Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 24, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran to Get ICBMs Before Missile Shield Deployed - Damien McElroy (Telegraph-UK)
    America's proposed missile shield in Europe is unlikely to be operational before Iran acquires intercontinental weapons.
    Washington had set a 2013 deadline to finish the system, but defense experts believe the Pentagon will miss that date by up to five years.
    Meanwhile, experts believe Iran will be able to produce intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching Europe, and possibly America, by 2015.
    Some intelligence reports suggest Iran will have obtained the amount of uranium needed for a nuclear weapon much sooner.

PA Warns: Islamic Jihad Plans Attack to Ruin Truce - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Islamic Jihad in the West Bank is planning to carry out an attack on Israel to ruin the cease-fire agreement in Gaza, PA security officials said on Monday.

UNICEF to Spurn Israeli Donor - Benjamin Sarlin (New York Sun)
    Bowing to pressure from pro-Palestinian Arab activists in America, the United Nations Children's Fund is cutting ties with billionaire Israeli donor Lev Leviev, in response to allegations that one of his companies is financing the construction of settlements in the West Bank.
    Anne Bayefsky, senior editor of the watchdog group Eye on the UN, said: "UNICEF apparently has no problem taking money from thugs, dictators, and butchers the world over. But when it comes to money from Jews they suddenly have a problem. Let's call it what it is: It's racism."
    Bayefsky noted that the governments of several member nations that sit on UNICEF's executive board, including Burma and Zimbabwe, are widely regarded by the international community as serial violators of human rights.

Islamic Terror Cell Member in Los Angeles Sentenced to 22 Years - H.G. Reza (Los Angeles Times)
    Levar Washington, who planned attacks on military installations and synagogues in the Los Angeles area for an Islamic terrorist cell, was sentenced Monday to 22 years in federal prison for conspiring to wage war against the U.S.
    Washington, a convert to Islam, and three other defendants were members of Jam'iyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh, a radical Islamic organization formed in prison in 1997.
    Police found plans for attacks against military facilities, synagogues and Israeli offices.
    Judge Cormac J. Carney said that Washington had intended to kill and injure as many Jews as possible by planning attacks on Jewish holidays.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • EU Backs Sanctions on Iran, Freezes Bank Assets - John Ward Anderson
    The European Union approved new sanctions against Iran on Monday, including a freeze on the assets of Bank Melli, Iran's largest bank, in a continuing effort to force Tehran to curtail its nuclear development programs. The new measures include a travel ban on high-level Iranian officials involved in the country's nuclear and weapons programs. (Washington Post)
        See also Iran: New EU Sanctions Won't Affect Nuclear Activities
    The additional sanctions by the EU will not affect Iran's nuclear program, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said in a statement. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
  • IAEA Director-General Al-Baradei: Iran Could Produce Enough Enriched Uranium for a Nuclear Bomb in Six Months to a Year
    IAEA Director-General Dr. Muhammad Al-Baradei said in an interview on Al-Arabiya TV on June 20, 2008: "Considering the number of centrifuges and the quantity of uranium Iran has...if Iran wants to turn to the production of nuclear weapons, it must leave the NPT, expel the IAEA inspectors, and then it would need at least...six months to one obtain highly-enriched uranium in sufficient quantities for a single nuclear weapon." (MEMRI TV)
  • U.S. Considers Tehran Office to Issue Visas - Nicholas Kralev
    Secretary of State Rice said Monday that the U.S. is considering opening a visa office in Iran to draw more Iranian visitors to the U.S. The opening of a U.S. interests section would be the first U.S. diplomatic presence in Tehran since Iran freed 52 American hostages in 1981 after 444 days at the former U.S. Embassy. "We want more Iranians visiting the United States," Rice said. "We want the efforts that we've engaged in to have Iranian artists in the United States, American sports people in Iran. We are determined to find ways to reach out to the Iranian people." (Washington Times)
  • Rights Group: Donors Must Press Palestinian Rulers to End Human Rights Abuses
    New York-based Human Rights Watch said international donors must pressure the Palestinian Authority to end abuses in the West Bank before they give more money to support security forces there, in an appeal issued on Monday, a day before an international conference began in Berlin to support the Palestinian police. Rights groups say security forces in the West Bank practice torture and politically motivated arrests. At least one person has died in custody. Human Rights Watch says if donors want to support the rule of law, they have to condition their aid on Palestinian officials taking real steps to halt rights abuses. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
  • London Summit on Jewish Refugees
    Jewish groups from around the world are meeting in London to highlight the plight of Jews who left their homes in Arab nations after Israel was founded. The conference organizers, Justice for Jews, say they want to ensure the story of Jewish refugees is told, alongside that of Palestinians. The American-based group says around 850,000 Jews lived in Arab nations before Israel was founded in 1948. Most were forced to flee due to hostility when Israel was created. (BBC News-UK)
        See also The Ethnic Cleansing of Jews from Arab Lands - Ashley Perry (Jerusalem Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sarkozy: Israel Not Alone Against Iran - Amnon Meranda
    Visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy told Israel's Knesset on Monday, "Iran's nuclear program requires a firm response on the part of the international community. Israel is not alone." "I reiterate here loud and clear, as far as France is concerned, a nuclear Iran is completely unacceptable. France is determined to continue to run, along with its partners, a policy combining worsening sanctions with openness, in case Tehran chooses to honor its international commitments. France is Israel's friend and will always stand by it when its security or existence are threatened. And those who scandalously call for Israel's destruction will always - always - be faced and blocked by France." (Ynet News)
        See also From Paris with Love - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians in Gaza Fire Mortar at Israel Despite Cease-Fire - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinian gunmen in Gaza fired a mortar at Israel on Tuesday, in a breach of last Thursday's cease-fire agreement. (Ynet News)
  • Two Palestinian Terrorists Killed in West Bank - Avi Issacharoff
    Israel Defense Forces troops operating in the West Bank city of Nablus killed two Palestinian militants Tuesday. According to the IDF, Taker Abu Rali, of Islamic Jihad, was planning an attack on Israel, and troops discovered ammunition, explosives and rifles in his apartment. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Palestinian Authority May Defend Itself in NY Courts - Joseph Goldstein
    In a surprising shift, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad says his government is willing to defend itself against lawsuits alleging that it is liable for acts of Palestinian Arab terrorism during the intifada. For years, the PA has refused to contest such suits, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in default judgments that the PA has refused to pay. Now, in a move that could lead to trials, Fayyad is calling on federal judges in New York and Rhode Island to throw out the default judgments and give the PA another chance to respond to civil suits filed years ago. The shift could prompt new suits against the PA.
        As a show of good faith, the PA this month paid off one American court judgment for $1.5 million to the owners of seized construction equipment. It is the first American court judgment that the Palestinian Arab government has paid in recent years. (New York Sun)
  • Al-Qaeda's Growing Online Offensive - Craig Whitlock
    The war against terrorism has evolved into a war of ideas and propaganda, a struggle for hearts and minds fought on television and the Internet. On those fronts, al-Qaeda's voice has grown much more powerful in recent years. Taking advantage of new technology and mistakes by its adversaries, al-Qaeda's core leadership has built an increasingly prolific propaganda operation, enabling it to communicate constantly, securely and in numerous languages with loyalists and potential recruits worldwide.
        "It is just plain embarrassing that al-Qaeda is better at communicating its message on the Internet than America," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in a speech in November. "As one foreign diplomat asked a couple of years ago, 'How has one man in a cave managed to outcommunicate the world's greatest communication society?'" (Washington Post)
        See also Extremists in Tribal Areas Use Gory DVDs to Celebrate, and Exaggerate, Their Exploits - Imtiaz Ali
    On both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border there has been a boom in DVDs celebrating al-Qaeda operations, beheadings of purported U.S. spies, and scenes of Taliban fighters attacking U.S. forces. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    New York Times Reporter Seduced by NGOs' "Halo" - Gerald M. Steinberg (NGO Monitor)

