February 22, 2007
Briefs: Palestinians riot near Jerusalem dig; Brandeis threatened with loss of donations
Palestinians Riot Around Jerusalem
Palestinians rioted at entry points to Jerusalem to protest a ban stemming from previous riots over an Old City dig. Police banned Palestinian males under age 50 from attending Friday prayer services at mosques on the Temple Mount, and extended a ban on Raed Salah, leader of Israel's Islamic Movement. Police arrested 15 people in scuffles in and around the city. Worshipers have rioted in recent weeks to protest a construction project near the Temple Mount.
Israeli authorities say the renovation of a staircase leading to the Temple Mount does not threaten the integrity of the site, but Salah, who has frequently concocted imaginary Jewish plots against the Temple Mount to incite his public against Israel, has led protests at the site and scuffled with police officers. Last Friday, he called for a Muslim intifada to "save" the mosque from the Jews. The Israelis "want to build their Temple while our blood is on their clothing, on their doorposts, in their food and in their water," Salah said.
Israeli Public Security Minister Avi Dichter asked the attorney general to investigate whether Salah's comments constitute incitement and sedition.
Brandeis Threatened With Loss of Donations
Mideast scholar Daniel Pipes called on donors to reconsider their support of Brandeis University. In an op-ed published Tuesday in the Brandeis student newspaper, The Justice, Pipes claimed that his planned appearance at the university had been put on hold pending approval from a new committee created to vet potential speakers on the Middle East.
The committee also reportedly is holding up an appearance by Norman Finkelstein, a noted critic of Israeli policy who has argued that the Jewish state exploits the Holocaust for political purposes. Evidence that pressure on the university may be intensifying came from a report Friday in the New York Jewish Week that "more than a handful" of major donors told Brandeis they would no longer contribute following a recent controversial visit by former President Carter, who discussed his book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," which is harshly critical of Israel. A Brandeis spokeswoman told the Jewish Week that she wasn't aware of any communication from donors.
Hezbollah Seen Expanding Arsenal
Hezbollah aims to stockpile more weapons than it had before last year's war with Israel, a top Israeli intelligence analyst said.
Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz, chief of research in Israel's Military Intelligence, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in a briefing Monday that the Lebanese terrorist group was smuggling in rockets to replace the thousands it lost fighting Israel during the summer war. Once it receives new shipments from neighboring Syria, Baidatz said, Hezbollah will have a larger rocket arsenal than it did before the war.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz interjected that this should not be a gauge of the threat posed to Israel by Hezbollah. Peretz noted that Hezbollah deprived of its border positions was in far less of a position to launch attacks.
Hezbollah admitted it has resumed stockpiling arms on Lebanon's frontier with Israel.
"We can reveal that we have arms, and of all kinds," Hezbollah chief Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said last Friday in a speech. "We move them covertly, and Israel does not know about it."
Nasrallah said the smuggling would continue in defiance of Israel, foreign peacekeepers and the Lebanese army, which deployed in southern Lebanon as part of the U.N.-brokered cease-fire that ended last year's war.
"We are not a burden to the Lebanese army but rather a supporter of its mission," Nasrallah said.
Iran Defies U.N. Demands
Iran signaled that it will not honor a demand by the United Nations to halt sensitive nuclear projects. The Foreign Ministry in Tehran announced Sunday that Iran has no intention of meeting a Feb. 21 deadline set by the U.N. Security Council for suspending uranium enrichment. Under Security Council Resolution 1737, which was passed in late December, Iran was subjected to limited international sanctions that could be expanded if it defied the 60-day deadline on uranium enrichment, a key potential process for making nuclear bombs.
While China and Russia surprised other Security Council members by backing the original resolution, it was unclear whether they would support further sanctions given their robust trade ties with Tehran and public skepticism over whether the Iranians are seeking nuclear weapons.
Feinstein Reintroduces Cluster Bomb Bill
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein cited Israeli cluster bombs left behind in Lebanon in introducing legislation to restrict the sale of the devices.
"What gives rise, in part, to my bill are recent developments in Lebanon over alleged use of cluster bombs by Israel," Feinstein, a Jewish Democrat who is seen as strongly pro-Israel, said last week in introducing the legislation with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Israel dropped some 4 million bomblets in southern Lebanon during last summer's war with Hezbollah, and 1 million failed to explode, she said.
"As Lebanese children and families have returned to their homes and begin to rebuild, they have been exposed to the danger of these unexploded bomblets lying in the rubble. Twenty-two people, including six children have been killed and 133, including 47 children, injured."
Israel said it used the weapons in areas where civilians had already fled, and says the postwar casualty rate is due to U.S.-made bombs that have a high rate of delayed explosion.
Human-rights groups have noted that Hezbollah also used cluster bombs during the war, firing them directly into Israeli cities. Feinstein and Leahy introduced similar legislation immediately following the war, but it failed.
Jerusalem Opens Alcohol-Free Bar
An alcohol-free bar opened in Jerusalem with municipal funding. Lugar opened its doors in central Jerusalem on Monday with a teetotaling format geared toward minors.
The initiative was conceived by Mayor Uri Lupolianski following growing evidence that youths in Jerusalem, including many foreigners on study visits, were increasingly abusing lax controls on alcohol consumption in public places.
Lupolianski said he hoped other cities in Israel would emulate the Lugar pilot.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency