Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 14, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Rice Gets Congress to Ease Up on Palestinians - Bay Fang (Baltimore Sun)
    After Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice assured the House Foreign Operations Subcommittee on Wednesday that the Palestinian leadership is committed to peace with Israel, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), who heads the subcommittee, agreed to lift her objection to granting $100 million in aid to the PA.

Rice: Saudis Failed to Combat Extremism - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
    U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized Saudi Arabia for not doing enough to counter extremism while testifying before the U.S. Congress on Wednesday.
    Rice said the State Department had also made clear to the Saudis that they needed to do more to end incitement and to take more concrete steps to help the peace process.

Israel's War on Terror in the West Bank - Tim McGirk (TIME)
    Just because fewer Palestinian terrorists are slipping into Israel from the West Bank doesn't mean that they have stopped trying.
    Says an officer in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF): "Our people sleep comfortably in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv because the IDF is putting in a huge effort, day and night, in the West Bank to prevent terror."
    Last year more than 6,650 suspected Palestinian militants were rounded up, among them, claim Israeli intelligence officers, 279 potential suicide bombers.
    IDF troops, in effect, prop up Mahmoud Abbas. Without the presence of Israeli troops, his advisers concede, the West Bank would soon fall to Hamas militants, just as Gaza did last June.
    Israel's domestic intelligence service, Shin Bet, claims that in 2007 it foiled 29 suicide attacks.

Fatah Military Wing Tells Abbas to Fire Fayad, Band with Hamas - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, called on Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday to fire Prime Minister Salaam Fayad and "form a new government that would not abandon the armed struggle," in a leaflet distributed in Ramallah.
    It also called on Abbas to stop all contacts with Israel.
    Several Fatah officials have accused Fayad of refusing to give their representatives enough jobs and salaries in the PA government.
    They are also angry with Fayad because of his decision to stop paying salaries to thousands of Fatah members.

Hamas MP: We Used Women and Children as Human Shields (MEMRI-TV)
    Hamas MP Fathi Hammad said on Al-Aqsa TV (Feb. 29, 2008): "The Palestinian people has developed its [methods] of death and death-seeking. For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel."
    "They have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine. It is as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: 'We desire death like you desire life.'"

Palestinian Children from Gaza Undergo Heart Surgery in Israel (AP/International Herald Tribune)
    Israeli and Palestinian heart surgeons teamed up at an Israeli hospital on Wednesday to operate on three Palestinian girls, under a program to save children's lives despite hostilities.
    Dr. Akiva Tamir, head of cardiology at Wolfson Hospital near Tel Aviv, said 250 children from Gaza have been treated in the past year.

Study: Young American Jews Are Not Detached from Israel - Shmuel Rosner (Ha'aretz)
    A study published last week by the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University challenges the prevailing assumption that American Jews have become alienated from Israel in recent years, and particularly the assumption that the younger generation is less attached to Israel than their parents' generation was at their age.
    The study maintains that there has been no decline, nor will there be one. "Jewish attachment to Israel has largely held steady for the period 1994-2007," the study says.
    Young American Jews are indeed less attached to Israel than their parents, but as they grow older, they tend to become more emotionally attached to Israel.

