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June 1, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Pentagon: Iranian Support for Assad Regime "Needs to Stop" - Carlo Munoz (The Hill)
    "We have reason to believe Iran continues to assist [the] Assad regime," Defense Department spokesman Capt. John Kirby said Thursday. "That needs to stop."
    White House spokesman Jay Carney accused Tehran of "malignant behavior" in its attempts to prolong Assad's brutal assault on the Syrian people.
    "That fact further highlights Iran's continued effort to expand its nefarious influence in the region, and underscores Iran's fear of a Syria without the Assad regime," he said Thursday.

Israel: Iran Increasing Attempts to Attack Jewish Targets around the World - Yoram Cohen (Jerusalem Post)
    Terrorists funded by Iran have increased attempts to attack Jewish targets around the world in the past year, Israel Security Agency chief Yoram Cohen told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday.
    Only a fraction of attempts on Jewish lives internationally have been publicized, he said.
    Cohen also cited Iranian agents training operatives in Gaza, which he called "a giant arms warehouse."
    Hamas has 8,000 rockets in Gaza, as well as 15,000 armed men, while Islamic Jihad has 5,000 fighters.

IDF Exercise Sends Tanks to Neutralize Missile Threats in Enemy Territory (Times of Israel)
    Israel has just completed a major military exercise in which tanks and other ground forces were trained to be sent across rivers and other challenging terrain, in order to neutralize missile threats deep in enemy territory, the tank brigade commander who led the drill said Thursday.
    The day-and-night exercise was the largest of its kind in 20 years, Col. Enav Shalev told Army Radio.
    Shalev said Israel had the Iron Dome missile defense system that is deployed to protect southern Israel from missile fire from Gaza. But thwarting enemy missile threats ultimately required sending ground forces deep into the enemy territory from which missiles were launched.
    He said that "anyone with eyes in their head...can see why [the exercise] was necessary." Threats against Israel "are not decreasing. They are increasing."

Russian Orthodox Church Says Protecting Syria's Christians Means Supporting Assad - Ellen Barry (New York Times)
    The Russian Orthodox Church fears that Christian minorities in the Middle East, many of them Orthodox, will be swept away by a wave of Islamic fundamentalism unleashed by the Arab Spring.
    Syria's minority population of Christians, about 10%, has been reluctant to join the Sunni Muslim opposition against Assad, fearing persecution at those same hands if he were to fall.
    Three months ago in a meeting with Vladimir Putin, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the patriarchate's department of external church relations, asked Putin to promise to protect Christian minorities in the Middle East. "So it will be," Putin said. "There is no doubt at all."
    However, Andrew J. Tabler, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said: "If the Christian population and those that support it want a long-term future in the region, they're going to have to accept that hitching their wagon to this brutal killing machine doesn't have a long-term future."

Saudi Oil Output at Highest Level in 23 Years - Karyn Peterson and Mark Shenk (Bloomberg)
    Oil output by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries rose in May to the highest level since 2008 as Saudi Arabia pumped crude at the fastest pace in at least 23 years, a Bloomberg survey showed.
    Saudi Arabia bolstered output by 80,000 barrels to 9.9 million barrels a day this month, the highest level since at least January 1989.
    Libyan output rose 50,000 barrels to 1.4 million this month. Nigerian production climbed 40,000 barrels to 2.18 million.
    Output in Iran declined 50,000 barrels a day to 3.225 million, the lowest level since June 1992.

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Pro-Regime Gunmen Take Larger Syrian Role - Elizabeth A. Kennedy (AP-Philadelphia Inquirer)
    The pro-regime militiamen known as shabiha operate as hired muscle for the Syrian regime, clutching rifles and daggers as they sweep through towns and villages.
    Recruited from the ruling elite's Alawite sect, they are believed to be carrying out some of the most ghastly attacks of the Syrian uprising. The UN says there are strong suspicions that pro-Assad fighters were responsible for at least some of the carnage during the massacre in Houla.
    Syria is not the first country to use gunmen to carry out its dirty work. Iran's Revolutionary Guard is backed by a vast volunteer paramilitary force, the Basij, which can be unleashed as street-level muscle for the ruling system.

