Sunday, December 20, 2009

”Iran can now produce nuclear bomb”, The Jerusalem Post.

By Rebecca Anna Stoil (08/12/2009)

"In the last year, two things have happened: Iran has advanced its military nuclear program, and Iran has lost its legitimacy in the eyes of the international community," Netanyahu told the committee, adding that preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear capabilities was Israel's "central problem."

"Our highest interest is in preventing Iran's [nuclear] armament," he said.

To that end, Netanyahu added, "there is coordination with America regarding Iran - information and intensive assessment - and diplomatic coordination cannot be ruled out." He did, however note that "it is not clear if cooperation by Russia and China against Iran will continue, but at this time, we do have an agreement."

"The use of the Internet and Twitter against the Iranian regime is a great thing," said Netanyahu. "In past years, Iran was portrayed as an unpleasant regime, but today there is deep hatred on the part of part of the Iranian nation against the regime. It is trickling out and constitutes a very important resource for the State of Israel."

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”IAEA should avoid double standards: general”, Tehran Times (20/12/2009)

TEHRAN – Brigadier General Seyyed Massoud Jazayeri, the deputy head of Iran’s armed forces headquarters, criticized harshly the performance of the former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei on Iran’s nuclear dossier. ElBaradei stepped down as the head of the IAEA on November 30, 2009 and IAEA chose Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano, who took over the office on December 1. The senior military official also urged the new director to change the IAEA’s suspicious actions and double standards towards Iran. “It is better that ElBaradei avoids meddling in the Iran’s internal affairs, and tries to resolve problems created for some countries during his term in office,” he said. IAEA officials know that Iran nuclear program is completely legal and peaceful, but hegemonic powers have always made attempts to negatively influence the world public opinion over Iran’s nuclear plans by depicting the truth reversely, he stated. Undoubtedly the former director of the IAEA played a major role in line with the hegemonic powers’ policies to thwart Iran nuclear plans, he added. Jazayeri went on to say that ElBaradei should apologize to Iranian nation on his stances towards Iran nuclear issue, saying, “Iranian nation will never forget ElBaradei’s suspicious and equivocal remarks. View Full Article

” Understanding Iran's Defiant Nuclear Policy ”, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty. By Hossein Aryan (01/12/2009)

By Hossein Aryan (01/12/2009)

The diplomatic standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions has grown more intense since President Mahmud Ahmadinejad announced publicly on November 29 that his government intends to build 10 new sites to enrich uranium to supply nuclear power plants that will increase the country's annual generating capacity by 20,000 megawatts over the next 20 years. He explained that in order to achieve this, Iran will need to install 500,000 centrifuges at the planned facilities to produce 250 to 300 tons of nuclear fuel annually.

'Yes, No, Maybe'

Although a majority of Iranian lawmakers have asked the government to scale back its cooperation with the IAEA, Iranian officials have made it clear that the country has no intention of leaving the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and that the door remains open for further negotiations. Parliament speaker Ali Larijani too, in spite of an earlier intemperate statement about the IAEA for criticizing Iran, later said that notwithstanding the latest tension, Iran is still open to diplomacy. He added that if the major powers "adopt other policies, Iran would adopt other policies, as well." This is not the first time that top Iranian officials have sent such mixed signals, alternating blustery statements with conciliatory gestures. The recent rejection of the P5+1 (Britain, China, France, Russia, United States, plus Germany) proposal to send Iran's low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia in exchange for nuclear fuel for Tehran's research reactor is another example. The Iranian leadership initially accepted the proposal in principle, triggering a host of arguments

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”Nuclear rights and human rights in Iran Office”, Asia Times

