-THE WEEK IN REVIEW: From Argentina to Sweden

What Others Are Saying for October 9, 2009.

Iran has know-how to produce nuclear bomb

nuclear-photoIran has the know-how to produce a nuclear bomb and may already have tested a detonation system small enough to fit into the warhead of a medium-range missile, according to confidential papers revealed on Monday. The “secret annex” to this year’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran summarizes information submitted by intelligence agencies about the country’s work on warheads, detonators and nuclear fuel enrichment, the UK Times newspaper reported. It is based partly on evidence thought to have been smuggled out of Iran by the wife of a spy recruited by German intelligence. The papers conclude that Iran already “has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device,” or atom bomb. The finding goes beyond America’s public stance and may complicate its efforts at talks in Geneva to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, the publication pointed out. General James Jones, US President Obama’s National Security Adviser, has said: “Whether they know how to build a bomb or not is a matter of some conjecture. What we are watching is what their intent is and we have been worried about that intent.” The secret report, excerpts of which were posted on the internet at the weekend, matches British and French estimates of Iran’s nuclear progress. Its findings are tentative and not endorsed by the IAEA’s own chief, Mohamed El Baradei, who emphasized last month that the agency had “no concrete proof” of a military dimension to Iran’s programme. France and Israel accused the IAEA of suppressing the annex on publication of its report on Iran last month. The report, “Possible Military Dimensions of Iran’s Nuclear Program,” presents evidence that Iran has done extensive research and testing on how to fashion the components of a nuclear payload to be delivered by the Shahab 3, a medium-range missile capable of hitting Israel and parts of southern Europe. – Kuwait News Agency October 5, 2009.

Morocco music festival to unite Muslims, Jews

This year’s festival of the Atlantic Andalusias, held in the Moroccan port of Essaouira, will focus on a Moroccan Jewish musical tradition known as Matrouz, organizers announced Thursday. During the festival, to be held from October 29 to November 1, there will be concerts to gather together “our poets, our musicians and our singers, Muslims and Jews, to sing and dance together,” Andre Azoulay, festival chairman and an advisor to Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, told AFP The north African country’s Jewish art is a “major component of the cultural wealth and identity in Morocco,” Azoulay said. “It shouldn’t just be reduced to folklore (…). It gives the best example of how to make mentalities evolve by going out to meet other people.” Matrouz is a tradition that dates back several centuries. One example of the art form will be a concert in which the rabbi Haim Louk will sing accompanied by the Zyriab orchestra from Oudja in east Morocco. Azoulay said that the Franco-Algerian pianist Maurice El Medioni, “one of the great masters of the Jewish Arab tradition,” will perform with the Jewish Moroccan singer, Raymonde El Bedaouia. In the future, there will be a prize for the preservation and performance of Matrouz music, Azoulay added. The festival will pay a posthumous tribute to 1950s singer Zohra Fassia, who was a militant for the peaceful coexistence of Jews and Muslims in Morocco. – Al Arabiya October 9, 2009.

Jews and Arabs unite against Charedi town

charediArab Israelis and Jewish kibbutz members are both trying to stop the building of the first Charedi city in northern Israel. But the kibbutzniks are wary of being seen as working too closely with Arabs, fearing Jewish public opinion. Plans spearheaded by the strictly Orthodox Shas party call for the expansion of the small community of Harish, in the heavily Arab Wadi Ara region, into a Charedi city of 150,000 people. The Housing Minister, Nissim Dahan of Shas, has stoked anti-Arab sentiment in his efforts to market the project, saying in July it was a “national duty to prevent the spread of a population that to say the least does not love the state of Israel”. Riyadh Kabha, the former mayor of Barta’a — which borders the area to be developed — has appeared together with Ilan Sadeh, the local council head, at planning commission meetings. He said the city would take 400 dunams of village land, block the town’s expansion when it is already facing a housing shortage and bring the new Charedi neighbours to within 100 metres of Barta’a houses. “The character of the area will change,” he added. “They will try to impose their lifestyle.” Arik Hatzor, a Kibbutz Maanit resident who is heading the campaign to oppose the plan, voiced similar fears. “We have activities every Shabbat and holiday. The shopping centres are open and this provides income to thousands. We know exactly who will dictate to whom the way of life. We have seen it happen in Jerusalem.” – Jewish Chronicle (UK) October 8, 2009.

