Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
The German-Iranian Connection - Benjamin Weinthal (Ha'aretz)
Germany Probes 50 Firms that Sold Nuclear Equipment to Iran - Benjamin Weinthal (Ha'aretz)
U.S. Helps Palestinian Activists Hone Advocacy Skills - Grace Bradley (U.S. State Department)
Hamas Seeks to Undermine Annapolis by Claiming Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem Is in Danger (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
Peres: Peace Deal Impossible Before Bush Term Ends (Ha'aretz)
IDF Boosts Patrols in West Bank after Fatal Shooting - Yuval Azoulay (Ha'aretz)
333 Palestinians Killed in Hamas-Fatah Fighting This Year (Maan News-PA)
Egyptian College Student Arrested in Florida Discussed Explosives in Video (AP)
Who Will Protect the Yazidis? - Tom Gross (TomGrossMedia)
Palestinian Car Thief Phones Knesset Member to Negotiate Car's Return - Amnon Meranda (Ynet News)
Israel Gives Uganda Flood Victims Medicines - Florence Nakaayi (New Vision-Uganda)
Israel, the Conflict and Peace (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Lebanon's worst crisis since the 1975-90 civil war builds to a climax at midnight Friday, when the term of President Emile Lahoud ends. Despite weeks of French-led mediation, Lebanon's factions appeared unlikely to reach a consensus on Lahoud's replacement by the deadline, plunging the country into a constitutional limbo. Unlike Lebanon's civil war, often characterized as a Christian-Muslim conflict, this crisis has mobilized the country's Sunni and Shiite Muslim communities against each other, with Christians divided between the two camps. (Washington Post)
See also Syria Is Accused of Blocking a Deal on a New Lebanon President
The U.S. and Lebanon's main anti-Syrian Christian leader on Wednesday accused Syria of blocking a deal on a new Lebanese president. Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces group, said the Syrian-backed opposition was threatening chaos if its preferred consensus candidate did not replace the pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud. "It really ought to be decided without foreign interference, and certainly without any foreign intimidation," Secretary of State Rice said. "Those messages have been very clearly sent." (Reuters/New York Times)
See also Lebanon President Deadline Looms (BBC News)
Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said Friday that Arab countries will not offer Israel "normalization for free" during the upcoming U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace conference. "Arabs are going to participate in the (Annapolis) meeting, to show support for the Palestinians, based on the Arab peace initiative," he said. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
The UN atomic watchdog said Thursday it was in the dark about Iran's nuclear program. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) "has so far not been able to verify some important aspects of Iran's nuclear program," its director general Mohamed ElBaradei told a board meeting in Vienna. He specifically cited key questions related to the scope and nature of Iran's centrifuge enrichment activities, "as well as those relevant to alleged studies and other activities that could have military applications." As a result, the UN watchdog was "unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities," ElBaradei complained. (AFP)
More than 300,000 Shiite Muslims from southern Iraq have signed a petition condemning Iran for fomenting violence in Iraq, according to a group of sheiks leading the campaign. "The Iranians, in fact, have taken over all of south Iraq," said a senior tribal leader from the south. "Their influence is everywhere." The petition, signed by 600 sheiks, calls on the UN to investigate what it termed crimes committed by Iran and its proxies in southern Iraq. The effort is being supported by the Mujaheddin-e Khalq, an Iranian opposition group that is listed by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization but that nonetheless enjoys U.S. military protection in Iraq. (Washington Post)
Venezuelan army commander Raul Isaias Baduel led the paratrooper raid that returned Hugo Chavez to office after he was briefly deposed by a coup in 2002. But Gen. Baduel broke with Chavez this month over proposed sweeping changes to the Constitution that, among other things, would abolish presidential term limits. Since going public with his criticism, Gen, Baduel, a Roman Catholic, has been criticized over his close friendships with members of the country's small Jewish community, many of whom are increasingly concerned about Chavez's growing alliance with Iran and the government's tense diplomatic relations with Israel. Gen. Baduel described his outreach to Jews as part of his "ecumenical" beliefs, but Tarek William Saab, the governor of Anzoategui state and an ally of the president, told the daily newspaper El Nacional: "He has been captured by the international ultra right wing, by international Zionism." (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The Palestinian Authority is not interested - because of domestic political concerns - in issuing a joint document at the upcoming meeting in Annapolis, according to current assessments in Jerusalem. It is believed to be wary of making any compromises because they would be roundly criticized by Hamas and much of the Palestinian "street." If the document is not finished before Tuesday, then Olmert and Abbas are expected to "jointly announce the launching of core issue negotiations" instead of unveiling a joint document.
Israeli officials said Bush will hold bilateral talks with Olmert next week. Olmert's meeting with Bush on Monday is expected to deal with the Palestinian issue and how to move the diplomatic process forward, while his meeting with Bush on Wednesday is expected to focus on the Iranian nuclear issue. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Hamas Calls on Arab Nations to Boycott Annapolis Conference - Khaled Abu Toameh
Speaking in Gaza Thursday, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh urged Arab countries to boycott the Annapolis conference and resist attempts to normalize relations with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
Israel is to begin gradually reducing the power supply to Gaza on Dec. 2, in response to the ongoing Kassam rocket fire at Israeli communities, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz told the High Court of Justice Thursday. The Palestinians will be given a one-week notice of the intent to begin reducing the power supply. The defense establishment would "follow the effect of the power reductions on Gaza residents with attention to the commitment not to cause a humanitarian crisis." (Ha'aretz)
Shalom Cohen, Israel's ambassador to Cairo, says that 30 years after Sadat's visit to Jerusalem: "Peace with Israel is not a central tenet of the [Egyptian] school curriculum." Cohen attends many cultural events surrounded by bodyguards that separate him from the general public. He is not invited to all the events the rest of the city's diplomatic corps attends. The media never interviews him.
Relations with Egypt don't worry him; he says there have been ups and downs over the years, but a minimum connection has always remained. "Menachem Begin said the troubles of peace are better than the agonies of war....This is not a cold peace. There are matters on which the dialogue is very good." (Ha'aretz)
There has been a recent spate of Palestinian vandalism on property belonging to Jewish farmers in the West Bank, and a Ha'aretz investigation has found evidence of arson, sabotage of equipment, and destruction of crops. A new report - "Who Will Protect My Olive Tree?" - describes the torching of 900 dunams of grazing ground, a stable, and 30 pomegranate trees belonging to Yehuda Cohen of Bat Ayin. Shamai Pozak at Ofra had young saplings chopped down, tons of grapevines destroyed before the harvest, and irrigation pipes torched. Moshe Kedem of Pnei Kedem had 500 olive tree saplings uprooted. At Sde Calev in the Hebron Hills, arson consumed more than 100 cherry trees, and buildings and storage sheds were set on fire. Just recently, another 400 grapevines were uprooted. Shlomi Cohen's vineyard in the Dolev region was uprooted four times. (Ha'aretz)
Palestinian militants in Gaza fired nearly 20 mortar shells at Israel on Thursday, according to Army Radio. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Annapolis Meeting
The Israeli stance that the Annapolis conference is the beginning of a diplomatic process for the establishment of two states for two people is now accepted by the entire world, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told Ynet on Thursday. "The question now is not what Israel will give the Palestinians. The question now is which Arab countries will join the train whose engine is Annapolis," she said. "I see great success in the fact that Annapolis will jumpstart a move in which the security of the State of Israel is an inseparable part," she added. Livni believes that "the fact that this conference is being held, with 40 countries supporting it including Arab states, is a success." "In any event," said senior officials involved in the negotiations, "Israel has proved that its intentions are serious." (Ynet News)
I asked a player from the international elements engaged in building up the Palestinian economy why they weren't making aid to Mahmoud Abbas contingent on stopping the anti-Israeli incitement on the official television channel and in the Palestinian education system. He replied, "Abbas is so weak, and this is not a popular step. First of all, it is necessary to strengthen him and afterward it will be possible to demand something of him." I have never understood this strange reasoning: Once anti-Israeli positions have made him popular, he will suddenly lead his people toward peace?
It is true that to carry out courageous reforms and educate the people to peace, a strong and bold leader is needed. Leaders like that, who understand the need for education toward peace and reforms, do exist - but not in the Muqata in Ramallah. These are people who are not afraid to challenge the tyranny of the weak leader and who believe in building a civil society as a necessary foundation for any progress on the road to peace. It is true that they are weak, but for one reason only: We ourselves are weakening them by giving unreserved support to "moderate" tyrants. It is precisely the strengthening of an antidemocratic regime and the absence of an alternative that are pushing the public into the arms of fundamentalists, into the arms of Hamas.
Another generation of Palestinians is being educated to hatred, violence and the aspiration to destroy Israel. A look back over the years since the Oslo Accords shows clearly that the direction in which Palestinian society has marched is not the direction of peace. Annapolis is doomed to failure because it is built on distorted reasoning to the effect that it is possible to move ahead and make a deal with some leader and totally ignore what is really happening in Palestinian society. The writer is head of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center. (Ha'aretz)
Anwar Sadat faced the realities of the Egyptian economic, political and military condition and decided to go to Jerusalem. His message was "No More War" and he was received in Jerusalem in November 1977 by Menachem Begin with an open, fulsome and conciliatory response, leading to the Camp David Agreement in 1979 where the details of Sadat's message were implemented. It is time for the Arab world to engage in the same calculus as did Sadat and recognize that "No More War" is the only message that might give any promise of accomplishment to the Annapolis meeting.