By Kaveth L Afrasiabi (10/12/2009) There is now a direct linkage between the Iranian government's defense of the country's "inalienable nuclear rights" in the international arena and the country's contentious domestic politics that, in turn, has raised the international community's alarm over rights violations in Iran, reflected in a United Nations General Assembly resolution last month. In a vote of 74 in favor, 48 against and 59 abstentions, the assembly committee responsible for social, humanitarian and cultural affairs - known as the Third Committee - adopted a resolution condemning human-rights violations in Iran, particularly those that have occurred since June's presidential election, when many opposition supporters were arrested and detained. Without doubt, the vote, backed by many of Iran's non-aligned friends who support Iran's nuclear rights, is a political setback for Tehran that cannot be ignored; rather, it requires concerted efforts by the government to push the arch of reconciliation, tolerance and respect for the constitutional rights of the political opposition. This is especially so, given fresh unrest in the capital, Tehran. Security forces on Tuesday clashed with thousands of university students protesting for a second day, as the top prosecutor warned of "no mercy toward anyone who acts against national security". About 200 people were detained on Monday. The students have revitalized the June protests. … One thing is clear, however; namely, there are definite costs to Iran's national security interests due to the political rifts at home and the exploitation of those rifts by Iran's opponents who seek to deprive the country of its nuclear rights. This is starkly illustrated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking to members of the Knesset (parliament's) Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday. "The use of the Internet and Twitter against the Iranian regime is a great thing," he said. "In past years, Iran was portrayed as an unpleasant regime, but today there is deep hatred on the part of part of the Iranian nation against the regime. It is trickling out and constitutes a very important resource for the state of Israel." View Full Article

” Iraq, Iran play cat-and-mouse game over oil well”, The Montreal Gazette

By Steven Edwards (18/12/2009)

Iranian snipers in full camouflage march during an annual military parade which marks Iran's eight-year war with Iraq, Sept. 22, 2009. Iranian soldiers reportedly crossed into Iraqi territory on Friday.

Photograph by: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, called an emergency meeting of the Iraqi National Security Council, which ruled Iran had violated Iraq's "territorial integrity" and issued the demand for withdrawal.

But it stopped short of saying what Iraq would do if the Iranian soldiers stayed put.

The U.S. military in Iraq said "no violence" had taken place as it confirmed the presence of the Iranian soldiers.

"Iranian forces come to this well periodically, and then at daybreak they withdraw," a senior engineer of Maysan oil Company told Reuters. "They are provoking us . . . I don't know why this is a big deal this time."

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"The only realistic use of this is in a nuclear weapon," said David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and Intl Security,

”Source: 'Alarming' secret document details Iran's nuclear goals”, CNN World. By (14/12/2009) London, England (CNN) -- A secret document that appears to show that Iran was working on building nuclear weapons as recently as 2007 is "alarming" and "part of a body of evidence backing up deep concerns over Iran's nuclear program," a Western diplomatic source with knowledge of the papers told CNN on Monday. The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, has a copy of the secret papers, which were also obtained by the Times of London, the source said. IAEA officials confirm they are investigating the document but said they have not formally asked Iran for more information about it. A top international nuclear expert said it seemed to point to Iranian efforts to build a bomb. "The only realistic use of this is in a nuclear weapon," said David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security. The fact that the document comes out at this time makes it very difficult for Russia and China not to go along with more sanctions. --Mehrdad Khonsari, former Iranian diplomat "It shows that either Iran is developing the capability [to build nuclear weapons] or it is moving to implement a bomb program -- and either one is bad," said Albright, who reviewed the document for the Times before the newspaper published its report Sunday. View Full Article

”WATCH: Dramatic footage of IDF rescue of sailors lost at sea”, Haaretz

”WATCH: Dramatic footage of IDF rescue of sailors lost at sea”, Haaretz. By Fadi Eyadat and Anshel Pfeffer (12/12/2009)

The five Ukrainian sailors who were rescued at sea off the coast of the Lebanese town of Tyre were released on Sunday from Rambam Hospital in Haifa. The crewmen were extricated from the water by the elite rescue unit 669 after their freighter ship, the Sala II, sank on its way to Israel. A video clip released by the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson's Unit provides a glimpse into how the dramatic developments unfolded. The footage, which was shot by a military patrol helicopter which hovered above, depicts how one of the rescued sailors was spotted as he was floating in the choppy waters.

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” Lieberman: Anti-Israel views are anti-Semitism”, Israel Today

Lieberman: Anti-Israel views are anti-Semitism”, Israel Today (17/12/2009)

"Modern anti-Semitism has taken on the form of being anti-Israel... Instead of saying 'throw the Jews into the sea,' they talk of a world without Zionism, and without Israel," Lieberman said at the Foreign Ministry's third annual Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism.

This new form of anti-Semitism is actually far more dangerous, suggested Lieberman. Instead of lowest elements lashing out at Jews in vile hatred, anti-Israelism is spearheaded by society's elite academics, power brokers and human rights groups that are viewed as inherently good and is couched in eloquent language.

But the goal is the same, warned Lieberman. These people "seek to destroy Israel piece by piece."

