Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 3, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Report: Abbas Agrees to Talk to Hamas - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
    Fatah and Hamas have agreed in principle to launch a secret dialogue in Cairo, the London-based Arab newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Wednesday.
    A Palestinian source said Egypt's efforts to mediate have yielded an agreement in principle to hold talks.
    According to the report, Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman has been holding direct talks with members of Hamas' political bureau in Damascus, headed by Khaled Mashaal, in addition to ongoing talks with Abbas and Fatah leaders in the territories and elsewhere.

Pakistan Seen Losing Fight Against Taliban and Al-Qaeda - Griff Witte (Washington Post)
    Pakistan's government is losing its war against emboldened insurgent forces, giving al-Qaeda and the Taliban more territory in which to operate and allowing the groups to plot increasingly ambitious attacks, according to Pakistani and Western security officials.
    Regional peace deals have collapsed, but the government has deferred developing a new strategy to defeat insurgents until Pakistan's leader, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, can resolve a political crisis that threatens his presidency.
    Radical Islamic fighters have intensified a ruthless campaign that has consumed Pakistan's tribal areas and now affects its major cities.
    Military officials say the insurgents have enhanced their ability to threaten not only Pakistan but the U.S. and Europe as well.

U.S. Jewish Groups to Lobby Interpol for Action on Argentine Bombing - Shlomo Shamir (Ha'aretz )
    Leading American Jewish organizations are planning a public relations campaign to urge Interpol to issue international arrest warrants for the perpetrators of a 1994 bombing attack against the Jewish community building in Buenos Aires in which 85 Jews were killed.
    In November 2006, the Argentine Justice Ministry officially asked Interpol to assist in apprehending five Iranians and a Lebanese and bringing them to justice.
    Interpol's annual meeting is scheduled to take place on Nov. 5 in Morocco.
    Argentine President Nestor Kirchner also raised the issue during his address to the UN General Assembly last week, saying that Tehran had failed to cooperate with Argentina's law enforcement agencies.

Jerusalem March Draws 80,000 - Shelly Paz (Jerusalem Post)
    A wave of blue and white, accompanied by colorful flags from across the globe, swept through Jerusalem on Tuesday afternoon, as tens of thousands of Jews and Christians walked side by side in the annual Jerusalem March.
    Some 80,000 people participated, including 7,000 Christians who were in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles festivities.
    The parade included groups of marchers such as El Al pilots, soldiers, medical personnel, postal workers and representatives of various regions of Israel.
    Actors in costumes representing different periods in Israeli history sang songs about the united city, while the Police Band kept the rhythm for the marchers and spectators.
    See also The Jerusalem March: A Classically Zionist, Very Israeli March - Brian Freeman (Jerusalem Post)
    For decades the Jerusalem March has symbolically recreated the Sukkot pilgrimage to the capital during Temple times.
    Having participated in the march nearly every year for the past twenty years, I find this event to be one of the most Zionistic experiences on the calendar, giving full expression to Israeli Jewish pride.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Senators to Rice: Press Arabs on Peace
    79 U.S. senators signed a letter Tuesday asking Secretary of State Rice to insist that Arab governments stop their support of terrorism, recognize Israel's right to exist, end the Arab League economic boycott of Israel, and pressure Hamas to reject terror and recognize Israel. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wrote the letter, which was signed by all six presidential candidates serving in the Senate. (JTA)
        See also Senators Call to "End Arab Anti-Semitism" - Yaakov Lappin
    Arab states must "participate in the upcoming international meeting and be a full partner of the United States in advancing regional peace, take visible, meaningful steps in the financial, diplomatic and political arenas to help Palestinian President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad govern effectively and meet their obligations to fight terror," and "stop support for terrorist groups and cease all anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement," the letter declared. (Ynet News)
  • Mixed Homecoming for Released Gaza Prisoner - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    The Gaza homecoming on Tuesday of Fatah loyalist Abdel-Hadi Hassanein, after seven years in an Israeli jail for shooting attacks against Israeli soldiers, was an upbeat affair - until members of Hamas' paramilitary Executive Force showed up. "They smashed the chairs and peppered my house with bullets," said Hassanein, among a group of 29 Palestinian prisoners from Gaza freed by Israel. "It seems they have been angered because we sang songs honoring Samih al-Madhoun," Hassanein said. Madhoun was an arch-foe of Hamas executed by its fighters in June. (Reuters)
  • "Amen" for Israel, Say Christian Zionists - Rebecca Harrison
    Paul McCaleb, 73, from Tennessee, and some 7,000 mostly evangelical Christians from across the world flocked to the Holy Land this week to celebrate the Jewish festival of Sukkot and to show support for Israel. "Coming here just does something inside of me," McCaleb said at Shilo, a holy Jewish site in the West Bank where the Bible says the Ark of the Covenant once rested. "This land belongs to God, and God gave it to the Jews." Some pilgrims toured army bases and donated gifts to Israeli soldiers, while others gave money to buy mobile bomb shelters for communities near the border with Gaza, which are often targeted by rockets from Palestinian militants.
        The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, which organizes the annual festival, argues that Christians and Jews share the same spiritual roots and says it wants to help erase the legacy of anti-Semitism. "There is no dark agenda," David Parsons, ICEJ media director said. "Christians are realizing that God still loves the Jews and their return to Israel is of great biblical significance." (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations Begin on Joint Declaration for November Peace Conference - Aluf Benn and Avi Isaacharoff
    Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and PA Chairman Abbas met Wednesday to start the official negotiating process to formulate a joint declaration for the planned November peace conference. There are significant gaps between the two sides' starting positions, and a particularly bitter dispute revolves around the essence and substance of the joint declaration they are expected to draft.
        Olmert rejects titles such as "declaration of principles" or "agreement of principles." Instead, he is proposing a general "declaration of interests" that would serve as a starting point for future negotiations. He also insists that the declaration include a reference to two previous documents: President George W. Bush's letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on April 14, 2004, and the Roadmap for a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
        The Bush letter to Sharon stated that the border between Israel and the future Palestinian state could not be identical to the 1949 armistice line. The Roadmap lays out a three-stage program for establishing a Palestinian state, and states that in the first stage, the PA must wage war on terrorism and reform PA institutions. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Washington Officials: Mideast Parley Might Be Postponed
    Sources in Washington said Wednesday that the international peace parley, scheduled for mid-November, might be postponed by two weeks or a month to allow the sides to reach agreement, Army Radio reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Defense Officials: Important to Lower Expectations for International Conference - Yaakov Katz and Mark Weiss
    Defense Minister Ehud Barak has appointed the head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Military Bureau, Amos Gilad, as his representative at the talks with the Palestinians. Officials close to Barak and Gilad said Tuesday it was unlikely anything concrete would come from the talks and that it was important to begin lowering expectations ahead of the international conference so it would not trigger a third intifada if it failed. "We need to be realistic and realize that Abbas will have extreme difficulty in delivering on any of his commitments," said a defense official involved in the talks. "There is also a real chance that the Palestinians will pull out of the summit even before it takes place due to Israel's refusal to commit itself on final-status issues."
        Israel is seeking a general statement of principles, leaving the details to be thrashed out in bilateral negotiations after the gathering. However, the Palestinians are pressing for the core issues, such as borders, Jerusalem and refugees, to be included in the joint statement along with a timetable for implementation. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket, Mortar Fire Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket that landed in Israel's western Negev, and several mortars landed near the Erez Crossing on Tuesday afternoon. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Starring on CNN - Jay Tcath
    Did you see me? I was on CNN. My allotted portion amounted to 1.5 seconds. And I shared it with three others while the CNN narrator distorted the context of what we were actually doing. Cobbling together two hours of disjointed footage and commentary, CNN's series "God's Warriors" ostensibly exposed many of us - in Israel and the U.S. - as radical Jewish warriors: No different or any less dangerous than those among the world's 1 billion Muslims who are radical in their way too. It was a scam, a hoax, a manipulation I tell you.
        The CNN field producer had learned of the Chicago Jewish Community Relations Council through her mother, a non-Jewish resident of a Chicago suburb who admired our leading role in advocating an end to the Darfur genocide. It was precisely this type of activity, the noble pursuit of justice by grassroots people motivated by religious impulses and acting through religious institutions that the producer claimed the network and its star correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, wanted to explore. She insisted that CNN's aim was not to focus on the radical fringes among the Jews, Christians and Muslims. The writer is executive director of the Chicago Jewish Community Relations Council. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Two States for Two Peoples - Ruth Gavison
    For most Palestinians, agreeing to a two-state solution does not usually include agreeing to the principle of two states for two peoples. The difference between the two is critical. Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people. This is so not only because that is indeed the situation in Israel, but because such a situation is legitimate and justified. The Jewish people, too, has a right to self-determination in part of its historic homeland. Not only the Palestinians.
        A two-state solution that does not recognize the right of both peoples to self-determination in a part of their homeland would be a dangerous and unstable solution for both peoples. Israel has an obligation - to its citizens, to the Jewish people and to all the inhabitants of the region - to act in a considered and cautious way, so as not to weaken the Jewish people's right to self-determination in part of its homeland. The writer is the founding president of Metzilah: Center for Humanistic, Liberal, Jewish and Zionist Thought. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    Ahmadinejad and International Law - Irwin Cotler (Jerusalem Post)

