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April 11, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Lists Egyptian Group as Foreign Terror Organization - Samuel Rubenfeld (Wall Street Journal)
    The U.S. State Department said Wednesday it listed Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, an Egyptian group created following the uprisings in 2011, as a foreign terror organization.
    The group is responsible for attacks on Israel, as well as security services and tourists in Egypt.
    Egypt applauded the U.S. move.
    See also Terrorist Designation of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (State Department)
    See also Video Shows Suicide Bomber Who Killed 16 in Egypt (AP-Washington Post)
    A video by the al-Qaeda-inspired Egyptian group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (Champions of Jerusalem) posted online Thursday shows a suicide bomber attacking a security headquarters in the city of Mansoura, an assault that killed 16 people in December.

House Follows Senate in Passing Bill to Bar Iran's UN Pick from Entering U.S. - Ashish Kumar Sen (Washington Times)
    The House, in a unanimous vote, passed a bill Thursday that prevents individuals found to be engaged in espionage, terrorism or considered a threat to national security from entering the U.S.
    The Senate passed a similar bill earlier this week which would bar Hamid Aboutalebi, who Iran named as its permanent representative to the UN.
    Aboutalebi was in the student group, Muslim Students Following the Imam's Line, which stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.
    The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature.
    The U.S. usually must grant visas to other countries' choice for permanent representative to the UN, but it has restricted the movement of some foreign diplomats.

Israel Gave My Grandmother Sanctuary after Holocaust, Says UK Labour Leader Ed Miliband - Peter Beaumont (Guardian-UK)
    Ed Miliband, the first Jewish leader of the Labour party, is visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories as part of a three-day visit.
    At the Hebrew University in Jerusalem he talked of first visiting his grandmother in Israel as a seven-year-old and spoke of his gratitude to the country for providing a sanctuary for her.
    "For me, Israel is the homeland for the Jewish people, and the reason I put it in those terms is because it is not just a theoretical idea for me, it's my family's experience."
    See also Ed Miliband Visits Jerusalem Memorial to Holocaust - Steven Swinford (Telegraph-UK)
    Ed Miliband spoke on Thursday about how the lives of 17 of his relatives were saved during the Holocaust by the Vos family in southern Belgium, as he met the son of a woman who sheltered alongside his family members from the Nazis.
    During a visit to Israel, the Labour leader spoke about the "incredible courage" of a family who sheltered his aunt, uncle and more than a dozen other relatives, and saved them from being deported to concentration camps by the Nazis.
    More than 60 members of Miliband's family were killed during the Holocaust, including his maternal grandfather.

French Jews See New PM as a Hero - Cnaan Liphshiz (JTA)
    When teenagers started throwing stones at Jews walking to synagogue in Evry, France, in 2002, Manuel Valls, then the mayor of the Paris suburb, did more than issue a condemnatory news release. Valls, who became prime minister last week, joined the weekly synagogue walk, signaling that the Jews had a powerful ally.
    To many French Jews, Valls is something of a hero for his unusually robust defense of Israel and the French Jewish community.
    At a speech last month by Valls at a rally marking the two-year anniversary of the slaying of four Jews in Toulouse, Valls said that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.
    Valls has explicitly linked his pro-Jewish views to his Jewish wife, the violinist Anne Gravoin, saying in 2011 that his marriage connected him "in an eternal way" to Israel and the Jewish people.

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Israel Demands Dismissal of "Anti-Semitic" UN Official - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    Israel has requested the UN dismiss Undersecretary-General Rima Khalaf, a Jordanian national, for anti-Semitic statements she made in an official report accusing Israel of conducting ethnic cleansing, Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor said Wednesday.
    Israel says the report compares it with Nazi Germany, because it claims: "Israel's adamancy that it is a Jewish state...violates the rights of both the Muslim and Christian indigenous populations and revives the concept of state ethnic and religious purity, which caused egregious human suffering during the twentieth century."

Infighting between Rival Islamic Rebel Groups in Syria Kills 68 (AP-Washington Post)
    Recent infighting between rival Islamic rebel groups in eastern Syria has killed 68, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
    Rebels from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have been fighting the Nusra Front in oil-rich Deir el-Zour province. The Observatory said 51 fighters died in fighting around the town of Bukamal on Thursday.

