Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Israel Wary of New U.S. Security Envoy - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
Detroit Man Pleads Guilty to Bid to Aid Hizbullah (Reuters)
Al-Qaeda Kingpin: I Trained 9/11 Hijackers - Chris Gourlay and Jonathan Calvert (Sunday Times-UK)
Is South America a Terrorist Incubator? - Larry Luxner (JTA)
Saudi Justice: Whipping a Rape Victim - Stephen Schwartz and Irfan Al-Alawi (Weekly Standard)
An Invented Attack Leads to Decreasing Condemnation of Anti-Semitism in France - Yohanan Winogradsky (Jewish Political Studies Review)
Being Green Is Part of Israel's Culture - Reda Mansour (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Israeli Girl Wins World Chess Tourney - Jonah Newman (Jerusalem Post)
EU Document: "State Building for Peace in the Middle East: An EU Action Strategy" (European Jewish Press)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said Wednesday after the Annapolis conference: "Over the past six years, [the President] has made the case time and time again that the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in the best interests of the Arab states, that violent extremism is the biggest threat to regional security, and that a free and democratic Palestine at peace with Israel would be a grave blow to the terrorists' cause."
"The President helped create the context for success at Annapolis by refusing to impose an American solution. President Bush believes that only Israelis and Palestinians meeting together can resolve their differences - only they can negotiate an agreement that both their peoples can accept. The President will not force a resolution of differences, nor impose a peace plan with his name on it."
"For Syria, there is a fundamental choice....Are they going to make a strategic decision, give up their support for terror, let Lebanon alone, support a new Iraqi government rather than obstruct it and undermine it, and make a decision for peace? If they do, I think there are opportunities for them on the Golan Heights. If they don't, I don't see how they can be part of this process." (White House)
"The event in Annapolis was designed to send one unmistakable message: that Arab-Israeli peace is open for business," said Aaron David Miller, a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. The Sunni Arab states want to woo Syria, with its Sunni Muslim majority, from its alliance with largely Shiite Iran. For the Israelis, one potential benefit would be to play the Palestinians off against the Syrians while trying to negotiate peace with both. And the U.S.? "Look, a handful in the Arab League were saying they could not attend the conference unless Syria was put on the agenda," a senior Bush administration official said. "So we put Syria on the agenda. What did it cost us? Nothing." However, American and Israeli officials said the time was not yet ripe for real peace talks with Syria. (New York Times)
The political logjam over Lebanon's vacant presidency was broken Thursday when Christian leader Michel Aoun, who was seeking the presidency himself and is backed by Syria, announced his support for Gen. Michel Suleiman, the army's chief of staff, as a compromise candidate accepted by the pro-Western alliance. Lebanon has teetered on the edge of factional violence over the question of who would succeed the former president, Emile Lahoud, who was widely considered a tool of Syria. Gen. Suleiman was appointed army chief of staff in 1998, during the Syrian occupation, and was for a long time maligned by the governing coalition for being too close to Syria.
"The Syrians did not want to go to Annapolis," said Talal Atrissi, a political analyst and sociologist at Lebanese University. "The Syrians traded their participation, which did not cost them anything, with a deal on the Lebanese presidency." Hilal Khashan, a political science professor at the American University of Beirut, said Syria won a concession from the U.S. and France in exchange for its appearance at Annapolis. The Syrian government does not expect real progress on negotiations with Israel over the Golan Heights, Khashan said, but it now expects the U.S. and France to give Syria more leeway to influence Lebanese affairs. (New York Times)
The wife of an Israeli reservist whose kidnapping in 2006 triggered a month-long war in Lebanon has appealed to his captors to stop using information about his condition as a bargaining tool in negotiations. Ehud Goldwasser has been held, with Eldad Regev, by Hizbullah since July 12, 2006, without a reliable indication of their fate. "We don't know where they are, we don't know how they are being held, whether they are still alive," Karnit Goldwasser told the Daily Telegraph. "They are trading human rights for a powerful position in negotiations. They have made clear any information they give will come at a price." (Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel's High Court of Justice ruled on Friday that the state's plan to restrict the supply of fuel to Gaza can go ahead as planned. As for the similar plan to partially cut off Israel's supply of electricity to Gaza, the court said further deliberations were in order. A ruling is expected within 12 days. The court was asked to rule on the proposed measures after human rights groups challenged the legality of imposing such restrictions. (Ynet News)
Quartet envoy Tony Blair said in an interview in Washington on Wednesday he no longer believes that "land for peace," in and of itself, is sufficient. What is no less important, in his view, is the character of the Palestinian state. He constantly warns senior PA officials: "There won't be a Palestinian state unless it is coherently governed and run, and anyone who tells you different is misleading you."
