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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 14, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Anti-Islam Film Producer Wrote Script in Prison - Richard Esposito and Brian Ross (ABC News)
    The controversial "Innocence of Muslims" film was written, produced and directed by a convicted drug manufacturer and scam artist, who has told authorities he actually wrote the script in federal prison and began production two months after his June 2011 release from custody.
    Authorities say Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, of Cerritos, California, admitted his role in the film, after seeking help from law enforcement in dealing with death threats he has received since the release of the film, which has led to violence in the Arab world.
    Authorities told ABC News that Nakoula told them he and his son, Abanob Basseley, 21, were responsible for producing the movie which, he reportedly said, cost between $50,000 and $60,000.
    He claimed the money for the movie came from his wife's family in Egypt.

U.S.: Attack on Consulate in Libya May Have Been Planned - Karen DeYoung, Michael Birnbaum and William Branigin (Washington Post)
    It initially appeared that the assault on the Benghazi consulate was a spontaneous response to an anti-Muslim film made in the U.S., but senior U.S. officials and Middle East analysts noted Wednesday that it involved a rocket-propelled grenade and followed an al-Qaeda call to avenge the death of a senior Libyan member of the terrorist network.
    See also Official Describes U.S. Consulate Attack (AP-Washington Post)
    Heavily armed militants used a protest of an anti-Islam film as a cover and may have had help from inside Libyan security in their deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate, a senior Libyan official said Thursday.

Iran Uses Tankers Off Malaysia to Evade Oil Embargo - Luke Pachymuthu and Randy Fabi (Reuters-NBC News)
    Iran is using the little-known port of Labuan off the East Malaysia coast to hide millions of barrels of oil from Western sanctions.
    Iranian crude is shipped to the area and loaded at night onto hired tankers operating under the Panamanian flag to await potential Asian buyers.
    Iran would like to shift more oil to what is effectively a mobile storage depot off Malaysia's coast over the next few months, said an industry source.

Blacklisted Iranian Ships Calling at Libyan Ports - Claudia Rosett (Forbes)
    Over the past two months, at least three Iranian-linked container ships, all blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury, have called at the Libyan port of Benghazi.
    The Parmis put in at Benghazi anchorage as recently as August 30. According to data from Lloyd's List Intelligence, at least two other Iranian-linked container ships have called at Benghazi since mid-July: the Tandis and the Armis.
    All three are blacklisted for their connections to Iran's main state merchant fleet, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines. Prior to 2009, all three ships were flagged to Iran, as part of the IRISL fleet, and had clearly Iranian names.
    Given the costs and risks shouldered by Americans to help free Libya from the tyranny of Moammar Gaddafi, it would reflect better on Libyans were they to honor U.S. sanctions on Iran by turning away its ships.
    The writer is a journalist-in-residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Iran Finds Ways around Sanctions Targeting Oil Sales - Shashank Bengali (Los Angeles Times)
    To continue selling crude oil to India, Iran is accepting payment in rice, medicine, engineering supplies and steel.
    To sell to China, its No. 1 customer, Iran is delivering the oil on its own tankers backed by state insurance, not on the commercial tankers used in the past.
    Japan remains so eager to buy from Tehran that the government in Tokyo is furnishing the multibillion-dollar marine insurance its ships need to carry Iranian crude.
    Despite sanctions, Tehran is finding legal ways to sell or barter oil to its most important markets in Asia.
    In an effort to minimize disruptions to energy markets and the global economy, the Obama administration has issued special six-month sanctions waivers to China, India, Japan, South Korea and 16 other nations, allowing them to continue buying lesser amounts of oil without running afoul of U.S. sanctions.

A Campaign of Decapitation in Syria - Mike Giglio (Daily Beast)
    Last month in Damascus, a man whose nom de guerre is Shirzad Barazi killed Mohamed Abid Osman, whose job as an intelligence officer was to help the Syrian regime kill civilians.
    Barazi leads a small band of rebels operating in central Damascus and specializing in targeted killings.
    In recent weeks, rebels say, they have intensified plans for a push in central Damascus, where the officers and senior officials are based who form the core of the regime.

