Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Syria's Intelligence Operates Through Hizbullah Lebanon Communications (Naharnet-Lebanon)
Canadian Prime Minister Condemns Criticism of Israel as Thinly-Veiled Anti-Semitism - Mike De Souza (Ottawa Citizen-Canada)
Israel Sending Aid to Myanmar After Cyclone - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
Saudi Prince Gives UK Universities £16M for Study of Islam - Richard Garner (Independent-UK)
Poll: Arabs in Israel Identify as Arabs First, Palestinians Second - Kobi Nahshoni (Ynet News)
Car of Bedouin Woman Who Lit Independence Day Torch Set on Fire - Yonat Atlas (Ynet News)
Jewish Astronaut Sends Israel Greetings from Space - Steven Gutkin (AP)
Israeli Agent Trains Police in Terrorism Questioning - Jon Gambrell (AP/Fayetteville [Ark.] Morning News)
Israel's Contribution to Britain - Stephen Pollard (Spectator-UK)
Home, Home on the Golan Heights for Israeli Cowboys - Joel Greenberg (Chicago Tribune)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Shiite opposition gunmen seized control of several Beirut neighborhoods from Sunni foes loyal to the U.S.-backed government on Friday, in street battles that left 11 dead, security officials said. The TV station of top Sunni politician Saad Hariri's Future Movement was forced off the air, and the offices of the affiliated al-Mustaqbal newspaper were set ablaze. Shiite gunmen roamed unopposed through the deserted streets of neighborhoods once dominated by supporters of Hariri and the government. Dozens of cars and shops had been damaged by the fighting.
About 100 Hizbullah gunmen in camouflage uniforms and black flak jackets marched down the Muslim sector's main commercial Hamra Street. Dozens of fighters from the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, a Hizbullah ally, also appeared in the streets off Hamra, some masked and carrying rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The army has largely avoided getting involved in the street battles. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
See also Hizbullah "Ready for War" with the Lebanese Government - Damien McElroy (Telegraph-UK)
See also U.S., Saudi Arabia, Egypt Blame Hizbullah
The White House on Thursday demanded that Lebanon's Hizbullah "stop their disruptive activities" as fierce gun battles raged in Beirut. "Hizbullah needs to make a choice: Be a terrorist organization or be a political party, but quit trying to be both. They need to stop their disruptive activities now," said U.S. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
President Bush said Wednesday he was extending U.S. sanctions against Syria, continuing a freeze on Syrian assets and the ban on the export of certain goods to Syria. "I took these actions to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States constituted by the actions of the Government of Syria," Bush said. He accused Syria of "supporting terrorism...pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programs including the recent revelation of illicit nuclear cooperation with North Korea." He also said Syria was "undermining U.S. and international efforts with respect to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq." (AFP)
From an interview this week with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert:
Q: It's widely believed in the U.S. that after the latest National Intelligence Estimate, the U.S. will not act.
Olmert: "We have a different opinion...and we haven't changed our attitude."
Q: You mean that you think [Iran's nuclear program] is closer to being usable?
Olmert: "The main point of the NIE, the estimate, was that there is no evidence that the Iranians restarted their [covert] military program since it was closed in 2003....Based on the information we have, the military program continues and has never been stopped. If this program continues, at some point they will be in possession of a nuclear weapon." (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel and the Palestinians need to "draw a map and get it done," according to U.S. Secretary of State Rice, using language conveying a degree of impatience a week before President George W. Bush is scheduled to visit the region. The U.S. president, accompanied by Laura Bush, will arrive in Israel on Wednesday. U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said Bush "will reaffirm his personal commitment to peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and encourage continuing efforts for a two-state solution, a democratic Israel and a democratic Palestine living side-by-side in peace and security." (Jerusalem Post)
Hamas is targeting the border crossings between Israel and Gaza in order to prevent the transfer of humanitarian aid to the civilian population, thus cynically depriving its own population and causing an artificial humanitarian crisis in order that international pressure will be placed on Israel. On May 4, Israel Radio reported that Hamas was in fact holding the civilian population hostage. Hamas has nationalized all the fuel supplies transferred by Israel for the civilian population, and for operation of the electricity plant, and is using them solely for its own purposes. In addition, food sent by the donor countries is allocated in accordance with Hamas instructions. Of the thousands of tons of grains, food and fuel that were transferred, none was able to reach the civilian population. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Palestinians in Gaza fired three rockets at Israel on Thursday. One rocket landed inside Gaza. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
It appears that President Bush and Secretary of State Rice have decided to ramp up the pressure on Israel to make life-and-death concessions to Mahmoud Abbas, a man whose serial incompetence got him run out of Gaza by Hamas, and whose own security record is shaky at best. Rice and other U.S. diplomats pronounce themselves dissatisfied over the pace at which Israel has been taking down anti-terror security roadblocks in the West Bank, and the secretary is dispatching observers to various West Bank locations in order to satisfy herself that Israel is jettisoning them quickly enough.
