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March 27, 2009     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 27, 2009 U.S, Department of Defense Adm. Mike Mullen (1) told PBS host Charlie Rose that Israel and the United States agree on more than they disagree when it comes to Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program. By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)-- A number of recent news reports on Iran policy have emphasized the differences between U.S. and Israeli intelligence estimates of when Iran will go nuclear. More striking, however, is that both nations agree that it could happen in less than a year. They differ only in over how long Iran almost cer- tainly will have a weapon: Israel estimates Iran will inevitably go nuclear within two years, while the Ameri- cans say it could take until the middle of next decade. "I've been with my Israeli counterpart a number of times, and by and large we see it the same way," Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Charlie Rose of PBS last week. "We're in agreement and have been for, oh, the better part of the last six months or so. There was a time that we weren't, but we've actually worked pretty hard to understand where we both are. And so I think generally we're in agreement." In the same interview, Mullen said the window for an Iranian nuclear capability was "sort of 2010 to 2015." That overlaps with Israeli predictions of a capability by next year, and Mullen added for effect: "2010 isn't very far away." Mullen was responding to reports in The New York Times and The Washington Post that the two allies were at odds on how to deal with Iran. The analyses were based on separate but parallel events: U.S. Senate testimony by Adm. Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence, and a presentation by Amos Yadlin, the director of military intel- ligence, to the Israeli Cabinet. "We assess now that Iran does not have highly enriched uranium," Blair said March 10. Pressed by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Blair elaborated. "The nuclear weapons program is one of the three components required for a deliverable system, including the delivery system and the uranium," he said. "But as for the nuclearweapons program, the current position is the same--that Iran has stopped its nuclear weapons design and weaponization activities in 2003 and did not--has not started them again, at least as of mid-2007." Three days later, accord- ing to Ynet, the Israeli news Web site attached to Yediot Achronot, Yadlin told Israel's Cabinet that"Iran has crossed the technological threshold, making its potential military nuclear ability a matter of making it their strategy to create a nuclear bomb. Iran continues to collect hundreds of kilograms of low-grade uranium and hopes to take advantage of the dialoguewith the West and the Washington administration in order to move forward towards the creation of a nuclear bomb." The analyses, despite the media flurry, were not in- compatible. Yadlin speci- fied low-grade uranium and Blair acknowledged that the Iranians were close to hav- ing enough for a bomb. Blair specifically was discounting reports that Iran was able to manufacture the highly enriched uranium and of- fering a holistic view, taking into account Iran's capacity to deliver weapons. Yadlin was saying simply that the Is- lamic regime had crossed the threshold of manufacturing enough uranium for a bomb and was not speculating about delivery. Within days of Mullen's pronouncement of close Israel-U.S. cooperation, his Israeli counterpart, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, was putting it to the test in Washington meetings with Gen. James Jones, President 0bama's national security adviser, top Pentagon brass and Dennis Ross, who shapes Iran policy at the State Department. Subtle differences in the Hebrew and English official accounts of Ashkenazi's meet- ings were telling. "Throughout the day, the Chief of Staff met with the National Security Adviser, Gen. James Jones, with whom he discussed professional matters such as Iran's nuclear plans, the security situation along Israel's northern border, weapons smuggling, as well as the situation in the Palestin- ian Authority and the Gaza Strip after operation 'Cast Lead,' "said the statement put out March 16 by Israel for the foreign media." The Hebrew statement, put out by Israel for domestic consumption, said Iran was the "foremost" issue that Ashkenazi discussed. The English statement called Ross a "special ad- viser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia," while the Hebrew version called Ross "an adviser on Iran." Ashkenazi reportedly out- lined for Ross contingencies under which Israel could attack Iran, reiterating it was not on the table for now. Coincidentally, a paper from the Center for Strategic and International Studies pub- lished this week said that such an attack was doable, if difficult, both through an air attack and by long-range missiles. The report, by Abduallh Toukan, said that such an attack would "give rise to re- gional instability and conflict as well as terrorism." Such a consequence clearly worried Mullen, too, even though it is not on the im- mediate horizon. "What I worry about in terms of an attack on Iran is in addition to the immedi- ate effect, the effect of the attack--it's the unintended consequences. It's the further destabilization in the region," Mullen said. "It's how they would respond. We have lots of Americans who live in that region who are under the threat envelope right now." b By Paul Lungen Canadian Jewish News TEL AVIV--The Israel Dictmona aehang m im- pressive place--a sprawling jewelry bourse that's secured