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May 20, 2011

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U.S. Designates Gaza-Based Army of Islam as Terrorist Group (U.S. State Department)
    The Secretary of State designated Army of Islam (AOI) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. AOI is a Gaza-based terrorist organization founded in 2005 which has been responsible for numerous terrorist acts against the governments of Israel and Egypt, as well as American, British and New Zealander citizens.
    These actions include rocket attacks on Israel, the 2006 kidnapping of two Fox News journalists in Gaza and the 2007 kidnapping of British journalist Alan Johnston in Gaza. The group is also responsible for early 2009 attacks on Egyptian civilians in Cairo and Heliopolis.
    The group is led by Mumtaz Dughmush and subscribes to a Salafist ideology of global jihad together with the traditional model of armed Palestinian resistance. AOI has previously worked with Hamas.
    See also State Department Adds IDF Soldier Gilad Shalit's Captors to Terror List (Jerusalem Post)

U.S. Judge Hits Iran with $300 Million Punitive Damages Award in Bus Bombing Case - Brent Kendall (Dow Jones)
    U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington on Thursday issued a $300 million punitive damages award against Iran for its support of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that the U.S. and Israel consider a terrorist organization.
    The case involved a 2003 suicide bombing of a Jerusalem bus by Hamas. The plaintiffs, which included the family of an American citizen killed in the attack, said Iran was legally liable in the deaths because it provided financial and material support to Hamas.
    "The court...expresses hope that the sanction it issues today will play a measurable role in changing the conduct of Iran - and other supporters of international terrorism - in the future," Lamberth wrote.
    "Courts therefore should continue to adhere to methods designed to impose optimal sanctions when faced with actors deliberately undertaking some of the most evil and inhuman acts imaginable."

U.S. Warns Turkey Against New Flotilla to Gaza (Today's Zaman-Turkey)
    The U.S. has been very clear with the Turkish government that a new flotilla would in no way be helpful, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon told the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs on Wednesday.
    Gordon noted that Israel had eased the blockade of Gaza since last year's incident and added that those who want to deliver aid to Gaza should try other routes approved by the Israeli government.
    "In the year since the last flotilla episode, Israel has changed the humanitarian regime for Gaza, [and] made very clear that there are alternative ways to get humanitarian assistance to Gaza."

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What Triggered the Syrian Revolt? - Fehim Tastekin (Hurriyet-Turkey)
    Ten children living in the Syrian city of Daraa were inspired by the Arab Spring and wrote an expression of freedom on walls. They were arrested by the Syrian intelligence agency.
    Families of the children applied to the Office of the Governor, but that didn't help. They went to the intelligence offices, but that didn't help either. Finally, the Office of the Governor was raided and the children were taken back.
    There was a problem however: Nails of the children had been removed and some of them had been raped. The families went ballistic and their tribes were outraged.
    Tens of thousands of people took to the streets, burned down the intelligence headquarters and the phone company belonging to Assad's cousin Rami Makhlouf.
    This is how the fear threshold was passed against the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.

Iran Represses Sunnis in Balochistan - Karlos Zurutuza (Diplomat-Japan)
    Balochistan, as the Baloch refer to their homeland, is an area the size of France, divided today between Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
    It holds significant reserves of gas, gold, copper, oil and uranium, but Tehran hasn't exploited the energy and mineral reserves in the area.
    Today, the region has the lowest per capita income in Iran, with almost 80% of the Baloch people living below the poverty line. The average life expectancy is at least eight years lower than the national average, while infant mortality rates are the highest in the country.
    "Annexation of the region to Iran in 1928 brought terrible episodes of repression, caused a mass exodus of the local population and saw virtually every Baloch place name changed to a Persian one," says Prof. Taj Muhammad Breseeg.
    The problem for Balochs is that they are Sunni Muslims in a Shiite-ruled nation. "The Islamic Shiite missionaries sent by Tehran told us that we'd have no jobs, no schools and no opportunities unless we converted," says Faiz Baloch, one of thousands of Baloch refugees who were forced to leave their homeland.
    According to figures from Amnesty International, Iran executed at least 1,481 people from 2004 to 2009, with the London-based International Voice for Baloch Missing Persons claiming that about 55% were Baloch.

