JNS BRIEFS 7-17-12

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Clinton says Iran can still ‘make the right decision’

(JNS.org) Speaking in Israel on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated the administration’s preference for a diplomatic resolution in Iran and its belief that “Iran’s leaders still have the opportunity to make the right decision” on their nuclear program.

“The choice is ultimately Iran’s,” Clinton said at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem. “Our own choice is clear: We will use all elements of American power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Meanwhile, during the most recent nuclear talks with the West, Iran said uranium enrichment “is an inalienable and chartered right.” Iran is “not afraid” of the U.S. “because they do not take seriously the likelihood of an American attack,” former national security adviser Elliot Abrams recently told the Washington Free Beacon.

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Click photo to download: Mayor Michael Bloomberg Meets with Cornell University President David J. Skorton and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology President Peretz Lavie on Feb. 23, 2012. Credit: Edward Reed.Israel’s Technion ranked among world’s top 25 engineering schools

(JNS.org) Amid its growing partnership with Cornell University, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology was ranked 25th on Business Insider’s recently released list of the world’s 50 best engineering schools.

New York City announced the Technion-Cornell initiative in December 2011 with the goal of creating an unmatched engineering campus on Roosevelt Island, which lies between Manhattan and Queens along the East River.

Technion President Dr. Peretz Lavie told JNS.org this past February that the school’s strategic goal is “to be among the 10 leading technical universities in the world, joining such schools as MIT, Cal Tech, Stanford, and Georgia Tech in the United States, and the leading universities in Europe, Asia and India.”

The July 9 Business Insider list was “compiled by canvassing engineers, industry professionals and entrepreneurs who work at some of the most popular technology companies,” according to its website.

Israeli sets himself on fire in social justice protest

(JNS.org) A Haifa man set himself on fire July 14 at a social justice rally in Tel Aviv after having spent years fighting Israel’s National Insurance Institute and Income Tax Authority.

Moshe Silman, who once owned a successful business, became homeless after his assets were frozen due to mounting debts, reported the Times of Israel. Later, the state repossessed one of his delivery trucks, causing his entire business to fall apart. Also physically disabled after a stroke, he was unable to get housing subsidies from the state.

“He had no choices left and was just not ready to live on the streets,” said Rabbi Idit Lev, manager of the Social Justice Project at Rabbis for Human Rights, who knew Silman, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Silman read a suicide note aloud and passed out copies. He then doused himself with flammable liquid and set himself on fire. Fellow demonstrators extinguished the flames, and an ambulance took him to Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center in critical condition.

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Click photo to download. Caption: The logo for Israel's Maariv newspaper. Credit: Maariv.Israeli newspaper Maariv ends daily print edition

(JNS.org) Israel’s Maariv newspaper is canceling its daily print edition amid financial difficulties.

One of the major daily newspapers in the Jewish state, Maariv has succumbed to the growing popularity of Internet news as well as competition from Israel Hayom, the country’s most widely read newspaper.

Management has struggled to maintain the print addition of Maariv for years, even cutting back staff, reported Globes. The center-right newspaper will continue as an online publication and will still print a Friday edition.

Egypt’s Coptic leaders shun Clinton due to her meetings with Islamists

(JNS.org)Amid the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt, several Coptic Christian leaders in Egypt are refusing to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the grounds that she previously met with radical Islamic groups.

Clinton and other American representatives have engaged Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi officials in talks during visits to Egypt, and the Coptic leaders said in a statement that the U.S. administration therefore has showed support for radical groups over civil ones, the Egypt Independent reported.

Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood recently won Egypt’s presidential election. The Coptic leaders who have declined to meet with Clinton are businessman Naguib Sawiris and political activist Michael Mounir, among others.

Hamas improves rocket range capabilities after successful test launch

(JNS.org)Hamas’s military wing recently test-fired a rocket into the Sinai Peninsula from the neighboring Gaza Strip, Israel Hayom reported, citing Egyptian media outlets. The rocket reportedly was fired toward central Sinai from the Rafiah area in south Gaza, and was capable of reaching further distances than any other missile in Hamas’s rocket arsenal.

Hamas sources in Gaza called the test launch a success after the rocket landed dozens of kilometers from the Gaza border. The new-model rocket, according to the reports, was developed in Gaza based on knowledge from dismantled long-range missiles smuggled into Gaza from Libya.

One month ago, two Grad rockets believed to have been fired from Sinai into southern Israel were discovered near Ovda and Mitzpe Ramon, after penetrating deeper into Israel than ever before.

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Click photo to download. Caption: PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Credit: World Economic Forum. U.S. threatens cut in aid amid PA corruption

(JNS.org) Palestinian Authority (PA) official Khaled Mesmar recently said the U.S. has “threatened to cut off financial aid to the Palestinian Liberation Office in Washington if the Palestinian leadership submitted another membership bid to the United Nations,” Israel National News reported.

