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PA Honors Drivers of Suicide Terrorists Who Murdered 34 Israelis - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
One day before the terror attack in Itamar in which five members of an Israeli family were murdered in their home, PA TV broadcast a program honoring Ahlam Tamimi, the woman accomplice who drove the suicide terrorist to the Sbarro pizza restaurant in August 2001. 15 people were murdered in the attack, 7 of them children.
Tamimi, who is serving 16 life sentences, has never expressed remorse for her role in the terror attack.
One week earlier, PA TV honored Fahami Mashahara, who drove a suicide bomber to Gilo in Jerusalem in 2001 who killed 19 and injured more than a hundred. His daughter was invited to perform a song on PA TV.
PA TV is under the control of the office of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Obama Weighs Talking to the Taliban, Hizbullah - David Ignatius (Washington Post)
In a rapidly changing Islamic world, the Obama administration is weighing how best to talk with adversaries such as the Taliban and, perhaps, Hizbullah.
One model for the administration, as it thinks about engagement of enemies, is the British process of dialogue during the 1990s with Sinn Fein, the legal political wing of the terrorist Irish Republican Army.
A new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Hizbullah that is nearing completion assesses Hizbullah in a broad context, as a political and social force in Lebanon in addition to the militia officially designated by the U.S. as a "foreign terrorist organization."
See also Talking to Terrorists: The Myths, Misconceptions and Misapplication of the Northern Ireland Peace Process - John Bew and Martyn Frampton (ICA-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Will Saudi Arabia Weather the Current Storm? - Joshua Teitelbaum (Hoover Institution-Stanford University)
Saudi Arabia has the tools to weather the current storm. Its internal security forces are numerous and loyal, it is flush with oil wealth, the king is popular (although infirm), and the majority of Saudis are far from likely to take to the streets.
As it has always done, it will adjust the pace of its reforms in an attempt to satisfy reformists while balancing the dominant conservative trend in society.
See also Rageless in Riyadh - F. Gregory Gause III (Foreign Affairs)
Treating the Sick with Koranic Incantations - David E. Miller (Media Line-Jerusalem Post)
For some people, alternative medicine means acupuncture or macrobiotics. In Saudi Arabia, it now means treating the ill with Koranic incantations.
This week, the government awarded a license to treat the ill to the Center for Treatment through Ruqiya (Incantation) in Jedda.
Tawfiq al-Hashimi, a Koran therapist who won the license for the Jedda clinic, told Asharq Al-Awsat that half of all diseases are treatable by using the Koran because they are "Satanic afflictions" that disappear following prolonged verse incantation.
He added that 80% of cancer cases in the kingdom are caused by the evil eye, which is treatable by the Koran as well.
Al-Qaeda Women's Magazine: "Cover Up and Marry a Martyr" - Julius Cavendish (Independent-UK)
Not content with launching an English-language magazine called Inspire that featured an article called "How to Make a Bomb in Your Mom's Kitchen," al-Qaeda has followed up with a magazine for women, Al-Shamikha, which features a niqab-clad woman posing with a sub-machine gun on its cover.
It includes advice on finding the right man ("marrying a mujahideen" [Muslim fighter]) and how to achieve a perfect complexion (stay inside with your face covered).
U.S. Fashion Chain Features Israel in Campaign - Itamar Eichner
The American fashion chain Urban Outfitters has chosen Israel as the destination for a week-long photo shoot.
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- UN Approves Airstrikes to Halt Attacks by Gaddafi Forces - Dan Bilefsky and Mark Landler
The UN Security Council voted Thursday to authorize military action, including airstrikes against Libyan tanks and heavy artillery and a no-fly zone, aimed at averting a bloody rout of rebel forces as Gaddafi's troops advanced to within 100 miles of the rebel capital of Benghazi. The resolution passed with 10 votes, including the U.S., and abstentions from Russia, China, Germany, Brazil and India.
Officials in Britain, France and the U.S. were all adamant that Arab League forces take part in the military actions and help pay for the operations, and that it not be led by NATO, to avoid the appearance that the West was attacking another Muslim country.