Egypt's Liberals Worry about Loss of Clout as Muslim Brotherhood Rises - Michael Birnbaum and Ernesto Londono (Washington Post)
    The liberals and secularists who formed the core of the Egyptian revolution are now scrambling to stave off political gains by the Muslim Brotherhood, which is widely expected to become the dominant force when a new parliament is elected in September.

62 Percent of Israeli Arabs See Jews as Foreign Imprint - Ben Hartman (Jerusalem Post)
    According to Over 62 percent of the Arab citizens of Israel believe Jews are a foreign imprint in the Middle East and are destined to be replaced by Palestinians, and a similar proportion believe that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state, according to the 2010 Arab-Jewish Relations Survey, compiled by Prof. Sami Smoocha in collaboration with the Jewish-Arab Center at the University of Haifa, scheduled for release on Sunday.
    Among Arabs, 71% said they blamed Jews for the hardships suffered by Palestinians during and after the "Nakba" in 1948.
    The percentage of Arabs taking part in "Nakba Day" commemorations rose from 12.9% in 2003 to 36.1% in 2010.
    In addition, 37.8% of Arabs said they didn't believe that millions of Jews had been the victims of a campaign of genocide waged by Nazi Germany.
    Among Jewish respondents, 68.1% expressed their opposition to public Nakba commemorations, and 66.8% said the Palestinians bore the brunt of the blame for the continued conflict between Jews and Arabs.

Israeli Economy Grew 4.7 Percent in Q1 - Avital Lahav (Ynet News)
    Israel's gross domestic product (GDP) rose by an annual rate of 4.7% in the first quarter of 2011, following a 7.6% increase in the last quarter of 2010 and a 4.8% rise in the third quarter, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Monday.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Obama Tells Israel: Go Back to 1967 Lines - Ben Feller
    President Barack Obama on Thursday endorsed a key Palestinian demand for the borders of its future state. Obama's urging that a Palestinian state be based on the 1967 lines was a significant shift in the U.S. approach. (AP-Forbes)
        See also below Observations: Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking Starts with Borders and Security - President Barack Obama (White House)
        See also below Netanyahu's Response to President Obama's Speech (Israel Prime Minister's Office)
  • Netanyahu Responds Icily to Obama Remarks - Ethan Bronner
    President Obama's endorsement on Thursday of using the 1967 boundaries as the baseline for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute - the first by an American president - prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to push back. Netanyahu said that while he appreciated Mr. Obama's commitment to peace, he "expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of American commitments made to Israel in 2004 which were overwhelmingly supported by both Houses of Congress." Those commitments came in a letter from President George W. Bush which stated, among other things, that "it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949," another way of describing the 1967 boundaries.
        Mr. Netanyahu, who is to meet with Mr. Obama at the White House on Friday, added that the commitments "relate to Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines, which are both indefensible and which would leave major Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria beyond those lines."
        Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN and a confidant of Mr. Netanyahu's, said Mr. Obama's speech was "a radical shift in United States policy towards Israel." He said the 2004 letter was endorsed not only by a strong bipartisan majority but by Hillary Clinton, then a New York senator. "By mentioning the 1967 lines today, President Obama is going back on what had been an American commitment less than a decade ago."  (New York Times)
        See also Israel Calls on Obama to Stick to Peace Terms - Eli Lake
    The 1967 lines separate the territory of the West Bank that the Jewish state won in the 1967 war from the borders of Israel created after the 1948 war that established the state. Since the 1967 war, Israel has built settlements throughout the West Bank, but most of them are suburbs of Jerusalem, Israel's capital. Palestinian negotiators in 2008 were prepared to allow the presence of many settlements within Israel's final borders in exchange for swaps of land with Palestinian majorities inside the 1949 armistice lines, according to a negotiating record first disclosed this year by Al-Jazeera.
        Aaron David Miller, an adviser to six secretaries of state on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said, "This is the first time an American president in a high-profile, much-anticipated speech put out the concept of 1967 borders and mutually agreeable swaps without softening it for the Israelis with any kind of context....This administration has not validated the Bush letters and apparently they will not."  (Washington Times)
        See also Israel Objects to Obama Remarks on Borders - Luis Ramirez
    Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor says Prime Minister Netanyahu will ask President Obama for clarification of his remarks that the future borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines. "The 1967 line was never an international border. It was never recognized as such. It was a cease-fire line with many unclear areas that were considered no-man's land and therefore, because of their nature, they are considered an indefensible border," he said. (VOA News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu's Response to President Obama's Speech
    Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's office issued the following statement Thursday:
    Israel appreciates President Obama's commitment to peace. Israel believes that for peace to endure between Israelis and Palestinians, the viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of the viability of the one and only Jewish state. That is why Prime Minister Netanyahu expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both Houses of Congress. Among other things, those commitments relate to Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines which are both indefensible and which would leave major Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria beyond those lines.
        Those commitments also ensure Israel's well-being as a Jewish state by making clear that Palestinian refugees will settle in a future Palestinian state rather than in Israel. Without a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem outside the borders of Israel, no territorial concession will bring peace. Equally, the Palestinians, and not just the United States, must recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, and any peace agreement with them must end all claims against Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu will make clear that the defense of Israel requires an Israeli military presence along the Jordan River. (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Letter from U.S. President George W. Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, April 14, 2004 (
        See also U.S. Senate and House of Representatives Approve Commitments to Israel in President Bush's Letter of April 14, 2004 (
        See also Defensible Borders for a Lasting Peace - Yuval Steinitz, Yaakov Amidror, Meir Rosenne and Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Israel's Critical Security Needs for a Viable Peace Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Aharon Ze'evi Farkash, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Udi Dekel, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, Dr. Dore Gold and Dan Diker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Behind the Scenes: Tensions between Washington and Jerusalem
    According to the New York Times, Obama has reportedly told close aides that he does not believe Netanyahu will ever be willing to make the kind of big concessions that will lead to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Netanyahu, for his part, has complained that Obama has pushed Israel too far - a point poignantly expressed during what has been described as a furious phone call with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, where Netanyahu reacted angrily to the president's plan to endorse Israel's pre-1967 borders for a future Palestinian state. (Ynet News)
  • PA to Pay Salaries to All Terrorists in Israeli Prisons - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
    A law published in the official Palestinian Authority Registry last month grants all Palestinians and Israeli Arabs imprisoned in Israel for terror crimes a monthly salary from the PA. Although the EU, U.S. and other donors are not intentionally funding salaries for terrorists, their funding of other PA salaries and the general budget makes money available to pay terrorist salaries. (Palestinian Media Watch)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    President Obama's Mideast Policy Speech

