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April 8, 2011

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel Conducting Global War on Hamas - Eli Lake (Washington Times)
    Israel's security agencies are stepping up targeted attacks throughout the world on Hamas' leadership in what one Israeli national security official called "intelligence-based prevention."
    In the past two months, Israeli operatives have intercepted a German ship in international waters, fired a missile at a suspected Hamas leader in Sudan, and captured a Hamas engineer in the Ukraine, according to Israeli and Western officials.
    "Israel defeated the wave of suicide bombing attacks against it in 2002 by identifying the leadership that was behind it and making it clear to them that they would pay a price," said Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN and specialist on international terrorism.
    "Presently, the effort to cripple Hamas' military capabilities is no longer confined to the Gaza Strip alone, but to the entire Hamas global network and that of its allies."
    The renewed Israeli approach is in some ways a response to the international condemnation of the Gaza operation of 2009. Because the covert campaign targets leaders and is often done in secret, the diplomatic damage to Israel for these actions tends to be muted.

Poll: 60 Percent of Egyptians Want Peace with Israel - Jay Solomon (Wall Street Journal)
    More than 60% of Egyptians want their country to honor its peace treaty with Israel, according to a poll by the UN-affiliated International Peace Institute.
    The poll also found that nearly 50% said they thought positively of the secular Wafd Party, while 38% said they had a favorable opinion of the Muslim Brotherhood.
    Former Foreign Minister Amr Moussa leads the field among likely presidential candidates, with 80% saying they had a favorable impression of him, while former UN nuclear watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei garnered support from just 2%.
    See also Poll Results (International Peace Institute)

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WikiLeaks: Bahrain King Boasted of Intelligence Ties with Israel - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
    Bahraini King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa, whose position is now threatened by popular protests, bragged about intelligence contacts with Israel, and instructed that official statements stop referring to Israel as the "Zionist entity," according to U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain William Monroe, who met with the king on Feb. 15, 2005, according to documents revealed by WikiLeaks.

Egypt Protests Go On - Neil MacFarquhar (New York Times)
    Nearly two months after Hosni Mubarak was toppled, in government ministries, factories and especially universities, daily protests have focused on those viewed as Mubarak's surrogates.
    Demonstrators complain that the dreaded secret police vetted every candidate for an important job under Mubarak, and that now the country deserves a clean slate.
    Many fear that if they do not capitalize on this moment, the revolution may prove fruitless.
    One problem is that Egyptians lack experience in the give and take of democracy, so the push for change is marked by accentuated hostility and mistrust.
    The army deployed armored vehicles outside the offices of the sheik of Al Azhar, the highest religious authority in Egypt, because of the ferocity of protests by workers demanding higher salaries and better working conditions.
    See also Egyptian Protesters Call to Put Mubarak on Trial (AP-Washington Post)

Is Ahmadinejad Losing His Working-Class Support Base? - Dariush Zahedi and Hamed Aleaziz (Foreign Policy)
    According to Djavad Salehi-Isfahani of the Brookings Institution, the Iranian economy is on a precipice. Ahmadinejad's new subsidies plan, which eliminates heavy discounts on fuel and food, has thus far pushed inflation to an annual rate of 15%, which may well rise further.
    The prices of important consumer and food staples have risen even faster; the price of bread has doubled, and gas prices have quadrupled.
    A recent report by Iranian government researchers shows that about half of Iranians living in urban centers are living below the poverty line.

A Theatrical Reminder - Mordechai Kedar (Bar-Ilan University-IMRA)
    This week saw the assassination in Jenin of Israeli-Arab actor and director Juliano Mer.
    The murder was carried out by a member of Hamas who did not view the theatrical activities established by Mer, in which men and women worked together, favorably.
    Mer was killed because such theater does not conform to the moral code of his murderers; after issuing warnings, they acted against Mer as do Islamic fanatics against anyone who threatens traditional Islamic values.
    This assassination serves as a reminder that Jenin still is a center for murderous Jihadists.
    Today it is Mer, tomorrow it is any Palestinian politician who will make peace with Israel.
    It is clear that American arms and training, European funds and global political support will not turn the Fatah regime in the West Bank into something upon which Israel can depend.