The Uneasy Normal of "Free Syria" - Tom A. Peter (Christian Science Monitor)
    Since fighting erupted in the northern city of Aleppo in late July, the opposition's Free Syrian Army (FSA) has pushed government troops out of the territory between Aleppo and the Turkish border, gaining control over a corridor roughly three quarters the size of Rhode Island.
    The opposition has now established fledgling local governments that do everything from subsidizing bread to running criminal courts and prisons.
    But jets and artillery still attack daily, making Free Syria feel anything but liberated and secure.

Syrian Christians Take Up Arms, Form Militias - Ruth Sherlock and Carol Malouf (Telegraph-UK)
    The Christian community in Aleppo has begun to accept weapons from the Syrian army and has joined forces with Armenian groups to repel opposition guerrillas.
    For the past six weeks up to 150 Christian and Armenian fighters have been fighting to prevent Free Syrian Army rebels from entering Christian areas of Aleppo.

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Israeli-Owned Radar Defense Firm Bringing 100 Jobs to Maryland (AP-Washington Post)
    Radar defense manufacturer ELTA North America, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries, plans to create 100 jobs over the next four years in Fulton in Howard County, U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said.
    ELTA Systems Ltd. is the world's fourth-largest radar company.

OECD: Israel Is Second-Most Educated Country - Tomer Velmer (Ynet News)
    Israel is the second-most educated country after Canada among the 34 OECD member countries, a recent report published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said.
    Some 46% of Israelis have a higher education compared with the OECD average of 30%.

3.5 Million Tourists Visited Israel (Israel Hayom)
    A record 3.5 million tourists visited Israel over the past 12 months, the Tourism Ministry announced on Wednesday, marking a 3% increase over the previous year.
    More than 300,000 tourists are expected to visit Israel during the coming Jewish holidays.

Boeing Sees Sales of Joint U.S.-Israeli Missile Shield - Jim Wolf and Karen Jacobs (Reuters)
    Boeing Co. foresees global demand for a ballistic missile-defense shield it is co-developing to help guard Israel, Dennis Muilenburg, chief executive of Boeing's defense, space and security arm, said Tuesday.
    Boeing is set to produce half or more of the Arrow 3 missile interceptors in the U.S.

Samsung's Israeli R and D Centers Responsible for New Smartphone Camera Technology - David Shamah (Times of Israel)
    Korean tech giant Samsung has two major R&D facilities in Israel, whose engineering staff was largely responsible for a number of Samsung technologies - including a sensor used in the upcoming Galaxy S3 smart camera and cellphone.
    "All of the camera's processing technology, the wiping and other special effects, were done in Israel," said Dr. Yiwan Wong of Samsung's System LSI Business.
    Israeli technology is used in products from other Korean giants, such as LG and Hyundai, as well.

