Thursday, May 31, 2012

Iran Strengthens Its Hand at Talks

Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili takes questions at a press conference following nuke talks

How Tehran Is Outflanking Washington -Michael Singh

U.S. officials often seem more worried about the consequences of military action against Iran than about the Iranian nuclear program a strike would be designed to destroy. [T]here is ample evidence that the Iranian regime views normal relations with the U.S. as undesirable, even threatening, while it views a nuclear weapons capability as strategically vital.

Prolonging the talks serves Iran beyond merely buying time or delaying an attack. The talks enhance Iranian prestige by sitting as co-equal with the world's great powers and discussing the great issues of the day, while securing tacit acceptance of nuclear advances once deemed unacceptable. Iran's low-level uranium enrichment appears off the table for discussion, and Western analysts now frequently assert that insisting on the full suspension of enrichment and reprocessing by Iran is "unrealistic," even though it is called for in a series of UN Security Council resolutions.

The fundamental bargain offered by the U.S. asks Iran to trade something it apparently values enormously - the ability to produce nuclear weapons - for something in which it has no demonstrable interest and likely regards as threatening, closer ties with the West.

Iran must be presented with a different bargain: end its nuclear weapons work or face devastating consequences. Iran must be convinced that continued pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability will threaten, rather than ensure, the regime's ultimate survival.
The writer is managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former senior director for Middle East affairs at the U.S. National Security Council.
(New York Daily News)

87% of Afghan Women Domestic Abuse Victims

The video above has some visuals that are difficult to watch.  It highlights the plight of Afghan women, 87% of whom are victims of domestic abuse.  The report suggests that the status of women improved with the arrival of Western troops and will worsen as they leave. 

Saudi Accuse McDonald's of Blasphemy

Sensitive Saudis object to the base inscription on this toy

Sensitive Saudis think these lightning bolts look like their prophet's name

Muhammed's name in Arabic...does not look much like those lighting bolts above

Saudis Demand Punishment for McDonald's Toy They Say "Insults Muhammed"
-Raymond Ibrahim

Saudi Arabians are angry at a McDonald's toy which they say mocks their prophet Muhammad.

According to a report on the Arabic news website,, McDonald's "abused the Prophet Muhammad by placing his name at the base of a toy that is being distributed as part of the Happy Meal, a toy which steps on the name 'Muhammad.'"

The toy consists of a blue superhero figurine (apparently a Power Ranger Samurai). It stands on one leg, and, when the lever is pressed, it pounds on the base with the other leg. According to the Saudis, the designs that appear all around the base, where the figurine stomps its foot, is really the name "Muhammad" written several times in circles.

In response, "Saudi McDonald's" has withdrawn the toy from all its restaurants, "in order to safeguard against any accusations or misunderstandings."
(Gatestone Institute)

Guess Who's Not Boycotting Israeli Products??

Palestinians shopping

Boycott Israeli Products? Not in the PA -Elior Levy

Despite a Palestinian campaign that calls for the boycott of Israeli products, Palestinian consumers "love and buy Israeli products," says one Bethlehem minimarket owner. "Lots of people prefer to buy Tnuva products simply because there is tighter supervision and they want to feel safe in what they buy. It has nothing to do with politics. When we buy a product from you (Israelis) we know it is under supervision and only made with fresh ingredients."

Imad Naama, who owns a cleaning and hygiene product warehouse, explains that there is no comparison between the quality of Israeli products and other brands. "If my clients see that the product has Hebrew letters on it or if it says the product is from Israel, they are sure that it is better," he notes.
(Ynet News)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Computer Virus 'Explodes' in Iran

The 'Flame' Computer Virus Strikes Iran -Chana Ya'ar

Iranian security experts report a virus far more dangerous than the Stuxnet worm has struck the country's computer systems. Dubbed the “Flame,” the virus is one that has struck not only Iran, however, but a number of other enemies of Israel as well.

The Kaspersky Internet security firm is calling the “Flame” data-stealing virus the “most sophisticated cyber-weapon yet unleashed” and hinted it may have been created by the makers of the Stuxnet worm.

Kaspersky called the virus a “cyber-espionage worm” designed to collect and delete sensitive information, primarily in Middle Eastern countries.

The “Flame” has struck at least 600 specific computer systems in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority, Kaspersky malware expert Vitaly Kamluk told the BBC. He added that the virus has probably been operating discreetly for at least two years.
[Arutz Sheva]

Flame virus 'much bigger than Stuxnet' -Stuart Williams

A Russian computer firm has discovered a new computer virus with unprecedented destructive potential that chiefly targets Iran and could be used as a "cyberweapon" by the West and Israel.