U.S. Radar Station in Israel: "Golden Handcuffs"? - Karl Vick and Aaron J. Klein (TIME)
    The 100 U.S. service members who staff the X-band radar station in the Negev are the only foreign troops stationed in Israel.
    The radar is pointed toward Iran, where it could detect a Shahab-3 missile launched toward Israel just seconds into its flight - six to seven minutes earlier than Israel would know from its own radar.
    This substantially increases the chances of launching interceptors to knock down the incoming missile before it reaches Israel.
    All this is possible, however, only if U.S. officials choose to share the information, because only Americans have eyes on the radar.
    The reality of the U.S. radar, operating since 2009, also undercuts the notion of Israel launching a surprise attack on Iran that would also take Washington unawares, since it sees all traffic at Israeli air bases.
    One Israeli official termed the radar installation "golden handcuffs."

Israel Increasing Imports from Palestinian Areas - Arieh O'Sullivan (Media Line-Jerusalem Post)
    Business between the Palestinian Authority and Israel is growing despite the political impasse. Last year, Israel increased Palestinian purchases by 18%, according to Israel's Customs Directorate.
    Nader Tamimi, chair of the Association of Traditional Industries in the PA, said artisans in Hebron manufacture Judaica, such as Kiddush cups and Seder dishes.
    Jihad Alubra, director of MATI Business Development Center for the Bedouin Settlements, said Arab Israelis in general, and Bedouins in particular, often act as mediators in business interactions between Israelis and Palestinians.

New Iranian-Funded Action Film Glorifies Hizbullah in 2006 War (AP-Washington Post)
    A new film, "33 Days," that tells the story of the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah, is drawing large crowds in Lebanon. Audiences often cheer when Hizbullah rockets smash into Israeli tanks.
    The film's director and much of its funding and crew came from Iran, and it serves as a feature-length advertisement for Hizbullah.
    A Farsi-language version opened late last year in Iran.

