High Alert Closes US EmbassiesAugust 4, 2013 16:50 by Pesach Benson
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Today’s Top Stories
1. CBS News: The State Dept. is closing several embassies and consulates in the Mideast and North Africa because of Al-Qaida security threats. This includes Uncle Sam’s embassy in Tel Aviv and consulate in Jerusalem.
CBS News correspondent David Martin reports that U.S. intelligence has picked up signs of an al Qaeda plot against American diplomatic posts in the Middle East and other Muslim countries. The intelligence does not mention a specific location, which is why all embassies that would normally be open on Sunday have been ordered to close.
Ron Ben-Yishai notes that Israel doesn’t appear overly concerned:
Israel has not issued a travel warning or taken any unusual measures, indicating that security officials in the Shin Bet and Military Intelligence believe the probability of something happening on Israeli soil, or in Israeli embassies abroad is not high.
2. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan cancelled plans to visit Gaza.
Erdogan, who was due in Gaza last month but postponed the visit following the Egyptian military’s overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, has provoked the wrath of the army-backed government in Cairo over his fervent condemnations of Morsi’s ouster and his overt sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood.
3. What exactly did newly installed Iranian president Hassan Rohani say about Israel? And why does it matter? The Washington Post‘s Max Fisher tries to make sense of it.
There is still some real room for interpretation in Rouhani’s full statement. It’s not clear precisely what he meant by “occupation.” In most contexts, this refers to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, a situation that that draws common criticism from the West and even within Israel itself. It’s also possible he was referring specifically to the Temple Mount, which is also a holy site in Islam and is a frequent focal point of Iran’s Quds Day. But it’s more worrisome that there is a real case to be made that he may have been referring to Israel proper, which in Iran is often described as not a legitimate state but as illegally occupied Palestinian territory.
In the original version of the president-elect’s alleged remark he was actually quoted as saying the “Zionist regime” should be removed. This would allow the fig leaf of pretending you only wanted the “regime” removed and not the country.
However, anyone who follows the linguistic circus act in the wider Middle East knows that everyone understands what is meant by “Zionist entity” or “Zionist regime” - it’s just that some people are happy to be disingenuous and pretend they don’t.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Jerusalem Post: Despite peace talks, cabinet approves preferential grants to a number of settlements for security reasons.
• According to press reports, Israel may begin releasing the first group of Palestinian prisoners as soon as next week.
• Sydney U. professor Jake Lynch is facing legal action over his support for the BDS movement. According to the lawsuit, Lynch’s refusal to work with an Israeli professor who had drawn up the “the only joint civics curriculum for Jewish and Arab school students,” violated Australia’s 1975 Race Discrimination Act. Details at The Australian.
• Food for thought: Dismantle the EU’s “Political Wing.”
• Fouad Ajami’s take on the peace talks at the Wall St. Journal is worth watching.
• For commentary and analysis, see Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Trudy Rubin, Ehud, Yaari, Jonathan Tobin, David Weinberg, Professor Stacie Goddard, Wesley Pruden, plus staff-eds in the NY Daily News and London Sunday Times.
- The IDF estimates 10,000 jihadis in the Syrian Golan, opposite Israel.
- With Gezi Park protests over, Erdogan strikes back at media critics.
- What did Mohammed elBaradei say that had Israeli papers buzzing?