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Saturday, September 07, 2013

9/07 Links: Israel – The happiest country on Earth?, Arab Countries Offered to Pay for Syria Invasion

From Ian:

Israel – The happiest country on Earth?
Have you ever googled “most hated country in the world”? As you can imagine, Israel ranks as one of the highest, right next to North Korea and Iran. Let’s face it, in some circles our Jewish country is just not that popular. Yet, if you research the happiest country in the world, Israel tops the list.
An article published by The Asia Times reads, “Envy surrounds no country on Earth like the state of Israel, and with good reason: by objective measures, Israel is the happiest nation on Earth.... It is one of the wealthiest, freest and best-educated; and it enjoys a higher life expectancy than Germany or the Netherlands. But most remarkable is that Israelis appear to love life and hate death more than any other nation.”
Take a minute and think about that. Picture that from above. Israel is geographically engulfed by countries that are hell-bent on destroying her, constantly radiating negativity or actively attempting to kill her civilians. With all that hostility aimed at the Jewish state, Israelis are walking the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem the happiest people in the world. It’s absolutely remarkable.
Majority of Israelis support freedom of religion, marriage
According to Hiddush, an Israeli NGO advocating freedom of religion and equality, 83 percent of Jewish respondents to a survey said they support “freedom of religion,” and 61% advocated for the complete separation of religion and state.
The study, titled “The Religion and State Index,” was conducted for Hiddush by the Rafi Smith Polling Institute among 800 adult Jewish respondents who are representative of the adult Jewish Israeli population. It was published Tuesday ahead of the Jewish New Year.
15 arrested on Temple Mount after violent clashes
Palestinian youths at the site began an onslaught of stone-throwing at officers on Friday morning, Israel Police said.
No injuries were reported, as police used stun grenades to quell the riot and let worshipers leave the site.
On Wednesday, 15 people were arrested ahead of the Jewish New Year after they threw stones and clashed with police at site. Police also stopped several buses carrying some 100 Muslim worshipers from accessing the site on suspicion that they intended to cause disturbances. There were no reports of injuries.
Alan M. Dershowitz Assad Is Adopting Hamas "Dead Baby" Strategy
When Hamas employed this dead baby strategy against Israel, it was a resounding success. Despite the fact that Hamas deliberately fired rockets from schoolyards, hospitals and densely populated civilian areas, the international community blamed Israel for trying to prevent rockets from attacking its civilians by targeting the rockets and occasionally killing civilians. It was Israel, rather than Hamas, that was accused of "war crimes," even though it is clearly a war crime to use civilians as human shields. Israel had little choice but to protect its own citizens against rocket attacks, but the world focused not on the moral correctness of Israel's decisions, but rather on the gruesome pictures of dead Palestinians babies, even though some of them were actually caused by errant Palestinian rockets.
Khaled Abu Toameh Fatah Wants Egypt To Overthrow Hamas
As the Egyptian army continues to demolish houses and smuggling tunnels, Fatah leaders in the West Bank are hoping that they will soon be able to return to the Gaza Strip.
At one time, Fatah leaders had hopes that Israel would overthrow Hamas through military force. Now, they are hoping that the new rulers of Egypt will do the job.
Beleaguered Hamas officials claim that the Palestinian Tamarod group is operated and trained by Egypt's General Intelligence Service and Fatah, with the goal of toppling their regime in the Gaza Strip. Hamas security forces have detained several Palestinian activists and journalists as part of an effort to crush the new group.
Egypt’s anti-Morsi movement meets with Gaza’s anti-Hamas group
“The meeting sought to transfer experiences and mechanisms of Egypt’s Tamarod to the Gaza Strip,” said Mahmoud Badr, the leader of the group.
The meeting took place in Cairo on Wednesday evening.
“Tamarod is a revolutionary movement struggling against injustice and despotism everywhere and in every place. This experience is feasible against all dictatorships,” Badr highlighted.
Gaza fuel shortage may cause power plant shut down
For the second time in a week, the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip warned Thursday that the Palestinian territory’s sole power plant is liable to shut down entirely in the coming days because of a fuel shortage.