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” Leaked IDF memo details tactics to enforce settlement freeze” Haaretz

” Leaked IDF memo details tactics to enforce settlement freeze” Haaretz. By Chaim Levinson (20/12/2009) IDF troops would be called in to evict settlers "only in extreme instances whichi will be decided upon individually," the document says in reference to this sensitive issue. There have been acts of disobedience by troops who refused to carry out orders on ideological grounds. The eviction itself is supposed to be carried out be police officers. ...The Human Rights for Yesh organization said the doumcent was a "military operation against the settler public" and would trample on their human rights. It added that as much as the freeze is menat to please the Americans, "the government needs to be reminded that the United States does not take such actions against citizens in its territory." The IDF Spokesman's Office said that leaving the army out of any political discussion was a "national responsibility" View Full Article

”Abbas Assails Hamas, Israel in Effort to Extend Term in Office”, Bloomberg

Abbas Assails Hamas, Israel in Effort to Extend Term in Office”, Bloomberg. By Jonathan Ferziger and Gwen Ackerman (15/12/2009)

“There is a need to hold elections and Hamas should not be allowed to disrupt democratic life,” Abbas told the PLO leadership during a 75-minute speech at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “We believe in democracy. Hamas does not.”

“...When Israel stops settlement activity for a specific period and when it recognizes the borders we are calling for, and these are the legal borders, there would be nothing to prevent us from going to negotiations,” Abbas said, sitting at a table beneath a banner with his picture and that of PLO founder Yasser Arafat.

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”Mosque attack in West Bank draws condemnation from Israeli leaders”, The Washington Post

”Mosque attack in West Bank draws condemnation from Israeli leaders”, The Washington Post. By Howard Schneider (20/12/2009) Those who burned the mosque "are extremists and Arab-haters, fundamentalists," said Adbul Fathi Madi, head of realigious affairs for the West Bank area that includes Yasuf. View Full Article

”Americans support action on Iran - if needed”, The Jerusalem Post

”Americans support action on Iran - if needed”, The Jerusalem Post. By Hilary Krieger (19/12/2009)

Just over half of Americans support a military attack on Iran by the United States and its allies if Teheran doesn't halt its nuclear program, according to a new poll by The Israel Project.

In such a scenario, 51% of Americans would support targeted military strikes and 44% would oppose them. Fewer of those polled, however, would support Israel taking such action on its own, by a split of 42% to 49%.

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”Israel, EU's new FM start off poorly”, The Jerusalem Post

”Israel, EU's new FM start off poorly”, The Jerusalem Post. By Herb Keinon (20/12/2009) "East Jerusalem is occupied territory together with the West Bank. The EU is opposed to the destruction of homes, the eviction of Arab residents and the construction of the separation barrier," EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton. View Full Article

”UK is committed to Israel's security”, The Jerusalem Post

UK is committed to Israel's security”, The Jerusalem Post. By Jonny Paul (19/12/2009)

"The unchanging fundamental is first, a very strong belief in Israel's legitimacy and its right to exist. Secondly, the strong desire for Israel to live in security based on peace. And thirdly, the desire to have the best possible relationship between Israel and Britain.”

Matthew Gould, Incoming British Ambassador.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Poll: Hamas approval rating extremely low

The Jerusalem Post, By Abe Selig (7/9/2009) Hamas's approval rating has sunk to significantly low levels in the West Bank and even lower levels inside the Gaza Strip, according to a recent poll for The Israel Project that gathers Arab public opinion on a number of key issues.
Hamas gunmen at a march in...

Hamas gunmen at a march in Rafah. [file] Photo: AP

The poll, conducted by Stan Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, included face-to-face interviews with hundreds of adults in Egypt, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza, along with a series of focus groups in Cairo and Ramallah...

According to the poll, 58 percent of Gazans said they disapprove of the job being done by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, while 42% of them said they "disapprove strongly."

Fifty-seven percent of Palestinians in the West Bank also said they disapprove of Hamas, but only 16% disapproved "strongly."

"I've polled in a number of war zones in the 20th century, including Nicaragua and El Salvador during the conflicts there [in the 1980s], and I polled in Afghanistan under the Taliban, before 9/11," Greenberg said. "And I thought that in Gaza, after [Hamas's 2006] takeover, people would be cautious about responding to the poll. But just look at the results. Nearly 60% of the people there have a negative image of Hamas, and felt free to say it, which says to me that it's even worse than that."

