Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
The Palestinians: Ever Divided (Economist-UK)
German Trade with Iran Growing - Assaf Uni (Ha'aretz)
No Peace in Lebanon - Michael J. Totten (Commentary Magazine)
Israel's Murder Rate Among Lowest in World and Declining - Abe Selig (Jerusalem Post)
New MK Wants Israeli-Palestinian Soccer Field - Rebecca Anna Stoil (Jerusalem Post)
Idan of Arabia - Itamar Eichner
Maps of Israel (Israel Ministry of Tourism)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Gaza militants fired two rockets into southern Israel on Thursday, the second rocket attack since the cease-fire was announced last week. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a violent offshoot of Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah, claimed responsibility for firing the rockets. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said it should not matter who was behind the rocket attack. "I am not interested in who fired and who didn't fire at Israel," she said. "It is a violation, and Israel needs to respond immediately, militarily, for every violation." Since the cease-fire agreement took effect June 19, Israel has responded to rocket attacks by closing crossings rather than retaliating with airstrikes at Palestinian rocket squads. (AP/Washington Post)
See also Palestinians in Gaza Fire Mortars at Israel on Friday - Nidal al-Mughrabi
Palestinian militants in Gaza fired two mortar shells into southern Israel on Friday in the latest challenge to a cease-fire deal that Gaza's Hamas rulers have vowed to uphold. One shell landed near Kibbutz Kfar Aza. Israel has kept border crossings into Gaza closed since Wednesday but it allowed fuel to reach the territory's sole power station on Friday. An EU official said an estimated 600,000 liters of industrial fuel would be pumped through the Nahal Oz border terminal to Gaza's power station. (Ynet News/Reuters)
The trial of an Ottawa software developer who plotted a series of terrorist attacks in Britain is the first-ever prosecution under Canada's Anti-Terrorism Act. Mohammed Momin Khawaja, 29, faces seven criminal charges of conspiracy to commit terrorist acts, including developing bomb detonators, possession of explosives, financing terrorism, and training as a terrorist. He was arrested in March 2004 in connection with a foiled bomb plot against several British targets, including a popular London nightclub, a shopping mall and a gas network. (AFP)
A Palestinian Arab activist and former college professor who has been locked in a long-running legal battle with federal prosecutors, Sami Al-Arian, was indicted Thursday on two counts of criminal contempt for refusing to testify before grand juries investigating Islamic charities based in Virginia and elsewhere. (New York Sun)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
IDF sources say the rocket fire from Gaza was not perpetrated by Hamas, but rather by other Palestinian factions. However, Israel is taking Hamas' condemnation of the rocket fire with a grain of salt, and one official said Thursday that "if they wanted to, they would stop them. Hamas has previously proven its total control over Gaza." (Ynet News)
"We seek peace with every fiber of our being and detest war, but we are sober, and we know that he who seeks peace should prepare for war," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Thursday at an Air Force flight school graduation ceremony. "Only deterrent military strength and superior excellence lead to a swift victory, and they are what will lead to peace." (Ynet News)
Ambassador to Ireland Zion Evrony condemned last week's decision by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) to call for a boycott and disinvestment campaign against Israel. ICTU President Patricia McKeown, who had visited the area in November, said in a report, "We witnessed [in Gaza] the consequences of a siege which international law defines as the collective punishment of a people and consequently a war crime." According to Evrony, the ICTU report "erroneously absolves the Palestinians of any responsibility for the conflict and the current situation. It ignores the death and destruction caused by Palestinian terrorists and Hamas' refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist."
An Irish government spokesman said they oppose any form of boycott directed towards Israel. "A biased, simplistic approach to the conflict, demonizing one side and totally ignoring the responsibility of the other side, will neither help the Palestinians nor will it promote peace," the spokesman said. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Facebook, with 75 million users, is quickly turning into a hotbed of activism and a cause for alarm for many autocratic regimes in the Middle East attempting to block it and curtail its reach. In April, an Egyptian youth group used Facebook to mobilize 80,000 supporters to protest the rising cost of bread. The site also played a crucial role in broadening turnout for an April 6 textile-workers' strike. In Syria, the government has banned Facebook due to an anti-regime, e-mail spam campaign channeled through the site in 2007. Before it was blocked, it had 28,000 registered Syrian members. In the Persian Gulf states, censorship attempts to block only the more threatening applications of Facebook and other Web sites like video content, photographic images and computer based phone services.
The Internet provided Arab activist groups with a new medium for expression. It quickly became the preferred domain for many opposition groups who otherwise had little or no access to traditional forms of media. Add to that the growing number of political blogs that often utilize video streaming aimed at exposing the brutality of government, political corruption or police violence. The writer is vice president of the Center for Freedom in the Middle East and a fellow at The International Institute for Counter-Terrorism. (Washington Times)
When explaining black America, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof looks to America's "legacy of slavery, Tuskegee and Jim Crow," context spanning 250 years. But when it comes to Hebron, for Kristof history begins June 11, 1967, the seventh day of the Six-Day War. That's convenient, of course, because the story of Hebron - the world's oldest Jewish city - becomes too sympathetic if you start the day or the decades before that. If Kristof can go back to slavery in the 1800s, Rivka Slonim says Slonims were living in Hebron in 1845. At what point does a settlement graduate to the dignity of being a neighborhood? How about a settlement that was established before 23 states were admitted to the Union?
