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Israel National News
by Gil Ronen

As two Israeli missile-class warships joined a navy submarine in the Red Sea, an Israeli defense source made it clear that the moves are intended as a threatening message to Iran.

“This is preparation that should be taken seriously,” the unnamed source told the London Times. “Israel is investing time in preparing itself for the complexity of an attack on Iran.”

“These maneuvers are a message to Iran that Israel will follow up on its threats,” he emphasized.

The exercises “come at a time when Western diplomats are offering support for an Israeli strike on Iran in return for Israeli concessions on the formation of a Palestinian state,” the Times said. It quoted an nanonymous British official as saying that if the deal completed, it would make an Israeli strike on Iran realistic “within the year.”

Diplomats said that Israel had offered concessions “on settlement policy, Palestinian land claims and issues with neighboring Arab states, to facilitate a possible strike on Iran. “ A senior European diplomat, also unnamed, said that “Israel has chosen to place the Iranian threat over its settlements.”

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in a news conference Wednesday that the ships passed through the canal with Egypt’s permission, and that “ships may pass through the canal as long as they do not threaten the country which controls the canal.” He noted that the international agreements regulating which ships may pass through the Suez Canal date back to 1888.

The two Saar-class ships, INS Eilat and INS Chanit, sailed into the Red Sea Wednesday in what was the report described as “a clear signal that Israel was able to put its strike force within range of Iran at short notice.”

Ten days earlier, a Dolphin-class submarine with nuclear-missile strike capabilities passed through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea as well. Later reports said it, too, was accompanied by two Israeli missile boats – meaning that four missile boats have now crossed the canal. Israel has six Dolphin-class submarines, three of which are believed to carry nuclear missiles, the Times said.

Later this month, the Israel Air Force will hold long-range exercises in the U.S. and will test a missile defense shield at a U.S. missile range in the Pacific Ocean.

While local Israeli media have played up alleged tensions between Egypt and Israel over past statements by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the Times report says that Israel “has strengthened ties with Arab nations who also fear a nuclear-armed Iran” and quotes an Israeli diplomat who said that relations with Egypt, in particular, have grown increasingly strong this year over the “shared mutual distrust of Iran.”

The report estimates that Israel’s missile-equipped submarines and its fleet of advanced aircraft could simultaneously strike at more than a dozen nuclear-related targets in Iran.

The Arrow interceptor system that will be tested in the Pacific is designed to defend Israel from ballistic missile attacks by Iran and Syria. According to Lt.-Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, Director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, this month’s test will be against a target with a range of more than 1,000km. This range is too long for testing in the eastern Mediterranean, where Israel held its previous tests of the Arrow.

The Israeli Air Force, meanwhile, will send F16C fighter jets to participate in exercises at Nellis Air Force base in Nevada later this month, and Israeli C130 Hercules transport aircraft will participate in the Rodeo 2009 competition at the McChord Air Force base in Washington.

“It is not by chance that Israel is drilling long-range maneuvers in a public way. This is not a secret operation. This is something that has been published and which will showcase Israel’s abilities,” an Israeli defense official said.

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from the Jerusalem Post, July 14, 2009

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1246443809628&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

Jews and Muslims once worshiped together at the Dome of the Rock, and many Jews considered it to be the Third Temple, according to research compiled by Dr. Moshe Sharon.

In his study, “The Shape of the Holy,” the Hebrew University professor theorizes that the Dome of the Rock’s construction challenged Christian dominance in the city, and that the Islamic tradition of the Prophet Muhammad’s Night Journey and ascension to heaven from this spot was an invention to legitimize their presence in Jerusalem.

Islamic tradition ascribes the conquest of Jerusalem to a number of glorified Muslim rulers, but Sharon believes this to be a fabrication, saying Jerusalem capitulated to a minor commander out of choice rather than necessity.

“The tradition about its conquest was shaped at least a century after the event took place and it was no longer possible for the first association of Islam with Jerusalem to remain mundane,” writes Sharon.

The city was a bastion of Christian relics and glory, epitomized in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Church of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives. Between the two sat the desolate rectangular complex where Herod’s Second Temple once stood, which intrigued the Muslims who learned of its connection to Koranic prophets Abraham, David and Solomon.

Before the Arabs entered the city, Jews held the belief that the perforated rock on Mount Moriah was present in Solomon’s Temple, a tradition that the Muslims adopted.

“There is reason to assume that Muslims together with Jews attached themselves to the rock and Jews had developed around it annual pious rituals,” writes Sharon.

Islamic tradition attributes construction of the Dome to ruler Abd al-Malik, and according to Sharon it symbolized Solomon’s Temple, a notion accepted by Jews of the time. The tradition of the Al-Aksa complex as the site of Muhammad’s Night Journey developed years later.

“It was built to symbolize the renewal of the Solomonic Temple, and an early Jewish Midrash known as Nistarot Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai hailed the Muslims as the initiators of Israel’s redemption and a Muslim ruler as the builder of the House of the Lord. Abd al-Malik acquired his Divine authority by rebuilding a mighty symbol for his temple, and was the new Solomon,” writes Sharon.

Other pre-Crusades Islamic traditions regarding the Dome of the Rock highlight a heavy Jewish role at the site.

“One tradition says, ‘The Jews used to light the lamps of Bayt al-Maqdis.’ Bayt al-Maqdis is the exact Arabic rendering of the Hebrew Beit Hamikdash, and is reminiscent of the lighting of the Menorah in the Temple,” writes Sharon.

Other Islamic traditions mention Temple customs practiced by Jews in the Dome, such as the use of incense, oil lamps and prayer services conducted by wuld Harun, Arabic for “the sons of Aaron.”

