JERUSALEM — She had but one son, and he died childless at 21. Yet that boy spawned a generation.
At least 23 babies on three continents have been named for her Gil’ad, a lieutenant in the Israeli Army who was killed on the first day of the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Hers was a musical prodigy with a sly wit. The others include a lawyer, a professor, an entrepreneur and students, some now parents themselves.
“This kid is a genius,” the original Gil’ad’s mother said of one namesake, a consultant who made millions by the age of 25 and now travels around the world. She spoke on the condition that her name and her son’s surname not be published, citing privacy concerns. “They’re all geniuses,” she said.
Members of the Gil’ad generation will be with her on Wednesday, Israel’s Memorial Day. Fifty or 60 people still come to the ceremony she hosts each spring, more than four decades after her son was killed: soldiers who served alongside him in the Armored Corps, boy scouts from his Jerusalem troop, nieces and grandnieces and great-grandnieces, too.
Memorial Day is a solemn 24 hours in Israel; people save the barbecues for Independence Day, which is Thursday. The mourning is intimate: In a small and young country, everyone seems to have a connection to one or more of the 23,320 fighters whom Israel counts as fallen since 1860 in the conflicts that have framed its modern existence. Relatives, friends and even remote acquaintances often name children to honor their memory.
Besides the mass commemoration at the military cemetery on Mount Herzl, in between the school assemblies and synagogue services, there are personal memorials each year, held in houses and parks and gardens. Gil’ad’s takes place in the retirement home in the Baka neighborhood of Jerusalem, where his mother lives.
Last year, there were soft drinks and snacks, and the guests sat in a circle and shared their links to Gil’ad. His commanding officer — who named his first child Gilad (some people drop the apostrophe) — described what happened on Oct. 6, 1973, when Egyptian soldiers crossed the Suez Canal in a surprise attack. A soldier from his unit recited the names of 18 comrades who died.
Mr. Soltan, 27, an Ohio State University graduate who volunteered as a translator for foreign journalists covering the turmoil that followed Mr. Morsi’s ouster, was among those arrested and imprisoned. Earlier this month, an Egyptian judge sentenced him to life in prison. Mr. Soltan joined the growing ranks of victims of a judicial dragnet that has branded all suspected Islamists as terrorists. (On Tuesday, Mr. Morsi was sentenced to 20 years over the killing of protesters while he was in power in 2012.)
Mr. Soltan’s father, Salah Soltan, was sentenced to death in the same case. Mohamed Soltan was not a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, but he condemned the coup as undemocratic. He has been on hunger strike for more than a year to protest his detention. American officials warned in a letter to his family that the hunger strike “is a significant threat to his life.”
sted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi escaped a death sentence on Tuesday when an Egyptian criminal court handed him a 20-year prison term in connection with a deadly protest episode that took place during his tenure in office.
It was the first in an expected series of verdicts and sentencings of the ex-leader, who was removed in a coup led by the then-defense minister and now President Abdel Fattah Sisi. Morsi, jailed since being deposed amid huge protests against his rule in the summer of 2013, still faces several other capital cases.
In the 22 months since Morsi was ousted, Sisi has led a wide-ranging crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood, which was once Egypt’s biggest political movement. Thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members of supporters are jailed, and hundreds more, including some of Morsi’s top deputies, have been sentenced to long prison terms or death.
The Negev Nuclear Research Center as viewed from satelliteI’m surprised no one has posted a page about this. Oddly enough, I was led to it because this morning I woke up with the name “Mordechai Vanunu” repeating in my head. I was lying there staring at the ceiling trying to place the name for a good ten minutes. I knew I’d heard it before, but couldn’t for the life of me remember where or in reference to what, so I decided to go to Wikipedia to jog my memory.
As I read, his story slowly started coming back to me. About a quarter of the way through, I noticed that there had been a new development just this past week in the form of documents published by the National Security Archive of George Washington University, corroborating Vanunu’s statements about Dimona. In turn, the Archive’s Nuclear Vault led me to the Politico piece below.
I guess I must’ve heard or read Vanunu’s name somewhere this week and it only worked it’s way up into my consciousness this morning. The human brain can be a really strange thing sometimes.
Anyway, it’s a fascinating story—I highly recommend reading the whole thing.