Swedes Proud of Israel - Annika Hernroth (Ynet News)
    On Sept. 2, I never expected to see 800 Israeli flags, an ocean of white and blue, in Sweden's biggest meeting place.
    The outpouring of support was amazing as people in Sweden refused to accept the narrative they were being served by the Swedish media.
    Shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart, we were there for truth, freedom and democracy.
    The writer organized a recent pro-Israel rally in Sweden.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Obama Rebuffs Netanyahu on Setting Limits on Iran's Nuclear Program - Mark Landler and Helene Cooper
    President Obama on Tuesday rejected an appeal by Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel to spell out a specific "red line" that Iran could not cross in its nuclear program, a senior administration official said. In an hour-long telephone conversation, Obama deflected Netanyahu's proposal to make the size of Iran's stockpile of close-to-bomb-grade uranium the threshold for a military strike by the U.S. against its nuclear facilities. "We need some ability for the president to have decision-making room," said the official. "We have a red line, which is a nuclear weapon. We're committed to that red line."
        Israeli officials say diplomatic talks have done nothing to slow Iran's nuclear program. Netanyahu believes that Iran, having continued to stockpile uranium enriched to 20%, is nearing the point at which Israel will no longer be able to prevent it from making a bomb. Administration officials contend that the U.S. will still be able to detect, and prevent, Iran from passing that point. (New York Times)
        See also Israeli Prime Minister Will Insist on Red Lines for Iran - Shlomo Cesana and Yoni Hirsch
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not give up on his demand that red lines be placed before Iran, a senior diplomatic source told Israel Hayom on Wednesday. "Without red lines there is no reason [for the Iranians] to cease their pursuit of a nuclear weapon," said the source.
        Vice Premier Moshe Ya'alon said Wednesday: "The United States has outlined a red line that the Iranians are happy with. There have been arguments with the Americans in the past as well, as was the case during Operation Defensive Shield [in 2002 during the Second Intifada] when they asked Ariel Sharon to halt the operation and only later understood it was the right thing to do."  (Israel Hayom)
        See also Europe Presses Israel to Put Faith in Iran Sanctions - Harvey Morris (New York Times)
  • Protesters Storm U.S. Embassy in Yemen in New Attack - Ahmed Al Haj
    Chanting "death to America" and "death to Israel," hundreds of protesters angered by an anti-Islam film stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Yemen's capital and burned the American flag on Thursday, the latest in a series of attacks on American diplomatic missions in the Middle East. The assaults this week point to an increased boldness among Islamists who have become more powerful since last year's wave of revolts toppled authoritarian leaders. In the past, protests have broken out over perceived insults to Islam from the West, but in Arab countries they never escalated to the degree of breaching embassies, suggesting now hard-liners feel they can act with impunity.
        U.S. officials suspect the Libya assault may have been a planned terror operation rather than a spontaneous mob assault. Egyptian protesters clashed Thursday with police near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, but unlike Tuesday, the police kept the protesters away from the embassy's compound. (AP)
  • Obama: Egypt Neither Enemy Nor Ally - Margaret Chadbourn
    Asked about Egypt, President Barack Obama told Telemundo, a Spanish-language TV network, on Wednesday: "I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy." His comments reflected deepened U.S. wariness over Egypt's new Islamist president Mohamed Morsi - who took office in June - in the aftermath of the Cairo embassy assault.
        The U.S. was a close ally of Egypt under ousted President Hosni Mubarak and gives $1.3 billion in military aid a year to Egypt plus other assistance. On Thursday the White House said Obama had spoken with the presidents of Egypt and Libya to discuss the violence against U.S. diplomatic compounds. (Reuters)
        See also White House Clarifies Obama's Statement that Egypt Is Not an "Ally" - Josh Rogin
    Technically, Egypt was designated as a Major Non-NATO Ally in 1989, which gives them special privileges in the security and technology arenas. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said Thursday that the administration is not signaling a change in that status.
        Middle East experts said Obama's word choice and tone is likely a reflection of the administration's feeling that Egyptian President Morsi's reaction to the attacks has not been forceful enough. Andrew Tabler, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said: "We heard that the Muslim Brotherhood was going to be a cooperative partner, and their actions and statements yesterday were not a good example of that."  (Foreign Policy)
  • Egypt, Hearing from Obama, Moves to Heal Rift from Protests - David D. Kirkpatrick, Helene Cooper and Mark Landler
    Following a blunt phone call from President Obama, Egyptian leaders scrambled Thursday to try to repair the country's alliance with Washington, tacitly acknowledging that they erred in their response to the attack on the U.S. Embassy by seeking to first appease anti-American domestic opinion without offering a robust condemnation of the violence. During a 20-minute phone call, President Obama warned President Morsi that relations would be jeopardized if Egyptian authorities failed to protect American diplomats and stand more firmly against anti-American attacks. (New York Times)
  • Israel Denies Blocking Jordan Nuclear Program
