Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 24, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Poll: Americans Want PA to Recognize Israel (JTA)
    A majority of Americans think Palestinians must acknowledge Israel's right to exist before they can have their own state, a recent poll commissioned by the Israel Project found.
    Though a large contingent believes in a two-state solution, 60% believe "there should not be a Palestinian state until Palestinian leaders end terror and recognize Israel's right to exist."
    50% said they support Israel in the conflict, compared to 7% backing the PA.
    The poll also found that 73% of Americans favor international sanctions on Iran, even if it might lead to a 20% rise in gas prices.
    71% believe that violence in the Middle East stems from clashes between moderates and extremists, compared to 18% who believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the main cause.

Holocaust Honor for Arab Who Saved Jews from Nazis - David Sharrock (Times-UK)
    Tunisian Khaled Abdelwahhab, an Arab who saved the lives of two dozen Jews during the Holocaust, is poised to become the first Arab to be celebrated as a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust remembrance authority.
    A survivor told American Jewish researcher Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, that Abdelwahhab had rescued 23 Jews, including her family, as they sheltered in an olive oil factory for the remaining six months of the German occupation after being thrown out of their homes by German soldiers.
    More than 1.5 million Jews lived in northern Africa during the Second World War and were subject to persecution by the Nazis and their allies there.

Iraq Learns from Yad Vashem - Smadar Perry (Ynet News)
    Members of an Iraqi organization planning to perpetuate the memory of thousands of Saddam Hussein's victims secretly visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington and the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem last year, Yediot Ahronot reported Tuesday.
    The head of the Iraqi memorial team is Harvard lecturer Dr. Kenan Makiya.