like Fort Knox. To enter one of the facil- il y' four interlinked build- HANDYMAN SERVICE Handy man and General Maintenance Air Conditioning Electrical Plumbing Carpentry Formerly handled maintenance at JCC References available STEVE'S SERVICES Call Steve Doyle at (386) 668-8960 ings, visitors must undergo a security check, leave a digital fingerprint impression and be willing to have their ev- ery movement scanned by thousands of strategically located cameras. Members' offices are enclosed behind heavy metal doors, and safes provide yet another level of protection. It's all in the interests of safeguarding the shining baubles--worth millions upon millions--that the exchange's 3,000 members keep locked away in their offices. But while the exchange goes to great lengths to assure the members don't lose their merchandise to This Passover, whether you choose to celebrate with us or in the comfort of your own home, let To'o Jay's do the preparation for your holiday meal. From all of us at Too Jay's, we wish you and yours a Good Pesach. Holiday Specials Brisket Platter or Roasted Half Chiaken $17.95 Baked Salmon Fillet $19.95 Roasted Cornish Game Hen With Matzo & Fruit Stuffing and an Apricot Glaze. $19.95 All entrees inalude: Glass of Kosher Wine Matzo Ball Soup Gefilte Fish or Chopped Liver Potato Pancake and Carrot Tzimmes Macaroons/Coffee or Tea skullduggery and thieves, the market outside has done what malevolent ne'er-do- wells couldn't do--slash drastically the value of members' inventory. "The downturn in the economy in the world af- fected diamonds like it af- fected everybody," said IDE President Avi Paz. "First prices went down, and then trade volumes went down." Paz, who also serves as president of the 29-member World Federation of Dia- mond Bourses, said despite industry efforts to boost prices by limiting the supply of rough diamonds, "some goods went down sharply, some less so, depending on quality and size. It's still dif- ficult to give numbers since it's only five months." While the full impact of the international financial crisis remains unknown, the Israel Ministry of In- dustry, Trade and Labor released data for 2008 showing sharp declines in diamond sales. Net polished-diamond exports fell 11.8 per cent in 2008 to $6.24 billion (all figures U.S.), compared with $7.07 billion in 2007, while net rough-diamond exports de- clined two per cent to $3.31 billion in 2008, from $3.38 billion the year before. IDEX magazine, a dia- mond industry publication, quoted analyst Chaim Den- Zohar predicting consumer demand for diamonds would drop 10 per cent in 2009, while analyst Ken Gassman suggested the fall could be limited to only seven or eight per cent. Danni Eizenstien has seen first-hand how the diamond industry, which Paz credited for 30 per cent of Israeli ex- ports in 2008, has suffered in recent months. In January, things were particularly bad. "'At first, for two week, I didn't touch my [magnifying] loup. The phones were quiet," he said, The second generation of a family business his father Avner started 30 years ago, Danni said that "the atmo- sphere here is that people are a little bit worried. In the beginning, it started a panic. It's gone to worried. People start to understand that they will lose and will have to re-create themselves again." The current downturn comes after a very profitable period. "Two thousand and seven was a very good year," said Paz. "We had more than $10 billion in exports from Israel, nearly $7 billion in polished stones and $3 bil- lion in rough stones. "Even 2008 until the end of September, we were up nearly 3 percent." When the international economy began its collapse, Paz issued a news release calling on the two big play- ers-De Beers and Alrosa-- who supply nearly 75 per cent of the world's rough (unpolished) diamonds, to cut production. Alrosa, a Russian firm, cut entirely its supply of rough stones, while De Beers is down to 10 percent to15 percent of its pre-downturn production. The fates of Israeli dia- mond merchants are closely linked to their biggest cus- tomer, the United States, ground zero for the down- turn. "Israel sells about 60 percent of its polished diamonds to the United States," Paz said, adding he is encouraging merchants to diversify their markets. "For the moment, it's dif- ficult." he continued. "We took action to redress the impact of the downturn" by offering buyer free hotel,tay , free en- try to the Exchange and sup- port for diamond merchants at international trade shows, including an important trade fair in Hong Kong. So far, only a small num- ber of merchants have been forced out of business. "Most are just looking at lower incomes," Paz said. Paz believes that when it comes to discretionary pur- chases for Christmas gifts, diamonds hold a unique place. They maintain their value better than other lux- ury items, such as high-end handbags, electronics and holidays. "It will always be worth something," he stated. Eizenstien puts diamond sales in two categories: "the bread and butter goods of mostly 1 point to 1.5 car- ats. They got hit, but not so much." These stones were in high demand in recent years and prices soared. "In one day, it stopped." But, he added, "People will continue to get married and still need dia- monds, but maybe smaller ones." A second group of mer- chants bore the brunt of the downturn--those who dealt in larger stones. "A $1-mil- lion stone went down a lot," he said. People were initially "shocked" by the extent of the slowdown and, for many, the extent of the troubles didn't register for two or three months. But they are recovering, if only at a fraction of earlier volume. "Small trades have started again. I believe things will pick up," he said.