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October 4, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Expert: Work Must Stop at Iran's Plutonium Reactor - Mitch Ginsburg (Times of Israel)
    Prof. Uzi Even, who helped build Israel's nuclear reactor in Dimona, said this week that in dealing with Iran, "The first thing is that all work must stop on the plutonium reactor in Arak. It cannot be allowed to become operable."
    The reactor in Arak, from the moment it begins working properly, would take one year to create enough plutonium for a bomb.
    On the other hand, a uranium-based bomb is difficult to miniaturize, Even said last year. The one dropped on Hiroshima weighed six tons. The Shahab-3, Iran's top inter-continental ballistic missile, can only carry a one-ton payload.
    Even also said last year he believed the Iranian regime had already covertly created the 20-25 kilograms of highly enriched uranium necessary to conduct a successful underground test.
    He suggested it either had to be removed or rendered inoperable for a bomb.

Iran Denies Cyber-War Chief Was Assassinated - Yeganeh Salehi and Dana El Baltaji (Bloomberg)
    Iran's Revolutionary Guards rejected reports that the head of the country's cyber warfare program had been assassinated.

Syria Keeps Moving in the Islamic Direction - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The formation of the Army of Islam in Syria on September 29, 2013, signifies the ongoing trend of the Islamization of the struggle against Bashar Assad's Alawite regime in Syria.
    Syria is becoming more and more Islamic as it moves between the pole of the Muslim Brotherhood, which aims to gradually implement Sharia law, and that of Jabhat al-Nusra, which is already implementing and enforcing it.

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Syria's Disneyland for Jihadists - Christoph Reuter (Der Spiegel-Germany)
    More than 1,000 jihadists are staying in and around Atmeh, a once-sleepy smugglers' nest on the Turkish border that has become a mecca for jihad tourists from around the world.
    When the foreign fighters are asked about their plans, they only mention Syria as a stage.
    "First there is jihad here, until we achieve victory! Then we will liberate Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine," says a young Arab from the UK.

Lebanon Is Occupied - by Hizbullah - Hussein Shobokshi (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Hizbullah has turned into a mercenary militia defending a foreign tyrant and his criminal regime, as well as terrifying Lebanese citizens and spreading terrorism across the world.
    Lebanon's airport is full of foreign flags and portraits of foreign leaders. It feels like you are in Qom or Kandahar, not Lebanon. Lebanon is occupied.
    Hizbullah has established a state within a state and has become indifferent to the Lebanese state, its security and military, its government, and its official policy. It is unresponsive to the instructions of the president or the prime minister.
    All of this proves that Hizbullah is "determined" to hijack Lebanon once and for all, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Israel Helping Make Nevada's Desert Bloom (Jspace)
    "Over the last year the Southern Nevada Water Authority has engaged with Israel's national water company Mekorot... focusing specifically on water quality and water security, waste water and recycled water, hydrology and joint research and technological development," said Uri Resnick, deputy consul general of Israel to the Southwest U.S.
    Gov. Brian Sandoval plans to lead a travel mission to Israel's Negev in October to learn more about how Israeli technology can help rejuvenate Nevada's farming industry.

Video: Black South African MP on Israel and Apartheid - Kenneth Meshoe (Prager University)
    Is Israel an apartheid state? Who better to answer this question than someone who lived in a real apartheid state?

Japan to Test Israeli Cancer Treatment System (Japan Daily Press)
    The Kameda Medical Center in Kamogawa City bought two systems worth $100,000, developed by Israeli company IceCure Medical Inc., to study their effectiveness in destroying cancerous lung tumors.
    The IceCure Medical system is based on the IceSense3, which was used to treat fibroadenoma breast tumors by injecting liquid nitrogen into the tumor. The system destroys the benign breast tumors without damaging the surrounding healthy tissues.
    The IceSense3 has already been approved in the U.S. and Europe.

Israel: World's No. 2 Startup Ecosystem (Forbes)
    According to the Startup Genome Project, Israel has the No. 2 startup ecosystem in the world.
    It has more startups per capita than anywhere else, and it has 61 companies on NASDAQ - more than Europe, Japan, Korea, and China combined.

