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May 10, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Leading Islamic Cleric Rejects Israel's Existence - Ibrahim Barzak (AP)
    Prominent Islamic scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi declared Thursday in Gaza that Israel has no right to exist and voiced his support for rocket fire on Israel.
    "This land has never once been a Jewish land. Palestine is for the Arab Islamic nation," said Qaradawi, a Qatar-based cleric famous for his popular TV show and widely respected in the Muslim world.
    Qaradawi arrived in Gaza on Wednesday to an enthusiastic welcome by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and his ministers.
    See also Fatah Condemns Qaradawi's Visit to Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)

Poll: Israelis Believe in Peaceful Coexistence, Palestinians Don't (Pew Research Center)
    According to a Pew poll released May 9, Israelis, on balance, believe a way can be found for an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully with their country.
    Palestinians, on the other hand, overwhelmingly do not think this is possible, and a plurality believes armed struggle rather than negotiations or nonviolent resistance is the best way to achieve statehood.
    83% of Israelis view the U.S. favorably, while 79% of Palestinians view it unfavorably.
    In the region, 86% or more in Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey have an unfavorable view of Israel.
    Majorities in France, Germany and China also express negative opinions of the Jewish state.
    The U.S. is the only country surveyed where a majority (57%) gives Israel a favorable rating.

Church of Scotland Agrees to Reword Report on Israel - Severin Carrell (Guardian-UK)
    Senior figures in the Church of Scotland met Jewish leaders on Thursday after an official report entitled the "Inheritance of Abraham" suggested the church consider political action including boycotts and disinvestment from Israel.
    The church has agreed to reword the paper's introduction to make clear the church has never challenged the right of Israel to exist.
    Daniel Taub, the Israeli ambassador to the UK, had accused the church of perpetuating anti-Semitic views by challenging the basis of Jewish ties and belief in Israel, and distorting the basis of Zionism.
    "This report not only plays into extremist political positions, but negates and belittles the deeply held Jewish attachment to the Land of Israel in a way which is truly hurtful," Taub said.

Americans Approve Israel Bombing Syria by 61-29 (Rasmussen Reports)
    61% of likely U.S. voters approve of Israel's decision to bomb missile storage facilities in Syria, while 29% disapprove, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey conducted on May 7-8.
    See also Poll: 79 Percent of Israelis Say Attacks on Damascus Justified (Israel Hayom-IMRA)
    In an Israeli poll published Friday, 79.4% of Israelis said the attacks against targets in Damascus attributed to Israel were justified, while 6% disagreed.

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U.S. Museum Honors Hamas Terrorists - Jessica Chasmar (Washington Times)
    The Newseum, a museum located in Washington, D.C., that chronicles the media, has added two dead Hamas terrorists to its "Journalists Memorial."
    Mahmoud Al-Kumi and Hussam Salama are described by the museum as "Al-Aqsa [Hamas TV] cameramen killed in an Israeli air strike" on Nov. 20, 2012.
    Both Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian media confirmed the men were Hamas operatives at the time of the attack.

Photos: World War II Veterans March in Jerusalem on Victory in Europe Day (Ynet News)
    Hundreds of World War II veterans took part in a march marking Victory in Europe Day in Jerusalem on Thursday.
    The veterans were soldiers in allied armies or fought the Nazis as part of resistance groups during World War II.

The Zionist Message Hidden within Antique Pictures of the Holy Land - Lenny Ben-David (Jewish Political Studies Review)
    A 110-year-old trove of pictures taken by the Christian photographers of the American Colony in Jerusalem provides dramatic proof of thriving Jewish communities in Palestine.
    This essay includes 28 photos, many from the 19th century.