Cafe Culture Blooms in West Bank's Ramallah - Mohammed Assadi (Reuters)
    The city of Ramallah, just north of Jerusalem, has undergone a massive boom in recent years on the back of Western donor support, with new smart eateries and bars mushrooming alongside a plethora of pristine office blocks.
    Latest data says Ramallah and the adjacent town of Al-Bireh that it has utterly engulfed have more than 120 coffee shops and some 300 restaurants, with 50 new diners opening in 2010 alone.
    Ramallah has seen its population double in the last decade to around 100,000, and plays host to a growing army of NGO workers, diplomats and an increasingly wealthy, middle-class elite.
    "These people need food, need to sit down and talk, need to hold receptions," said Mohammad Amin, head of the Ramallah Chamber of Commerce.

Israeli Tourism Surprisingly Buoyant - Amy Teibel (AP)
    Israel's tourism industry has been surprisingly resilient in the face of regional turmoil that has dried up visits to neighboring Arab countries, tourism officials say.
    With its holy sites and Mediterranean beaches, Israel has long been a tourist magnet. Foreign tourists pumped some $4.4 billion into the Israeli economy last year, up from $3.3 billion the previous year.

Plans to Rehab Israel's Dunes Will Expand Mediterranean Beach Fun - Tafline Laylin (Green Prophet)
    Israel will create a new network of land and sea parks in order to protect its coastal escarpment from further erosion.
    Under the plan, eight miles of beachfront along the Mediterranean Sea will be restored and bathing areas will be expanded.
    Several archaeological sites will also be preserved including Apollonia and Tel Ashkelon.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Gaza Missile Hits Israeli School Bus - Joel Greenberg
    An anti-tank missile fired from Gaza hit a school bus in southern Israel on Thursday, critically wounding a teenage boy. A military spokesman said the bus had been struck by an advanced Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missile fired from about two miles away. Hamas, which rules Gaza, asserted responsibility for the attack. The Israeli army said that 45 mortar rounds and rockets landed in Israel during the exchanges of fire that followed the bus attack. Prime Minister Netanyahu, on a visit to Germany, said, "We have no intention of absorbing attacks that no country would accept."  (Washington Post)
        See also Hamas Aimed at Children - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
    The anti-tank missile was fired from Saja'iya in Gaza, four to five kilometers from the target, from a point where it was clear students were on board and it was possible to keep the bus within sight. In other words, the attackers knew what they were attacking. The attack occurred several minutes after a group of students had disembarked at Kibbutz Nahal-Oz.
        There is evidence that Hamas and Islamic Jihad have missiles and rockets capable of striking the southern suburbs of the Tel Aviv region, which puts the lives of two million Israelis in the line of fire. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Envoy Rice Doubts Goldstone Report Can Be Fixed
    Susan Rice, the U.S. envoy to the UN, said on Wednesday she wanted a controversial report on Israel's 2008-09 Gaza offensive to "disappear," but did not think it could be amended even though its author now says he may have been wrong. Rice said the U.S. did not see any evidence at the time that Israel intentionally targeted civilians or committed war crimes. Israel had shown an ability to investigate concerns about the conflict, "quite in contrast with Hamas," she said.
        Rice also defended U.S. participation in the UN Human Rights Council, saying that it was better for the U.S. to stay engaged and resist anti-Israel bias on the council "rather than turn our backs." Asked about a possible Palestinian move for UN recognition of an independent Palestinian state, Rice said, "you can pass a resolution but that does not a viable state create." "A viable state can only be established through direct negotiations between the parties," she said. (Reuters)
  • Nuclear-Related Site Detected in Iran
