Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

 

Contents:  Weekly Quotes |  Short Takes On Topic Links

 

 


Download a pdf version of today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf

 On Topic Links

 

 

Why Most of the Mass Media Can’t Report Honestly on Israel—or Other Middle East Issues: Barry Rubin, Rubin Reports, Nov. 4, 2013   

Iran's Nuclear Program Is Still Growing, and America's Fist Is Shrinking: Robert Satloff, New Republic, Nov. 25, 2013

The Hidden Cost Of The Iranian Nuclear Deal: Michael Doran, Brookings, Nov. 24, 2013

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

The Iranian Foreign Affairs Office issued an announcement Tuesday that calls the wording of the Geneva agreement distributed to the media by the White House “invalid…what was published on the White House’s website as facts is a one sided interpretation of the agreement that was signed in Geneva” — Marziya Afham, spokeswoman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry. “Some of the wording in the document that was published contradicts the agreement Iran reached with the world powers…One of the reasons the talks between the sides took longer was the Iranian insistence on precision in wording” Afham added. (Jerusalem Online, Nov. 27, 2013)  

“Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world,” ­— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also denounced the interim Iranian nuclear pact signed by the P5+1 as a “historic mistake” that does little to reverse Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Netanyahu repeated a reference to his own red line regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions plainly stating, “Israel will not allow Iran to develop a military nuclear capability.” (Washington Post, Nov. 24, 2013)

The Geneva pact signed by the P5+1 “brings us to a nuclear arms race.” — Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman added that “The world has to understand that this is the biggest diplomatic victory Iran has had in recent years…there's no doubt the agreement recognizes Iran’s right to enrich uranium.” (Washington Post, Nov. 24, 2013)

"No, there is no right to enrich…we do not recognize a right to enrich. It is clear in the NPT, in the Non-Proliferation Treaty, it's very, very clear, that there is no right to enrich." ­— U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry insisted. After the agreement had been signed, there was a disagreement over one of its central provisions: the right to enrich uranium. (CBN News, Nov. 25, 2013)

At odds with Kerry, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani sees the right to enrich uranium as the keystone of the agreement. "No matter what interpretations are given, Iran's right to enrichment has been recognized in the text of the agreement," — Rouhani declared. "And for that reason, I announce to the Iranian nation that Iran's enrichment activity will continue as before." (CBN News, Nov. 25, 2013)

“Since 2002…the Agency has become increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.”  — IAEA report, published Nov. 14, 2013, detailing the current state of Iran’s nuclear program.  (Weekly Standard, Nov. 26, 2013)

“Journalists and headline writers who characterized Geneva as a “freeze” or “halt” of Iran’s nuclear program have a strange definition of these words. When Jack Lord or Telly Savalas caught up with a bad guy, pulled a revolver and yelled “freeze” or “halt,” the culprit wasn’t being told to “keep moving, just more slowly”; he was being told to stop—or else. Geneva, however, does not stop Iran’s nuclear program. Under the agreement, thousands of centrifuges will continue to spin and produce enriched uranium, though within defined limits…few commentators have focused on what may be its most consequential aspect—an apparent promise that, at the end of the process, Iran may eventually be able to enrich as much uranium as it wants, to whatever level it wants…Washington and its partners are on record now agreeing that the final accord will allow Iran to enrich uranium, putting the last nail in the coffin of six United Nations Security Council resolutions calling on Iran to suspend its enrichment activities, even temporarily; and that any limitations the final agreement may impose will not be final at all but only for “a period to be agreed upon.”— Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (New Republic, Nov. 25, 2013)

“On the nuclear question specifically, I don't see this as stage one. In my view, there will never be a final agreement. What the administration just initiated was, rather, a long and expensive process by which the West pays Iran to refrain from going nuclear. We are, in essence, paying Ayatollah Khamenei to negotiate with us. We just bought six months. What was the price?…I see the deal as a deceptively pleasant way station on the long and bloody road that is the American retreat from the Middle East…we shredded the six United Nations Security Council resolutions that ordered the Islamic Republic to abandon all enrichment and reprocessing activities.” — Michael Doran, Senior Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution (Brookings, Nov 24, 2013) 

Canada is “deeply skeptical” of the weekend deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program — Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird commented Sunday. Baird added that “We have made-in-Canada foreign policy…We think past actions best predict future actions, and Iran has defied the United Nations Security Council and defied the International Atomic Energy Agency. Simply put: Iran has not earned the right to have the benefit of the doubt.” (Globe & Mail, Nov. 24, 2013)

"There may be light at the end of the tunnel, but it's a long tunnel,"  — said a senior U.S. Treasury official in response to the announcement of sanctions relief for Iran negotiated in Geneva over the weekend. "So any business, any bank, any broker, anybody who thinks it's open season to go into Iran today I think is sorely mistaken. We will enforce these sanctions and if someone thinks…it's time to jump back into Iran with both feet, they're just wrong." (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 26, 2013)