Kaspersky Lab, one of the world's biggest producers of anti-virus software, said its experts discovered the virus -- known as Flame -- during an investigation prompted by the International Telecommunication Union.

Iran appears to have been the main target of the attack and the announcement comes just a month after the Islamic Republic said it halted the spread of a data-deleting virus targeting computer servers in its oil sector.

It said the main task of Flame is cyber espionage, meaning it steals information from infected machines including documents, screenshots and even audio recordings. It then sends the data to servers all over the world.  Flame is "actively being used as a cyberweapon attacking entities in several countries," Kaspersky said in a statement. Flame is "one of the most advanced and complete attack-toolkits ever discovered."

Moshe Yaalon
The origin of the Stuxnet worm has never been made clear but suspicion has fallen on the United States and Israel which both accuse Iran of seeking to build an atomic weapon.

Without giving any indication that Israeli spy agency Mossad could be involved in Flame, Israel's Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon said such cyberweapons were an important part of the arsenal of Iran's enemies. "For anyone who sees the Iranian threat as significant, it is reasonable that he would take different steps, including these, in order to hobble it," he told army radio. "Israel is blessed with being a country which is technologically rich, and these tools open up all sorts of possibilities for us."

"Flame" computer virus strikes Middle East

 A massive, data-slurping cyberweapon is circulating in the Middle East, and computers in Iran appear to have been particularly affected...

Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab ZAO said the "Flame" virus was unprecedented both in terms of its size and complexity, possessing the ability to turn infected computers into all-purpose spying machines that can even suck information out of nearby cell phones.

So far, Flame appears focused on espionage. The virus can activate a computer's audio systems to eavesdrop on Skype calls or office chatter, for example. It can also take screenshots, log keystrokes, and - in one of its more novel functions - steal data from Bluetooth-enabled cell phones.

Udi Mokady, chief executive of Cyber-Ark, an Israeli developer of information security, said..."[i]t was 20 times more sophisticated than Stuxnet," with thousands of lines of code that took a large team, ample funding and months, if not years, to develop, he said. "It's a live program that communicates back to its master. It asks, `Where should I go? What should I do now?' It's really almost like a science fiction movie," he said.
[CBS News]


Russia's Top Cyber Sleuth Foils U.S. Spies, Helps Kremlin Pals 
-Noah Shachtman

One of Russia's richest men, Eugene Kaspersky, is CEO of Kaspersky Lab, arguably the most important Internet security company in the world.

Kaspersky, a former Soviet intelligence officer, maintains a deep and ongoing relationship with Russia's Federal Security Service, or FSB.

In 2010, a researcher now working for Kaspersky discovered Stuxnet, the U.S.-Israeli worm that wrecked nearly a thousand Iranian centrifuges.

In May, Kaspersky's antihackers exposed a second weaponized computer program, which they dubbed Flame. It was subsequently revealed to be another U.S.-Israeli operation aimed at Iran. In other words, Kaspersky Lab is a leader in uncovering cyber-espionage.

Flame, one of the most sophisticated pieces of spyware ever discovered, was another part of America's shadow war against Iran - and Kaspersky killed it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Olympic Committee Rejects Call for Minute of Silence for Munich 11

A video by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, calling on the International Olympic Committee to dedicate a minute of silence during the opening ceremony at this summer's London Olympic Games, in memory of the eleven Israeli athletes who were brutally murdered during the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. 

The International Olympic Committee said “no" to Minister Ayalon’s formal request for a minute of silence.

A public petition has been circulating and a Facebook Page has been created as well.

Does Iran Have a Nuclear Ace Up Its Sleeve?

Getting a Good Deal with Iran
-Senators Lindsey Graham, Joseph I. Lieberman & John McCain

•Iran had no uranium enriched to 20% until two years ago, nor was the Fordow site operational before then. Focusing only on these recent manifestations of Iran's nuclear program, without also addressing older and broader enrichment and proliferation-sensitive activities, would effectively reward the Iranians for their escalation and allow them to move back the goal posts.

•Rather, the U.S. must make clear that international pressure will continue to build on Iran until it takes the concrete steps that will address the entirety of the threat, with a swift timetable for implementation.

