Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 12, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF Patrol Attacked at Gaza Border Fence - Yuval Azoulay (Ha'aretz)
    An explosive device was detonated next to the Gaza security fence near the Kissufim crossing while an IDF patrol was passing.
    No injuries were reported, although the blast damaged the security fence.

U.S. Groups to Host Dinner for Ahmadinejad - Allison Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
    The Anti-Defamation League has issued a statement criticizing Mennonite and Quaker leaders for hosting a dinner reception for Iran's president in New York later this month.
    The dinner, scheduled for Sep. 25, is touted as a dialogue by the pacifist religious groups, which advocate diplomatic engagement with Iran's political leadership.
    "Ahmadinejad represents a rejection of everything these religious groups stand for," Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL, said Wednesday.
    Representatives from a broad range of Christian ecumenical organizations, including the Episcopal Church, plan to attend the dinner.

YouTube Bans Terrorism Training Videos - Eileen Sullivan (AP/MSNBC)
    You won't find terrorist training videos on YouTube anymore.
    Google's popular video-sharing site now bans this footage that advertises terrorism or extremist causes.
    After pressure from Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, the Internet search engine revised its community guidelines for posting videos on YouTube.
    The new YouTube guidelines include bans on: videos that incite others to commit violent acts; videos on things like how to make bombs; and footage of sniper attacks.

French President's Son Marries Jewish Heiress - Angelique Chrisafis (Guardian-UK)
    On Wednesday, the son of the French president, Jean Sarkozy, 22, married his childhood sweetheart, Jewish retailing heiress Jessica Sibaoun-Darty.
    They met as high school students growing up in affluent Neuilly, and when they got engaged this summer they were quickly feted as France's youngest power couple.

New Columbia Hire Backed Academic Boycott of Israel - Bari Weiss (New York Sun)
    A professor who signed a letter supporting the academic boycott of Israel is the most recent addition to Columbia's Middle Eastern studies department, which has come under scrutiny in the past over allegations of political bias. Timothy Mitchell was a politics professor at New York University and a previous director of the center for Near Eastern studies there.
    Mitchell is married to Lila Abu-Lughod, a professor of anthropology and gender studies at Columbia who also signed the letter. She is the daughter of Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, to whom Columbia professor Edward Said, who has since died, dedicated his book, Orientalism.

Iranian Interior Minister in Resume Scandal - Thomas Erdbrink (Washington Post)
    On Tuesday, Iran's science ministry informed parliament that Interior Minister Ali Kordan had failed to present his much-touted Oxford law degree to the ministry for validation.
    In August, 10 days after Kordan was sworn in, the University of Oxford issued a statement saying it had no record of him receiving an honorary doctorate of law or any other degree from the university.
    "Both keeping him on or replacing Kordan will have large consequences," said Iraj Jamshidi, political editor of the Etemaad newspaper.

Israeli Firm to Explore under Alaskan Volcano (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli geothermal developer Ormat Technologies Thursday won the rights to explore geothermal energy under Mount Spurr, an active volcano 75 miles west of Anchorage.
    The company bid $3.5 million to acquire the rights to 15 of the 16 tracts offered for lease.