Israel-Backed Plant Converts Natural Gas to Gasoline - David Shamah (Times of Israel)
    Primus Green Energy, owned by the Israel Corporation, on Wednesday opened a demonstration plant in Hillsborough, NJ, that will use natural gas to produce 100,000 gallons of gasoline a year.
    Primus' gasoline can compete effectively with crude oil at a price level of $65 per barrel. Crude oil is currently selling for $100 a barrel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. and Israel Share a Goal in Iran Talks, But Not a Strategy - Jodi Rudoren and David E. Sanger
    While Washington and Jerusalem have the same stated goal of stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, there is a growing chasm over what might be the acceptable terms for an agreement. Netanyahu's new mantra is "distrust, dismantle and verify," and in an interview with NBC News he insisted on "a full dismantling of Iran's nuclear program."
        Obama has not recently used the word "dismantle" in his own public comments. Instead he has simply said that Iran must prove its program is peaceful in nature. That decision not to declare publicly that Iran must destroy much of what it has built "really riled the Israelis on their trip," according to one former senior American official who met with some of them.
        There is also a continuing divergence on how far Iran is today from developing a bomb. Netanyahu has chosen an aggressive interpretation of the evidence, that Iran is a few weeks or months from producing a weapon, while the White House maintains it remains a year or two away. (New York Times)
  • State Dept. Urges Congress to Delay New Iran Sanctions - Paul Richter
    Wendy Sherman, the State Department's third-ranking official, urged senators Thursday to delay tough new Iran sanctions legislation until after upcoming negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, for fear of undermining the talks. "We do believe it would be helpful for you to at least allow this meeting to happen on the 15th and 16th of October before moving forward to consider these new sanctions," Sherman, the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
        She said the administration doesn't necessarily object to new sanctions, and would be willing to work with Congress after the meeting to determine what kind of sanctions might build additional pressure on Iran. Administration officials have been happy to use the threat of sanctions to try to build pressure on Iran to agree to a nuclear deal. A House bill that was passed in July and is now pending in the Senate would cut Iran's oil exports almost to zero.
        "The fundamental large sanctions that we have in place should not disappear anytime soon, unless all of our concerns are addressed by the Iranians," Sherman said, adding: "we know that deception is part of the [Iranian leadership's] DNA."  (Los Angeles Times)
  • Netanyahu to BBC Persian: Iranian People "Deserve Better"
    Israel's prime minister says Iranians "deserve better" than their current government and that their lives could get worse if it gains nuclear weapons. In an interview with BBC Persian, Benjamin Netanyahu warned: "If they get nuclear weapons this brutal regime will be immortal, like North Korea." He also said the new president, Hassan Rouhani, could not "change the real decisions" made by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (BBC News)
  • Weapons Inspectors Arrive in Syria - Ryan Lucas
    An advance team of disarmament experts arrived in Syria on Tuesday to begin laying the foundations for a broader operation charged with dismantling and ultimately destroying President Assad's chemical program over the next nine months. International inspectors hope to start onsite inspections next week. (AP-ABC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: U.S., Israel Discussing "Verifiable" Iranian Steps on Nuclear Program - Herb Keinon
    The U.S. and Israel are discussing what steps Iran could take that would be "verifiable and meaningful" and indicate that it is indeed stopping its nuclear program, Prime Minister Netanyahu said before leaving the U.S. on Thursday. "What we're talking about right now," he said, was "what are the meaningful actions that will do the job."
        The prime minister said Israel did not object to testing the diplomatic route. His biggest concern was that the talks could lead to a partial deal providing Iran with sanctions relief in return for minor concessions that would not materially hurt its nuclear infrastructure. He also stressed that Tehran was developing intercontinental ballistic missiles to hit the U.S., since it already had the missile capacity to strike Israel.
        Netanyahu said Iran was controlled by a "cult," and likened it to a suicide bomber. "We've had a lot of them," he explained. "The suicide bomber, as he's driving on the way to board the bus, he obeys the traffic laws, he says the right things. Once he gets on the bus, bam."
        Regarding peace negotiations with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said that when Israel left Lebanon and Gaza, it received Iranian proxies in return. "We cannot have it happen a third time, so we have to have a different arrangement. And that arrangement will mean that Israel will have to have a long-term military presence along the Jordan River to prevent this area, this Palestinian state, from being perforated by Iranian agents from Jordan."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Discussing Iran Nukes with Arab Officials - Aaron Kalman
