibet and elsewhere. One can and should boycott Iran, a country whose leaders have become deaf to the language of common sense and compromise. One can even imagine, as we once did with regard to the fascist generals' Argentina or Brezhnev's USSR, boycotting those Arab regimes whose citizens' freedom of expression is forbidden, and punished, if necessary, with blood. One does not boycott the only society in the Middle East where Arabs read a free press, demonstrate when they wish to do so, send representatives to parliament, and enjoy their rights as citizens.
        I submit the declarations of Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the Palestinian BDS campaign, affirming that his goal is not two states but two Palestines. And those of Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada and also opposed to the two-state solution, who does not hesitate to compare Israel to Nazi Germany. And the declarations of the leaders of Sabeel, that group of Palestinian Christians firmly implanted in North America, who, anxious to lend the idea of "responsible investment" a "theological" basis, do not hesitate to subtly but surely reactivate the stereotype of the Christ-killing Jew.
        Presenting the promoters of this discourse of hatred as victims speaks volumes of the current state of confusion - intellectual and moral - of a Western world one would have hoped had been cured of its worst criminal past. (Ha'aretz)
  • The West Bank's Airspace - The Forgotten Factor of Israeli Security - Dore Gold
    In the WikiLeaks documents, Maj.-Gen. Ido Nechushtan, as head of the IDF Planning Branch, explained in 2007 to U.S. Gen. Jim Jones that Israel's security requirements in the event a Palestinian state comes into existence would include "control" of the West Bank's airspace. Indeed, Israeli security experts insist that no matter where borders are ultimately drawn, Israel must control the airspace over the entire West Bank in any future peace arrangement.
        The reasons are simple. Israel, together with the West Bank, is only 70 km. wide. Modern combat aircraft, like the Russian MiG-29 or the Su-24, can cross that distance from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean in less than 4 minutes. The minimal time Israel needs to scramble Israeli fighters in order to intercept incoming enemy aircraft is about 3 minutes. But if Israel no longer controlled the West Bank's airspace and it had to defend Israel from the air along the Green Line, it would only have 2 minutes or less to respond to an air threat. In short, in that narrow space, Israel could not be defended from an air attack.
        Would Jordan allow hostile aircraft into its airspace that could pose a threat to Israel? In 1989, pro-Western King Hussein allowed Saddam Hussein's aircraft to enter Jordanian airspace so that they could fly right up to the Jordan River and photograph potential targets inside of Israel. Today there are many regional air forces in the Middle East who would seek to do the same. (Yisrael Hayom-Hebrew, 28Jan11)
  • Arab Demand for East Jerusalem Is an Obstacle to Peace - Efraim Inbar
    The Arab-backed Palestinian demand to partition Jerusalem is a major obstacle to peace. In contrast to Muslims and Christians, Jews have prayed for thousands of years toward Jerusalem. The Temple Mount is the holiest Jewish site. Israelis are bewildered by the campaign of the Palestinian Authority to negate the historic existence of the First and Second Temples.
        Jerusalem has not been the capital of any Muslim or Arab political entity since the Arab invasion of Palestine in the seventh century. In contrast, it has been the capital of three sovereign Jewish states. Therefore, the demand to make Jerusalem the capital of a Palestinian state that never existed before is disconnected from the political history of the city and seems to constitute mainly a denial of Jewish roots in the city and on the Temple Mount.
        Jerusalem also holds strategic importance in controlling the only highway from the Mediterranean coast to the Jordan Valley along which military forces can move with little interference from Arab population concentrations. Jerusalem is the linchpin for erecting a security zone along the Jordan Rift. If Israel wants to maintain a defensible border in the east, it needs to secure the east-west axis from the coast to the Jordan Valley via an undivided Jerusalem and Maale Adumim.
        Polls show that over two-thirds of Israelis reject the division of Jerusalem. The writer is professor of political studies and director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. (

  • International Holocaust Remembrance Day

  • What Have We Learned from the Holocaust? - Yuli Edelstein
    Israeli Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein addressed a special event in Brussels on Tuesday marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day:
        In the spring of 1939 George the VI, King of England, instructed his private secretary to write to British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax, having learned that "a number of Jewish refugees from different countries were surreptitiously getting into Palestine." The king was "glad to learn that steps are being taken to prevent these people leaving their country of origin." Halifax's office telegraphed Britain's ambassador in Berlin asking him to encourage the German government "to check the unauthorized emigration" of Jews.
        Today the apologists for the king explain that he was not an anti-Semite. To prevent Jewish immigration to Palestine was an official government policy, they say, to pacify Arab Muslim resistance to the Zionist movement. Indeed, this policy, as we know now, was a resounding success. Millions of Jews didn't escape their "countries of origin," except with the smoke of the crematorium chimneys.
        What have we learned? Jews should be united, Jews should be independent, and Jews should be armed and ready to fight. The State of Israel stands today as a guarantee that no kings, no ministers, no policies will doom the Jews again, that there always will be a gate that is open and a beacon that shines friendly. That is what "Never again" means. It means lesson learned.
        Jews, it is often said, are the canary in the coal mine of civilization. Anytime, anywhere, if you let the poison of anti-Semitism spread, the inevitable explosion will soon come. In its decision to recognize International Holocaust Memorial Day, the community of nations had recognized that the remembrance of the victims of the largest genocide in history is necessary so its lessons will be learned and applied globally. (IMRA)
        See also International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Universal Lessons - Irwin Cotler (Jerusalem Post)
        See also A New Holocaust? - Manfred Gerstenfeld (Ynet News)

Mubarak Will Have to Pay a Significant Price - Zvi Mazel (Jerusalem Post)

  • The mass demonstrations in Egypt were born in Tunisia. That display of people power unleashed years of pent-up resentment against the Mubarak regime. Even in Syria, the mighty Assad is worried now. His civil servants got an unexpected raise, and Facebook was shut down. In Jordan, protests have been taking place for weeks.
  • Egypt has not known such violent and determined mass demonstrations since the bread riots of 1977. But the economic situation is far worse today. An estimated 40% of the population earns less than $2 a day. And in today's world of satellite television, Internet and social networks, the people are far more aware of their plight.
  • Tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of young protesters, with no leaders in sight, demonstrated in 15 cities in the last few days. They stood their ground and even used force against the police and the security forces. They called for the removal of the president and his family. And for the first time in history, portraits of the leader displayed in the streets were torn down. Until now, no one could criticize Mubarak. If this has changed, then everything has changed.
  • The Mubarak regime is based on a huge ruling party present in every village and every city, and on a disciplined army and security forces whose allegiance is not in doubt. They will do their utmost - which is considerable - to stop the protests.
  • But Mubarak will have to pay a price: He may need to take economic measures to alleviate some of the poverty, perhaps put an end to the emergency laws and organize credible, free democratic presidential elections. If he manages to weather this crisis, he and his regime will emerge weakened.

    The writer is a former ambassador to Egypt and a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
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