(New York Times)
See also UN Gives Britain, France Go-Ahead to Strike at Gaddafi - Jonathan S. Landay, Warren P. Strobel and Nancy A. Youssef
The UN Security Council Thursday gave the go-ahead to Britain and France - backed by the U.S. and at least two Arab nations - to launch airstrikes to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya. But the resolution ruled out a foreign occupation force "of any form on any part of Libyan territory." (McClatchy)
See also Administration Spells Out War Plan for Libya - Josh Rogin
Several administration officials held a classified briefing for all senators on Thursday. Several senators emerged from the briefing convinced that the administration was intent on beginning military action against the forces of Col. Gaddafi within the next few days and that such action would include both a no-fly zone as well as a "no-drive zone" to prevent Gaddafi from crushing the rebel forces. (Foreign Policy)
- Iran Calls for UN Action over Bahrain - Reza Derakhshi
Iran has complained to the UN about Bahrain's crackdown on Shi'ite protesters and asked regional countries to urge Saudi Arabia to withdraw troops from the island state. Iran has said the Bahrain crisis, where at least six people died in clashes on Wednesday, could lead to wider conflict. The Sunni Saudi monarchy provides 12% of U.S. crude imports and Washington considers it a powerful regional counterweight to Iran.
See also Saudi Arabia's Support for Bahrain Risks Drawing Iran into the Conflict - Con Coughlin
Bahrain's Sheikh Salman al-Khalifa, the Crown Prince, has repeatedly sought to open a dialogue with the Shia demonstrators, with a view to addressing their concerns. But the more the royal family has attempted to reach out, the more intransigent the demands of the protest movement have become, with the more militant calling for the removal of the royal family and the establishment of a Shia state.
An estimated 30% of Bahraini Shia are of Persian descent, and maintain contact with relatives in Iran. In the past, this has enabled Iran's Revolutionary Guards to establish terrorist cells in the kingdom, aimed at destabilizing the monarchy. The issue is further complicated by Iran's long-standing insistence that it has a legitimate territorial claim over Bahrain. There is considerable concern within British security circles that the situation could spread into a wider conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia, with calamitous consequences for the West. (Telegraph-UK)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Arms Smuggling Threatens Mideast Balance of Power - Herb Keinon
Iran and Syria are trying to boost the capabilities of non-state actors and give them a "quantitative and qualitative" edge over the moderate regimes in the region, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Wednesday. "The arms are not trickling drip by drip, as in the past, but are literally flooding into the hands of dangerous terrorist groups by air, sea and land, threatening to upset the military balance and undermine regional stability in the Middle East and the southern Mediterranean rim of Europe." The flood of arms "is creating a tipping point which could soon result in the balance of power shifting dramatically and permanently in favor of Iran and its allies, with all that entails for our neighbors in Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and the Gulf."
In the case of the Victoria arms ship, Israel acted in self-defense because the smuggling of arms into Gaza poses a direct and imminent threat to the safety of Israelis, who continue to find themselves under rocket and mortar fire originating from the Strip.
According to the Foreign Ministry, transferring weaponry to terrorist organizations in Gaza is a blatant violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1860 (2009), which calls to "prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition" to Gaza. Likewise, it also violates UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001), which calls upon states to refrain from providing any form of support to terrorist organizations and to eliminate the supply of weapons to such groups.
- Sharansky: Free World Must Help Topple Oppressive Regimes - Natasha Mozgovaya
Testifying before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, Natan Sharansky said Wednesday that the "free world" must openly support dissidents fighting against oppressive regimes.
"People went to the streets not because of the problems with the U.S. or Israel. They went to demonstrations because they didn't want to live under dictatorship. They wanted to live without this constant self-censorship." (Ha'aretz)
- The Atrocity in Itamar - Martin Peretz
Most of Israel is still grieving for the five people in the Fogel family who were murdered late Friday night in the religious settlement of Itamar, near Shechem (or Nablus) where, more or less, Jewish history began.
One of the great acts of Zionist statesmanship was when the Jewish Agency for Palestine accepted the parsimonious cartography of their future state. Chaim Weizman, who later became the first president of Israel, said it with heavy heart: The Jews would take a state even if it were the size of a tablecloth. If the Palestinians were constituted as a real nation they would have long ago come to a similar conclusion.
Palestinian nationhood is not a product built from outside. And it won't be reinforced when and if the General Assembly will declare Palestine a state.
- Genocide in Israel - Kathryn Jean Lopez
Giulio Meotti described the slaughter last week of five members of the Fogel family on the West Bank: "The victims were sleeping as the killer came in. The paramedics described children's toys right next to pools of blood."
Meotti, an Italian journalist, is the author of the haunting book A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism, dedicated to making sure that these victims are known and not forgotten.