Holocaust Drama Causes Stir - Kirk Honeycutt (Reuters-Hollywood Reporter)
    Paul Schrader's "Adam Resurrected" features Jeff Goldblum as a former German-Jewish circus clown and nightclub performer in a mental institute, in a movie based on Yoram Kaniuk's novel.
    Goldblum's Adam Stein survived the death camps not only because he could play the violin while fellow Jews including his own family marched to their deaths, but also because a sadistic camp commander wanted Adam's entertainment to take his mind off an arduous job.
    At an asylum in the Negev Desert populated solely by Holocaust survivors, the fictional Adam still is the main attraction.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Renews Nuclear Weapons Development: IAEA Says Uranium for Six Bombs Is Missing - Con Coughlin and Tim Butcher
    Nuclear experts responsible for monitoring Iran's nuclear program have discovered that enough enriched uranium, which if processed to weapons grade level could be used to make up to six atom bombs, has disappeared from the main production facility at Isfahan. American spy satellites have identified a number of suspicious sites, which the Iranians have not declared to nuclear inspectors, that intelligence officials believe are being used for covert research.
        The Isfahan complex, which enriches raw uranium "yellow cake" into material that can be used for either nuclear power or atomic weapons, is supposed to be subject to close supervision by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). But the Iranians only allow IAEA inspectors access to the final stage of the production process, where the uranium in gas form - UF6 - is stored. By conducting a careful study of the amount of material stored at Isfahan, and the amount of "yellow cake" known to have been processed at the plant, nuclear experts believe between 50-60 tons of uranium - sufficient to produce five or six atom bombs - has gone missing from the plant. "If Iran's nuclear intentions are peaceful, then why are they doing this?" said a nuclear official.
        Nuclear inspectors have also discovered that Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, recently ordered scientists to increase the amount of UF6 being diverted from Isfahan to another storage facility. The Iranians will be asked to give a full account of the missing enriched uranium when the IAEA's board of governors meets in Vienna later this month. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Jenin: A Dress Rehearsal for Palestinian Statehood? - Ethan Bronner
    Until late last year, gunfire was common in the streets of Jenin in the northern West Bank. Armed militiamen used the hospital as a dormitory. Now, newly trained and equipped Palestinian security officials have restored order. Israeli soldiers have pulled back from bases and are in close touch with their Palestinian colleagues. Civilians are planning economic cooperation - an industrial zone to provide thousands of jobs, mostly to Palestinians, and another involving organic produce grown by Palestinians and marketed in Europe by Israelis. Israeli Arabs are playing a key role.
        The aim is to stand conventional wisdom on its head. Instead of a shaky negotiated peace treaty imposing coexistence from the top down, a bottom-up set of relationships should lead to a real two-state solution. "We got a clear American message that the Palestinian state will start from Jenin," asserted Col. Radi Asideh, deputy commander of the Palestinian security forces in Jenin who have recently received new Land Rovers and AK-47 assault rifles.
        Gen. James L. Jones, special American envoy to the region, said this week after visiting Jenin: "I see this as a kind of dress rehearsal for statehood, a crucible where the two sides can prove things to each other." Ehud Barak, Israel's defense minister, said: "So far, Jenin is a great success. The Palestinian police have created a different mood there. We need to see money being poured into projects now to keep the momentum going. If done right, we think this could become an example." (New York Times)
        See also Palestinian Police Make a Difference in Hebron - Wafa Amr
    After years of rule by gunmen in the West Bank city of Hebron, some 400 pistol-toting Palestinian policemen in blue uniforms are beginning to make a difference, residents said. In August Palestinian police arrested 139 people on suspicion of crimes ranging from murder and drug dealing to illegal arms trading. Six months ago, Palestinian policemen started implementing a Western-backed security plan in Hebron. (Reuters)
  • U.S. to Provide Helicopters, Anti-Tank Missiles to Egypt
    The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a foreign military sale to Egypt of four UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters as well as associated equipment and services. These include radar signal detecting sets, infrared countermeasure sets, missile warning systems, laser warning sets, and improved hover infrared suppression systems. Also included are forward looking infrared, flare and chaff dispensers, and countermeasures dispenser systems. Egypt needs these helicopters to support a newly established military search and rescue center and to assist with border security missions.
        The Defense Security Cooperation Agency also notified Congress of a foreign military sale to Egypt of 6,900 TOW 2A anti-armor guided missiles as well as associated equipment and services. (
  • McCartney Resists Pressure to Scrap Israel Concert
    Legendary Beatles star Paul McCartney said he was pressed to cancel his upcoming performance in Israel, but reassured Israeli fans in comments published Thursday he would go ahead with the planned concert. "I was approached by different groups and political bodies who asked me not to come here. I refused. I do what I think, and I have many friends who support Israel," McCartney said in an interview with Israel's Yediot Ahronot. McCartney will perform on September 25 in Tel Aviv. (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel: Jerusalem Not on Negotiating Table - Roni Sofer