•Given the Iranian regime's long-standing pattern of deceptive and illicit conduct, we believe it cannot be trusted to maintain enrichment or reprocessing activities on its territory for the foreseeable future - at least until the international community has been fully convinced that Iran has decided to abandon any nuclear-weapons ambitions. We are very far from that point.

•Just as importantly, Iran must not be permitted to possess sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon, or centrifuges in sufficient quantity or sophistication that would allow it to "break out" and build a nuclear weapon swiftly and covertly.

•A diplomatic solution with Iran is possible if the Iranian regime genuinely wants one. But to achieve this outcome, we must not allow the Iranians to draw us into an extended negotiation with a continuing series of confidence-building measures that never ultimately force Tehran to verifiably abandon its pursuit of a nuclear-weapons capability.

•Our best hope for avoiding conflict is to leave no doubt that the window for diplomacy is closing. In the absence of a negotiated solution that addresses the totality of Iran's nuclear program, and soon, we must take the steps that President Obama laid out in February, when he said: "America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal."

The U.S. must be prepared, if necessary, to use military force to stop Iran from getting a nuclear-weapons capability.
(Wall Street Journal)


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Stunning Ancient Jewelry Discovered

The clay vessels that held the jewelry, which was discovered at Tel Megiddo
Photo: Pavel Shrago

Eight gold earings and other jewelry, which were discovered at Tel Megiddo
Photo by Pavel Shrago

Buried Canaanite Treasure Unearthed at Megiddo -Nir Hasson

In the summer of 2010, while digging near the ancient palace at Tel Megiddo in the Jezreel Valley, archaeologists from Tel Aviv University found a clay bowl [pictured] containing a second clay bowl, inside of which was a small clay vessel, like some sort of ancient Russian nesting doll.

Only after six months did the archaeologists examine the innermost vessel. To their surprise, the tiny clay pot was found to contain a precious treasure of gold and silver jewelry [pictured] and semiprecious stones from 3,100 years ago, said Prof. Israel Finkelstein of TAU's Department of Archaeology and Near Eastern Cultures.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Jerusalem Day Celebrated: VideoBites

Netanyahu: Israel Will Continue to Build Jerusalem and Keep It United -Barak Ravid & Nir Hasson

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, during a ceremony marking Jerusalem Day, that the Israeli capital will never be divided and that building in Jerusalem will continue. "We will protect Jerusalem," Netanyahu said. "Israel without Jerusalem is like a body without a heart. Our heart will never be divided again."

"A nation willing to sacrifice its heart will convince its enemies that it is willing to give up on everything," he warned, and said that he does not believe that abandoning the Temple Mount to a different power will preserve the freedom of religion. "I know there are people who say that there will be peace if we only divide Jerusalem. I don't believe this," he said. "We will continue to build Jerusalem."

Friday, May 18, 2012

Dividing Jerusalem: VideoBite

This video by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs argues that dividing Jerusalem is not feasible

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Behind Closed Doors

Jose Maria Aznar [pictured above] revealed the words of  Iran's Khamenei & Russia's Putin

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
"Khamenei: Israel Must Be Burned to the Ground" -Shlomo Cesana

[F]ormer Spanish president Jose Maria Aznar told the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs: "In a private discussion we held in Tehran in October of 2000, Ali Khamenei told me that Israel must be burned to the ground and made to disappear from the face of the Earth."

Dr. Dore Gold asked him, "When Khamenei was talking about wiping Israel off the map, was he referring to a gradual historical process involving the collapse of the Zionist state, or rather its physical-military termination?" Aznar answered, "He meant physical termination through military force." Khamenei described Israel as "an historical cancer, an anomaly," and said that he was "working toward Iran defeating the United States and Israel in an inevitable war against them."
(Israel Hayom)
Putin Said Israel Would Take Care of Iran -Herb Keinon

Don't worry about Iran, Israel will take care of it, former Spanish president Jose Maria Aznar quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin as telling him a number of years ago. After he entreated the Russian president not to sell S300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran, Aznar quoted Putin as saying: "Don't worry - we can sell them everything, even if we are worried by an Iranian nuclear bomb, because at the end of the day, Israel will take care of it."
(Jerusalem Post)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Nakba" Bombs Out

