February 17, 2011 Protest Continue Throughout Middle East, Good News Bad News

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

February 17, 2011 Protest Continue Throughout Middle East, Good News Bad News in Israel

The arc of protest continues across the Middle East. The most surprising place has been Libya, where thousand have gone to the street to protest against the 30-year rule of Qaddafi. Interestingly Israeli TV was reporting today that 19 Libyans were killed when Qaddafi ordered his troops to open fire on demonstrators. The US media has not been reporting anything except that the demonstrations have grown in Libya.

In Bahrain the government has cleared the main square of the demonstrators. Bahrain is unlike the other areas where demonstrations are taking place since the demonstrations are by the Shiite majority against the Sunni minority that have been ruling the country for generations. It's clearly in Iran's interest to overthrow the government there.

In Israel today there was good news and bad news, on the good side the Iron Dome anti missile system underwent its final tests today. It was 100% successful in downing incoming missiles, and even more important it radar was able to distinguish between missiles that would land in open fields and cause no damage and those that would hit populated targets. Since the majority of the rockets fired from both Lebanon and Gaza in the last two wars have landed in open fields the exchange costs of using the system become much more manageable.  Now Israeli just needs to buy enough of the systems.

The more problematic news was the recommendations of the police to charge the former Chairman of Bank Hapoalim and the current Director General for double-dealing and failure to disclose conflict of interest in a series of loans and acquisition. My guess if you were to look closely at wealth accumulation in Israel outside of the hi tech sector you will find that this was the norm

There was additional good news from Israel today and that was that the economic growth rate in the last quarter was at a sizzling annual rate of 7.8 percent.  The numbers may not be as impressive as they look since a great deal of the increase is from rising domestic consumption- but still 7.8 is 7.8 .

Finally one of readers forwarded an article that contradicts much of what was in the Avishai article in this past week New York Times Magaize on how close Israel and the Palestinians were in negotiations in Pajamas Media ( I have no idea who they are)

To get a better understanding of the state of the Palestinians on refugees the current issue of Bitter Lemons is devoted to Refugees Return or Tawtin

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