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Today’s Top Stories
1. US and Hezbollah are reportedly holding indirect talks mediated by London.
Because the US, unlike the UK, recognizes both the political and military wings of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and refuses to distinguish between them, US officials cannot legally meet with any member of the party. But according to the sources, the US is willing to hear the views of the party and “warm up to a direct relationship in the future.”
2. Syria named most dangerous country for journalists by Committee to Protect Journalists.
The watchdog group notes that 55 journalists were killed in Syria in the past year, 90% of whom were local reporters.
3. Guardian’s Comment is Free published piece defending Australia’s decision to change its voting policies at the UN to help restore balance on Israel.
Australia’s support for Israel at the UN is not a commentary on settlements or a denial of Palestinian national aspirations. It is a principled and judicious attempt to wrench the agenda of human rights away from propaganda and vulgarisation and return the community of nations to a sensible, measured and proportionate debate on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
4. Aussie Paper Publishes Photo, Caricatures Jews: What exactly does an uncaptioned photo of silhouetted ultra-Orthodox Jews have to do with the Israel-Iran situation?
5. Oborne back to bashing “Israel lobby”: Peter Oborne continues his fixation with pro-Israel “lobby” organizations.
Iranian Atomic Urgency
• New York Times gave op-ed space to Yaacov Amidror, who served as National Security Advisor until earlier this month, to comment on the interim agreement with Iran.
The agreement Iran reached with the so-called P5+1 — the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia, plus Germany — does not significantly roll back Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Iran made only cosmetic concessions to preserve its primary goal, which is to continue enriching uranium. The agreement represents a failure, not a triumph, of diplomacy. With North Korea, too, there were talks and ceremonies and agreements — but then there was the bomb. This is not an outcome Israel could accept with Iran.
• LA Times reports that critics of the interim agreement with Iran are starting to tone down their objections. Meanwhile, JNS.org reports that Jewish groups, including AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, “raised the concerns that are quite obvious to the community and the issues that have come up regarding the process of the accord [and its] implementation.”
Rest O’ the Roundup
• Statistics published by the FBI show that Jews are the top target for hate crimes in America with 62% of the 1,340 incidents of religion-based hate crimes targeting Jews. But according to Jonathan Tobin of Commentary, the numbers do not indicate a serious threat to American Jewry.
Though Jews are the most likely victims of religious crimes, no reasonable person can claim that they are under siege or that Jewish life is under attack in any manner in this country. Indeed, as the Pew Survey on American Jews that I discussed in the November issue of COMMENTARY reported, less than 20 percent of Jews have even experienced an anti-Semitic remark, let alone an attack. Anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world and particularly in Europe, but in a nation where a tenth of the U.S. Senate and a third of the U.S. Supreme Court are Jews, its impossible to argue that there are any genuine obstacles to Jewish achievement, let alone a wave of Jew-hatred.
• Mexico’s richest man, Carlos Slim, said he plans to increase investment in Israel’s technology sector. “We like to have our finger on the pulse of everything regarding new technologies and I know that in this Israel is a world leader, so we are interested in Israeli developments,” he said.
• Israel sending team of five athletes to the upcoming Sochi Olympics.
For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.