Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 1, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Mofaz: Iran Could Go Nuclear in a Year (Jerusalem Post)
    Iran has taken command of its nuclear technology and could have an atomic bomb in a year, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz was quoted as saying Wednesday, citing Israeli intelligence.
    According to Israel Channel 10 television, Mofaz made the comments during talks with U.S. officials in Washington.

Inquiry Clears Israeli Army in Death of Gaza Children, Mother (AFP)
    A military probe shows the death of a woman and her four young children in Gaza this week was caused by explosives carried by a Palestinian militant and not by an Israeli missile, Israel Radio reported on Wednesday.
    The report says an aircraft fired a missile at four Palestinian gunmen who were close to the Beit Hanun house where the family was killed, and that there were two explosions.
    The second explosion was caused by explosives the militants were carrying and led to the death of Meissar Abu Maateq and four of her children.

Durban Won't Host Racism Conference (Times-South Africa)
    Durban will not be hosting a 2009 world racism conference, widely regarded as the sequel to a 2001 conference, the South African Foreign Affairs Department said Tuesday.
    Spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said, "I think people thought it would be because it's called the Durban Review Conference."
    The Daily News reported that the conference was planned for a European city in April or May.
    See also Discussions of Anti-Semitism Silenced at Durban II Preparatory Meeting - Anne Bayefsky (National Review)
    At the Durban II preparatory meeting in Geneva, the Egyptian representative coined a new word: "Durbanophobia."
    We already know about the worldwide plot hatched in the Oval Office, Downing Street, and the basements of evil Danish publishers, called Islamophobia. Now there is a plot against a harmless group of diplomats who just want to hang out together and shmooze about human rights.
    Durban II is not just another UN opportunity to distort, fabricate, and confuse. The assault on the actual protection of human rights has left the station and is now barreling along with UN money on UN premises.

Canadian Postal Workers Back Israel Boycott - Sheri Shefa (Canadian Jewish News)
    The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) passed a resolution at its April convention in support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel.

Tourists Die in Sinai Bus Crash (BBC News)
    Nine people have been killed and 28 injured after a tourist bus crashed and caught fire in Egypt's Sinai peninsula.
    Russians, Egyptians, Britons, Canadians, Italians, Romanians and Ukrainians are said to be among the casualties - many of them badly burned.

Useful Reference:

130,000 Images Online in Yad Vashem Photo Archives (Yad Vashem)
    Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, has made available online 130,000 images from its photo archives.
    The images include photographs taken in the ghettos, during the deportations, images that illustrate slave labor, the camps, liberation and more.
    "We are hoping that the public will join us in our ongoing efforts to decipher the pictures and identify the people in them," said Dr. Haim Gertner, Director of the Yad Vashem Archives.

