Newsletter : 13fx0524.txt
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Report: Israel Mulls Creating Proxy Force with Syrian Druze on Golan
By Israel Hayom
Israeli officials are discussing establishing a proxy force inside Syria made up of
residents of villages close to the cease-fire line, perhaps led by the minority Druze sect
in Syria, which also has some 20,000 members living over the border in Israeli-controlled
territory, The New York Times reported on Thursday.
According to the paper, several Israeli officials who follow Syria closely said Israeli
security forces had already been quietly working with villagers who support neither the
government nor the rebels, supplying moderate humanitarian aid and maintaining intense
intelligence activity. However, The Times reported that its sources said any notion of
arming such villagers was remote if not far-fetched, noting that the main Druze leadership
in Syria had so far stayed steadfastly out of the conflict.
Amid the growing tension with Syria, Israel Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said
that Israel was poised for a large-scale assault on Syria to prevent advanced weapons
reaching jihadist rebels or Hizbullah guerrillas in Lebanon if President Bashar al-Assad
Addressing a security conference, Eshel said Israeli warplanes could be repelled by
Syria's formidable, Russian-supplied anti-aircraft systems. "If Syria collapses tomorrow
we could find ourselves very quickly inside this cauldron, and on a very large scale,
because this enormous arsenal is parked there, just waiting to be looted, and could be
turned [against Israel]," he told the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Studies near Tel
"We may find ourselves having to take action, on a very broad scale, within a very
short period of time," Eshel said. "It does not mean we will act, but that we have to be
ready to." He said fighting could escalate to include attacks on Israel by Hizbullah and
by Iran, who both back Assad, and that the air force might have to employ "the full
spectrum of its might."
Beset by the more than two-year insurgency that Hizbullah been helping his army battle,
Assad has not retaliated to Israel's reported airstrikes. But there are signs his
restraint may wane, seen in a shooting attack by Syrian troops at an Israeli patrol in the
Golan Heights on Tuesday.
While militarily superior to Syria, Israel fears this edge will be blunted by Assad's
Russian-made air and coast defenses, especially if Israeli forces are stretched over three
fronts. Eshel said the most formidable of the Russian anti-aircraft systems available, the
S-300, was "on its way" to Syria, without elaborating on where he was getting his
information. "Air superiority is critical, and we must contend with a new generation of
[Syrian] capabilities," Eshel said.
In separate remarks about Syria to the conference, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said:
"There are those who are trying to bring weapons systems into the area that are liable to
harm our aerial and naval supremacy ... and this must be prevented in a responsible and
He said that despite recent gains against the Syrian rebels by Assad and Hizbullah
forces, Damascus was in decline. "Assad is losing Syria. There is a sense that he is
charging ahead because of the Russian support, but that story is not over -- it could end
suddenly, or continue for years as a bloody civil war." Ya'alon played down the prospect
of anyone on the Syrian side starting a war with Israel, "because they understand the
heavy price they would pay."
But Israelis should also not anticipate an easy victory, Eshel told Reuters on the
sidelines of the conference. "People are looking for a knockout, for things to be surgical
and sterile, but they won't be," he said. "The homefront will be hit, no matter how much
we defend it."
Air Force Chief Warns of `Surprise War' with Syria
By The Times of Israel
The commander of the Israeli Air Force, which has reportedly bombarded targets in Syria
several times in recent months, warned that war could break out on Israel's northern
border at any moment, demanding the full engagement of the IAF's resources.
"If tomorrow Syria collapses, and I am not saying that will happen, we could find
ourselves in the thick of it very fast and in great number," IAF commander Maj. Gen. Amir
Eshel said, illustrating how the nature of surprise wars had changed for Israel since the
Yom Kippur War in 1973. Because the immense arsenal parked there, just waiting to be
looted, could spread with each gust of wind and you find yourself having to act very fast
and in great quantity," he said, alluding to Syrian President Bashar Assad's sizable
stockpile of both conventional and chemical weapons. "These days a number of scenarios can
lead to a surprise war."
Speaking at a conference in Herzliya, Eshel said that aerial superiority was the key to
victory in such a war, and that swift triumph on the field would be of supreme strategic
importance. That was why, he said, the Assad regime had spent billions of dollars on
anti-aircraft missiles, including advanced S-300 batteries due to arrive from Russia.
Eshel said the Russian-made surface-to-air system would boost Syria's confidence and
could lead to more aggressive behavior toward Israel. He cautioned that the regime could
fall at any moment, and that many groups were resolved to lay their hands on Assad's
weapons. "It doesn't mean we'll act, but it does mean we have to be ready with aircraft
and defensive batteries," Eshel said. "After all, we won't be told `You have two weeks to
prepare for a war.' We'll have to brace for rockets from Gaza and Lebanon and from further
afield. And if we're not prepared, it'll show we've failed to internalize the lessons of
the Yom Kippur War."