Palestinians Riot on Nakba Day -Khaled Abu Toameh & Tovah Lazaroff

One Israeli soldier, three border policemen and 270 Palestinians were lightly hurt, mostly from tear gas inhalation, in clashes in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem as Palestinians marked the "Nakba," meaning "catastrophe," their loss to Israel in 1948. In Ramallah, children marched into Martyr Yasser Arafat Square beating drums and wearing black T-shirts that read "1948." PA representatives including Prime Minister Salam Fayyad led the rally. "The right of return is sacred and cannot be compromised," Fayyad told the crowd.
(Jerusalem Post)

Nakba Day Defanged -Mitch Ginsburg

On May 15, "Nakba Day" demonstrations were limited to the West Bank. Bassem Eid, a Palestinian human rights worker, attributed the relative calm to the state of Palestinian society, which he described as frustrated, fractured, tired and hopeless. "The back of Palestinian society has been broken by the Hamas-Fatah separation," he said, noting that within the West Bank, the rifts within Fatah were so deep there was no hope of any coordinated uprising. "There cannot be an intifada so long as we have an intrafada," he said.
(Times of Israel)

Israel: Palestinians Should Direct Anger at Their Own Leaders -Herb Keinon

Rather than demonstrating against Israel, the Palestinians should be directing their "Nakba Day" anger at the extremist Palestinian leadership that 64 years ago rejected any accommodation, Prime Minister Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev said. "The Palestinian leadership in 1947 and 1948 adopted an extremist and maximalist position. Unlike the Jewish leadership, they rejected partition and refused to accept a Jewish state even in truncated borders."
(Jerusalem Post)

The Meaning of Nakba Day -Jonathan S. Tobin

Nakba is an Arabic word which means disaster, and that is what those who participated in the protests consider the founding of the State of Israel on May 15, 1948. The focus on 1948 is significant. For those who claim the Middle East conflict is about borders or Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the prominence given Nakba commemorations ought to be an embarrassment. It highlights that the goal of the Palestinians isn't an independent state alongside Israel. Their goal is to eradicate Israel and replace it with yet another Arab majority country.

Jews from Arab Lands: Displacement and Loss -Matti Friedman

Roughly half of the 6 million Jews in Israel today came from the Muslim world or are descended from people who did. The simple narrative of Nakba Day conveniently erases the uncomfortable truth that half of Israel's Jews are there not because of the Nazis but because of the Arabs themselves.
(Times of Israel)


Nakba, a Self-Inflicted Catastrophe -Moshe Arens

More than 5 million German soldiers were killed during World War II, and more than 2 million German civilians died during the war. In addition, millions were left homeless and millions became refugees. Yet the German people do not commemorate V-E Day as the German Nakba. The German people know that they brought the catastrophe upon themselves.

More than 2 million Japanese soldiers were killed in the war and more than 3 million Japanese civilians perished. Tokyo was firebombed, and two atomic bombs devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But the Japanese people do not commemorate their suffering during the war on V-J Day as the Japanese Nakba. They know that they brought that catastrophe upon themselves.

So what is the Palestinian Nakba all about? The Arabs intended to destroy the Jewish community in Palestine, were confident that they were going to win, but in the end lost the war. That is the origin of the Palestinian catastrophe, a catastrophe the Arabs brought upon themselves.

The difference is that unlike the Germans and the Japanese, many Palestinians and their Arab supporters still harbor hopes of ultimately defeating the State of Israel and destroying the Jewish state.
The writer served as Israel's minister of defense three times, as minister of foreign affairs, and as Israeli ambassador to the U.S.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Best Buy Promotes Radical Islamist Group

This video features leading moderate Muslim, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, criticizing Best Buy for helping to promote a radical group

Friday, May 11, 2012

Reflection on a United Israel

IDF soldiers who liberated the Western Wall in 1967 pictured then and now

Echos of 1967: Israel Unites -Charles Krauthammer

May ’67 was Israel’s most fearful, desperate month. The country was surrounded and alone. Previous great-power guarantees proved worthless. A plan to test the blockade with a Western flotilla failed for lack of participants. Time was running out. Forced into mass mobilization in order to protect against invasion — and with a military consisting overwhelmingly of civilian reservists — life ground to a halt. The country was dying.

On June 5, Israel launched a preemptive strike on the Egyptian air force, then proceeded to lightning victories on three fronts. The Six-Day War is legend, but less remembered is that, four days earlier, the nationalist opposition (Mena­chem Begin’s Likud precursor) was for the first time ever brought into the government, creating an emergency national-unity coalition.

Everyone understood why. You do not undertake a supremely risky preemptive war without the full participation of a broad coalition representing a national consensus.

