Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Saudi Prince "Received Arms Cash" (BBC News)
- June 7, 2007
Issue of the Week:
Israeli Medical Innovation
"Al-Qaeda Franchises" Spreading - Richard Engel (MSNBC)
A Peaceful Egypt: An Optical Illusion - Amir Oren (Ha'aretz)
Israel Wants Robotic Guns, Missiles To Guard Gaza Border - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
Arabs Stone Israeli Ambulance, Wound Paramedic (Jerusalem Post)
The Historical Roots of the Anti-Israel Positions of Liberal Protestant Churches - Interview with Prof. Hans Jansen (Brussels) (JCPA)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was "shocked and dismayed" at a report that Iran's hard-line president said the world would soon witness the destruction of Israel, the UN said Thursday. "The secretary-general points out that the State of Israel is a full and long-standing member of the UN with the same rights and obligations as every other member," UN deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said in a statement. "He reminds that under the UN Charter, all members have undertaken to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state." (AP/Washington Post)
See also Israel Files Complaint with UN over Ahmadinejad Comment - Barak Ravid
The Israeli delegation to the UN filed a formal complaint to the UN Security Council regarding Iranian President Ahmadinejad's comment that the "countdown button for the destruction of the Zionist regime has been pushed." The delegation has demanded that the Security Council condemn the remarks. (Ha'aretz)
Ohio's five public pension systems capitulated to demands from lawmakers that they give up investments in companies that do business with Iran and Sudan. After resisting calls to divest as an affront to their ability to make money for government employees, the executives of the five pension funds told House Speaker Jon A. Husted that they would work to pull most of their money out of companies with ties to the two Islamic nations. The pensions, which collectively represent 1.3 million current and retired public employees, agreed to drop at least half of their investments connected to Iran and Sudan by the end of the year. They committed to the goal of ultimately withdrawing all such investments. (Columbus Dispatch)
Frequent internal fighting and lawlessness gripping the Palestinian territories have transformed the militants into no more than gangsters in the eyes of many of those who once saw them as heroes. "Many of these groups are now a burden on society," said legislator Nasser Jum'a, once a leading member of Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Jum'a said ordinary Palestinians were so fed up with the armed groups "they now wish the Israeli occupation would take over in Gaza or hope for the return of Jordanian rule in the West Bank" to get rid of them.
In one recent incident in the West Bank city of Nablus, gunmen told shopkeepers to close their businesses as a sign of solidarity with a Fatah leader arrested the day before in an Israeli raid. For the first time, most of the shop owners refused to close down. In a poll by the Palestinian independent pollster NearEast Consulting in May, 70% said they feel more insecure since Hamas came to power. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The Defense Ministry is growing increasingly frustrated with Egypt's refusal to find a solution for the continuing weapons smuggling into Gaza from Sinai. Despite multiple requests and visits to Cairo by high-ranking Israeli government and defense officials, the Egyptians have not changed their conduct along the border. "If the Egyptians wanted to they could have stopped the smuggling a long time ago already," a government official involved in the talks with Cairo said. "It could be that they just want to see Israeli blood spill." The official predicted that the Egyptian policemen would continue to be ineffective and that the Egyptians would use this as an excuse to demand that Israel allow the deployment of additional troops.
Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said the deployment of a multinational force along the Philadelphi Corridor at the Gaza-Egypt border would impair Israel's ability to combat the smuggling. "What will happen if one day we want to operate along the Philadelphi Corridor and there is a multinational force there?" he asked. History had shown that multinational forces were never effective in areas of active conflict, but only in conducting peacekeeping operations, he said. (Jerusalem Post)
One Palestinian was killed and 17 wounded in renewed fighting between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza on Thursday. Hassan al-Bazam, 20, who works as a bodyguard for Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, was kidnapped Monday by Fatah gunmen. "They beat me severely with clubs and rifles," Bazam said. "They extinguished cigarettes on my body and melted candles on my back. They also hung me from my hands and started shooting between my legs." Bazam said the kidnappers also shaved his eyebrows, beard and part of his head, which was then marked with a Force 17 [Presidential Guard] sign.