Key Links 
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Militants, But Not Israel, Back Hamas Truce Plan - Ashraf Khalil
    Several Palestinian militant groups signed off Wednesday on a temporary truce proposal, but a cease-fire appears unlikely. Israeli officials say it would merely be a pretext for Hamas and other militant groups to rearm for a new round of hostilities. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said Wednesday that if the Gaza militant groups stopped launching rockets at southern Israeli cities and halted weapons smuggling over the Egyptian border, Israeli army attacks would end automatically. The prospect of reopening the Rafah crossing and ending Gaza's isolation isn't yet an option, Regev said, but a period of mutual calm "could create a positive dynamic." (Los Angeles Times/Minneapolis Star Tribune)
        See also Egypt Rewards Hamas for Accepting Truce Proposal - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Twelve Palestinian factions have accepted Cairo's proposal for a temporary truce with Israel, beginning in Gaza, Egypt announced on Wednesday. As a reward for Hamas' acceptance of the Egyptian truce proposal, Egyptian authorities released Ramzi Hamid, 35, a senior commander of Hamas' armed wing, who was held in an Egyptian prison for four years. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S.: Iran Remains Most Active State Sponsor of Terrorism
    Iran remained the world's "most active" state sponsor of terrorism as it tries to build regional influence and drive the U.S. from the Middle East, a U.S. government report said Wednesday. Iran provides aid to Palestinian "terrorist" groups like Hamas, the Lebanese movement Hizbullah, "Iraq-based militants," and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. The State Department report added that al-Qaeda and associates "remained the greatest terrorist threat" to the U.S. and its partners, especially now that it has a "safe haven" in Pakistan's northwestern tribal areas. (AFP)
        See also Country Reports on Terrorism 2007 (U.S. State Department)
  • Israel Treats Thousands of Sick Gazans - Raffi Berg
    Ahmed was first taken to Gaza's Shifa Hospital, but his only hope for life-saving treatment lay in Israel. "We got our permit from the Israeli authorities within 24 hours," said Ahmed's father, Muhammad. In 2007, more than 7,000 Palestinians were allowed into Israel for medical treatment - a 50% increase on 2006. "We treat hundreds of Gazans here each year," says Dr. Ron Lobel, deputy director of Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. He says there are some five to 15 Gazan patients there at any given time. Many cases are treated by Israel for free.
        "The Israeli policy is to facilitate all the medical needs for Gaza," said Maj. Peter Lerner, spokesman for the Coordinator of Activities in the Territories. However, he says militants have repeatedly tried to exploit Israel's humanitarian policy to carry out attacks inside Israel. In June 2007, two Palestinian women who had received medical entry permits were arrested after it was discovered they planned to blow themselves up in an Israeli hospital. (BBC News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Bush Will Not Pressure Israel on Core Issues - Barak Ravid
    Senior U.S. administration officials stressed during meetings last week in Washington with Mahmoud Abbas that President George Bush does not intend at this stage to present guidelines of his own for resolving the core issues of an Israeli-Palestinian permanent peace agreement. The American message was that the administration is pleased with the pace of negotiations and does not intend to intervene with guidelines. Officials who met with Abbas in Washington also said Abbas had not brought any political proposal of his own regarding the core issues. "It was as though he had arrived without a real agenda and without preparing," one official said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Prime Minister Visits Jordan - Roni Sofer
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert landed in Amman on Wednesday afternoon for discussions with King Abdullah II of Jordan. "The meeting was intended to keep the Jordanian king abreast of the talks with the Palestinians, in the hopes Jordan will use its capabilities to further them," an Israeli official said. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Hits Palestinian Rocket Factory - Yaakov Katz and Yaakov Lappin
    On Wednesday, the Israel Air Force bombed a rocket-manufacturing plant in Rafah in Gaza, killing one person and wounding three. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Report: Islamic Jihad Commander Was Headmaster at UN School
    The person killed in the Rafah airstrike was the deputy commander of the Islamic Jihad military wing, according to Palestinian sources, who said he also served as a school headmaster at a United Nations Relief and Works Agency school. (CNN)
  • Palestinian Rockets Hit Sderot During Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets that landed near Sderot Wednesday night shortly after the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony began in the town's sheltered cultural center. Some 15 rockets were fired at Israel on Wednesday. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Holocaust Heroes' and Martyrs' Remembrance Day 2008 - President Shimon Peres
    Six million Jews, a third of the entire Jewish people, were annihilated simply because they were Jewish. But we did rise again, and gathered in our people. We returned to our Homeland, we resurrected our language, and we opened our gates to Holocaust survivors. We fended off seven military attacks and two intifadas designed to defeat us.
        If the countries of the world had not delayed, and would have identified the Nazi threat in time, they could have prevented Hitler from murdering tens of millions of people. (President of Israel Spokesperson's Office)
  • Martin Luther King Jr. and the Jews - Clarence B. Jones
    I was Martin Luther King Jr.'s lawyer and one of his closest advisers, and I can say with absolute certainty that Martin abhorred anti-Semitism in all its forms, including anti-Zionism. "There isn't anyone in this country more likely to understand our struggle than Jews," Martin told me. "Whatever progress we've made so far as a people, their support has been essential." Martin was disheartened that so many blacks could be swayed by Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam and other black separatists, rejecting his message of nonviolence.
        When American cities were burning in the summers before he died, Martin listened to any number of young blacks holding matches blame Jewish landlords or Jewish store-owners in the inner city - no matter that Jews were a minority of landlords and store owners. He asked them, Who else might have bought the buildings that we lived in and rented us apartments? Who else was willing to come in and open stores and sell us the things we needed? The writer is co-author, with Joel Engel, of What Would Martin Say (Harper, 2008), from which this was adapted. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Holocaust Trivialization - Manfred Gerstenfeld
    Holocaust trivialization is one of the categories of Holocaust distortion. It is a tool for some ideologically or politically motivated activists to metaphorically compare phenomena they oppose to the industrial-scale destruction of the Jews in World War II by Germans, Austrians, and their allies. Examples include environmental problems, abortion, the slaughter of animals, the use of tobacco, and human rights abuses.
        Those abusing Holocaust comparisons for their ideological purposes want to exaggerate the evil nature of a phenomenon they condemn. With the Holocaust symbolizing absolute evil for many, they use it as an instrument for their purposes. Holocaust trivialization manifests itself partly in the growing use of language concerning a large number of disparate events that have no connection to genocide. Other trivializers operate out of commercial or artistic considerations. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Holocaust Remembrance Day's Torch-Lighters (Jerusalem Post)

