Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Israel to Transfer Security in Northern West Bank to Palestinians - Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
"Dead Gaza Cancer Patient" Alive and Kicking - Meital Yasur-Beit Or (Ynet News)
Three Rochester Yemenis Tried to Send Money to Hizbullah - Michael Zeigler (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)
Sierra Leone-Israel Friendship - Abdul Karim (Concord Times-Sierra Leone)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
President Bush on Wednesday opened a celebratory visit to Israel. "We consider the Holy Land a very special place, and we consider the Israeli people our close friends," Bush said. "Our two nations both faced great challenges when they were founded," he said. "And our two nations have both relied on the same principles to help us succeed. We built strong democracies to protect the freedoms given to us by an almighty God...and we built an enduring alliance to confront terrorists and tyrants." "Good to be back," Bush told a member of the welcoming delegation, referring to his visit to Israel in January. (AP/WTOP)
Tony Blair Tuesday unveiled an economic deal between Israel and the Palestinians which he claimed would boost the West Bank. He said Israel had agreed to remove trade and travel barriers for Palestinians in order to allow the territory to grow economically ahead of a final peace deal. Blair said Israel would take away four of its military checkpoints and cede increased security authority in and around the town of Jenin to make way for a business park. The Israeli army had been reluctant to dismantle the checkpoints for fear of suicide bombers being able to infiltrate into Israel and commit attacks. (Times-UK)
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says his government is taking legal advice on whether it will take Iran's president to the International Court of Justice for inciting violence against Israel. "We will take legal advice, which the attorney-general is currently doing, on whether there is a profitable way forward here through the appropriate international legal mechanisms and we'll study that advice carefully," he told Sky News. (AFP)
See also Referral of Iranian President Ahmadinejad on the Charge of Incitement to Commit Genocide (ICA/Jerusalem Center)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Although Egypt denies it, evidence is mounting that Cairo and Hamas recently reached an understanding to open the Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt regardless of the outcome of cease-fire negotiations. Israeli officials on Monday told Egypt's head of intelligence, General Omar Suleiman, during his visit to Israel that Jerusalem would not agree to a cease-fire unless substantial progress is made in negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit, the IDF soldier abducted by Hamas in June 2006. If Egypt reopens the crossing without Israel's consent, it would be violating an agreement it signed in November 2005. (Ha'aretz)
Yariv Katz knew his mother Shuli was dead when he saw blood spilling from her crumpled body after Monday's Palestinian rocket attack in Moshav Yesha on the Gaza border. The two had gone to Moshav Yesha to visit his aunt who was staying on the moshav with friends. Yariv had not understood that he was entering an area where Palestinian rockets regularly fell, since the rockets have not fallen on Kibbutz Gvar'am near Ashkelon, where both he and his mother lived, even though it is within rocket range. "If I had known that there would be Kassams I would not have gone there," he said.
Shuli and her husband Rafi were childhood sweethearts who were born in Israel, grew up on the kibbutz and married at age 20. Shuli worked for 35 years as a nurse, and they had four children and five grandchildren. The family had begun to organize a large party to celebrate her 70th birthday next month, Yariv said. "Instead of a party, we have a funeral." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Palestinians Aim Rockets at Ashkelon
Palestinians in Gaza fired two rockets on Tuesday evening that landed in the Ashkelon Beach region. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The next president is going to be a cold-war president - but this cold war is with Iran. That is the real umbrella story in the Middle East today - the struggle for influence across the region, with America and its Sunni Arab allies (and Israel) versus Iran, Syria and their non-state allies, Hamas and Hizbullah. For now, Team America is losing on just about every front. How come? The short answer is that Iran is smart and ruthless, America is dumb and weak, and the Sunni Arab world is feckless and divided.
The outrage of the week is the Iranian-Syrian-Hizbullah attempt to take over Lebanon. The Shiite militia Hizbullah emerged supposedly to protect Lebanon from Israel. Having done that, it has now turned around and sold Lebanon to Syria and Iran. All of this is part of what Ehud Yaari, one of Israel's best Middle East watchers, calls "Pax Iranica."
In the Jerusalem Report, Yaari pointed out the web of influence that Iran has built around the Middle East - including building up Hizbullah into a force - with 40,000 rockets - that can control Lebanon and threaten Israel should it think of striking Tehran, and its ability to strengthen Hamas in Gaza and block any U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace. "Tehran has created a situation in which anyone who wants to attack its atomic facilities will have to take into account that this will lead to bitter fighting" on the Lebanese, Palestinian, Iraqi and Persian Gulf fronts, Yaari noted. That is a sophisticated strategy of deterrence. (New York Times)
The Hizbullah and Amal victory, which Iran is presenting as its own victory over the U.S. in the region, will step up pressure for regime change in Lebanon. Such a change, when it comes, will have a critical impact on the security of the Arab regimes allied with the U.S. and on the security of Israel, which will then face Iranian forces on its northern border as well as the possibility of a unified front stretching from Iran through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon, all the way to the Mediterranean. At the same time, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have continued their media attacks on Hizbullah, Syria, and Iran. (MEMRI)
Israel at 60
The British Mandate in Palestine came to an end on May 14, 1948 - in Tel Aviv, Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the State of Israel in the territory the United Nations designated as the Jewish homeland. After nearly two millennia, the Jewish people had come home. Arab armies attacked within hours, with one leader promising to "sweep the Jews into the sea." Against unbelievable odds, Israel prevailed. After winning two more wars of survival - in 1967 and 1973 - the Jewish state would build a durable, prosperous democracy.
Israel is not just a fortress against anti-Jewish killers. It is a raft of modernity and material progress in a regional sea of intolerance and militaristic sectarianism. Israel, one of the United States' strongest allies, has no oil reserves, but it has turned itself into a model of diverse economic development unmatched by its neighbors. (Dallas Morning News)
On a tiny strip of land narrower at its narrowest point than many American townships, Israel has built a modern economy with a GDP per capita within striking distance of the European Union average. Israel also enjoys a birth rate twice that of the European average. The Jews lived in Europe for centuries, but without ever being accepted as "European": To enjoy their belated acceptance as Europeans, they had to move to the Middle East.
Unlike much of the rest of the West, Israel has the advantage of living on the front line of the existential challenge. All the reasons for Israel's predicted doom apply to Europe with bells on. "I have a premonition that will not leave me," wrote Eric Hoffer, America's great longshoreman philosopher, after the '67 war. "As it goes with Israel, so will it go with all of us." (National Review)
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