    A group close to the Iranian opposition in exile said Thursday it has located an industrial site near Tehran that produces components for centrifuges used to enrich uranium. The Taba site has been in operation for four and a half years, Alireza Jafarzadeh said at a news conference in Washington, citing information gathered by the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI) opposition group.
        Taba, which in Persian stands for Iranian Cutting Tools Factory, produces "aluminum casing, magnets, molecular pumps, composite tubes, centrifuge bases," he said. The site was in Karaj in Tehran's western suburbs. He said there was also another factory for making centrifuge components in Sahfizadeh, near Qazvin, 130 km. west of Tehran. (AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Merkel: Germany Will Oppose "Unilateral" Palestinian Statehood - Benjamin Weinthal
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday voiced her government's opposition to a possible UN resolution creating an independent Palestinian state. "The Federal Republic of Germany is championing a two-state solution....Any kind of unilateral recognition does not promote this goal. This will be our position in September," she said, during a joint press conference in Berlin with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
        Merkel also said Iran's nuclear program is "more than ever a threat. Everything has to be done to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • New Missile Defense System Intercepts Palestinian Rocket Fired at Israeli City - Anshel Pfeffer and Yanir Yagna
    Israel's new Iron Dome missile defense system on Thursday successfully intercepted for the first time a Grad rocket that was fired from Gaza at the Israeli city of Ashkelon. The system uses cameras and radar to track incoming rockets and shoot them down within seconds of launch. (Ha'aretz)
  • Peres: Bus Attack Shows Gaza Turned into Terror State - Shlomo Shamir
    "I was just informed that an Israeli bus carrying students from school was hit by a missile fired from Gaza. This is another example of how Gaza has turned into a terror state," Israeli President Shimon Peres told UN Security Council ambassadors during a visit to New York on Thursday. "None of you would give up on the security of your country, and Israel will also defend itself," he said. "Hundreds of thousands of mothers and children in southern Israel cannot sleep peacefully at night as a result of the rocket fire from Gaza."   (Ha'aretz)
  • Gaza Missile Attack a War Crime - Ron Ben-Yishai
    Hamas committed a war crime when it fired an anti-tank missile at a clearly marked school bus. Another indication that the strike was deliberate was the fact that the missile fired at the bus was merely the opening shot for additional mortar barrages and rockets targeting Israeli communities. Israel intends to make it clear to Hamas that every attempt to deviate from international law will be met with a very harsh response. (Ynet News)
  • A Callous Escalation - Yaakov Katz
    The decision to target a school bus was a callous and deliberate escalation. Plainly, too, Israel would not respond with just a symbolic strike. The bus was driving near Kibbutz Saad, about 2.5 km. from the Gaza border. The missile was launched 1-1.5 km. from the border - meaning that the Palestinian who fired it was skilled in firing anti-tank missiles. (Jerusalem Post)
  • A Terrible Day That Could Have Ended Still More Tragically - Tovah Lazaroff
    Karen Doron-Katz's daughter Tom, 13, was among several dozen children lucky enough to be dropped off before an anti-tank missile hit their yellow school bus. Doron-Katz told the Jerusalem Post she realizes the fate of her child hung on such small details as how long the bus stood in traffic, or the amount of time it took the children to board. "If the trip had taken longer, if they had stopped along the way, it could have all ended differently; she could have died," Doron-Katz said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Targets Terrorist Cells in Gaza
    Israel Air Force aircraft attacked nine terror sites in Gaza on Thursday night. Earlier on Thursday, Air Force and Armored Corps forces struck two terrorist cells which had fired mortars and rockets toward Israel. Armored Corps forces also fired at the region from where an anti-tank missile had been fired at a school bus. The IDF holds Hamas solely responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from Gaza. (Israel Defense Forces)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Arab World

  • Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Not Libya, Are the Keys to Peace - Leslie H. Gelb
    The Obama team has been spending far less time than it should on the Mideast as a whole and far too much time on Libya. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are the keys to peace in the region and, in Riyadh's case, central to the flow of critical oil. Muslim extremists are moving to gain control in Egypt. Washington has to help the secular army and the street democrats do what they deem wise to prevent the religious radicalization of their country.
        Of equal importance, Washington has much to do to restore good relations with Saudi Arabia, given King Abdullah's perception that Obama helped push longtime ally Mubarak overboard. The king isn't going to democratize his country, whatever the humanitarians say, and Obama should leave matters alone there for the time being. More or less the same applies to the states of the Arabian Peninsula such as Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar. The writer is president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. (Daily Beast)
  • Saudi Arabia on the Brink - Bruce Riedel
    Relations between Riyadh and Washington have deteriorated sharply as the Saudis have lost faith in American commitments to stand by their friends. The House of Saud is very nervous that revolution is contagious. By intervening forcefully in Bahrain, the Saudis have now more or less taken control of the island's future. Now they are the power behind the throne. This sends a clear signal to the two Shia powers in the Gulf, Iran and Iraq, not to interfere in the business of the peninsula. It also sent a clear signal to Obama not to support reform in the kingdom's backyard.
        The Saudi leadership also believes they have seen this American movie before. Jimmy Carter threw the Shah under the bus in 1978 and we got the Islamic Republic of Iran. George Bush toppled Saddam in 2003 and we got a Shia government in Iraq. So the princes are circling the wagons and telling their fellow monarchs in the Gulf and King Abdallah in Jordan to do the same. Prince Bandar, former ambassador in Washington, reportedly visited Islamabad late last month to ask the Pakistanis for troops to help ensure internal stability in the kingdom and the Gulf States if needed. (National Interest)
        See also Gates Tries to Soothe Saudis Rattled by Unrest - Robert Burns (AP)
  • Amid the Arab Spring, Obama's Dilemma over Saudi Arabia - Martin Indyk
    The ailing 87-year-old king of Saudi Arabia probably isn't getting much sleep. Abdullah can see the flames of instability and turmoil licking at all his borders. In the south, Yemen is imploding, to the advantage of his al-Qaeda enemies. In the east, Abdullah has already sent armed forces to Bahrain to prevent Iran from establishing a "cat's paw" on the Sunni Arab side of the Persian Gulf. In the north, Abdullah sees Iraq's Shiite-dominated government as nothing more than a front for the hated Persians. In the west, a Palestinian majority is demanding that the Hashemite king of Jordan become a constitutional monarch. Meanwhile, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, that other Sunni pillar of regional stability, has already been overthrown.
        Historically, in times of trouble, Saudi kings have depended on American presidents to guarantee their external security. But at this moment, Abdullah views President Obama as a threat to his internal security. He fears that in the event of a widespread revolt, Obama will demand that he leave office, just as he did to Mubarak. Consequently, Abdullah is reportedly making arrangements for Pakistani troops to enter his kingdom should the need to suppress popular demonstrations arise. The writer is vice president and director of the Brookings Institution's foreign policy program. (Washington Post)
  • Winds of Change in the Middle East: An Israeli Perspective - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin
    Amos Yadlin, Israel's former top intelligence official, assesses the implications for Israel of the "Arab Spring."  (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • A Democratic Middle East? - Stephen Haber and Victor Menaldo
    We would like to say that democracy is coming to the Middle East and North Africa, but there are good reasons to curb our optimism. It is one thing to force a tyrant from the presidential palace. It is quite another to create a durable democratic political system. The states that make up the Middle East and North Africa are among the world's oldest - and have persistently settled into patterns of autocratic rule since their creation.
        The fact that protestors are demanding both democracy and economic opportunity provides an important clue as to why the region tends to converge on non-democratic political systems. Briefly stated, societies that are characterized by extreme inequality tend not to provide fertile ground for representative political institutions. Research that we are conducting on the long-run determinants of democratic and autocratic political systems suggests that social structures are the outcomes of long historical processes; they are not created by the stroke of a pen. (Hoover Institution)
  • The "Arab Spring" and the Demise of Land Day - Pinhas Inbari
    On the background of the dramas in the Arab world, it is significant that this year's protests by Israeli Arabs and Palestinians on Land Day (March 31) - an annual day of protest for Israeli Arabs against Israeli governmental policies dating back to the 1970s - kept a low profile, maybe the lowest ever. It turns out that Arabs in Israel have the lowest level of motivation in the Arab world to initiate changes to their situation. This does not mean that their situation is perfect. There is a lot of work to do to make them feel completely part of Israeli society, but when they look around the region, they know their situation is good.
        Land Day was quiet in Ramallah and Gaza as well, but for different reasons. In Gaza, Hamas does not support events that do not possess a religious flavor. In Ramallah, the government did not want to "waste ammunition" before the planned declaration of independence in September, which it wants to accompany with huge demonstrations. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-Hebrew)
  • "Arab Spring" No Help for Peace - Michael J. Totten
    Now that the Arab revolt is slamming hard into Bashar al-Assad's Baath Party in Syria, no Mideast or North African dictator will likely be able to sleep. Yet the revolutionary wave isn't yet powerful enough to wash away the worst thugs. Which means that the region's most serious threats to our interests - and to Mideast peace - remain. Israel and America are still heading toward a confrontation with the axis of terror that includes the Syrian and Iranian regimes as well as Hamas in Gaza and Hizbullah in Lebanon.
        Syria and Iran arm and equip Hizbullah, and Hizbullah controls the Lebanese-Israeli border, so that border has effectively become the frontline not only in the Arab-Israeli conflict, but also the Iranian-Israeli conflict and the conflict between the West and Iran in general. Hizbullah has more rockets and missiles than most legitimate national militaries. It's a real terrorist army - armed not with boxcutters but with the heavy weaponry possessed otherwise only by states. If the Iranian ayatollahs develop nuclear weapons, not only will their Syrian sidekicks enjoy a protective nuclear umbrella, so will their terrorist proxies in Gaza and Lebanon. (New York Post)
  • What Would John Locke Have Thought of Obama's Speech on Libya? - Yechiel Leiter
    That "history is on the move" in the Middle East is clear, but is it moving forward or backward? In Egypt, the revolution "succeeded" in bringing the military to power, and elections have been postponed with the explanation that, at least at present, the Muslim Brotherhood might otherwise gain decisive influence. In Bahrain, it is the Iranian mullahs behind the Shi'ite uprising against the Sunni government. In Syria, it is the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Sunni revolt against the ruling Alawites. In Yemen, the fingerprints of al-Qaeda are everywhere. In Libya, the unnatural geographic cohesion of rival clans is coming apart after years of suppression, along with traces of al-Qaeda agitation. These are religious, ethnic and tribal conflicts. Should the will of the people - any people - be respected even if it aims to replace one tyranny with another? (Jerusalem Post)
  • Goldstone Report