Israeli and American Experts in Renewable Energy Meet - Robert Wiener (New Jersey Jewish News)
    During April 17-24, The Israel Energy Partnership (TIEP) introduced a dozen Israeli experts in renewable energy to "practically every important person involved with alternative fuels in the United States," said Neil Goldstein, TIEP's executive vice president and CEO.
    The Israeli delegation came from private industry as well as the Technion and the Weizmann Institute of Science.
    Israelis are exploring energy from ethanol, natural gas, and biofuels from plants and algae.
    See also The 20 Hottest Startups from Israel - Julie Bort (Business Insider)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Syria Opposition Insists on Assad's Departure Before Any Deal
    Syria's main opposition National Coalition on Wednesday implicitly rejected a U.S.-Russian initiative for dialogue with the regime. "The National Coalition welcomes all international efforts which call for a political solution to achieve the aspirations of the Syrian people and their hope for a democratic state, so long as they begin with the departure of Bashar al-Assad and his regime," the opposition umbrella group said.
        The U.S.-Russian initiative is based on an international deal agreed in Geneva last year that makes no mention of Assad stepping down. The Geneva deal, which calls for a transitional government but makes no mention of Assad's fate, "should be the roadmap," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said after talks in Moscow on Tuesday. (AFP-Al Arabiya)
        See also Kerry Sees No Role for Syria's Assad
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday in Rome that Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, cannot be part of a transitional government that would try to lead the country out of its civil war. "In our judgment, President Assad will not be a component of that transitional government,'' Kerry said. (VOA News)
  • Free Syrian Army Rebels Defect to Islamist Group Jabhat al-Nusra - Mona Mahmood and Ian Black
    Syria's main armed opposition group, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), is losing fighters and capabilities to Jabhat al-Nusra, an Islamist group with links to al-Qaeda that is emerging as the best-equipped, financed and motivated force fighting Bashar al-Assad's regime - underlining the dilemma of arming anti-Assad rebels.
        FSA commanders say that entire units have gone over to al-Nusra, while others have lost a quarter or more of their strength to them recently. Ala'a al-Basha, commander of the Sayyida Aisha brigade, said 3,000 FSA men have joined al-Nusra in the last few months, mainly because of a lack of weapons and ammunition in the FSA. "Fighters are heading to al-Nusra because of its Islamic doctrine, sincerity, good funding and advanced weapons," said Abu Islam of the FSA's al-Tawhid brigade in Aleppo. (Guardian-UK)
  • Hizbullah: Syria Will Send New Arms after Israeli Raid - Sam Dagher
    Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday said Syria will provide him with weapons that will change the balance of power in his battle with Israel and threatened to fight the Jewish state from inside Syria, after last week's Israeli airstrikes there. "If you claim your aggression's goal is to prevent the resistance from boosting its capabilities, well, Syria will give the resistance qualitative weapons that it has never obtained before," he said.
        Israel is increasingly worried that advanced weapons including chemical ones will fall into the hands of Hizbullah as well as militant Islamist groups fighting alongside the rebels in Syria. Dore Gold, a former adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu, said he saw Nasrallah's speech as a signal that Iran planned to significantly boost its presence in Syria via Hizbullah and its own forces. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Hizbullah Pledges Support for the "Liberation" of the Golan Heights - Hussein Dakroub
    Following the Israeli attacks in Damascus, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Thursday that part of Syria's "strategic response is to open the Golan front and to open the door to popular resistance in the Golan [Heights]." Nasrallah pledged "moral, financial and logistical support, cooperation and coordination for the liberation of the Syrian Golan," which was captured by Israel in the 1967 War. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Asks Russia to Stop Supply of S-300 Missiles to Syria - Ron Ben-Yishai
    Russia's concern that the U.S. and the West are approaching a military intervention in the Syrian civil war is the reason Moscow pulled out its most effective pressure card - the intent to deliver S-300 missiles to Assad's army. Israel has turned to the highest ranks in Russia and the U.S. in order to stop their supply to Syria. The S-300 system is made to intercept aircraft at ranges of over 100 km. (60 miles). A few years ago, when it was discovered that Russia was about to supply these missiles to Syria, Israel and the U.S. turned to the Kremlin, which suspended the deal.
        Russia had also signed a deal with Iran for supplying these missiles, and Iranian operators have already trained in their use in Russia. However, following Putin's visit to Israel and as a result of direct U.S. pressure, this deal was also suspended, yet not canceled altogether.
        Israel made clear to the Russians that having these anti-aircraft missile systems in Syria would neutralize Israel's ability to defend itself since the system would be capable of hitting aircraft not only above Lebanon and Syria, but also immediately when they take off in Israel. (Ynet News)
  • Netanyahu: Hawking Needs to Study Facts about Israel - Herb Keinon and Jonny Paul
