Friday, August 30, 2013

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Obama’s bread and circuses
Iran achieved a strategic achievement by exposing the US as a paper tiger in Syria. With this accomplishment in hand, the Iranians will feel free to call Obama’s bluff on their nuclear weapons project. Obama’s “shot across the bow” response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons in a mass casualty attack signaled the Iranians that the US will not stop them from developing and deploying a nuclear arsenal.
Policy-makers and commentators who have insisted that we can trust Obama to keep his pledge to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons have based their view on an argument that now lies in tatters. They insisted that by pledging to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, Obama staked his reputation on acting competently to prevent Iran from getting the bomb. To avoid losing face, they said, Obama will keep his pledge.
Obama’s behavior on Syria has rendered this position indefensible. Obama is perfectly content with shooting a couple of pot shots at empty government installations. As far as he is concerned, the conduct of air strikes in Syria is not about Syria, or Iran. They are not the target audience of the strikes. The target audience for US air strikes in Syria is the disengaged, uninformed American public.
The Israeli Spring
The Arab Spring has thrown Israel’s once-predictable adversaries into the chaotic state of a Sudan or Somalia. The old understandings between Jerusalem and the Assad and Mubarak kleptocracies seem in limbo.
Yet these tragic Arab revolutions swirling around Israel are paradoxically aiding it, both strategically and politically — well beyond just the erosion of conventional Arab military strength.
In terms of realpolitik, anti-Israeli authoritarians are fighting to the death against anti-Israeli insurgents and terrorists. Each is doing more damage to the other than Israel ever could — and in an unprecedented, grotesque fashion. Who now is gassing Arab innocents? Shooting Arab civilians in the streets? Rounding up and executing Arab civilians? Blowing up Arab houses? Answer: either Arab dictators or radical Islamists.
'They Told Us Israel was the Enemy - They Lied'
Muhammad Adnan, an opponent of the Syrian regime who is living in Turkey, spoke to Arutz Sheva's Yoni Kempinski about his concern for his remaining relatives in Syria and his hopes for an American strike against the Assad regime.
“My mother and my father are in Syria now,” Adnan said, adding that his family feels very concerned and vulnerable.
Adnan said that his family and other Syrians anticipate a Syrian intervention within 4 to 5 days.
“Assad lied to us, [saying that] the enemy is Israel and the Americans. But now, after 70 years, we know who the enemy is: the Assad family, Hezbollah, and Iran,” Adnan declared.
Israel prepares for possible cyber attack
Beyond the conventional battlefield, Israeli analysts say the cyber-battlefield is becoming increasingly important. This week, a group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army hacked into the New York Times website and managed to take the site off-line for several hours. The Times said the Syrian Electronic Army is a group of hackers who support Syrian President Bashar Assad, and they had several times hacked into major media outlets.
Israeli firms are in the forefront of cyber-security. The IDF 's Unit 8200, the army’s surveillance and intelligence unit, is one of Israel’s most competitive and creative units. Israel has long known that the future battlefield will not be conventional, but digital.
Rival Palestinian factions Hamas, Fatah unite against Western attack on Syria
Abbas Zaki, a top Fatah official, said that his faction was strongly against Western intervention.
He warned that such a move would harm Arab national security.
“Targeting Syria would mean targeting all Arabs,” Zaki cautioned. “This would only benefit Israel.”
Daphne Anson: "You Are Fighting For The Soul Of The Church" Pro-Israel British Christians Are Told By Jewish Leader
Remember my post regarding the disturbing Israel-bashing high jinks brought to the Greenbelt festival at Cheltenham Racecourse last weekend by former diplomat Jeremy Moodey's NGO Embrace the Middle East?
Well, pro-Israel Christians have not allowed the demonisers to have it all their own way.
A Christian blogger went so far as to compare Embrace the Middle East's Israel-demonising board game "Occupation!" at the festival to the anti-Israel games played at their camp in Utoya by Anders Breivik's victims, adding:
JPost Editorial: Bullying tactics
When the artists being pressured to boycott Israel go public with these campaign of intimidation, nothing is left to the imagination. No longer can the BDS efforts be concealed as an ideological appeal from peace-loving activists – it is thuggery, bordering on criminality, and it reflects just how desperate their cause has become.
It is heartening that most performers do not fall victim to these bullying tactics and make their own decisions about performing in Israel. With Rihanna, Tom Jones and DJ superstar David Guetta all due here this fall, it is clear they are making the correct choice.
German Jewish group calls for Roger Waters boycott
The Jewish community in Dusseldorf, Germany, is urging a boycott of an upcoming concert by former Pink Floyd band member Roger Waters, who is due to perform there on September 6.
The director of the Jewish Community in Duesseldorf, Michael Szentei-Heise, said in a statement Thursday that Waters was an “intellectual arsonist” whose stage act used “anti-Semitic and National Socialist” imagery.
In his show “The Wall,” based on the classic Pink Floyd album of the same name, Waters has used an inflatable pig featuring a Star of David which appears alongside other religious, political and corporate symbols, leading to charges of anti-Semitism.
Israel a Top Target for U.S. Spying, Leaked Documents Reveal
The Obama administration apparently views Israel as one of the top spying threats facing its intelligence services, according to leaked documents which were exposed Thursday.
A secret budget request obtained by The Washington Post from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden lumps Israel alongside U.S. foes Iran and Cuba as “key targets” for U.S. counterintelligence efforts.
According to The Hill, the document leaked by Snowden suggests that Israel does not believe U.S. assurances that its interests are aligned with Israel's on crucial issues such as Iran and peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.
The Massive New U.S. Investment in Palestinian Mortgages Is a Really Bad Idea
What larger story, then, do the new mortgages and loans tell us? Sadly, not a very cheerful one. As Americans recently learned only too well themselves, mortgages, when divorced from a robust economy in which people are able to make enough money to pay them back, have a tendency to make the ground tremble. Seemingly oblivious to the searing lessons of America’s costly flirtation with unaffordable mortgages, Palestinians have been gobbling up the stuff: Personal debt has more than doubled between 2008 and 2011 and spiked another 40 percent in 2012, with most of the increase due to home loans. Couple that with an economy that the International Monetary Fund labeled earlier this year as “increasingly precarious,” a massive budget deficit, and an unemployment rate that hovers at the 20 percent mark, and what you get is far from a sound investment.
PMW: Palestinian NGO sponsored by UN and EU - Israel uses drugs to "control" Jerusalem residents