  • Where's the Goldstone Report on Sri Lanka, Congo, Darfur - or Britain? - Jonathan Freedland
    Who was it that commissioned Goldstone and his team to look into Gaza? The UN Human Rights Council. A 2010 analysis showed that very nearly half of all the resolutions it had passed related to Israel: 32 out of 67.
        Many respectable folks have spent decades insisting that the "core issue" in the Middle East, if not the world, is the Israel-Palestine conflict - whose eventual healing will heal the wider region and beyond. That was always gold-plated nonsense, but now the Arab spring has come along to prove it. Now the world can see that the peoples of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain have troubles aplenty that have nothing to do with Israel. There could be peace between Israelis and Palestinians tomorrow, but it wouldn't relieve those in Damascus or Manama or Sana'a from the yoke of tyranny. (Guardian-UK)
  • The Goldstone Retraction and Human Rights Watch - Robert Bernstein
    Richard Goldstone's retraction cut the ground from under war-crime charges against Israel by Human Rights Watch. Although I founded Human Rights Watch and was its chairman for most of its existence, I have openly criticized it because its Gaza reports were seriously flawed. Judge Goldstone now concurs. I hope this puts the matter to rest and that Human Rights Watch makes every effort to undo the harm caused by its flawed reports. It is time to heal and to create an atmosphere conducive to peace negotiations in the Arab-Israel conflict. The writer is founding chairman emeritus of Human Rights Watch. (Washington Post)
  • International Law and Military Operations in Practice - Col. Richard Kemp
    Islamist fighting groups not only do not adhere to the laws of war, they employ a deliberate policy of operating consistently outside international law. British and American troops now routinely search mosques in Afghanistan and Iraq and when necessary we bring down fire on those locations - in a proportionate way and always with the aim of minimizing wider suffering.
        Israel is fighting an enemy that is deliberately trying to sacrifice their own people and deliberately trying to lure Israel into killing their civilians. The writer is former commander of British forces in Afghanistan. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-Konrad Adenauer Stiftung)
        See also Video: Col. Richard Kemp Discusses IDF Gaza Ops (BBC)
        See also The UN Gaza Report: A Substantive Critique
    Amb. Dore Gold and Judge Richard Goldstone discuss the UN Report on war crimes in Gaza at Brandeis University, Nov. 5, 2009. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Other Issues