Israel should demand that as a predicate to its attendance at Annapolis, the Arab world must convincingly demonstrate that it accepts Israel's right to exist, forswears any intention to destroy the Jewish state, and agrees that Arab refugees from prior wars may return only to areas that will be included in the anticipated Palestinian state when it is permitted to emerge. Without those assurances, Israel should not accept a conference that might agree on abstract concessions that will only become the starting points of demands when future negotiations occur. Unless the Arab world and its acolytes and supporters accept an "end of conflict" to the Arab-Israel struggle, the status quo will not be altered. (Wall Street Journal)
The most important player in the push for Mideast peace that President Bush launches with a conference in Annapolis next week may be one that's not on his long list of invited guests. For varying reasons, Iran is a force driving the U.S., Israel, the Palestinians and their Arab backers to seek a deal now. Long the chief U.S. adversary in the region, Iran stands accused of funding and arming terrorist groups, including Palestinian factions that do not want a peace deal with Israel. According to U.S. and other Western intelligence, Iran has helped establish what amounts to a client state in Gaza. Shiite Iran is also a worrisome power for majority-Sunni Arab states which have watched with alarm as Iran angles for influence in Iraq and seeds Islamic extremists bent on overthrowing secular or U.S.-allied Arab governments. (AP/Washington Post)
This is the real story of Annapolis: a story of fierce personal emotions, disappointment, affront and desperation. But what action did Rice set in motion, and to what end? The action is not based on an American assessment that the conflict is ripe for resolution and/or that there are leaders in the region capable of deciding. In Annapolis we will see no more than an extravagant media gimmick; an orchestrated performance whose Middle Eastern actors are taking part in it halfheartedly because "the president expects it." (Ha'aretz)
In its modern history Iran has never had such an influential role in the Middle East as now. The removal of Saddam Hussein and the destruction of Iraq fueled Iran's desire to spread its wings across the Gulf and Arab Middle East. The unenthusiastic foreign policies of Saudi Arabia and Egypt have encouraged Tehran's political leadership to build and develop close relations with other key players in the region, especially ruling groups in Syria, Lebanon (Hizbullah) and Palestine (Islamic Jihad and Hamas), and with political groups in the Gulf, Yemen, Sudan, North Africa and even inside Egypt and Saudi Arabia, forcing retreat and a defensive approach on its regional rivals.
The rise of Hizbullah has weakened the role of Saudi Arabia in Lebanon, while the electoral victory of Hamas in Palestine left Egyptian diplomacy paralyzed, proven lately in Gaza when Hamas took control amid conspicuous anti-Egyptian sentiment. While these developments were grim for Cairo and Riyadh, Tehran looked on in celebration.
As some Gulf Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, became targets for al-Qaeda attacks, the leadership of Iran felt the time had come to start an offensive campaign of mobilizing Shia minorities in the Gulf, mainly those who come historically from Persian and not Arab origin. Some Shia political figures have appeared moderate reformers, as in the Eastern province in Saudi Arabia, while some took the fundamentalist route as their way to confront Sunni political elites, as in Bahrain, Kuwait and Yemen. The writer has worked as an adviser to the UN mission to Iraq. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
Under the plan named after Labor defense minister Yigal Allon, Labor governments worked toward the goal of defensible borders - as stipulated by UN Security Council Resolution 242 - by establishing 21 settlements along the Jordan Valley and the eastern slopes of the north-south ridge bisecting the West Bank. While most Israelis are extremely skeptical that the Palestinians will be ready for peace anytime soon, most agree that it is Israel's interest not to rule over the Palestinians in the territories. At the same time, almost no Israeli can imagine going back to the 1967 lines and dismantling the settlement blocs. Further, following the aftermaths of the unilateral withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza, there is little stomach for continuing with that model.
More explicit recognition by the U.S. of settlement blocs would help the process by giving Israelis confidence that a two-state plan will truly take Israel's requirement of defensible borders into account. There will be no return to the pre-1967 lines, so stubbornly sticking with a "zero settlement" policy makes a two-state plan less realistic, not more so. (Jerusalem Post)
The Palestinian side has declared that, while Arafat "recognized" the "State of Israel" as part of the "Oslo accords" in September 1993, neither he then, nor they today, recognize it as a "Jewish state." Israel is there, by the fact of history. And it is also there as the only reliably free, democratic, pro-Western state in a dark region where the most open societies (Jordan, Egypt) are arbitrarily ruled by moderate tyrants, and the worst are unspeakable. There are today more than five million Jews living in Israel, who have no citizenship anywhere else. The overwhelming majority were born there. This is what I mean by an historical fact.