Eshel assured his audience that Israel would likely win a potential war with Syria, but
that it would have to do so in a matter of days. "In 2013, we can win wars, but there are
no more knock-out victories. The other side is focusing on sabotaging our abilities. We
find ourselves in a very different context than during the Yom Kippur War, and we will
have to employ greater flexibility, with more intensity and in a short amount of time. We
can win and it will require massive firepower," he said.
Echoing Eshel's comparison of a future conflict to the traumatic Yom Kippur War, IDF
Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said Wednesday that the IDF was preparing for
the "tangible scenario of a confrontation on multiple fronts. We're resolved to act with
jointness, cooperation and maximal efficiency to ensure our ability to swiftly overcome
any confrontation and win any future battle," he said.
Hand-Drawn Map Shows What Olmert Offered for Peace
By The Times of Israel
A sketched map of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's land-for-peace offer to
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in 2008 hurriedly drawn up by Abbas
after a meeting with Olmert that December, and made public for the first time on Thursday
suggests that Israel was prepared to withdraw to borders very similar to the
pre-1967 lines and swap areas of northern and southern Israel in return for maintaining
the larger settlement blocs.
The map, published by Walla news, was based on an offer Olmert made to Abbas on Dec.
16, 2008, during a meeting in Jerusalem. Olmert presented Abbas with a large formal map
showing his territorial compromise proposal for the contours of a Palestinian state as
part of a permanent peace accord, and demanded that Abbas initial the proposal before
taking it back to Ramallah for consideration by the Palestinians. Abbas refused to do so,
but on his return to his headquarters, he gathered his officials and asked them to remain
silent while he hastily recreated the offer on a sheet of official Palestinian Authority
The sketch, which includes no place names, indicates that Olmert was apparently willing
to more or less return to the pre-1967 lines, while maintaining the Gush Etzion settlement
bloc south of Jerusalem, the settlement city of Ma'ale Adumin to the east, and a slice of
territory that apparently would encompass the large settlement of Ariel in Samaria. In
exchange for expanding Israeli sovereignty to those areas, Israel would have given up some
of its own land to the new Palestinian state.
According to Walla, Olmert envisaged relinquishing Israeli territory on a one-for-one
basis to the Palestinians in areas including near Afula; near Tirat Zvi south of Beit
She'an; north of Jerusalem; in the Judean Desert, and in the Lachish area. He also
endorsed a tunnel route to link Gaza and the West Bank.
Olmert, as he has subsequently confirmed, was also prepared to divide Jerusalem into
Israeli- and Palestinian-controlled neighborhoods, and to relinquish Israeli sovereignty
at the Temple Mount and the entire Old City. He proposed that the "Holy Basin" be overseen
instead by a five-member, non-sovereign international trusteeship, comprising Israel, the
PA, Jordan, the US and Saudi Arabia. According to Walla, Olmert has confirmed that Abbas'
sketched map is similar to that depicted in his proposal, and reconfirmed his readiness to
have relinquished sovereignty at the Temple Mount.
The map shows no Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley. Walla said Olmert confirmed he
was ready to forgo an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley a key strategic area,
control of which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defined as vital to Israel's
security. In return, Walla cited Olmert as saying, Israel expected full security
cooperation with Jordan.
In March, the New Republic reported that in September 2008 Abbas was close to signing
an agreement that would have seen him give up on the so-called "right of return" for
Palestinian refugees and their descendants beyond a symbolic number of several
Overall in recent years, Olmert has been widely reported to have proposed that Israel
annex some 6.3% of the West Bank to encompass the key settlements, and compensate the
Palestinians with a corresponding 5.8% of territory from within Israel, plus the corridor
linking Gaza to the West Bank. The Palestinians have been reported to have countered with
a proposal for a far smaller, 1.9% land swap. Abbas told the Washington Post in 2009 that
Olmert's offer was insufficient. "The gaps were wide," he said.
Some analysts suggest Abbas backed out at the time in large part because he believed
that Olmert, who had announced that he planned to resign in order to fight corruption
allegations, did not have the political clout to see the deal through. Others see Abbas'
failure to seize the most far-reaching offer even made by an Israeli prime minister as
proof that no offer that Israel might reasonably make would be accepted by the Palestinian
Publication of the map Thursday drew a sharp response from Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis
(Likud), a staunch Netanyahu loyalist who acts as a liaison between the government and the
Knesset. Akunis said that what he called the PA's rejection of the Olmert offer shows that
the Palestinians are not really interested in peace.
"It is further proof that the argument is not about Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]
but on the very existence of Israel," Akunis told Walla. "Even though Olmert sold out on
everything, gave in, for nothing in return, the Palestinians didn't accept the offer.