Mesmar’s admission comes amid comprehensive U.S. examination of the PA’s economic corruption. In a July 10 House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing titled, “Chronic Kleptocracy: Corruption within the Palestinian Political Establishment,” U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) said Western nations should be looking at the ways Hamas leadership “mismanages the local economy” and blames Israel for its misfortunes.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas “lines his own pockets as well as those of his cohort of cronies, including his sons…who have enriched themselves with U.S. taxpayer money,” Chabot said.

“In his pre-election platform, President Abbas promised to end financial corruption and implement major reforms, but he hasn’t done much since then,” added Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Unfortunately, Abbas has surrounded himself with many of the thieves and officials who were involved in theft of public funds and who became icons of financial corruption.”

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Click photo to download. Caption: Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. Credit: U.S. Navy.Sudan, Syria could join UN Human Rights Council

(JNS.org) The human rights group UN Watch urged the United Nations to oppose a bid by Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir for a seat on the Human Rights Council.

“Electing Sudan to the U.N. body mandated to promote and protect human rights worldwide is like putting Jack the Ripper in charge of a women’s shelter,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. Bashir has been indicted for genocide in the International Criminal Court.

Additionally, Syria is “virtually assured of victory” in its bid for a Human Rights Council seat by 2014 because fixed slates of candidates are provided to the council “behind closed doors,” Neuer told the Baltimore Sun. UN Watch is also campaigning against the candidacies of Venezuela and Pakistan.

In his July 2 speech to the Human Rights Council, Syrian representative Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui ignored his own country’s genocide and instead focused on Israel’s uprooting of trees in the Golan Heights.

State Dept. opposes report that makes legal case for West Bank Jewish communities

(JNS.org) A report by the Commission to Examine the Status of Building in Judea and Samaria—a legal panel headed by retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levy—concluded that international law contains no provision making the Jewish population in the area illegal.

The report says Israelis “have the legal right to settle in Judea and Samaria and the establishment of settlements cannot, in and of itself, be considered to be illegal.”

Reacting to the report, U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said, “We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts.”

Analyst Ted Belman wrote for Israpundit that Ventrell “merely reiterated the U.S. government position without substantiating it.”

“If [the Jewish communities in the West Bank] were really illegal by international law, Israel wouldn’t be able to ‘legalize’ them,” according to Belman. “Put another way, the U.S. position is that Israel shouldn’t exercise her rights because such exercise would be an obstacle to peace. It prefers to recognize the non-existing Arab rights over the real rights of the Jews/Israel.”

Jerusalem YMCA refuses to display Israeli flag

(JNS.org)Organizers of a summer camp at the Jerusalem International YMCA refused to include an Israeli flag with a collection of national flags from around the world currently adorning the building, Israel Hayom reported.

The YMCA has traditionally promoted friendship between Christians, Muslims and Jews.

Miri Edry, the mother of a camper attending the “Magical World Voyage” summer camp, said she was told, “Just as there is no flag of Palestine, there is no flag of Israel” at the camp.

“That is unacceptable,” Edry said. “After all, the main focus of this summer camp is a shared experience of all cultures and all peoples, and we are in the State of Israel, and this is our national flag.”

YMCA CEO Forsan Hussein said the fact that he avoided hanging an Israeli flag or a Palestinian flag “doesn’t mean that we don’t recognize Israel’s existence.”

“We wanted to give the children an international experience,” Hussein said.

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Click photo to download. Caption: Alan Dershowitz. Credit: Maxine Dovere.Dershowitz: J Street undercutting U.S. Iran policy

(JNS.org) Alan Dershowitz said J Street is “totally undercutting American policy toward Iran.” According to the Harvard University law professor, the message of the group can no longer be viewed as pro-Israel because it opposes any U.S. military intervention in the Islamic Republic.

J Street’s website states that a military strike against Iran “would be ill advised… We therefore oppose legislation authorizing, encouraging, or in other ways laying the groundwork for the use of military force against Iran.”

“You can’t call yourself pro-Israeli and not want the American military option kept open,” Dershowitz told the Times of Israel.

The attorney said J Street is undercutting President Barack Obama. Dershowitz said he believes Obama “means it when he says the military option is on the table.”

J Street responded that Dershowitz is “attacking positions we have not taken.”

Better Place begins to market electric cars in Israel

(JNS.org) Israeli start-up Better Place Inc. began a marketing campaign to promote electric cars to the general public. The campaign launched four months after 250 electric cars were delivered to company employees and select customers.