    • Ahmadinejad should have been declared an inadmissible person and placed on the "U.S. Watchlist" of persons barred from entering the country. American law excludes from entry any person who has engaged in, or incited to, terrorist activity, or who "has used his position of prominence to endorse or espouse terrorist activity in a way that undermines United States' efforts to reduce or eliminate terrorist activities."
    • Moreover, Ahmadinejad is in standing violation of the Genocide Conventions prohibition against the "direct and public incitement to genocide," which alone should be cause for exclusion. It should be recalled that Austrian President Kurt Waldheim was placed on the "U.S. Watchlist" for his participation in the persecution of civilian populations during World War II.
    • A person who incites to genocide; who is complicit in crimes against humanity; who continues the pursuit of the most destructive weaponry in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions; who warns Muslims who support Israel that they will "burn in the umma of Islam;" who is engaged in a massive repression of human rights in Iran; who assaults the basic tenants of the UN Charter - such a person belongs in the dock of the accused, rather than the podium of the UN General Assembly.
    • This is an opportunity for countries such as the U.S. and Canada to exercise necessary leadership in regard to one of the most important threats confronting the international community today.
    • State parties should initiate, in the International Court of Justice, an inter-state complaint against Iran - for its "direct and public incitement to genocide" in violation of the Genocide Convention, to which Iran is party. The crimes of President Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders should be referred by the UN Security Council to the special prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for investigation and prosecution. The UN Secretary General should refer President Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders to the UN Security Council, on the basis of their threats to international peace and security, pursuant to Article 99 of the UN Charter.
    • Recommended options for Iran have included everything from UN sanctions to possible military strikes. It is time that the above juridical options were initiated, which might also embolden progressive forces within Iran while holding the responsible individuals accountable.

      The writer is former minister of justice and attorney-general of Canada and professor of law at McGill University.

          See also Australian Opposition Leader Vows to Bring Ahmadinejad Before International Court of Justice on Charges of "Inciting Genocide" - Dennis Shanahan (The Australian)

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