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Prof. Stephen Hawking for joining the boycott against Israel and cancelling plans to attend President Shimon Peres' conference next month. Netanyahu said, "He's a scientist. He should study the facts and draw the necessary conclusions: Israel is an island of reason, moderation and a desire for peace....There is no state that yearns for peace more than Israel, nor any state that has done more for peace than Israel."
        An Israeli official noted that, apparently, "intelligence and achievements are no guarantee for understanding the truth about the Jews or their state."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Increases Supply of Water to Jordan, Jordanian Parliament Calls to Expel Israeli Ambassador - Daniel Siryoti
    The lower house of the Jordanian parliament unanimously decided on Wednesday to expel Israel's Ambassador to Jordan, Daniel Nevo, from Amman, and demanded the recall of Jordan's ambassador to Israel.
        Former Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Oded Eran told Israel Radio Thursday that Israel had recently increased the transfer of water to Jordan due to the swelling number of Syrian refugees seeking shelter there. Eran also noted that Israel allows Jordan to use the port of Haifa on the Mediterranean Sea to export its goods to Western countries. Eran said the Israeli and Jordanian governments were on good terms but among the Jordanian population there are feelings of hate toward Israel. (Israel Hayom)
  • Jordan, Egypt Summon Israeli Envoys - Daniel K. Eisenbud and Tovah Lazaroff
    The Egyptian Foreign Ministry in Cairo on Wednesday called in Ambassador Yaakov Amitai to protest the actions of Israeli police who had roughly removed three Egyptian diplomats and a Coptic priest from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on Saturday night. They had gone to pray and witness the Holy Fire ceremony. According to Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor, the church was too crowded and police, who were trying to clear the area and were unaware of the Egyptians' identity, had "acted too vigorously in enforcing the law." Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin has apologized to the charge d'affairs at the Egyptian embassy in Israel.
        On Wednesday, Jordan summoned Ambassador Daniel Nevo to protest Israel's decision to limit the entrance of Muslim worshipers to the Temple Mount on Tuesday and to allow Jews to visit the compound on Jerusalem Day, which continued into Wednesday. Jordan was also angered by the detention of Jerusalem Mufti Muhammad Ahmad Hussein for inciting violence against Jews on the Temple Mount. On Wednesday, after two police officers arrested an Arab youth who yelled at Jewish visitors to the site, some 15 Muslims threw chairs at the officers, causing mild injuries.
        Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Hussein "was questioned cautiously, carefully and respectfully for six hours by members of the Israeli Police Investigative Unit about serious incitement to cause disorder in the Temple Mount over the past few weeks." This followed a series of violent incidents against Israelis and Christian visitors in which Hussein was implicated. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel Police Release Jerusalem Grand Mufti after Questioning (Israel Hayom)
  • IDF: Palestinian Violence Increasing in West Bank - Tovah Lazaroff
    Palestinian violence in the West Bank has increased, Head of IDF Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon told Channel 2 TV on Tuesday. "For months we have identified trends of a potential escalation." On Tuesday, the IDF stopped a Palestinian in the Jordan Valley who carried four improvised explosives. In a raid in Hebron, the IDF found a cache of weapons, including night vision equipment.
        "There are scores of intelligence reports of attempts to execute terror attacks," Alon said. "Our forces are working day and night."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Why Didn't the 1967 Borders Bring Peace? - Jonathan S. Tobin
    As Israelis celebrate the 46th anniversary of the re-unification of Jerusalem, their capital city, that was made possible by the Six-Day War of 1967, it's appropriate to ask why peace did not reign in the Middle East prior to the war, since there is an assumption that merely recreating the situation that existed before that war will bring about peace.
        It is necessary to remind those who harp on "1967" as the only possible solution that when there was not a single Jew living in the West Bank or east Jerusalem, there was no peace. Indeed, prior to that war, when the area now dubbed the "occupied territories" was in the possession of Jordan and Egypt, the focus of the Arab and Muslim world was not on the creation of a Palestinian state but on ending Jewish sovereignty over the territory of pre-1967 Israel. Those parts of Jerusalem that were illegally occupied by the Jordanians did not constitute a Palestinian capital. Nor was Egyptian-occupied Gaza considered part of a Palestinian state.
        Until there is a sea change in Arab opinion about Israel, and Palestinians come to terms with the permanence of the Jewish return to the land, arguing that just forcing Israel to give up the territory it won in a war of self-defense will solve the conflict is not only illogical; it's a demand for national suicide. The Palestinians and most of their supporters have never come to terms with the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders were drawn. (Commentary)
  • Defending "Red Lines" and Defensible Borders - Dan Diker
    Several hours after the Israel Air Force reportedly destroyed advanced Iranian Fatah 110 long-range missiles parked in Syria and headed for Hizbullah in Lebanon, former IDF military intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin said that "Iran is testing Israel's and the U.S.'s determination to uphold "red lines." Israel's determination to enforce its red lines and "defend itself by itself" also extends to the West Bank and Israel's eastern front.