  • The Fogel Murders: A Call to Combat Incitement - David Pollock
    Incitement to violence has returned to the front burner. On March 11, the Fogel family was massacred in the West Bank settlement of Itamar, prompting large numbers of U.S. senators and congressmen to press senior U.S. officials to take steps to end incitement. Palestinian officials published their own list of Israeli acts of "incitement," featuring calls by a rabbi and several journalists for a response to or revenge for the Itamar murders. But the list lacks examples of any Israeli leader, government official, or government-sponsored publication advocating or condoning violence against Palestinians.
        It was the Palestinian Ministry of Information that disseminated an article by a deputy minister claiming that Jews have no historical connection to the Western Wall. PA television alleges that the Israel Prison Service tortures prisoners with hot irons, amputates limbs, and harvests organs. PA television also perpetuated the libel that the deranged Australian Christian who attempted to set fire to the al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969 was Jewish and supported by the Israeli government.
        The issue of incitement presents the U.S. with an opportunity. With progress on the peace process virtually nonexistent, and the risk for violence increasing, a resumption of the trilateral anti-incitement committee would give Israelis and Palestinians the chance to meet face-to-face and commit to a common cause. Brokering such talks offers the chance both to address an important issue and to restart at least some form of direct negotiations. Such talks should concentrate narrowly on official incitement by government officials and institutions under governmental authority or funding. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • An Iranian Intelligence Failure: Arms Ship in Nigeria Reveals Iran's Penetration of West Africa - Jacques Neriah
    Since the Khomeini revolution, Iran has invested heavily in strengthening its diplomatic, economic, and security ties with Western African countries, especially with Senegal, Mauritania, Gambia, and Nigeria. Traditionally, Senegal had been a Sunni Muslim nation from the Sufi tradition. But in the wake of Senegal's openness toward Iran, scores of Shiite clergy from Lebanon entered the country to spread Shiism. In Nigeria, more than half of the population practices Islam. During his last visit to Nigeria in July 2009, Iranian President Ahmadinejad met with Muslim religious scholars and welcoming crowds cheered his convoy.
        A weapons ship departed from the Iranian port of Bandar-Abbas and arrived in Lagos, Nigeria, in July 2010. On Oct. 26, 2010, the shipping containers were opened and the weapons were discovered. Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki was then sent to Nigeria, where he told authorities there had been a mistake and that the weapons' destination was actually Gambia. Senegal has accused Gambia of providing arms for anti-government forces, especially for the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance in South Senegal.
        Sayyed Akbar Tabatabaei, the Africa commander of the Quds Force (the branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guards charged with exporting the revolution overseas), found refuge on Mottaki's plane and flew with him to Iran. On February 23, 2011, Senegal cut diplomatic ties with Iran. The whole affair was a failure on the part of Iranian intelligence. Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Weekend Features