    Diplomatic officials in Jerusalem negated a statement made by U.S. Consul General Jake Walles asserting that Israel had agreed to cede control over eastern Jerusalem to the PA as part of the current peace talks. The sources expressed their astonishment at Walles' public discussion of the negotiations, as the three sides involved have agreed to refrain from making the matter public. Walles told the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam that during U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's most recent visit to Israel, she said the basis for the current negotiations with the Palestinians would have to be a withdrawal to the 1967 ceasefire lines, including eastern Jerusalem.
        The Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem issued a statement saying: "We are not negotiating on Jerusalem with the Palestinians....The issue of Jerusalem should be solved by future negotiations, not during current talks." The U.S. State Department also issued a statement: "A senior U.S. official who participated in the discussions denies that the Israeli side...has been willing to negotiate concerning Jerusalem." (Ynet News)
  • End of Abbas' Term May Spell Violence - Yaakov Katz
    The IDF Central Command has held a series of exercises in recent weeks to prepare units for possible violence in the West Bank after Mahmoud Abbas' term of office ends. Abbas is scheduled to complete his term on January 9. Under the current Palestinian constitution, without elections he will be succeeded by the speaker or deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Both men are senior members of Hamas. Earlier this week, Palestinian media reported that Abbas plans to dissolve the PLC and set up an emergency government which would then extend his term for another year. Due to the IDF's presence in the West Bank, the Israel Security Agency believes that Hamas will not succeed in overthrowing Fatah, but it could launch attacks against Fatah's offices or even try to assassinate some of its leaders. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Two Palestinians Killed in Gaza Tunnels
    Two Palestinians have been killed in the tunnel system underneath the border between Gaza and Egypt. Sources in Gaza said on Thursday that Hani Mahmoud Khalaf, 22, from Khan Yunis, fell to his death in one tunnel, and Faysal Sulaiman Abu Sultan, 22, from Rafah, died from an electric shock. Palestinians are paid $100 for every meter of tunnel they dig. (Maan News-PA)
  • U.S. Court Rules Against Man Who Helped Liquidate Polish Jews During Holocaust
    John Ivan Kalymon, 87, who became a U.S. citizen in 1955, lost his appeal to keep his U.S. citizenship after the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled he had collaborated with Nazis during Germany's occupation of Ukraine and helped liquidate a Jewish ghetto in Poland, U.S. officials said last Friday. As a member of the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police (UAP), Kalymon had helped round up Jews, imprison them in a ghetto, terrorize them and supervise their forced labor, kill those trying to escape and lead survivors to extermination and forced labor camps, including Belzec in Poland.
        A UAP document signed by Kalymon "proved that in 1942 he personally killed and wounded Jews in Lviv by shooting them," a statement from the Justice Department said. "The Nazis and their collaborators killed more than 100,000 of Lviv's Jews - men, women and children whose only 'crime' was their religion," said Eli Rosenbaum, director of the Office of Special Investigations that continues to probe Nazi-era crimes. (DPA/Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Persian Gulf's "Occupied Territory": The Three-Island Dispute - Simon Henderson
    Last month, Tehran announced it was building maritime offices on the Persian Gulf island of Abu Musa, reigniting the long-standing territorial dispute between Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The island and the neighboring Greater and Lesser Tunbs are all strategically located near the Strait of Hormuz, where 20 percent of the world's oil passes daily. On November 30, 1971, Iran, under the Shah, occupied the islands a day before the UAE's independence from Britain. There is a widespread belief in the region that Britain allowed Iran's takeover as a quid pro quo for Tehran abandoning its claim to the island state of Bahrain. Senior U.S. officials supported Iran's 1971 seizure because it filled the regional security vacuum caused by the British withdrawal. The writer is director of the Gulf and Energy Policy program at the Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Does "Islamic Democracy" Exist? - Daniel Steinvorth and Bernhard Zand
    For 1,300 years Muslims have been engaged in a search for a form of government that is right for them. There are parliaments and sometimes even political opposition groups in many Muslim countries, but as a general rule political decisions are based on agreements reached between tribal groups and families. It would be naive to assume that the fairly democratic discourse that is conducted among tribes and families in the Arab world can achieve the same kinds of things that parties, parliaments, and labor unions are able to get done in the West.
        The "good governance" status that international organizations attribute to some of the Gulf monarchs is comparatively easy to achieve in a situation (as is currently the case) where they have so much money they hardly know what to do with it. But what happens when resources are limited, the balance of social interests is destroyed after decades of dictatorship and domestic conflict spills out into the streets? (Der Spiegel-Germany)
  • Another Year of Global Academic Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism - Manfred Gerstenfeld
    The academic year 2007-2008 saw ongoing anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic incidents in various countries. Some attacks have become annual rituals such as Israel Apartheid Week and calls in the UK for discriminatory measures against Israeli universities and academics. In several U.S. and other universities anti-Israelism is endemic.
        But effective counteractions are increasing. There is now more exposure of Islamist racism and anti-Semitism on American campuses. There are European and British initiatives to enhance academic collaboration with Israeli universities. External monitoring bodies are exposing the hate culture and biased actions of some university lecturers. What happens to Jews has usually been a pointer to a country's societal environment and a sensor of events to come. (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)