For decades, the world has known that the massive Israeli facility near Dimona, in the Negev Desert, was the key to its secret nuclear project. Yet, for decades, the world—and Israel—knew that Israel had once misleadingly referred to it as a “textile factory.” Until now, though, we’ve never known how that myth began—and how quickly the United States saw through it. The answers, as it turns out, are part of a fascinating tale that played out in the closing weeks of the Eisenhower administration—a story that begins with the father of Secretary of State John Kerry and a familiar charge that the U.S. intelligence community failed to “connect the dots.” […]
A little anecdote about an occurrence sometime in September 1960 sheds light on the development of U.S. perceptions that Israel was being less than honest about Dimona. That month, Addy Cohen, then the young director of the Foreign Aid Office at the Israeli Finance Ministry, hosted U.S. ambassador to Israel Ogden Reid and some of his senior staff for a tour of the Dead Sea Works—a large Israeli potash plant in Sdom, on the Dead Sea coast of Israel. The Israeli Air Force provided a Sikorsky S-58 helicopter to fly the American group from Tel Aviv to Sdom. As they were returning on the helicopter, near the new town of Dimona, Reid pointed to a huge industrial site under heavy construction and asked what it was. […]
“I was not prepared to [answer] Ambassador Reid’s question” about the Dimona site, recalls Cohen, who is now 87 and lives in Israel, so “I ad-libbed by referring to Trostler, the Jerusalemite architect [a relative of his wife], who actually designed a textile plant there” at Dimona.
“Why, that’s a textile plant,” Cohen responded to the question. Cohen’s answer was not completely false, but it was surely evasive. Looking back, Cohen told us this month, “It may have transpired that I was the first one who referred to the project as a ‘textile plant,’ but I can assure you that it was not planned.” […]
The Interview below with Addy Cohen can be found on the Archive’s page about the newly released documents, The Eisenhower Administration and the Discovery of Dimona: March 1958-January 1961. It marks the inauguration of a special section on Israeli Nuclear History that will apparently be permanent.
The following is from the same page as the video above. It provides descriptions of and links to all the newly released documents, which are in PDF format:
Washington, D.C., April 15, 2015 - The U.S. government first learned of Israel’s secret nuclear program at Dimona from an American corporate official talking to U.S. diplomats in Tel Aviv during mid-summer 1960, according to a declassified document published today for the first time by the National Security Archive, the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, and the Center for Nonproliferation Studies of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Other documents published today detail the discovery of the secret project that some in the U.S. government believed from the very start aimed at a weapons capability; the U.S. debates over Israel’s lack of candor; and U.S. government efforts to pressure the Israelis to answer key questions about the nature of the Dimona project.
This “discovery,” which came as the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower was drawing to a close, caused apprehension in Washington by raising concern about regional stability and nuclear proliferation, but it also produced annoyance because Israeli officials at all levels repeatedly provided less than credible answers to U.S. questions about Dimona. Thus, in September 1960, when embassy officials asked about a new construction site when they were on a helicopter ride nearby, an adroit Israeli official, Addy Cohen, improvised a story to keep the secret: it was the site of a textile factory, he said; a story that was not wholly false because there was a textile plant near Dimona. An interview with Addy Cohen detailing the episode appears in this posting for the first time.
Documents published in this collection shed light on a particularly notable intelligence failure: how Washington missed warning signs that the Israelis had a nuclear project underway, but also how the U.S. belatedly realized what the Israelis were doing, and how Eisenhower and his senior advisers reacted to this discovery. […]
The timing of the release of the documents is rather interesting in light of the recent kerfuffle over the talks with Iran, isn’t it?
Documents related to the Non-Proliferation Treaty
Out of curiosity I went in search of more info. I haven’t had a chance to read it all yet, nor do I know if any of the items have been abrogated by more recent events. The NPT allows for the parties to gather every five years to review its operation, the most recent meeting was held in 2010, with the 2015 meeting scheduled for April 27-May 22 at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Anyway, below are some of the links for anyone who’s interested:
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
- Safeguards Legal Framework
- Nuclear Safety and Security
- Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)
- Israeli nuclear capabilities (PDF) 2010 report by the Director General
- Latest status of the NPT as per the U.N Office for Disarmament Affairs
U.S. Department of State
- Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
- Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN)
- Past Treaties and Agreements
- U.S.-IAEA Safeguards Agreement
James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies
The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) is a research center of the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Wikipedia is a good starting point for info on both organizations.
- Safeguards and Middle East contentious issues at the 2014 IAEA General Conference Note: The second of the three PDF fact sheets, Middle East Issues, deals specifically with Israel (as well as the U.S. and the politicization of the subject that's hampering things).
- 2015 Monitoring Report: Implementation of the 2010 NPT Action Plan, Disarmament Actions 1-22
- Their Tutorials & Videos Archives is also a good place for more info, as are their Middle East/Africa and Iran Archives.
- Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Disarmament Database
Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI)
- Treaties & Regimes
- Country Profiles
- Understanding Nuclear Threats
- The Annual Reports and Analysis sections look interesting
- Arms Control and Regional Security in the Middle East (ACRS) - There's a note that as of April 2013 the page will no longer be updated, so I'm unsure how relevant it is today, but it covers efforts to deal with Middle East peace going back to 1990
With a resounding election victory last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to have an easy path toward quickly establishing a coalition government with his traditional nationalist, religious and ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies.