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been supervising a series of "intensive meetings" with prominent figures from a number of Gulf and other Arab states in recent weeks in an attempt to muster a new alliance to block Iran's drive toward nuclear weapons, Israel's Channel 2 TV reported Wednesday. One "high-ranking official" even came on a secret visit to Israel, the report said. The Arab and Gulf states involved in the new talks have no diplomatic ties with Jerusalem, the report noted. (Times of Israel)
        See also Israel Negotiating Historic Alliance with Saudi Arabia over Iran's Nuclear Weapons - Umberto Bacchi (International Business Times-UK)
  • EU Envoy "Confident" of Agreement with Israel on Settlement Guidelines - Herb Keinon
    Andreas Reinicke, the EU's Middle East envoy, told the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that he was "confident" Israel and the EU would come to an agreement regarding the EU's settlement guidelines that would enable Israel's participation in the Horizon 2020 R&D project. The two sides face a late November deadline for resolving the technical details.
        One Israeli official said that while the Europeans were unlikely to change the language of the guidelines, the focus now is on the interpretation of that language. Numerous European governments have made it clear that they want the issue resolved to enable continued Israeli participation in EU projects. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Israeli Ambassador: "Our Margin for Error Is So Small" - Joby Warrick
    Retiring Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren discussed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in an interview: "Here you have an Iranian leader who comes from inside the regime - he was chosen by the supreme leader as one of the selected candidates. He has boasted in the past that he has lied to the West, that he smiled and installed centrifuges."
        "We do believe that a diplomatic solution can be reached. But it can only be reached on the basis of the Iranians actually doing something....Diplomacy has been going on for decades. The position of the international community has moved and become consistently more flexible. And the Iranian position has not moved a millimeter."
        "For us, the Iranian nuclear program is an existential issue....If Iran gets the bomb, they're going to put it on top of a rocket, and the rocket will be fired at Israel....We're a very small country. As the Iranian moderate [former president Akbar Hashemi] Rafsanjani has said, 'Israel is a one-bomb country.' And we are."  (Washington Post)
  • To Avoid the Use of Force, Be Ready to Use It - Einat Wilf
    The ancient Romans said: "he who wants peace must prepare for war." To successfully implement this doctrine, three components must be in place: the capability to use force, projection of a true willingness to use it, and a deep desire to avoid doing so. Prepare for war too much and you risk instigating the very war you wish to avoid; prepare too little and you risk encouraging aggression through weakness and appeasement.
        An artful balancing act is needed to reach a successful diplomatic outcome. Building the capacity to use force and conveying the willingness to use it can easily lead outsiders to mistakenly interpret such acts as the policies of reckless leaders itching for war. When Netanyahu gave his now famous speech at the UN a year ago, charting a red line to Iran's nuclear weapons program, his speech was not about how to go to war - it was about how to avoid it. His message was that a clear red line to Iran, backed by a credible military threat, was necessary for diplomacy to work.
        The fact is that diplomacy alone was not going to achieve the aim of curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions. Diplomacy backed by force had a fighting chance. The writer is a former member of the Israeli Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. (CNN)
  • If There Really Is a Fatwa, There's No Need to Negotiate about Anything - Lee Smith
    Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has said he is against nuclear weapons - he even wrote a fatwa against them. Some Americans and Israelis say they can find no evidence that the fatwa really exists. Obama sees the fatwa as a hopeful sign.
        It's confusing, because if there's really a fatwa, then it's not obvious why the U.S. president is making such a big deal out of negotiations over a nuclear program that Khamenei's fatwa supposedly says Iran can't have in the first place. If there's a fatwa, then that solves everything. If Khamenei is to be taken at his word that a nuclear bomb is un-Islamic, then there's no more need to negotiate about anything. (Weekly Standard)
  • Iran Is Worried - Dan Margalit
    The Israeli military threat will bolster, not weaken, America's hand at the negotiating table. Iran's grin hides its concern about the fact that Netanyahu's speech showed that Israel and the U.S. have moved closer to having the same red line regarding Iran's nuclear program. Netanyahu said that, even in a worst-case scenario in which it is left standing alone against Iran, Israel would not give up the military option. Iran understands this well. (Israel Hayom)
  • There Is No Diplomatic Route with Iran, Just a Blind Ally - David Horovitz
    Netanyahu has no time for Rouhani's we're-no-threat-to-anyone platitudes. He is certain that Tehran is fooling the international community, and that the regime is duplicitously seeking to attain and retain nuclear breakout status - with the means and the material to make a dash for the bomb when it so chooses. Yet for Obama, there is a readiness to play out the diplomatic track. The Israeli prime minister can hardly contemplate military action so long as the president is engaging with Iran. (Times of Israel)

