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The (Social) World in Which Israel and Hamas Do Converse : Joshua Mitnick, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 22, 2013
The Last of the Sheiks?: Christopher M. Davidson, New York Times, Oct. 20, 2013
“I think a partial deal that leaves Iran with these capabilities is a bad deal…you wisely insisted there wouldn’t be a partial deal with Syria, you were right. If (Syrian President Bashar) Assad had said, ‘I’d like to keep 20 percent, 50 percent, or 80 percent of my chemical weapons capability,’ you would have refused — and correctly so.”— Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at a private meeting in Rome. (Washington Post, Oct. 23, 2013)
“I’ve worked in this field for a long time, and I’ve studied the history. I know of no analogous period. I’ve never seen so many disagreements on so many key fronts all at once. And I’ve never seen such a willingness on the part of the Saudis to publicly express their frustration…Iran is the number one issue — the only issue for Saudi policy makers. When you add up the whole Middle Eastern map — Syria, Iraq, Iran — it looks to the Saudis as if the US is throwing Sunni allies under the bus by trying to cut a deal with Iran and its allies.” — Michael Doran, a Middle East expert with the Brookings Institution who served on the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration, commenting on Saudi Arabia’s rejection of a UN Security Council seat and criticism of US foreign policy in the Middle East. (Daily Telegraph, Oct. 23, 2013)
“The greater the pressure, the greater the chances for diplomacy to succeed…It would be unwise, to say the least, to ease the pressure on Iran before you get a final and satisfactory solution to the problem…The Iranians are trying to save the Iranian economy and to save their nuclear project. They’re trying to have them both, to save them both, and to manoeuvre in order to get this,” Mr. Steinitz said. “And the world should tell them, enough is enough. … If you decide to proceed with your military nuclear project, you will destroy the Iranian economy, and maybe expose yourselves to military attack…and there is no third way. Nothing in between. No place to manoeuvre…Canada is very influential and can exercise its influence elsewhere – in Europe, in China, in America, in Russia, and elsewhere. It’s very important. And I know that the Canadian government is already doing so.” With Iran, he said, the world must stop its military nuclear program, and only pressure will work. “This is the main working tool. Actually the only tool, why give it up before satisfactory results?” — Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, in Canada this week for meetings with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. (Globe & Mail, Oct. 20, 2013)
“Given Iran’s refusal to halt its illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs, the Senate should immediately move forward with a new round of economic sanctions targeting all remaining Iranian government revenue and reserves.” — U.S. Senator Mark S. Kirk, an Illinois Republican and Iran hawk. (New York Times, Oct. 18, 2013)
“Anyone who seeks to harm Israel should know it is more powerful than meets the eye”, President Shimon Peres said Tuesday during a visit to the Palmahim Air Force base. Commenting on the IAF’s hidden strength, and hinting to Iran and other enemies of Israel, Peres said: “The full power of the army and the air force is not visible to the naked eye, but anyone who is disdainful of Israel and plans to attack us, should take this into account.” —Former President Shimon Peres, speaking on Tuesday, Oct. 22. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 22, 2013)
“In December 2010, Nigeria experienced its first wave of terrorist bombings at Christian churches. In 2011, we had our first-ever suicide car bombing, at the United Nations headquarters here. The explosion rattled my nearby office building. Flinging myself on the floor, I assumed it was an earthquake. A bomb was still the last thing on my mind. Just a few years ago, we thought terrorism was something that happened in faraway countries, like Israel. Now we know differently; the threat hangs over us all the time. Some weeks ago, shortly before Nigeria’s independence day, I received a mass text message. Nigeria was going to turn 53 years old a few days later, on Oct. 1, and there were concerns that the [Islamist] terrorist group Boko Haram might have planned something special to mark the big day in the country’s capital city. “Dear All,” the message read, “The Diplomatic Missions in Abuja have received a security alert today morning from the Federal Govt requesting everyone to stay indoors and not to visit any shopping malls or public places which is crowded for the next few days. Please inform all your dear ones!” — Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, Nigerian author of the novel I Do Not Come to You By Chance, in a New York Times op-ed piece. (New York Times, Oct. 23, 2013)
“In an hour, we will bury a soldier who was murdered by a Palestinian so that his body could be traded and a terrorist could be released from jail, this is a tactic that, unfortunately, has been used in the past. 1,500 Israelis were killed after Israel signed a peace accord with the Palestinians. These are the fruits of peace” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, expressing skepticism about the current round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, calling it “another political process our allies think will bring peace.” —Ya’alon was speaking with Christian lawmakers from around the world at the Israel Allies Foundation’s Jerusalem Chairman’s Conference. (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 23, 2013)
