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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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MidEast, Media, & Jewish World Wrap-up

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IRAN

Netanyahu: U.S. sanctions on Iran ineffective, more action neededIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that the U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran so far have been ineffective, and that the international community should impose tougher measures on Tehran’s oil industry and its Central Bank.

Speaking at a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, Netanyahu said that Iran was penetrating Iraq at a fast pace and that instability in the country had increased since the U.S. withdrew its forces. Netanyahu said that the situation called for a strengthening of Israel’s defenses against aerial and ground attacks.

Echoing Netanyahu’s remarks, Deputy Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe (Bogey) Ya’alon said on Sunday that the U.S. government was not advancing tough sanctions against Iran due to internal political considerations during an election year.

Ya’alon said that while the Iranian issue remains at the top of the global agenda, and European leaders in France and Britain are taking a hard line against Tehran by understanding the need for sanctions against it’s oil exports and central bank, this was not the case with the White House.

U.S.-Israel military drill postponed because of Iran

The U.S. and Israel decided to postpone a large joint military exercise scheduled to take place in May after Iran interpreted the joint drill as a threat, diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said Sunday night, according to Israel Hayom.

The exercise was expected to include thousands of soldiers from both countries. While an official reason was not given, diplomatic officials in Jerusalem sais that the drill was postponed to avoid any moves that could heat up the region amid already high tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) National President Morton A. Klein expressed concern about the postponement, saying: “President Obama has often touted strong U.S./Israeli defense ties as proof of his Administration’s strong support for Israel. If that is so, why is a vital joint military exercise dealing with the Iranian threat postponed while no efforts other than weak sanctions pursued to stop Iran?”

ZOA is also alarmed by reports that Obama demanded an explanation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the recent killing of the Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, with Klein noting that “even the Iranian government has not internationally claimed that Israel carried out the killing.”

Asian countries agree to reduce Iranian oil imports

The United States is urging Asian countries to reduce the amount of oil they buy from Iran in another effort to hinder Iran’s attempts to produce nuclear weapons, the New York Times reported.

Sixty percent of Iranian oil is exported to China, Japan, India and South Korea. Negotiations with these countries come in the wake of Iran’s decision to hold naval drills in the Strait of Hormuz.

South Korea and Japan have announced that they will try to accommodate America’s request while China already reduced the amount of oil it buys from Iran after a pricing dispute.

“It’s a global chess game. The major buyers are prudently beginning to make alternative plans to reduce their reliance on Iranian oil,” said Daniel Yergin, an energy historian, according to the New York Times. Saudi Arabia, a long-time rival of Iran, said it will produce more oil to make up in any decline in exports.

INTERNATIONAL

EU could help Arabs build in Judea and Samaria

A new European Union policy could mean that the EU is going to encourage and fund Arab building and development in Area C, an area in Judea and Samaria under Israeli military and political control. The EU could go forward without Israeli approval, the Israel National News reported.

Area C includes Gush Etzion, Ma’aleh Adumim, and other Jewish towns in the vicinity of Ariel. Around 90 percent of Jewish residents of the entire region live in Area C, whereas as the Arab population of the area is barely six percent.

Despite this, the EU document shows a desire to work towards a future Palestinian state in the region, which would also include Area C. To that end, the EU plans to help Arabs build more homes and communities in the area. This would defy the Oslo Accords, which state Israel is in charge of area C until a final agreement is completed.

“We will support whatever needs to be done for the sale of Palestinian development in the area regardless of Israel’s planning policy,” a Western diplomat said, according to the report.

Israel slams UK settlements barb as ‘gratuitous bashing’Click photo to download. Caption: British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. Credit: World Economic Forum. British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg accused Israel on Monday of carrying out “deliberate vandalism” by continuing to build settlements on land the Palestinians hope will form part of their future state.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told Israel Hayom on Tuesday that Clegg’s comments were “gratuitous and ill informed,” and damaged chances for peace by giving more excuses to the Palestinians not to negotiate or compromise. Ayalon added that he would be delivering this message to his counterparts in London.