But after weeks of negotiations with potential partners, Netanyahu is finding the task harder than expected and is flirting with the idea of reaching out to his main dovish rivals to form a unity government. As he decides which path to take, he will seek an additional two-week extension to put his coalition together.
Which way Netanyahu goes will have broad implications. If he sides with the hard-line allies that he often calls his “natural” partners, Netanyahu will have a solid parliamentary majority of like-minded parties that could avoid much of the infighting that plagued the outgoing government and provide some welcome political stability at home.
But such a coalition — averse to peace moves with the Palestinians and in favor of expanded settlement construction in the West Bank — quickly would find itself on a collision course with the international community at a time when Netanyahu is already feuding with his allies over the moribund peace process and a nuclear deal with Iran that he loathes. A unity government that includes his leftist rivals would help blunt that looming international isolation.
Throughout the heated campaign, Netanyahu ruled out the possibility of joining forces with Isaac Herzog and his center-left Zionist Union and vowed to rule from the right.
Election results gave his Likud Party 30 seats and secured him a potential 67-seat majority of the 120-seat Knesset along with his traditional allies. In negotiations, however, these allies have made demands to head powerful government ministries, and an initial four-week window to form a new government is now set to expire.
On Monday, he is scheduled to meet Israel’s largely ceremonial president, Reuven Rivlin, and seek a two-week extension. Under Israeli election rules, if he fails to form a coalition during that time Rivlin then can assign someone else the task of doing so.
Few expect it to come to that, and the 67-seat right-wing government seems to be the most likely outcome.
Netanyahu looks close to finalizing deals with two ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and Yahadut Hatorah, who are seeking ministries and parliamentary committees with large budgets catering to their constituents. He also appears to be close to a deal with the centrist, economics-focused Kulanu party.
But large gaps remain with the two other pieces needed to complete the puzzle, the nationalist Jewish Home and Yisrael Beiteinu parties, both of whom are led by long-time Netanyahu associates who have a tumultuous relationship with the boss.
Despite disappointing election results, both parties are demanding top Cabinet posts and major influence that are disproportionate to their numbers. Netanyahu has yet to budge and has signaled he may leave them out.
U.S. President Barack Obama warned Iran on Tuesday that its fighters must respect Iraq’s sovereignty and report to Baghdad in the region-wide battle against Islamic State militants.
Iran-backed Shi’ite militias have played a major role in battling the Sunni group, an al Qaeda offshoot that emerged from the chaos in Iraq and neighboring Syria.
Obama said he and Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi discussed the issue at length in their Oval Office meeting.
He said it was clear that Iraq and Iran would have an important relationship because they shared a border and noted the Shi’ite militias mobilized when Islamic State was surging and the Iraqi government was still getting organized.
Key senators said Tuesday they have agreed on terms for bipartisan legislation that would give Congress the power to review and possibly overturn a potential nuclear deal with Iran that could be struck in the coming months by President Obama and America’s foreign allies.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), its ranking member, said they have agreed on a package of changes that would establish a procedure for an orderly congressional review of the deal while softening provisions that the Obama administration and Democrats on Capitol Hill say could derail negotiations.
“I think this is a really sound piece of legislation, I’m really proud of it, and it’s my hope that it will pass overwhelmingly . . . and then we’ll move to the floor and we’ll be able to generate a veto-proof majority,” Corker said Tuesday after emerging from a closed-door morning briefing given by Secretary of State John F. Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and other administration officials.
Democrats will excuse their vote for this by saying it’s just a “process” vote to allow the Senate a say in such an important vote. But they know they are actually interfering in delicate negotiations by doing this and they know that if they get involved to the extent the Corker bill anticipates, the deal will likely fall apart because the Senate will vote it down. They know that by voting with the Republicans they will be helping them get what they want which is more war.
They all have their local issues to deal with. We get that. But this is war and peace. It’s about nuclear proliferation. It’s arguably worse than voting for the Iraq war since the consequences are so grave.
More than 200 Yazidis have been released after being abducted from around Mount Sinjar in Iraqi Kurdistan by the radical Islamic State movement (ISIL) who held the group captive for eight months.
The group of people released included elderly people and children who were greeted by their families in Himera southwest of Kirkuk and around 300 kilometers north of Baghdad.
Meanwhile relatives of a Yazidi commander who was arrested last Monday say he is still being held captive despite an agreement …
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On Wednesday near the West Bank settlement of Shilo, a Palestinian man was shot dead after stabbing two Israeli soldiers on a main road.
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed the attack in a Tweet.
According to news reports, one of the men suffered serious wounds to his neck and had been taken to a hospital.