Forty-five years later, in the middle of the night of May 7-8, 2012, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shocked his country by bringing the main opposition party, Kadima, into a national unity government. Shocking because just hours earlier, the Knesset was expediting a bill to call early elections in September.

Why did the high-flying Netanyahu call off elections he was sure to win?

Because for Israelis today, it is May ’67. The dread is not quite as acute: The mood is not despair, just foreboding. Time is running out, but not quite as fast. War is not four days away, but it looms.
The world is again telling Israelis to do nothing as it looks for a way out. But if such a way is not found — as in ’67 — Israelis know that they will once again have to defend themselves, by themselves.

Such a fateful decision demands a national consensus. By creating the largest coalition in nearly three decades, Netanyahu is establishing the political premise for a preemptive strike, should it come to that. The new government commands an astonishing 94 Knesset seats out of 120, described by one Israeli columnist as a “hundred tons of solid concrete.”

To be sure, Netanyahu and Kadima’s Shaul Mofaz offered more prosaic reasons for their merger: to mandate national service for now exempt ultra- Orthodox youth, to change the election law to reduce the disproportionate influence of minor parties and to seek negotiations with the Palestinians. But Netanyahu, the first Likud prime minister to recognize Palestinian statehood, did not need Kadima for him to enter peace talks. For two years he’s been waiting for Mahmoud Abbas to show up at the table. Abbas hasn’t. And won’t. Nothing will change on that front.

What does change is Israel’s position vis-a-vis Iran. The wall-to-wall coalition demonstrates Israel’s political readiness to attack, if necessary.
Those counseling Israeli submission, resignation or just endless patience can no longer dismiss Israel’s tough stance as the work of irredeemable right-wingers. Not with a government now representing 78 percent of the country.

And it will not be the work of one man, one party or one ideological faction. As in 1967, it will be the work of a nation.
[Jewish World Review]

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Palestine By Numbers: The New Face of Anti-Israel Bias at the New York Times

The new face of anti-Israel bias at the New York Times, Jodi Rudoren heads their Jerusalem Bureau...can't the New York Times find a decent reporter?

By the Numbers: The New York Times' Palestinian Prisoner Article

The New York Times published a report by its new Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren regarding Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike.

Number of quoted words by Palestinian supporters of Palestinian prisoners: 269.
Number of words explaining the Israeli rationale behind administrative detention: 0.
Number of paragraphs before Rudoren gets around to letting readers know that the stars of her article are members of Islamic Jihad: 14.
Countries and groups that list Islamic Jihad as a terrorist organization: U.S., Canada, EU, UK and Australia.

Number of people murdered by Islamic Jihad: Hundreds.
Number of rockets fired at Israeli cities and towns by Islamic Jihad: Hundreds.
Number of references in the article to those attacks: 0.

In Political Surprise, Israel forms Broad Unity Government

In a series of dramatic political moves, Shaul Mofaz [r] of the Centrist Kadima party will join Prime Minister Netanyahu [l] in a broad national unity goverment along with left leaning Ehud Barak [not pictured]

Early Israeli Elections Cancelled, New Broad Coalition Announced -Attila Somfalvi

In a surprise move, the Kadima party under its new chairman Shaul Mofaz agreed to join the Israeli government coalition, hours before the Knesset was to approve the calling of new elections.

As a result, the next Israeli elections will likely be held, as planned, in October 2013.
(Ynet News)

Netanyahu forms unity government -Edmund Sanders

By joining the government coalition, newly elected Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz avoids facing voters amid polls indicating that his centrist party would lose more than half its Knesset seats.

In exchange, Mofaz has been promised a ministerial position in the government, officials said.

For Netanyahu, the deal means he can retain his government, which many consider to be one of the nation's most stable, and reduce his dependence on smaller nationalist and religious parties...

One particularly divisive issue is a plan to begin drafting fervently-Orthodox young people into the army. Netanyahu and Mofaz both support the move, though the religious party Shas is staunchly opposed and had threatened to quit the coalition if the government adopted it. With the votes Kadima brings to the new coalition, such threats would not bring down the government as feared.

Hanan Crystal, a political commentator for Israel Radio, called it the "move of a super-statesman."
[The Los Angeles Times]


Netanyahu Boosts Israel's Deterrence -Ron Ben-Yishai

The unity deal worked out secretly by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz boosts our deterrence power on the Iranian front and Israel's ability to press the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany not to compromise too much.