  • Other Issues

  • When Israel Was Scared of Angering the White House - Yossi Klein Halevi
    As Israeli leaders weigh their response to the tentative dialogue between Tehran and Washington, which they regard as an Iranian ruse, the invisible presence at the cabinet table in Jerusalem will be the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. In declassified testimony just released, Meir explained why she hadn't ordered a pre-emptive airstrike against Arab forces in October 1973, though she knew by Oct. 6 that an invasion would happen within hours. She feared losing American support. "I am scared," she recalled telling her cabinet. "We will not receive necessary assistance when we have the need for it."
        Meir's restraint was vindicated by an American airlift of military aid during the war. Yet her decision not to order a strike, along with the army's failure to respond to earlier intelligence warnings by drafting reservists, almost resulted in Israel's first military defeat. The inevitable conclusion is that Israel must be willing to defend itself even at the risk of international isolation.
        As Tehran moves ever closer to a nuclear-weapons capability, the most compelling lesson of the 1973 war for Israelis may be Meir's hesitation to launch a pre-emptive strike against an imminent threat. The writer is a senior fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. (Wall Street Journal)
  • What Abbas Missed in His UN Speech - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Last week Mohamed Shtayyeh, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, revealed that 250,000 out of the 600,000 Palestinians in Syria have been forced to flee their homes since the beginning of the conflict there. Yet in his speech at the UN General Assembly, PA President Mahmoud Abbas largely ignored the plight of these Palestinians, choosing instead to direct his criticism at Israel. Nor did he utter a word about Lebanese and Egyptian mistreatment of Palestinian refugees, or the fact that nearly 2,000 Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured in Syria in the past two years.
        Abbas' speech showed that the Palestinian Authority leadership considers construction of new housing units in Jerusalem neighborhoods as being more serious than the displacement of a quarter million Palestinians. (Gatestone Institute)
  • How the EU Funds Settlements in Occupied Territory - in Northern Cyprus - Eugene Kontrovich
    The EU claims it has an obligation to keep its money from going to Israeli entities in the territories. Yet the EU provides substantial direct financial assistance to settlements in occupied territory - in Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus. The EU's official policy is that the Turkish occupation is illegitimate and it does not recognize the Turkish government in Northern Cyprus. Nonetheless, the EU maintains an entire separate program to direct funds to Northern Cyprus.
        Pursuant to a 2006 regulation adopted by the EU to "end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community," it allocated 259 million euros over five years, and now provides an annual 28 million euro allocation for scholarships for students, developing the private sector, infrastructure improvements, and funding to upgrade "cultural heritage" sites.
        The EU is doing exactly what its claims international law prohibits in the case of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Indeed, the EU maintains an office in Northern Cyprus to oversee its over 1,000 grant contracts whose primary and intended beneficiaries are Turkish settlers. The writer is a professor at Northwestern University School of Law. (Kohelet Policy Forum)

