A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
April 23, 2009--Hezbollah Plans Attack, Netanyahu's Economic Plan, Obama Gives Holocaust Speech
The Israeli intelligence services have information on a planned Hezbollah attempt to abduct Israeli businessmen in a specific European country. As a result, those there have returned to Israel. If this has thwarted an attack, it will be the third time in recent months that a Hezbollah attack on Israel in retaliation for the supposed assassination of Imad Mugniyah has been thwarted. Hezbollah is under even more pressure throughout the Arab world after the public unearthing of its ring in Egypt. Arab states throughout the Middle East are cracking down on Hezbollah, arresting anyone thought to be associated with the terror organization. Today Egyptian President Husni Mubarak spoke out for the first time on the Hezbollah ring. In his speech Mubarak warned Teheran on interfering in the internal affairs of Arab States. Meanwhile, Egyptian television talk shows continued to lambaste Iran, claiming their only goal was to dominate the Arab world. There was also criticism of the Obama administration's discussion of talking to Iran. That criticism centered on the fact that it was rewarding a state that is following the path arm conflict against those that have not. One Egyptian commentator flat out said the talks with Iran will fail. Egypt tried to reach out and got nowhere.
Today Prime Minister Netanyahu announced his new economic plan. Most of his message was full of metaphors which basically said that the plane (economy) now had a pilot, and he would pilot the economy to safety. The specifics of his plan call for gradual decrease of the highest marginal tax rate in Israel to 39% (keep in mind there are no state or local income taxes in Israel) and the decrease of the corporate tax rate to a maximum of 18%. In addition, the government will give 12 billion shekels to the banks in form of guarantees for new loaning and an unspecified fund of 10 billion shekels to help high tech companies. In the meantime, after a month of Netanyahu's term in office, only 30% of the public is happy with his performance. 49% do not know what they think yet and 19% do no like what is going on. This is a lower figure than his predecessor, Olmert, at this point in his leadership.
President Obama gave a speech this afternoon in the Capital Rotunda to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. It was a good speech that can be read here. A line that was clearly directed at Iranian President Ahmadinajad stated, "To this day, there are those who insist the Holocaust never happened; who perpetrate every form of intolerance -- racism and anti-Semitism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, and more -- hatred that degrades its victim and diminishes us all".
Israeli television ran a piece taken from an interview from Arab television on President Obama'a advisor on Arabs and Muslims, Dalia Mujalik. She is Egyptian born and covers her hair. She was responsible for writing his speech that he gave in Turkey. Her job is to reach out to the Muslim world and try to understand why they hate the US and to help President Obama develop policies that will overcome these views. Interesting.