The NIS 4 million campaign’s slogan is “Not for everyone,” given that the campaign is specifically targeting environmentally conscious customers. Better Place hopes to sell 4,000 electric cars within a year, reported Globes.

Hebron-area Jews protest increased Palestinian highway attacks

(JNS.org) Residents of Hebron-area Israeli towns say they are suffering increasing attacks from Palestinians since Israel began opening West Bank highways to Arabs living under Palestinian Authority (PA) control.

On July 12, Jewish residents of the town of Negohot blocked roads in a protest.

“We suffer from nails on the highway, they throw rocks and firebombs at our cars,” Asaf Fried, who lives in Negohot, told Israel National News.

Until three years ago, Israel did not allow residents of PA territories to access roads in the area as a precaution against terror. Instead, those residents traveled along parallel PA roads.

Tel Aviv mayor makes top-10 list of 'smart governors'

(JNS.org) Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai was named one of the world’s 10 “smart governors” by the British magazine Monocle, which credited Huldai with transforming his city into a “magnet for young tech entrepreneurs.”

The magazine said its list recognizes leaders who have “big ideas and bold vision—civic leaders that put their homes on the map for all the right reasons.” Huldai came in fourth on the list.

“When Ron Huldai, a former fighter pilot, stepped into office in 1998, Tel Aviv was nearly bankrupt,” the magazine wrote. “Inheriting a crumbling infrastructure with businesses packing up and moving out, Huldai’s three terms as mayor are the urban equivalent of alchemy.”

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Click photo to download. Caption: Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. Credit: U.S. government.U.S. official meets with Abbas, who calls Israel 'intransigent'

(JNS.org) Following his July 11 meeting in Ramallah with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is “stalled because of the intransigent position of the Israeli government.”

The Palestinian news agency WAFA released a statement of Abbas that accused Israel of “refusing to adhere to the agreements signed between the two sides and the terms of reference of the peace process, to halt settlement activity and release prisoners arrested before 1994.”

Abbas stressed during his meeting with Burns that “the resumption of [peace] negotiations requires pressure on the Israeli government to implement its commitment to halt settlement activities, including in Jerusalem, and to accept the principle of a two-state solution,” according to the statement.

Burns met with senior Israeli officials on July 12 for strategic talks on Iran and other Middle East issues.

Jewish point guard leaving the NBA for Turkey

(JNS.org) Jewish point guard Jordan Farmar, whose contract was bought out by the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Atlanta Hawks, will return overseas to play for Turkish team Anadolu Efes, the Newark Star-Ledger reported.

The Brooklyn Nets traded Farmar to Atlanta earlier in the NBA offseason. During last year’s NBA lockout, which shortened the season to 66 games, Farmar played in Israel for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel.  

Farmar, who won two league championships during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers, averaged 10.4 points and 3.3 assists per game for the Nets last season. His contract in Turkey will reportedly be worth $10.5 million over three years.

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Click photo to download. Caption: The Haifa harbor. Credit: Hanay.Haifa serving as secret stop along Iraqi-European trade route

(JNS.org) Israel’s port city of Haifa has been secretly facilitating trade between Iraq and Europe even though Israel and Iraq do not have diplomatic relations, according to an Al-Jazeera report.

Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav told the network that Jordanian trucks carry Iraqi goods to Haifa, and ships subsequently take those goods to Europe. For Iraq, the trade route through Haifa is more direct and cost-effective than routes through the Persian Gulf, trade expert Matanis Shahadeh said.

Additionally, Israel has committed $70.6 million to a train line from Haifa to Beit She’an, a city situated on its border with Jordan. Plans to connect that train to Jordan are in “preliminary stages,” the Times of Israel reported.

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Click photo to download. Caption: The Iron Dome battery near Ashkelon. Credit: IDF.Iron Dome coming to Eilat amid tension at Israel-Egypt border

(JNS.org) Following terrorist attacks at the Egyptian border and concern over that country’s election of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi, Israel will set up the Iron Dome missile defense system near Eilat, Reuters reported.

According to an Israeli military spokesperson, the Iron Dome battery “will be placed near Eilat as part of an operational deployment program which includes changing the locations of the batteries from time to time.”

Until now, the Iron Dome has been used primarily to intercept Hamas rockets from Gaza, but now the system moves to Israel’s southernmost city. In June, an unidentified gunman killed an Israeli worker after crossing the Egyptian border, and eight Israelis were killed in a cross-border attack there in August 2011.

U.S. orders Iran to pay $800 million for Lebanon bombing

(JNS.org) The Iranian government has been ordered to pay damages exceeding $800 million to the families of 241 U.S. soldiers killed during a 1983 Lebanon bombing.