On Oct. 13, 1912, the Times reported that Jews "owned 40 villages" in what is now Israel, including 23 villages in what is now the West Bank. In Hebron, there were yeshivas, Hadassah Hospital, and a Jewish branch of a London bank. If slavery was America's "original sin," the 1929 ethnic cleansing was Hebron's. For three days, Aug. 26-28, the Times ran daily stories about an Arab attack that started at Hebron's Slabodka Rabbinical College, killing 30. The toll of the dead and wounded from further rampages neared 120. (New York Jewish Week)
See also Some Facts About Jews and Arabs in Hebron - Nadav Shragai
The city of Hebron is about 18 sq. km. - 15 sq. km. of which were handed over to the PA in the Hebron agreement. This area is closed to Jews, although the agreement guaranteed Jews freedom of movement in the city. In most of the remaining area, (H2), a Jewish presence was also forbidden, but most of it is open to Arab movement and presence. The Jews are today limited to 0.6 sq. km., or 3% of Hebron, where thousands of Arabs continue to live. The houses, the stores, and land left behind by the Jews of Hebron, who were expelled after the 1929 riot, were confiscated after the Jordanian conquest in 1948 and were never returned. In the past 20 years, building permits in the tiny Jewish district have been given to only three houses, so that those suffering from urban suffocation are not the Arabs, who are building high-rises in the west of the city, but the Jews. (Ha'aretz)
A negative and hostile discourse against Western cultures and civilizations was adopted by pan-Arab political writers and commentators during the 1950s and 60s, paving the way for the spread of a culture of violence and hostility which is threatening to engulf our entire Middle Eastern region. Hostility toward non-Arab and non-Muslim cultures through quasi-journalistic analysis and the continuation of biased Arab media coverage in the region creates a disastrous combination of violence and extremism.
One reason for the rise of hostility, violence, and the intimidation of cultural and racial minorities is the lack of sufficient educational programs about the importance of "diversity." A typical Arab school may offer the most advanced scientific curricula while at the same time maintain part of it to demonize the "other," the non-Arab or non-Muslim and sometimes the Arab pro-Western intellectual. Due to many cultural reasons, the "other" has always been associated with the West. (Arab Times-Kuwait)
"I'm very proud of this Palestinian-Israeli cooperation. A project of this kind contributes to the Palestinian economy," says Rami Abdulhadi, 32, director of marketing communications at G.ho.st. Abdulhadi, who lives in Ramallah, is one of the company's 35 Palestinian employees. "G.ho.st's motto 'no walls' has two meanings," he says. "One is technological, 'no walls' in the sense that you can take your desktop anywhere; and the second is that ghosts go through walls and G.ho.st circumvents the walls between Israelis and Palestinians." (Ha'aretz)
See also The Man with the Plan - Guy Griml
G.ho.st is an unusual high-tech collaboration of Palestinians and Israelis. The startup employs some 40 people, most in Ramallah and the rest in Modi'in, including Zvi Schreiber, the company's founder and CEO. Having already successfully realized two previous startup ventures, Schreiber, 39, wanted to do something with ethical value, and he chose to establish an Israeli-Palestinian startup. The company's product is a virtual computer - an Internet site that allows anyone to create a virtual personal computer online, which he or she can access from any computer. The company's name is an acronym for Global Hosted Operating SysTem. (Ha'aretz)
Munib al-Masri, 74, built a replica of a 16th century Renaissance palace on top of a mountain overlooking the West Bank city of Nablus. He admits to being "maybe" the richest Palestinian in his native land "though there are plenty of richer ones outside it." A multi-millionaire, philanthropist and close friend of Yasser Arafat, he turned down the prime ministership of the PA three times. His refusal was based in part on his short-lived experience as a minister in the immediate post-Oslo PA. Arafat "knew nothing about management. I could not work like that. I could not tolerate the privileges Arafat bestowed on people - $50,000 for this, $20,000 for that. You have to have systems. You have to have procedures."
Masri's recent venture into politics with the Palestine Forum faces an uphill struggle in representing a "silent majority" outside Fatah and Hamas. The company he formed, Padico, owns among much else a 30% stake in PalTel, the mobile phone company operating in Gaza and the West Bank. (Independent-UK)
Secret French documents, published for the first time, reveal clandestine cooperation between France and the Zionist movement in the years leading up to Israel's establishment. France formed ties with various anti-British movements, groups and figures in the Middle East. Of all these ties, it was the bond the French forged with the Zionist movement that proved most effective. The writer teaches in the Department of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University. (Ha'aretz)
Time and again the Arab world throws up absolute rulers who do nothing but harm, working their way into power by exploiting and imprisoning and killing as they see fit. A perfect example of the type is Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem between the world wars. As David G. Dalin and John F. Rothmann's Icon of Evil recounts, the British acquired their Mandate in Palestine as a result of World War I and in 1921 made the crucial mistake of contriving Haj Amin's election to be Mufti. This position - as the country's senior Islamic official - gave Haj Amin unique standing to wield unchecked power over the Palestinians. It also afforded him access to large sums of money.
Under the British aegis, Jews began to seek refuge in Palestine from persecution at the hands of Nazis. Still largely tribal and rural and in any case not militant, many - probably most - Palestinians were willing to cooperate with these immigrants. But Haj Amin was not so amenable; instead, he recruited and commanded a national movement of violence with the aim of forbidding all compromise with Jews. Regular and severe anti-Jewish riots and attacks culminated in the great Arab Revolt of 1936, which aimed simultaneously to end British rule and Jewish immigration but cost thousands of lives, mostly Arabs. Haj Amin perpetuated the absolutism of the Muslim world, in which the killing of enemies is the natural end of the political process, and altogether a matter of culture and custom. Palestinians who opposed him were blackened as collaborators and traitors; they were murdered by his agents in larger numbers than Jews. (Wall Street Journal)
Understanding the Hamas Takeover of Gaza - Amir Kulick (Strategic Assessment-Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
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