Analyis: Deceptive quiet on Gaza border

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 18, 2009

My visit last week to the headquarters of one of the battalions stationed around the Gaza border was deceptively tranquil. The road leading to the base may still be full of craters created by Hamas mortar shells, fired in the years of bombardment leading up to Operation Cast Lead last January. But in the neighbouring kibbutz, work is going on peacefully in the fields, right next to the border fence.

For the first time in a decade, children in the nearby town of Sderot started the school year two weeks ago without having to first practise running to the bomb shelters.


Analysis: Settlement deal is a hard sell

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 18, 2009

One of the less known items on Binyamin Netanyahu’s CV is his stint as the sales manager of an Israeli furniture manufacturer, before he joined the diplomatic service. The PM will need all his sales acumen now to market two totally different products to the American administration and the Israeli right wing in the run-up to the highly anticipated “peace summit” at the UN next week.


Analysis: Human Rights Watch is naive

By Martin Bright, September 18, 2009

The suspension of Human Rights Watch senior analyst Marc Garlasco is a devastating blow for the reputation of a group which stands or falls by the independence of its reporting on government abuses.

It is hard to imagine why anyone would wish to surround himself with the ephemera of fascism.

And yet, it is theoretically possible for an individual to be fascinated by Second World War military history and remain objective when reporting on the Israeli-Palestinan conflict (one of Mr Garlasco’s areas of expertise).


Analysis: Why this is a national tragedy

By David Harris, September 18, 2009

Israelis are a pretty divided lot. Ashkenazim fight with Sephardim, the Orthodox squabble with the secular, Arabs bicker with Jews and so it goes on. Little seems to unite this hot-blooded nation.

Yet when it was reported on Sunday that Asaf Ramon was killed in a jet fighter accident, arguments were set aside and people entered a period of collective mourning.

In the evening, as families sat down to watch the news, there was a feeling of déjà vu.


Analysis: TUC in chaos over Israel

By Martin Bright, September 18, 2009

There was nothing edifying about the sight of trade unionists fighting each other in Liverpool this week over an attempt by the Fire Brigades Union to introduce a boycott of Israeli goods .

Did no one tell the brothers there is a recession on?


Analysis: Hizbollah is losing credibility at home

By Gary Gambill, September 10, 2009

Beirut is abuzz with talk about Salah Ezzedine, a financier who bilked thousands of Lebanese out of their life savings before declaring bankruptcy late last month.

Dubbed the “Lebanese Bernie Madoff”, Mr Ezzedine took a financial beating when the collapse of oil prices last year decimated his holdings in Eastern Europe.

In a desperate attempt to recover from his losses, Mr Ezzedine raised hundreds of millions of dollars from Lebanon’s insular Shiite community by offering a reported 40 per cent annual return. In the blink of an eye, the money was gone.


Analysis: Israel must use more solar power to generate electricity

By Stephen Tindale, September 3, 2009

Israel is a world leader in solar energy. About three quarters of all households use the sun to heat water, using a technology called solar thermal.

Israeli firms are also widely recognised as leaders in the field of solar electricity. For example, BrightSource signed a major deal in February to create a solar power plant in southern California, which will generate enough electricity for almost a million homes. A much smaller plant is planned for the Negev.


Analysis: Plot to assassinate IDF head reveals Hizbollah's real aims

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 3, 2009

An Israeli Arab man has been indicted for allegedly passing on information about the IDF Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, to Hizbollah, in a plot to have him assassinated.

Rawi Sultani, 23, is a law student from Tira in central Israel, who worked out at the same gym as Lt Gen Ashkenazi. He was first contacted by Hizbollah when he attended a summer camp in Morocco organised by Israeli-Arab party Balad.


Analysis: Former PM in dock after years of allegations

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 3, 2009

The accusations against Ehud Olmert in the indictment go back 20 years, all the way to a plane ticket allegedly bought for his wife with illegal funds.

Rumours of financial wrongdoing, both on a personal level and connected to party finance, have been swirling around him since the 1970s. He still managed to become a senior minister, a two-term Jerusalem mayor, a prime minister and the second longest-serving Knesset member in Israeli history after the eternal Shimon Peres. How did he get so far and why finally now, after scaling every possible height in political life, is he facing trial?


This could lead to a push for UN sanctions

By Eric Lee, September 3, 2009

If the TUC adopts the resolution proposed by the Fire Brigades Union, the implications are far-reaching.

First and most important, it opens the way for the Labour Party, in which the unions play an increasingly important role, to shift its own views on the Middle East toward a more pro-Palestinian position.

This could result in the British government supporting sanctions targeting Israel. As the UK is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, this might even mean an eventual push for UN sanctions against the Jewish state.