Moroccan National Plotted to Fly Bomb into Connecticut Federal Building - Michael P. Mayko (Connecticut Post)
    El Mehdi Semlali Fahti, 27, a Moroccan national, was arrested Monday by FBI agents for plotting to turn a radio-controlled model airplane into a drone-like flying bomb and crash it into a school and a Connecticut federal building.
    Fahti told an undercover agent in five recorded conversations that he studied the bomb attack operation for months, and had made a chemical bomb while in high school in Morocco, court documents charge.
    Fahti is accused of making false statements seeking political asylum while facing deportation to his native Morocco.
    In one recording, Fahti says he "laughs because he cannot believe the judge believed him" in allowing him to seek refuge in the U.S. for political reasons.

The Myth of the Thirsty Palestinian - Akiva Bigman (The Tower)
    The President of the European Parliament caused a minor scandal when he accused Israel of denying water supplies to the Palestinian population.
    However, when one examines the relevant data, it becomes clear that, under Israeli rule, the Palestinian water supply has become larger, more technologically sophisticated, of higher quality, and much easier to access, almost entirely due to Israeli efforts.
    At the end of Jordanian rule in 1967, the West Bank Palestinians received 65 million cubic meters of water per year. Five years after the Israeli takeover, the water supply grew by 50%.
    By the time the Oslo Accords were signed in 1995, the Palestinian water supply reached 120 million cubic meters per year. By 2010, water consumption had reached 190 million cubic meters per year.
    Some 97% of the Palestinian population is now connected to the territory's water system, for the most part, directly to their own homes.
    According to the Accords, Israel is required to supply 31 million cubic meters per year to the Palestinians. In 2012, Israel provided 53 million cubic meters to the Palestinian water supply.

A Smartphone Battery that Recharges in 30 Seconds - Dario Borghino (Gizmag)
    On Monday at Microsoft's Think Next symposium in Tel Aviv, Israeli startup StoreDot demonstrated the prototype of a nanodot-based smartphone battery it claims can fully charge in under 30 seconds.
    With the company having plans for mass production, this technology could change the way we interact with portable electronics, and perhaps even help realize the dream of a fast-charging electric car.
    StoreDot produces nanodots, chemically synthesized bio-organic peptide molecules that improve electrode capacitance and electrolyte performance. The end result is batteries that can be fully charged in seconds rather than hours.

Israeli Firm to Develop Water Master Plan in Kenya - Wanjohi Gakio (The Star-Kenya)
    The Israeli Tahal firm will develop a water master plan with the Nyandarua county government for a water supply, a sewage system and water treatment.
    The Tahal Group, a multinational engineering company that specializes in water and waste-water systems, developed the master plan for Jerusalem's waste-water treatment system.

