Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Two Georgian War Wounded Flown to Israel for Treatment - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post) Israeli Exoskeleton Suit Helps Paralyzed People Walk (Reuters/MSNBC) "Serial No. 3817131." Photographic Exhibit of Women in the IDF - Rachel Papo (Rachelpapo.com) Idan Raichel Project Unites the Sounds of Israel - Daniel Harris (Times -- UK)
Two Georgian War Wounded Flown to Israel for Treatment - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli Exoskeleton Suit Helps Paralyzed People Walk (Reuters/MSNBC)
"Serial No. 3817131." Photographic Exhibit of Women in the IDF - Rachel Papo (Rachelpapo.com)
Idan Raichel Project Unites the Sounds of Israel - Daniel Harris (Times -- UK)
News Resources - North America and Europe:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged Monday that a broad peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians is a long shot before President Bush leaves office, but she rejected the idea of a half-measure now. "I think it's extremely important just to keep making forward progress, rather than trying prematurely to come to some set of conclusions," Rice said, dismissing speculation she wants both sides to sign onto a statement documenting their progress nine months into a secretive and publicly fruitless series of talks.
In contrast to her past upbeat insistence that public silence masked private progress, Rice had a matter-of-fact assessment ahead of two days of meetings with negotiators and leaders on both sides. Rice did offer praise for Israel's release of 198 Palestinian prisoners saying "this is something that matters a lot to the Palestinians" and "it is obviously a sign of good will" from Israel. (AP)
See also The Secretary's Remarks en Route to Israel (State Department)
Israel has ordered the Gaza Strip's border crossings closed after militants violated a cease-fire by launching two rockets. The Israeli military says Gaza gunmen launched two rockets Monday evening, causing no damage or casualties. The military says Monday's fire brought to 46 the number of rockets launched by militants since the truce began. (AP/Washington Post)
Wracked by drought, Iran has turned to the United States for wheat for the first time in 27 years, marking a setback for Tehran's search for agricultural self-sufficiency. According to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report, Iran has bought about 1.18 million tons of U.S. hard wheat since the beginning of the 2008-2009 crop season in June. The last time Iran imported U.S. wheat was in 1981-1982.
Although Iran is subject to a growing number of sanctions imposed by Western countries that want Tehran to suspend its nuclear enrichment program, these U.S. grain exports, like those of medications, are "legal and encouraged," a State Department spokesman, Robert McInturff, said. They require authorization from the Treasury because of a law Congress approved in 2000, the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSRA), he noted.
For Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, a specialist on Iran at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, the U.S. wheat purchase signals "Iran is more interested in showing to its people that it is not restrained by sanctions. The real signal is: look, we're doing fine, we can buy wheat from the U.S.," he said. However, the message for internal politics was grim, he said. "This is a serious setback for Iran from a domestic point of view because they made a big deal about self-sufficiency in grains." (AFP)
This summer both the water level and the mood of Israelis living by the Sea of Galilee are plunging to record lows. The country has suffered four successive seasons of drought, with rainfall no more than half the annual average. At the same time, Israel’s thirst for fresh water means the country continues to pump vast amounts of water from the lake to meet the needs of farmers, gardeners and ordinary citizens as far away as the Negev desert in the south.
The result is visible everywhere on the lake, which is falling by between one and two centimeters a day. The drying-out of the Sea of Galilee has caused alarm far beyond the region. The lake supplies fresh water to the taps of two in five Israelis, but soon the pumps will have to fall silent. The water level has already fallen below the upper and lower red lines, denoting levels below which the lake was previously thought to be at serious risk. (Financial Times -- UK)
The U.S's willingness to deploy a new radar system in Israel is largely the consequence of ardent lobbying efforts by U.S. Congressman Mark Kirk. Kirk's successful push for the deployment of the X-Band system in Israel is a great boon for the country's defensive capabilities. The X-Band system can detect incoming missiles from 500-600 miles. Currently, Israel's early warning system is only able to detect missiles from 100 miles out.
In response to reports that in exchange for the X-Band system, Israel agreed it will not attack Iran either preemptively or retroactively without U.S. permission, Kirk said, "There is no quid pro quo." "The basic idea is that a U.S. ally getting nuked is a bad thing. The X-Band system increases the likelihood that such an attack would fail," he continued. Moreover, far from sending a message that the U.S. would work to block an Israeli preemptive attack against Iran, Kirk argued that the deployment of the X-Band system manned by a U.S. crew "will send a message to Iran, that Israel has powerful political support from its ally against any Iranian threat." (Jerusalem Post)
Islamic Jihad is using the Gaza ceasefire to concentrate on training to kidnap IDF soldiers, in a similar manner to Hizbullah's 2006 attack. "Thousands of Palestinian fighters recently trained in how to kidnap Zionist soldiers," reported the London-based Arabic-language al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper on Monday, quoting the conservative Iranian Kayhan newspaper and Quds news agency. (Ynet News)
The Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation for the Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy in Iran is crying out about a wave of repression in Iran. Earlier this month Ya'qub Mehrnahad, a 28-year-old Baluchi journalist, human rights and cultural activist, who criticized the Iranian government's treatment of Baluchi people, was executed alongside another Baluchi man named Abdul Nasser. The execution of Iranian teacher trade unionist Farzad Kamangar, tortured while in detention and denied medical treatment, can still be stopped say Education International. Sousan Razani and Shiva Kheirabadi have been sentenced to jail terms and whipping for the "crime" of having participated in a May Day demonstration this year. But where is the murmur of protest from the west? Are we too an abject flock? The eyes of the world are fixed on the nuclear diplomacy but away from our gaze the hangings and jailings and lashings go on. There is something shameful about this inattention. (Guardian - UK)
If you thought Israelis were unhappy with the results of their Olympic team then look at the reaction of the Arabs, and how their own commentators are mocking their performance. When elaph.com, an Arabic news site, asked its audience whether they expected Arab athletes to do well, 88 per cent said no. They were right to keep their expectations down. It is indeed difficult not to see the performance at the Olympics as part of wider failures of this region to nurture its youth and create positive role models. Sadly, the Middle East is a place where the likes of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden can easily inspire fascination and devotion. If you are a young man in many parts of the Arab world today, there is not much for you to look forward to – even less if you are a woman. (Financial Times -- UK)
Hizbullah's Role in Attacks against U.S. and British Forces in Iraq - Jonathan Dahoah Halevi (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
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