"As we go forward…the resolve of the United States will remain firm, as will our commitments to our friends and allies—particularly Israel and our Gulf partners, who have good reason to be skeptical about Iran's intentions." President Barack Obama sought to reassure America's partners in the region during his announcement of the “temporary” accord. (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 24, 2013)

"I think this is potentially a significant moment, but I'm not going to stand here in some triumphal moment and suggest to you that this is an end unto itself," — Secretary of State John Kerry, in a rare moment of restraint following two days of concentrated negotiations in Geneva. (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 24, 2013)

“We, the Jews, collectively rejected God and hung Him up on a cross to die, and thus we deserved the punishments that were heaped on our heads over the last 2000 years.” —Anonymous post on the student-run Harvard Ichthus Christian blog website. The website later apologized for the post, stating that its blogs are “intended to be areas of thoughtful dialogue…this particular piece has led to increasing misunderstanding and disinformation about the author’s views, the Ichthus, and Christianity…we do acknowledge that many of the claims of Christianity are offensive to those who do not believe it, but we think that much of the offense that has resulted from this article is not the offense of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And for that we apologize.” (Ha’aretz, Nov. 26, 2013)

Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, “is one of the world’s top Jewish writers and intellectuals, a Holocaust survivor who for decades has worked to keep alive the memory of the Holocaust across the world and is the leading figure in the United States of America on the subject,” ­— statement from the office of former Israeli President Shimon Peres. Peres awarded his Presidential Medal of Distinction to Wiesel in an emotional ceremony in New York on Monday
The President’s Medal of Distinction is the highest civil medal given by Israel. It was first presented on March 1, 2012, and is awarded to people who have made an outstanding contribution to the State of Israel or to humanity, through their talents, services, or in any other form. (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 26, 2013)

 

SHORT TAKES

 

ALLIES FEAR A U.S. PULLBACK IN MIDEAST — (Washington) America's allies in Israel and Saudi Arabia view the new nuclear agreement with Iran with a mixture of unease and alarm. But for some in the skeptics' camp, the broader concern extends well beyond the preliminary nuclear deal. Their underlying worry is that the negotiations with Iran represent just the latest evidence that a war-weary U.S. is slowly seeking to close the books on a series of nettlesome long-term problems, allowing Washington to pull back from its longtime commitment to the Middle East. (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 24, 2013)

EUROPE WILL BENEFIT ECONOMICALLY FROM IRAN ACCORD — (Berlin) The European Union stands to reap major economic benefits from the interim agreement with Iran over resolving Tehran’s nuclear program. As part of the agreement between the major powers and Iran, key areas where sanctions relief is provided are the lucrative automobile trade and access to its foreign reserves. The French-born Israeli Emmanuel Navon told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, “This temporary relief will benefit European car manufacturers that currently export to Iran, such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Rover, Audi, Volkswagen, Renault and Peugeot.” (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 2013)

IRAN: CONSTRUCTION WILL CONTINUE AT ARAK SITE — (Tehran) Iran will pursue construction at the Arak heavy-water reactor, Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif was quoted as saying on Wednesday, despite a deal with world powers to shelve a project they fear could yield plutonium for atomic bombs. France, one of the six powers that negotiated Sunday's interim pact with Iran, said in response to Zarif's statement that Tehran had to keep to what was agreed in the Geneva talks. Western powers fear Arak could be a source of plutonium – one of two materials, along with highly enriched uranium, that can be used for the core of a nuclear weapon – once it is operational. (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 27, 2013)

KARZAI REJECTS CALL FOR QUICK DECISION ON U.S. TROOP AGREEMENT — (Kabul) The Afghan government said Friday it would not be bullied by the United States into quickly signing a security agreement, stoking tensions that could unravel plans to keep thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014. One day after Afghan President Hamid Karzai shocked the Obama administration by telling an assembly of tribal elders and activists that he would not sign the bilateral security agreement until spring, he resisted calls to reconsider his timetable. Through a spokesman, Karzai said Afghans would decide the matter on their own terms and that the has no plans to sign the accord until after the country elects a new president on April 5. (Washington Post, Nov. 22, 2013)

SYRIAN REBELS TAKE OVER COUNTRY’S BIGGEST OIL FIELD — (Damascus)  Syrian opposition fighters, including members of the Al-Qaeda affiliated jihadist Al-Nusra Front, seized the country’s biggest oil field on Saturday, reports Al Arabiya. “Fighters from Al-Nusra and other groups have taken the Omar oil field in Deir Ezzor province after clashes overnight,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Abdel Rahman said government troops had withdrawn from the field. The loss of the al-Omar oil field in the eastern Deir al-Zor province, if confirmed, could leave Assad’s forces almost completely reliant on imported oil in their highly mechanized military campaign to put down a 2-1/2-year uprising. (Al Arabiya, Nov. 23, 2013)