  • Obama's Mideast Peace Gaffe - Jackson Diehl
    By saying that a division of territory between Israel and Palestine should be "based on" the "1967 lines," Obama gave a boost to Palestinian President Abbas, who has tried to make Israeli acceptance of this a condition for peace talks, and a slap to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has resisted it. That Obama would do this on the eve of Netanyahu's arrival in Washington for a White House meeting - and apparently without warning the Israeli leader - is a gaffe that has understandably angered Netanyahu and many of his U.S. supporters.
        This looks like another instance in which Obama's insistence on pushing his own approach to the peace process will backfire. Apparently at the last minute, Obama chose to include the 1967-lines idea in his speech. The result has been the draining of attention from the speech's central discussion of Arab democracy - and yet another pointless quarrel with Netanyahu. (Washington Post)
  • A Substantial Shift toward the Palestinian Position - Robert Satloff
    Specifically, the peace process principles articulated by President Obama constitute a major departure from long-standing U.S. policy. He is the first sitting president to say that the final borders should be "based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps." The Obama formulation concretizes a move away from four decades of U.S. policy based on UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967, which has always interpreted calls for an Israeli withdrawal to a "secure and recognized" border as not synonymous with the pre-1967 boundaries. The idea of land swaps means that the U.S. view is that resolution of the territorial aspect of the conflict can only be achieved if Israel cedes territory it held even before the 1967 war.
        The most surprising aspect of the president's statement was that it moved substantially toward the Palestinian position just days after the Palestinian Authority decided to seek unity and reconciliation with Hamas, a group the U.S. views as a terrorist organization. The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Obama's Israel Surprise - Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee
    Obama's comments marked the clearest call by a U.S. president for negotiations on a future Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. Mr. Obama decided to make the public call on borders in part to deflate a Palestinian campaign to win statehood at the UN, a senior administration official said. Statehood, the official said, has to be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Peace Negotiations Now Are Simply Unrealistic - Elliott Abrams
    On the whole, the president's comments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will lead nowhere. It is striking that he suggested no action: no meeting, no envoy, no Quartet session, no invitations to Washington. About the new Fatah-Hamas unity agreement he said this: "How can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist? In the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question." Indeed they must, and they won't, so this is perhaps an acknowledgment by the president that negotiations are simply unrealistic right now. It is possible that the White House was mostly seeking to park the issue for the coming year through some "balanced" rhetoric. (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • A Fine Obama Speech with a Fatal Flaw - John Podhoretz
    At the end of a very long and powerful speech on the meaning of the Arab Spring, Obama said he supported the concept of a final peace between Israel and the Palestinians based on the composition of Israel's borders before the Six-Day War in 1967. Obama deserves to be criticized, and harshly, for advancing this policy, now especially. There's no reason for the U.S. to be offering its own predetermined view of the final disposition of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, especially now that the terrorist group Hamas is taking a leading role in the Palestinian government.
        But I don't think he actually means to act in any way on the words he spoke. At least not now. After all, there is absolutely no hope whatsoever for a resumption of serious negotiations with Hamas in the mix. (New York Post)
  • President Obama's Mistake - Alan M. Dershowitz
    President Obama made a serious mistake that tilts the balance against Israel in any future negotiations. Without insisting that the Palestinians give up their absurd claim to have millions of supposed refugees "return" to Israel as a matter of right, he insisted that Israel must surrender all of the areas captured in its defensive war of 1967, subject only to land swaps. This formulation undercuts Resolution 242, passed unanimously by the UN Security Council in the wake of Israel's 1967 victory, which contemplated some territorial adjustments necessary to assure Israel's security against future attacks. Obama's mistake was to insist that Israel give up its card without demanding that the Palestinians give up theirs.
        If President Obama is to play a positive role in bringing the Palestinians and the Israelis to the negotiating table, he should insist that there be no preconditions to negotiation. The President did not even ask the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Obama's Speech Falls Short - Jennifer Rubin
    It was the Israel-Palestinian section of Obama's speech that was most alarming. The president rewards bad behavior by serving up a border plan just after the Hamas-Fatah unity government and in the same week that Mahmoud Abbas essentially declared perpetual war against Israel. On the positive side he did talk about a demilitarized Palestinian state. The talk about a Palestinian border with Jordan comes out of left field. Where is the recognition of Israel's ongoing security needs in the Jordan Valley?
        Obama still clings to the formulation that Israel's Netanyahu must make a "bold move." Why him? Has Israel not offered again and again a Palestinian state? (Washington Post)
  • At Odds with Washington - Editorial
    The U.S. president made it clear that his country would not cooperate with the Palestinian push for a UN General Assembly declaration recognizing a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines. Negotiation with Israel, not UN recognition, is the only route to Palestinian statehood, Obama said, reflecting consistent U.S. policy. However, while there were no signs that he was threatening or pressuring Israel, Obama did say that a two-state solution should be based on the 1967 lines, a clear endorsement of Palestinian demands.
        Obama claimed that the Arab Spring offered a unique opportunity to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In contrast, Netanyahu has presented what is in our opinion a more sober, realistic assessment. The instability running rampant in the region illustrates how easily regimes, including a newly founded Palestinian state, can suddenly be toppled and potentially taken over by Islamic extremists like Hamas.
        Problematic, too, was Obama's declaration that the sides should relaunch talks focusing initially on borders and security, leaving the "emotional" issues of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees for later. Israel's position has long been that such an order of business could enable the Palestinians to "pocket" the Israeli territorial concessions involved in border agreements without withdrawing their demand for a "right of return" for millions of Palestinians - which is the destruction of the Jewish state by demographic means. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Arab World

