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June 17, 2011

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In-Depth Issues:

Al-Qaeda Issues Hit List of Prominent Americans - Eli Lake and Jerry Seper (Washington Times)
    A website associated with al-Qaeda is calling on "lone wolf" agents to target and kill 40 prominent Americans at their homes in the U.S.
    On Thursday, new al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, who helped plan the Sept. 11 attacks, said, "We seek...jihad against the apostate invaders with their head being crusader America and its servant Israel, and whoever supports them."
    Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, as we succeeded "in killing bin Laden, we certainly will do the same thing with Zawahri."

    See also Al-Qaeda Planned "Mumbai-Style" Attack on London Hotel - Mike Levine and Jennifer Griffin (Fox News)
    Intelligence recently obtained in Somalia shows al-Qaeda was planning to launch a "Mumbai-style" attack on an upscale hotel in London, England.
    The intelligence came from Mogadishu where Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the al-Qaeda operative who masterminded the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa, was killed Saturday.
    Al-Qaeda was working on what one senior U.S. intelligence official described as an "aspirational" - but possibly operational - plot to target the Ritz Carlton.
    As part of the plot, operatives would stay in strategically chosen rooms on the first floor of the hotel, and then they would set their rooms ablaze in hopes of trapping guests on the floors above.

American Terror Victim Files Suit to Sink Gaza Flotilla (PR Newswire)
    An American victim of a Palestinian terror attack Thursday filed suit in Manhattan federal court to seize ships - outfitted with funds unlawfully raised in the U.S. by Islamic and anti-Israeli organizations - intended to breach Israel's blockade of Gaza.
    Dr. Alan Bauer, who along with his son Jonathan was seriously injured in a Palestinian suicide bombing on March 21, 2002, in Jerusalem, contends that furnishing and outfitting the ships, which are to be used for hostilities against a U.S. ally, violates American law (18 U.S.C. section 962).

Video: Syrians Burn Iran, Hizbullah Flags - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
    An online video uploaded by Syrian opposition activists shows protestors setting fire to Iranian and Hizbullah flags during a demonstration held east of Damascus on Tuesday.
    Another video shows soldiers riding a Syrian military vehicle in the Deir ez Zor area in eastern Syria on Monday, joining the demonstrators and chanting: "The people and the army are one."

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Ron Prosor - Israel's New Man at the UN - Yoni Hirsch (Israel Hayom)
    Ambassador Ron Prosor began serving as the 16th Israeli ambassador to the UN on Thursday.
    Most recently, he served as Israel's ambassador to the UK and before that he was the director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Israeli Computerized Milking Systems Found in Over 50 Countries - Coby Ben-Simhon (Ha'aretz)
    Kibbutz Afikim in the Jordan Valley is very closely tied to the AfiMilk plant, which specializes in the manufacture of computerized milking systems.
    In 1979, Afikim invented the first milk meter - an electronic device showing how many liters of milk have been produced by a cow.
    In 1984, the kibbutz was producing a comprehensive computerized system for running a dairy barn.
    The kibbutz developed a milk spectrometer which enables the dairy farmer to see in real time the milk's components: fat, protein, lactose, blood and also whether the cow has had an infection - the first such analytic device to be sold in the world.
    AfiMilk won a huge tender for a project in Vietnam, which, upon completion, is expected to supply 40% of the country’s milk consumption.

Chinese Schools to Integrate Israeli Technology in English Instruction (Xinhua-China)
    Technology developed by an Israeli company will help hundreds of thousands of Chinese schoolchildren learn English in the coming year.
    Infinite Memory, which develops silicon-based media storage products, announced Thursday that it has signed an exclusive partnership with XGL, one of China's largest optical media vendors, to distribute the Israeli firm's flash memory card containing the complete English instruction materials taught during an academic year.
  The cards are slated to gradually replace the cassette players currently used in Chinese public schools.