    An Israeli official on Wednesday dismissed charges by Jordan's King Abdullah II that the Jewish state was trying to foil his country's nuclear energy program. "Every time that we were consulted on this we adopted a positive approach," the official said. Jordan's king had earlier on Wednesday told AFP: "Strong opposition to Jordan's nuclear energy program is coming from Israel."  (AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: The Iranian Nuclear Program Doesn't Care about the American Political Calendar - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Jerusalem Post in an interview that his call for the U.S. to set red lines for Iran was not at all connected with the U.S. political campaign. "The Iranian nuclear program proceeds unabated and they don't care about the internal American political calendar," he said. "I believe there has to be clear limits drawn to Iran's advance toward nuclear weapons, and that is not something I intend to be quiet about."
        Netanyahu said he had a "good conversation" by phone with President Obama on Wednesday. "We spoke about our common goal of stopping Iran from developing its nuclear weapons program, and our desire to closely coordinate our efforts."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Barak: Massive Attack on Israeli Cities Is American Red Line - Hagai Golan and Stella Korin-Lieber
    Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Globes in an interview Thursday: "When Israel says that it is not possible to allow a nuclear Iran and that all the options are on the table, it means it. There is agreement between us and the Americans on the need, but there are differences about how fast the clock is ticking. We're continually reviewing the reality, and the Americans understand and know from us that Israel reserves the right and the responsibility to decide for itself on matters related to its future and security, and they respect this."
        "During the coming year, Iran is liable to complete the breakthrough. The Americans have let it be known that if there is a massive Iranian attack against its allies in the Persian Gulf, where the U.S. has military bases, they will act, and they have even said that in the event of a massive attack on Israeli cities, they will act."
        "Someone here [in Israel] tried to cause tensions and describe in the press as if the Americans promised that if Israel does something, then they will continue the work and attack Iran. That's not true. They never said that, and that is why [Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin] Dempsey was forced to say, 'Excuse me, we never said that Israel holds the trigger and it can activate America.' I also don't think that it is proper to think in those terms."  (Globes)
  • Fence on Syrian Border Undergoes Major Upgrade - Yoav Zitun
    The IDF is increasing security on the Syrian border in the wake of fears that Global Jihad and al-Qaeda cells may base themselves in Syria. The efforts will include setting up a new fence that deploys an advanced alert system to replace the old one. The IDF's activity is coordinated with the UN's border forces and the army is hoping to complete work within a few months. (Ynet News)
  • One Year Ago, Egyptian Mob Stormed Israeli Embassy in Cairo - Elhanan Miller
    Former Israeli ambassador to Egypt Yitzhak Levanon recounts how one year ago on September 9, 2011, an Egyptian mob stormed the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, removing the flag from the building and ransacking the offices. Following the mob assault, the entire embassy staff was evacuated to Israel, the embassy was permanently shut, and no alternative embassy building has yet been opened.
        He notes that Israel has proposed a number of alternative offices in Cairo, but the Egyptians are stalling in reopening the embassy. Israel must now pressure Egypt into implementing the peace accords, signed over three decades ago, he says. He says that today, aside from the very bare minimum of diplomatic relations, the peace accords between Israel and Egypt are "empty." "With Mubarak, at least, we always had an open door. Now, we don't."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • The Abandonment - Charles Krauthammer
    President Obama declares the Iranian program intolerable - "I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon" - yet stands by as Iran rapidly approaches nuclearization. Such a policy is a declaration of weakness and passivity that can increase the chance of war. It creates, writes Anthony Cordesman, "the same conditions that helped trigger World War II - years of negotiations and threats, where the threats failed to be taken seriously until war became all too real."
        The director of national intelligence testified to Congress at the beginning of the year that sanctions had zero effect in slowing the nuclear program. Now the International Atomic Energy Agency reports (Aug. 30) that the Iranian nuclear program is actually accelerating.
        Cordesman argues that the only way to prevent a nuclear Iran without war is to establish a credible military threat to make Iran recalculate and reconsider. That means U.S. red lines: deadlines beyond which Washington will not allow itself to be strung, as well as benchmark actions that would trigger a response. (Washington Post)
  • How the Fatwa Changed a Writer's Life - Salman Rushdie
    It was a sunny Tuesday in London when the BBC reporter asked, "How does it feel to know that you have just been sentenced to death by Ayatollah Khomeini?" "I inform the proud Muslim people of the world that the author of the Satanic Verses book, which is against Islam, the Prophet and the Koran, and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death. I ask all the Muslims to execute them wherever they find them," Khomeini declared.
        Khomeini was a head of state, ordering the murder of a citizen of another state, over whom he had no jurisdiction; and he had assassins at his service, who had been used before against "enemies" of the Iranian Revolution, including those who lived outside Iran. (New Yorker)