        Israel's defense of its security "red lines" in the West Bank are particularly salient in view of Iran's increasing destabilization of Iraq, intensifying security challenges to Jordan, Palestinian jihadi groups in the West Bank, and the risks Israel will be asked to assume in line with American efforts to help restart a diplomatic process with the Palestinian Authority.
        Israeli leaders have assessed that an Israeli territorial withdrawal to the June 4, 1967, "Green Line" would render Israel indefensible against a range of threats including terror group infiltrations, conventional army attack, and ballistic missile and rocket fire that could cut Israel in half at nine-mile-wide borders. They insist that Israel maintain defensible borders in the West Bank, particularly retaining territory in the Jordan Valley, where a 3,000-foot mountain ridge serves as a natural wall protecting Israel's major population centers, while simultaneously helping protect Jordan from subversive action by radical Islamic groups. The writer, a foreign policy fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, served as secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Stephen Hawking's Boycott of Israel Is a Sad Display of Partisanship - Jake Wallis Simons
    It is sad that Stephen Hawking, the eminent physicist, has decided to contribute towards the closing of debate by supporting the academic boycott of Israel. This partisan move has moved him from the realms of objective, concerned observer to an instrument of one particular side against the other.
        Professor Hawking is patronizing from the sidelines while ignoring the complexities of the debate. When Britain found itself under existential threat from Nazi Germany, our response involved the explicit bombing of civilians and the torture of detainees; by comparison, Israel is doing rather well. Life in perpetual danger pushes a democracy to extremes. While this should never be used as an excuse, to boycott a country like Israel from the comfort of cosy old Britain is rather short-sighted.
        It is absolutely Hawking's prerogative to criticize Israel all he likes. But boycotting Israel's scientists, intellectuals, actors, musicians and dancers does nothing to bring peace, and everything to entrench the conflict. It is a sad display of partisanship. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Massacres of Civilians Signal New Phase in Syria's Civil War - Michael Young
    The massacres of Syrian civilians in the predominantly Sunni city of Baniyas and the nearby town of Bayda last week were particularly alarming. The regime regards control over Homs and its surrounding area as a matter of strategic importance. Homs lies on the main communications line between Damascus and the coast. It is also a vital escape route if Assad and his acolytes decide to withdraw to Alawite areas along the coast.
        If the Alawites decide to create a rump state, one of their objectives will be to ensure that Sunnis do not challenge this plan. That means Sunnis must either be terrorized into silence or forced out of coastal areas. There is still a significant Sunni population in coastal cities such as Tartous and Latakiya, and in the latter, Sunnis form a majority. We are witnessing a consolidation of the Alawite statehood option as a fallback position. The Syrian conflict is entering a new phase, where long-term territorial plans and alliances are taking shape. The writer is opinion editor of the Daily Star newspaper in Beirut. (The National-UAE)
  • Palestinians in Syria Killed, Injured, Displaced - Media Yawn - Khaled Abu Toameh
    More than 55,000 Palestinians have been forced to flee Syria over the past two years and some 235,000 Palestinians have been displaced inside Syria, according to figures released by UNRWA. Two weeks ago, 6,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes in Ein al-Tal near Aleppo.
        According to Palestinian sources, more than 2,000 Palestinians have been killed in Syria, most in recent months, by both the rebels and the Syrian army. Most of the Palestinians who fled Syria have found shelter in neighboring Lebanon, where more than 500,000 Palestinians are subjected to apartheid laws that deny them work, social and health benefits, and freedom of movement.
        What have the Palestinians' two governments in Gaza and the West Bank done to help the displaced Palestinians? What have the Arab countries done to help the Palestinians fleeing Syria? As for the Arab countries, why should they care about Palestinians when hundreds of Syrians are being killed every day and no one in the Arab world seems to care?
        Human rights organizations and the mainstream media in the West are also ignoring the plight of the Palestinians, since it is a story that lacks an anti-Israel angle. (Gatestone Institute)
  • The Emerging Face of Lawfare: Legal Maneuvering Designed to Hinder the Exposure of Terrorism and Terrorist Financing - Brooke Goldstein and Benjamin Ryberg
    The campaign to make politically incorrect any discourse about Islamist terrorism has an undeniable deterrent effect. This, in conjunction with the routine filing of frivolous lawsuits solely to intimidate and punish, has the very real tendency of chilling speech.
        On a practical level, lawfare against free speech is hampering the nation's ability to uncover and confront Islamist terrorism and its sources of financing, as enemies of the U.S. shield their activities from penetration by shouting "Islamophobia."
        Federal legislation barring the provision of "material support or resources," as it has been developed by case law, lacks efficacy if the very organizations funding terrorist groups are left to continue their illegal activities without scrutiny. Brooke Goldstein is founder and Director of The Lawfare Project, where Benjamin Ryberg is Director of Research. (Fordham International Law Journal)