  • Israeli Doctor Blogs from Japan Aid Mission - Laura Fixman
    The speakers at the second annual DARA (Doctors Against Racism and Anti-Semitism) medical conference in Toronto on Sunday included Dr. Ofer Merin, Shaare Zedek Medical Center's deputy director-general, who joined the conference via video. Merin is currently in the northern Japanese town of Kurihara aiding the victims of the March 8 earthquake and tsunami, with a medical team that includes 19 physicians and nurses from the Israel Defense Forces.
        Operating out of a makeshift clinic in the village of Minamisanriku - which was completely destroyed by the tsunami and lost about half of its 17,000 residents - Merin has been posting messages on his blog. "The people who survived are the refugees you read about on the news - completely homeless. These are the ones we came to assist," Merin wrote. The Israeli clinic is led by the only foreign team on the ground, providing wards for pediatrics, surgery, maternity and gynecology, ophthalmology and intensive care, as well as a lab and pharmacy. "Physicians from all around are coming with their patients for consults with our specialists, for blood tests and x-rays. Pregnant women are coming for ultrasounds as well, as this is a service they don't have," wrote Merin.
        At first the Japanese were hesitant to have foreigners treat them, but the Israeli team became increasingly popular after they treated the mayor. "To be a foreigner and to work with Japan, this is the first time this has been done," Merin said. The clinic is 150 km. north of the Fukushima power plant. (Canadian Jewish News)
  • On the Trail of Holocaust Organizer Adolf Eichmann - Klaus Wiegrefe
    Adolf Eichmann was the chief organizer behind the Nazi mass murder of Europe's Jews. Following the end of the war, he found refuge in a village in northern Germany before ultimately escaping to Argentina. Documents unknown until now show that he could have been captured earlier than he was - if West Germany had been interested.
        Eichmann, a lt. col. in the SS, had been the head of the "Jewish Section" at the Reich Main Security Office, the SS organization charged with fighting "enemies of the Reich," a position in which he was responsible for the deportation of Jews from Western Europe, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and Greece to the extermination camps. Figures showing the current status of the genocide were displayed in his office in Berlin. He sought to kill Jews from neutral countries as well as converted Jews. He stationed "Jew consultants" all over Europe, whose job was to intervene with German officials and those of other countries whenever the murderous transports were not moving quickly enough.
        After the war, Eichmann was interned in a prisoner-of-war camp in northern Bavaria, where he used a false name. On Feb. 5, 1946, Eichmann escaped from American captivity and promptly obtained false papers through a network of German and Austrian Nazis. He went to Argentina in 1950. (Der Spiegel-Germany)
        See also A Nazi War Criminal's Life in Argentina
    Part II of the report: Experts assume that several thousand Croats, Hungarians and Belgians with Nazi pasts fled to Argentina, as well as up to 800 higher-ranking Nazi officials and a few dozen German mass murderers. (Der Spiegel-Germany)
  • Could Israel Become an Energy Giant? - Bret Stephens
    Harold Vinegar is holding a little vial of oil, light-brown in color, with a look of paternal pride. "It's much lighter than typical crude," he says, describing it as "the equivalent of Saudi extra-light." This is Israel - a country that's been drilling dry holes for six decades in a famously fruitless quest for oil. And the liquid he is holding has been extracted from a nearby deposit of shale oil, which Israel has in abundance. Until recently, Vinegar was a chief scientist at Shell in Houston, with 266 patents to his name, many connected to his quest to develop "unconventional" energy sources such as shale that are uneconomical to extract when oil prices are low. Vinegar estimates a $34-$40 per barrel cost for commercial production - roughly comparable to the cost of deepwater drilling today. (Wall Street Journal)

Goldstone Repents. How about Everyone Else? - Ronald S. Lauder (New Jersey Jewish News)

  • Goldstone's retraction tells us nothing that decent, honest, and objective observers didn't know already. That "civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy"? But Israel never targets civilians as a matter of policy. It is not that kind of country. It is a humane, liberal-democracy. It is governed by the rule of law. It is a normal Western country whose people, and soldiers, abide by normal Western values.
  • So why were so many governments around the world so willing to jump on board the anti-Israeli bandwagon that the Goldstone Report represented? Why did so many countries in Europe, countries that call themselves allies of Israel and friends of the Jewish people, give it credence at the UN?
  • Why were so many of Israel's nominal friends so willing to believe the worst about the country? Why were transparently obvious lies and libels not instantly dismissed with the contempt that they so richly deserved? Why was Israel put on the same footing, perhaps even a lower footing, as Hamas, an organization committed to the obliteration of the Jewish state?
  • Let this be a watershed moment in the way the world deals with the Jewish state. Let Israel now be treated by a common standard, and not by a double standard. Let it be a moment where reflexive hostility to the State of Israel is finally put to rest. The Jewish people do not ask for much from the world, but we do ask for this: Treat us as you would like to be treated yourselves.

    The writer is president of the World Jewish Congress.
    See also "Criticize Israel - But Not on Security Issues" - Paul Berger
Interview with Daniel Diker, the secretary-general designate of the World Jewish Congress. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)

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