  • The Future of the Arab Uprisings Is Looking Grim - Shlomo Avineri
    This is not an Arab version of the revolutions in eastern Europe in 1989. Only relatively moderate regimes, like those of Mubarak and Tunisia's Ben Ali, fell, while Arab regimes lacking any moral or political qualms about murdering their own people, are holding on. Without a strong infrastructure of civil society, demonstrations are no alternative to the establishment of institutions, which is essential for the consolidation of democracy. The vengeance being directed against the Mubarak family in Egypt is a cheap populist alternative to democracy. Even if the dictatorships in Libya and Yemen are overthrown, it is not reasonable that we will see a stable democracy established in their stead. The writer, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, served as director-general of Israel's Foreign Ministry. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Arab Spring: A Cause for Hope? - Gerard Baker
    As thousands braved the brutal crackdown by members of President Bashar Assad's military that has killed hundreds of unarmed protestors, in the Syrian city of Homs last week a small group of Arab demonstrators boldly held up a sign that read, in Arabic: "We urge our heroic armed forces to use rubber bullets, just as the Israelis do." Think for a moment what the sign represented. Here was the Arab Street calling not for the destruction of Israel but for Arab rulers to behave more like Israelis.
        For much of their modern history Arab leaders have blamed the Israelis - and their backers in the West - for most of their ills. For seven centuries the Arabs have laid the blame for their failures at the feet of others: Crusaders, Ottomans, Persians, British and French colonialists, Americans, Jews. The Arab Spring has shattered this organizing mythology of Arab dysfunction. "For the first time in 700 years, it is not some outsider who is to blame," says a senior Western diplomat in the region. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Palestinians

