Anshel Pfeffer

The RAF compared with the Israeli Air Force

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 11, 2010

In a surprising upheaval of the global military rankings, it has emerged that Israel is set to leave Britain for dust when it comes to air power.

Cuts proposed in the Ministry of Defence's recent Strategic Defence and Security Review could mean that in five years, the RAF will be fielding roughly half the number of fighters of the Israeli Air Force.

The major difference in air force planning between the countries is a result of change in strategic thinking.

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Netanyahu is just playing hardball

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 11, 2010

This week's quarrel between the Israeli and US governments is almost an exact replay of previous disputes between Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama's administration, signalling a return to the rocky relationship of last year. But it could also be an artificial spat to be followed shortly by agreement and progress.

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'Bibi will agree to new freeze'

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 4, 2010

Israel is expecting a renewed push to restart the peace talks with the Palestinians now that the American midterm elections are over. According to sources close to Prime Minister Netanyahu, he will agree to a new form of building freeze in the settlements.

Peace talks with the Palestinians ground to a halt a month and a half ago when the ten-month moratorium on building in the West Bank ended.

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Mass rallies against stipends for Orthodox

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 4, 2010

Thousands of students took to the streets of Jerusalem this week to protest against a budget law awarding yeshivah students special stipends which university students will not enjoy.

The students called upon the government to end the situation whereby strictly-Orthodox students who do not work are financed by the state.

Last week the government passed a two-year budget which included
111 million shekels for stipends for strictly-Orthodox yeshivah students.

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Turkey lists Israel as security 'threat'

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 4, 2010

Turkey now regards Israel as a "major threat" to its security.

According to Turkish newspapers, the country's National Security Council made the assessment last week in its new five-yearly strategic report.

The security agency took four of the country's neighbours, Syria, Bulgaria, Armenia and Georgia, off the list. Greece, which recently began carrying out joint military exercises with Israel, remains on the threat list.

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UNESCO row: 'Tomb of Rachel is a mosque'

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 4, 2010

UNESCO, the world culture and heritage organisation, has classified the ancient Tomb of Rachel, south of Jerusalem, as a mosque as well as a holy Jewish site.

The small building on the outskirts of Bethlehem has been identified for many centuries as the tomb of the Matriarch Rachel who, according to the Torah, died there while giving birth to Benjamin.

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Israel predicted Chicago parcel bombs plot

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 4, 2010

"We were not aware of the precise timing," said a very senior Israeli security official this week, on the discovery of the two parcel bombs on America-bound cargo planes and addressed to shuls in Chicago, "but the platform and the method they used was certainly no surprise."

The official went on to explain that Yemen is now one of the major sources of international terror operations and that the successful location of the bombs was the result of co-operation between the intelligence services of various countries.

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‘Kach’ march sparks riots

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 29, 2010

Rioting broke out in the Israeli-Arab town of Umm el-Fahm in the wake of a march by extreme right-wing Jewish activists on Wednesday morning. Police used tear gas and stun grenades against the rioters.

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Anger over IDF Cast Lead indictments

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 28, 2010

Two cases of misconduct, one still only alleged, by IDF soldiers who fought in Operation Cast Lead are causing widespread debate and furor in the Israeli army and public.

On Monday, the two former soldiers appeared for their preliminary hearing before sentencing. The two were convicted earlier this month of exceeding their authority, among other charges, for forcing a Palestinian child to open bags that were suspected of being booby-trapped.

Despite the conviction, the two were accompanied by over a hundred friends and former comrades who claimed they were being scapegoated.

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Now the Chief Rabbinate probes army conversions

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 28, 2010

The decision of the Chief Rabbinate in Israel to investigate the validity of conversions performed in the IDF has raised concerns that 5000 converts may find their Jewishness questioned.

For over eight years, the Israeli army's Nativ Project has allowed soldiers of mixed marriages who are not recognised as Jews by the Rabbinate to undergo a programme of Jewish studies, leading to conversion in a special military rabbinical court.

