Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Palestinian Rocket Strikes Israeli Town of Sderot, Damaging Buildings, Cars - Mijal Grinberg and Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
- December 14, 2006
Issue of the Week:
Israel to Refuse Egyptian Troop Request - Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
In Lebanon, Hizballah's Rise Provokes Shiite Dissent - Nicholas Blanford (Christian Science Monitor )
UK Drops Saudi Fraud Investigation (Aljazeera.net)
Divestment from Israel, the Liberal Churches, and Jewish Responses: A Strategic Analysis - Eugene Korn (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Israeli Arms Exports Up - Ariyeh Egozi (Ynet News)
Turkey-Israel "Energy Corridor" in the Pipeline (AKI-Italy)
In Israel, Moviegoers Speak Borat's Language - Aron Heller (AP/Boston Globe)
Hanukkah Begins on Friday - Jenny Hammond (Shanghai Daily-China)
The Hamas-Syria-Iran Axis (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
at the Center for Special Studies)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Thursday rejected the Iraq Study Group's recommendation that the U.S. seek the help of Syria and Iran in Iraq, saying the "compensation" required by any deal might be too high. She argued that neither country should need incentives to foster stability in Iraq. Rice said she did not want to trade away Lebanese sovereignty to Syria or allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon as a price for peace in Iraq. Rice also said there would be no retreat from the administration's push to promote democracy in the Middle East.
She reiterated her commitment to pursuing peace between Palestinians and Israelis. "Get ready. We are going to the Middle East a lot," Rice said. (Washington Post )
Incoming UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Iran on Thursday it was unacceptable to deny the Holocaust or call for Israel to be wiped off the map. "Denying historical facts especially on such an important subject as the Holocaust is just not acceptable," Ban said. "Nor is it acceptable to call for the elimination of states or people." (Reuters)
Outgoing U.S. UN Ambassador John Bolton and former diplomats from Israel and Canada, at a Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations symposium on Thursday, called on the UN to charge Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with inciting genocide for calling for the destruction of Israel. Ahmadinejad should also be charged at the International Court of Criminal Justice for his threats against the U.S., and for instigating discrimination against Christians and Jews, the group said. "It's important that if we are in this stage where we're being given early warning, unambiguously, on what his intentions are, then it's time to take action," Bolton said. (Reuters)
See also Symposium Video: Bring Ahmadinejad to Justice for Incitement to Genocide (One Jerusalem)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
A bodyguard of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was shot dead Thursday night as Haniyeh's convoy passed the Rafah border crossing as he was returning to Gaza from Egypt. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called it "an assassination attempt" by Fatah forces.
Earlier, Israel had triggered the closure of the border to prevent Haniyeh from entering Gaza with $35 million in funds raised on a trip to Muslim states. Hamas gunmen then seized control of the terminal and exchanged fire with both Egyptian officers and guards of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The gunmen went on a rampage inside the terminal building, destroying computers and furniture. More than two dozen people, including Haniyeh's son, Abed, 27, were wounded in the fighting. Israel agreed to allow Haniyeh to cross if he left the money in Egypt.
Security sources in Israel said Hamas officials who attempt to bypass the economic embargo on the PA will not be allowed to cross back into Gaza in the future. In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Haniyeh's attempt to take the cash into Gaza "flies in the face of the will of the international community in terms of the rules that it has laid down." (Ha'aretz)
It is an open secret that Hamas has been smuggling millions of dollars into Gaza through the Rafah crossing. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision on Thursday to close the Rafah crossing to keep Prime Minister Haniyeh from bringing $35 million into Gaza was the first time Israel has actively intervened to stop the money flow. Diplomatic sources said there was something so audacious in Haniyeh going to Iran, pledging jihad forever, and coming back with suitcases full of cash, that Israel simply could not turn a blind eye - especially since the Gaza cease-fire agreed upon a few weeks ago called for an end to the smuggling, both of arms and cash.
It was clear that the money originated in Iran. On Thursday, Israel sent a message that the unhindered flow of cash from Iran into Gaza was coming to an end. (Jerusalem Post)
The incidents in Rafah on Thursday were further proof that Hamas and Fatah are in the midst of a violent confrontation that is one step away from spiraling into civil war. Palestinian sources say that Saudi Arabia has promised Abbas funds that will allow him to pay salaries and build his military force. Abbas will not order the dissolution of the current Palestinian government before he and his supporters are confident in their power to deal with Hamas, in the street and at the polls, and this will not occur for some months. (Ha'aretz)
About 330 Palestinians have been killed by Palestinians since the start of 2006 in the West Bank and Gaza. On Wednesday in Ramallah in the West Bank, several Hamas activists who were hanging pictures of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin on walls in the city encountered some members of the Al-Aqsa Brigades - the military arm of Fatah - led Khaled Shawish. The Fatah people shot at the knees of one of the Hamas men, abducted his colleagues, and brought them to a PA jail. But Hamas knows that in military conflict against Fatah in Gaza, it will have the upper hand.