Gaza’s energy authority published a statement saying that the fuel shortage has reached such severity that it may precipitate “a humanitarian disaster,” Israel Radio reported.
Hamas TV to broadcast from Copenhagen
He added that their relationship with Al-Aqsa was “strictly professional”.
“We have decided to keep working for Al-Aqsa as long as what they report is in line with our viewpoint,” al Maimouni said. “If they try to move their content into a political direction that we do not agree with, we will decline.”
In 2008, Al-Aqsa aired an episode of the children's programme 'The Pioneers of Tomorrow', in which the show's large pink rabbit Assud promoted the killing of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and said he would "bite and eat" Danes if they insulted the prophet Mohammed again.
Obama says US cannot turn ‘blind eye’ in Syria
The president said that the United States cannot “turn a blind eye” to the images coming out of Syria following a reported chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime in a Damascus suburb on August 21. The US estimates that 1,429 people were killed in that attack.
“The US has presented a powerful case to the world that the Syrian government is responsible for this horrific attack on its own people,” the president said.
“This was not only a direct attack on human dignity, it’s a serious threat to our national security.”
Israeli policy statement supports Obama on Syria
Shortly after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee concluded a lengthy session debating the approval of a retaliatory strike, Oren released an official statement in which he said that “Israel agrees with President Obama that the use of chemical weapons is a ‘heinous act’ for which the Assad regime must be held accountable and for which there must be ‘international consequences.’ Israel further agrees with the President that the use of chemical weapons promotes the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and encourages ‘governments who would choose to build nuclear arms.’”
In his statement, Oren quoted Obama’s exact language to emphasize Jerusalem’s support for the American president’s position.
US notes yearlong escalation of chemical weapons use in Syria
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the administration knew of at least 11 incidents where Assad used chemical weapons even before the August attack, which is more than double the number the US had previously divulged.
But the administration did not go public with the information, saying that it believed Assad used chemical weapons only in April this year, a month after a March sarin attack in Syria went awry and also killed government troops.
“The president didn’t believe it was a compelling enough case to win the support of the American people and the world,” Kerry told lawmakers when he was asked why the US didn’t push for military action in April.
Kerry: Arab Countries Have Offered to Pay for Syria Invasion
Secretary of State John Kerry said Arab countries have offered to pay for a full invasion of Syria to oust President Bashar Assad.
“With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assess, the answer is profoundly yes,” Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee during a hearing Wednesday, according to The Washington Post. “They have. That offer is on the table.”
Report: Hezbollah Admitted that Assad Was Behind Chemical Attack
Participants at a confidential meeting of German lawmakers on Monday said the head of the BND foreign intelligence agency told them it had intercepted a phone call believed to be between a high-ranking member of Hezbollah and the Iranian Embassy in Damascus.
"The BND referred to a phone call they had heard between a Hezbollah official and the Iranian embassy in which he spoke about Assad having ordered the attack," one of the participants told Reuters on Wednesday.
In the phone call, the Hezbollah official says Assad's order for the attack was a mistake and that he was losing his nerve, the participants reported the BND briefing as saying.
Assad: Syria has received Russian missiles
Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview broadcast Thursday that he is “confident in victory” in his country’s civil war, and he warned that Damascus would retaliate for any future Israeli airstrike on his territory.
Assad also told the Lebanese TV station Al-Manar that Russia has fulfilled some of its weapons contracts recently, but he was vague on whether this included advanced S-300 air defense systems.
U.N. Ambassador: U.S. Thought Iran Wouldn’t Tolerate Syria Using Chemical Weapons
United Nations ambassador Samantha Power spoke on Friday to the Center for American Progress, continuing the Obama administration’s attempts to win over more liberals for Syrian military strikes. In laying out a more humanitarian argument for intervention, Power spoke of all the non-military tactics the United States attempted beforehand, revealing that they were hoping the U.N. would be able to come up with a report on Syria’s use of chemical weapons that would “convince Russia or Iran… to cast loose” Syria.