SYRIA GOVERNMENT CONFIRMS GENEVA PEACE TALKS ATTENDANCE —(Damascus)  The Syrian government has confirmed it will attend peace talks planned for January, but says it is not going in order to negotiate a handover of power. Its delegation to the talks in Geneva will receive direction from President Bashar al-Assad and dismissed the opposition's key demand that Mr Assad play no role in any transitional period. More than 100,000 people have died since protests against Mr Assad erupted in March 2011. Almost nine million others have been driven from their homes, around two-fifths of Syria's pre-war population. (BBC, Nov. 27, 2013)

NEW LAW IN EGYPT EFFECTIVELY BANS STREET PROTESTS — (Cairo) Egypt’s military-backed government has issued a law that all but bans street protests by applying jail time or heavy fines to the public demonstrations that have felled the last two presidents and regularly roiled the capital since the Arab Spring revolt. The new law, promulgated on Sunday, is the latest evidence of a return to authoritarianism in the aftermath of the military takeover that removed President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July. It criminalizes the kind of free assembly and public expression that many Egyptians had embraced as a cherished foundation of their new democracy after the 2011 ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. (New York Times, Nov. 25, 2013)

SUICIDE CAR BOMBING IN EGYPT’S SINAI KILLS ELEVEN OFF-DUTY SOLDIERS — (Cairo) A suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden car into one of two buses carrying off-duty soldiers in Egypt’s turbulent region of northern Sinai on Wednesday, killing 11 and wounding 37, security and military officials said. They said the suicide bomber struck when the two buses travelled on the road between the border town of Rafah and the coastal city of el-Arish. The explosion damaged both buses, the officials said. The soldiers belong to the 2nd Field Army, which is doing most of the fighting against Islamic militants waging an insurgency against security forces in Sinai. (Globe & Mail, Nov. 20, 2013)

TRUCK BOMB AT OUTDOOR MARKET IN IRAQ, OTHER ATTACKS KILL 48 — (Baghdad) A truck bomb tore through an outdoor vegetable market in northeastern Iraq, the deadliest of a series of attacks Thursday that killed at least 48 people, officials said. The explosion in the town of Sadiyah, some 140 kilometres northeast of Baghdad, is the latest in a wave of attacks that has swept across Iraq since April, pushing violence to levels unseen since the country teetered on the brink of civil war in 2006 and 2007. Meanwhile Thursday, a suicide bomber set off his explosives-laden belt at an army checkpoint in the town of Taji north of Baghdad, killing six soldiers and wounding 12, a police officer and a medical official said. (Globe & Mail, Nov. 21, 2013)

THREE PALESTINIAN SUSPECTS KILLED IN RAID — (Jerusalem) Israeli security forces shot and killed three suspected militants in a West Bank raid on Tuesday aimed at thwarting an attack on Israeli targets, the military and police said. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said troops opened fire on two of the militants in their vehicle, which was found carrying explosive devices and two guns. The military said a third militant was killed in a gunfight that broke out with Israeli forces. Israeli military sources said the militants were linked to a violent, ultra-conservative Islamist movement known as the Salafi Jihadis, which draw inspiration from Al-Qaeda. Militants tied to the movement are said to operate in the Gaza Strip and to a lesser extent the West Bank. The military said the movement has expanded its network in recent months and that arrests of other suspected militants took place earlier Tuesday in other areas of the West Bank. (Washington Post, Nov. 26, 2013)

HALF OF PALESTINIANS THINK PA ERRED IN RESUMING PEACE TALK WITH ISRAEL, POLL FINDS — (Jerusalem) Half of the Palestinians believe that the Palestinian Authority made a mistake when it decided to resume peace talks with Israel more than three months ago, according to a public opinion poll published Wednesday. The poll also showed that nearly 70% of Palestinians believe that the negotiations would not result in an agreement with Israel. One-third of respondents favored peaceful negotiations, while another one-third said that armed resistance was their preferred means. Twenty-seven percent said that they supported a “non-violent, peaceful resistance.” (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 27, 2013)

ISRAEL PUSHING FORWARD WITH SETTLEMENT PLANS — (Jerusalem) Plans to build 800 new housing units in the West Bank are moving forward, the Defense Ministry said Monday. The ministry said it had approved an initial planning stage for the housing earlier this month. The approval is an initial step in a protracted bureaucratic process and construction is not expected to begin for months. The approval came as Israel and the Palestinians conducted quiet, behind-the-scenes peace talks. The Palestinians want the West Bank, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, as part of a future state and oppose Israeli settlement building. (Times of Israel, Nov. 25, 2013)

