Hosting Rita at UN, Israel Sends Message to Iran - Michael Wilner (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli-Iranian singer Rita Yahan-Farouz performed in the UN General Assembly Hall on Tuesday night, joining Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in their calls for closer cultural ties between the Jewish state and the Islamic Republic.
Rita sang in Persian, Hebrew and English to the packed hall during an event that sent a very intentional message from Israel to Iran that it's strategic enemy is a nation rich in culture and in search of peace, Prosor said.
"It's saying, through music, that we have nothing against your people," Prosor said. "And while you play the drums of war, we're playing songs of love and peace."
See also Rita Rocks the UN with "Tunes for Peace" Concert (Times of Israel)
Fatah Mourns Death of Venezuela's Chavez (Ma'an News-PA)
Top Fatah leader Nabil Shaath expressed Palestine's condolences Wednesday on the death of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.
"Palestine says goodbye to a loyal friend," he said.
Gaza Smugglers Counter Egypt's Flooding of Tunnels - Stuart Winer (Times of Israel)
Efforts by Egyptian authorities to close smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Sinai by flooding them are not working because smugglers are using pumps to keep the tunnels open.
Ireland TV3 Ordered to Say Sorry for Anti-Israel Remarks - Laura Butler (Independent-Ireland)
TV3 will be forced to issue an apology on air after presenter Vincent Browne described Israel as a "cancer in foreign affairs" on his weeknight program.
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland stated that the host's remarks "failed to meet the requirement for fair, objective and impartial treatment of news and current affairs."
To Question Irish Hatred of Israel - Carol Hunt (Independent-Ireland)
Irish critics routinely demonize Israel. They question its right to exist. And they hold it to a standard not required of its neighbors.
But criticizing the motives of people who routinely single out the State of Israel for demonization is not tolerated in Ireland.
Israeli Scientists Develop Breath Test to Detect Stomach Cancer - Michelle Roberts (BBC)
A quick and simple breath test can diagnose stomach cancer, based on work by Prof. Hossam Haick of the Israel Institute of Technology.
Scientists from Israel and China found the test was 90% accurate at detecting and distinguishing cancers from other stomach complaints in 130 patients.
The test could also tell the difference between early and late-stage stomach cancers.
The British Journal of Cancer says the test could revolutionize the way this cancer is diagnosed.
Kate Law, director of clinical research at Cancer Research UK, said: "Most stomach cancers are diagnosed at stages that are too advanced for surgery. Any test that could help diagnose stomach cancers earlier would make a difference to patients' long-term survival."
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- Hagel: U.S. Will Continue Support for Israel's Missile Defense Systems in Spite of Fiscal Constraints
After a meeting Tuesday between U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak,
Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said, "Secretary Hagel expressed his strong commitment to Israel's security, including maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge and continued U.S. support for missile and rocket defense systems in spite of fiscal constraints."
"Regarding Iran, Secretary Hagel reiterated that President Obama is committed to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon with all options on the table. He stated that the United States continues to believe there is still time to address this issue through diplomacy, but that window is closing." (U.S. Department of Defense)
- U.S. Commander Says Iran Sanctions Not Working - Adam Levine
Gen. James Mattis of U.S. Central Command, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that sanctions against Iran are not working. "I think we have to continue sanctions, but have other options ready," Mattis said. "There may yet be a way to bring them to their senses."
Asked by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) if the only other option is bringing them "to their knees," Mattis responded, "yes, sir."
"There are a number of means to do that, perhaps even short of open conflict. But certainly that's one of the options that I have to have prepared for the president," he said.
- Kerry Says U.S. Backs Mideast Efforts to Arm Syrian Rebels - Michael R. Gordon
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that the Obama administration supported efforts by Middle Eastern nations to send arms to the opposition in Syria. After a meeting with the prime minister of Qatar, which has been involved in arming the Syrian opposition, Kerry said: "We did discuss the question of the ability to try to guarantee that it's going to the right people and to the moderate Syrian opposition coalition."
Kerry said the Obama administration had gained new confidence in recent months that the Syrian opposition coalition could minimize the risk that weapons would fall into hostile hands. He said there was no need for the U.S. to provide arms now because other nations were already sending enough.
Under a covert program, the Central Intelligence Agency has been training Syrian opposition fighters in Jordan.
(New York Times)
See also As Syrian Refugees near One Million, Relief Agencies Cannot Keep Up - Taylor Luck
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israeli Farmers Spray Locusts to Protect Fields - Aaron Kalman and Ron Friedman
Southern Israel's skies were blackened Tuesday by millions of locusts as the largest infestation to hit the country in decades swarmed across the Egyptian border.
Israeli cropdusting planes and trucks sprayed a four-square-mile area with pesticides on Wednesday in an effort to cull the plague. Omri Eytana, a farmer from the Nitzana area, told Army Radio his tomato crops were unharmed because they are protected under nylon covers, but potato crops in the area were badly damaged.
The giant swarm landed on fields across the Negev and caused damage. Potato farmer Pablo Rosenblit told Channel 2 News, "I can already see the devastation and they just landed minutes ago. This spells total crop destruction." The locusts also caused damage to fields in Gaza.