Useful Reference:

Multilateral Cooperation between the U.S. and Israel: Fighting Delegitimization (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of International Organization Affairs in the U.S. Department of State, focused on U.S. efforts to normalize Israel's status in and across the UN and broader multilateral system, and to counter head-on efforts of delegitimization and continued structural bias, in a speech at the Washington Institute on June 15, 2011.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Syrian Security Forces Making Random Arrests to Quell Unrest - Bassem Mroue and Selcan Hacaoglu
    Syrian security forces fanned out through villages and towns in Syria's northern province of Idlib on Thursday, randomly arresting men and boys older than 16 as the regime of President Bashar al-Assad worked to silence a center of anti-government demonstrations. The random detentions were concentrated around the major towns of Jisr al-Shughour and Maarat al-Nouman. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Reviled Tycoon, Assad's Cousin, Resigns in Syria - Anthony Shadid
    Syria's most powerful businessman, Rami Makhlouf, a confidant and cousin of President Bashar al-Assad who has emerged as a lightning rod in the three-month uprising, announced on Thursday that he was quitting business and moving to charity work, Syrian television said. For the first time since the uprising began, analysts said, a figure deemed a pillar of the leadership was forced to at least publicly step aside. "Makhlouf is a symbol of the corruption in the regime," said Bassam Haddad, director of the Middle East Studies Program at George Mason University. But "the decision has come too late, and it's not going to be accepted seriously by protesters."
        The U.S. imposed sanctions on Makhlouf in 2008, accusing him of manipulating the judicial system and using Syrian intelligence to intimidate rivals. (New York Times)
  • Turkey Breaks with Syria over Crackdown - Borzou Daragahi
    Turkey on Thursday signaled a diplomatic shift to further distance itself from longtime ally Syria, welcoming defecting Syrian officers and announcing plans to deliver relief assistance to beleaguered pro-democracy protesters across the border. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, analysts say, is enraged that Assad didn't heed his advice to curtail violence and embark on reforms, humiliated that for years he has been talking up the Syrian president to partners in the West as the man to reform Syria. "Erdogan is [angry] at Bashar for not listening to him, the big brother," said Henri J. Barkey, a Turkey specialist at Lehigh University and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Is Turkey Planning a Buffer Zone on Syrian Land? - Mehmet Ali Birand
    Ankara is gradually losing hope and distancing itself from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The viewpoint of Damascus on Turkey is also changing. The embraces and words of fraternity of the past do not exist anymore. On Syrian state television, it is now openly said that the weapons of Muslim Brothers are coming from Turkey. Turkish involvement behind the rebellions and the Antalya meeting of Syrian dissidents is being discussed.
        If the internal conflict transforms into an Alawite-Sunni clash, what is expected as a consequence is the flow of tens of thousands of Sunni Syrians to Turkey. An official I spoke to said: "Turkey has opened its territory for now, but when the figure reaches a point where we cannot handle it then we will have to close the border....But we cannot turn our backs on neither the Sunnis nor the Alawites. If chaos starts, then we will have to form a security zone or a buffer zone inside Syrian territory."  (Hurriyet-Turkey)
  • Palestinians Want UN Seat "Even If Talks Start"
    The Palestinians will seek UN recognition and membership regardless of whether there is a resumption of peace talks, negotiator Mohammed Shtayeh said on Thursday, as the international community pushes a raft of new peace initiatives in a bid to head off the Palestinian push for UN membership. (AFP)
        See also Peres: Palestinians' UN Move "an Illusion" - Dan Perry
    Israeli President Shimon Peres urged a resumption of Middle East peace talks Thursday, dismissing the Palestinians' plan to instead ask the UN for recognition as "an illusion." "It will remain (on) paper and it will raise false hopes," Peres said. Israel would simply ask: "Can you stop terror, United Nations? Can you stop the politics of Iran that finances Hizbullah and finances Hamas? Can you stop the smuggling of arms?...And if the United Nations cannot answer it, so what is the value of their resolution?"  (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Navy Trains to Stop Planned Gaza Flotilla