New Jerusalem Tourism Website (Jerusalem Development Authority)
    The Jerusalem Development Authority has launched a new website - - that includes Google Street View maps of all the sites in the city, a calendar of events, advice on trips to sites across Israel, and restaurant and accommodation reviews, in addition to an array of HD videos of the Capital.
    See also A Panoramic View of Jerusalem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Israeli Athletes Have High Hopes for Olympic Medals - Aaron Kalman (Times of Israel)
    Israel's delegation to the London 2012 Olympic Games currently consists of 26 athletes in 10 different fields of competition.
    The athletes, who have already proven themselves at the highest level of international competition, will compete in windsurfing, gymnastics, swimming and judo.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Sees Window for Iran Nuclear Talks Closing - Jonah Mandel
    The window for dialogue over Iran's nuclear program is closing, the U.S. ambassador to Israel said on Wednesday, insisting that Washington is under no illusions about Tehran's agenda in the talks. Speaking a week after world powers held a second round of largely fruitless talks with Iran, Ambassador Dan Shapiro insisted: "We don't intend on continuing talks for talks' sake. The window is closing....The burden falls on Iran to prove it is serious."  (AFP)
        See also Ahmadinejad: Enrichment "Not Step towards Bomb" - Mohammad Davari (AFP)
  • Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran - David E. Sanger
    From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran's main nuclear enrichment facilities - begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games. The impetus for Olympic Games dates from 2006, when President George W. Bush saw few good options in dealing with Iran.
        The U.S. National Security Agency and a secret Israeli unit respected by American intelligence officials for its cyberskills developed the enormously complex computer worm. The unusually tight collaboration with Israel was driven by two imperatives. Israel's Unit 8200, a part of its military, had technical expertise that rivaled the NSA, and the Israelis had deep intelligence about operations at Natanz that would be vital to making the cyberattack a success.
        But American officials had another interest, to dissuade the Israelis from carrying out their own pre-emptive strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities. To do that, the Israelis would have to be convinced that the new line of attack was working. The only way to convince them was to have them deeply involved in every aspect of the program.
        Obama authorized the attacks to continue, and every few weeks - certainly after a major attack - he would get updates and authorize the next step. Sometimes it was a strike riskier and bolder than what had been tried previously. "From his first days in office, he was deep into every step in slowing the Iranian program - the diplomacy, the sanctions, every major decision," a senior administration official said. "And it's safe to say that whatever other activity might have been under way was no exception to that rule."  (New York Times)
  • Egyptian Cleric: Brotherhood Candidate Will Restore the "United States of the Arabs" with Jerusalem as Its Capital
    Egyptian cleric Safwat Higazi appeared at a rally for Muslim Brotherhood candidate Muhammad Mursi, which was aired on Al-Nas TV on May 1, 2012, where he said: "We can see how the dream of the Islamic Caliphate is being realized, Allah willing, by Dr. Muhammad Mursi and his brothers, his supporters, and his political party. We can see how the great dream, shared by us all - that of the United States of the Arabs...the United States of the Arabs will be restored by this man and his supporters. The capital of the Caliphate - the capital of the United States of the Arabs - will be Jerusalem, Allah willing."
        "Our capital shall not be Cairo, Mecca, or Medina. It shall be Jerusalem, Allah willing. Our cry shall be: 'Millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem.'" "We say it loud and clear: Yes, Jerusalem is our goal. We shall pray in Jerusalem, or else we shall die as martyrs on its threshold."  (MEMRI)
  • U.S., 18 Other Nations, Wrap Up Eager Lion Military Exercise in Jordan - Nicholas Seeley
    More than 19 countries, led by the U.S., wrapped up the sprawling Operation Eager Lion military exercise Monday in Jordan. Michael Rubin, an adviser to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld from 2002-2004 and now an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, says the exercise is useful as a reminder that the U.S. military presence in the region is still extensive.
        "In Washington we can convince ourselves we withdrew [from Iraq] per political agreements, but a lot of the propaganda in the region, especially the Iranian-backed propaganda, suggests we fled in defeat," Rubin says. "One of the perceptions we're trying to reverse is the perception among many of the Gulf monarchs, and the king of Jordan, that we dumped Hosni Mubarak way too quickly." "What this does is send a signal to many of the GCC states that we're not simply going to turn our backs on all the monarchs," Rubin says. (Christian Science Monitor)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Soldier Killed in Exchange of Fire with Terrorist