FRANCE TO SEND 1,000 MORE TROOPS TO CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC — (Paris) France has said it will send an extra 1,000 troops to the Central African Republic (CAR) as pressure grows for outside intervention to arrest a chaotic sectarian conflict between Christians and Muslims. Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French defence minister, made the announcement a day after the UN warned of possible civil war in the CAR, where lawlessness prevails and armed groups have been accused of atrocities including killings, burning villages and the conscription of child soldiers. (The Guardian, Nov. 26, 2013)

NORWAY OFFICIAL WANTS TO “EDUCATE” JEWS AGAINST CIRCUMCISION — (Oslo) The anti-circumcision bill in Norway, which the country’s foreign minister vows will not become law, is being pushed by the country’s child welfare advisor who wants Jews and Muslims to understand that causing pain is tantamount to a sin far worse than violating the Jewish law of circumcision. New legislation on non-medical circumcision of boys under 18 is scheduled to be introduced before mid-April. “With good information about risk, pain and lack of health benefits of the intervention, I think parents from minorities would voluntarily abstain from circumcising children,” Anne Lindboe, Norway’s Children’s Ombudsmen, told the Norwegian Aftenpost daily last week. Her solution is simply to perform a “symbolic ritual,” presumably one in which the baby will not cry. (Jewish Press, Nov. 25, 2013)

MASTERPIECE LOOTED BY NAZIS INSTALLED AT L.A. MUSEUM — (Los Angeles) The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has welcomed the donation of a Baroque-era painting that was stolen in Italy by Nazis during World War II. The painting looted by the Nazis in 1944 was installed Monday at the museum’s galleries for European art after it was returned to its owner last week and promptly donated. The life-size figure of St. Catherine of Alexandria— painted in Italy around 1615 by Bernardo Strozzi — is a promised gift to the museum by Philippa Calnan, the original owner’s sole direct descendant. (New York Post, Nov. 27, 2013) 

CIA RECRUITED DOUBLE AGENTS AT GUANTANAMO — (Washington) The CIA used a secret base at Guantanamo Bay nicknamed 'Penny Lane' to turn some of Al-Qaeda's most dangerous terrorists into double agents, US officials have admitted. Inmates languishing under Guantanamo Bay's harsh regime were offered cash rewards, "hotel" style rooms and even pornography if they agreed to help the CIA track down and kill fellow Al-Qaeda operatives. The program, hatched when President George W Bush was in the White House, was potentially a huge gamble for the CIA, because of the risks that the "turned” inmates simply rejoined Al-Qaeda's ranks. (The Telegraph, Nov. 26, 2013)

TAMAR PARTNERS REPORT SIGNS OF NEW NATURAL GAS FIND — (Tel Aviv) Stakeholders in a potential new natural gas reservoir announced significant signs of hydrocarbons in the field, based on tests carried out during exploratory drilling trials. Although the partners involved in exploring the new field – called Tamar Southwest – have not announced an updated estimate as to the quantity of gas in the reservoir, before drilling began in August, they released a Tel Aviv Stock Exchange report on Tuesday estimating that the field would contain approximately 19 billion cubic meters of gas. (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 26, 2013)

ARCHEOLOGISTS DISCOVER OLDEST, LARGEST WINE CELLAR IN NEAR EAST — (Jerusalem) A team of archeologists unearthed what it describes as the “oldest and largest palatial wine cellar” ever discovered in the Near East. The cellar was found in a ruined palace near the sprawling Canaanite city in northern Israel called Tel Kabri. The site itself dates back to around 1,700 BCE and is located near Israel’s modern-day winemaking region in the Galilee and Golan Heights. “We found at least 40 large one-meter tall jugs that all hold at least 50 liters of wine, totaling 2,000 liters,” said Dr. Andrew Koh of Brandeis University, one of the leading archeologists on the discovery. (Algemeiner, Nov. 25, 2013)

On Topic Links

 

 

Why Most of the Mass Media Can’t Report Honestly on Israel—or Other Middle East Issues: Barry Rubin, Rubin Reports, Nov. 4, 2013 — Underlying any other factor regarding attitudes toward Israel in the Media-University-Government (MUG) complex  is the programmatic and ideological problem faced in honestly understanding and explaining Israel’s behavior.  

Iran's Nuclear Program Is Still Growing, and America's Fist Is Shrinking: Robert Satloff, New Republic, Nov. 25, 2013 — The blockbuster nuclear deal reached early Sunday morning in Geneva between Iran and the U.S.-led coalition is both less and more consequential than early reports suggest.

The Hidden Cost Of The Iranian Nuclear Deal: Michael Doran, Brookings, Nov. 24, 2013 — One's evaluation of the nuclear deal depends on how one understands the broader context of US-Iranian relations.