  • Weekend Features

  • Book Review: Israel's 55th Paratroop Brigade - Elliott Abrams
    In Like Dreamers, Yossi Klein Halevi tells the story of modern Israel - from 1967 to the present day - from the point of view of seven soldiers in Israel's elite 55th Paratroop Brigade. "I thought about interviewing veterans of the battle of Jerusalem," he writes. "How had the war changed their lives?" He has spent the past 10 years following their lives. The title of the book comes from the 126th Psalm: "When the Lord returned the exiles of Zion, we were like dreamers."
        Halevi explains, "For Jews to have learned to fight so well, so soon after they died in their helpless millions, was an affirmation of their life force. The world hadn't changed: not only was Auschwitz possible, but so was an assault on its survivors. No matter: the Jews had changed."
        Then, in 1973, Israel was caught by surprise on Yom Kippur. "It was the fifth war in Israel's twenty-five years of existence." The 55th Brigade pushed the Egyptians back from Sinai and crossed into Egypt. But these were no longer the youngsters of 1967: "Most of them were now in their late twenties and early thirties, married with children."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • How Many More Palestinian Women Have to Be Murdered? - Amira Hass
    25 Palestinian women have been murdered in Gaza and the West Bank this year, with 7 murdered in September, according to figures released by the Women's Center for Legal Aid and Counseling, an independent Palestinian NGO in Jerusalem. When a woman is murdered, people immediately ask "what did she do," said an activist with the center. "They don't ask that when a man is murdered."
        The center refuses to use the term "honor killing." Attorney Latifa Swekhell and Nabeel Dweikat of the center say the murderer, or whoever is behind the murder, often uses the term to cover up the real motive. These murders stem from women's inequality in a patriarchal society, where they are seen as the man and family's property.
        A report published by the center, Women Without Names, details 29 murders and nine "suicides" the center investigated during 2007-2010. 17 of the victims were murdered by their father, brother or husband. Six others were murdered by another relative. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Hamas MP Entangled in Palestinian Honor Killing - Naela Khalil
    On Sept. 20, 51 members of the Zeidan family in the village of Deir al-Ghusun near Tulkarem in the West Bank, including the Hamas deputy in the Legislative Council, Abdel Rahman Zeidan, signed a statement condemning the behavior of a female family member, Thamar Zeidan, 33, for "disgraceful and outrageous acts." The following day, the woman's father strangled her with a wire. (Al-Monitor)
  • The IDF Shines - Eytan Buchman
    Every soldier in the IDF fights their own individual battle. It may be a battle of restraint, facing a killer combination of cinderblocks and camera lenses. It can be a battle of vigilance, as a tired 21-year-old stares at a screen in an intelligence facility along the Syrian border. It can be a battle of solitude, as a driver transports a tank to a godforsaken base. But what keeps them going, what kept me going, is the burning faith that my military is one that shines.
        My military is one that does not need international law because the moral standards we hold ourselves to extend farther than that law ever could. It is a military extending medical aid to a sworn enemy. It is a military that will hold its fire, putting itself in mortal peril, because the person crouching by a rocket launcher may be a farmer rather than a terrorist. The author recently concluded his military service as the IDF spokesperson to North American media. (Jerusalem Post)

Now Is Precisely the Time to Turn Up the Pressure on Iran - Nehemia Shtrasler (Ha'aretz)

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the main, perhaps the only, force behind putting Iran's nuclear program on the global agenda. Were it not for him, Europe's leaders and U.S. President Barack Obama would have closed their eyes - and awakened one morning to a nuclear Iran.
  • Israel was the only country Iran threatened to destroy. Without Netanyahu's pressure there would have never been tough sanctions, sanctions that led to economic collapse, the steep devaluation of the Iranian rial and crippling inflation that reduces the value of workers' salaries by the day.
  • The truth is that now is precisely the time to turn up the pressure on Iran, to get it to pivot from words to deeds. For 20 years now Tehran has been playing the West for a fool, promising to permit inspections while enriching uranium, talking about civilian energy needs while developing detonators and missiles that can carry nuclear warheads.
  • The sanctions must not be relaxed, even slightly. Instead, Iran must be forced to relinquish all of its nuclear-bomb manufacturing capacity.
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