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North Korea to suspend its nuclear program. A model for Iran? A pilot from the 1981 Osirak raid weighs in on striking Iran. And Britain’s Liberal Democrats wag their Tonge when the party whip fails to hold hers about Israel.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Reading between the lines of this Asharq al-Awsat commentary, I think Khaled Mashaal’s worried (and for good reason) that the Arab Spring is marginalizing the Palestinian movement.
• The IDF shut down a Ramallah TV station. Israel told CNN the station’s broadcasts interfered with Ben Gurion Airport’s flight communications, while the PA told Maan News that Israel wants to hog the bandwidth.
• National Post columnist Barbara Kay wonders why Israel Apartheid Week declines on North American campuses while anti-Zionism flourishes at Israel’s four secular universities.
• Washington Square News (NYU): Bridge Israel-Arab gaps with peace, not polemics.
• The Financial Times published a correction in response to HonestReporting’s complaint. The online clarification‘s behind a paywall, so here’s a screengrab. Stay tuned for the full story on what it took to get the FT to correct the record.
Iranian Atomic Urgency
• North Korea agreed to suspend much of its nuclear weapons program in exchange for American food aid. Reuters describes cautious optimism in Washington. Haaretz quotes an anonymous Israeli official saying the deal is no model for Iran, while (heh) AP quotes Danny Ayalon making similar comments on Israeli radio.
Bottom line: there’s a big difference between a deal with a state that has already crossed the nuclear threshold and a state that hasn’t. And the North Koreans have broken previous deals to stop their atomic program.
• Amos Yadlin, one of the pilots who attacked Iraq’s reactor, says today’s concern with striking Iran are the same as the debate in 1981 — both in terms of Israeli capabilities, and the question of “buying time.” This NY Times op-ed is must-read:
Shortly after we destroyed Osirak, the Israeli defense attaché in Washington was called into the Pentagon. He was expecting a rebuke. Instead, he was faced with a single question: How did you do it? The United States military had assumed that the F-16 aircraft they had provided to Israel had neither the range nor the ordnance to attack Iraq successfully. The mistake then, as now, was to underestimate Israel’s military ingenuity . . .
What matters more is the campaign after the attack. When we were briefed before the Osirak raid, we were told that a successful mission would delay the Iraqi nuclear program for only three to five years. But history told a different story.
After the Osirak attack and the destruction of the Syrian reactor in 2007, the Iraqi and Syrian nuclear programs were never fully resumed. This could be the outcome in Iran, too, if military action is followed by tough sanctions, stricter international inspections and an embargo on the sale of nuclear components to Tehran. Iran, like Iraq and Syria before it, will have to recognize that the precedent for military action has been set, and can be repeated.
• Bibi’s travelling to North America, first stopping off in Canada. The Globe & Mail captures the expectations in one paragraph:
Ottawa could be his first platform in a North American campaign to gain some international backing for an early strike. If Mr. Netanyahu is true to past form, that effort could see him appeal over Mr. Obama’s head to American public opinion in an election year.
• I’m curious what readers have to say about this comment from Time‘s Tony Karon. Just putting it out there . . .
If the Arab rebellion has made nonsense of Iran’s claim to speak on behalf of a silenced Arab public, it has also rubbished the Bush-era scheme of uniting moderate Arab autocrats (including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas) in alliance against Iran and its Axis of Resistance. Key moderate autocrats like Hosni Mubarak of Egypt have been swept from the stage, while the Gulf monarchs are waging a regional Cold War against Iran that divides the region on sectarian rather than moderate vs. radical lines. None of the traditional U.S. Arab allies follows Washington’s lead these days, and key emerging regional players such as Turkey and Qatar don’t share the U.S. and Israel’s aversion to Hamas. (Nor do they share Washington’s strategy of isolating and pressuring Iran, even if they’re in political competition with the Islamic Republic throughout the region.)
• Is Fordow — the uranium enrichment site built into the side of a mountain — really impregnable? Not necessarily.
• Shimon Peres appeared on The View. Most of Barbara Walters’ questions dealt with Iran.
• Spanish journalist Javier Espinoza escaped from Homs. Details and links at The Lede.
• Dr. Jacques Beres, a co-founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres, spent 12 harrowing days in Homs helping out at a makeshift clinic. He shared the experience with BBC.
“I can’t really compare Homs to any other war zone I have worked in though – apart, perhaps, from Chechnya.
“Grozny is small and the town has a mixture of rural and urban areas. The houses in Homs are built in a similar way – there is no protection and, when they are hit, they collapse completely. Also, the ferocity of the attack and the repression are comparable.
“I was based in a makeshift operating theatre. Everyone is too scared to go to the state-run hospital – they are terrified of having a limb amputated, or of being kidnapped. Only the Syrian army soldiers go there now.
“It was just one operating theatre, in someone’s home. It was badly lit, the electricity was frequently cut. It was minimal, very basic. Marie Colvin came to visit us three days before she died.”
Rest O’ the Roundup
• Jenny Tonge resigned as Liberal Democrat party whip after making some incendiary comments about Israel.
Clegg acted after the Guido Fawkes website ran a video clip of Tonge at a Middlesex University meeting last week, where she said: “Beware Israel. Israel is not going to be there forever in its present form. One day, the United States of America will get sick of giving £70bn a year to Israel to support what I call America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East – that is Israel. One day, the American people are going to say to the Israel lobby in the USA: enough is enough. Israel will lose support and then they will reap what they have sown.” . . .
Tonge, who was sacked as the Lib Dem children’s spokeswoman in the Commons in 2004 when she suggested she could consider becoming a suicide bomber, blamed “Zionist campaigners” for the furore.
About 2:00 in is when the video gets interesting.
If Tonge ultimately leaves parliament, I could see her covering Israel for the BBC like she did in 2004.
• James Murdoch resigned as News International’s executive chairman.
For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.
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