  • Egypt

  • Belated Response from Egypt - Editorial
    The response from President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt to the murder of the American ambassador in Libya and the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo should have been swift and unequivocal. Instead, Morsi's primary concern was railing against a hatemongering anti-Muslim video that provided an excuse for the protests. It took until Thursday - after a telephone call from President Obama - before Morsi personally condemned the killing of Americans in Libya and vowed to protect foreign embassies in Cairo.
        Morsi should leave no doubt that violence will not be tolerated. If Americans and other Westerners cannot trust that Egypt is reasonably safe, there is little reason to back a $4.8 billion International Monetary Fund loan or follow through on promised debt relief and investment. (New York Times)
        See also Muslim Brotherhood Letter of Condolences in New York Times - Khairat El-Shater (New York Times)
  • How to Send Egypt a Message - David Schenker and Eric Trager
    The attack on the U.S. Embassy in Egypt went beyond the pale. For starters, it was preventable. A terrorist organization's calls for protests outside the embassy should have prompted the deployment of additional Egyptian security forces. Morsi's abdication of responsibility and the Muslim Brotherhood's defense of the assault should be the last straw. Washington should present President Morsi with a choice: Either abide by international norms or preside over an Egypt increasingly threatened by economic collapse. At present, Egypt's economy is tanking as instability and violence continue to scare away both tourists and investors.
        Washington can tolerate a lot, but it cannot invest in an Egypt that refuses at a minimum to secure American diplomats. So long as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Morsi administration insist on encouraging Salafists and soccer hooligans to target U.S. interests, the U.S. can and should impose costs for this choice. In addition, absent unequivocal expressions of public remorse in Arabic, U.S. officials should refuse to meet with Morsi when he visits New York in late September for the UN General Assembly.
        Morsi's visit to the U.S. is an opportunity for Washington to deliver an unvarnished message: Inciting potentially violent protests against the U.S. is the act of a rogue, not an ally. David Schenker is director of the Program on Arab Politics and Eric Trager is the Next Generation Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (New York Daily News)
  • Morsi Has Become the Strong Man of Egypt - Zvi Bar'el
    During the first week in September, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi retired 70 generals, changed the personnel of the Supreme Military Council, appointed 10 new provincial governors, changed the makeup of the Supreme Press Council and appointed new chairmen of the government newspaper boards. The "Sinai campaign" in which the Egyptian army was sent to fight World Jihad groups and their Bedouin supporters in the peninsula has redoubled Morsi's political strength.
        Morsi is fulfilling the desires of citizens who aspired to get the army out of politics and he is fulfilling the expectations of those who demanded purging the government ministries of the previous regime's barons. The problem is that this means introducing Muslim Brotherhood activists into government institutions.
        Two weeks ago, security personnel arrested Sabry Nakhnoukh, a notorious crime gang boss. Nakhnoukh was known as "king of the baltajiya." The term refers to a goon who intimidates a neighborhood. The baltajiya became notorious at the start of the revolution when violent gangs armed with swords, axes and live ammunition attacked demonstrators, acting under orders from top people in the previous regime, headed by Interior Minister Habib el-Adly, who is now on trial. (Ha'aretz)