There may well be as many Palestinians scattered through the region under subsidy from the UN, who claim the "right of return" to what is now Israeli territory, but who were not born there. It should be remembered, constantly, that they descend from Palestinian ancestors who were one half of a population exchange that happened in the 1940s. And that an approximately equal number of Jews were uprooted from their homes throughout the Arab world - under pressure of both the state and the mob - many of whom found refuge in Israel. The Palestinians are ill served by the failure of Ms. Rice and all other diplomatic authorities in the West to remind them of the facts, plainly. (Ottawa Citizen)
Energy-independence advocate Gal Luft, a former lieutenant colonel in the Israel Defense Forces and counterterrorism expert, fervently believes that the only way to make America safe is to make it energy independent. As executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, he has a single goal: freeing America from the grip of foreign oil now. He says we should "mandate that every vehicle sold in the U. S. is flex-fuel compatible so that it can run on just about any blend of hydrocarbon-based fuels - gasoline, ethanol, methanol, etc. The technology already exists, and the process is cheap, about a hundred dollars per vehicle."
"Panama, Kenya, and Thailand grow sugarcane from which you can make ethanol at half the cost of making it from corn," he says. "65% of our garbage is biomass: food, paper, scrap wood. All of it could be converted to methanol.... Coal can be converted to clean-burning methanol for the equivalent of one dollar per gallon." (Esquire)
Religious and traditional Israeli Jewish populations are on the rise while the secular population is shrinking drastically, according to a survey released Thursday by the Israel Democracy Institute's Guttman Center. Israelis who say they do not observe religious traditions have become fewer, especially over the past decade, making up just a fifth of the population in 2007, according to a survey conducted by Eliyahu Sapir, a doctoral student at Hebrew University supervised by Professor Asher Arian. In contrast, in 1974, 41% of Israelis said they were secular. Moreover, from about a fifth of the population in 1974, the proportion of those who say they are strict observers of religious traditions has now grown to a third. The number of moderately traditional Israelis has grown from 38% to about half. (Jerusalem Post)
Raymond Rappaport, a veteran primary care doctor from Redwood City, Cal., is one of 30 American doctors who recently participated in a grueling five-day course in emergency medicine hosted by Israeli civilian hospitals and military medics. The course included a visit to the Israel Center for Medical Simulation, a state-of-the-art training center for emergency medicine at Sheba Hospital in Tel Hashomer near Tel Aviv. After each exercise, which was carried out using real equipment on electronic mannequins that breathed and spoke to them, the U.S. doctors watched a video playback and received feedback from Israel's top medical trainers. "A lot of these things are not available in the United States. A lot of the medicine is different," said Rappaport. "They're up on the cutting edge of the latest technology."
Israeli emergency medicine is not just about surgery. Within minutes of a suicide bombing or another crisis, a central hot line handles inquiries from concerned families trying to locate their missing loved ones. The hot line provides updated information, including the cataloging of photographs and other details. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Every week, Maram abu Ahmad, 12; Tony Khleif, 11; and Shahd Shahbari, also 11, get together on camera with an adult host to discuss, in Arabic, their lives and views during freewheeling chats that regularly veer into the minefields of politics and identity. The children have aired opinions on religion, their relations with Israel's majority Jews and the ever-tricky issue of being Arabs who are citizens of the Jewish state. (Maram got in trouble with her mother by saying on air that she considered herself Israeli, not Palestinian.) The half-hour program, called "Haki Kibar," or "Grown-Up Talk," is part of a new effort by the country's dominant commercial broadcaster, Channel 2, to put more Arab citizens on the small screen. (Los Angeles Times)
The Respect Party has introduced a fresh example of sectarianism and communalist politics into mainstream British politics. Respect comprises a coalition of the Socialist Workers Party and elements associated with the Muslim Association of Britain, along with antiglobalization activists and antiwar protesters. Its ideology is thus an amalgamation of radical international socialism and Islamism and offers a basis for cooperation around a shared agenda. Although Respect preaches peace and social justice, it is intensely anti-Zionist and rejects the right to independent Jewish statehood in Israel. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
Towards Annapolis: Is U.S. Policy Changing on Israel's Rights in a Peace Settlement? - Dore Gold (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
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