Mofaz has served as defense minister and IDF chief of staff in the past, and will be joining the forum of top government ministers - now nine in number - entrusted with taking decisions on critical security and diplomatic issues, providing another experienced hand.

In the final analysis, the formation of the new government boosts Israel's deterrent power and upgrades its leadership's decision-making ability on the security and diplomatic front, topped by the Iran issue.
(Ynet News)

Israel Hosts Olive Spitting Contest

An unusual, non-Olympic sport is featured in this video

Monday, May 07, 2012

Bingo: US takes out another Jihadi sleazeball

Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso

Al-Qaeda Terrorist Tied to USS Cole Bombing Killed -Eric Schmitt

Yemeni authorities said Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso, 37, a senior al-Qaeda militant on the FBI's Most Wanted list in connection with the bombing of the Navy destroyer USS Cole that killed 17 sailors in 2000, was killed in an airstrike.

Yemen's embassy in Washington described Quso as "a leading figure in the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula."

The State Department had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.
(New York Times)

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

VideoBite: Jerusalem IMAX

A 7 minute Jerusalem-centered IMAX of Israel with incredible visuals
[Hat tip: Linda Feinberg]

The Legacy of Benzion Netanyahu

Father & Son

Benzion Netanyahu: Jews Are a Remnant of a Remnant -Jeffrey Goldberg

The historian Benzion Netanyahu, who died Monday at 102, was sometimes asked to explain the miracle of Jewish survival through millenniums of persecution. Netanyahu - the father of Israel's prime minister, Benjamin - would answer in a way his interlocutors did not at all expect.

"The Jews didn't survive," he would say. About 1,900 years ago, he would explain, there were about 9 million Jews in a world population of roughly 300 million. Today, there are about 13 million Jews in a world of 7 billion. How is it that the number of Jews has stayed essentially stagnant, even as global population has grown exponentially?

Persecution, he explained, has driven the Jews nearly to extinction. So many murdered, so many forcibly converted to Christianity and Islam, so many choosing the dubious path of assimilation as a defense against hatred and isolation.

The Jews of today, he said, are a remnant of a remnant.

VideoBite: Tour of Israel

A stunning 6 minute 'tour' of Israel

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Is Obama Caving in to Iran?

U.S. Signals Major Shift on Iran Nuclear Program -Paul Richter

In what would be a significant concession, U.S. officials said they might agree to let Iran continue enriching uranium up to 5% purity if it agrees to the unrestricted inspections, strict oversight and numerous safeguards that the UN has long demanded. A shift in the U.S. position that Iran must halt all enrichment activities is likely to prompt strong objections from Israeli leaders, the probable Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, and many members of Congress.

U.S. officials say Iran is unlikely to agree to a complete halt in enrichment and that demanding it do so could make it impossible to reach a negotiated deal to stop the country's nuclear program. However, a senior administration official emphasized that such a deal remained only a small possibility because Iran has shown so little willingness to meet international demands.

"There have been many signals lately that the red line has shifted and they're no longer pushing for full suspension," said Michael Singh, who served as President George W. Bush's top Iran advisor and who strongly opposes allowing Iran to enrich any uranium.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argues that letting any centrifuges spin in Iran will allow scientists there to sharpen their mastery of nuclear science and edge toward bomb-making capability.
(Los Angeles Times)

Waiting for America

A no-fly, no-drive zone on the border with Turkey would critically alter the terms of engagement and encourage greater defections from the regime's forces.

Everyone is waiting on Washington's green light and its leadership. Turkey would act, but only under the banner of NATO. In the markets in Dubai, the Assad dictatorship is dumping its gold reserves - at a discount. In the long run, this regime is doomed.
The writer is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.
(Wall Street Journal)

Confronting Damascus: U.S. Policy toward Syria  -Andrew J. Tabler

[T]he U.S. should share limited intelligence with the opposition inside Syria concerning the deployment and movement of regime forces, especially as they approach population centers for an assault.

Second, the U.S. should assess ways to support popular self-defense alongside civil resistance as two sides of the opposition coin.

Third, Washington should immediately expand contingency planning about possible direct U.S. military support as part of actions to head off massacres or a humanitarian disaster. This includes supporting the creation, with allies such as Turkey, of safe havens inside Syria.

Greater U.S. involvement would increase the chances that the new Syria is much more democratic and closer to American interests than Bashar al-Assad's regime.
The writer, a fellow in The Washington Institute's Program on Arab Politics, testified before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on April 25, 2012.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)