(Times of Israel)
See also Locusts Swoop into Israel - Sharon Udasin
Ramat Gan resident Ofir Auslander discovered a locust on Monday on his apartment terrace. Prof. Amir Ayali, an expert on locusts at Tel Aviv University's Zoology Department, said he had heard reports of people seeing single or small groups of locusts as far north as the Carmel region.
- UK Envoy Attacked at West Bank University
Palestinian students at Birzeit University near Ramallah on Tuesday attacked the car of British Consul-General Sir Vincent Fean, smashing a mirror.
After he left a meeting with university president Khalil al-Hindi, students approached him chanting and screaming.
Upon returning to his car, students attacked it with rods causing minor damage before the driver sped away.
Fean was scheduled to take part in a symposium at the university.
A representative for the British Consulate in Jerusalem said,
"Sir Vincent had hoped to underline Britain's deep commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state, and the urgency of progress on the peace process in 2013." (Ma'an News-PA)
- Is Israel on the Verge of a Third Intifada? - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Shlomo Brom
Even if we presume that the continued diplomatic deadlock will ultimately provoke another Palestinian outburst, at this point it does not appear that the current events will bring about large-scale escalation that in retrospect will be called the third intifada.
Abbas is committed to a policy of non-violence and is aware of the danger of riding the tiger called the angry masses. He understood this early in the second intifada, and made every effort to move Arafat to stop it. For this reason, unequivocal orders have been given in recent weeks to the Palestinian security forces to prevent any escalation. There has also been an effort to control the demonstrations fully through the involvement of Fatah activists in organizing and controlling them.
Developments thus far indicate that the PA remains in strong control over the protests. Their scope is relatively small, the number of participants is not more than in the hundreds, and there is no trend toward escalation. The idea of returning to the chaos of the intifada does not appeal to the Palestinian public. It is only in recent years that the Palestinians in the West Bank have returned to a certain level of normalcy, and they are not eager to return to the crisis years of the previous decade.
Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Shlomo Brom, a senior research associate at INSS, served as director of the Strategic Planning Division in the Planning Branch of the IDF General Staff.
(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
- Turkey, the Unhelpful Ally - Halil M. Karaveli
Turkey is exacerbating Syria's sectarian strife, rather than contributing to a peaceful and pluralistic solution.
While sponsoring the Sunni cause in Syria, the Turkish government has made no attempt to show sympathy for the fears of the country's Alawite, Christian and Kurdish minorities. The Alawites and the Christians have backed the government in large numbers and fear retribution if Assad is toppled.
Even more ominously, Turkey is turning a blind eye to the presence of jihadists on its territory. America can't expect the Sunni Arab autocracies that have financed the Syrian uprising, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to help empower secular and moderate leaders in Syria. However, Turkey, a NATO ally, should be expected to promote a pluralistic, post-Assad Syria. It has not.
The U.S. must beware of doing the bidding of Sunni powers - especially Turkey - that are advancing sectarian agendas that run counter to America's interest of promoting pluralism and tolerance. Left unchecked, rising sectarianism could lead to a dangerous regional war. The writer is a senior fellow at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and the Silk Road Studies Program, which are affiliated with the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
(New York Times)
- Iranian Shiite Terror Cell in Nigeria Followed a Familiar Pattern - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the fifth largest provider of oil to the U.S. More than half the population practices Islam.
On Feb. 20, 2013, Nigeria's State Secret Service accused a local Shiite cleric, Mallam Abdullahi Mustaphah Berende, 50, of heading a terrorist group backed by Iran that was plotting to assassinate Nigerian officials and attack Israeli and American targets in Nigeria.
Similar Iranian-Hizbullah terrorist efforts in Cyprus, Bahrain, Bulgaria, and elsewhere confirm the pattern revealed in the Berende affair. Handlers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards use local Shiite agents or those with dual nationalities. In the first phases they concentrate on the collection of intelligence, and train in the use of weapons and explosives in Iran. In a later phase they will seek to carry out their terrorist attacks through proxies.
The writer was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
No, Arabs Living under Israeli Control Are Not Going to Outnumber Jews Any Time Soon - David Bernstein (Volokh Conspiracy)
- I often see articles about Israel like this March 5 story from AP: "...with Arabs living under Israeli control expected to outnumber Jews in the coming years."
- There are approximately 6.4 million Jews and 1.6 million Arabs living in Israel, and 2.5 million in the West Bank, of whom 2.3 million live in areas under Palestinian civil control, and joint Israeli-Palestinian military control.
- Even giving a liberal construction to "living under Israeli control," that makes roughly 6.4 million against 4.1 million. Given a Jewish birth rate of 2.9 per family, plus net Jewish immigration to Israel, there is not likely to be a majority of Arabs in the territory under Israeli control any time soon.
- If you add in the population of Gaza, things start to get closer. But even the most liberal definition of "living under Israeli control" can't possibly include Gaza, where there is not a single Israeli civilian or soldier.
- It irks me that journalists reporting on Israel and the Palestinians seem to parrot things they pick up from various activist groups, without bothering to check easily discoverable facts.
The writer is a professor at the George Mason University School of Law.
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