  • Arab World

  • Manipulated Outrage and Misplaced Fury - Husain Haqqani
    The attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions this week should be seen for what they really are: an effort by Islamists to garner support and mobilize their base by exacerbating anti-Western sentiments. When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to calm Muslims Thursday by denouncing the video, she was unwittingly playing along with the ruse the radicals set up. The U.S. would have been better off focusing on the only outrage that was of legitimate interest to the American government: the lack of respect for U.S. diplomatic missions.
        Protests orchestrated on the pretext of slights and offenses against Islam have been part of Islamist strategy for decades. Iran's ayatollahs built an entire revolution around anti-Americanism. Islamists have a vested interest in continuously fanning the flames of Muslim victimhood.
        For Islamists, wrath against the West is the basis for their claim to the support of Muslim masses, taking attention away from societal political and economic failures. For example, the 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Conference account for one-fifth of the world's population but their combined gross domestic product is less than 7% of global output - a harsh reality for which Islamists offer no solution. Mainstream discourse among Muslims blames everyone but themselves for this situation. The writer, a former ambassador to the U.S. from Pakistan (2008-11), is professor of international relations at Boston University and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. (Wall Street Journal)
  • America Just Cannot Be the Loved One - Michael Young
    The Americans were indeed the defenders of a debilitating status quo in the Middle East, but since 2011 they have been on the side of emancipatory change, despite intense uneasiness. Yet they remain perpetually disliked, with the poll figures always reflecting deep ambiguity toward the superpower.
        Washington's support for Israel is the knee-jerk pretext whenever an explanation is sought for why America is loathed by Arabs. But let's get a grip. For years numerous Arab countries have ruthlessly mistreated or manipulated the Palestinians and their cause, without provoking a discernibly negative reaction from Arab societies.
        In light of this, perhaps we must seriously consider that the Arab world has so internalized its disapproval of the U.S. over time, integrating it perfectly into a prevailing sense of Arab misfortune and frustration, that anti-Americanism has become a constant of Arab political discourse, a crutch of sorts. That means that the positivist belief among Americans that they can be loved simply by altering their actions and manners is naively overstated. (Daily Star -Lebanon)
  • The Salafi Moment - Christian Caryl
    The rioters in both Egypt and Libya come from the region's burgeoning Salafi movement. In Libya, over the past few months, Salafis have been demolishing ancient Sufi shrines. In Tunisia, they've been attacking businesses that sell alcohol and instigating nasty social media campaigns about the country's female competitors in the Olympics.
        In Syria's civil war, there are increasing reports of wealthy Gulf financiers channeling cash to Salafi groups, whose interpretation of Islam is considered close to the puritanical Wahhabism of the Saudis. Lately Salafi groups have been gaining fresh prominence in the Islamic world - from Mali to Lebanon, from Kashmir to Russia's North Caucasus. These new "populist puritans" are routinely described as the fastest-growing movement in modern-day Islam. (Foreign Policy)
  • The Politics of Outrage Is Still an Irresistible Temptation - Issandr El Amrani
    Protests and incitement about books, films or statements deemed insulting to Islam have for decades been a staple tool of Islamists. The 2005 Danish cartoon crisis, when thousands took to the streets months after they had been published, was fomented in good part by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Egypt. In Syria and Gaza, governments apparently allowed several European embassies to be raided. The Danish embassy in Pakistan was also bombed.
        One can certainly question why protest organizers chose the U.S. embassies, as if the U.S. government was responsible for a film made by one of its citizens. And why do organizers sometimes lie, as when Nader Bakkar - who speaks for Egypt's Salafi Nour party, a partner with President Mohamed Morsi's party - told Al Jazeera Mubasher that the film had been broadcast on U.S. channels? (The National-Abu Dhabi)
  • Moments of Truth in Libya and Egypt - Marc Lynch
    Across the Libyan political spectrum there has been an immediate rush of condemnation of the attacks and deep empathy with the American victims, suggesting a broad national rejection at both the governmental and societal level of the anti-American agitation.
        In Egypt, on the other hand, President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood has been notably invisible. The Muslim Brotherhood seems far more concerned at the moment with protecting its right flank against Salafi outbidding than with behaving like the governing party of a state. (Foreign Policy)