While reducing limitations on Palestinian freedom of movement is a commendable goal, it needs to be balanced against the real danger that doing this could make it easier for terrorists to come and go without detection. These checkpoints are part of a layered system of security that has enabled Israel to dramatically reduce the number of suicide attacks directed at its civilian population in places like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa during the past five years.
Sixty years ago, Secretary of State George Marshall waged a last-gasp bureaucratic battle in an unsuccessful effort to dissuade President Truman from recognizing the coming State of Israel. Fast forward to today, and Secretary Rice seems determined to pound the Israeli government into a series of untenable security concessions. It's a State Department tradition that no one should be proud of. (Washington Times)
While Palestinians may see themselves as the victims of the Zionist movement's successful establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, the reasons for their historical failure should be sought elsewhere: in the inability of the Palestinian national movement to create the political and social institutional framework that is the necessary foundation for nation-building. The history of national movements teaches us that national consciousness is not enough: Movements that could not create the institutional system vital for their success failed.
Even now the Palestinians are inclined to blame Israel, the Americans, the international community; but the real, essential responsibility ultimately lies with the Palestinians themselves. Elections were held, Hamas won, Fatah lost - and both groups have been unable to sustain a framework whose legitimacy is accepted by both sides. All pan-Arabic attempts to unite them, such as the Mecca agreement brokered by Saudi Arabia last year, have failed in the face of this reality. If the Palestinians do not find a way to extricate themselves from their harsh historical reality, they ultimately will not have a state. The writer, professor of political science at Hebrew University, served as director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Ha'aretz)
During the 1990s, as the Oslo peace process gained momentum, I was cautiously optimistic about the prospects for peace. But at the same time I was scouring the just opened archives of the Haganah and the IDF. Studying the roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict - in particular the pronouncements and positions of the Palestinian leadership from the 1920s on - left me chilled. Their rejection of any compromise was deep-seated, consensual and consistent.
The Palestinian Arab "street" chanted "Idbah al-Yahud" (slaughter the Jews). So when Arafat rejected Israeli Prime Minister Barak's two-state proposals at Camp David in July 2000, my surprise was not excessive. Arafat's rejectionism and the election of Hamas persuaded me that no two-state solution was in the offing and that the Palestinians, as a people, were bent, as they had been throughout their history, on "recovering" all of Palestine. It has become clear to me that from its start the struggle against the Zionist enterprise wasn't merely a national conflict between two peoples over a piece of territory, but also a religious crusade against an infidel usurper.
Those currently riding high in the region - like Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Meshaal, Hizbullah's Hassan Nasrallah and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - are true believers who are convinced it is every Muslim's duty to extirpate the "Zionist entity" from the sacred soil of the Middle East. (Newsweek)
I was a journalist with the Rand Daily Mail in Johannesburg for 26 years, reporting and commenting on apartheid's evils. Labeling Israeli practices as apartheid is wrong because the situations are entirely different. Apartheid in South Africa, from 1948 until 1994, was a unique system of racial separation and discrimination, institutionalized by law and custom in every aspect of everyday life, imposed by the white minority and based on a belief in white racial superiority. Skin color decreed inferior status.