The poll also shows Fatah would beat Hamas by a solid 10 percentage points in both the West Bank and Gaza, if Palestinians were to vote in parliamentary elections today. While Fatah's popularity was much higher than Hamas's in the West Bank, by a 45-28% margin, Fatah was still able to edge Hamas by 3% in Gaza, where 33% of those polled said they favored Fatah, compared to 30% for Hamas.

When asked who was responsible for the current crisis in Gaza, Israel was overwhelmingly blamed by all the groups polled. But while 5% of Egyptians and Jordanians blamed Hamas for the current crisis, 35% of Palestinians in the West Bank said Hamas was to blame, while 16% of Gazans agreed.

Additionally, of all the places polled, Gazans made up the highest percentage - 38% - of those who said they believed that both Israel and Hamas, together, were responsible for the current Gaza crisis.

Nonetheless, Gazans and Jordanians both showed a surprisingly high level of support for direct negotiations with Israel. More than half of those two groups - 52% of those polled - said they believed Palestinians should negotiate directly with Israel, accept its right to exist and honor past agreements. Thirty-nine percent of Egyptians said the same, compared to 36% of Palestinians in the West Bank.

Also surprising, Greenberg said, was that while 35% of the other groups polled stressed the importance of releasing captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, an overwhelming two-thirds of Gazans said the same.

The poll also revealed that nearly a decade after the breakdown of the Camp David Accords between Yasser Arafat, then-US president Bill Clinton and then-prime minister Ehud Barak, a majority of those polled in Egypt, Jordan and the West Bank expressed regret that Arafat failed to accept the peace deal proposed there.

Fifty-six percent of West Bank Palestinians said that in retrospect, they wished Arafat had accepted the agreement, while 50% of Jordanians and 39% of Egyptians said the same. In Gaza, 57% of those polled said they did not regret Arafat's rejection of the deal.

Greenberg said that these West Bank results show a change of heart since the breakdown of the Camp David talks.

The poll had a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.

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IDF preparing for US missile systems

The Jerusalem Post, By Yaakov Katz (7/9/2009) The Defense Ministry is preparing for the possibility that the United States will decide to leave missile defense systems in Israel following a joint missile defense exercise the two countries will hold next month, senior officials said Sunday.
The X-Band Radar.

The X-Band Radar. Photo: Courtesy

While the US has yet to announce that it will leave systems in place here, the possibility is strong, one official said, particularly in light of reports that the Pentagon was conducting a review of its European missile shield and was leaning towards deploying the systems in Turkey.

The Israeli Air Force's Air Defense Division will hold a joint drill, called Juniper Cobra, with the US Military's European Command (EUCOM) and the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) next month in what is being described as the largest joint exercise ever held by the two countries, during which they will jointly test three different ballistic missile defense systems.

...Meanwhile Sunday, Iranian television claimed that the Iranian military had developed an anti-cruise missile system. Announcing the latest milestone in domestic military-industrial achievements, Air Force Brig.-Gen. Ahmad Miqani said, "[Despite] 30 years of military sanctions by the enemy, the armed forces have taken appropriate steps toward self-sufficiency and have been able not only to update their equipment, but also to achieve wide-ranging progress in the military and aerospace sector."

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PA judge: Jews have no history in Jerusalem

The Jerusalem Post, By Khaled Abu Toameh (27/8/2009) The Palestinian Authority's chief Islamic judge, Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, said on Wednesday that there was no evidence to back up claims that Jews had ever lived in Jerusalem or that the Temple ever existed.

Tamimi claimed that Israeli archeologists had "admitted" that Jerusalem was never inhabited by Jews.

Tamimi's announcement came in response to statements made earlier this week by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who said that Jerusalem "is not a settlement," and that "the Jews built it 3,000 years ago."

"Netanyahu's claims are baseless and untrue," said Tamimi, the highest religious authority in the PA. "Jerusalem is an Arab and Islamic city and it always has been so."

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Ahmadinejad: We won't halt nuclear work

Iranian President Mahmoud... Photo: AP
The Jerusalem Post, By Associated Press (7/9/2009)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday Iran will neither halt uranium enrichment nor negotiate over its nuclear rights but is ready to sit and talk with world powers over "global challenges."