Hizbullah Perfume - Annia Ciezadlo (New Republic)
    At the opposition sit-in that has occupied downtown Beirut since Dec. 1, 2006, vendors offer a wide array of Hizbullah-themed items: Hizbullah banners, cell phone holders, flashing buttons, lighted crystal Nasrallah paperweights, smiling Nasrallah keychains, and little yellow packets of Nasrallah-themed perfume.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • North Korea Helping Iran with Nuclear Testing; Iran Increasing Activity at All Nuclear Facilities - Con Coughlin
    North Korea is helping Iran to prepare an underground nuclear test. Under the terms of a new understanding between the two countries, the North Koreans have agreed to share all the data and information they received from their successful test last October with Teheran's nuclear scientists, and to assist Teheran's preparations to conduct its own - possibly by the end of this year.
        Senior Western military officials are deeply concerned that the North Koreans' technical superiority will allow the Iranians to accelerate development of their own nuclear weapon. "We have identified increased activity at all of Iran's nuclear facilities since the turn of the year," said a senior European defense official. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Strange Bedfellows - But Dangerous Nonetheless - Editorial (Telegraph-UK)
  • Hizbullah Leads a Fiery Strike in Beirut - Anthony Shadid
    The Hizbullah-led opposition cut roads in Beirut and across Lebanon with burning tires, uprooted trees, incinerated cars and barricades to enforce a strike Tuesday aimed at toppling the government, paralyzing the country and embarrassing Lebanese officials ahead of an international aid conference. The army rarely intervened to break the blockades. At least three people were killed in towns north of Beirut, and more than 100 were injured before the opposition declared an end to the strike. (Washington Post)
        See also Old Christian Rivalry Moves into Lebanon Streets - Tom Perry
    Supporters of Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun and Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, who backs the government, scuffled in several Christian areas. (Reuters)
        See also Paris Meeting to Show International Support for Lebanon's Government - Benny Avni
    Secretary-General Ban is aiming to demonstrate how the UN can help rejuvenate Lebanon's war-scarred economy, at a UN-led international donor conference Thursday in Paris, but opposition leaders in Beirut will attempt to portray the conference as a foreign conspiracy. (New York Sun)
  • At Brandeis, Carter Responds to Critics - Pam Belluck
    Former President Jimmy Carter told an audience at Brandeis University on Tuesday that he stood by his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid and that he had been disturbed by accusations that he was anti-Semitic. He said a sentence in which he seemed to suggest that Palestinians would not have to end their suicide bombings and acts of terrorism until Israel withdraws from the territories "was worded in a completely improper and stupid way," adding: "I have written my publisher to change that sentence immediately. I apologize to you personally, to everyone here."
        He said: "I have never claimed or believed that American Jews control the news media. That is ridiculous to claim." He said "a lot of support for Israel comes from Christians like me who have been taught since they were three years old to honor and protect God's chosen people."
        After Carter left, Alan M. Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor who has sharply criticized the book, spoke. "There are two different Jimmy Carters," Dershowitz said. "You heard the Brandeis Jimmy Carter today, and he was terrific. I support almost everything he said. But if you listen to the Al Jazeera Jimmy Carter, you'll hear a very different perspective."  (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Ex-CIA Head: No Sunni-Israeli Alliance in the Offing - Haviv Rettig
    "I do not believe the current Sunni concern over the Shi'ite nuclear weapons program in Iran will lead to some sort of covert Saudi, Egyptian, American, Israeli modus vivendi to protect ourselves together against the Shi'a," former CIA director James Woolsey told the Herzliya Conference on Monday. "The Wahhabis, al-Qaeda, the Vilayat Faqih in Teheran, although often lethally competitive with one another in the way the Nazis and communists were in the 1930s, are capable of unification," Woolsey asserted. Following his speech, Woolsey told journalists, "there is a very substantial likelihood that if the diplomatic approach failed - and I think it will - and non-violent regime change [in Iran] won't work, there is no alternative except for the U.S. to use force." (Jerusalem Post)
        See also U.S. Political Leaders Rip Iran in Herzliya Conference - Herb Keinon and Tovah Lazaroff
    Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, addressing the Herzliya Conference by video, said, "Israel is facing the greatest danger for its survival since the 1967 victory....Three nuclear weapons is a second Holocaust." "We have enemies who are quite explicit in their desire to destroy us. They say it publicly, on television, on Web sites. We are sleepwalking through this as though it is all a problem of communications," he said.
        Asked about the Palestinian issue, Gingrich said the West needed to discriminate between "people who are willing to live with us, and people unwilling to live with us." He said there was "no elegant way to say to Hamas, 'why don't we meet and have a really long weekend together and learn how to be friends.' If someone says to you, 'I am determined that not a single Jew remain,' I think it is useful to take them at their word. And if the choice is your survival or their survival, I think you should pick you." Other U.S. political leaders addressing the conference included former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Sen. John McCain, and Sen. John Edwards. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Court Dismisses "Frivolous" Case Against NGO Monitor
    On Jan. 17, 2007, Texas Federal Court judge Sam Sparks dismissed as "wholly frivolous" and "baseless" Palestine Children's Welfare Fund (PCWF) and Riad ElSolh Hamad's defamation suit against NGO Monitor and others. Among the Gaza-based PCWF's activities, documented in an NGO Monitor report, is a children's drawing contest. The judges rewarded, almost without exception, entries that featured fierce and violent hatred of Israel. (NGO Monitor)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • International Pressure Having an Effect on Iran - Howard LaFranchi
    "The sanctions and international pressure are having an effect [on Iran]," says Joseph Cirincione, a nonproliferation expert at the Center for American Progress in Washington. "The sanctions are hurting Iran's economy, especially by [sowing] doubts among international investors and discouraging their involvement in the Iranian economy....At the same time, the pragmatists and reformers are using the sense of Iran's growing international isolation to strike back at Ahmadinejad, but for reasons unrelated to the nuclear issue."  (Christian Science Monitor)
  • From Pakistan, With Jihad - Editorial
    To learn why a resurgent Taliban is fighting American and NATO troops to a military draw in Afghanistan, you have to go to the frontier region on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Our colleague, Carlotta Gall, found that Quetta, Pakistan, is an important rear base for the Taliban, and that Pakistani authorities are encouraging and perhaps sponsoring the cross-border insurgency, a role that Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, denies.
        Positive results will be limited as long as Afghanistan's much more populous and powerful neighbor, Pakistan, provides rear support and sanctuary for the Taliban insurgency. Pakistan is now the third-largest recipient of American foreign aid. The very least Washington should be demanding of President Musharraf is that he enforce an immediate halt on Pakistani military support for the Taliban insurgents who are crossing the border and killing American troops. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Will Iran Pay a Price for Denying the Holocaust? - John Vinocur (New York Times, 23Jan07)

    • By the end of the week, if things go the way the U.S. has planned, the UN General Assembly will have approved an American-sponsored resolution condemning denial of the Holocaust, in time to mark the commemoration of the entry of Soviet forces into the Auschwitz death camp on Jan. 27, 1945.
    • It would also say, in effect, that the world considers Iranian President Ahmadinejad increasingly dangerous, and that Iran merited sanctions and even isolation as a country in the grips of disreputable radicals. This gets entered on the diplomatic ledger as effective pressure.
    • For Olivier Roy, the widely respected French expert on Iran, Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust doesn't play to Iran but a targeted audience beyond the shame of international reproach.
    • Roy believes that Iranian anti-Semitism is part of a broad political undertaking, profiting from the perceived weakness of the U.S. and Arab regimes, and aimed at Iran's securing a leading role in a "front of refusal" of Arab maximalists that rejects any place for Israel in the Middle East's future. Hizbullah and Hamas are obvious elements in that clientele.
    • The Iranians may be "overplaying their hand," as the administration says. But nobody out there, at this stage, is really calling their bluff.

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