    Staff Sgt. Netanel Moshiashvili, 21, was killed Friday morning when a terrorist who was identified infiltrating Israel from Gaza opened fire at IDF soldiers, who responded with fire. During the exchange, the terrorist was killed, thus preventing a terror attack on Israeli civilians. (Israel Defense Forces)
        The clash occurred around 4 a.m. near Kisufim in an area with heavy fog, where the gunman was able to reach the security fence, cut it, and infiltrate Israel. (Ynet News)
  • Israeli Officials Link Tehran to Assad's Massacres - Herb Keinon
    "The Iranian regime is in a very concrete manner lending its support to the Syrian government's murder of the Syrian people, and this is part of their very aggressive and dangerous behavior in the region," one Israeli government official said. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Syria was brutally slaughtering its people "with, of course, the assistance of Iran and Hizbullah - real assistance, not just political support, but assistance in murder."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Sinai Peacekeeping Commander Warns of Gaza Weapons Smuggling - Gili Cohen
    U.S. Maj. Gen. Warren James Whiting, commander of the Multinational Force and Observers in Sinai, told a conference of the Evans Program for Conflict Resolution of Tel Aviv University on Monday that advanced Russian-made SA-24 shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, which were sold to Libya in 2004, were being smuggled into Gaza through Egypt.
        Whiting related that in October 2011 an Iranian-made Fajr-5 missile landed 26 km. southwest of the MFO's northern base, in Al-Jura. He said it may have been fired by militants to test its range.
        The head of the Israel Security Agency, Yoram Cohen, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday that Libya was "a new gate to hell," in part because of the large number of missiles and RPGs being smuggled out of that country and into Gaza, flooding the territory with advanced weapons.
        Whiting added that attacks on the MFO have escalated over the past year. So far this year there have been 187 incidents of live fire and 37 incidents of stone-throwing directed at his troops. In 2011, 344 live-fire incidents were recorded, while in 2010 there were only 38 such incidents. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Officials Respond to Turkish Indictment - Michal Shmulovich
    Former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi responded Tuesday to Turkey's indictment of himself and three other Israeli army officers for the Mavi Marmara incident, saying, "If I'm not able to visit Turkey, that's a price I'll pay....I'm sure at the end of the day common sense will prevail." Also Tuesday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said: "Israel has acted with maximum restraint against defiant Turkish actions in recent years, but we will not allow it to intimidate our officers and soldiers, who operate under the highest ethical standards and international law."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Iran's Growing Stockpile - Olli Heinonen
    Iran's uranium enrichment capacities, in both the Fordow and the Natanz plants, are increasing. To date, the two facilities have produced 6 tons of UF6 enriched to 3.5% - five times the amount foreseen for the first fuel swap deal for the Tehran Research Reactor in fall 2009, and an amount sufficient for five nuclear weapons, if further enriched.
        The monthly production of 3.5% UF6 at Natanz has increased from 170 kg. in February 2012 to 220 kg. 3.5% enriched UF6 today, but this can be attributed to the higher number of centrifuges and not to better performance. Either way, the result by the end of this year could be a cumulative inventory of 7.5 tons of low-enriched UF6 - enough for half a dozen nuclear weapons.
        Iran's increasing enrichment capacity, together with information it reportedly has on a crude design of a nuclear weapon, show that Iran is positioning itself as a virtual or latent nuclear weapon state. The writer, a senior fellow at the Belfer Center at Harvard Kennedy School, was deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. (Foreign Policy)
  • Iran Accelerates Enrichment - Dore Gold
    If in the previous IAEA report in February, Iran had produced 5,451 kg. of low-enriched uranium, in the latest May report, the total Iranian production reached 6,197 kg. Moreover, to reach this quantity of uranium, the Iranians went from enriching an average 150 kg. per month to nearly 250 kg. - roughly a 60% increase!
        Because Iran could enrich its 20%-uranium to the level needed for an atomic bomb in half the time required to enrich low-enriched uranium to the same level, it is considered in the West as Iran's fast track to weapons-grade uranium. The P5+1 have focused their efforts for now on halting its production, in particular. The Iranian press is arguing that the West may recognize Iran's right to produce low-enriched uranium, if Tehran halts its production of 20%-uranium.
        If the West agreed to this formula, it would be freezing a program that at this stage might not even lead to one atomic bomb, while allowing a program that had already enriched enough uranium for six bombs. This sort of concession by the P5+1 should not be ruled out, if the Western powers are determined to reach an agreement this summer at all costs. For Israel, this diplomatic outcome would be regarded as nothing less than a Western sell-out to Iran. (Israel Hayom)