On Oct. 23 of that year, a truck with explosives was detonated in front of the U.S. barracks near Beirut’s international airport. In an attack the same day, a truck bomb at the French barracks in Beirut also killed 58 paratroopers. Both bombings were blamed on the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah.

A U.S. federal judge has now ruled that Iran must compensate the victim families. “Iran is racking up quite a bill from its sponsorship of terrorism,” Judge Royce Lamberth said, according to AFP.

Iran enhances missles, experts say regime doesn't take U.S. seriously

(JNS.org) A recently released report by the Pentagon says Iran has improved its ballistic missile capabilities as well as its weapons that target ships at sea, Bloomberg News reported.

“U.S. government reports have previously always downplayed the accuracy and effectiveness of Iran’s missile forces,” said Congressional Research Service Iran analyst Kenneth Katzman, according to Bloomberg. “The [latest Pentagon] report seemed pretty sober and respectful of Iran’s capabilities, crediting Iran with improving survivability.”

During the most recent nuclear talks with the West, Iran said uranium enrichment “is an inalienable and chartered right.”

Iran is “not afraid” of the U.S. “because they do not take seriously the likelihood of an American attack,” former national security adviser Elliot Abrams told the Washington Free Beacon.

Washington Institute for Near East Policy fellow Michael Eisenstadt, who formerly served in the Pentagon, said Iran has “been saying for a long time they don’t take seriously these threats.”

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Click photo to download. Caption: The Gizah Pyramids in Egypt. Credit: Ricardo Liberato. Muslim clerics call for destruction of Egyptian pyramids

(JNS.org) Several Muslim clerics are calling for the destruction of Egypt’s Great Pyramids, FrontPage Magazine reported, citing Arabic media accounts.

Saudi Sheikh Ali bin Said al-Rabi’i said the pyramids are “symbols of paganism,” while Abd al-Letif al-Mahmoud—president of the National Unity in Bahrain, publicly requested that newly elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi “destroy the Pyramids.”

In Mali, the Associated Press reported that Islamic extremists on Monday decimated tombs as well as the gate of a 600-year-old mosque in the ancient city of Timbuktu.

Israel excluded from counterterrorism forum, State Dept. confirms

(JNS.org) The State Department confirmed to members of Congress that Israel was not included in the 29-country Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), which was organized by the U.S. and held its first meeting June 8 in Istanbul, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

“The State Department told us that only the 29 original member countries were involved—and that means no Israel,” said an anonymous congressional source cited by the Free Beacon.

The U.S. excluded Israel due to objections from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Globes reported.

Launched by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in September 2011, the GCTF intends to “provide a unique platform for senior counterterrorism policymakers and experts from around the world to work together to identify urgent needs, devise solutions and mobilize resources for addressing key counterterrorism challenges,” according to the State Department. Israel was not included despite having some of the world’s most comprehensive counterterrorism experience.

Merah recording on French TV angers victim families

(JNS.org) The families of three Jewish children and a rabbi shot by Islamist terrorist Mohammed Merah outside the Ozar Hatorah Jewish day school in Toulouse have expressed anger after the French TV channel TF1 broadcast recordings on Sunday of the negotiations between Merah and police during the 32-hour siege on his apartment.

Lawyers of the families said they would work to prevent the spreading of the recording, in which Merah described one of the shootings in chilling details, on the Internet. “I know that you might kill me, it’s a risk I take. So here it is, you must know that in front of you there is a man who is not afraid of death. Death, I love it, as you love life,” Merah is heard saying on the tape, according to the Jerusalem Post.

“We do understand the shock and the violence for the victims’ families who had to hear the man who, in absolute cold blood and determination, assassinated one of their family members,” said Catherine Nayl, the managing director of news and information at TF1, before concluding, “[but] we are journalists, and our job is to inform.”

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Click photo to download. Caption: Woody Allen. Credit: David Shankbone.Campaign urges Woody Allen to film in Israel

(JNS.org) The Los Angeles Jewish Journal is campaigning online for director Woody Allen to film his next movie in Israel in light of several Allen films that featured destinations from around the world, including “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” “Midnight in Paris” and, most recently, “To Rome with Love.”

The Oscar-winning filmmaker, who only makes one movie a year, said he chooses locations based on “where the money is,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The Jewish Journal’s campaign is dubbed “The Woody Allen Israel Project.”

“Here’s this week’s not-so-crazy idea: Let’s all pitch in, just a few dollars each, and fund Woody Allen’s next movie — in Israel…($18 million) is what an Allen movie costs... That will enable Israel to enter the world’s imagination in a way a billion dollars of hasbara (public relations efforts) couldn’t possibly buy,” said Jewish Journal Editor Rob Eshman.

Posted on July 17, 2012 and filed under Briefs.