..."From our point of view, Iran's nuclear issue is over. We continue our work within the framework of global regulations and in close interaction with the International Atomic Energy Agency," he said. "We will never negotiate over obvious rights of the Iranian nation."

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Opinion: Nothing new in the East

Clinton and Lavrov address...

Clinton and Lavrov address reporters. Photo: AP

The Jerusalem Post, By Boris Mozorov (6/9/2009) Five months have passed since US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov publicly pushed the "perezagruzka" (reset) button in Geneva, yet tangible results of this gimmick have yet to be seen. The same holds true in the wake of President Obama's visit to Moscow in July; although the two sides reached agreements on a variety of topics, including weapons reductions and the transfer of American military equipment via Russia, there was no real breakthrough in US-Russia relations...

DESPITE OBAMA'S skirting around human rights and Russia's relations with Georgia and Ukraine, he failed to establish a friendly, reciprocal relationship with Medvedev. As a result, no progress was reached on the touchiest of topics: the US anti-missile defense system will remain in Eastern Europe, much to the chagrin of the Russians, and Medvedev didn't offer a compromise on the Iranian nuclear program, which is clearly an American priority.

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

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Barack Obama and the Middle East Peace Plan

"Obama facing hurdles to nuclear disarmament goals" The Associated Press, By Desmond Butler (3/9/2009): Five months after President Barack Obama, with great fanfare, called for a world free of nuclear weapons, a crucial step toward that goal is running into resistance. There is little indication Obama will have the votes he needs for a cornerstone of his nonproliferation efforts: Senate ratification of a nuclear test ban treaty. If Obama can't get the treaty approved, he probably will have a hard time persuading the rest of the world to rein in nuclear weapon programs... "If you build it, the state will come" The Guardian, By Ziad Asali (4/9/2009): Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad's blueprint for what he has called "de facto Palestinian statehood" offers a new and important element to the quest for peace in the Middle East. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians hinges on recognition and security for Israel and freedom and independence for a Palestinian state. Fayyad's model emphasises the importance of the reality of the Palestinian state as a functioning entity, irrespective of international recognition and grand diplomatic gestures. By doing so, Fayyad challenges the sole reliance on political and rhetorical tools of diplomacy and international recognition, the traditional path through which Palestinians have sought statehood... The plan is a call to action for Palestinians to establish "strong state institutions capable of providing, equitably and effectively, for the needs of our citizens, despite the occupation", and "to establish a de facto state apparatus within the next two years". The 38-page document lays out the generalised blueprint for the Palestinian Authority to begin to transform itself into a functioning, responsive and responsible government as if the Palestinians had independence, and in preparation for independence... Fayyad has described a two-year timeframe for the initial implementation of his de facto statehood plan, consistent with President Obama's stated intention of achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement... "Peres: Palestinian state first, full peace later" The Associated Press, By Dan Perry and Alessandra Rizzo (4/9/2009): Israeli President Shimon Peres, a longtime advocate of peace with the Palestinians, said Friday that a comprehensive settlement resolving the century-old dispute was not currently achievable. He called instead for a Palestinian state under a provisional arrangement even without a formal peace deal... "US harshly rebukes Israel on settlement plans" The Associated Press, By Matthew Lee (5/9/2009): Alarmed by Israeli plans to build new housing units in settlements and dimming prospects for American peace efforts, the Obama administration on Friday put out a rare and harsh public rebuke of its main Mideast ally... "United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement expansion and we urge that it stop," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement. "We are working to create a climate in which negotiations can take place, and such actions make it harder to create such a climate..." "Binyamin Netanyahu pushes Barack Obama into a corner with settlement plan" The Times Online, By James Hider (5/9/2009): Israel’s plans to have one last burst of settlement building in the West Bank before agreeing to a temporary, partial freeze is a slap in the face to the Obama Administration and a warning to the Palestinians that it intends to fight for every inch of land... Backing down now would involve a serious loss of face for Mr Obama and a victory for Mr Netanyahu that would set the tone for any talks that could still be salvaged from the crumbling US plan. But the Israeli leader may be reckoning that his US ally is so deeply bogged down in a worsening war in Afghanistan, the global financial crisis, selling unpopular healthcare reforms and facing down a potentially nuclear Iran that he will take his eye off the ball in this crucial area. Click here for more media monitoring reports about Israel and its security

Missing channel pirate ship carried Russian arms for Iran

The Arctic Sea mysteriously disappeared off the coast of France on 1 August 2009
The Sunday Times, By Mark Franchetti and Uzi Mahnaimi (6/9/2009) A CARGO ship that vanished in the Channel was carrying arms to Iran and was being tracked by Mossad, the Israeli security service, according to sources in both Russia and Israel.