    Six Holocaust survivors lit torches at the state ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on Wednesday night:

    • Menachem Katz was born in 1925 in Berezhany, Poland. Together with 30 other people, Katz's family hid in a secret room in the ghetto and escaped deportation. Later, Katz hid with his mother and younger sister at the home of a Polish farmer. Katz studied architecture at the Technion in Haifa, won many prizes in his field, and designed the museum at Kibbutz Baram in memory of the Jews of Berezhany.
    • Noemi Shadmi, nee Spitz, was born in 1931 in Debrecen, Hungary. In 1944, Shadmi's father and older brother were taken to a forced labor camp and murdered. Later her mother was taken away at gunpoint. She survived in the Budapest ghetto. In 1948, Shadmi enlisted in the IDF, serving as a combat officer and receiving an award for bravery. She served in the Israel Police for 20 years, retiring with the rank of commander.
    • Zvi Unger was born in 1929 in Sosnowiec, Poland. In September 1943, Unger was sent to Birkenau. When he got off the train, an inmate whispered to him that he should say he was 18. Thus he survived the selection, and later many others by hiding under benches in the work camp. In 1948 he fought in the War of Independence and in 1949 he was among the founders of Kibbutz Malkiya on the Lebanese border, where he still makes his home.
    • Ester Samuel-Cahn was born in 1933 in Oslo, Norway. In the summer of 1942, her father, Rabbi Yitzhak Julius Samuel, the rabbi of Norwegian Jewry, was arrested and later murdered in Auschwitz. In November 1942, a member of the Norwegian underground and friend of the family warned them of the impending arrest of the Jews, and she was hidden with Christian neighbors. The family later fled to Sweden. In 2004, Prof. Ester Samuel-Cahn was awarded the Israel Prize in Statistics.
    • Michael Maor was born in 1933 in Halberstadt, Germany. After the Nazis' rise to power, his parents fled to Yugoslavia. The family lived in Italian-held territory and in an Italian concentration camp. After the Italian surrender to the Allies in September 1943, Maor's family fled to an area controlled by partisans. In June 1945, he arrived in Israel and later served as a paratrooper and officer. He established the intelligence branch of the Border Police, serving as their national intelligence officer for 15 years.
    • Meir Brand was born in 1936 in Bochnia, Poland. In August 1943, sensing the end of the ghetto, his parents decided to smuggle him out. Arriving alone in Budapest, he joined the refugees and orphans who slept under bridges by night; by day, they collected food scraps from the markets. In August 1945, he emigrated to Israel and participated in Israel's wars, from the Sinai Campaign to the First Lebanon War. Brand studied agricultural economics and later managed a division of the Tnuva food products cooperative.

          See also My Father's Will - Naphtali Lau-Lavie
      Yes, there is bloodshed all over the world; it has existed since Cain murdered Abel. But the terms "Holocaust" and "genocide," in the sense of the industrial-scale and systematic destruction of an entire people, are specific to us, the Jews. My father's life was taken at Treblinka. At our last meeting, he said: "If you manage to get out of here, go and return to the land from which we were expelled, because only there will the Jewish people be itself and become strong enough to prevent such tragedies." The writer is a former Israeli diplomat and former consul-general in New York. (Jerusalem Post)

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