What Happens in Askar Stays in Askar
Brief clashes broke out in Ramallah, as around 50 Palestinians protested the PA’s return to talks with Israel, a Ma’an report said.
But he added they were also protesting the fatal shooting of Amjad Odeh, 37, a Palestinian, during an arrest raid by PA forces in Askar refugee camp in Sh’chem on Tuesday.
It’s good marketing — you come to protest the cops killing a guy, you stay to protest the peace process.
Egypt’s Brotherhood ramps up calls for protests
The Muslim Brotherhood ramped up its calls Thursday for nationwide protests against Egypt’s military-backed government, while an Islamist ally of the ousted president spoke of an attempt to broker a deal before the “ship of the nation sinks.”
The Brotherhood’s call for mass protests and sit-ins Friday will test how much the fierce security crackdown has crippled the group and if they can still mobilize their base in the face of widespread public anger against them.
Egypt’s hidden war on women
Concealed within the opposition to the Morsi administration, cloaked within popular protests, a gender war is being waged in Egypt. Mob rape is being used as a tool of political repression within Egypt’s uprising. Vicious sexual assaults are being orchestrated to intimidate and humiliate women demonstrating in Tahrir Square and the presidential palace.
The identity of the organizers is unknown, and their affiliation can only be speculated on. Yet their message is unequivocal: These men are capitalizing on the protests to terrorize women into silence. They want to punish women protesters, and deter women from expressing public opinions, and they are using sexual violence to do it. It can be seen as retribution for women taking on leadership in Egypt’s revolution, and a desperate attempt of the male elites from the deposed regimes to maintain their dominance.
Egyptians Respond with Diplomatic, Economic Measures After Turkish PM Slams Top Cleric
Al-Tayeb, the Turkish premier declared, was “finished.” He went further, insisting that “history will curse Al-Azhar Imam as it cursed religious intellectuals in Turkey before,” an apparent reference to Turkish religious figures who collaborated with the country’s former military rulers.
In response, a spokesman for Egypt’s military-linked presidency denounced Erdogan as a man of “no religious culture.” For its part Al-Azhar responded with a condemnation, asserting that al-Tayeb was “t considered a symbol of Egyptians alone, but also occupies a lofty status in the Arab and Islamic worlds.” The university called for a formal retraction.
US says Iran unable to access oil money
The US government estimates about $1.5 billion of crude oil revenues is piling up in restricted foreign accounts every month now. Crude revenues overall averaged about $3.4 billion monthly in the first half of year, according to the assessment.
This means Iran is not able to either spend or repatriate about 44 percent of its crude oil income.
Shopping for security: Israel's startups are catching the eye of tech heavyweights
Why would multinationals think to go shopping in Israel altogether? Because, said Gadi Tirosh, a general partner at VC firm Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), multinationals already know Israel and are comfortable here. Many of them already have R&D facilities in Israel, and in a sort of virtuous cycle, they meet entrepreneurs and innovators who work in or with startups. (h/t Zvi)
‘Hibernating’ crops may be science’s cure for drought
Will crop loss due to drought become a thing of the past? Professor Shimon Gepstein, a Technion professor and president of Kinneret College in northern Israel, thinks it might. By adding some “youth hormone,” his team developed plants that essentially put themselves into a state of hibernation when they weren’t getting watered and halted their aging/wilting process until they started getting water again.
“They go into a ‘frozen’ state when they do not get water for a while, and return to full development when the water flow resumes,” said Geptstein. “There is no damage to the plant.”

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