“I grew up with the words, ‘never again,’ it is kind of inconceivable that there are people who say the Holocaust didn’t exist. George Horner is a living contradiction of what those people are saying.” (Ma) said Horner was able to survive “because he had music, because he had friends, because the power of music could fill in the empty spaces. To me George Horner is a huge hero, and is a huge inspiration, he is a witness to a window, and to a slice of history, that we never want to see again, and yet we keep seeing versions of that all over the world. I hope we are inspired by that and we keep that memory forever.” —world renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma speaking about George Horner, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor who made his orchestral debut with Ma on Tuesday to benefit a foundation dedicated to preserving the work of artists and musicians killed by the Nazis. (The Times of Israel, Oct. 23, 2013)
FROM THE PAST: “The Zionists want only one thing, Jewish immigration; and this Jewish immigration is what the Arabs do not want. This means that [Zionist colonization] can proceed and develop only under the protection of a power that is independent of the native population – behind an iron wall, which the native population cannot breach. In this matter there is no difference between our ‘militarists’ and our ‘vegetarians.’ Except that the first prefer that the iron wall should consist of Jewish soldiers, and the others are content that they should be British.”— Revisionist Zionist Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote in The Iron Wall (1923) (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 22, 2013)
JERUSALEM’S SECULAR MAYOR FENDS OFF STRONG CHALLENGER TO WIN REELECTION—(Jerusalem) Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem — a former high-tech venture capitalist who has been fighting to maintain the city’s secular and less strictly religious population — won reelection here as final votes were counted early Wednesday and his opponent conceded. Barkat faced a strong challenger, Moshe Leon, who was supported by two powerful political brawlers — and strange bedfellows: Avigdor Lieberman, founder of a nationalist, sometimes even anti-rabbinical party created to represent the interests of Russian-speaking Israelis, and Aryeh Deri, the leader of the Shas party, which serves ultra-Orthodox Jews whose roots are in the Middle East and North Africa. Leon’s loss will reflect less on the candidate and more on his patrons Lieberman and Deri, who are seen by supporters as political kingmakers in Israel — a designation that could take a hit after his defeat. Barkat’s political base is built upon the middle-class, center-right Jerusalem Jews who are less strict in their religious practices than the ultra-Orthodox residents, who now make up about one-third of the city. (Washington Post, Oct. 22, 2013)
TRADITION OF NOT VOTING KEEPS PALESTINIANS POLITICALLY POWERLESS IN JERUSALEM—(Jerusalem) As part of a broader “anti-normalization” campaign, the Palestinian leadership has for decades warned residents against casting ballots. So a vast majority do not vote, despite the possibility that their large numbers could win a solid blocking minority on the 31-member City Council, if not a winning coalition with sympathetic Israelis. “The whole thing is not really rational,” said Sari Nusseibeh, president of Al Quds University, whose family has 1,300-year roots in Jerusalem. “It’s not by reason that people are guided; it’s by sentiments and feelings and fears and histories.” Mr. Nusseibeh once advocated Palestinian voting, backing an Arab newspaper publisher who ran for mayor in 1987 but withdrew after his cars were burned and his home vandalized. Yet Mr. Nusseibeh himself has never voted here, either. (New York Times, Oct. 21, 2012)
YA’ALON: WEST BANK SEEING ‘INFECTIOUS’ WAVE OF TERROR ATTACKS,’ BUT NO SIGNS OF INTIFADA— (Hebron) Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Tuesday warned that an "infectious wave of terror attacks" was being seen in the West Bank over the past month, but said he did not see signs of a third intifada. Speaking during a tour of Hebron, Ya'alon said that six terror attacks had taken place in the West Bank over the past month, but added that they were carried out by individuals and did not have an organization such as Fatah or Hamas behind them. Ya'alon blamed continued incitement by the Palestinian Authority for the attacks. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 22, 2013)
ISLAMIC JIHAD PLANNER OF BUS BOMB KILLED IN EXCHANGE OF FIRE WITH IDF—(Tel Aviv) An Islamic Jihad member, who took part in the planning of a 2012 Tel Aviv bus bombing during Operation Pillar of Defense, was killed in an exchange of fire with the IDF at a cave hideout near the West Bank village of Bil’in, security forces announced on Tuesday. Muhammad Asi, of the Palestinian village of Bet Likya, was one of the planners of the bus attack that injured 29 civilians in Tel Aviv, the IDF said. The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) spent months tracking down his location, before homing in on his hideout in the cave, where he had been staying for several weeks. Launching an operation to apprehend him early on Tuesday, the Shin Bet, IDF, and Israel Police circled the cave, a senior army source said, and came under fire. Soldiers fired two LAV anti-tank missiles in response, killing Asi. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 22, 2013)