What Blair has tried to explain to the Arab world and to the Palestinians is that they must understand how the events in Gaza have affected the Israeli public and leadership. If one looks at it from the vantage point of Israelis, they left Gaza, evacuated 7,000 settlers, and ended up with a Hamas takeover. Blair believes that anyone who wants to reach a solution has to understand that Israelis' security concerns are genuinely and deeply felt. (Ha'aretz)
On Thursday, Israel's ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman addressed the General Assembly during discussions on "the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People": "This Assembly hall is also the birthplace of the annual 21 resolutions defaming Israel - with a litany of predetermined, impractical, and completely biased conclusions - that have only given the Palestinians a fictitious sense of reality and a discourse of rights without responsibilities, both of which render the United Nations completely incapable of playing a meaningful role in addressing the conflict."
"It is all the more bewildering that of late the Jewish character of the State of Israel has been called into question....The resolution that gives the 29th of November significance - General Assembly Resolution 181 - speaks of the creation of the 'Jewish State' no less than 25 times. Even before that, the notion of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel was cemented in the 1922 League of Nations British Mandate on Palestine, which put into effect the Balfour Declaration of 1917 to establish a national home for the Jewish people. The Arab refusal to recognize the existence of our Jewish state has been at the core of the Palestinians' inability to achieve a state of their own." (Ynet News)
Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets that landed in Israel's western Negev on Friday morning. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Rocket and Mortar Fire from Gaza Increasing
During the past week, Palestinians fired over 70 mortar shells and over 25 Kassam rockets at Israeli communities in the western Negev and at IDF forces. Of these, approximately 35 mortar shells and 20 rockets landed in Israel. The terror organizations, in particular Hamas, have made continuous attempts to kill or injure Israeli civilians and IDF forces, especially in the area adjacent to the Gaza security fence. Israeli forces are operating against the terror infrastructure in Gaza in order to distance the terror organizations from the security fence and to prevent rocket and mortar shell fire into Israel. (IDF Spokesperson/IMRA)
See also Four Hamas Men Killed in Gaza Air Strikes - Nidal al-Mughrabi
Israel killed four Hamas fighters in two air strikes in Gaza Thursday, Hamas officials and Palestinian medical staff said. An Israeli army spokeswoman said in one incident, an attack was launched on people wearing military style clothing in an area from which rockets had just been fired towards Israel. In the second, Israel targeted two men who planted explosives near the security fence. On Wednesday, two Hamas security men were killed in an air strike that Israel said was a response to mortar fire. (Reuters)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
After the Annapolis Meeting
The Rice approach to Middle East diplomacy is far more restrained than that of her predecessors, and it consists of pushing Israel - as well as her boss, President Bush - only so far, while putting off the big, hard fights until the end. That strategy won Ms. Rice a conference in Annapolis, Md., on Tuesday. "The Israeli and Palestinian experience with Rice is that she can be quite tough," said Martin S. Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel. "When she's pushing, they pay attention. She's not pushing because she doesn't feel that she has the solid backing of the president." (New York Times)
A U.S.-backed push for a future Palestinian state hinges on Mahmoud Abbas doing what may seem impossible - getting Hamas Islamists to give up the Gaza Strip and disarm. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert has vowed not to carry out any peace deal until Abbas reins in militants, including Palestinian Hamas Islamists who seized control of Gaza in June. Hamas has vowed to undermine Abbas' talks with Olmert by keeping up its fight against Israel.
Zakaria al-Qaq of al-Quds University said of Hamas: "[Abbas] will not be able to deliver (a state) without Hamas. He has to buy them in and now the price will be very large." Hamas, which does not recognize Israel, said on Thursday there was "no place for Jews" in the land. (Reuters)
Nothing essential has changed. The Palestinians, and the Arab powers who are not really behind them, still do not unambiguously recognize Israel's right to exist. They have got no closer to the position Anwar Sadat of Egypt took, very publicly, when he flew to Jerusalem and set the stage for the only Israel-Arab peace conference that ever made any difference. This is the stage of saying publicly, in Arabic to their own people, not only in English to foreign media, that, "Israel is there, she is Jewish, she will stay there, and it is in our common interest to make peace with her and get on with our lives."
Mahmoud Abbas does not represent more than the old Fatah rump within the West Bank. Hamas has been in the ascendant, both electorally and by force of arms. Who can expect Israel to make peace with a Palestinian representative who is the figurehead of a dying regime? (Ottawa Citizen)
The goals of the Annapolis conference were to facilitate the creation of a democratic Palestinian state - free of corruption and militias - that will live peacefully alongside Israel. However, the American initiative rests on several unfounded premises. The first is that Palestinian society can be reformed by outsiders. It is naive to believe that political and social dynamics rooted in centuries-old traditions can be easily manipulated by well-intentioned, but presumptuous Westerners. Change among Palestinian and other Middle Eastern societies can only originate from within.