  • Weekend Feature

  • Dvora Omer Taught Zionism to a Generation - Shmuel Rosner
    Author Dvora Omer, who died at 80, was an Israel Prize laureate, a best-selling author and a household name among young readers in the 1970s and 1980s. She is mostly remembered for bringing Israel's founders to the attention of children. As one eulogizer put it, she made young readers discover that they were "part of a larger and ancient story, magnificent and dangerous, soaked in blood and love and tears and glory."
        Omer's epic accounts made us children of the '70s and '80s appreciate the price that was paid to establish Israel more than half a century ago. She wrote about Sarah Aaronsohn, a member of the Nili spy ring, who worked to rid Palestine of Ottoman rule. She wrote about the lovers Shmulik and Zohara, members of the underground Palmach, who were killed in action. She dramatized the life of Itamar Ben Avi, the first child to use Hebrew as an everyday language. She created the fictional Tabul, a boy of Moroccan origin who becomes a fighter in the navy's commando unit. (New York Times)

Stephen Hawking Should Go to Gaza - Jonathan Kay (National Post-Canada)

  • Physicist Stephen Hawking's withdrawal from a conference in Israel will briefly make him a celebrity among activists, but it will also cast a controversial political gloss on his reputation as a great scientist. I would urge him to travel to Gaza and the West Bank to promote another cause that might be dear to his heart, and on which he certainly can speak with authority: the humane treatment of people with disabilities.
  • Had he been born into Palestinian society, he would have had to deal with the hostility of Palestinians to anyone cursed (as they see it) with any sort of crippling disease, such as the ALS-related motor neuron disease with which Hawking himself is afflicted.
  • According to the Christian charity Pro Terra Sancta, "In Palestine, from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, there is no support in place for children with learning difficulties or for families with disabled children. In the traditional mindset, disability is still seen as a form of divine punishment and brings shame on the family."
  • The Washington Post reported on May 3 about Palestinian 3-year-old Mohammed al-Farra, a multiple amputee who lives with his grandfather in Israel's Tel Hashomer hospital. His parents abandoned him. "Mohammed's plight is an extreme example of the harsh treatment some families mete to the disabled, particularly in the more tribal-dominated corners of the Gaza Strip."
  • "It also demonstrates a costly legacy of Gaza's strongly patriarchal culture that prods women into first-cousin marriages and allows polygamy....In the midst of [Mohammed's] treatment, his mother abandoned Mohammed because her husband, ashamed of their son, threatened to take a second wife if she didn't leave the baby and return."

    The writer is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
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