  • Palestinians

  • The Palestinian Authority's Sorry State - Editorial
    No headlines were generated when PA President Mahmoud Abbas recently insisted that there would be no peace unless Jews were "evacuated from Jerusalem, our holy city and the eternal capital of our state." While Abbas slanders willfully and fans the flames with pyromaniac zeal, Israel underwrites him and facilitates his very political survival. Israel has traditionally functioned as the devil in Arab societies and this is no exception.
        Numerous factors contribute to making the PA an economic basket case. The notorious corruption at the top is only one. Whenever things get tight, Ramallah cries out for greater handouts that then promptly disappear down its drain. Moreover, dependence on foreign philanthropy is not conducive to constructing viable self-reliance.
        The obligatory mantra for both the incompetent leadership and the volatile masses is to blame Israel and so-called occupation for their intractable mess. Israel in its omnipresent role as the regional bogeyman is the universal Arab glue. However, Israel is the indispensable crutch upon which the PA leans. Without Israel propping up the Ramallah-based economy, things there would be incalculably worse. Thus Israeli taxpayers foot the PA electricity bills. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Abbas: Jerusalem Is the "Eternal Capital" of a Palestinian State
    As reported by the official Palestinian WAFA news agency (on Aug. 21) and the daily Al-Hayat al-Jadida (Aug. 22), PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said: "[Israel's] purpose is to achieve its black goals: Destroying the Al-Aqsa Mosque, building the 'alleged Temple,' taking over the Muslim and Christian holy sites, and destroying its [Jerusalem's] institutions in order to empty it, uproot its residents, and continue its occupation and Judaization."
        Abbas also said that "all of Israel's archeological digs and tunnels...will not change the reality of the city...and will not create a [Jewish] right based on fantasy and legends....There will be no peace, security, or stability unless the occupation [Israel], its settlements and settlers will be evacuated from our holy city and the eternal capital of our state."  (Palestinian Media Watch)
  • Why Hasn't There Been Another Palestinian Intifada? - Alexander Joffe & Asaf Romirowsky
    Palestinians are stranded between two core cultural beliefs. The first is unending opposition to Israel. "Steadfastness" means rejecting the existence of the Jewish state, and this is manifest at all levels of Palestinian society, from school textbooks to summer camp programs, to TV shows, literature and poetry. Virtually any peaceful interactions with Israelis are scorned as "normalization," and Israel is vilified by official PA and Hamas media. Vicious Palestinian incitement keeps the national cause alive by focusing on Israel and the Jews as the sources of all Palestinian misfortune.
        At the same time there is another Palestinian imperative: the absolute necessity to maintain international aid. In per capita terms Palestinians have long been the world's largest recipients of aid, far outstripping the vastly more impoverished regions of Africa and Asia. Intifada threatens aid, as does statehood, at least eventually.  Alexander Joffe is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum. Asaf Romirowsky is an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Forum and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Forbes)
  • Gaza Prepares to Declare Independence - Jonathan Schanzer
    Al-Hayat first reported on July 22 that Hamas was poised to sever its limited economic ties with Israel, open a free trade zone with Egypt at the Rafah border crossing, and declare itself liberated. Senior Gazan officials quietly acknowledged to me in recent meetings that Hamas and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi are actively discussing this idea.
        Egypt is deeply reluctant to let Israel off the hook. As long as Israel controls Gaza's borders, airspace and coastal waters, it is saddled with responsibility for the Gazans - a task that drains Israel of resources and manpower. "Why would Egypt want to help out Israel in this way?" asked one Egyptian academic. Yet the Egyptian government stands to cash in through taxes or fees on goods transiting the Rafah border crossing, generating new revenues. The writer, a former counterterrorism intelligence analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (New Republic)

