Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Rice Gets Congress to Ease Up on Palestinians - Bay Fang (Baltimore Sun)
Rice: Saudis Failed to Combat Extremism - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
Israel's War on Terror in the West Bank - Tim McGirk
Fatah Military Wing Tells Abbas to Fire Fayad, Band with Hamas - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Hamas MP: We Used Women and Children as Human Shields (MEMRI-TV)
Palestinian Children from Gaza Undergo Heart Surgery in Israel (AP/International Herald Tribune)
Study: Young American Jews Are Not Detached from Israel - Shmuel Rosner (Ha'aretz)
Online Anti-Semitism 2.0. "Social Anti-Semitism" on the "Social Web" - Andre Oboler (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
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)
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 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)
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)
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 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. 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)
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)
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):
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
A Skewed Process - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)
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