 

Rob Coles, Publications Editor, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research/L'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme,   www.isranet.org Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284. mailto:ber@isranet.org

 

 

 

 

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WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

Media-ocrity of the Week

 

Charges of anti-Semitism are not new to Richard Falk. A former Princeton University professor of international law, Falk has been publishing intermittently on Palestinian self-determination and what he considers Israeli military misdeeds for the past four decades.… To call Falk a ‘self-hating Jew,’ however, would imply that Falk harbors a deep discomfort with his Jewish identity, and that this anguish manifests itself as anti-Semitism in his personal life and academic work. In reality, Falk told the Forward, his criticism of Israel is less a reflection of his Jewish identity than his posture as an American leftist, perennially dedicated to history’s underdogs—in his eyes, the Palestinians.… In 2008, Falk was elected by the U.N. Human Rights Council…to be the special rapporteur to the Palestinian territories. The council itself has been roundly criticized by the United States, among others, as a biased body that focuses disproportionately on Israel.… Several [critics] pointed to [Faulk’s] essay on the ‘Palestinian Holocaust’…as evidence that he could not be an impartial observer in the West Bank and Gaza. ‘Comparison between the Holocaust and Israel is simply beyond the pale of reasoned discourse. It belongs to that genre of hate speech that includes claims that blacks are racially inferior, that women enjoy being raped and that all gays are pedophiles,” wrote…Alan Dershowitz in a December 2008 article.… ‘No one who holds such views should ever be appointed to a position of trust and responsibility that requires fair judgment and an ability to distinguish truth from falsity.…”—Excerpts from a Forward article written by Naomi Zeveloff, entitled “U.N. Official Answers Questions About Fierce Criticism of Israel,” which attempts to explain Richard Falk’s disgraceful anti-Israelism, which recently led the UN special rapporteur to “Palestine” to post a cartoon on his blog depicting “a [yarmulke- and Star of David-clad] dog chewing on a pile of human bones while lifting his leg to relieve himself on Lady Justice.” (Forward, July 21.)

Weekly Quotes

 

Long after the political tussles of this year’s federal election have been forgotten, Jack Layton’s courage and grace in leading his party when he was suffering from cancer will be recalled, and will inspire.… In his obvious love of politics, Mr. Layton is a match for any other leader. It comes across as an expression of love of life, which is why, perhaps, Canadians feel they know Mr. Layton in a way they may not know other political leaders. And it is why his illness is a reminder that, in a democracy, what unites us is much more important than disagreements over policies.… When he said on Monday he will step aside until September, to focus on his fight [against cancer], he was like one of those hockey players, one of the very grittiest, who is knocked down and is struggling to rise, and the announcer says, ‘If he’s down, you know he’s hurting real bad.’ All Canadians stand behind him in hoping he is back in September, or at some later date, to lead his party again.…”—Excerpts from a Globe & Mail editorial, entitled “The Personification of Courage and Grace,” describing NDP Party leader Jack Layton’s courageous battle against cancer [Layton’s New Democratic Party displaced the Liberals as the formal Parliamentary opposition in Canada’s recent federal election].The Canadian Institute for Jewish Research wishes Mr. Layton a full and speedy recovery. (Globe & Mail, July 26.)

 

Khaled Mouammar, President of the Canadian Arab Federation, has always had some fairly unhinged attitudes toward Israel. So maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that he is now distributing an article with the subject line “Possible Israeli Connection to Oslo Attacks.” The article—which appeared on the anti-Semitic (and occasionally Holocaust-denying) web site www.veteranstoday.com—concludes as follows: ‘Increasingly, it looks like [the] Mossad’s fingerprints are all over [the Norway killings].… Massive car bombs are one of their specialties. They’re experts at these type operations, using convenient stooges for plausible deniability, usually without their knowledge. Spread the word, and keep the pressure on Israel and its Washington paymaster/partner, masters of mass murder crimes.”—Excerpts from a Jonathan Kay article, entitled “President of Canadian Arab Federation spreads conspiracy theory that Norway attack was Israel’s handiwork,” describing an article written and distributed by Khaled Mouammar, president of the Canadian Arab Federation.(National Post, July 26.)

 

We are going to the United Nations because we are forced to, it is not a unilateral action. We have not been able to return to negotiations.… Our first, second and third choice is to return to negotiations.”—Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki, at a gathering attended by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, blaming the current “peace process” impasse on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “refusal to negotiate on the basis of the 1967 borders and to stop settlement [construction];” this despite the fact that Mr. Netanyahu has repeatedly called for “direct negotiations without preconditions” and stopped “settlements” for ten months. As recently as last week, in an interview with Al-Arabiya, Netanyahu affirmed: “I’m prepared to negotiate with [Palestinian Authority] President Abbas directly for peace between our two peoples right now. We can do it here in my home in Jerusalem, we can do it in Ramallah, we can do it anywhere.” (Independent Media Review and Analysis, July 21.)