Fayez Barawi, a physician with close links to Hamas, was kidnapped and shot on Thursday by one of the PA security organizations. PA officers shot him five times in different parts of the body. Earlier Thursday, Fatah activist Wael Wahbi, 27, was killed in a clash with Hamas gunmen in Rafah after a group of Fatah gunmen attacked Hamas supporters outside a local mosque. (Jerusalem Post)
Israel's High Court of Justice this week upheld a ban on students from the Gaza Strip studying at universities in Israel, in response to a petition filed by a nonprofit organization. The court essentially accepted the state's position that Gaza residents have no inherent right to study in Israel, and that there are good diplomatic and security reasons for barring them. (Ha'aretz)
Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets at Sderot Thursday night. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
There could hardly be a motion more inimical to the purposes and ethos of a university than the call for an academic boycott of Israel, tabled at the inaugural conference of the University and College Union. The move is a mockery of academic freedom, a biased and blinkered call that is as ill-timed as it is perverse. Such a boycott is tokenism of the worst kind - a meaningless gesture that sends a "message" to politically correct union members but does nothing to advance the cause that they purport to uphold: the freedom of all peoples in the region to live and study in freedom and dignity. (Times-UK)
The G-8 foreign ministers, in a statement released on May 30, expressed their "profound concerns" over Iran's nuclear program and their "disappointment" over the failure to heed Security Council demands to end enrichment. But was there any sense that the democratic countries whose companies are directly and heavily invested in Iran - the same companies that California just voted to divest from - would do their part to stop Iran?
Now is not the time for incrementalism. What is necessary is decisive action, with or without further resolutions. Iran's two biggest investors and refined oil suppliers are Western companies: France's Total and Netherlands-based Royal Dutch Shell. If these and other Western companies shut down their operations, it would quickly become clear that it is Iran, not the West, that will ultimately be forced to back down. The truth is, if sanctions are allowed to fail, the alternatives will get worse and worse, and all will lead inexorably - as did the rise of fascism in the last century - to an increasingly costly military confrontation. (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians in Jerusalem, by deed if not by declaration, are increasingly opting for life under Israeli sovereignty. Jerusalem is by no means happily unified, but it is becoming grudgingly unified. "It's not that the Palestinians here have become Zionists; it's not that they've fallen in love with the State of Israel," says an Arab attorney in Jerusalem. "They just want to live normal lives, with security, with a little money in their wallets. They want their kids to be able to go to school. They want what everybody wants."
Many local Arabs are coming to terms with Israeli sovereignty. They are reporting crimes to Israeli police in greater numbers. There is also a big shift in the schools away from the PA-approved curriculum to the one approved by Israel - at the insistence of Jerusalem Arab parents. Only 15% of Jerusalem's Arabs voted in last year's PA elections - compared with a 78% turnout in the territories, notes Hillel Cohen of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies. Except for aging members of the PLO, the locals no longer clamor publicly for al-Quds - the Arabic name for Jerusalem - to be recognized as the Palestinian capital. Notes the local attorney: "The saying you hear [from Arabs] in the city now is 'Give me hell in Jerusalem over paradise in the PA.'" (U.S. News)
On May 29, the potential vulnerability of a plaintiff that misuses the courts to sue for libel once again surfaced when the Islamic Society of Boston abandoned a libel action it had commenced against a number of Boston residents, a Boston newspaper and television station, and Steven Emerson, a recognized expert on terrorism and extremist Islamic groups. The Islamic Society was a surprising entry into the legal arena. Its founder, Abdurahman Alamoudi, had been indicted in 2003 for his role in a terrorism financing scheme, pled guilty and had been sentenced to a 23-year prison term. Yusef al-Qaradawi, who had been repeatedly identified by the Islamic Society as a member of its Board of Trustees, had been described by a U.S. Treasury Department official as a senior Muslim Brotherhood member and had endorsed the killing of Americans in Iraq and Jews everywhere. The Islamic Society nonetheless sued.
The Islamic Society claimed it had been libeled by expressions of concern by the defendants that it had provided support for extremist organizations. But bank records obtained by the defendants showed that the Islamic Society had served as funder of the Holy Land Foundation, a Hamas-controlled organization that the U.S. Treasury Department had said "exists to raise money in the United States to promote terror." So the case was dropped. The lesson is that we should learn from the English system and award counsel fees to the winning side in cases like this, which are brought to inhibit speech on matters of serious public import. Because all the defendants were steadfast and refused to settle, they were eventually vindicated. But the real way to avoid meritless cases such as this is to have a body of law that makes clear that plaintiffs who bring them will be held financially responsible for doing so. (Wall Street Journal, 6Jun07)
To understand the challenge faced by Al-Hurra, the U.S. taxpayer-financed Arabic TV network, consider the case of Yasser Thabet, formerly a broadcast editor at Al-Jazeera where he was part of a relatively small group who decided to broadcast bin Laden's propaganda videos unedited. Last summer, Thabet wrote a loving tribute on his personal website to Soha Bechara, a woman who attempted to assassinate a general of the main anti-Hizbullah forces, the South Lebanese Army.
