The Day In Israel: Monday Mar 15th, 2010

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After waking up this morning, I was greeted with this sobering report:

‘U.S.-Israel relations at their worst in 35 years’
Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, has told the country’s diplomats there that U.S.-Israeli relations face their worst crisis in 35 years, despite attempts by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office to project a sense of “business as usual.”

I hate Mondays.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)?

11:10PM: Quote of the day:

“You who are opening Hurva are heading towards ruin. Wherever you have been you’ve been sent to your destruction. You’ve killed and murdered your prophets and you have always dealt in loan-sharking and destruction.”

– Head Hamashole Mahmoud al-Zahar demonstrating that Hamas is not antisemitic, just anti-Israel

8:45PM: BREAKING NEWS: Backbone sighted.

8:32PM: The palestinians have gotten their panties in a bunch over the latest Israeli “provocation.”

Rededicating a synagogue destroyed by the Jordanians 60 years ago.

AP

Personal status courts in the West Bank and Jerusalem will strike Monday and Tuesday in protest over the rededication of the Hurva Synagogue, officials announced.

The ceremonies at the synagogue, 330 meters away from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, have been called a “provocation” in the wake of an Israeli raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the declaration of two Palestinian mosques as “Israeli heritage sites” on 21 February.

“The synagogue is not located near the Temple Mount compound,” an Israeli government news release replied to the accusations.

—-

The Palestinian Higher Judicial Council, headed by Supreme Judge Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi, released a statement calling on “Palestinian people everywhere, especially those who live in Jerusalem and in other cities inside Israel,” to head to Jerusalem to protect the Al-Aqsa Mosque from Ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups, which the statement said planned a raid on the compound following the synagogue rededication.

Tamimi accused Israeli leaders of plotting to lay the cornerstone of the “Third Temple,” following the rededication, in what he called the first move in the planned destruction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger responded to this accusation.

“Pay no attention to malicious slander. All we are doing is resurrecting the ‘Hurva,’ which was destroyed 60 years ago. We have no intention of rebuilding the temple, not this week – unless the Almighty God descends it from the heavens,” said the chief rabbi during the inauguration ceremony.

“All the rumors that suggest we will later march on Temple Mount are just that – rumors. A media spin by anti-Semites that wish us harm.”

5:26PM: Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and Brazilian President Lula da Silva embrace during the latter’s visit to the Knesset today.

Reuven Rivlin: I can’t quite get my arms around you.

Lula da Silva: I know the feeling.

4:25PM: Wall Street Journal op-ed on the latest US-Israel crisis (via Ynet):

In response, the Wall Street Journal op-ed wrote that the Obama administration “has endorsed ‘healthy relations’ between Iran and Syria, mildly rebuked Syrian President Bashar Assad for accusing the US of ‘colonialism,’ and publicly apologized to Muammar Gadhafi for treating him with less than appropriate deference after the Libyan called for ‘a jihad’ against Switzerland.”

However, when it comes to Israel, “the administration has no trouble rising to a high pitch of public indignation,” wrote the article entitled “Obama’s Turn Against Israel.”

“Repeated apologies from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prevented Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—at what White House sources ostentatiously said was the personal direction of President Obama—from calling the announcement ‘an insult to the United States,'” stated the opinion piece.

“Since nobody is defending the Israeli announcement, least of all an obviously embarrassed Israeli government, it’s difficult to see why the Administration has chosen this occasion to spark a full-blown diplomatic crisis with its most reliable Middle Eastern ally… If Israel senses that the Administration is looking for any pretext to blow up relations, it will care much less how the US might react to a military strike on Iran.’

The financial newspaper took an opposite stance on West Bank settlements than that adopted by the Obama administration: “As for the West Bank settlements, it is increasingly difficult to argue that their existence is the key obstacle to a peace deal with the Palestinians. Israel withdrew all of its settlements from Gaza in 2005, only to see the Strip transform itself into a Hamas statelet and a base for continuous rocket fire against Israeli civilians.”

“This episode does fit Mr. Obama’s foreign policy pattern to date: Our enemies get courted; our friends get the squeeze. It has happened to Poland, the Czech Republic, Honduras and Colombia. Now it’s Israel’s turn,” quipped the Wall Street Journal.

12:25PM: What I did last night.

12:10PM: Oh, the horror of the treatment of palestinians in Israeli prisons!

Dr Evil

Jailed Fatah official Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life terms in prison for his role in attacks that killed and wounded several Israelis during the second intifada, has completed his doctorate in political science, his supporters said over the weekend.

Barghouti, 50, is one of several hundred Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons who enroll in studies at universities around the world, including in Israel.

According to his supporters, Barghouti was accepted by the University of Cairo and the Arab Academy for Research and Studies in the Egyptian capital back in 1999, three years before he was arrested by the IDF.

Barghouti’s doctoral thesis is titled “The Legislative and Political Performance of the Palestinian Legislative Council and its Contribution to the Democratic Process in Palestine from 1996 to 2008.”

The 341-page document will be brought on Tuesday for discussion before a special panel headed by Prof. Ahmad Yussuf, dean of the Arab Academy for Research and Studies.

Barghouti was able to complete his thesis with the help of hundreds of books and documents that Israeli authorities allow inmates to bring into prison.

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are currently enrolled as students with the Open University of Israel, which facilitates their studies by allowing them to sit exams in jail.

Barghouti, who is also a Fatah member on the Palestinian Legislative Council, completed his high school exams while in Israeli prison in 1980. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history/ political science and in international relations, respectively, from Bir Zeit University, north of Ramallah. His master’s thesis dealt with Palestinian-French relations from 1967 to 1997.

On May 20, 2004, he was convicted of five counts of murder – including authorizing and organizing the Sea Food Market attack in Tel Aviv in which three civilians were killed. He was acquitted of 21 counts of murder in 33 other attacks for “lack of sufficient evidence.” On June 6, 2004, he was sentenced to five life sentences for the five murders and 40 years imprisonment for the attempted murder.

The only doctorate I wish he had completed in prison is his doctorate in Bubba science (specialization in soap retrieval from prison shower).

11:50AM: Here’s the report mentioned in my previous update, which refutes every claim of the Goldstone report and proves Hamas’ use of children as human shields (hat tip: Barry).

6:06AM: According to a new report being released by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (Malam), Hamas used children as human shields, and established command centers and Qassam launch pads in and near more than 100 mosques and hospitals during Operation Cast Lead.

Ok, nothing new there, but it contains hundreds of declassified photographs, videos, prisoner interrogations and Hamas-drawn sketches as part of an effort to counter the criticism leveled at Israel in the Goldstone Report. In essence, it is “the first real, aggressive Israeli response to the Goldstone Report, taking it apart piece-by-piece and explaining the true nature of the conflict against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.”

Israel already released its preliminary response to the Goldstone Report over a month ago.

5:45AM: Australia’s ABC news deals with this latest US-Israel rift. Notice how White House Official David Axelrod calls the timing of Israel’s announcement of new housing units “calculated,” clearly not accepting Israel’s explanation it was accidental.

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