Clegg was speaking alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who also was holding talks in London with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague, both of whom have previously expressed concern over settlements.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Clegg’s choice of language would do little to help attempts to restart peace talks. “It would be much better to contribute to peace by encouraging the fragile revival of Israeli-Palestinian talks rather than engaging in gratuitous bashing,” Palmor said.

IDF ready to welcome Syrian Muslim refugees if Assad fallsThe Israeli Defense Sources (IDF) announced it plans to absorb Alawite Muslim refugees in the Golan Heights if Syrian President Bashar Assad loses power, the Israel National News reported. The Alawites are a Syrian minority group.

“The day the Assad regime falls, this is expected to hurt the Alawite sect,” Lt. Gen. Gantz told the Knesset.

Forty thousand Jews currently live in the Golan Heights, an area not recognized as part of Israel but the International community. Critics of the move say that this will increase the Muslim population in the region and threaten its Jewish majority. This in turn could lead to more pressure by foreign powers to give up the strategic region to Syria in return for a peace agreement.

Syria has long been interested in the Golan Heights because of its water resources, which Syria, like the rest of Israel, lacks. Left-wing Israeli politicians, like Likud Knesset Member Dan Meridor, have said they would be willing to give up the region in exchange for peace.

India, Greece and Cyprus to cooperate with IsraelIndia and Israel are committing to cooperate more on issues of counterterrorism and trade, while both Cyprus and Greece have pledged to boost their defense ties with the Jewish state, news outlets reported last week.

Indian Minister S. M. Krishna visited Israel and said India and Israel must address the “scourge of international terrorism which has become the curse for the entire humanity.” Prime Minister Netanyahu said the two countries are “two ancient peoples seizing the future in technology, in innovation, [and] in enterprise,” Voice of America reported.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak also visited Greece and Greek Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said that the two countries are trying to “make up for lost time.” Greece was a pro-Palestinian country for many years, not recognizing Israel until 1991, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Cyprus also signed two agreements on defense cooperation and protection and exchange of classified information. Details of the agreements were not fully released, but they do include the monitoring of the island’s airspace, according to Cyprus Mail.

Islamists call for re-Islamization of Spanish regionIslamists are calling to reclaim parts of Spain for their own rule as the number of Muslims rises in the country, the Stonegate Institute reported. Specifically, Islamists are calling for the Islamization of Andalusia, a region in southern Spain.

Andalusia’s name is of Arabic origin, from Al-Andalus; it was occupied by Muslims between the years 711 and 1492. According to the Stonegate Institute, Islamists believe that all territories once under Muslim rule, like those lost in the Christian Reconquista of Spain, must be reclaimed. Calls for Spain to be brought back under Islamic Sharia law are now rising across the country and throughout the Internet.

The rising Muslim population in Spain serves as the foundation for Islamists’ claim to the land. While the Muslim population has risen from just 100,000 since 1990 to an estimated 1.3 million in 2011, more than 150,000 native Spaniards left Spain in 2011 to seek better economic opportunities.

MEDIA
Al-Jazeera English a different face from the Arabic channelSince the Al-Jazeera news network began broadcasting its English-language counterpart to New Yorkers in August of 2011, the network has been praised by U.S. officials for its coverage of the Arab Spring. However, the Arabic language Al Jazeera broadcasting channel is being accused of promoting anti-Americanism and extreme Islamism, the Middle East Forum reported.

Journalist Fouad Ajami, who covered the Arabic channel for New York Times Magazine, wrote that the Arabic “Al Jazeera deliberately fans the flames of Muslim outrage.”

Just after 9/11, the channel frequently aired idealized footage of Osama Bin Laden and later referred to suicide bombings killing US soldiers in Iraq as an armed resistance struggle.

While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the English channel as “real news,” Dave Marash, who previously worked for that channel, said that even there he felt an underdone of anti-Americanism and witnessed “really shoddy reporting.”

YouTube freezes, then reopens Palestinian Media Watch account
YouTube froze the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) account—which would have prevented the watchdog organization from uploading any new videos for two weeks—but then reopened the account Jan. 18, following PMW’s posting of a video that featured a speech by the Palestinian Authority Mufti detailing Muslims’ destiny to kill Jews.

Initially, YouTube deemed the video—which also revealed the comments of a Fatah moderator who called Jews the “descendants of the apes and pigs”—to be “inappropriate.”

After being removed, the video is once again viewable on YouTube.

After questioning Jewish connection to arson, Arab subjected to gunfire

The home of an Arab who questioned that Jews set a mosque on fire as a “Price Tag” operation was subjected to gunfire last weekend, Israel National News reported.

Shortly after Bassem Swaid, who lives in the northern Bedouin-Arab village of Tuba Zangariyya, told Channel 2 news that the mosque fire in the village three months ago was not set by an outsider, bullets were fired at his home Jan. 14.

Swaid’s television interview casting doubt on the Jewish connection to the arson comes after Israeli officials last October immediately apologized to Arab residents following the incident.

PA continues to spew hate against Israel and JewsPalestinian Authority TV rebroadcast a song last week that claims Jaffa, Acre, Haifa, and Nazareth belong to the Palestinians, thereby again reinforcing the PA’s refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist. At the same time, the principal Palestinian Authority religious leader, Mufti Muhammad Hussein, said last week that the killing of Jews by Muslims is a religious Islamic goal, Palestinian Media Watch reported.

Also last week, the Mufti, who was appointed by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said at an event celebrating the 47th anniversary of the founding of Fatah that: “The Hour [of Resurrection] will not come until you fight the Jews. The Jew will hide behind stones or trees. Then the stones or trees will call: ‘Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’”

JEWISH WORLD
Jewish couple narrowly escapes sinking shipSeveral Jewish passengers, including Americans and Israelis, were rescued from the Italian Costa Concordia cruise liner that sank off the coast of Tuscany last weekend.

A young Jewish couple from Florida was having dinner on the ship when it hit a sandbar and flipped to the side. Joseph Saba, whose son David was on the ship, said: “They felt something hit from below, ‘Bap, bap bap!’”

After being rescued by a lifeboat, the couple is grateful they got away with their lives, although they lost all of their belongings. “He doesn’t have a passport. They need to go to the embassy to see what they need to do to come back. They don’t have any clothes or anything,” Joseph Saba said. As of Sunday five people have been confirmed dead in the disaster, the BBC said.

Nazi railroads can’t do business with Florida

Proposed legislation forces any railroad company to reveal whether it participated in the genocide of the Jewish people during the Holocaust before it can be allowed to do business with the state of Florida, The News Service of Florida reported.

Bill SB 546 refers to any railroad company that transported Jews to Nazi concentration camps during World War II and is now seeking rail contracts from Florida. Specifically, however, the bill targets the French national railroad SNCF, which had been used by the Nazis for this purpose.

SNCF wanted to plan a high-speed rail project in Florida last year, but Gov. Rick Scott killed the project. Sen. Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood) sponsored the measure. It was unanimously approved and goes next to the Community Affairs Committee.

Survey shows most Jewish college students love Israel

Young college Jews strongly support Israel, a new study sponsored jointly by The Israel Project and the American Israeli Cooperative Enterprise shows. Conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, the survey represents the opinion of 400 Jewish undergraduates. Among Jewish students, 66 percent said they feel close to Israel.

This is comparable to the American Jewish Committee’s survey of the national Jewish community, in which 68 percent said the same.

“Our survey found that Jews … believe that caring about Israel is an important part of being Jewish, think American and Israeli Jews share a common destiny and agree American Jews should support the policies of the government and express any criticism privately,” said Mitchell Bard, Executive Director of the nonprofit American Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) and co-funder of the research.

The survey shows that Jewish college students feel more close to Israel if they attended a Jewish day school, a summer camp, or were involved in a youth group. Of those involved in a Jewish organization on campus, 78 percent support Israel, compared to only 52 percent of those who do not. Seventy percent of Jewish students believe they are well informed on Israel and 84 percent support Israel when it comes to the conflict with the Palestinians.

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U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran ineffective; EU to encourage Arab building in Area C; Al Jazeera accused of promoting anti-Americanism; Israelis rescued from the Italian Costa Concordia cruise liner.

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