 

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is upping the ante in the spat he precipitated with Israel about the Mavi Marmara last year. On Saturday, Erdogan issued an ultimatum that should the Israeli government not apologize by Wednesday for stopping the Turkish ship…Turkey will implement its ‘Plan B’ that might include an Erdogan state visit to Hamas-controlled Gaza.… Let’s hope Jerusalem does not buckle to Ankara’s threats. First, Erdogan’s demand that Israel apologize to Turkey is analogous to a burglar demanding compensation for being cut by broken glass during a break-in. Second, Israel’s willingness to consider concessions simply encourages the [U.S.] State Department and the European Union to demand further concessions.… Enhancing the irony of the current situation is Turkey’s willingness to engage uncritically with Hamas while at the same time loading its dialogue with Israel and, for that matter, many American Jews with demands. According to two separate sources in Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, the Turkish embassy in Washington maintains a blacklist of certain Jews with whom not to engage. The implication Erdogan and Turkish Ambassador Namik Tan make: Hamas terrorists are okay no matter how violent, but for Turkey, Jews are verboten.”—Excerpts from a Michael Rubin article, entitled “Turkey Threatens Israel,” describing Turkey’s hypocrisy in demanding that Israel apologize for last year’s Mavi Maramara incident prior to normalizing bilateral relations with the Jewish state. (Contentions, July 25.)

 

It’s a done deal for us.”—Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon, Wu Zexian, in a statement following a meeting with Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, reiterating China’s recognition of a Palestinian state, first expressed when the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was stationed in Tunis. China was among the first countries to recognize “Palestine” and immediately assigned an ambassador to the “state” when the PLO moved to the West Bank. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, July 25.)

 

Flotilla Folk want to be human rights heroes without really putting themselves in harm’s way. So they don’t go to help the victims of the brutal regimes in Syria, Iran, the Congo or Darfur. Instead, they choose to fight Israel because they know it strictly follows Western humanitarian standards and the rule of law. They get to pretend they are brave warriors, when in fact, they are only play-acting on a safe stage.… Flotilla Folk share a basic philosophy: They believe that the way to bring peace to the Middle East is through acts of civil disobedience that will get media attention, not through encouraging negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. They aren’t like ordinary people. They think it is okay to ignore terrorism against Israelis, to overlook the 8,000 rockets Hamas has fired from Gaza into Israeli communities over the past five years, turning everyday life into a lethal game of Russian roulette. They think it is okay to ignore the fact that Hamas is an Iranian proxy, and that Hamas’s founding document calls for the murder of Jews, the “obliteration” of Israel and its replacement with a fundamentalist theocracy that opposes all the freedoms and social justice values for which the Flotilla Folk claim to stand.… And they act as though it is okay to ignore the hate-filled incitement that saturates Palestinian society.… Fortunately, international leaders…in Greece exposed the hypocrisy of the Flotilla Folk and their false pretenses, and stopped them.…”—Excerpts from an article co-written by Roth Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs, entitled “What do ‘Flotilla Folk’ do?”, exposing the double standards of flotilla “activists,” who condemn democratic Israel while ignoring the crimes against humanity committed by the Hamas and other terrorist organizations. (Jerusalem Post, July 25.)

 

The main, immediate beneficiaries of what is known as the ‘Arab spring’ are Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. The riots in Egypt and the removal of Mubarak and his associates from power prompted two developments: First, the Muslim Brotherhood is no longer an underground movement and has become an important, influential political element. The group’s influence prompted Egypt’s government to… virtually suspended its battle against smuggling from Rafah to the Strip. Simultaneously, Egyptian security forces preoccupied with domestic developments completely lost their hold on the Sinai Peninsula. Some 300,000 Bedouins belonging to four or five large tribes are now the Sinai’s true rulers. These tribes’ main income is based on smuggling…and they quickly exploited the security vacuum in the peninsula in the wake of the revolution. As result of these developments, arms shipments to the Strip have been surging in recent months.… Hamas and Islamic Jihad hold thousands of mid-range Grad rockets, and a few heavy Fajr rockets that have a range of some 65 kilometers (roughly 40 miles) and can reach the outskirts of Bat Yam, just south of Tel Aviv.…”—Excerpts from a Ynet News editorial, entitled “Growing Threat in Gaza,” describing the massive build-up of arms in the Gaza Strip by jihadist terrorist organizations following the ouster of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak earlier this year. (Ynet News, July 21.)

 

This is a very terrible development. It was usual to hear this from the Mubarak regime because the elections were always fraudulent. [This] raises serious questions about the credibility of the coming election.”—Bahey El Din Hassan, director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, responding to the decision taken by Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the military junta presently ruling the country, to ban international observers for the first elections of the post-Mubarak era. Maj. Gen. Mamdouh Shahin, the council’s legislative adviser, said the ban was implemented on the grounds of national sovereignty.(Christian Science Monitor, July 21.)