The Arctic Sea, officially carrying a cargo of timber worth £1.3m, disappeared en route from Finland to Algeria on July 24. It was recovered off west Africa on August 17 when eight alleged hijackers were arrested. The Kremlin has consistently denied that the vessel was carrying a secret cargo. It claims the ship was hijacked by criminals who demanded a £1m ransom.

The official version was challenged by sources in Tel Aviv and Moscow who claimed the ship had been loaded with S-300 missiles, Russia’s most advanced anti-aircraft weapon, while undergoing repairs in the Russian port of Kaliningrad.

Mossad, which closely monitors arms supplies to Iran, is said to have tipped off the Russian government that the shipment had been sold by former military officers linked to the underworld...

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Plot to kill Israel’s army chief of staff

The Sunday Times, By Uzi Mahnaimiin (6/9/2009) The Kfar Saba country club has a reputation as a fashionable hotspot in a prosperous commuter town just half an hour’s drive from Tel Aviv. The £700-a-year, members-only club attracts young, professional Israelis to its state-of-the-art gym and luxurious pool. Its bar, a magnet for young singles, specialises in Vodka Red Bull cocktails. The barman boasts that it is the best pickup spot in the area.

It is an unlikely backdrop to a daring attempt by Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based Islamic fundamentalist group, to assassinate Gabi Ashkenazi, chief of staff of the Israeli army and the club’s most prominent member.

Yet last month Rawi Sultani, 23, an Israeli Arab law student and fellow member, was arrested by agents from Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, and charged with planning to murder the general. The allegation points to an alarming lack of security among Israel’s well-off elite and the military who rub shoulders with them.

Sultani, a lawyer’s son, was a regular at the gym... Click here for full story Click here for more articles on the Middle East Conflict

Ukraine mayor accused of anti-Semitism

The Associated Press, By Maria Danilova (3/9/2009) KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Jewish leaders in Ukraine and Russia on Thursday condemned the mayor of a Ukrainian city who called a presidential hopeful "an impudent little Jew," and Russia's chief rabbi said he would travel there in a show of support for the local Jewish community.

The incident was a worrying sign of persistent anti-Semitism in a country that lost hundreds of thousands of Jews in the Holocaust, but also evidence of a heated presidential election campaign in a politically chaotic country and Ukraine's tense relations with neighboring Russia...

Ratushnyak denied he attacked the campaign activist, calling the incident a "myth." He did, however, confirm his remarks regarding Yatsenyuk but said he believed they were not offensive.

"Is everybody obliged to love Jews and Israel? If I don't like Jews and Israel, does that make me an anti-Semite?" he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview...

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Spain daily to run interview with Holocaust denier

The Associated Press, By Daniel Woolls (3/9/2009)

MADRID (AP) -- A Spanish newspaper is defending its plans to publish an interview this weekend with a British writer who denies the Holocaust, despite a furious complaint from Israel.

The center-right daily El Mundo plans to run the interview Saturday with David Irving, who served 13 months in prison in Austria after being convicted there in 2006 over charges he denied the Nazis exterminated 6 million Jews...

[Israeli Ambassador] Schutz told The Associated Press that Irving lacks any credibility and does not deserve to be in the same interview lineup. It includes Ian Kershaw, a Briton who is a leading biographer of Hitler, and Avner Shalev, director of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Israel.

"To put Irving on the same platform with these people may create an impression, and as a matter of fact it does, that he has the same stand while everyone who knows something about the issue knows that David Irving is nothing but ... a con man," the ambassador said.

In the upcoming interview, Irving does not deny the Holocaust, Laviana said. Rather, he stresses that the Allies are to blame for "looking the other way" and ignoring the Nazi genocide, he told the AP...

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Artists protest Tel Aviv focus at Toronto film fest

Reuters, By Cameron French (4/9/2009)

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto International Film Festival is under attack for its decision to present a series of films spotlighting the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, which a group of high-profile artists and celebrities say constitutes complicity in "the Israeli propaganda machine".

At issue is the festival's new City to City program, which will present 10 films focused on Tel Aviv.

The 34th edition of the festival will begin next Thursday.