    Israel's Navy on Wednesday held a training exercise in preparation to prevent any attempts to breach the security blockade of Gaza. "Each day hundreds of trucks enter Gaza via land crossings providing the civilian population with everything that it needs. The United Nations and other organizations understand the purpose of the flotilla is not to aid Gaza residents," IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said Thursday. (Israel Defense Forces)
        See also Video: Naval Commando Boats Equipped with Water Cannon (IDF-Jerusalem Post)
  • Truth, Not Narrative - Shlomo Avineri
    Claims have been made that there are two "narratives," an Israeli one and a Palestinian one, and we should pay attention to both of them. But above and beyond these claims is the simple fact - and it is a fact, not a "narrative" - that in 1947, the Zionist movement accepted the United Nations partition plan, whereas the Arab side rejected it and went to war against it.
        But just as nobody, even in German schools, would dream of teaching the German "narrative" regarding World War II, the 1948 war should also not be taught as a battle between narratives. In the final analysis, there is a historical truth. The writer, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, served as director-general of Israel's Foreign Ministry. (Ha'aretz)
  • Four Dead, Dozens Injured in Netanya Gas Tank Explosion
    At least four people were killed and some 50 were wounded, most of them lightly, in a Netanya blast late Thursday that officials say is apparently the result of a gas tank exploding. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Syria's Assad Loses His Grip to Hardliners - Samia Nakhoul
    President Bashar al-Assad is losing control to his hardline relatives, his forces are overstretched, his government is running out of money and the revolt against his rule is gathering support and funding. Given all this, analysts and Syrian-based diplomats say the international community is starting to plan for a Syria without the Assads.
        "Despite everything they have done over the past few weeks - killing, torture, mass arrests and raids - the protests are continuing," said one Western diplomat. "This regime will fight to the death, but the only strategy they have is to kill people, and this is accelerating the crisis." "Our assessment is that the regime will fall," predicted the Damascus-based diplomat. Several governments are encouraging Syrian generals to mutiny. "We're addressing military leaders and cabinet members to rise up. We're encouraging the generals to rise up," the diplomat said.
        One diplomat said Assad's cousin, the business tycoon Rami Makhlouf, recently deposited $1 billion at the central bank to stabilize the Syrian pound. "When they are no longer capable of paying the salaries of bureaucrats, the army, the police and their Alawite militia, this crisis will balloon and bring about the collapse of the regime," the diplomat said. "This is a train wreck waiting to happen."
        Another Syria-based diplomat said, "After three months this is not a poor man's uprising. There is significant financing from the Syrian business community and upper class. They give money for satellite phones, cameras, food, water and medical supplies....This is a broad-based movement that includes not only Syrian youth, but imams from mosques, businessmen, even former Baath party members."
        Residents of Syria describe a state of fear and panic among the Alawite community, saying there had been revenge attacks against Alawite army officers and security men. Alawite officers in Sunni areas have pulled their children out of school and sent their families to Alawite villages or abroad. (Reuters)
  • Toward a Radical Lebanon? - Jacques Neriah
    Out of the 30 members in Lebanon's new cabinet, the Hizbullah coalition now holds 18 seats, 8 more than in the previous Hariri cabinet. This lineup dramatically underlines the unprecedented dominance of Hizbullah in Lebanon, giving its Syrian and Iranian patrons greater sway. In particular, the government lineup represents a glorious comeback for Syria to the Lebanese scene after having had to shamefully withdraw its troops following the mass demonstrations in the aftermath of the Hariri assassination. The ascendancy of Hizbullah is a setback for the U.S. which has provided Lebanon with $720 million in military aid since 2006. Lebanon has made a dramatic, radical step. Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Blog)
