Israel Daily News Stream 03/08/2012

Iranian Atomic Urgency

*** Lead Screed *** An ugly commentary in The Economist goes off the deep end over the Prime Minister’s assertion that Israel should be master of its own fate:

But Israel has even less control over its own destiny than Portugal or Britain do. The main reason is that, unlike those countries, Israel refuses to give up its empire. Israel is unable to sustain its imperial ambitions in the West Bank, or even to articulate them coherently . . .

Having trapped themselves in a death struggle with Palestinians that they cannot acknowledge or untangle, Israelis have psychologically displaced the source of their anxiety onto a more distant target: Iran. An Iranian nuclear bomb would not be a happy development for Israel. Neither was Pakistan’s, nor indeed North Korea’s. The notion that it represents a new Holocaust is overstated, and the belief that the source of Israel’s existential woes can be eliminated with an airstrike is mistaken. But Iran makes an appealing enemy for Israelis because, unlike the Palestinians, it can be fitted into a familiar ideological trope from the Jewish national playbook: the eliminationist anti-Semite.

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano shares his Iranian suspicions with CNN.

Iran is not telling us everything. That is my impression. We are asking Iran to engage with us proactively, and Iran has a case to answer,” said Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

. . . “But there are also, there may be other facilities which are not declared, and we have the indication or information that Iran has engaged in activities relevant to the development of nuclear explosive devices.”

Looks like the mullahs are trying to scrub away traces of radioactivity from Parchin. But don’t take my word for it. This from AP:

Satellite images of an Iranian military facility appear to show trucks and earth-moving vehicles at the site, indicating an attempted cleanup of radioactive traces possibly left by tests of a nuclear-weapon trigger, diplomats told The Associated Press on Wednesday . . . .

Two of the diplomats said the crews at the Parchin military site may be trying to erase evidence of tests of a small experimental neutron device used to set off a nuclear explosion. A third diplomat could not confirm that but said any attempt to trigger a so-called neutron initiator could only be in the context of trying to develop nuclear arms.

The diplomats said they suspect attempts at sanitization because some of the vehicles at the scene appeared to be haulage trucks and other equipment suited to carting off potentially contaminated soil from the site.

Netanyahu may have agreed to delay strike in exchange for arms. And what might the IDF’s Iran wish list be?

Mahmoud Zahar

Either Mahmoud Zahar’s sending mixed messages, or someone’s spreading misinformation. The issue? Whether Hamas will be a player or a bystander in a possible Israeli-Iranian war.

Zahar told the BBC:

But Mahmoud Zahhar, a senior leader of Hamas in Gaza, denied the group would get involved and told the BBC: “We are not part of any political axis.”

“If Israel attacks us we will respond. If they don’t, we will not get involved in any other regional conflict,” he added.

Mr Zahhar questioned Hamas’s ability to offer support from the Palestinian territory to the south of Israel, even if it wanted to.

But AP writes:

Later Wednesday, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency quoted another senior Hamas official in Gaza, Mahmoud Zahar, as saying that “retaliation with utmost power is the position of Hamas with regard to a Zionist war on Iran.” Zahar could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

AFP and The Guardian have already quoted their own Hamas sources on record opting out of conflict so I’m leaning towards Iranian misinformation.

 Worth reading: Hamas Ties to Syria and Iran in Flux

 For residual commentary/analysis on the Bibi-Bam parley, see the staff-eds in the LA Times, Baltimore Sun, analysis at McClatchy News, and former IAEA chief Hans Blix for good measure.

 WSJ: A UN report accuses Iran of stepping up abuses of human rights.

 Wikileaks: The Saudis reached out to the Mossad for “intelligence collection and advice on Iran.” More at Israel HaYom.


Arab Spring Winter

Syrian rebels who talked to the Financial Times (click via Google News) feel abandoned and disillusioned by the West:

“You provoke the people to rebel against the regime and then you stay away,” an activist named Mahmoud observed acidly, referring to the Western states that have called for the Syrian president to step down. “And then you send your journalists to see how Bashar al-Assad kills his people.”

BBC: Syria’s deputy oil minister becomes highest level figure to join opposition.

An arrangement to send Libyans injured in the civil war for treatment in Jordan is creating bad blood with charges of price gouging, patients being turned away for lack beds, cronyism, and more. The Media Line says Jordan’s medical tourism industry could take a hit if the controversy festers:

The potential for abuse is written all over the program.

Rest O’ the Roundup

• Blogger Zach Tilley was so adept at blogging mistakes in the Daily Iowan, the paper offered him a job as associate copy editor. Via Romeneseko, the DI’s Adam Sullivan writes:

So instead of getting salty that a blogger was promoting our mistakes, I emailed him and offered him a job as the associate copy editor. He accepted and will start in two weeks. He obviously has a good eye for detail and I’m hopeful the new position will cut down on the embarrassing errors that creep into the print edition.

I’m sure a lot of bloggers will be emboldened . . .

(Images: Church of the Nativity via Flickr/ChrisYunker, Zahar via YouTube/alljie, Saudi coat of arms via Wikimedia Commons/Anuskafm)

For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.

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