Hamas has formed a strategic alliance with the "Persians," as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has called them. Senior Hamas people have been declared unwelcome not only in Jordan - where they have organized terror cells - but also in Saudi Arabia. (Ha'aretz)
Hamas leaders have reacted to PA Chairman Abbas' threat to call early elections by declaring they have nothing to fear at the ballot box. Hamas is not afraid of another election because Abbas' rival Fatah party has failed to reform itself and get rid of those officials who were voted out because of their financial corruption and abuse of power. Fatah remains as divided as ever as its leaders and members continue to fight over money and power, and as Abbas and his veteran allies continue to resist demands to hold internal elections.
The past few months have witnessed the comeback of former Fatah officials, operatives, and warlords who were largely responsible for their party's defeat because of financial embezzlement and bad governance. What is absurd is that the international community, including Washington, is once again ready to embrace them. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Abbas Expected to Call for Early Elections (Palestine News Network-PA)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
If Iran wishes and expects to be treated as a member of the international community in full standing, then it cannot behave in the way it did this week, by hosting a grotesque carnival of Holocaust deniers, white supremacists, anti-Semites, assorted lumpen-academics, and rednecks. It is simply contemptible to attempt to cast doubt on the most consciously wicked crime against humanity and one of the greatest affronts to civilization.
Ahmadinejad is a weird political mixture. Part shrewd populist, part end-of-days mystic, he clearly believes that stirring up sentiment against Israel (and against Jews in general) will deflect popular attention from his near complete failure to fulfill his campaign pledges to end poverty and corruption. (Financial Times-UK)
The Iranian regime's Holocaust denial is not a manifestation of irrational hatred, but a premeditated and cold-blooded instrument to achieve its goals. The first of these goals is the attempt to deny any legitimacy to the creation and continued existence of the State of Israel as a safe haven for the Jews after the Holocaust. Ahmadinejad is aware that as long as the world remembers the Holocaust, it will resist any new attempt to perpetrate another genocide against the Jews. Thus, eradicating the memory of the Holocaust is essential to achieve his goal.
Demonization is a necessary precondition for genocide. To this end, Iranian state-controlled television produces TV series that include classic blood libels, depicting Jews as using the blood of non-Jewish children to bake their Passover matzos, and as kidnapping non-Jewish children to steal their body parts. Jews are reduced to sub-human levels, depicted as pigs and apes. However, it is not possible to demonize a people as long as it is viewed as a victim of the Holocaust. Therefore, Holocaust denial is vital in order to wipe out the image of the Jews as victims. (MEMRI)
Ahmadinejad is pursuing what for him and Iran is sound and perfectly strategic policy. His rhetoric only echoes the opinion of the founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and the sentiments of Iran's current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. As a Shiite and mostly Persian state in a majority Sunni and Arab Middle East - with grand ambitions to lead the region - Iran must work hard to position itself as Palestine's greatest defender and supporter. In addition, by portraying itself as the victim of Great Powers that are trying to restrict the progress of developing countries generally and the Muslim world specifically, Iran earns points in the developing world, whose populations admire his anti-Western bravado. The writer is a regional analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses. (New York Daily News)
The Baker-Hamilton Report
The Iraq Study Group Report calls on the U.S. to "actively engage Iran and Syria" in "diplomatic dialogue, without preconditions." The West has been negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program for the last four years. These fruitless negotiations demonstrate that Iran will not be distracted from its revolutionary goals by carrots and that Iran is a master of using negotiations to avoid consequences for breaking international law. Iranian officials have publicly bragged about how the negotiations between Iran and the West have bought Iran time to move forward with its nuclear program.
The U.S. will not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East - including stopping terrorism before it reaches our homeland - until Iran and Syria are convinced that there is a price to pay for inflaming Iraq, supporting terrorism, and, in Iran's case, building nuclear bombs. The danger that would be posed to the U.S. and its allies by a nuclear-armed Iran dwarfs the dangers our troops currently face in Iraq. If there is to be a "New Diplomatic Offensive," it should focus on building support for sanctioning rather than appeasing Iran and Syria. The writer, a professor of international law at Arizona State University, served in the U.S. State Department for 11 years, including as senior attorney for nuclear affairs, and negotiated five nuclear non-proliferation agreements between the U.S. and Russia. (Arizona Republic)
Reports such as the Baker-Hamilton report on Iraq have a lot more to do with Washington debates than about Middle East realities. The report's section about the Arab-Israeli conflict ignores the experience of the last dozen years, and throws in just about every mistaken cliche on the issue. One would think the conflict remained unresolved simply because the U.S. had not tried hard enough. The report concludes that the Arab-Israeli conflict is inextricably linked to Iraq. Really? I can't think of a single issue it is less linked to. Iraq is about an internal struggle for power and nobody in Iraq even talks much about the Arab-Israeli conflict.
