Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
IDF Chief of Staff Resigns - Amos Harel and Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)
Jury Sees Tape from London Bomb Attempt Showing Suspect on Subway Trying to Set Off Device - Kevin Sullivan and Karla Adam (Washington Post)
TV Documentary Exposes Extremism in UK Mosques - Jonny Paul (Jerusalem Post)
Why Is Egypt Airing Insurgent TV from Iraq? - Sarah Gauch (Christian Science Monitor)
Using Modern Methods to Hunt Nazis - Ori Raphael (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
In an unprecedented rebuke, 150 Iranian parliamentarians signed a letter blaming President Ahmadinejad for raging inflation and high unemployment and criticizing his government's failure to deliver the budget on time. They also condemned him for embarking on a tour of Latin America at a time of mounting crisis. The signatories included a majority of the president's former fundamentalist allies, now apparently seeking to distance themselves as his prestige wanes.
MPs also criticized Ahmadinejad's role in the UN Security Council dispute over Iran's nuclear program. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is said to blame Ahmadinejad for last month's UN resolution imposing sanctions in Iran. "Ahmadinejad's golden era is over and his honeymoon with the supreme leader is finished. He has problems even meeting the supreme leader," said Iranian political commentator Eesa Saharkhiz. (Guardian-UK)
A group of eight Arab nations on Tuesday joined the U.S. in issuing a veiled warning to Iran against interfering in Iraq's affairs. The statement, written in diplomatic jargon, warned against "destabilization" of the Persian Gulf and expressed support for the "principle of noninterference." It was supported by Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE. (Washington Post)
Ahmed Yusuf, an adviser to Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister, said Hamas ministers had received promises of donations amounting to £500m in recent travels around the Muslim world. The largest pledge was from Iran. This latest example of Iran's increasing influence will add to the panic gripping the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states about the speed of Tehran's expansion as a regional power. (Guardian-UK)
Tuesday's session of the Palestinian parliament was to have been the first in four months. It was canceled because a dozen Hamas legislators preferred to go on a trip to Indonesia instead, and the deputy speaker believed he wouldn't get a quorum. The extended break has largely gone unnoticed by a jaded public. "The public doesn't feel the absence of the legislative council because...it didn't do its job," said political scientist Ali Jerbawi. The legislature hasn't passed any laws since Hamas' election a year ago. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Maj.-Gen. Benjamin Gantz, Commander of the IDF's Ground Forces, speaking at Tel Aviv University on Tuesday, tried to explain the "strange phenomenon" of Hizbullah's perceived victory during the second Lebanon war. "It's bizarre to me that Hizbullah claims victory in the war, after they lost between 500 to 800 operatives, sustained severe damage to their long-range missile launching capabilities, and had thousands of sites in Lebanon destroyed, which will take them years to rebuild," he said. According to Gantz, in order to achieve a better result in combat in the future, we must bring about an undisputed result, which is sharp, tangible, clear and quick. (Ynet News)
See also IDF Video: How to Foil a Terror Attack - Hanan Greenberg
See the IDF thwart an attempt this week by three Palestinian gunmen to plant roadside bombs near the Erez crossing in northern Gaza. (Ynet News)
Israeli Jews are just as patriotic following the Second Lebanon War as they were in 2005, according to a survey by the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. In some instances, the survey found a small rise in the level of Israelis' emotional identification with the country, especially among residents of the North who withstood a month of Hizbullah rocket barrages. In the December survey, 67% defined themselves as "Israeli patriots," a number similar to last year's survey. Most Israelis are in agreement about the values and characteristics that make up the definition of a "patriot" - a willingness to fight for your country, the Hebrew language, Jerusalem, a love of the nation and living in Israel.
Patriotism, it seems, advances with age, with 84% of those 60 years and older describing themselves as patriots in contrast to 51% of those between the ages of 18-29. 92% said they were willing to fight for their country; 83% said they were very proud of being Israeli. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
When President Bush announced the new Iraq strategy last week, acknowledging that Iran was effectively at war with us in Iraq by supplying terrorists with advanced improvised explosives, my thoughts turned to Lawrence Franklin. Nearly a year ago, this Pentagon Iran analyst was sentenced to almost 13 years in a federal prison after he pleaded guilty to discussing classified information with two former lobbyists from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Franklin, it turns out, was trying - unconventionally - to influence a debate in the administration in 2003 over a national security policy directive regarding Iran. He provided AIPAC's Iran specialists with his own list of specific instances of how Iran was sending teams from its Quds Force to sow terror, kill American soldiers, and pose a threat to Israeli operatives in northern Iraq.
He hoped his list could find its way to the National Security Council, through the two lobbyists, to counter the intelligence from other channels suggesting that Iran had an interest in stabilizing Iraq. Franklin, a Persian speaker, now parks cars and works odd jobs as he awaits final word on the jail sentence he earned for trying to get word of all this to the president. (New York Sun)
Arab diplomats like to say that 80% of the Middle East's problems would disappear with a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is a fiction, and a self-serving one: It lets Arab rulers off the hook for their own malfeasance, and implies that America's Middle East policy should start and end in Jerusalem. Condoleezza Rice seemed to bow to this reasoning by announcing Monday that she would attend a three-way summit with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in order to reboot the "peace process."
Israel cannot make peace until it has a negotiating partner that both accepts its right to exist in security and enjoys sufficient power to keep in check those terroristic forces who don't. There is no question of Mahmoud Abbas' powerlessness. He holds no sway over the democratically elected murderers of Hamas, and he has lost much of his traditional control over the Fatah faction. Hardly the right conditions for a "final settlement."
The administration should use Rice's mission as a justification to ask for Arab concessions: "You want us to be more involved in the peace process? Fine. Now let's talk about the rest of the Middle East." There are many things Arab states could do to be helpful: cracking down on terrorists and terrorist financing; supporting American diplomacy against Iran's nuclear program; trying to peel Damascus away from Tehran. (National Review)
The Middle East has undergone a dramatic shift in alignments. On one side are Hizbullah, Iran, Syria, and Hamas - and on the other side, virtually every other Arab state, whose interests parallel those of Israel and the U.S. All the Arab states except Syria oppose Iran getting nuclear weapons. They all support the current Lebanese government.
PA chief executive Mahmoud Abbas is and will always be someone who lacks the power to do anything. Moreover, despite lots of chatter about new elections, Fatah has done absolutely zero to revitalize or unite itself. (Jerusalem Post)
Correcting Carter's 242 Distortion - Andrea Levin (Jerusalem Post)
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