  • Other Issues

  • Canada's Moral Leadership - David M. Weinberg
    Canada has become arguably the most pro-Israel country in the world. From being the first world leader to cut off funds to the Palestinian Authority in 2006 when it was taken over by Hamas, to speaking out against growing global anti-Semitism, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has embraced Israel as no Canadian leader did before him. He blamed Hizbullah for the war and civilian deaths in Lebanon during the summer war of 2006, and rejected widespread calls for an immediate ceasefire. He led the boycott of the Durban II conference. He blocked a G-8 statement that would have called for a return to Israel's 1967 borders.
        Over the three years that it sat on the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Canada stood alone in defense of Israel - eight times casting the only "no" vote against unfair condemnations of Israel. After Canada lost its bid for a seat on the UN Security Council, Harper suggested that the country's stalwart defense of Israel was a contributing factor.
        Canada's bold words and actions give us Israelis hope that there are indeed many decent people, some of them in positions of power, who will not bow to demonization or to the Orwellian twisting of history and language that often pertains to Israel these days. The writer is director of the Israel office of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the central advocacy agency of the Canadian Jewish community. (Israel Hayom)
  • Jewish Refugees Are a Core Peace Process Issue - Dan Diker
    Since the ill-fated Oslo peace process, the "refugee issue" has been dominated by the Palestinian leadership's claims on behalf of some 680,000 Arab refugees who fled the fighting during the multi-front wars launched by Israel's Arab neighbors to destroy the Jewish state in 1947-48 and in 1967, with the Palestinian leadership branding the Palestinian refugees as the sole aggrieved party.
        The distorted Palestinian narrative has overshadowed the parallel narrative and fundamental rights of some 860,000 Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent who were murdered, assaulted, robbed and forcibly exiled from Arab countries between 1948 and 1976. The writer is the secretary general of the World Jewish Congress. (Times of Israel)
  • Irish Minister: State Did Nothing to Save Jews in WWII - Stephen Collins
    The Irish government in the 1940s did nothing to oppose the extermination of the Jews in Europe, Minister for Justice and Defense Alan Shatter said Wednesday. He also warned that the international community today had to stand up to those such as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran who not only denied the Holocaust but were actively seeking to destroy the State of Israel.
        Opening a conference at Trinity College Dublin to mark the centenary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved more than 50,000 Hungarian Jews from the death camps, Shatter said: "The Irish government of the day sat on its hands. And even after the death camps were liberated, the Irish government denied Jews refuge in Ireland."
       Shatter said, "It is morally absurd that Ahmadinejad still rules Iran, an active denier of the Shoah who has promised to use nuclear missiles to turn Israel to smoke and ash. And the silence of so many of the non-aligned states in the face of his threats must surely undermine their moral authority to speak on important issues of international concern."  (Irish Times)

Israel Urges World Boycott of Ahmadinejad Speech to the UN - Haviv Rettig Gur (Times of Israel)

  • Israel's ambassador to the UN called on world leaders Thursday to boycott Iranian President Ahmadinejad's Sep. 26 speech to the General Assembly in New York. "Any country that sits in during Ahmadinejad's speech is in violation of the United Nations Charter," which forbids member states from threatening other member states, Amb. Ron Prosor told the Times of Israel on Thursday.
  • The Iranian regime "constantly invents new terms in the English language for liquidation, eradication and erasing of Israel and Jews from the pages of history. One cannot be quiet in the face of these anti-Semitic rants, yet we don't hear any outcry from the international community."
  • According to Prosor, stopping Iran's nuclear program "is not Israel's problem. An Iran with nuclear weapons, under the ayatollahs, with delivery systems [for nuclear warheads], is a huge threat to the entire regional strategic environment, to the Saudis and others."
  • "Iran's nuclear program is like an express train from New York to Washington, and the international community's response is like a local train that stops at every stop. At one stop Russia wants to get off, at another someone else wants to get on. In order to work, diplomacy has to build up the speed" required to stop the nuclear program. "The international community doesn't have the option of doing nothing."
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