  • Syria

  • For the White House, a Wary Wait as Syria Boils - Peter Baker
    The bloody crackdown in Syria has put President Obama in a deeply uncomfortable position. With American troops only recently withdrawn from Iraq and still in Afghanistan, the president is loath to engage in new military actions, especially one with few advocates, even among human rights groups. The U.S. has expelled the top Syrian diplomat and on Wednesday outlined more financial sanctions against Syria, but there is no serious support inside the West Wing for American military action at this point. Some officials, though, advocate arming the Syrian opposition or doing more to help others do so.
        All the military contingencies that the Pentagon has developed involve a serious commitment of resources, with no low-cost options as in Libya. Unlike in Libya, there is no defined rebel army holding territory that would be helped by airstrikes. Syria has a better trained, better equipped military, including Russian antiaircraft defenses. And there is no UN or Arab League support for international force. (New York Times)
        See also U.S. Defense Secretary: No Military Action in Syria without UN - David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times)
        See also European Voices Go Silent on Syria - Michael Birnbaum
    Last year, persistent calls from Europe led NATO into military action in Libya. Those passionate voices have been silent on Syria. In March 2011, French President Nicolas Sarkozy convened late-night meetings to push an on-the-fence U.S. into a major bombing campaign. More than a year later, Gaddafi is gone, but Sarkozy is out, too, and so is Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Sarkozy's ally in the Libyan intervention. (Washington Post)
        See also What the U.S. Should Do about Syria - Editorial (Washington Post)
  • What Does the Syrian Opposition Believe? - David Pollock
    A confidential survey of 186 opposition activists living in Syria completed in December 2011 reveals that Islamists are only a minority among them. Domestic opponents of Assad, the survey indicates, look to Turkey as a model for Syrian governance - and even widely admire the U.S.
        About one-third expressed a favorable opinion of the Muslim Brotherhood, almost half voiced a negative view, and the remainder were neutral. While many respondents supported religious values in public life, only a small fraction strongly favored Shariah law, clerical influence in government, or heavy emphasis on Islamic education. Less than 2% had positive views of Iran as a political model. Fully 90% expressed an unfavorable view of Hizbullah. The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Will Al-Qaeda Cement Its Foothold in Syria? - Fawaz A. Gerges
    Al-Qaeda has never been a key player in Syria, but the country has now become a proxy battlefield in which the group is laboring very hard to find a new refuge, and to portray itself as a guardian of Sunni Muslims - objectives that lie in stark contrast to those of the majority of Syrian protesters. Increasing evidence points toward the arrival in the country of jihadist fighters from Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, and elsewhere. There is consensus among American and Western intelligence services that al-Qaeda fighters have reached Syria and have joined the fray.
        So far, the evidence shows that ordinary Sunnis in Syria see al-Qaeda as a liability, not an asset. The Free Syrian Army has said al-Qaeda is not welcome in the country, and that it will militarily confront it. The writer is a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics where he directs the Middle East Centre. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Veteran Lebanese Fighter Trains New Generation of Jihadis - Against Syria's Assad - Nicholas Blanford
    Mustapha, a veteran of Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war, is using his past military experience to train dozens of Lebanese volunteers eager to cross the nearby border with Syria to join the armed opposition against President Bashar al-Assad's regime. The Lebanese recruits are not the only non-Syrians to volunteer for the struggle against the Assad regime. Other foreign fighters include Jordanians, Tunisians, Algerians, and Saudis. Their presence is effectively turning the country into a new theater of jihad pitting a predominantly Sunni opposition against an entrenched regime elite drawn mainly from the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
        Khaled joined the Free Syrian Army a year ago after being trained by Mustapha. He insists that there is no al-Qaeda presence in Syria and that the foreign volunteers are simply devout Muslims engaged in jihad. "I am a Muslim on jihad to defend Muslims. If the West cannot understand that and thinks I'm al-Qaeda, then the West has a problem."  (Christian Science Monitor)