As Meotti tells me, "Those who profess to deplore violence on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian equation have remained relatively silent on the slaughtering of this Israeli family. No words of condemnation about the killing of these innocents have been heard from the human-rights groups, the same faction that is so quick to vilify Israel for defending itself from terrorist attacks, especially when Palestinian citizens lose their lives during a retaliatory foray by Israel. There is no other conclusion to draw: When the deaths of Jewish innocents go unmourned and unacknowledged, it is because Jewish lives do not count. Where's the outrage? Why is the world silent about the beheading of a Jewish infant? The silence has been telling."
"The 'civilized' world should be ashamed for leaving the Israelis alone, during the Second Intifada, to be killed in cafes, buses, supermarkets. How will it answer when the Iranian ayatollahs threaten to burn half of the Jewish state with the atomic bomb?" (National Review)
- Interests of Saudi Arabia and Iran Collide, with the U.S. in the Middle - Helene Cooper and Mark Landler
Relations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have chilled as Saudi officials ignored American requests not to send troops into Bahrain to help crush Shiite-led protests there. A tense telephone call between President Obama and King Abdullah on Wednesday, Arab officials said, failed to ease the tensions.
"King Abdullah has been clear that Saudi Arabia will never allow Shia rule in Bahrain - never," an Arab official said. He said King Abdullah's willingness to listen to the Obama administration had "evaporated" since Egyptian President Mubarak was forced from office.
The Saudi position is rooted in the royal family's belief that a Shiite uprising next door in Bahrain could spread and embolden Saudi Arabia's own minority Shiite population and increase Iranian influence in the kingdom. American officials want Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to allow political reforms that could lead to more representation for Shiites under Sunni rule.
(New York Times)
See also Bahrain's Kleptocracy in the Crosshairs - Simon Henderson
This crisis reveals that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are no longer on the same page. Riyadh perceives the White House as demanding universal freedoms from its friends, but not from its adversaries like Iran.
The writer is director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
(Wall Street Journal)
See also Washington's Stark Choice: Democracy or Riyadh - Ian Bremmer (Financial Times-UK)
- Libya: Where Is the Arab League and the Islamic Conference? - Clifford D. May
In Libya - and in Yemen, Bahrain, and other Arab countries - Arabs are killing Arabs. Why is no one looking to the Arab League to take responsibility?
How did the Arab League's wish become America and Europe's command?
Why is it that the Organization of the Islamic Conference feels no obligation to try to put a stop to the violence? More than 50 states belong to the OIC. Perhaps Turkey might at least consider organizing a flotilla to bring aid to Libya?
The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
- 2011: The Year of the (Bad) Initiative - Aaron David Miller
This is going to be a great year for Middle East peace initiatives, but likely a very bad one for Middle East peace.
Driven by all kinds of motives to reach an agreement (except the right one), Israelis, Palestinians and Americans are considering various peace plans and proposals. None look terribly promising. There's a good chance that in coming months we'll see a lot of process but not much peace. The transformative changes now sweeping the Arab world have knocked everybody off balance, made bold decision-making more difficult, and sharpened divisions within the Arab, Palestinian and Israeli worlds over how to pursue serious peace-making.
As far as President Obama is concerned, his failure to get serious negotiations launched between Israelis and Palestinians still rankles. Too much rhetoric early in the administration, an unwise call for a comprehensive settlement freeze, and too much faith in his own transformative power, have collided with reality. But he hasn't given up. Now, with big changes in the Arab world, there will be pressure to use peace-making to pre-empt radicalization, counter Iran (there's that linkage thing again), and to make good on his belief that Arab-Israeli peace is vital to American interests.
The writer is a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center.
(International Herald Tribune)
- "Miral" and Israel - David Harris
On March 11, the American Jewish Committee wrote to UN General Assembly President Joseph Deiss, asking him to reconsider hosting the premiere of a new film, "Miral," at UN headquarters on March 14.
We noted, "The Israeli Mission to the UN was not even given the minimal courtesy of being consulted in advance about the wisdom of showing such a film that deals, after all, with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
Now imagine that Deiss had opted to premiere a film that portrayed the Indian-Pakistani conflict over Kashmir through the eyes of one side only. Or the division of Cyprus through the lens of only the Greek or Turkish perspective. Or the dispute over the Falkland Islands, which led to an Argentine-British war, from one side, but not the other. But along came "Miral" and all the rules were broken. Because it involved Israel, and not nations with far more clout in the UN system, the protest fell on deaf ears. The show went on and, once again, Israel got the short end of the stick. The writer is executive director of the American Jewish Committee and a senior associate at St. Antony's College, Oxford University. (Huffington Post)
- Accountability of Hamas Under International Humanitarian Law - Sigall Horovitz
Because Hamas is involved in an armed conflict
with Israel, it is obligated to observe certain norms of
international humanitarian law.