Canadian filmmaker John Greyson last week pulled his documentary "Covered" from the festival in protest, and a statement published online on Thursday and signed by more than 50 artists, academics, and filmmakers likened the program to a celebration of apartheid-era South Africa.

"This program ignores the suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants of the (Tel Aviv) area who currently live in refugee camps in the Occupied Territories or who have been dispersed to other countries," say the signatories, which include actors Jane Fonda and Danny Glover, author Naomi Klein, and filmmaker Ken Loach...

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Iran's Mousavi defiant after MPs back Ahmadinejad

Reuters, By Fredrik Dahl (5/9/2009) * Mousavi urges supporters to create opposition network * Ceremony where Khatami had been due to speak cancelled * Reformist website publishes names of 72 people killed * Tehran to present proposals to world powers soon TEHRAN, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi called on Saturday for more protests over Iran's disputed June election, two days after lawmakers backed most of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's new government ministers. But a religious ceremony next week which could have become a rallying point for the moderates was cancelled after authorities put pressure on its hosts, Iranian media said... Click here for full story Click here for more articles on the Middle East Conlfict

Unmanned military aircraft: Attack of the drones

From The Economist print edition (3/9/2009) Military technology: Smaller and smarter unmanned aircraft are transforming spying and redefining the idea of air power

FIVE years ago, in the mountainous Afghan province of Baghlan...And in conflicts like that in Afghanistan, they are no longer the most widespread form of air power. The nature of air power, and the notion of air superiority, have been transformed in the past few years by the rise of remote-controlled drone aircraft, known in military jargon as “unmanned aerial vehicles” (UAVs).

Drones are much less expensive to operate than manned warplanes. The cost per flight-hour of Israel’s drone fleet, for example, is less than 5% the cost of its fighter jets, says Antan Israeli, the commander of an Israeli drone squadron. In the past two years the Israeli Defence Forces’ fleet of UAVs has tripled in size. Mr Israeli says that “almost all” IDF ground operations now have drone support.

Global sales of UAVs this year are expected to increase by more than 10% over last year to exceed $4.7 billion, according to Visiongain, a market-research firm based in London. It estimates that America will spend about 60% of the total. For its part, America’s Department of Defence says it will spend more than $22 billion to develop, buy and operate drones between 2007 and 2013. Following the United States, Israel ranks second in the development and possession of drones, according to those in the industry. The European leaders, trailing Israel, are roughly matched: Britain, France, Germany and Italy. Russia and Spain are not far behind, and nor, say some experts, is China...

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Hamas slams UN over "Holocaust classes" in Gaza

Reuters, By Nidal al-Mughrabi (30/8/2009)

GAZA (Reuters) - Hamas condemned the United Nations Sunday, saying it planned to teach Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip about the Holocaust -- but the U.N. agency which runs schools in the enclave would not confirm any change.

Branding the Nazi genocide of the Jews "a lie invented by the Zionists," the Islamist movement which runs the Gaza Strip wrote in an open letter to a senior U.N. official that he should withdraw plans for a new history book in U.N. schools.

A spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which educates some 200,000 refugee children in Gaza, said the Holocaust was not on its current curriculum. He would not comment on Hamas's statement that it was about to change...

Israelis are angered by denial of the Holocaust among some in the Middle East, notably lately by leaders in Iran, who provide support for Hamas. Abbas, who has engaged in negotiation with Israel, has had to distance himself from his own 1980s doctoral thesis, which cast doubt on the scale of the Holocaust.

Hamas's official spokesman in Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri, said he did not want to discuss the history of the Holocaust but said:

"Regardless of the controversy, we oppose forcing the issue of the so-called Holocaust onto the syllabus, because it aims to reinforce acceptance of the occupation of Palestinian land."

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Israeli-Arab indicted for Hizbullah plot to assassinate Ashkenazi

The Jerusalem Post, By Yaakov Katz (31/8/2009) Rawi Sultani. Photo: Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency)
On Monday, an indictment was filed at the Petah Tikva District Court against Rawi Sultani, a 23-year-old Israeli-Arab from the town of Tira, was recruited by Hizbullah in the summer of 2008 when he traveled to Morocco to attend a Balad Party summer camp.

Hizbullah recruited an Israeli-Arab and ordered him to collect intelligence on IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi ahead of plans to assassinate him to avenge the death of the guerrilla group's military leader Imad Mughniyeh...

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