BOMBER TIED TO AL QAEDA KILLS DOZENS IN SYRIAN CITY— (Beirut) A suicide bomber detonated a truck filled with propane tanks at a crowded military checkpoint in central Syria on Sunday, killing more than 30 people, most of them civilians, in the second such attack by fighters linked to Al Qaeda in two days. The attack, which was reported both by the state-run news media and by antigovernment activists, shook the city of Hama, ignited dozens of cars and sent up a column of smoke visible for miles around. One activist said the secondary explosions of bursting gas tanks had continued long after the initial blast. Activists said the Nusra Front, one of the two Qaeda affiliates fighting alongside the rebels who seek to topple President Bashar al-Assad, was responsible for the attack. The bombing followed a similar attack that killed 16 soldiers east of Damascus the day before, suggesting an increasing reliance on suicide attacks to try to break government strongholds that the rebels are unable to take by conventional means. More than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria in two and a half years of conflict. (New York Times, Oct. 20, 2013)
TORONTO TRANSIT TURNS DOWN ‘INACCURATE’ ANTI-ISRAEL ADS— (Toronto) The Toronto Transit Commission rejected four anti-Israel advertisements for being “inaccurate and misleading.” Brad Ross, a spokesman for the transit commission, [said] Monday that the ads were turned down because they were “inaccurate and misleading.” The ads were intended to run on buses and subways, as well as the commission’s shelters. Proposed by the Montreal-based Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, the ads were similar to the “Disappearing Palestine” ad that ran this summer in Vancouver’s transit system. The Vancouver ad showed four maps, spanning from 1946 to 2012, that suggested Israel was taking over Palestinian land. The CJPME ads claimed that Palestinian “loss of land” has been “unfair” and “illegal under international law.” “Our legal opinion,” Ross said, “is that there has never been a finding by any international court or tribunal with respect to the illegality of loss of land, and by making that statement, it potentially could cause discrimination or advocate hate towards a specified group, in this case Israelis and/or the Jewish people.” Ross said the four ads contained similar language, maps and the line “illegal under international law.” He said “the real legal issue” for the transit commission “was a statement that we determined to be either inaccurate or misleading.” (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 22, 2013)
ISRAEL’S NEWEST GENERAL, 100 YEARS OLD, FINALLY HEALS HIS WOUNDS—(Tel Aviv) Israel’s newest general, a 100-year-old man who received his longed-for promotion in August, was exasperated. Seated on the couch in his Kfar Yona home, beyond earshot of his in-house caretaker, he lamented the roller coaster of calm and crisis on Israel’s southwestern border. “Give me Gaza,” Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yitzhak Pundak said, “and I’ll do just what I did back when I was the governor.” That was in 1971. At the time, Pundak said, the locals would ask his permission to play soccer. They’d ask him to ref the matches. The border was quiet. The train ran daily from Gaza to Tel Aviv. Terror, he went on, would be met with a firm hand. Here’s what he would not be doing: fortifying more Israeli homes and bombing tunnels. “People fire at you and you bomb their tunnels. “How nice,” he said in his broad Polish accent, stretching the Hebrew vowels. “How nice.” No, he would open up the Strip and offer residents ample employment, and he would wage war each time a rocket was fired on Israel to force the Palestinians “to sit quietly.” “But I’m 100 years and 2 months old. What do I know?” (Times of Israel, Oct. 21, 2013)
The (Social) World in Which Israel and Hamas Do Converse: Joshua Mitnick, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 22, 2013—Officially, Israel and Hamas don’t talk. In the so-called Twitterverse, however, the two sworn enemies engaged in a rare, but brief, dialogue on Tuesday. The direct exchange began with a tweet by Lt. Col. Peter Lerner. The Israeli army’s foreign media chief spokesman defended an arrest operation reported Tuesday in which a Palestinian accused of involvement in a 2012 bus bombing was killed in the West Bank.
The Last of the Sheiks?: Christopher M. Davidson, New York Times, Oct. 20, 2013— This summer, disgruntled Saudis took their grievances online in droves, complaining of ever-growing inequality, rising poverty, corruption and unemployment. Their Twitter campaign became one of the world’s highest trending topics. It caused great alarm within elite circles in Saudi Arabia and sent ripples throughout the region. The rallying cry that “salaries are not enough” helped to prove that the monarchy’s social contract with its people is now publicly coming unstuck, and on a significant scale.
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