  • The Arab Apartheid - Ben-Dror Yemini
    In 1948, the Arab countries refused to accept the UN partition proposal and they launched a war of annihilation against the State of Israel which had barely been established. All precedents in this matter showed that the party that starts the war - and with a declaration of annihilation, yet - pays a price for it. Between 550,000 and 710,000 Arabs fled because of the war and a larger number of 850,000 Jews were expelled or fled from Arab countries (the "Jewish nakba").
        Population exchanges and expulsions were the norm at that time, occurring in dozens of other conflict points and affecting about 52 million people. In all the population exchange precedents that occurred during or at the end of an armed conflict, there was no return of refugees to the previous region, which had turned into a new national state.
        Only the Arab states acted completely differently from the rest of the world. Instead of assimilating the refugees, they crushed them despite the fact that they were their coreligionists and members of the Arab nation - instituting a regime of apartheid. So the "nakba" was not caused by the actual dispossession, which had also been experienced by tens of millions of others. The "nakba" is the story of the apartheid, oppression, abuse and denial of rights suffered by the Arab refugees at the hands of the Arab countries. (Maariv)
  • A Third Intifada? Not Necessarily - Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel
    A third intifada in September 2011, along the lines of September 2000, is not necessarily a foregone conclusion. Violence may erupt, but there are also restraining factors at work. First and foremost is the risk for West Bank residents of losing everything achieved under Abbas and Fayyad.
        The Nakba Day events made it clear that the IDF excels at preparing for scenarios for which it has advance warning. After weeks of preparation and coordination with the Palestinian security forces, the demonstrations did not spill over into uncontrolled conflicts and there were relatively few casualties. Also contributing was the PA's desire to prove it controls the West Bank.
        The situation in the north was entirely different. A massive infiltration attempt along the Lebanese border was greeted forcefully by the Lebanese Army, and most of the deaths there were due to Lebanese fire. The small IDF reserve force in Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights was surprised by the mass protest, held with the clear encouragement of President Assad's regime, which allowed hundreds of buses to set out from Damascus. The fact that construction in the Druze town has been creeping into the area adjacent to the border, in contravention of building regulations, meant the demonstrators had only a quick dash until they were in the center of the village. Golan regional brigade commander Col. Eshkol Shukrun showed optimal restraint, seeing that the infiltrators were mostly unarmed teens and men, and limited their live fire. (Ha'aretz)
  • New Palestinian Unity Government United in Hatred of Israel - Avi Dichter
    Hamas joined with Abbas' Fatah Party for the sole aim of building terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank, on the hills overlooking Jerusalem. A primary goal of Hamas is to rebuild the West Bank terrorist network that Israeli security services have dismantled over the past decade. If Hamas is allowed to expand into the West Bank, it will create another terrorist base - this time bordering Jerusalem, Ben-Gurion Airport, and Israel's central Tel Aviv region.
        Israel must prevent this at all costs. The Jewish state cannot allow such reckless danger posed to innocent Israelis and Palestinians. For any chance of peace, Israel and the PA must unite to destroy Hamas' military capabilities in Gaza rather than accept a Hamas expansion into the West Bank. The writer, a former director of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and Minister of Internal Security, is a current Israeli Knesset member (Kadima). (Washington Times)
  • Recognizing Israel for the Palestinians' Sake - Einat Wilf
    Prime Minister Netanyahu's demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people is the one core demand that, once met, will mean that peace is truly possible. Indeed, Israel does not need Palestinian recognition of its identity as the Jewish state. Rather, it is the Palestinians - for their own sake and dignity - who need to recognize this.
        The Palestinians have told themselves a story according to which Zionism is a colonial movement that has brought strangers to their land, strangers who - faced with determined resistance - are destined, sooner or later, to leave it. But Zionism, unlike colonial movements, was a movement of people who were coming home.
        As long as the Palestinians continue to divert their own country-building resources into resisting Israel and hoping for its disappearance, there will be no peace, and they will have no state. The writer, a member of Knesset for the Independence Party, sits on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Other Issues