 

During the 2008 campaign and throughout the subsequent debate over his health care legislation, President Obama used his mother’s experience as a cancer patient fighting to get coverage to pay for treatment for what her insurer said was a pre-existing condition as an emotional argument to sway skeptics. However, a new book by New York Times reporter Janny Scott has revealed this story appears to be a fabrication. The Times reports (in a story buried on page 14 rather than on the front page) that during the course of researching her book, ‘A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother,’ Scott uncovered correspondence showing ‘the 1995 dispute concerned a Cigna disability insurance policy and that her actual health insurer had apparently reimbursed most of her medical expenses without argument.’ In response to inquiries, ‘a White House spokesman chose not to dispute either Ms. Scott’s account or Mr. Obama’s memory, while arguing that Mr. Obama’s broader point remained salient.’”—Excerpts from a Jonathan S. Tobin article, entitled “Obama Lied About Mother’s Health Insurance Problem,” describing the U.S. president’s express willingness to lie about his mother’s fight against cancer to achieve political gains. (Contentions, July 14.)

 

I had the privilege of serving in the IDF as an officer and a fighter, but I am not a hero. I never stopped a tank with a Molotov cocktail, and I did not fight empty-handed in alleys and the sewage pipes.… Those with the courage to fight the evil Nazi empire are the real heroes. From the time of the State of Israel’s establishment, our fighters have been inspired by those who dared to rebel in the heart of the Nazi empire at the height of its power.”—Israeli Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, at a ceremony honoring the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, praising the courage and heroism of those who rose up against the Nazis, in a “rebellion [that] put fear in the hearts of SS soldiers, who hesitated to walk the streets of Warsaw.” (Jerusalem Post, July 27.)

 

Short Takes

 

INTEL REPORT SAYS IRANIAN PRESIDENT WANTS TO DEVELOP NUCLEAR ARMS OPENLY—(Vienna) According to a recent U.S. intelligence assessment, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to forge ahead openly with developing nuclear weapons, but is opposed by Supreme Leader Khomenei, who is concerned about international reaction to such a move. Fueling the speculation is a comment made by Ahmadinejad last month: “If we want to make a bomb, we are not afraid of anybody.” According to the security report, Ahmadinejad is pushing “to shake free of the restraints Iran has imposed upon itself, and openly push forward to create a nuclear bomb.” However Khamenei, who has the final word on nuclear and other issues, “wants to progress using secret channels, due to concern about a severe response from the West.” (Washington Post, July 22.)

 

AHMADINEJAD THREATENS TO SEND US, ISRAEL ‘TO THE MORGUE’—(Tehran) Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened to destroy the United States and Israel if put on the defensive. “Resistance will continue until Iran sends its enemies to the morgue,” he said on his website, making a reference to the US and Israel who he said are “on the verge of collapse and gasping for their last breathes.”Ahmadinejad was reacting to news from Iranian state media that Islamic Republic illegally brought down a U.S. “spy drone” flying near its Fordo nuclear enrichment plant in Qom province.Iran, Ahmadinejad said, “is the region’s greatest military power.” (AKI, July 20.)

 

US REPORT WARNS OF AL-QAIDA TERROR THREAT TO UTILITY PLANTS—(Jerusalem) According to a recently released U.S. intelligence report, al-Qaida is planning a massive attack on a major U.S. utility facility. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report warns that violent extremists have obtained insider positions and are planning physical and cyber attacks at a major facility, including a chemical or oil refinery. Although the US State Department says no specific threat exists, materials recovered during the operation that killed Osama bin Laden in May suggest that al-Qaida seeks to carry out an attack on or around the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks. (Jerusalem Post, July 21.)

 

US PAYING SALARIES FOR JAILED PALESTINIAN TERRORISTS—(Jerusalem) According to a Palestinian Media Watch report presented to the US congress in Washington this week, the Palestinian Authority allocates more than $5 million a month in US government funds to pay terrorists sitting in Israeli prisons. The report says the average monthly salary for terrorist prisoners is NIS 3,129 a month, more than the average monthly wage for a PA civil servant. According to the study, such payments contravene US law that prohibits funding of any person who “engages in, or has engaged in terrorist activity.” The US provided some $600 million to the PA in 2010. (Jerusalem Post, July 26.)

 

REPORT FINDS VAST WASTE IN U.S. WAR CONTRACTS—(Washington) According to a draft report by a bipartisan congressional panel, the U.S. has wasted or misspent $34 billion contracting for services in Iraq and Afghanistan. The three-year investigation comes from the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, which was established by Congress in 2008. Its final report lays out in detail the failure of federal agencies to properly manage and oversee grants and contracts set to exceed a total of $206 billion by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. The report warns that the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops and assistance poses the risk of “massive new wastes of money,” because both the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan may be poorly prepared to manage projects funded with U.S. taxpayer funds. The U.S. government’s controversial reliance on private security contractors is another focus of the commission; the report says the inappropriate use of contract security has at times inadvertently undermined the aims of U.S. foreign policy. (Wall Street Journal, July 23.)