    • In his June 22 op-ed in the New York Times, Nicolas Kristof illustrates the danger of the "halo effect" that surrounds many powerful non-governmental organizations, which use distorted human rights claims to promote ideological agendas. While otherwise very professional journalists question and independently verify the claims of governments, corporations, and others, the statements of groups that assert moral objectives tend to be taken at face value. In this article, Kristof extols B'tselem and Machsom Watch. As documented by NGO Monitor, both are political organizations based in Israel that have appropriated human rights rhetoric for partisan goals, mix fact with fiction, and grossly distort history in order to promote their private agendas.
    • For example, Kristof repeats the simplistic statements of these NGOs regarding Hebron - a city of immense religious and historical importance to the Jewish people - without mentioning the impact of the 1929 massacre and expulsion of the entire Jewish community. A limited return to this historic city was only possible after 1967. Since this context is inconvenient for promoting B'tselem's political objectives, which would mean again removing the Jewish population from Hebron, these political activists focus instead on one-sided human rights allegations in which Palestinians are always victims, and Israel is always the oppressor.
    • Seduced by the "halo effect," Kristof uses B'tselem's very narrow window to strip the wider context and sell his own interpretation of the conflict. Following B'tselem's lead, Kristof also ignores the human rights violations of Jewish Israelis in Hebron, including the murder of a 10-month-old baby - Shalhevet Pas by a Palestinian sniper.
    • Claims regarding the impact of Israel's separation barrier and checkpoints completely erase the fact that hundreds or perhaps thousands of Israeli lives have been spared by preventing the entry of suicide bombers. This is also a primary human rights issue, which the activists in B'tselem and Machsom Watch find inconvenient, and which no human rights group has documented using video cameras.
    • Expropriating human rights rhetoric for partisan claims, erasing the context and complexity of conflict situations, and applying human rights exclusively to one side of a conflict is morally unacceptable. Such biased approaches from NGOs have severely undermined the ethical foundations and credibility of human rights, which are by definition universal and must be applied equally.

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