  • Other Issues

  • Defining a Palestinian Refugee - Donna Cassata
    A simple congressional request for the U.S. to distinguish between Palestinians displaced by the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict and millions of their descendants poses a high-stakes diplomatic and political challenge for President Obama. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted last Thursday to ask the secretary of state to report within a year on the number of people who have received assistance from the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, and "whose place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948 and who were displaced as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict; and who are descendants."
        The UN agency counted 860,000 individuals in 1951. Those registered refugees and their descendants now total 5 million. Those who favor a distinction between the two argue that more than a half-century later, there are only 30,000 original refugees left.
        Since 1949, the U.S. has supported the UN agency at a cost of about $4.4 billion. In a time of budget cuts and deep reductions in foreign aid, proponents and opponents see the measure as the first step to reducing the U.S. commitment to the UN agency. (AP)
  • Muslim Brotherhood Plotting to Take Over Jordan? - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Jordanian government officials say most of the anti-corruption and pro-democracy protests that have swept Jordan over the past year are being initiated and led by Muslim Brotherhood supporters whose goal is to turn Jordan into an Islamic republic. King Abdullah has replaced three prime ministers since the "Arab Spring" began and has thrown a number of former officials into prison for embezzling public funds and abusing their powers, but this has not satisfied the Muslim Brotherhood.
        What is clear by now is that no matter how much the king does to fight corruption and implement reforms, the Muslim Brotherhood will continue to argue that this is not enough. What has particularly worried King Abdullah is that the Muslim Brotherhood has managed to "infiltrate" many powerful Jordanian tribes, which have always been known as traditional and staunch supporters of the monarchy. (Gatestone Institute)
  • What Egyptians Didn't Vote For - Amir Taheri
    In the first round of Egypt's presidential election, almost half of those eligible didn't vote. This contrasts with decades of fixed elections in which 99.99% of the electorate were reported as having voted. Millions of felaheen (poor peasants) were relieved not to be rounded up and marched to polling stations to cast their ballots for the ruling party's candidate.
        The two candidates of the establishment that has dominated Egypt since its independence in the 1920s - the military elite and the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood - together drew less than half of the vote. Taking into account those who didn't vote, the two men represent around a quarter of the electorate, despite immense resources at their disposal - the machinery of administration for Shafiq and a tsunami of Arab oil money for Mursi. (New York Post)
  • Another "Peace Process" Plan for the Wastebasket - Elliott Abrams
    Some "peace processors" never give up. In the New York Times on Wednesday, four of them try an old and very bad idea: forget about negotiations, and substitute the views of some un-elected elderly "statesmen" and of the UN Security Council. The authors are tired of the fact that neither Israelis nor Palestinians accept peace terms that they, in their wisdom, are sure are right. The fact that Israel is a democracy with an elected government is an inconvenience to be brushed aside.
        I don't know if the current Israeli leadership and the current PLO leadership can make peace; their predecessors obviously could not. But I do know that only Israelis and Palestinians can make peace. Not the UN, not the Elders, and certainly not another "special committee composed of distinguished international figures."  (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • Zionism and Bigotry - Melanie Phillips
    Zionism is the self-determination of the Jewish people - as a people, and not just as adherents of the Jewish religion. Jews are in fact the only people for whom Israel (ancient Judea and Samaria) was ever their national homeland. Those who deny Zionism thus deny Jewish peoplehood and the fundamental right of Jews to live as a people in their own ancestral homeland, Israel.
        Jews are both a people and adherents of a religion. Intrinsic to and inseparable from the religion of Judaism is the Land of Israel; more specifically, the centrality of and longing for Jerusalem and its Temple. Deny that centrality and you rip the heart and soul out of Judaism. Those who deny the right of the Jews to Israel and Jerusalem deny the right of the Jews to their own religion.
        Anti-Zionist hatred of Jewish self-determination is a form of bigotry which threatens the lives and safety of all Jews, whether or not they are Zionists. (Daily Mail-UK)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israel Is a Place, Not a Conflict - Shmuel Rosner
    Two Sundays ago, I watched a "60 Minutes" segment on Tel Aviv, the place I call home. The people of "60 Minutes" must have come up with this ultra-positive story on the city that Lonely Planet ranks "the third hottest" in the world to compensate for the negative story on Israel's treatment of Palestinian Christians they broadcast in April. But even in a report supposedly about civilian life, about being chic and fashionable, Israel isn't portrayed as a country; it's portrayed as a conflict.
        Tel Aviv, as correspondent Bob Simon observes, is a place "bordered on all sides by danger." This is the Middle East, so of course every story has to have wars, bombs and sirens, and every triviality has to have hidden, broader meaning. The youngsters on the beach are not just fun-loving youngsters; they are people at whom are pointed "hundreds of rockets" and "thousands of missiles" from Gaza and Lebanon. And Tel Aviv's bar-goers aren't just drink-loving residents. They may be "dancing on the Titanic."
        The "nothing in Israel can possibly be unrelated to the Arab-Israeli conflict" thesis hardly stands up to factual scrutiny. People in Israel don't die younger than people elsewhere. Life expectancy at birth is 81 years for Israeli Jews and 79 for Israeli Arabs, among the world's highest. For people aged between 20 and 25, it is the fifth highest. (New York Times)
  • Ten Reasons I Admire Israel - David Harris
    The UN Partition Plan of 1947 called for Jewish and Arab states to emerge from British-ruled Mandatory Palestine. The Jewish leadership understood that half a loaf was better than none. While the Jews would have wished for a bigger state, and believed the historical facts warranted it, pragmatism prevailed over maximalism. And therein lies the fundamental difference between Jewish and Arab leadership at the time, and since.
        The 1947 Partition Plan could have solved the national aspirations of Jews and Arabs alike. There would have been two states for two peoples, living, ideally, side by side in peace and cooperation. But the Arab insistence on the whole loaf triggered war. The war in turn created a Palestinian refugee problem, and that dream of the whole loaf continues to be nurtured by too many Palestinian leaders.
        Israel's ability to defend itself is nothing short of extraordinary. A country the size of New Jersey, and without a favorable military topography, has withstood repeated assaults of every kind - wars, missile barrages, suicide bombings, kidnappings, lawfare, and modern-day blood libels. The morale and commitment of Israelis to fulfill their national obligations is remarkable. Alone, having never asked for the help of other nations' troops, they defend the state. The writer is executive director of the American Jewish Committee. (Huffington Post)
  • Jan Karski, From Hell on Earth to U.S. Presidential Honor - Rafael Medoff
    On May 29, Jan Karski, who served in the World War II-era Polish underground, was awarded, posthumously, a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his courage and sacrifice, and taking action when so many others stood silent. Karski, a Polish Catholic, was smuggled into the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942, as the Nazis were deporting hundreds of thousands of Warsaw's Jews to the gas chambers of Treblinka.
        Karski, determined to alert the world to what he had witnessed, traveled by train across Germany, occupied Belgium, and France. He hiked across the Pyrenees mountains into Spain, and from there traveled to London. Karski was able to secure a meeting with British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden, but Eden showed little interest in Karski's account of the slaughter of the Jews.
        On July 28, 1943, the Polish courier met with President Franklin D. Roosevelt where Karski related details of the mass killings of the Jews. Roosevelt seemed to view the suffering of the Jews as just another unfortunate aspect of what civilians suffer in every war. He did not believe it was justified for the U.S. to use its resources to rescue Jews from the Nazis. And he did not want hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees clamoring to be admitted to the U.S. The writer is director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. (JTA)