 

PA SUMMER CAMP SPONSORED BY FAYYAD NAMES CHILDREN’S GROUPS AFTER TERRORISTS—(Jerusalem) A Palestinian Authority summer camp for children has divided its campers into three groups named after the terrorists Dalal Mughrabi, Salah Khalaf and Abu Ali Mustafa. Dalal Mughrabi in 1978 led the most lethal terror attack in Israel’s history, in which 37 civilians were killed, 12 of them children. Salah Khalaf (Abu Iyad) was the head of the Black September terror group, which perpetrated many terror attacks including the murder of two American diplomats, as well as the murder of 11 Israeli athletes in the Munich Olympics in 1972. Abu Ali Mustafa, who was the General Secretary of the terror organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), planned numerous terror attacks against Israeli civilians during the Intifada. The summer camp is being held under the auspices of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who recently visited the camp. (Palestinian Media Watch, July 21.)

 

HAMAS EXECUTES TWO GAZANS AS SPIES FOR ISRAEL—(Gaza) Gaza’s Hamas government has executed a Palestinian father and son convicted of spying for Israel in defiance of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who by law has final say in implementing such rulings. Hamas officials said the men had confessed to providing the IDF with intelligence that helped them track down Palestinians, including Hamas chief Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi, who was killed in a 2004 air strike on his car. Human rights groups have criticized Hamas executions, which are permitted under Palestinian law but require Abbas’s approval. (Reuters, July 26.)

 

JUNE 2011 REPORT ON HUMANITARIAN AND CIVILIAN ACTIVITIES IN GAZA—(Jerusalem) The Israeli government, in conjunction with the IDF, coordinated in June the delivery of 4,795 trucks of humanitarian aid and development assistance to the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, containing 118,651 tons of food, fuel and other products such as construction materials, agricultural products, textiles, cooking gas, and vehicles. Furthermore, 3,894 permits were issued last month to Palestinians allowing them to pass through the Erez border crossing into Israel; 1,634 permits were issued for medical cases enabling Palestinians to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals. As well, thirty-three new development projects in Gaza were approved in June, including the construction of new schools, housing units and road projects. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, July 12.)

 

REBEL CHIEF SAYS GADHAFI, FAMILY CAN STAY IN LIBYA—(Zintan, Libya) Libyan chairman of the rebels’ Transitional National Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, has affirmed that Col. Moammar Gadhafi and his family can remain in Libya as part of a political solution to the five-month-old conflict, provided Gadhafi gives up power and leaders of the opposition can determine where in Libya and under what conditions he resides. Mr. Jalil’s offer appears to be a significant reversal for the leader, and echoes comments made by U.S., Italian and French officials in recent days to the same effect. The softening of Mr. Jalil’s position toward Col. Gadhafi and his family comes as rebels step up military preparations for a resumed push on Gadhafi’s forces along multiple fronts and the NATO powers are clearly tiring of the ongoing stalemate. (Wall Street Journal, July 25.)

 

DAMASCUS TO ALLOW ORGANIZED OPPOSITION—(Damascus) Syria’s cabinet has endorsed a draft law allowing new political parties to operate, reversing a decades-old ban on organized political opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s ruling Baath party. However, analysts in Damascus say the law is undermined by various restrictions and the continued constitutional provision that stipulates the Baath party is the leading party in “state and society.” Endorsement of the draft law holds the potential to open up Syria’s political system, but the violence against antigovernment protests for more than four months has elevated protesters’ demands for change. Protests are expected to intensify in the Muslim month of Ramadan, which is due to start next Monday. (Wall Street Journal, July 26.)

 

ASHKENAZI JEWS RANK SMARTEST IN WORLD—(Jerusalem) According to a study performed by Cambridge University, entitled “From Chance to Choice: Genetic and Justice,” Ashkenazi Jews, with a median IQ of 117, are the most intelligent cohort in the world, ranking 10 points higher than the second-ranked group from Northeast Asia, and 20% higher than the global average.According to USA Today, “Ashkenazi Jews comprise 2.2% of the U.S. population, but represent 30% of faculty at elite colleges, 21% of Ivy League students, 25% of the Turing Award winners, 23% of the wealthiest Americans, and 38% of the Oscar-winning film directors.” Furthermore, the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies estimates that “Since 1950, 29% of the Oslo awards [Nobel Prizes] have gone to Ashkenazim, even though they represent only 0.25% of humanity. Ashkenazi achievement in this arena is 117 times greater than their population.” (Ynet News, July 23.)