Arab-Israeli Wins Israel's "Master Chef" (JTA)
    Nof Atamna-Ismaeel, 33, an Arab-Israeli microbiologist, won the fourth season of Israel's reality show "Master Chef," Israel's most-watched television show, on Sunday.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Receives Palestinian Letters on International Conventions - Michelle Nichols
    The UN said Wednesday it has received 13 letters from Palestinian officials for accession to international conventions and treaties. Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour said their accession to those treaties will come into force within 30 days. The Palestinians became eligible to sign on to the treaties after the UN General Assembly upgraded the Palestinians' status at the UN in 2012 from "observer entity" to "non-member state."  (Reuters)
        See also Palestinians Join Geneva Convention - Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury
    The Swiss Foreign Ministry said Thursday that it had received the Palestinian request to join the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Swiss added that Palestinian membership will become effective immediately. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel to Withhold Palestinian Tax Fees
    The Israeli government will stop transferring tax money to the Palestinians in retaliation for their recent drive for further UN recognition, an Israeli official said Thursday. The Palestinians owe Israeli companies hundreds of millions of dollars for electricity and other services. The Israeli official said Israel would deduct the Palestinian debt against its monthly transfer of tax money that it collects for the Palestinians. Israel transfers about $100 million a month to the Palestinians. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Arab League Pledges $100 Million a Month to PA - Daniel Siryoti
    PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said Wednesday that the Arab League has promised a "financial safety net" of $100 million per month in the event that the Palestinians suffer from economic sanctions following the collapse of talks. (Israel Hayom)
  • Jordan Assists Rebels in Syrian War - Ben Hubbard
    During three years of civil war in Syria, Jordan has quietly provided a staging ground for rebels and their foreign backers on Syria's southern front. When rebels want to return to Syria to fight, Jordan's intelligence services give them specific times to cross its border. When the rebels need weapons, they make their request at an "operations room" in Amman staffed by agents from Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. But this covert aid has been limited, reflecting the Obama administration's reluctance to get drawn into another Middle Eastern conflict. (New York Times)
        See also Report: U.S. Urges Israel to Attack Syrian Forces Threatening CIA-Trained Rebels in Golan
    Western diplomatic sources said the Obama administration has urged Israel to stop a Syrian Army advance toward U.S.-trained rebels sent from Jordan who captured a Syrian Army outpost at Tel Al Ahrar in the Golan Heights last month, Middle East Newsline reported. The sources said this marked the first U.S. request for Israel's military to intervene in Syria. (
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Makes New Offer to Extend Peace Talks with Palestinians - Yuval Bagno
    Sources in Jerusalem confirmed Thursday that Israel has presented the Palestinians with a new package aimed at extending peace talks. A diplomatic source said that "if the Palestinian Authority agrees to stop its plans to join a number of international treaties and conventions, Israel will agree to a new prisoner release package in return for the continuation of negotiations until the end of the year at a minimum."
        "At the same time the U.S. mediator sent a message to Israel: the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard from a U.S. prison is still a possibility the U.S. administration will consider, if the sides reach a deal that includes Israel freeing terrorists," the sources said. The sides are still not close to an agreement due to the Palestinian demand that Israel freeze settlement construction and due to the fact that agreement has not been reached on the details of a new prisoner release deal.
        Sources in Jerusalem said: "The crisis which we are trying to get out of is the full responsibility of the Palestinians, but the prime minister is not interested in a breakdown in talks, and his goal is to seek their extension."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Still No Agreement to Extend Peace Talks - Herb Keinon and Khaled Abu Toameh
    After a meeting Thursday between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, a knowledgeable source said there has been no breakthrough in the negotiations, but the sides are continuing to talk to see if it is possible to break the impasse. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel Aims to Deport Palestinian Veteran Prisoners to Gaza
    Israeli negotiators suggested to deport to Gaza 10 of the veteran prisoners expected to be freed by Israel, but the Palestinian side refused to discuss thet proposal, a senior official said Thursday. (Ma'an News-PA)
  • Ending the Three-Way Talks May Be Healthy - Mitch Ginsburg interviews Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan
    Former Israeli national security advisor Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan suggested that if there is a rise in terror as a result of the end of the American-sponsored talks, this would simply mean "that Israel has to take security into its own hands....It's not dramatic."
        Instead, the more significant results of the end of the trilateral talks, he said, would be unpleasant "but healthy." The unpleasantness revolved around the realization that the Palestinians under Abbas are incapable of reaching an end-of-claims agreement, and the understanding that the very presence of American officials in the negotiating room dooms the negotiations to failure because it prompts both sides to negotiate with the Americans rather than with each other.
        "The chances of reaching a final status solution are next to nil," he said. But when this round of talks expires, Israel and the PA could well sit down again, without the U.S., and reach a deal for peaceful coexistence. (Times of Israel)
  • Gaza Mortar Explodes in Israeli Community - Gadi Golan
    A mortar fired by Palestinians in Gaza exploded and damaged infrastructure in a community in southern Israel on Wednesday. "The fact that no one was wounded was just a matter of luck," a local resident said. The incident was part of continued sporadic rocket and mortar fire emanating from Gaza and aimed at nearby Israeli communities. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • U.S. Policy and the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse - Robert Satloff
    While diplomacy may be on life support, it is not necessarily dead. The real challenge for Israel is to sustain important security and economic relations with the PA while battling the PLO on the international political and diplomatic front.