Online Anti-Semitism 2.0. "Social Anti-Semitism" on the "Social Web" - Andre Oboler (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Around 2004, with the new "social web" came a new "social anti-Semitism."
    This Anti-Semitism 2.0 is the use of online social networking and content collaboration to share demonization, conspiracy theories, Holocaust denial, and classical anti-Semitic motifs.
    This phenomenon is spreading anti-Semitism and acceptability of anti-Semitism in new and increasingly effective ways.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Report: New Anti-Semitism Disguised by Hatred of Israel
    Jews worldwide are facing a new form of anti-Semitism disguised by hatred toward Israel, in addition to more traditional forms of anti-Semitism, the U.S. State Department said Thursday in a new report documenting anti-Semitic acts worldwide. "Anti-Semitism couched as criticism of Zionism or Israel often escapes condemnation since it can be more subtle than traditional forms of anti-Semitism," the report said. Critics of Israel have a "responsibility to consider the effect their actions may have in prompting hatred of Jews," it said, adding that hostility toward Israel has at times manifested itself in violence toward Jews.
        The report singled out a number of leaders, governments and state-sponsored institutions for fanning the flames of anti-Semitism, with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the top of the list. It also took to task the Syrian government, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, as well as the government-backed Venezuelan, Saudi Arabian and Egyptian media. (AFP)
        See also State Department Report on Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism (pdf) (State Department)
  • Abbas Says Israel "Ethnic Cleansing" in Jerusalem - Alistair Thomson
    Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday accused Israel of "ethnic cleansing" in eastern Jerusalem at a summit of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference in Dakar, Senegal. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert's spokesman, Mark Regev, said: "The peace process faces many obstacles and leadership should not be contributing to those obstacles through inflammatory statements." (Reuters)
        See also U.S.: Abbas' Accusation "An Example of Overheated Political Rhetoric"
    Asked about Abbas' comment accusing the Israelis of ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Thursday: "Certainly we would not use that term to describe the situation. I think it is probably an example of some overheated political rhetoric." (State Department)
        See also Construction in Jerusalem: Myths and Facts - Justus Reid Weiner
    The city of Jerusalem has authorized more than 36,000 permits for new housing units in the Arab sector, more than enough to meet the needs of Arab residents through legal construction until 2020. Arab residents who wish to build legally may consult urban plans translated into Arabic for their convenience and receive individual assistance from Arabic-speaking city employees. Both Arabs and Jews typically wait 4-6 weeks for permit approval, enjoy a similar rate of application approvals, and pay an identical fee for water and sewage hook-ups on the same size living unit.
        The same procedures for administrative demolition orders apply to both Jews and Arabs in all parts of the city, as a final backstop to remove structures built illegally on roadbeds or land designated for schools, clinics, and the like. The PA and Arab governments have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in an intentional campaign to subsidize and encourage massive illegal construction in the Arab sector, seeing this as part of their "demographic war" against Israel. The Arab population of the city has increased since 1967 from 27% to 32%. Moreover, since 1967 new Arab construction has outpaced Jewish construction. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • UN Chief Condemns Israel at Muslim Summit
    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday condemned Israel's attacks on Palestinian civilians in a speech to a summit of Muslim leaders in Dakar. Ban said Israel had employed "inappropriate and disproportionate use of force." (AFP)
  • Memorial Service Held in New York for Murdered Israeli Students
    At a memorial service in New York on Thursday for eight Israeli yeshiva students killed in last week's terrorist attack in Jerusalem, Knesset member Effi Eitam, an alumnus of the yeshiva where the attack took place, said Jews and non-Jews have to unite in the fight against the "extremist Islamic movement." Israeli Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit slammed recent international condemnation of Israel's operations in Gaza, saying Israel's responses to rocket attacks against its citizens are far more humane than other nations' reactions would be in similar circumstances. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and Yeshiva University organized Thursday's memorial service. (JTA)
  • Hizbullah Becoming More Visible in West Bank
    A Hizbullah flag, along with Hamas banners, adorned the home of a Palestinian man who was killed after gunning down eight Israeli students in Jerusalem last week. Hizbullah has long operated behind the scenes in the Palestinian territories, funneling millions of dollars to militant groups for attacks against Israel, according to Israeli and Palestinian security officials. Hizbullah's influence has become increasingly visible in the West Bank since last month's assassination of its military chief, Imad Mughniyeh.
        On Thursday, mourners marching in a funeral procession for four Palestinian militants killed in Bethlehem chanted, "Hizbullah is coming." The bodies of local Islamic Jihad leader Mohammed Shehadeh and another militant were wrapped in Hizbullah flags. Shehadeh had converted from Sunni to Shiite Islam in a show of support for Hizbullah, said his cousin, Khalil. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rockets and Mortars Rain on Israel from Gaza - Avi Issacharoff and Yuval Azoulay
    Palestinian militant groups in Gaza said they had fired 64 rockets and mortar shells at Israel during the day Thursday. Some property damage was reported. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Won't Make Roadmap Report Public
    U.S. Gen. William Fraser will not make public the report on compliance with Roadmap obligations he is expected to present Friday at a trilateral meeting with Israeli and Palestinian officials, the Jerusalem Post has learned. Rather, according to diplomatic officials, Fraser is expected to present each side with his report, and then pass it on - as well as the Israeli and Palestinian responses to it - to Secretary of State Rice, who will decide how to proceed further. Rice appointed Fraser as the Roadmap monitor after the Annapolis conference in November.
        Regarding American concerns over Israeli plans to build new housing units in eastern Jerusalem and several West Bank settlements, Israeli defense officials said that Israel would continue to build in Jerusalem and in the major settlement blocs. "These areas are an integral part of the State of Israel and we will continue to build there," an official said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also below Observations: A Skewed Process - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Uses Medical Patients' Bus to Sneak into Israel - Hanan Greenberg
    A Palestinian man crossed into Israel on Thursday after jumping off a bus transporting patients from Gaza to Egypt. The man slipped off the bus between the Erez crossing in northern Gaza and the Kerem Shalom crossing at the Egyptian border. He was captured later in the day in the northern city of Nazareth. (Ynet News)