Updating Israel's Security Policy - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Israel is living in a most convenient period from a security standpoint. Suicide attacks are behind us and there is deterrence against rocket attacks. At the same time there are unprecedented challenges to our national security including the possibility of a nuclear Iran or even a nuclear Middle East.
  • Iran's capabilities for developing nuclear weapons are no longer a question. They only have to make the decision. They have the know-how to assemble nuclear warheads on missiles if they want to. Today there is a consensus among the world's intelligence agencies: Iran is a threat.
  • I cannot imagine Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or any of the other Arab countries tolerating a nuclear Iran. There is an Arabic word, "ajami," which expresses disgust of the Persians. If you ask any Arab leader about the greatest threat, he will say Iran - not Israel - but not publicly.
  • The terrorists in Sinai are financed by Iran and they want to murder as many Israelis as they can. If there is terror from Sinai, this complicates Israel's relationship with Egypt, which is why we choose to preemptively kill the terrorists.
  • The Iranians and the Turks have a 1,000-year-old tradition of rivalry. I cannot believe that the Turks believe there is room for friendship with Iran. If Iran goes nuclear, the Turks will be very upset.
  • There are political contacts all the time between Israel and the PA. But even if we sign an agreement tomorrow, it cannot be implemented as long as there is a division between Hamas and the PA. If we only sign with Abbas or his colleagues, it would just be a treaty between Israel and Ramallah, and no Palestinian would agree to this.

    The writer is Director of Policy and Political-Military Affairs at the Israel Ministry of Defense.
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