Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 20, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Drones Fly Over Iraq - Steve Weizman (AP/Forbes)
    Pilotless planes are gathering intelligence for U.S.-led forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, their Israeli manufacturer, Elbit Systems, said Monday.
    "Skylark is operational and currently deployed in the global war on terror in Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan," one of several items of Israeli defense hardware deployed in those countries, a company statement said.
    Military analysts said Israeli firms had long been supplying and maintaining equipment for American ground and naval forces in Iraq, although those involved generally preferred to keep a low profile.

Israel Shuns Norway After Official Meets with Hamas PM (Ha'aretz)
    The Israeli Foreign Ministry on Tuesday cancelled a meeting with Norway's Deputy Foreign Minister Raymond Johansen after he met with Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas in Gaza on Monday.
    Referring to Monday's terrorist sniper attack from Gaza on an Israeli civilian which was claimed by Hamas, David Baker, an official in the Prime Minister's Office, said Tuesday, "It is evident that this is a government steeped in terror which the international community should avoid."

Freed Hamas Leader Shuns Terror Tactics - Joshua Mitnick (Sunday Telegraph-UK)
    Salah Arouri, 40, a prominent Hamas leader released unexpectedly after 15 years in Israeli jails, is urging the Islamic group to abandon bus bombings and start talking to the Jewish state.
    He also admitted that the campaign of bomb attacks against Israeli civilians had harmed the Palestinians' cause, and expressed hope that it would end. "We are harmed if we target civilians," he said.

Divest-from-Israel Campaigns Losing Steam - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
    According to Hillel President Wayne Firestone, in the last year divest-from-Israel campaigns have lost steam.
    "Overall divestment actions as a national movement are dead. They do pop up from time to time."
    "Divest from Israel in favor of what?" he asked. Hamas and Hizbullah? "It's a very negative message."
    Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert rejected a faculty resolution calling on the school to divest from companies doing business with Israel.
    "Without qualification, Howard University and I oppose any action calling for a divestiture," he stressed in a letter Thursday to the American Jewish Committee.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Russia Gives Iran Ultimatum on Enrichment - Elaine Sciolino
    Russia has informed Iran that it will withhold nuclear fuel for Iran's nearly completed Bushehr power plant unless Iran suspends its uranium enrichment as demanded by the UN Security Council. The ultimatum was delivered in Moscow last week by Igor S. Ivanov, the secretary of the Russian National Security Council, to Ali Hosseini Tash, Iran's deputy chief nuclear negotiator. A senior European official said: "We consider this a very important decision by the Russians. It shows that our disagreements with the Russians about the dangers of Iran's nuclear program are tactical. Fundamentally, the Russians don't want a nuclear Iran." (New York Times)
  • U.S. Challenges Palestinians to Explain Stance on Violence Against Israel - Anne Gearan
    The U.S. challenged Palestinian leaders Monday to explain an ambiguous stance on violence against Israel in the new PA coalition's political platform. The platform refers to resistance "in all forms,'' which Israeli officials read as a coded endorsement of suicide bombings or other violence. "I'm not going to try to interpret what the right of resistance means,'' Secretary of State Rice said. "But I'll tell you it doesn't sound very good to me when one talks about 'all forms' of resistance.'' (AP/Guardian-UK)
  • Iran Playing a Growing Role in Iraq Economy - Edward Wong
    The economies of Iraq and Iran are becoming closely integrated, with Iranian goods flooding Iraqi markets and Iraqi cities looking to Iran for basic services. While the Bush administration works to stop Iran from meddling in Iraq, Iranian air-conditioners fill Iraqi appliance stores, Iranian tomatoes ripen on kitchen windowsills, and legions of white Iranian-made Peugeots sit in Iraqi driveways. Some Iraqi cities, including Basra, the southern oil center, buy or plan to buy electricity from Iran. The Iraqi government relies on Iranian companies to bring gasoline from Turkmenistan to alleviate a severe shortage. Iran has offered to lend Iraq $1 billion. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Injured by Sniper Fire Near Gaza - Herb Keinon and Yaakov Katz
    On Monday a Palestinian sniper in Gaza shot and wounded Kobi Ohayun, 42, an Israel Electric Corporation employee working next to the Karni Crossing. Hamas took responsibility for the attack. Miri Eisin, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Olmert, noted: "When Hamas says that they view all means of resistance as legitimate, they mean it, and when the PA openly endorses resistance as the only way to end occupation, no one should be surprised when Hamas' followers commit acts of terrorism." (Jerusalem Post)
  • New Palestinian High School Textbooks Reject Existence of Israel, Peace - Or Kashti
    New textbooks for 12th-grade Palestinian students reject the existence of Israel and make no attempt to educate students about peace or coexistence, according to Palestinian Media Watch. The textbooks were written by the Center for Developing the Palestinian Curricula and introduced by the PA at the end of 2006. The textbooks define Israel's founding as a theft perpetrated by "Zionist gangs," describe Israel as "colonial imperialist" and "racist," present the conflict as a religious war, and leave "no latitude for students to have positive or even neutral attitudes toward Israel," wrote PMW's Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook in a February report. "Maps of the region likewise teach children to visualize a world without Israel, as Israel does not exist on any map and its area is marked as 'Palestine.'" (Ha'aretz)
  • Blast at Palestinian Militant's Gaza Home Kills One, Wounds 20 - Yoav Stern
    Islamic Jihad spokesman Abu Anass said Ala al-Hessi, 30, a member of Islamic Jihad's armed wing, was killed Monday and 20 others were wounded in Shati near Gaza City when explosives al-Hessi was handling went off. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel's Existence Is Not a Question - Editorial
    The statements heard in Europe, stemming from academia and the extreme left there, are not legitimate criticisms of Israel's policies, but efforts to undermine, on principle, its right to exist as a Jewish state. Behind the simple question, "Does Israel have a right to exist?" hides a definitive stance, which regards Israel as a passing colonial phenomenon and the Jewish people as an ethnic-religious group different from any other people and all other nation-states. However peripheral and radical this tendency may be, it has successfully influenced many people. A familiar stench, hundreds of years old, rises from it, even when it is framed in contemporary terminology. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Unity Government May Be the Last Nail in Fatah's Coffin - Avi Issacharoff
    The celebrations in Ramallah and Gaza on Saturday of the PA unity government could all too quickly turn into a burial ceremony for Fatah. The movement over the past year presented itself as a clear political alternative to Hamas. Now it has become Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's closest ally. Hamas has not changed its ideology: no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it and "the resistance"; in other words, violence will go on.
        Corruption in PA institutions and the chaos on the streets are identified with Fatah and its security forces. Above all, the feeling is widespread that no one is in charge in Fatah. Hamas is continuing its quiet revolution. Recently 11 Hamas members were appointed to senior posts in the PA Education Ministry, and the number of hours of religious studies has been increased by about 20%. (Ha'aretz)
  • Russia's New Middle Eastern Policy: Back to Bismarck? - Ariel Cohen
    Russia has been increasing its sales of weapons to Middle Eastern countries, as well as to rogue and semi-rogue states. Russia is using the sale of weapons and nuclear reactors today the way imperial Germany used railroads before World War One - to attract allies, bolster influence, and undermine the dominant power in the Middle East. Russia aims at becoming an alternative world superpower and is increasingly at odds with or opposed to the U.S. and the West. The writer is a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. (ICA/JCPA)
  • Israel's Enemies Smell Weakness - Jonathan Gurwitz
    When adversaries perceive each other as being strong, peace can prevail even though they might be armed to the teeth. History books are filled with descriptions of decisions to actually go to war that were made because adversaries misjudged their own strengths or their enemies' weaknesses.
        The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza during the summer of 2005 should rationally have been seen as a step toward peace. Instead, Israel's enemies once again interpreted the withdrawal as a manifestation of vulnerability. The great danger is that Israel's enemies in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran might actually believe their own bombastic pronouncements about eliminating the Zionist entity. (San Antonio Express-News)
  • Observations:

    The New Blood Libel - Editorial (New York Sun)

    • The alleged bloodthirst among the Jews is a classic anti-Semitic myth, known as the blood libel, that has been used over the years to justify the actual killing of many actual Jews. Here's the two-time Pulitzer-winner, Nicholas Kristof, in Sunday's New York Times: "B'Tselem...reports that last year Palestinians killed 17 Israeli civilians...and six Israeli soldiers. In the same period, B'Tselem said, Israeli forces killed 660 Palestinians."
    • Aside from the fact that Israel was being attacked by the Palestinians after withdrawing to the 1967 borders of the Gaza Strip, here's some context that Kristof left out. B'Tselem is funded by German church groups, the governments of Switzerland and the EU, and the same Ford Foundation that underwrote the anti-Israel agitation that preceded the UN's Durban conference.
    • Moreover, the statistics Kristof cites don't include Israelis killed by other Arab terrorists working in league with the Palestinian Arabs and funded by the same Iranian terror master. In 2006, that included 43 Israeli civilians and 117 Israeli soldiers who were killed in the war with Lebanese-based Hizbullah.
    • The B'Tselem statistics do include - but Kristof omits - the 55 Palestinian Arabs killed in 2006 by other Palestinian Arabs. Nor does Kristof's selective use of statistics include the Americans and others who were killed by Palestinian Arab terrorists, such as Daniel Wultz, 16, from Florida who was slain in a 2006 suicide attack in Tel Aviv.
    • The fact is that he writes at a time when a war against the Jews is underway. It is a war in which the American people have stood with Israel for three generations. The reason is that Americans are wise enough to understand which side in the war against the Jews shares our values - and to sort out the truth from the libels.

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