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'Gaza flotilla activists fired first'

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 28, 2010

Each one of the shootings on the Mavi Marmara ferry earlier this year was justified, said the IDF Chief of General Staff this week.

In a combative appearance before the Turkel Commission, the body set up by the Israeli government to investigate the Gaza flotilla operation, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi insisted that the commandos who boarded the ship and killed nine Turkish activists acted in an exemplary fashion.

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Hizbollah leaks signal Lebanon escalation

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 28, 2010

The detailed account of the Hizbollah missile shipments that appeared this week in Le Figaro is another indication of the escalation in the intelligence war being waged by the West against the Iran-Syria-Hizbollah axis.

According to the French newspaper, special Hizbollah units are operating in Syrian and Lebanon to prepare launching sites for an attack on Israel.

The report that appeared in Le Figaro on Monday was attributed to sources in the French Defence Ministry.

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Netanyahu changes loyalty pledge after backlash

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 21, 2010

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to alter the "loyalty pledge" law voted on last week by the cabinet so that it will include not only non-Jews but any new Israeli citizen.

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Turkish activist backs IDF account of Gaza flotilla

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 21, 2010

A Turkish journalist's account of the events during the takeover of the flotilla to Gaza on May 31, in which nine Turkish activists were killed by Israeli commandos, tallies with the Israeli version of events.

Sefik Dinc, a Turkish journalist, was on the Mavi Marmara ferry when the violent clashes took place. Mr Dinc recently published in Turkey a book on the incident, The Bleeding Mavi Marmara, which, while critical of Israel's actions, is also critical of his own government and the activists' actions.

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Rabin assassination anniversary to be downgraded

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 21, 2010

The memorial events for the 15th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination began this week under growing controversy over his legacy.

A series of events marked the anniversary of the former prime minister's killing beginning with a ceremony at the President's residence in Jerusalem including a memorial service at his grave on Mount Herzl and a special Knesset session.

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Ahmadinejad: welcome to Iran's western axis

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 21, 2010

There was a farcical ending to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit last week to Lebanon.

Hours before his departure on Thursday, he had one last meeting, at the Iranian embassy in Beirut. His local ally, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, emerged from his hideout bringing him, as a tribute, a rifle supposedly taken from an Israeli soldier during the Second Lebanon War. But it was a sham. The rifle was an AK-47 Kalashnikov - not a weapon used by Israeli forces.

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Analysis: Rage over 'racist' law is misplaced

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 14, 2010

The newly amended Citizenship Law, approved by the cabinet on Sunday and requiring all foreign non-Jewish citizens wishing to become Israeli to pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, is polarising opinion in Israel and across the world.

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Netanyahu needs this peace deal

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 14, 2010

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing the ground for a possible centrist coalition, if a resumption of talks with Palestinian Authority and an extension of the settlement freeze cause a major crisis within his government.

Another week has gone by without a decision by Mr Netanyahu on the future of the settlement freeze, now at the centre of Palestinian conditions for continuing direct peace talks.

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How Israel prepared for a cyber war

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 7, 2010

Israeli officials are maintaining their silence over reports that the country's intelligence agencies are behind the Stuxnet computer virus that has wreaked havoc on the Iranian nuclear programme.

Analysts are convinced that the complex "worm" virus was a targeted attack that could have only been carried out by a clandestine agency of a country opposed to the Iranian efforts to acquire a bomb. Countries developing such capabilities include the United States, Britain and Israel.

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Nobel winner is expelled from Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 7, 2010

Irish Nobel prize-winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire was expelled from Israel on Tuesday morning after the Supreme Court ruled against an appeal to cancel the deportation order.

Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch recommended that the government allow Ms Maguire to complete the scheduled visit but ruled that since she had entered the country despite knowing that she was banned, the deportation order was legal.

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