“There is nothing remotely Islamic in these rituals and the traditions insist that they took place on Mondays and Thursdays. These days have no meaning in Islam but are of particular sacredness in Jewish tradition,” writes Sharon.

In the final section of his work Sharon builds on the research of Tuvia Sagiv, attempting to prove that the foundations and design of Al-Aksa replicated the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, which the Roman Emperor Hadrian had built on the Temple Mount.

Noting that all Roman Temples of Jupiter had an almost identical design, Sharon compares the schematic of the ruins of a Temple of Jupiter in Baalbek to that of the Al-Aksa complex.

“Jupiter’s Temple in Baalbek had exactly the three features which we find in the Al-Aksa complex: the polygon building in the front where the worshipers assembled, the open space where the god’s statue stood and the rectangular main temple. The same symmetrical line which goes through the three components of Jupiter’s Temple also goes through the Al-Aksa complex, and both plans fit each other perfectly,” writes Sharon.

Sharon and Sagiv’s theory is potentially incendiary because it suggests the Al-Aksa complex was built on pre-existing foundations and was not designed according to Muhammad’s famous Night Journey to Jerusalem.

Sharon’s research, which questions the Islamic justification for the Dome’s existence and describes similar patterns in Jewish and Muslim worship, has inflamed some figures in Israel’s Islamic community.

“We Muslims believe that Jews have no right to a single inch in front of the Al-Aksa Mosque, the whole complex – everything within the walls of the holy site. Jews have no right to worship there – under the ground, above the ground or in between the skies,” said MK Sheik Ibrahim Sarsur, who heads the Islamic Movement in Israel.

http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/story.html?id=bb95c711-ecbd-45e9-aeaa-c6cef1c753d9&p=1 

National Post, Saturday, July 11, 2009
The Palestinians’ man in Jerusalem
Robert Fulford

The clouds that normally obscure events in the Middle East start to recede when Khaled Abu Toameh begins talking about the future of Palestinians and Israelis. This relationship, the key to his future life as an Israeli Arab, has been the subject of his journalism for more than two decades. What he’s learned contradicts beliefs held by much of the world, and differs sharply from what we expect from someone with his background.

He was in Toronto this week, talking to a few journalists. He’s a Muslim-Arab, son of an Israeli-Arab father and a Palestinian-Arab mother. When he was studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he went to work for Al- Fajr ( “The Dawn”), the Palestine Liberation Organization newspaper. He left when he realized it would never print anything but propaganda.
Hoping to be a real journalist, he began working with foreign reporters covering Israel. Eventually, he produced TV documentaries and wrote for Britain’s Sunday Times and other papers. For the last eight years, he’s been the Jerusalem Post’s specialist in Arab affairs. “I am an Arab Muslim and the only place I can write honestly is in a Jewish newspaper,” he says. Other Arab journalists envy his freedom.

He believes the so-called “peace process,” begun with the Oslo Accords of 1993, has been a tragic failure and holds little promise of success. Over 16 years, the peace process has brought war — and plenty of it. It has disillusioned both Arabs and Jews — Arabs because they haven’t acquired the independence and honest self-government they wanted, Jews because security has become more elusive than it was two decades ago. Even so, the United States and others believe the virtue of the peace process is self-evident.

The Palestinians are now divided between two bloodthirsty sects — Fatah, which holds fragile power in the West Bank, and Hamas, which controls Gaza. Their conflict has cost nearly 2,000 Palestinian lives and shows no sign of abating. At the moment, Fatah has 900 alleged Hamas operatives imprisoned in the West Bank without charge. Some of them may well be Hamas sympathizers, Abu Toameh says, some not. In any case, Fatah has arrested them mainly to show foreign governments that it is “cracking down.”

Fatah, of course, is considered the “moderate” Palestinian force, as opposed to radical Hamas. Abu Toameh thinks neither of them could be called moderate by any sensible Arabic speaker. Fatah makes moderate sounds in English but in Arabic sounds as anti-Semitic and anti-American as Hamas. Abu Toameh sees no moderates on either side. Both factions suppress moderate opinion wherever it raises its head, which is apparently not often.

“This is not a power struggle between good guys and bad guys,” he said in a recent speech. “It is a struggle between bad guys and bad guys.” He wishes they were fighting over what would be best for Palestinians. “But they’re only fighting over money and power.”

The West spends a fortune propping up Fatah, in return for its relatively benign rhetoric. But Fatah remains unpopular. West Bank Arabs take its corruption for granted and now suspect that it’s controlled as well as backed by the Americans. Anyone who listens to Abu Toameh has to consider that U. S. President Barack Obama is now part of the problem.

Great fortunes stolen by Fatah officials are only occasionally reported in the West. When Abu Toameh first suggested foreign journalists

tell this story, he was asked by some of them if he was paid by the Jewish lobby. Other reporters explained that information on Palestinian corruption simply didn’t fit into the stories their editors wanted, about Palestinians oppressed by Israelis.

Most of the world believes, often with passionate intensity, that Jewish settlements on land claimed by Arabs limits the chances for peace. Abu Toameh disagrees. “I wish the settlements were the problem,” he says, because it can be solved by the Israelis. If settlements were the problem, he argues, then Gaza would now be at peace. After all, the Israelis pulled out in 2005. But the result has been war — war among the Palestinians, war with Israel. “The real obstacle to peace is not a Jew building a settlement but the failure of the Palestinians to have a government. Is there a partner on the Palestinian side for peace talks? No.”
What is to be done? He thinks Israel should simply wait until the Palestinians stop killing each other and create a credible political entity that can make a deal. Peace will then become possible.

© 2009 The National Post Company. All rights reserved.

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