        See also Learning from Lebanon's Cabinet - Michael Singh
    This week, Lebanon served up a reminder for the U.S. and the partisans of the Arab uprisings: don't count your democracies before they've hatched. Having thrown off the yoke of Syrian occupation in 2005, Lebanon once again finds itself under the control of Iran and Syria.
        Hizbullah's actions illustrate the dangers of not excluding from democratic participation extremist groups which act as proxies for foreign powers, reject democratic values as a matter of principle, or fail to renounce violence. Hizbullah is a creature of Iran, conceived and built by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Many of its cabinet allies are themselves clients of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. Indeed, it is no coincidence that this cabinet was formed just as the Assad regime finds itself in crisis. The writer is managing director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former senior director for Middle East affairs at the U.S. National Security Council. (Foreign Policy)
        See also How the U.S. Lost Lebanon - Again - Eric Edelman and Mara Karlin
    For the second time in three decades, a substantial American investment of time, money, and effort to strengthen the Lebanese government and support its fledgling democracy has come to very little. Hizbullah, Tehran, and Damascus now dominate the country's intractable domestic politics. Eric S. Edelman served as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy in 2005-09. Mara E. Karlin served as the Pentagon's Levant director and as special assistant to the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy. (World Affairs)
  • Iran's Nuclear Future: Critical U.S. Policy Choices - Lynn E. Davis, Jeffrey Martini, Alireza Nader, Dalia Dassa Kaye, James T. Quinlivan, and Paul Steinberg
    As Iran's nuclear program continues to evolve, U.S. decision-makers will confront a series of critical policy choices to dissuade Iran from developing nuclear weapons and deter Iran from using its nuclear weapons, if it were to acquire them. The U.S. will need to find ways to influence Iran's calculations of costs and benefits. The U.S. Air Force needs to prepare by understanding the goals and timelines of potential military tasks and by designing exercises and war games to support different policy choices. (150pp, pdf) (RAND Corporation)
  • Nakba Myth Stands in the Way of Peace - Gerald Steinberg
    In the Arab/Palestinian narrative, Jewish sovereign equality in the Land of Israel was and remains a disaster. In the Nakba fabrication, 4,000 years of Jewish history in this land are erased and replaced with a Europe and Western conspiracy to settle Jews in "Arab/Muslim Palestine." The Arab rejection of the UN Partition Plan (the 1947 version of the "two-state solution"), and the wars designed to push the Jews into the sea are also removed from the Nakba tale. The fact that an approximately equal number of Jews in Arab nations were forced out and absorbed successfully into Israel is also erased.
        A realistic peace process must first tackle the Nakba mythology, which has been allowed to fester and expand for so long. This means teaching basic facts - that the Jewish people have an undisputed historic connection with this territory - with the right to an independent state - and that the violent Arab rejection of compromise and the two-state solution in 1947/8, as well as the later wars, were responsible for the "suffering of the refugees."  (Canadian Jewish News)
  • As Islamists Flex Muscle, Egypt's Christians Despair - Yaroslav Trofimov
    Before President Hosni Mubarak was toppled on Feb. 11, followers of the ultrafundamentalist Salafi strain of Islam that promotes an austere, Saudi-inspired worldview mostly confined themselves to preaching. Since then, the Salafis have entered the political arena, drawing crowds and swaying government decisions. Salafi militants also have blocked roads, burned churches and killed Copts.
        The Muslim Brotherhood now says it accepts Copts in all government positions, with the possible exception of president. By contrast, many Salafis believe it is forbidden by Islam for Christians to exercise political power over Muslims in any capacity, such as governors, mayors or ministers. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Attacks on Christians: Can Egypt Deal with Extremist Mobs? - Abigail Hauslohner (TIME)