I am among the Israelis who want two states, side by side in peace: That's an agreed-upon separation, not apartheid. Whereas the intention with apartheid South Africa was to force a change in regime, it is obvious that critics of Israel include those who seek the destruction of the state itself. (Ha'aretz)
It is not about land. Israel is a hangnail-sized piece of land with no oil and no resources other than those produced by the sweat and brains of its inhabitants. Surrounding this minuscule plot, demonstrably the Jews' ancient homeland, are 22 Arab countries covering a tenth of the world's land mass, 640 times more land than Israel occupies. It is about Arabs' intolerance for any other people in their midst. In particular Jews. Instead of defending Israel's right to exist, the court of public opinion should be prosecuting the Arabs' crime of relentless hate speech and incitement to violence. (National Post-Canada)
Israel at 60
The Arab imagination could never reconcile itself to the permanence of the Jewish state. No victories could secure this state the acceptance of its neighbors. It was a fluke of history, they believed. Modern-day Arabs took to the history of the Crusader Kingdom that had lasted for two centuries (1099-1291), then pulled up stakes and left its castles and ruins. This, too, shall pass, it was believed.
In its short history, Israel has held up a mirror for the Arabs, who have not liked what they have seen. Although outgunned and outnumbered, a mere 650,000 Jews prevailed over 40 million Arabs. In their fantasy, the Arabs were a martial people, while the Jews had been timid souls. These were different Jews, the Zionists, steeled by the horror of the Holocaust, who would hold their own in the field of battle. On a barren, small piece of land, the Zionists built a durable state. It was military but not militaristic. Under conditions of a long siege, it maintained a deep and abiding democratic ethos.
Israel's 60th anniversary suggests what might have been. The Zionists opted for moderation and rescue; they would take a state, said their legendary leader Chaim Weizmann, even if it were the size of a tablecloth. The Palestinians held out for the whole thing. This month's festivities marking the return of the Jews to the world of nations should be an occasion for some honest Palestinian (and Arab) retrospection on how Arab history has played out in the intervening decades. (U.S. News)
As Israel celebrates its 60th birthday, there's a remarkable spirit and courage here. Despite the rising tide of Islamism that surrounds the country and the constant threats to destroy it, Israel bustles with energy, commerce, science and the arts. And, most of the time, its people display a convinced optimism that Israel is here to stay.
Hamas, which controls Gaza, is open about its intention to destroy Israel, however long it takes. And it, like its ally Hizbullah in south Lebanon, has adopted a military strategy that's strikingly effective in this age of television and the Internet: launching rockets at Israeli cities from places inhabited by civilians, provoking Israelis to strike back, and waiting for images of the resulting casualties to inflame world opinion. If Israeli leaders don't strike back, they fail to protect their own people; if they do, they receive global condemnation for using disproportionate force. And the threats from Hamas and Hizbullah pale in the face of the possibility that, after a peace deal, the West Bank, lying alongside the length of Israel's population centers, will become a launching pad for still more rockets.
The writer, a psychiatrist, is the Yitzhak Rabin memorial professor of international affairs, ethics and human behavior at George Washington University and former director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. (Baltimore Sun)
The rebirth of the Jewish state, against extreme odds, was perhaps the greatest victory of the human spirit over adversity. On the very day it declared independence, Israel was invaded by seven Arab armies while it had no regular army, air force or navy - with all the major powers - sadly including the U.S., clamping an arms embargo on a people fighting for its life. In spite of it all, Israel did survive. Indeed, it is still fighting, as its enemies (presently led by a genocidal Iran that is quickly going nuclear) still dream that maybe "next time" they will be successful in exterminating the Jewish state.
Zionist pioneers turned the land (which, as a result of Arab and Ottoman neglect and deforestation, had become desert and swamps) into the flourishing garden it once was. Israel also successfully absorbed and integrated millions of often-destitute newcomers, including 1 million people from the former Soviet Union and hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries (in contrast to the much smaller number of Arab refugees who left Israel and are still languishing in ramshackle camps in Arab countries).
The State of Israel reborn is seen by most Americans not only as justice done and as the realization of a dream, but also as the embodiment of a country which shares their values and ideals. The writer served as Israel's ambassador to the United States (1990-93 and 1998-2000) and is president of the Israel America Chamber of Commerce. (Washington Times)
1948, Israel, and the Palestinians - The True Story - Efraim Karsh (Commentary)
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