Israeli News: A Daily Analysis

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

January 26, 2009--Anti-Semitism in Europe, Mitchell On His Way to the Middle East

The quadrennial meeting of the World Jewish Conference opened today in Jerusalem. A large part of the conference was dedicated to discussing the perception of rising anti-Semitism that has occurred, especially during the Gaza War. The reports at the conference were that despite an overall decrease in anti-Semitism in Europe over the last few years, during the war there was a marked increase. What was particularly striking according to observers is that many of the demonstrations were patently anti-Semitic with demonstrator yelling, "Go for the Jews" and "Kill the Zionist".

President Obama met this afternoon with Secretary of State Clinton and Senator Mitchell in advance of Mitchell's departure to the Middle East tonight. Obama spoke briefly to the press. He stated that he understood that Mitchell's mission is difficult, but stated that it is important to the United States and to him personally that progress is made.

The election campaign was officially re-launched today in Israel. Kadima began with a rally in Sderot. It is worth noting that this is the first Israeli election since 1984 that none of the candidates are currently Prime Minister. Since most of the Israeli campaigns have been against someone, this will be a little different. Of course, both Minister of Defense Barak and Opposition Leader Netanyahu were Prime Ministers in the past. As one observer noted, this is an election where two of the candidates were found lacking [Barak & Netanyahu] and the third is being accused of not being capable [Livni].

One of the major stories in Israel today is yesterday's arrest of many of MK Avigdor Lieberman's close confidants. He has been under investigation for almost a decade for a series of crimes. Yesterday his daughter, his lawyer, and a number of other members of his inner circle were arrested. His lawyer and a number of others, in the ways of the Israeli judicial circle, are being held without bail. Most of the questions relate to the timing two weeks before the elections. The state prosecutor was forced to defend his decision to proceed with the arrests.

Another major story in the news in Israel was the release of a recording a commander in the Golani infantry brigade made before the troops entered Gaza. The commander told his troops that if they were about to get captured they were to use their grenades to blow themselves up rather then become another 'Gilad Shalit'. There have been stories of other officers giving similar instructions.

Lastly, today the IDF announced how many people were killed in Gaza. According to the IDF, 700 Hamas fighters and 250 civilians were killed.