Their continued refusal of even the most generous offer should present a warning sign to
the whole world: The Palestinians are the obstacle to peace."
Olmert has said that Abbas did not accept the offer but also did not specifically
reject it. Rather, according to Olmert, Abbas failed to respond to it.
Haredi Ad: Tight Pants May Seduce Women
Ads posted recently in ultra-Orthodox areas in Jerusalem quote prominent Ashkenazi
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky as saying that men who "intentionally" wear tight pants will be
subject to ostracism. The ads were distributed as part of a campaign launched several
months ago in regards to standards of modesty in men's clothing. The campaign's highlight
was the ban on tight pants, which were defined as a serious Torah prohibition and a
According to the campaign managers, anyone wearing close-fitting trousers is violating the
prohibition "Do not follow their practices" (Leviticus 18:3). In addition, according to
the campaign initiators, wearing tight pants emphasizes the shape of one's body, which may
entice women. In order to make the desired wardrobe clear to the haredi public, the ad
included pictures of rabbis wearing wide pants.
Wedding Bells for Belz as Heir to Hassidic Dynasty Ties Knot
By The Times of Israel
Tens of thousands of Ultra-Orthodox men and women from Israel and abroad participated
in one of the largest weddings seen in modern times Tuesday night, as the grandson of
rabbi of the Belz Hassidic dynasty tied the knot with Hana Batya Pener, a daughter of one
of the community members. Rabbi Shalom Rokach, 18, is the eldest grandson of the Belz
Rabbi and is expected to run for leadership of the sect in the future.
Members of various Hassidic sects, the national-religious world and Sephardi Judaism
also attended the wedding. The leader of the Gur Hassidic sect, the biggest in Israel, and
the Lithuanian Ultra-Orthodox community each received a special welcome from the Belz
Rabbi, as did Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
The wedding of Rokach's parents in 1993 was the largest in the city's modern history,
drawing 30,000 people, who gobbled down 3.1 tons of potatoes, 1.5 tons of gefilte fish and
39,000 gallons of pop in celebration.
Belz Hassidism, which was nearly wiped out in the Holocaust, is named for the Western
Ukrainian town of Belz, near the Polish border.
Shades of Star Trek's Borg: Technion Scientists Develop an Advanced Biological
By Arutz Sheva
Technion scientists developed and constructed a molecular transducer, which is an
advanced computing machine. This molecular computer was built entirely of biomolecules,
such as DNA and enzymes that can manipulate genetic codes.
This unprecedented device can compute iteratively, namely, it uses the output as a new
input for subsequent computations. Furthermore, it produces outputs in the form of
biologically meaningful phenomena, such as resistance of bacteria to various
The researchers demonstrated that their transducer can perform long division of binary
numbers by 3 and performed an iterative computation.
This study by Prof. Ehud Keinan, postdoctoral fellows Dr. Tamar Ratner and Dr. Ron
Piran of the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry, and Dr. Natasha Jonoska of the department of
Mathematics at the University of South Florida, is published today in the prestigious
journal Chemistry & Biology of the Cell publishing house.
"The ever-increasing interest in biomolecular computing devices has not arisen from the
hope that such machines could ever compete with their electronic counterparts by offering
greater computation speed, fidelity and power or performance in traditional computing
tasks", explains Prof. Keinan. "The main advantages of biomolecular computing devices over
the electronic computers arise from other properties. As shown in this work and other
projects carried out in our lab, these systems can interact directly with biological
systems and even with living organisms. No interface is required since all components of
molecular computers, including hardware, software, input and output, are molecules that
interact in solution along a cascade of programmable chemical events."
"All biological systems, and even entire living organisms, are natural molecular
computers. Every one of us is a biomolecular computer, that is, a machine in which all
components are molecules "talking" to one another in a logical manner. The hardware and
software are complex biological molecules that activate one another to carry out some
predetermined chemical tasks. The input is a molecule that undergoes specific, programmed
changes, following a specific set of rules (software) and the output of this chemical
computation process is another well defined molecule."
"Our results are significant because they demonstrate for the first time a synthetic
designed computing machine that not only computes iteratively, but also produces
biologically relevant results. Although this transducer was employed to solve a specific
problem, the general methodology shows that similar devices could be applied for other
"In addition to its enhanced computation power, this DNA-based transducer offers
multiple benefits, such as the ability to read and transform genetic information,
miniaturization to the molecular scale, and the aptitude to produce computational results,
which interact directly with living organisms. Therefore, its implementation on a genetic
material may not just evaluate and detect specific sequences, it can also alter and
algorithmically process the genetic code. This possibility opens up interesting
opportunities in biotechnology, including individual gene therapy and cloning."
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