Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
UN Investigator: Hariri Murder Linked to Other Attacks in Lebanon (Daily Star-Lebanon)
Girl, 6, Details Slayings of Gaza Brothers (AP/Toronto Star)
As Islamists Take Over Somalia, Ethiopia Prepares for War - Scott Baldauf (Christian Science Monitor)
Israel Bonds Raises $1.2 Billion in 2006 - Avi Krawitz (Jerusalem Post)
14 American-Israeli Development Programs Funded - Amir Ben-Artzi (EE Times)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, is backing a call for the president of Iran to be charged with inciting genocide because of his speeches advocating the destruction of the State of Israel. Bolton will appear Thursday among a panel of diplomats and lawyers calling for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be prosecuted, convened by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The call for legal action came as Ahmadinejad repeated his onslaught against Israel at an international gathering of Holocaust deniers in Tehran where he said the Israeli state would soon be wiped out. (Guardian-UK)
See also Holocaust Deniers' Meeting Spurs European Leaders' Outrage - William J. Kole (AP/Los Angeles Times)
A statement released by the White House Tuesday said: "The United States condemns the conference on the Holocaust convoked by the Iranian regime on Monday in Tehran....The Iranian regime perversely seeks to call the historical fact of those atrocities into question and provide a platform for hatred. The gathering of Holocaust deniers in Tehran is an affront to the entire civilized world, as well as to the traditional Iranian values of tolerance and mutual respect." (White House)
Israel's air force plans to enhance its air-refueling capabilities, increasing the range of its warplanes as Iran emerges as an increasing threat. Air force Brig. Gen. Yohanan Loker has said the program would help Israel meet "emerging distant threats." "If you have fuel, you can reach distant targets, better utilize your assets, and carry larger amounts of weapons," Loker said. In 1981, eight F-16 fighters flew nearly 650 miles each way to bomb the Osirak reactor in Iraq, eliminating Saddam Hussein's nuclear program at the time. (USA Today)
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia told U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney two weeks ago in Riyadh that if the U.S. pulls its troops out of Iraq, the Saudis might provide financial backing to Iraqi Sunnis in any war against Iraq's Shiites. King Abdullah also expressed strong opposition to diplomatic talks between the U.S. and Iran. The Saudi warning reflects fears among America's Sunni Arab allies about Iran's rising influence in Iraq, coupled with Tehran's nuclear ambitions. The Saudis have argued strenuously against an American pullout from Iraq, citing fears that Iraq's minority Sunni Arab population would be massacred.
The Bush administration is working on a way to form a coalition of Sunni Arab nations and a moderate Shiite government in Iraq, along with the U.S. and Europe, to stand against "Iran, Syria, and the terrorists," a senior administration official said Tuesday. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Speaking at a memorial ceremony at the Grunwald deportation train station in Berlin on Tuesday, Prime Minister Olmert said: "We have learned and memorized the lesson: the weak and defenseless are doomed. Doomed are they who do not believe those who threaten to eradicate them. Doomed are they who remain complacent and do not prepare themselves to thwart the danger. Doomed are they who entertain the false illusion that they could escape harm and that they could rely on the mercy of strangers." (Prime Minister's Office)
Palestinians in Gaza fired five Kassam rockets at Israel's western Negev on Tuesday, despite a cease-fire declared last month. (Ha'aretz)
In his final address to the Security Council, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan hinted Tuesday that Palestinian refugees should not be granted the right to return to the State of Israel. Annan said, "The two-state solution - Israel and Palestine - must respect the rights of the Palestinian refugees, but only within the context of preserving the character of states in the region."
Annan also chastised supporters of the Palestinians at the UN for measures critical of Israel. "Some may feel satisfaction at repeatedly passing General Assembly resolutions or holding conferences that condemn Israel's behavior, but one should also ask whether such steps bring any tangible relief or benefit to the Palestinians." Annan asked if this had strengthened the belief "that this great organization is too one-sided to be allowed a significant role in the Middle East peace process."
"Even worse, some of the rhetoric used in connection with the issue implies a refusal to concede the very legitimacy of Israel's existence, let alone the validity of its security concerns," Annan said. "What was done to Jews and others by the Nazis remains an undeniable tragedy, unique in human history." (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
As even embarrassed Iranians realize, the conference is a disgrace, a grotesque attempt to relativize, if not deny, a crime against humanity. The more thoughtful Palestinians have already understood that the refusal to acknowledge the wartime persecution of the Jews gives credibility to the assertion that critics of Israel are motivated by anti-Semitism. Iran's president simply proves the point. Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki has revealed the real intention: "If the official version of the Holocaust is thrown into doubt, then the identity and nature of Israel will be thrown into doubt." (Times-UK)
My colleagues and I at Yad Vashem - The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Israel - can verify and recount the Holocaust in great detail, based on the 110,000 published titles and the 70 million pages of documentation in our collection, and the personal records of a sizable percentage of the individual Jews who were murdered. Calling the Holocaust into question can only be likened to questioning if the earth rotates around the sun, or if humans need to breathe to live. The writer is director of the Yad Vashem Libraries. (Jerusalem Post)
To even mildly educated people, Ahmadinejad's conference is like having a conference about whether the world might be flat after all. The real victims of this minor latter-day outrage are the Iranian people and rational discourse everywhere. Ahmadinejad tells us that his pursuit of advanced nuclear capabilities is for peaceful purposes only: power generation, medical applications, and not as part of a weapons program. Why would a rational person put faith in any assurance from a man so contemptuous of truth or even think there is any point in negotiating with him? There is such a thing as truth; that is why Holocaust deniers are fools or liars. The writer is a professor at Harvard Law School. (Boston Globe)
By incorporating Israel into five of its 79 recommendations, the Iraq Study Group's report has forced Israel into center stage in the Iraq debate. Considering Baker's problematic relationship with the Jewish state, most Israelis shouldn't have been surprised with the proposals. Any way you look at it, Baker-Hamilton spells bad news for Israel. Whether due to wishful thinking or selective memory, the proposal for an "unconditional calling and holding of meetings" in a Madrid-like style, between Israel and the Palestinians and Israel and the Syrians, disregards a fairly major point: At this point at time, Israelis simply don't have anyone to talk to.
Hamas' refusal to accept Israel's existence is not some bump in the road dealt with by parentheses. It's the heart of the problem. The democratically elected Hamas government is in charge - not the moderate Mahmoud Abbas - and, as long as that is the case, this premature call for negotiations would leave Israelis talking to a handful of people who lack a public mandate to implement potential agreements. And, if anyone believes that the Shia and Sunnis are blowing themselves up to free Palestine or avenge the Arab defeat of 1967, they are conveniently forgetting the fact that they had been at it well before Zionism ever came into being. (New Republic)
Iran Grows Strong, the World Yawns - Editorial (Ha'aretz)
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