After the execution of Saddam Hussein, Thabet unleashed a vitriolic attack on Iraqi Shiites, whom he called "a group of murderers." Lamenting that "the execution of Saddam was a political and historical mistake," Thabet wrote fondly about how the "corpse" of Saddam had managed "to incite its people to retaliate and resist." In March of this year, Thabet was hired as chief editor of news by Al-Hurra. (Wall Street Journal)
The 40th Anniversary of the Six-Day War
In this week's torrent of 40th anniversary recollections about the Six-Day War, one TV image cut straight to the chase: King Faisal of Saudi Arabia staring into a camera to say, "The essential point remains the total elimination of Israel." The king's statement of principles was captured in "Six Days in June," an impressive two-hour documentary that aired Monday on PBS. For all the noise about peace in the 40 years since, the Saudi monarch's silver bullet solution is still the basic Arab mindset.
As do-gooders and militants reflect on what Israel should have done, what Arabs failed to do, what the UN ought to do, I vote for doing nothing. Regardless of the peace treaties with Israel forged by President Sadat of Egypt and King Hussein of Jordan, the overwhelming majority of Arabs need more time to dismantle their war posture. At this point, Israel's primary antagonists in this conflict, the Palestinian Arabs, are no longer an entity that can be engaged. Having dissolved into a myriad of warring gangs, there is no one to settle with.
And still more time is necessary to contemplate whether what has been achieved can be retained. Egypt's 1979 peace accord will not survive a day if the Muslim Brotherhood succeeds in its decades-old effort to topple President Mubarak's dynastic military reign. The Brotherhood is significantly closer to that goal now. In Jordan, since the peace treaty of 1994, the anti-Semitic discourse has grown thick, leaving little room to imagine that peace with Israel could survive a change in leadership.
It is pointless even to think about structuring new accords with Arab societies that are relentlessly marching toward various stages of radicalism, Islamic or otherwise. It would not help, and it would not hold. As for Israel, going forward with more unilateral evacuations, as in Lebanon and Gaza, has only liberated land for terrorist operations. (New York Sun)
As Ha'aretz's correspondent in Paris before the 1967 Six-Day War, I was at the Israeli Embassy when half a million people rallied in the streets to show their solidarity with Israel. There was a sense that the Arabs were about to wipe out the Jewish state. On television, people saw Egyptian troops marching into Sinai; they heard Nasser's warmongering speeches. Ahmed Shukeiry, the secretary of the Arab League, declared that the Jews of Israel would be sent back to the countries they came from and native Israelis would be slaughtered. What those now denouncing the 40th anniversary of the "occupation" do not understand is that the Six-Day War was the most justified war Israel ever fought - because it knocked out of the Arabs' heads the idea that Israel could be destroyed by force. (Ha'aretz)
The Six-Day War might now seem like a mixed blessing for Israel. But the conflict was a war that Israel did not want. Palestinians paid the highest price for Arab aggression, but Israel, in one of the ironies of history, emerged with a new, and still precarious, attachment to its ancient biblical homeland. For the first time in seven centuries, Jews can pray at the tombs of their patriarchs and matriarchs in Hebron. But 40 years after the Six-Day War ignited a remarkable fusion of Zionism and Judaism, Israel's destiny as a truly Jewish state, securely linked to its historic legacy, still hangs in the balance. The writer is a professor of history at Wellesley College. (Boston Globe)
It's a curious thing: Although the map that was changed by the Six-Day War had been in existence for less than 20 years, starting with Israel's War of Independence in 1948, and more than twice as many years have gone by since then, that map of the Middle East continues to be regarded by the world as the "right" map, while the map that replaced it is considered a temporary aberration that needs to be canceled or reversed.
Similarly, the world has forgotten what the pre-1967 map was really like. Far from being demarcated by clear and accepted borders, it showed Israel separated from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon by mere armistice lines, frontiers created by the ceasefire that ended the 1948-1949 war and considered temporary by all Arab countries, not one of which recognized Israel and all of which looked forward openly to its destruction - an easily imaginable eventuality in view of the fact that these frontiers narrowed to a few miles' width along the Mediterranean coastal plain where Israel's population was most concentrated.