  • Weekend Features

  • U.S.-Born Founder of Israel's Aerospace Industry Dies at 94 - Chen Arad
    Al Schwimmer, one of the founders of the Israel Air Force and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), died Friday at 94. Schwimmer served in the U.S. Air Force during WWII and was awarded a medal of valor. In 1947 he volunteered to help the Haganah to acquire aircraft. He purchased war surpluses and smuggled them to Israel via then-Czechoslovakia. In 1950, he was convicted by U.S. authorities of violating the Neutrality Act for smuggling the planes, and was pardoned in 2001 by President Bill Clinton. Schwimmer founded the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at the Israel Institute of Technology and in 2006 was awarded the Israel Prize for his contributions to Israeli society. (Ynet News)
        See also Schwimmer's Choice - Editorial
    Thanks to Schwimmer's American-based arms network - with branches in Hawaii, Panama, Czechoslovakia and Mexico - Israel successfully rebuffed the onslaught of Palestinian militias as well as an offensive launched by the combined armies of neighboring Arab nations during the 1948-49 war. Under his direction the network borrowed and sometimes stole dozens of fighter aircraft, recruited scores of battle-trained American and British pilots and mechanics, and shipped tons of ammunition that proved critical to the war effort. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also An American Unsung Hero for the State of Israel - Robert Lenzner
    In 1950 Schwimmer, a former transport pilot in World War II, was managing a small airport outside Los Angeles when a car drew up and out stepped David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, who convinced Schwimmer to come to Israel to start Israel Aircraft Industries. When France refused to sell its Mirage fighter jets to Israel in the 1960s, Al went to Switzerland and was able to convince a Swiss engineer to part with the plans for the Mirage in return for an unknown amount of cash. Israel manufactured its own version of the Mirage, which was essential for victory over the Arab air might in the 1967 Six-Day War. (Forbes)
  • Israel's Show of Force at the Paris Air Show - Yuval Azulai
    At the Paris Air Show, which opens next week, Israeli companies will reveal everything that they are allowed to reveal: from new concepts in land warfare and innovative systems for active defense of armored vehicles, to advanced missile systems; spy and communications satellites; sophisticated radars; UAVs that do everything except make coffee.
        Most of the attention this year will be on the Iron Dome rocket interceptor system, and the Trophy system for intercepting anti-tank missiles, both developed by Rafael. Elbit will unveil for the first time its advanced C-Music pod carried in the hold of a civilian aircraft and designed to protect it from shoulder-launched missiles. The system, the first of its kind in the world, is based on a laser that disrupts the missile's flight. Aircraft of Israeli airlines are due to be equipped with the system.
        Israel Military Industries will exhibit the Refaim urban warfare system, the Delilah air-to-ground missile, and IMI's rocket trajectory correction system, which facilitates accurate strikes on targets deep in enemy territory and the destruction of rocket launchers, artillery, and radar installations. These systems proved their effectiveness in the Second Lebanon War when they made possible accurate hits on Hizbullah targets and on trucks transporting weapons in South Lebanon. (Globes)

The Economics of Settlement - George Gilder (American Spectator)

  • In the mid-19th century, before the arrival of the first groups of Jewish settlers, Arabs living in what became the mandate territory of Palestine numbered between 200,000 and 300,000. Their population density and longevity resembled today's conditions in parched and depopulated Saharan Chad. The fact that some 5.5 million Arabs now live in the former British Mandate, with a life expectancy of more than 70 years, is mainly attributable, for better or worse, to the work of those Jewish settlers.
  • In draining swamps, leaching saline soils, redeeming dunes into orchards and poultry farms, in planting millions of trees on rocky hills, in constructing elaborate water works and terraces on the hills, in digging 548 wells and supporting canals in little more than a decade and irrigating thousands of acres of land, establishing industries, hospitals, clinics, and schools, the 500,000 Jewish settlers who arrived before the creation of Israel massively expanded the very absorptive dimensions and capacity of the country. It was these advances that made possible the fivefold 20th-century surge of the Arab population by 1940.
  • The new opportunities in Palestine attracted hundreds of thousands of Arab immigrants from Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and the desert. By 1948, the Arab population in the Mandate area had grown to some 1.35 million, an increase of 60% since the 1930s. With wages for Arab workers double or more the wages in Syria, Jordan, and Iraq, in 1936, a British Royal Commission could report: "The whole range of public services has steadily developed to the benefit of the [Arab] fellaheen...the revenue for those services having been largely provided by the Jews."
  • The spurious ideology of Palestinian victimization by Israel blinds nearly all observers to the actual facts of economic life in the region. Following 1948, the Palestinians continued to benefit heavily from Israeli enterprise and prospered mightily compared to Arabs in other countries in the region. During the era of Israeli "occupation" from 1967 to 1993, the number of Arabs in the territories tripled to some 3 million, with the creation of some 261 new towns, a tripling of Arab per capita incomes, and a rise in life expectancy from 52 to 73 years.
  • Far from effecting any displacement of Arabs, the Jewish settlements enabled a huge increase in both the number and wealth of the Palestinian Arabs.

    The writer is a founding fellow of the Discovery Institute and author of 15 books, most recently The Israel Test.
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