Jerusalem – The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Civil Defense Command expanded the “red alert” siren system warning system to Netivot (an informal “sister city” to the Philadelphia Jewish community) because of intelligence warnings that Arab terrorists in Gaza had acquired new missile capability from Iran that would enable them to reach the city just southwest of Sderot.

Two missiles hit Netivot on Saturday. One landed about a half-mile from the center of the city, while the other landed in the middle of the new marketplace.

“There were no people around the market place because it was the Sabbath. If this had occurred on a weekday, the area would have probably been full of people, and there would have been many injuries,” observed Haim Zisowitz, an adviser to the Netivot municipality.

The alarm system in Netivot uses a siren for the entire city and uses the “red alert” alarm for the schools, as opposed to in Sderot where the “red alert” is operated for the entire city, according to Netivot spokesperson Asher Hamias. In contrast to the system in Sderot, Netivot residents have approximately 30 seconds, rather than the 15 seconds that the Sderot people have to find safety.

“I am afraid about the situation,” Mr. Hamias said. “Right now, not everybody realizes how close we are to the situation.”

FBI: U.S. Must Review FBI Program Against Al-Qaida

The FBI, lacking agents fluent in Arabic, has failed to track al-Qaida and must review its counter-insurgency program, according to Bassem Youssef, a chief in the FBI’s Communications Analysis Unit.

Mr. Youssef has provided a report that the FBI has been unable to protect the United States from an al-Qaida strike. In a comprehensive review of the nation’s law enforcement service, Mr. Youssef said the agency has refused to hire or train enough agents fluent in Arabic.

In written testimony to the House Judiciary Subcommittee, Mr. Youssef, a 20-year veteran of the FBI, appealed to Congress to authorize an independent review of the U.S. counter-insurgency program. He asserted that it was badly understaffed and filled with inexperienced managers.

“A full independent review of the counterterrorism program is badly needed,” Mr. Youssef, who for years has been passed over for promotions, said last Wednesday. “The review must be conducted by persons with unquestionable expertise in Middle Eastern terrorism.”

Mr. Youssef, the FBI’s highest-ranking Arab-American agent, said that 40 percent of supervisory positions in the FBI’s unit that tracks al-Qaida and others deemed terrorists were vacant. He said FBI officials “rely exclusively on translation services” to understand communications from suspected al-Qaida and aligned insurgents.

“The over-reliance upon translators within the counterterrorism program has undermined the ability of agents to properly understand, monitor and evaluate threats,” Mr. Youssef said. “In other words, subtle messages and information not capable of ready translation or that which would be obvious to a native speaker who is simultaneously involved in operational activities are regularly lost.”

In January, the FBI had a staff of 46 agents and 285 language analysts who speak at least conversational Arabic. The agency has maintained that its Arabic-speaking personnel is sufficient.

“Since 9/11, but particularly over the past year, the FBI has been addressing staffing concerns, career path issues and how we can better leverage a strategic, intelligence-based view across all of our investigative programs,” FBI assistant director John Miller said in a statement after Mr. Youssef’s testimony. “One of the key initiatives relates to establishing career paths for FBI employees. Employees will select career paths in an area of expertise, such as counter-terrorism, counter-espionage or criminal investigation and stay with that discipline over their career.”

Meanwhile, a source in the Syrian Jewish community in New York has informed The Bulletin that dozens of highly skilled Arabic-speaking members of their community have offered their services to the FBI’s counterintelligence division, but none has been hired.

U.N. Racism Conference To Be Held Over Holocaust Remembrance Day

The next U.N. racism conference will be held in Geneva from April 20-24, 2009, a U.N. preparatory committee decided yesterday. It will take place over Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is April 21.

Holding the meeting at a U.N. venue on European soil will essentially guarantee that the European Union will fully participate and not follow boycott plans of Canada, the United States and Israel.

At the same time the world remembers the Holocaust, the United Nations will be discussing whether the Jewish state, created in the wake of the Holocaust, should be demonized as the worst practitioner of racism and xenophobia among nations today. The conference is intended to promote the implementation of the 2001 Durban Declaration, which singled out Israel by labeling Palestinians as victims of Israeli racism.

David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com

©The Bulletin 2008

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.