        A look at the specific UN conventions Abbas signed suggests a long-term strategy is at work. The problem with this strategy is that it does not get the Palestinians any closer to statehood. Just as Israelis seek Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state because only the Palestinians can provide the legitimacy they seek, so too one would expect the Palestinians to do everything possible to maintain negotiations with Israel because it is the only actor that can provide the most basic ingredient of statehood - land.
        A Palestinian strategy of internationalization puts Israelis on the defensive. Israel is not without assets, however, including relations with key governments, international institutions, and private corporations that are more resilient than many believe. The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Israel Will Never Walk Away from Negotiations - Jonathan S. Tobin
    The Middle East peace process isn't quite dead yet. Talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are still taking place. Nevertheless, the Palestinians haven't really budged an inch on any substantive issue since the talks re-started last year. They have already demonstrated that they are only interested in forcing Israel to pay for their presence at the table with concessions like the release of terrorist murderers or building freezes in the West Bank or even Jerusalem.
        But if the Palestinians do keep talking after April, there's no doubt that the Israelis will be there too. Prime Minister Netanyahu understands that Israel must never walk away from negotiations no matter how futile they are. If Netanyahu is, despite everything, going to keep showing up every time the Americans beckon, it's because he has the unpleasant task of managing a conflict that can't be solved by peace or war.
        Though President Obama and Kerry laud Abbas as a man of peace, his unwillingness to speak of an end of the conflict indicates that he is no more willing to compromise and accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders were drawn than Arafat was. (Commentary)
  • Europe's Unaccountable Palestinian Aid - Michael Theurer
    The EU is today the largest donor to the Palestinian Authority, but European lawmakers have a duty to ensure that EU funds aren't diverted from the noble purpose for which they're intended. In its report, issued in December, the European Court of Auditors revealed major dysfunctions in the management of EU financial support to the PA, and called for a serious overhaul of the funding mechanism. The PA is the only body that receives EU funds regardless of its human-rights record or economic performance.
        The court revealed that, since 2007, "a considerable number" of PA civil servants in Gaza have received their salaries partly funded through EU aid - even though they "were not going to work due to the political situation in Gaza." How exactly can the EU preserve its credibility back home when it pays salaries to people who don't work, while millions of European citizens are unemployed?
        Moreover, there is reason to believe that EU financial assistance has allowed the PA to use its own general budget to pay salaries to Palestinian prisoners convicted of terrorism offenses. These salaries are up to five times higher than the average salary in the West Bank. The writer is chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control. (Wall Street Journal Europe)
  • Palestinians Must Come to the Table for Peace - Alan Dershowitz
    Israel lawfully captured the West Bank from Jordan in a defensive war. The land at issue was never part of a Palestinian state. While the Palestinians want it, unless they are prepared to negotiate with the Israelis, they can't get it. Possession is 9/10th of the law, and in this case, 9/10th of morality as well. Those who seek a change in the status quo have the burden of coming forward and showing a willingness to negotiate. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Militants in Jenin Believe Peace Process Is at an End - Robert Tait
    Former gunmen who surrendered their weapons after the intifada have declared themselves ready to resume the armed struggle and are urging Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president, to abandon negotiations. They also want him to end the security cooperation with Israel.
        Mohammed Abu Ali, 30, a veteran of the second intifada who still receives a PA salary as a reward for giving up his gun, said militant groups rejected the non-violent popular resistance strategy advocated by Abbas and other Palestinian leaders. "We believe in [armed] resistance," he said. "The truce that was signed in 2005 [with the end of intifada] will be over on April 29....There will be no extension of the negotiations. The al-Aqsa Brigades don't want negotiations anymore. If they extend, we won't honor it."
        However, Yasser Kasarweh, 41, owner of the Bisan computer store in Jenin, said, "If the talks end, things will remain as they are. There will be no third intifada because people are tired and don't want to get involved. If they don't work, they will starve. I'm still suffering from the last intifada."  (Telegraph-UK)
  • Pity the Palestinians? Count Me Out - Norman Podhoretz
    Everyone is so busy weeping over the allegedly incomparable sufferings of the Palestinians that hardly a tear is left for the tribulations of other peoples. This picture of the Palestinian plight is nothing short of grotesquely disproportionate.
        In Syria, untold thousands of fellow Arabs are starving, while in South Sudan, 3.7 million people, amounting to one-third of the population, are now facing imminent death by starvation. And the Palestinians? True, when they wish to go from the West Bank into Israel proper, they are forced to stop at checkpoints and subjected to searches for suicide vests or other weapons in the terrorist arsenal. But no Palestinians in the West Bank are dying of starvation. Nor is anyone facing the same fate in Gaza today.
        Three times in the past 15 years the Palestinians have refused offers of a state on most of the territory taken by Israel in 1967 and with Jerusalem as its capital. What they truly want is not a state of their own living side by side with Israel, but a state that replaces Israel altogether. The writer was the editor of Commentary magazine from 1960 to 1995. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Updating the Palestinian Narrative - Adi Schwartz
    If Israel is expected to give up strategic territory, it has to be assured that a peace agreement with the Palestinians puts an end to all future demands. If the Arab side continues to dream about dismantling the Jewish state - and to act accordingly - it makes no sense for Israel to give up territory. Only a crystal clear message from the Arab side that the conflict is over, merits ceding territory. Such a clear message means acknowledging that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and will remain so.
        Arab officials correctly observe that such recognition would mean accepting the Israeli narrative regarding Jewish rights over some of the land. Indeed, a peace agreement and a process of reconciliation would necessitate an update of the Arab narrative that views the entire land as exclusively Arab and Muslim. (i24 News)