It is no longer remembered that immediately after the June 1967 war, Israel was ready to return nearly all of the land conquered by it in return for peace and was answered by a monolithic Arab refusal to negotiate, accompanied by a partial recommencement of hostilities by Egypt in the 1968-1970 "War of Attrition." The history of the 1967 war and what came before it has been so successfully written by the losers that the winners' account is scoffed at incredulously today even by supposedly knowledgeable people. (New York Sun)
At a closed session of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 23, 1967, two weeks before the Six-Day War began, Sen. Wayne Morse (D-Ore.) declared: "We have to make the other free nations understand the relation of freedom in this matter, because if they do get into a war, then you have got totalitarianism seeking to drive this country into oblivion." He was referring to the reluctance of the international community to intervene in a way that would make it clear to Egypt that blocking the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping was an unacceptable act of aggression.
A statement like that from a senator like Morse, notes Kenneth Baer, co-editor of Democracy, was no small thing. After all, "[H]e was one of only two senators to vote against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution three years earlier and...is remembered today, if at all, as a hero of the antiwar movement." In the days preceding the 1967 war, he proved to be smart enough to see the difference between Vietnam and the Middle East and to make the distinction between a victim and an attacker. In the game of what-ifs that everyone seems to want to play on the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War: What would have happened if the world had acted more decisively to prevent Nasser from violating his commitments? What would have happened if the world had been more attentive to Sen. Morse's wisdom and advice? (Slate)
On June 4, 2007, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy held a symposium marking the 40th anniversary of the 1967 war, featuring Yuval Rabin, Richard Parker, Nicholas Rostow, Prince Hassan bin Talal, Michael Bar-Zohar, Moshe Raviv, Samuel Lewis, Dennis Ross, and Wendy Chamberlin. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
In Israel's 1956 joint military undertaking with Britain and France, President Eisenhower warned Israel of severe consequences were it not to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and Sinai. Israel complied. Peter Golden in his "authorized biography" of Max M. Fisher, Quiet Diplomat (1992), relates that in October 1965 Fisher met with Eisenhower in Gettysburg. Toward the end of the visit Eisenhower "wistfully commented, 'You know, Max, looking back at Suez, I regret what I did. I never should have pressured Israel to evacuate the Sinai.'" Eisenhower's remark astonished Fisher.
Nixon also told Golden: "Eisenhower...in the 1960s told me - and I am sure he told others - that he thought the action that was taken (at Suez) was one he regretted. He thought it was a mistake." (IMRA)
In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, I discovered a Starbucks tucked into a corner of a fancy shopping mall in the Saudi capital. Dressed in a heavy Islamic cloak, I ordered a latte and then, coffee in hand, I sank into the sumptuous lap of an overstuffed armchair. "Excuse me," hissed the man from the counter. "You can't sit here." "Why?" Then he said it: "Men only." As a woman, I had no right to mix with male customers or sit in plain view of passing shoppers. Like the segregated South of a bygone U.S., today's Saudi Arabia shunts half the population into separate, inferior and usually invisible spaces.
I spent my days in Saudi Arabia struggling unhappily between a lifetime of being taught to respect foreign cultures and the realization that this culture judged me a lesser being. The rules are different in Saudi Arabia. The same U.S. government that heightened public outrage against the Taliban by decrying the mistreatment of Afghan women prizes the oil-slicked Saudi friendship and even offers wan praise for Saudi elections in which women are banned from voting. (Los Angeles Times)
The diary of a 14-year-old Jewish girl dubbed the "Polish Anne Frank" was unveiled on Monday, chronicling the horrors she witnessed in a Jewish ghetto - at one point watching a Nazi soldier tear a Jewish baby away from his mother and kill him with his bare hands. The diary, written by Rutka Laskier in 1943 shortly before she was deported to Auschwitz, was released by Israel's Holocaust museum more than 60 years after she recorded what is both a daily account of the horrors of the Holocaust in Bedzin, Poland, and a memoir of the life of a teenager in extraordinary circumstances. "The rope around us is getting tighter and tighter," she wrote in 1943, shortly before she was deported to Auschwitz. "I'm turning into an animal waiting to die." Within a few months Rutka was dead, but last year a Polish friend who had saved the notebook finally came forth to expose the riveting document. (AP/Washington Post)
Forgotten Legal Rights - Dore Gold (New York Sun)
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