Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Israel Slams Iran Holocaust Conference - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
Saudi Ambassador Abruptly Resigns, Leaves Washington - Robin Wright (Washington Post)
Jews Remember Jeane Kirkpatrick as Friend of Israel, Moral Beacon - Ben Harris (JTA)
U.S. to Double Emergency Equipment Stored in Israel - Yitzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)
Taliban and Allies Tighten Grip in North of Pakistan - Carlotta Gall and Ismail Khan (New York Times)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Iran has pledged $250 million in aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government, the latest sign of increasingly close ties between the Islamic group and Tehran, PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Monday at the end of a four-day visit to the Iranian capital. (AP/Forbes)
Iranian students disrupted a speech by President Ahmadinejad on Monday at the Amir Kabir Technical University by lighting fireworks and burning his portrait. (BBC News)
U.S. Secretary of State Rice rejected calls to deal directly with Damascus and Tehran as part of efforts to end the crisis in Iraq and said the two states should have no doubts about Washington's commitment to the embattled government of Lebanon. "In no way is the U.S. going to get into a situation where it is even a conceivable notion on the part of Syria or Iran that the future of Lebanon would somehow be compromised for other interests of the U.S.," she said. "We understand who Lebanon's enemies are and those that are trying to bring down the Siniora government," Rice said. (AFP/Yahoo)
See also Siniora Stands Fast - David Ignatius
Watching the demonstrations in Beirut with seeming serenity is Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, the man the Hizballah protesters are targeting. During our discussion on Monday he was the picture of calm and confidence. "We all have to realize we have Iran on our borders," Siniora explains. "But Iran has to understand it cannot impose things on the Arabs." The hard edge of Siniora's strategy is that he is prepared to play the sectarian game, too.
On Sunday there was a huge counter-rally in support of the government by angry Sunnis in the northern city of Tripoli. "They don't have the numbers," Siniora said of the Hizballah-Aoun alliance. The Sunni trump card is rarely discussed but universally understood: Syria, a crucial ally of Hizballah, is an overwhelmingly Sunni country. If the Syrian-Iranian alliance squeezes the Sunnis in Lebanon too hard, there is likely to be a backlash inside Syria. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
An Israel Defense Forces soldier was moderately wounded on Monday when Palestinians opened fire on an IDF convoy in the West Bank town of Kabatiyeh, south of Jenin. (Ha'aretz)
Hamas security forces opened fire on stone-throwing Fatah demonstrators in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis, wounding four Fatah activists on Tuesday, one day after the killing of three children of a Fatah-linked official. (Ha'aretz)
Along the Lebanese side of Israel's northern border are the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). The soldiers, wearing short-sleeved T-shirts and camouflage pants, have set up outposts where Hizballah guerrillas used to stand provocatively before the war. The Lebanese soldiers see the Israeli reporters and begin to get serious; they put on their vests and rifles that had been collecting dust next to their tent. Hizballah, which used to have dozens of outposts right along the fence, is nowhere to be seen.
The IDF's orders are also different. Nowadays, the IDF will open fire immediately at any armed Hizballah member approaching the border. A high-ranking member of the IDF General Staff said Sunday that it will take Hizballah at least a year to return to its size and strength before the war. The group sustained heavy losses during the war - at least 500 guerrillas were killed and over a thousand were wounded. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
As if to declare its bravura defiance of what the West considers to be fundamental civilized values, Iran has convened a Holocaust denial conference. President Ahmadinejad of Iran has personally endorsed the meeting, which is taking place at an Iranian foreign ministry institute with the full imprimatur of his government. He has made it a hallmark of his political regime not only to declare political opposition to Israel, but also to threaten its existence in the most lurid and bellicose terms.
This is a regime that some in Washington and London seem to believe may be trusted to participate in achieving a just and peaceful settlement in Iraq. Iran under its present leadership is a dangerously hateful and malevolent force whose intentions in the Middle East can never be other than malign and destabilizing. (Telegraph-UK)
See also Tehran's Holocaust Lesson - Anne Applebaum
Surely Iran's denial of the Holocaust cannot be serious. Unfortunately, Iran's president is deadly serious: Holocaust denial is his personal passion, not just a way of taunting Israel, and it's based on his personal interpretation of history. Questioning the reality of the Holocaust has long been another means of questioning the legitimacy of the State of Israel. If the Shiite Iranians are looking for friends, particularly among Sunni Arabs, Holocaust denial isn't a bad way to find them.
Yes, we think we've institutionalized the memory of the Holocaust, we think this particular European horror has been put to rest, and yet the near-destruction of the European Jews, in a very brief span of time, by a sophisticated European nation using the best technology available, was, it seems, an event that requires constant reexplanation. (Washington Post)
The Iraq Study Group report suggests that the U.S. seek the cooperation of Syria and Iran, its two principal enemies in the region, on the theory that neither country wants chaos on its border. It's an interesting idea, given that sowing chaos on their borders is precisely what both countries have been doing in Iraq, and elsewhere, for years. The Bush administration overthrew the regime of Saddam Hussein largely as a way of "signaling" that it was no longer prepared to countenance a Middle East of terrorism-sponsoring regimes. Now the ISG announces that not only is the U.S. prepared to deal with those regimes, but that it will do the bidding of one of them, Syria, by again putting maximum pressure on Israel to abandon the Golan Heights. (Wall Street Journal, 12Dec06)
See also Iraq Study Group Report a Misleading Fantasy - Youssef Ibrahim
The recommendation of renewed commitment to a comprehensive, American-mediated Arab-Israeli peace process leaves anyone with experience in the region simply dazed. How can we expect millions of Iraqi Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Christians, secularists, and former Baathists - now fighting over oil revenues, influence, and distribution of power - to cease and desist just because America brokered an agreement thousands of miles away between the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs? (New York Sun)
A radical Islamic front, led by Iran and including Hizballah, Hamas, and al-Qaeda, is making a bid to expand its brand of theocratic rule throughout the Muslim world, with the aim of dominating the West as well. If the U.S. retreats in the face of this challenge, militant Islamism will advance. Israel may or may not be the first victim of this advance, but we will not be the last. As the 9/11 attacks illustrated, the Islamists have tired of pretending that Israel is their only, or even primary enemy. For an Iranian-dominated Muslim world, Israel is the hors d'oevre; America and Europe are the meal. (Washington Post)
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