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 Loosen Limits on Gaza Scholars - Ethan Bronner
(New York Times)
Militant West Bank Bastion Now Open to Visits from Israeli Arabs - Josh Mitnick
(Christian Science Monitor)
Turkey and Iran Unite to Attack Kurdish Rebels (AP/New York Times)
New York City's Salute to Israel Parade - Marissa Gross (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Israel Leads the Way to Combat Effects of Global Warming - Amir Mizroch (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that the Israelis were insisting that negotiations with Syria restart from scratch, canceling the Israeli concessions proposed in previous talks in the 1990s. Assad also dismissed Israeli demands that Syria give up its alliance with Iran as a condition for peace. Israeli officials have said a peace deal depends on Syria distancing itself from Iran and severing ties with Hizbullah and Hamas. "Should we establish relations with Israel and lose our relations with the world?" he asked. (Reuters)
Tony Blair, representing the Quartet of international powers, on Thursday ruled out talks with Hamas until it recognizes Israel and stops firing rockets. Soon to mark a year as Middle East envoy, Blair defended the policy of boycotting the Islamist movement until it ended violence, recognized Israel and abided by existing peace agreements. "The Quartet principles are very clear. Without Hamas accepting them it is difficult to see how we can make progress," he said. (Guardian-UK)
See also Gaza Agency Working with Blair Seized by Hamas - Adam Entous and Nidal al-Mughrabi
Hamas has seized control of the Palestinian water agency that is spearheading Middle East envoy Tony Blair's signature project in Gaza - the North Gaza Sewage Treatment Works, Palestinian and Western officials said on Thursday. Rebhi al-Sheikh, deputy chairman of the Water Authority, said Hamas gunmen took over the main building at midday on Wednesday, seizing vehicles and keys to the building. He said the $60 million sewage treatment facility may now be in jeopardy, citing a U.S.-led boycott on financial dealings with Hamas. (Reuters)
Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, was banished to house arrest by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf after admitting in 2004 to selling nuclear weapons-making technology and know-how to Iran, North Korea and Libya. But last week, Khan, 72, publicly disavowed his confession, telling reporters that it was coerced. In a telephone interview with the Washington Post, Khan said, "I did whatever my government wanted me to do. I gave them whatever they wanted." Khan led Pakistan's nuclear development program under the government of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Khan said he would not identify his associates, but said others in the military and in Musharraf's government were culpable in the proliferation of nuclear technology. (Washington Post)
Iran is threatening to sue countries that it says have damaged its reputation and pushed to have UN Security Council involvement in its nuclear program. It is also accusing the U.S. of pressuring the International Atomic Energy Agency to base its latest probe of Iran's nuclear program on fake evidence suggesting Tehran has tried to make nuclear arms. The comments were made Thursday to the IAEA board by Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, Iran's chief delegate to the agency. (Washington Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
After his visit to the U.S., Prime Minister Olmert's aides said progress was made in forming a common view on Iran's nuclear program. The sources said there had also been progress in Israel's request for advanced F-35 warplanes, and the inclusion of the Israel Air Force in the USAF global early warning system against incoming ballistic missiles. (Ha'aretz)
The Israeli killed Thursday in a Palestinian mortar attack has been identified as Amnon Rosenberg, 51, of Kibbutz Nirim, who is survived by a wife, Tali, and three children - Dor, Eldar and Yarden. The mortar crashed into the Nirlat factory in Kibbutz Nir Oz, wounding four others. An Israeli airstrike targeted a gunman in the area from which the mortar attack was launched. (Ynet News)
See also Gillerman to UN: Israel Will Defend Itself - Yitzhak Benhorin
Israel's ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, launched a formal complaint to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Security Council over the Palestinian mortar shell barrage that killed Amnon Rosenberg. "Excellency, the killing of an Israeli civilian this morning and the attack on Nahal Oz yesterday underscore the malicious and murderous intentions of Hamas. It is a terrorist organization that has no compassion or concern for civilians, neither Israeli nor Palestinian. Hamas' commitment to violence and disregard for the Palestinian people are reminders that it has no interest in peace nor is it suited for engagement with the international community," wrote Gillerman.