  • Building Remains from First Temple Period Discovered in Jerusalem
    A rich layer of finds from the latter part of the First Temple period (8th-6th centuries BCE) was recently discovered in archaeological salvage excavations being carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the northwestern part of the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem. Also found was a seal that bears an inscription in ancient Hebrew which reads: [belonging] to Netanyahu ben Yaush. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hamas Has Declared War on Israel - How Should Israel Respond? - Alan Dershowitz
    Article 51 of the UN Charter guarantees its members "the inherent right to...individual self defense" against "an armed attack." Hamas fires rockets at civilian targets in southern Israel. If this is not an "armed attack" under Article 51, then I don't know what is. Rocketing civilian population centers, as Hamas is doing, is also a war crime. International law prohibits, even during a declared war, the deliberate targeting of civilians or the bombing of areas of civilian population centers with absolutely no military significance. If anything, an armed attack that is also a war crime justifies the right of self-defense even more.
        What then are Israel's rights under international law? What have, and what would, other nations whose cities and towns were attacked by enemy rockets do? Israel certainly has the right to counterattack its enemy, destroy its capacity to fire rockets and engage in "belligerent reprisal." Rockets are fired from densely populated areas, precisely in order to force Israel into choosing between allowing its own civilians to continue to be killed by its inaction, or taking actions that risk hurting some Palestinian civilians. Either way Hamas wins. If Israel does nothing, then Hamas accuses it of impotence. If it does something, then Hamas accuses it of disproportionality. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran's Election Choice: Military or Military - Amir Taheri
    In Friday's Iranian parliamentary elections, the issue is whether the mullahs will lose yet more control to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and, if so, which faction of the guards will emerge triumphant, the radicals or the realists. If all goes according to script, a coalition of three blocs led by retired IRGC officers will win the largest number of seats with the blessing of Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei, who is reportedly unhappy about President Ahmadinejad's attempts at building an independent popular base for himself. (Times-UK)
        See also All Ahmadinejad Has Done Is Create Poverty - Martin Fletcher and Ramita Navai
    Mokhtar, an Iranian laborer, voted enthusiastically for President Ahmadinejad in 2005 because he had pledged to help the poor. Now, he says, he feels so disillusioned that he will never vote again. Work is scarce. The rent on his one-bedroom flat has jumped from $120 to $180 a month. Food prices are soaring. He recalls Ahmadinejad's pledge to put oil money on every Iranian's dinner table. "It was precisely for that slogan that I voted for him but it didn't happen," he says. "All he's done is create inflation and poverty." A diplomat said Ahmadinejad "has a well-intentioned desire to redistribute wealth but has gone about it in ridiculous ways that have ruined the economy." (Times-UK)
  • The Care and Feeding of an Angry Territory - Jonah Goldberg
    A densely populated, profoundly poor, and intensely angry territory, the Gaza Strip is run by Hamas, a band of thugs proudly committed to the destruction of their neighbor, Israel. Hamas, according to the New York Times, is mimicking Hizbullah, the Lebanese terrorist organization funded by Iran and Syria. Hizbullah masterminded the practice of launching rockets into Israel from civilian areas and then screaming "war crime" whenever Israel responded to the attacks. (National Review)
  • Among the Palestinian Old Guard, Aging and Sidelined, Defiance Mixes with Regrets
    Looking back to the UN partition plan of 1947, which envisaged Jewish and Palestinian states living side by side in peace, Nayef Hawatmeh comes to the painful acknowledgment of an opportunity missed. "After 60 years, we are struggling for what we could have had in 1947," laments the leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. "We have missed many historic opportunities." In a year when Israel is celebrating its 60th birthday, Hawatmeh and his generation of leaders are still in exile and fading from the scene. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
  • Slump in Gulf Tourists Hits Heart of Lebanon's Economy
    Lebanon's political crisis has turned into an economic nightmare for its vital tourist industry. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain, whose citizens often spend as much of their money on Lebanon's ski slopes in the winter as they do on its beaches in the summer, have advised their citizens not to travel to the country due to the political crisis. Riyadh - one of Lebanon's main bankrollers - recently instructed its citizens already in Lebanon to leave the country "if possible." For a tourist industry already reeling from the February 2005 assassination of former prime minister Hariri and Israel's war on Hizbullah in the summer 2006, such warnings are the kiss of death.
        A long-running sit-in staged by the Hizbullah-led opposition in Beirut's downtown has left the usually vibrant area deserted, forcing most of its shops and restaurants out of business. Pierre Ashkar, president of Lebanon's hotel owners' syndicate, said that during normal times, at least 60% of hotel guests come from the Gulf, but that occupancy rates had dropped by half over the past two years. (AFP)
  • Integrating Israel into the Middle East - Masri Feki
    Some Arab countries recognize the Jewish state, accepting it as an accomplished fact and not as a natural and legitimate regional component. Real lasting peace will come the day Israel's neighbors recognize that the Jewish people are on this land de jure, they are not just there de facto. Pan-Arabism is in ruins because it did not take into account the diversity of the region, the specificities of its various identities and the communitarian preoccupations of its minorities.
        Like pan-Arabism, pan-Islamism is an exclusivist ideology. By rejecting the modern conception of citizenship, it rejects the idea of non-Muslim civilian participation. Absolutist by nature, its discourse excludes non-Muslims, which explains why the flame of pan-Arabism was often borne by Christian Arabs, uneasy about the hegemonic designs of political Islam. Non-Muslim Arabs (Christian Arabs, Druze, etc.), excluded from the pan-Islamic club, still have an honorable place within pan-Arabism. And non-Arab Muslims (Turks, Iranians, Kurds), excluded from the pan-Arab club, can still join pan-Islamism. But the Israelis, being neither Arabs nor Muslims, are doubly a minority.
        The Jewish state is not an intruder in the Middle East. It is the extension and the representative of one of the most ancient civilizations of this part of the world. Everything links Israel to this region: geography, history, culture but also religion and language. The Jewish religion is the primary theological reference and the very foundation of Islam and Eastern Christianity. Hebrew and Arabic are as close to each other as two languages of Latin origin. The author is an Egyptian writer. (Turkish Daily News)
  • Observations:

    A Skewed Process - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)

    • Israel is reportedly bracing for a "skewed" report from Lt.-Gen. William Fraser on Israeli and Palestinian implementation of their Roadmap obligations. What is likely "skewed," however, is the whole U.S. approach to achieving Arab-Israeli peace. Since the government recently announced it would expand a settlement inside the security barrier near Jerusalem, Israel expects to be criticized in the Fraser report. The problem with this approach is that there is no symmetry between settlements and terrorism, on either the moral or strategic levels. It is a moral travesty that building homes is compared to murdering innocents.
    • But even if settlement expansion can be seen as problematic, it makes little sense to treat all settlements equally, as if there were no difference between expanding existing towns that are contiguous with Israel and inside the security barrier, and settlements situated amidst the Palestinian population. A clear distinction should be made over settlements that are entirely consistent with a two-state solution.
    • But all this is trivial compared to the macro problem, which is that the U.S. makes no distinction between the respective distances Israel and the Palestinians are from making the two-state approach work. Since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, the Israeli public and political system have moved dramatically to a broad consensus that regards a Palestinian state as acceptable, even a necessity. At the same time, the Palestinians have, if anything, become more radicalized since 1993, and have not begun to prepare themselves for a two-state approach, let alone embrace it.
    • Almost no Palestinian will accept that the Jewish people have any national or historical rights to a state alongside Palestine. This is what prevents peace. Pretending that Israelis and Palestinians are equally to blame for the lack of peace is not just misleading and unfair, it is actively harmful to the cause of peace, because it lets those who are obstructing peace off the hook.

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