  • Iran

  • Defining a Bad Agreement with Iran - Ephraim Asculai
    Besides giving in to Iran by avoiding all major points that were imperative in the UN Security Council resolutions concerning Iran, the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) agreed upon in November studiously avoided adding any demands that would clarify the outstanding issues and bring about a halt, albeit temporarily, to Iran's unrelenting progress toward the reduction of the potential timetable of producing a first nuclear explosive device.
        How much time is needed, in a realistic situation, before a breach of Iran's obligations is discovered, reported and responded to? This period should be as long as possible so as not to enable Iran to "break out" and produce a first nuclear device and test it without being found out beforehand. Assigning a year to this period is probably much too low. Two years is a much more rational and acceptable time.
        The issues are too serious for vagueness. Every case of non-compliance has to be dealt with promptly. The Iranians have the experience and the temerity to exploit each and every weakness and use it to deceive, distort and circumvent in order to arrive at the desired result. Any agreement that does not take these possibilities into account, and ignores the fact that Iran has been (and probably still is) seeking a military nuclear capability, will be a bad one, and should be avoided at all costs. The writer is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Inside Iran - Paul Mcgeough
    Iran is a nation squeezed in, first by a religious straitjacket that for 35 years has restricted the lives of its 77 million citizens, and second by the vice-like clamp of international sanctions aimed at disrupting its advancing nuclear program. The economy here is really suffering.
        "Show-trial" actions by the U.S. Treasury, alleging sanctions-busting deals by some of the world's biggest banks, have proved highly effective. Britain's Barclays was hit with a $176 million fine in 2010, the London-based HSBC for $375 million in 2012, and the Dutch bank ING for a whopping $619 million in the same year. More than 145 banks in 60 countries have been warned off and virtually the entire global shipping business sailed in the other direction.
        By one account, tens of thousands of automotive workers have been laid off, caused partly because of a shortage of parts. Drive around Tehran, and virtually every construction site appears to be at a standstill. Earnings from the export of oil and gas have more than halved. Government salaries can go unpaid for weeks at a time. (Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
  • European Dual-Use Exports to Iran Continue - Soeren Kern
    Although the EU bans the export to Iran of certain dual-use machinery and technology that could be used to aid Iran's military program, loopholes abound and enforcement remains patchy. The illegal transfer of dual-use equipment to Iran continues unabated, due to the failure of European governments to adequately understand the deceptive methods used to conceal the illegal trade in security-related goods to Iran, according to a 2013 study on penalties and prosecutions of dual-use offenses in Europe.
        A confidential UN Panel of Experts report that was leaked to the media concludes: "Iran continues to seek items for its prohibited activities from abroad by using multiple and increasingly complex procurement methods, including front companies, intermediaries, false documentation, and new routes. These require additional vigilance and expertise on the part of states in order to identify suspicious transactions." The writer is a senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute and at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estrategicos. (Gatestone Institute)