"Israel will not stand idly by as its citizens are subjected to indiscriminate and lethal rocket attacks. Israel will defend itself, as any other nation would, in accordance with its inherent right under article 51 of the United Nations Charter." (Ynet News)
See also Israeli Defense Minister: Operation in Gaza "Closer than Ever" - Yonat Atlas
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday, "Military action is closer than ever; it appears likely there will be an operation prior to the calm (truce)." (Ynet News)
In contradiction to the common perception, Hizbullah has undergone a process of weakening in the past two years. In the 2006 war, Hizbullah leader Nasrallah was forced to utilize the arsenal he possessed and was able to enforce a tie on Israel, which he leveraged via the claim of "divine victory," while the war resulted in extensive civilian destruction, the killing of hundreds of Hizbullah fighters, and harsh accusations leveled against it. In the wake of Hizbullah military commander Imad Mugniyah's assassination, Nasrallah feared that Israel would do it again, and renewed negotiations with German mediators. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Some scholars see the shooting of Robert F. Kennedy as America's first taste of the political violence of the Middle East. "I thought of it as an act of violence motivated by hatred of Israel and of anybody who supported Israel," said Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor who had worked on Kennedy's campaign as a volunteer adviser. "It was in some ways the beginning of Islamic terrorism in America. It was the first shot. A lot of us didn't recognize it at the time." A year after Kennedy's death, former UN Ambassador Arthur Goldberg - for whom Dershowitz had clerked on the Supreme Court and with whom he shared a fervent Zionism - told Dershowitz that [the Palestinian assassin] Sirhan had identified Goldberg as a potential target, too.
A generation of revelations about Sirhan's motives - and a changed environment in which Americans have come to fear political violence with origins abroad - have drawn out his crime as a prelude to the kidnappings at the Munich Olympics, the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro, and the two assaults on the World Trade Center. "Even though it wasn't perceived at the time as an act of political terrorism, on a visceral level - on a subliminal level - the Kennedy assassination planted a seed of concern in Americans about the Palestinian issue and the issue of terrorism," said Michael Oren, a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. (Boston Globe)
"Hizbullah was set up, established, trained, armed, financed...wholly by Iran," said Paul Salem at the Carnegie Endowment think tank in Beirut. He says Hizbullah has 50,000 salaried employees and "a large modern army" - most of whom are paid with money from Tehran. "For Iran it's like an aircraft carrier. The U.S. parks aircraft carriers in the Gulf next to Iran; Iran parks its own aircraft carrier in Lebanon - Hizbullah - which can wreak great destruction on Israel at a moment's notice."
"The Iranian drive to gain more influence in Lebanon is to give them a direct influence without having to go through Syria," said Oussama Safa, director of the Lebanon Center for Policy Studies. "That's possibly in preparation for an eventual peace deal between Syria and Israel." (BBC News)
Why did the Arabs suffer such an overwhelming defeat in the Six-Day War that broke out on June 5, 1967? In the early hours of June 5, an Israeli attack destroyed 400 aircraft of the Egyptian Air Force in one go. During the war, Soviet weapons proved to be ineffective in Arab hands. During parades, or aerobatic performances, Egyptian pilots displayed their skills, but when it came to real fighting they forgot everything they had learned. They did not have combat experience.
Communications is another major reason for the Egyptian Army's defeat. At the lowest level, it had Soviet communication equipment, whereas the general headquarters and the command had bought communication systems in the West, and they were completely under U.S. control. Russian Oriental studies expert Anatoly Yegorin recalls: "At the X-hour, the Americans (their ships were located 14 miles away from Egypt in the Mediterranean) switched off all communication lines linking the general headquarters with the Sinai-based troops." In other words, the U.S. paralyzed the Egyptian forces at the right moment.
Egyptians made one more major mistake during the war. While retreating from the Sinai Peninsula, the Egyptian Army abandoned 450 functional tanks. Tank crews jumped out of their combat vehicles and ran to the Suez Canal in order to get to the other side. "They could have retreated in these tanks until they reached the canal," Yegorin said, "but they were getting out of tanks, leaving them, and running." As a result, in those six days, Israel lost 776 officers and men, and Egypt, more than 11,000. (RIA Novosti-Russia)
Between 1917 and 1947, thousands of Jews throughout the world left their homes and moved to Palestine because they heard that a future national home for the Jewish people was being established there. The "Mandate for Palestine," an historic League of Nations document, laid down the Jewish legal right to settle anywhere in western Palestine, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, an entitlement unaltered in international law. Fifty-one member countries - the entire League of Nations - unanimously declared on July 24, 1922: "Whereas recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country."
It is important to note that political rights to self-determination as a polity for Arabs were guaranteed by the same League of Nations in four other mandates - in Lebanon and Syria (the French Mandate), Iraq, and later Trans-Jordan [the British Mandate]. Any attempt to negate the Jewish people's right to Palestine - the Land of Israel - and to deny them access and control in the area designated for the Jewish people by the League of Nations, is a serious infringement of international law. (Myths and Facts)
Iran Sanctions Figure Large in AIPAC Lobbying - Ron Kampeas (JTA)
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