Hamas fighters who daily targeted Israeli civilians with
rockets, as well as suicide bombers, violated the Geneva
Conventions which prohibit violence towards life and
body of anyone who is not taking part in the hostilities.
Hamas can be held responsible for violations of
international humanitarian law. Individuals can be
charged with criminal responsibility for serious IHL
violations, referred to as war crimes. The use of rockets and suicide bombings to attack
civilians may amount to genocide and/or crimes against
The writer worked as legal adviser to the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for
Rwanda and served with the Office of the Prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-Konrad Adenauer Stiftung)
See also Hamas, the Gaza War, and Accountability Under International Law (JCPA-KAS)
Netanyahu: Iran Says Israel Is the Small Satan and the United States Is the Great Satan - Piers Morgan (CNN)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview on CNN Thursday:
- "The 20th century passed by a lot of the Arab world and the Muslim world, and then in comes the information technology of the 21st century and is telling all these people what they missed out on. And this creates the turbulence. Will it end quickly? I doubt it."
Q: What is the nightmare scenario for you?
Netanyahu: "That you get another Iran. You had a revolution five years ago in Lebanon. A million Lebanese, that's equivalent to 20 million Egyptians, walked in the streets of Beirut chanting for freedom, chanting for a secular, reformist, liberal Lebanese state.
Five years later, Lebanon is controlled by Hizbullah which is controlled by Iran. That's what we don't want to see. We don't want to see the stark medievalism that represses women, that crushes the rights of people, that rolls us back a millennium, that fosters violence and does everything that we abhor - that it would take over. And I think these are the two poles. One is real democratic change and the other is a descent to militant Islamism that squashes all freedoms and threatens the peace of everyone."
- "Everybody says take the nonproliferation treaty and expand it and bring Israel into it. No, the problem in the Middle East is not that countries don't join it, it's that those countries who join the nonproliferation treaty have violated it left and right beginning with Iraq under Saddam Hussein, going on to Libya, Syria, recently.
They're all signatories of the NPT. They all developed nuclear weapons programs. Syria just did that and was exposed and Iran is doing it every day."
- "The problem in the Middle East is this tyrannical, medieval, terrorist regime of Iran in which the mullahs and the ayatollahs want nuclear weapons with which they openly threaten to make another holocaust, to wipe out the Jewish state.
But that's just for starters. They say that we're the small Satan, that the United States is the great Satan."
- "Seven prime ministers have tried to get peace with the Palestinians since the peace process began in Oslo in 1993. Some of them made extraordinarily generous concessions. And it didn't work, because the Palestinians, first under Arafat and now under Abu Mazen [Abbas], have not picked it up. They refuse to go the distance and actually recognize the Jewish state and make the compromises that are required from both sides.
The entire world is focusing on the compromises that are necessary from Israel's side. And I'm prepared to make a lot of those compromises for peace. But they're not focusing on the fact that the Palestinians refuse to make the necessary compromises that are required on their side for peace."
- "I nearly died several times in firefights. I had a brother lost in battle. I had many friends lost. One of the experiences I remember was as an 18-year-old soldier, just a few short weeks after entering the army, holding a friend who died in my arms....We want peace more than any other people. We pray for peace, yearn for peace, dream about peace. I want to make sure that the peace holds. And...the only peace that would hold is a peace you can defend...a peace with security."
- "Talk about concessions. We uprooted 10,000 Israelis out of Gaza, just eliminated the settlements that were supposed to be the obstacle to peace. We walked out. Iran walked in. We didn't get peace. We walked out of Lebanon....Iran walked in. Now they say just walk out of the West Bank. Make the concession, come on, do it again, a third time....We say that Jerusalem has to remain united under Israel."
- Q: The Palestinians have said that they're prepared to bring Hamas into government....Could you ever imagine having any kind of workable [Palestinian] administration that involved Hamas?
Netanyahu: Can you imagine a peace deal with al-Qaeda? Of course not....Hamas has a constitution [that] calls for the annihilation of Israel. Not only that, but the expansion of radical Islam throughout the region and the world. If they stopped firing rockets or importing rockets to launch on our cities - we just intercepted some Iranian rockets yesterday that were intended for Hamas - if they stopped terrorism, if they stopped calling for [Israel's] eradication, yes, of course, we'll be happy to talk to them.
But the fact is Hamas has not stopped being Hamas. Hamas continues to call for our liquidation. So what am I going to negotiate with them about, the method of our decapitation, the method of their exterminating us? Of course not."
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