The second fallacy is that economic assistance to the Palestinians can alleviate political problems. Since the Oslo Accords in September 1993, the PA has received the most economic aid per capita in the world. The PA has been ingenious in siphoning a not insignificant amount of the aid it gets to those least in need of outside support. The third fallacy is that Mahmoud Abbas can become the agent for change. The fourth fallacy is that Palestinian society can be quickly transformed into a good neighbor of Israel and that a stable settlement is within reach.
Since the Oslo Accords, the PA's education system, media, and dramatic militarization process have done great damage to the collective Palestinian psyche. A society mesmerized by the use of force and embracing the shahid (martyr) ready to explode among the hated Israelis will not change overnight. The writer is director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. (Jerusalem Post)
It's the American way: a can-do spirit, the conviction that no problem's too tough for us. But, in the real world (and in the bizarre fantasyland of Arab culture), some foreign problems can't be resolved equitably. If we want to help at all, the fundamental requirement is to have realistic expectations.
Whether the American administration is Republican or Democrat, it pressures Israel for concessions - since the Arabs won't make any. Prisoner releases precede each summit; territorial handovers come under discussion. For their parts, Arab leaders and their representatives assume we're sufficiently honored if they just show up. Yes, there's merit just in bringing folks together and keeping them talking. But the baseline difficulty is that we want to solve problems for people who don't really want those problems solved. (New York Post)
Anti-Zionism is not in principle anti-Semitism, but it is time for thoughtful minds to be disturbed by how much anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism share, how much the dominant species of anti-Zionism encourages anti-Semitism. And so:
If you judge a Jewish state by standards that you apply to no one else; if your neck veins bulge when you denounce Zionists but you've done no more than cluck "well, yes, very bad about Darfur"; if there is nothing Hamas can do that you won't blame 'in the final analysis' on Israelis; then you should not be surprised if you are criticized, fiercely so, by people who are serious about a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians and who won't let you get away with a self-exonerating formula - "I am anti-Zionist but not anti-Semitic" - to prevent scrutiny. If you are anti-Zionist and not anti-Semitic, then don't use the categories, allusions, and smug hiss that are all too familiar to any student of prejudice. (Dissent)
Jerusalem is hardly a real estate issue. It is at the heart of the Israel-Arab impasse, for it relates fundamentally to history, theology and national identity. Jerusalem is at the heart of religious identity for Jews - we pray each day toward Jerusalem and for its welfare, we regularly read the biblical accounts of our forefathers that take place in the city's environs, and we conclude our holiest days with the prayer that next year we will celebrate in Jerusalem. Historically, King David made Jerusalem his capital 3,000 years ago, and since then Jerusalem has been the national capital of the Jewish people; only brute force has kept them out.
From 1948-1967, when the Old City and eastern parts of Jerusalem fell under Jordanian rule, Jews were barred entry to the Old City, denied worship at the Western Wall at the foot of the Temple Mount, and denied access to the ancient cemeteries on the Mount of Olives and Mount Zion. Following the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel recaptured and unified the entire city and opened the holy sites of all faiths to all people. The writer is director of public policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. (Baltimore Sun)
The remnants of a 2,500-year-old wall from the time of the prophet Nehemiah have been uncovered in an archeological excavation in Jerusalem's ancient City of David, strengthening recent claims that King David's palace has been found at the site, Hebrew University archeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar said Wednesday. Both the 30 meter section of the wall and a six-by-three-meter part of a previously uncovered tower have now been dated to the fifth century BCE based on the rich pottery found during the dig under the tower, she said. Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem as governor in 445 BCE with the permission of the Persian king, determined to rebuild the city after the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. (Jerusalem Post)
This week marks the 60th anniversary of the UN Partition Resolution of Nov. 29, 1947, the first-ever blueprint for an Israeli-Palestinian two-state solution. While Jewish leaders accepted the resolution, Arab leaders did not and declared war on the nascent Jewish state. Had the Partition Resolution been accepted, there would have been no Arab-Israeli war, no refugees and none of the pain of these last 60 years.
The pain and plight of 850,000 Jews uprooted and displaced from Arab countries - the forgotten exodus - has been expunged from the historical narrative these past 60 years. It was also a forced exodus, for the Arab countries not only went to war to extinguish the fledgling Jewish state, but also targeted the Jewish nationals living in their respective countries. Since 1947, there have been 126 UN resolutions that have specifically dealt with the Palestinian refugee plight. Not one makes any reference to the plight of the 850,000 Jews displaced from Arab countries. Nor have any of the Arab countries involved expressed any acknowledgment, let alone regret. (National Post-Canada)
Bush at Annapolis - Robert Satloff (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
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