  • Israel and China

  • Israel and China, Win-Win - Amos Nadai
    At a time when U.S. support for Israel is under pressure and there is rising animosity and hatred towards Israel in Europe, among the Chinese leadership and public there exists a broad base of support for Israel, in a society that has never known anti-Semitism and believes in the Jewish genius. China views Israel as a model to emulate. Israel's per capita GNP and number of Nobel prizewinners in the sciences are a source of respect among the Chinese.
        The Chinese are undergoing economic and social processes that Israel can contribute to. There is no reason that Israel, with its unique abilities and advantages for the Chinese, should pass up such serious commercial opportunities. The possibilities are practically endless. The writer was Israel's Ambassador to China (2007-2012) and head of the Asia and Pacific Division of the Israel Foreign Ministry. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 8April2014)
  • China Helping to Build Railroad through Israel Linking Red Sea with Mediterranean
    Israel and China are forging ahead with a new freight rail link through Israel that could provide an alternative to the Suez Canal. The project would connect the 300-plus kilometers between Eilat on the Red Sea and Ashdod Port on the Mediterranean. The Israeli cabinet recently decided to fast-track the Red-Med project. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "It's the first time we'd be able to assist the countries in Europe and Asia to make sure they always have an open connection."
        Ilan Maor, a former Israeli consul to Shanghai, says China's involvement in the project "shows the Chinese government [and] Chinese companies believe that Israel holds a significant potential for business cooperation." The EU is China's number-one trading partner, so easy access to the continent is very important.
        According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Egypt's political uncertainty has left the Sinai Peninsula a "lawless zone for jihadists and Bedouin militias," highlighting a rocket-propelled-grenade attack last August on a Chinese-owned container ship in the Suez Canal. Lloyd's insurance market has even recommended that ships take the 6,000-mile route around South Africa instead. (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
  • Chinese Investments in Israel: Opportunity or National Threat? - Yoram Evron
    Chinese activity in Israel is unexceptional, and is rather part of a global phenomenon, given China's increasing participation in the global economy. Still, Chinese activity around the globe and especially in the West arouses suspicion. Yet any attempt to thwart China's interest in Israel will not only block economic resources but will also deny Israel useful political means at a time when China's involvement in the Middle East is on the rise. The writer is a research fellow at INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv)
  • China in the Middle East - David P. Goldman
    China's attitude to the world beyond its borders is governed by self-interest, which mainly means arrangements conducive to the flow of trade. Outside of that, the Chinese have no wish to become imperial masters. They do not particularly like other cultures and other peoples, believing their own to be the best and most virtuous, and do not wish upon themselves the trouble of ruling them. In private conversation, Chinese officials insist that they are content to follow the American lead in such matters as Iran's nuclear program.
        China is Saudi Arabia's biggest trading partner and will depend on Saudi oil indefinitely. It buys hydrocarbons from Iran, but far less. China has more to lose from regional instability than any other country, given its energy dependency. If it wished to put pressure on Iran, it surely could, by a number of means. (PJ Media)

  • Other Issues

  • Israel-Russia Ties Strong Despite Ukraine - Paul J. Saunders
    Israel decided not to vote on a March 27 UN General Assembly resolution on the situation in Crimea. Israel was far from alone. Some 93 countries did not support the resolution and just 100 supported it. The Israeli government's unwillingness to confront Moscow over Crimea makes sense, given Israel's generally cooperative relationship with Russia based on growing economic ties, substantial tourism (600,000 Russian tourists visited Israel last year), and similar approaches to combating Islamic extremist terrorism.
        Israel's attitude is widely regarded as having contributed to then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's decision to suspend the delivery of already-contracted S-300 missiles to Iran in 2009. For Israel, Russia has too many connections to the Middle East - in Syria and Iran, with the Palestinians, and increasingly with Egypt too - to be safely ignored, much less gratuitously annoyed. The writer, executive director of the Center for the National Interest, was a State Department Senior Advisor during the George W. Bush administration. (Al Monitor)
  • Violence Is Disproportionate in the Muslim World - Ayaan Hirsi Ali
    On Tuesday, Brandeis University revoked its invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali to receive an honorary degree in May after protesters accused her of being "Islamophobic." Here is a version of the remarks she planned to deliver:
        In Syria, at least 120,000 people have been killed, not simply in battle, but in wholesale massacres. Violence is escalating in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Libya, in Egypt. Organized violence in the world today is disproportionately concentrated in the Muslim world.
        Another striking feature of the countries I have just named, and of the Middle East generally, is that violence against women is also increasing. In Saudi Arabia, there has been a noticeable rise in the practice of female genital mutilation. In Egypt, 99% of women report being sexually harassed and up to 80 sexual assaults occur in a single day.
        The connection between violence, particularly violence against women, and Islam is too clear to be ignored. We do no favors when we shut our eyes to this link, when we excuse rather than reflect. So I ask: Is the concept of holy war compatible with our ideal of religious toleration? Is it blasphemy - punishable by death - to question the applicability of certain seventh-century doctrines to our own era?
        It is only through truth, unsparing truth, that your generation can hope to do better than mine in the struggle for peace, freedom and equality of the sexes. The writer is a fellow at the Belfer Center of Harvard's Kennedy School and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Weekend Features