  • Learning from the "Jewish Spring" - Danny Ayalon
    The only real "Spring" to have successfully brought democracy and freedom to the Middle East was the "Jewish Spring" 63 years ago. The Jewish struggle for full civil and national rights is unparalleled. No other people survived such a long exile with their language, civilization, culture and attachment to homeland intact. Few understand the yearning for freedom and an end to repression more than the Jewish People. We commend those in the Arab world who have the courage to end their tyranny. The writer is Israel's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Huffington Post)
  • The B'Tselem Witch Trials - Noah Pollak
    B'Tselem is merely one player, albeit a leading one, in a political movement that has developed over the past decade that seeks to place the very legitimacy of the Jewish state in question. The proliferation of these NGOs appears from the outside to be an independent and organic response to the worsening of real problems in Israel, but in fact the groups are closely allied.
        The tactics of the ideological war they are waging are unmistakable. The groups relentlessly accuse Israel of committing war crimes, human-rights offenses, and violations of international law. They champion the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian narrative of victimhood and Israeli oppression.
        This war of delegitimization is so dangerous because it is targeted precisely at the heart of Western support for Israel - the belief in Europe and especially in America that Israel is not only a legitimate nation-state but also an exemplar of Western liberal values, deserving of the free world's support and its protection in the face of constant attacks. (Commentary)

  • Weekend Feature

  • In Honor of Koby Mandell - Seth Mandell
    On May 8, 2001, Koby and his friend Yosef Ishran, two eighth-grade boys exploring the pristine canyon that abuts our small community in Tekoa, were stoned to death by Arab terrorists. They were the 62nd and 63rd casualties of the intifada. There have been more than 1,300.
        The programs of the Koby Mandell Foundation have helped thousands of bereaved children and mothers to feel better about themselves and about their lives. There is no cure for losing a beloved family member to terror or tragedy, the hole in the heart stays there forever, but there are steps toward healing, and the fun, creative therapy and social support participants receive from our programs encourage bereaved families to live largely. The writer is the co-founder and director of the Koby Mandell Foundation, which helps families of victims of terror. (Jerusalem Post)

Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking Starts with Borders and Security - President Barack Obama (White House)

In a major Middle East policy address, President Obama said Thursday:

  • For decades, the conflict between Israelis and Arabs has cast a shadow over the region. For Israelis, it has meant living with the fear that their children could get blown up on a bus or by rockets fired at their homes, as well as the pain of knowing that other children in the region are taught to hate them. For Palestinians, it has meant suffering the humiliation of occupation, and never living in a nation of their own. Moreover, this conflict has come with a larger cost in the Middle East, as it impedes partnerships that could bring greater security, prosperity, and empowerment to ordinary people.
  • My administration has worked with the parties and the international community for over two years to end this conflict, yet expectations have gone unmet. Israeli settlement activity continues. Palestinians have walked away from talks. The world looks at a conflict that has grinded on for decades, and sees a stalemate. At a time when the people of the Middle East and North Africa are casting off the burdens of the past, the drive for a lasting peace that ends the conflict and resolves all claims is more urgent than ever.
  • For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won't create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.
  • As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values. Our commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable. And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums. But precisely because of our friendship, it is important that we tell the truth: the status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.
  • A lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people; each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.
  • The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.
  • As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself - by itself - against any threat. Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism; to stop the infiltration of weapons; and to provide effective border security. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. The duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.
  • The recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel - how can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist. In the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question.
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