What is really needed is a policy that would effectively fight the radicals and help either real moderates or those states whose interests coincide with those of the U.S. and the West. Instead, the report suggests that what is most important is to get everybody talking. The only way this kind of thinking is going to damage the radical forces is if they fall down and hurt themselves from laughing so hard. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Baker-Hamilton Report a Rerun of "Failed" Policies of Past - Interview with Gerald Steinberg (Council on Foreign Relations)
See also Why They Got It Wrong - Ralph Peters (USA Today)
The Baker report came as a shock in Riyadh, where it was seen as a pointer to a change in U.S. policy that has unwelcome implications for the Saudis. For the Saudis, the overriding danger is Iran. They were aghast at the election of the hardline President Ahmadinejad. And Iran's growing interference in Iraq and open support for Shia extremism have fuelled suspicion that Tehran is determined to expand its influence, backed up with the threat of nuclear weapons. (Times-UK)
Even as Islamic Hitlerites gather in Iran to deny the first Holocaust of the Jews and to plot the second, former president Jimmy Carter tours America with a new book that describes Jews as racists and oppressors. It is a lie that Palestinians "had their own land, first of all, occupied," as Carter told National Public Radio this week. First of all, the Jews were in the land before the Arabs. Second, the Arabs who inhabited the Palestine Mandate in 1948, at the time of the creation the State of Israel, considered themselves Syrians. Third, the Palestine Mandate was not created on land taken from the Syrians or the Arabs. It was taken from the Turks who had ruled the region for four hundred years. By the standards of occupation and legitimacy Jimmy Carter invokes, Israel has more legitimacy as a Jewish state than Texas does as an American state, rather than a Mexican province.
Why can't Jews have settlements in the West Bank? The answer is because the Palestinian Arabs are filled with a racist and theocratic hate towards Jews. They can't tolerate a non-Muslim, non-Arab people - however small a minority - living in their midst. Contrast Carter's attack on Jews living in the West Bank as "colonizers" who must be expelled with the fact that more than a million Arabs live in Israel, where Israel provides them with more rights - including the right to vote and elect Arab members of Israel's government - than any Arab who lives in any Arab state in the Middle East. (FrontPageMagazine)
Jimmy Carter brings a Christian perspective to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Unfortunately, it is the same Christian perspective as a drunken Mel Gibson, obsessed with heaping blame on the Jews. Yes, there are two sides to every dispute, and heaven knows the Palestinian people have suffered throughout the past six decades, but Carter apes the Palestinian position and calls it evenhandedness.
What the Palestinians desperately need is a decent government that is genuinely committed to pursuing peace with Israel. By excusing the current degraded state of the Palestinian leadership, Carter is helping only to extend the conflict with Israel and perpetuate Palestinian suffering, not to mention trash his own reputation. (National Review)
The criminal prosecution of Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, former executives of AIPAC (the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee), which has been in progress now for over a year (although the trial date has constantly been delayed), is a national disgrace. It threatens Israel by in effect criminalizing efforts to lobby on its behalf by American citizens. In addition, it threatens freedom of the press and freedom of speech for all Americans. Neither of the two men was ever an Israeli spy or received a cent from Israel. Neither gave classified documents to Israel. They never even saw such documents.
They are not even technically accused of espionage, but only of giving "national security information" to "persons not entitled to receive it." These individuals, according to the indictment, included not only Israeli diplomats, but also unnamed American journalists and other American citizens not connected with Israel. The indictment thus criminalizes the widespread practice in Washington of leaking classified information to the press. The two have been indicted under the little-used Espionage Act of 1917, which has never been used before to bring criminal charges against persons who were not employees of the U.S. government. (American Thinker)
Adel Ahmed and his family are shunned by their neighbors in Kfar Deek in the West Bank. Adel and his family are considered to have committed the greatest crime in Palestinian society - collaboration with Israel. He vigorously denies the charge. But he has paid heavily for his alleged crime, losing his livelihood, his social position, and one of his sons. His trouble began, he claims, after his sister was molested by some Palestinian Authority officials. He then complained to the government, only to have the officials turn on him and accuse him of collaborating with the Israelis.
Adel was arrested by the PA and tortured. Half his teeth were knocked out and his arm broken during his interrogation. Then his eldest son was taken and also tortured. Next they came for his youngest boy - only 12 years old. His arms were burnt with melted plastic and cigarettes. The boy displays small round scars near his wrists as evidence. Finally, he says, masked men abducted his middle son Shafi; the next time Adel saw him, he lay dead in the road, having been shot 14 times.
According to a Palestinian human rights group, Adel Ahmed's experience is increasingly common, with approximately one person a day killed after having been accused of collaborating. (BBC News)
Israel's Strategic Challenges in a Changing Middle East - Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Sallai Meridor (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
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