Iran threatens brutal attacks on Americans, Obama family if US hits Syria
And in an unprecedented statement, a former Iranian official has warned of mass abductions and brutal killings of American citizens around the world and the rape and killing of one of Obama’s daughters should the United States attack Syria.
Alireza Forghani, the former governor of southern Iran’s Kish Province, threw down the gauntlet last week. Forghani is an analyst and strategy specialist in the supreme leader’s camp and closely aligned with Mehdi Taeb, who heads the regime’s Ammar Strategic Base, a radical think thank, and thus speaks with the blessing of the Islamic regime.
Egypt interior minister warns of new wave of terror after assassination attempt
A bomb targeted the convoy of Egypt’s interior minister Thursday in Cairo in the first attack on a senior government official since the country’s Islamist president was toppled in a coup two months ago, raising concerns over a possible campaign of violence by his supporters.
The assassination attempt against Mohammed Ibrahim, who is in charge of the police force, signaled the arrival in the capital of the sort of insurgency-style attacks that have been escalating in the Sinai Peninsula.
Egypt moves to dissolve Brotherhood NGO – reports
Egypt's army-backed government will dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood as a non-governmental organisation within days, a newspaper reported on Friday, a move that would press a crackdown on deposed President Mohamed Mursi's movement.
The move applies to the NGO registered by the Brotherhood in March in response to a lawsuit that argued the group had no legal status. It would mark a mostly symbolic legal blow to Mursi's group as the authorities round up its members in the harshest crackdown in decades.
Video shows two men firing RPGs at ship transiting Suez Canal
The video carries a logo featuring a black Islamist flag and the name of the "al-Firqan Brigade". It shows two men, dressed in civilian clothes, firing RPGs into the side of the ship, where they explode.
The ship carries the name "COSCO" on its side and appears to match pictures of the reported target of the attack, the Panamanian-registered Cosco Asia. (h/t Yoel)
Daphne Anson: Charlie Is Whose Darling?
On Thursday, the website of Iran's satellite propaganda channel Press TV dwelt upon the apparently sinister fact that Prince Charles attended the installation ceremony of the new Chief Rabbi of Britain's Orthodox Jews, Ephraim Mirvis, and, moreover, wore a kippa, or "a yarmulke," as the report described it.
Press TV is a harbinger of conspiracy theories to do with Jews and Zionists, of course, and the clear inference from the report is that Britain's Royals are in the pocket of Da Joos, even if, as I've lamented previously, the Queen, who succeeded to the throne in 1952 and has visited most major ountries, has, like Charles himself, never set foot in Israel!
Plans unveiled for Munich Olympics memorial
Wednesday’s news conference at the Bavarian Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs announcing plans for the memorial took place a day before a ceremony in Israel marking the 41st anniversary of the attack by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September.
The planned hall of remembrance is slated to be built near the site that housed the games and will cost 1.7 million euros (approximately $2.25 million). It will allow visitors to learn about the events and the victims — 11 Israeli athletes and coaches along with the police officer — as well as to view the site of the the failed rescue attempt at the Furstenfeldbruck airfield. Ultimately the airport’s tower will be included in the memorial.
The memorial is scheduled to be completed by 2016.
Israeli drip system pioneer honored with top water prize
Netafim, the Israeli company that invented drip irrigation, has been awarded what is considered the most prestigious honor in the world of water conservation and protection, the Stockholm Industry Water Award.
Netafim won the prize for “directly contributing to a more water and food secure world,” the award committee said. It’s a commercial enterprise, but one with a heart, the committee said — a company that has managed to figure out a way to expand and profit while having a truly positive impact on the developing world.
Conservative, pro-Israel candidate wins Aussie election
The Liberal Party’s election victory may signal a strengthening of ties between Canberra and Jerusalem. Abbot told reporters last month that the last two Labor governments had not maintained Australia’s strong relationship with the Jewish state, something he said he aimed to fix, according to the Australian Associated Press.
“There’s been a bit of wobbling under the current government but I would expect our standard rock-solid friendship with Israel to resume should the coalition win the election,” he said. ”I’m a friend of Israel — always have been, always will be.”