Iran faces new pressure over bombing plot

Carlos Menem

Carlos Menem

U.S. and Israeli efforts to put Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah in the dock for international terrorism gathered momentum when authorities here indicted former Argentine President Carlos Menem in connection with a deadly Buenos Aires bombing 15 years ago. The flamboyant Menem, the son of Syrian immigrants, was charged Thursday by Judge Ariel Lijo with obstructing a state investigation into the attack on the Argentina Israel Mutual Association on July 18, 1994, in which 85 people were killed and 300 wounded. Indicted with him were George Parker, formed head of Argentina’s anti-terrorism unit; federal judge Juan Jose Galeano, who oversaw the initial investigation but was removed in 2004 because of irregularities; former intelligence services chief Hugo Anzorregui; and Menem’s brother, Munir. On Friday another federal judge, Rodolfo Canicoba Corral, requested Lebanon and Colombia to help arrest Samuel Salman al-Reda, a Colombian of Lebanese descent, in connection with the bombing. In May, Corral issued an international arrest warrant for Reda, who had lived in Buenos Aires until the day of the bombing, then disappeared. He is believed to be living in Lebanon with his Argentine wife. According to state prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who heads the investigation, Reda was the link between Tehran and Hezbollah in the bombing plot. Argentine authorities have accused Iran of plotting the attack and Hezbollah of carrying it out. Both deny any involvement. Tehran refuses to cooperate with the Argentine investigators. – OfficialWire October 6, 2009.

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Israeli deputy FM calls for re-examining ties with Sweden

danny ayalonIsrael’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon Thursday evening called for re-examining his country’s relations with Sweden after Stockholm voiced support for a UN report on the Gaza conflict, local news service Ynet reported. Ayalon’s reaction came hours after Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said his country supports the report led by South African judge Richard Goldstone alleging that both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes during the Israeli offensive against Gaza. Bildt told reporters earlier Thursday in Stockholm that Goldstone was a person with “high credibility” and “high integrity” and that his report carries weight. The probe is worthy of consideration, said the Swedish foreign minister, adding that the right place for deliberations about the Goldstone report was the UN Human Rights Council. Ayalon was quoted by Ynet as saying that, “It is a shame that a person who refused to respond to the blood libel against Israel has come out in praise of this unprofessional report.” The deputy foreign minister was referring to a recent story published by Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, which accused the Israeli army of harvesting Palestinian organs. – Xinhua (China)News Agency October 9, 2009.

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Iran to hang activist for post-election opposition

ali-zamani-430x274Monarchist Mohammad-Reza Ali Zamani is to be hanged in Iran for participating in opposition activism activities. Zamani participated in demonstrations in the wake of June’s disputed presidential election. This is the first sentence to an opposition activist since August, when Iran’s Revolutionary Court began trying those involved in post-election unrest. The June election plunged Iran into its deepest internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution. The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard organization, Mohammad Ali Jaafari said Thursday that the Iranian opposition was “trying to overthrow the Islamic Republic and replace it with a bogus regime.” The government have long accused Iranian monarchists for a number of bloody mosque bombings in recent years. According to Iranian media, Ali-Zamani was among more than 100 opposition supporters, including senior reformist figures, who were accused of fomenting post-election street unrest. Mohammad-Reza Ali-Zamani was informed of the verdict on Monday. – Washington Examiner October 8, 2009

Hamas bans women from riding motorcycles

The Islamist Hamas movement ruling the Gaza Strip says it is banning women from riding motorcycles and scooters in the enclave to preserve “traditions of our society”. “We have taken a decision to prohibit women from riding motorcycles in order to preserve stability and traditions of our society,” the Hamas interior ministry said in a statement on Thursday. The Islamist group seized power in Gaza in June 2007, routing forces loyal to rival secular Fatah party. Women in conservative Gaza do not drive motorcycles, but sometimes ride as passengers. – The Age (Australia) October 9, 2009

(Photo Credits: Charedi-theyeshivaworld; CarlosMenem-TURCA05; DannyAyalon-beytanu; Ali Zamani-voteforiran)

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