  • Palestinian Entrepreneur Sees Israel as Ally, Not Foe - David Shamah
    Ramallah-based entrepreneur Hani Alami told the Times of Israel: "Economically, there is no reason the two sides cannot cooperate, and in fact that would benefit both the Israelis and Palestinians." Alami runs Coolnet, a Ramallah-based Internet service provider that specializes in bringing service to rural areas where broadband is afraid to venture. The Coolnet site unhesitatingly lists several Israeli partners, including Radwin, Radcom, RadVision and Ceragon. For Alami, partnering with Israeli firms - and with Israelis - is natural. (Times of Israel)
  • High Israeli Birthrate Unique in Developed World - Paul Morland
    In the 1990s Israeli Jewish women were having on average a little over 2.5 children. Today, when other advanced populations in the Mediterranean area have seen fertility rates plummet, the average Israeli Jewish woman has a little over three children. By international comparison, this is astonishing. It is twice the level of Greece and more than twice the level of Italy, Germany or Spain. In no developed country besides Israel does the level approach three.
        Meanwhile, the family sizes of Israel's neighbors have started to fall, rapidly. Egyptian fertility rates are now about the same as those of Israel and falling. Today, Iranian women have more than one child fewer than Israeli Jewish women. In the 1960s, Israeli Muslim women were still having nine children. Today, Muslim Israeli women have around three and a half children. Arab Christian and Druze women have a fertility rate of a little above two. The writer is an Associate Research Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • Intelligent "Wrapping Paper" Heals Broken Bones in Half the Time - David Miller
    The time it takes to heal a broken bone may soon be cut in half thanks to an intelligent "wrapping paper" from Israeli company Regenecure. The "wrapping paper," technically called a membrane implant, enables bones to heal faster and more evenly by attracting healing stem cells and fluids while keeping soft tissues from growing around the broken bone.
        The membrane looks and feels like plastic wrap, it can be cut with a pair of scissors to fit any bone in the body and is naturally absorbed into the body after 10 months. The material has already been used in dental procedures to replace bone grafts. (Yahoo)
  • Israeli Tech Turns Jellyfish into Paper Towels - David Shamah
    Cine'al Ltd., an Israeli nanotechnology start-up, is developing technology to turn jellyfish into "super-absorbers," suitable for use in diapers, tampons, medical sponges, even paper towels. During spring and early summer, millions of jellyfish appear near Israeli beaches, making swimming next to impossible.
        "One-third of disposable waste in dumps consists of diapers," said Ofer Du-Nour, president of Cine'al. Highly-absorbent products are made of synthetic materials. The challenge was to find a bio-degradable material that was at least as absorbent. TAU researchers found the solution in jellyfish.
        Using nano-materials, jellyfish are converted into Hydromash, which absorbs high volumes of water and blood in seconds. The process also adds nano-particles which allow for the addition of anti-bacterial and tissue-healing attributes, flexibility, colors, scents and more. The result is a product that absorbs several times its volume, bio-degrades in less than 30 days, and can compete with synthetics on price. (Times of Israel)

"Occupied Territories" Is a Flawed and Biased Term - Alan Baker (JTA)

  • When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie apologized for using the term "occupied territories" to refer to the West Bank, Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" ridiculed the apology, insisting that the phrase is "widely accepted" and accurate.
  • While the term is indeed widely used, that doesn't make it accurate. Indeed, the term is legally, historically, and factually flawed. Determination that the territories are Palestinian or that they are occupied is based on incorrect and partisan readings of the factual situation and of the relevant international legal documentation.
  • The historic and legal rights of the Jewish people to this territory renders it unique, involving a basic indigenous Jewish presence since at least 1500 BCE, long before the arrival of Islam in the 7th century CE.
  • These rights have been acknowledged and encapsulated legally and historically in official, binding, and still valid international documents: the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the 1920 San Remo Declaration, the 1922 League of Nations Mandate, and the 1945 UN Charter.
  • Thus, by any objective criteria, the status of the territory is "disputed," subject to an agreed-upon negotiation process between Israel and the Palestinians. Demands that Israel withdraw to the "1967 lines," which are in effect the 1949 armistice demarcation lines, are equally flawed and misleading. Such demands attempt to prejudge an open negotiating issue.
  • Efforts to assign the territory to the Palestinians, prior to a successful conclusion of the negotiating process, or to deny the rights and status of Israel, demonstrate nothing more than political ignorance and bias.

    The writer, former legal counsel to Israel's Foreign Ministry and Israel's ambassador to Canada, is director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
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