    Weekend Features

  • Non-Lethal Crowd Control - Kobi Ben Shimon
    Three weeks ago, at a demonstration in the West Bank village of Na'alin, the Israel Police debuted a new method of dispersing demonstrations. "The Border Police introduced the Skunk - a new tool in the service of the police, which will cause every demonstrator to flee for his life because of the terrible stench," the police website declared on Aug. 17. "Until now, for demonstrations on the seam line the police used mainly pepper gas, water cannons and mounted police, but we were looking for less lethal means," said Maj. Gen. Yaki Azulai, who heads the unit for countering terror and public disturbances.
        David Ben Harosh, head of the department of technological development at the police, explains, "We have to meet legal and health standards, and that's not easy....I created a liquid from only natural organic substances, which when combined produced the unique smell....I'm sure that it will become a hit worldwide; there's a very great demand for this type of device." "The formula is secret and unique, but I can say that the dominant components are yeast and protein....You can drink it, and you would definitely have a great protein drink."
        Ben Harosh said, "I was see how the demonstrators reacted. But we knew exactly how they would react because we tried the substance first of all on ourselves....We tried the substance on a large array of policemen....The use was approved by the chief medical officer of the Israel Police, after testing of all the parameters, the risks and the dangers anticipated during operational use on human beings." "The soldiers...didn't fire a single rubber bullet during the entire demonstration. After the first use, most of the demonstrators left the area....It created a safety zone between the policemen and the demonstrators." (Ha'aretz)
  • Jerusalem's Hip, Historic Neighborhood - Jay Akasie
    A noted architect has skillfully drawn on his knowledge of history and antiques to design one of the most striking and beautiful urban spaces in the world. Most of the Mamila-Alrov Quarter opened this season in Jerusalem, capping off a 35-year quest of the Canadian-Israeli architect Moshe Safdie to create a thoroughly modern shopping and dining destination just outside the walls of the Old City. "I always saw this project as a bridge between the old and new cities, a place where Israelis and Palestinians could interact and where everyone could come together," he said.
        The $400 million development includes a 270,000-square-foot pedestrian mall and shopping center complete with antiques, art galleries, book stores, and coffee shops. It also boasts 200 residential luxury units overlooking the walls of the Old City. Many of the oldest structures in Mamila were preserved. Many buildings were disassembled, their stones numbered, and then reconstructed after a parking garage took shape underneath the boulevard. (New York Sun)
  • Israel's World-Class Wines - Rachel Lebowitz
    Eli Gilbert Ben-Zaken is the founder of Domaine du Castel, one of the world's most prominent wineries, located in the Judean Hills in Moshav Ramat Raziel, just west of Jerusalem. "The wine that was made here thousands of years ago was made to be drunk at the Temple in Jerusalem," Ben-Zaken said. He explains that Israel's ability to produce world-class wines also speaks to the state's modern, sophisticated culture. Castel has been recognized repeatedly on an international level and is compared to the best French wines. (ABC News)
  • Bee-Keeping in the Land of Milk and Honey - Batsheva Sobelman
    Driving by fields or just walking through orchards and groves throughout Israel, you can see white cabinet-like stacks that are among some 90,000 hives kept by Israeli beekeepers. This means honey, and also money. Many of the country's honey farms are open to the public, offering educational programs and family activities. The industry is constantly reinventing itself, developing new flavors and even colors. Archaeological findings in Israel show that bees were locally domesticated more than 3,000 years ago. But many Israeli farmers suffer from beehive thefts. Hundreds are stolen every year, in many cases taken to the Palestinian territories. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Observations:

    The Moral and Political Cost of Libya's Rehabilitation - David Schenker (Daily Standard)

    • Secretary of State Rice's visit to Libya represents the final step in a decades-long U.S. effort to reform and rehabilitate the rogue state. A charter member of the U.S. Department of State's list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, after its nuclear program was disclosed in 2003, Tripoli demonstrated contrition and agreed to compensate American victims of the 1988 Lockerbie terrorist attack.
    • The Bush administration considers the reintegration of Libya to be a roadmap for other rogue states. Indeed, in 2006 Secretary Rice described Libya as "an important model as nations around the world press for changes in behavior by the Iranian and North Korean regimes."
    • The rollback of Libya's nuclear program was a strategic achievement, but it was not without a political and moral cost. An August deal known as the "U.S.-Libya Comprehensive Claims Settlement" establishes a fund in excess of $1 billion to cover Lockerbie, the 1986 Libyan-sponsored attack on the La Belle Disco in Germany, and any future U.S. terrorism-related damages claims against Libya. But the settlement also stipulates that the fund will compensate Libyans who were killed and injured during the U.S. military retaliation for the La Belle disco bombing. Some 40 Libyans were killed and 80 wounded in the April 1986 U.S. airstrikes.
    • On the face of it, the quid pro quo implicitly equates the intentional targeting of civilians (i.e., terrorism) with unintentional collateral damage incurred during a legal act of self-defense. The administration's embrace of moral equivalency to seal the deal is stunning. In a surreal twist of events, Libyan leader Muamar Qaddhafi - who ordered the attack on the La Belle - could be eligible for compensation for the death of his adopted daughter, who was said to have been killed in the U.S. counterstrike.
    • The U.S. has never accepted the legal obligation to pay compensation for unintentional collateral damage incurred during legitimate military actions, and nothing in the Geneva Conventions specifies it. Even though the fund will be financed by Libyan and U.S. corporate contributions, there is a very real danger that the Libya settlement could serve as precedent for future claims of this sort.
    • By equating those killed in the U.S. counterstrike on Libya with American victims of Libyan terror, the administration has inadvertently muddled a principled position on terrorism that differentiates between terrorist and counterterrorist operations.

      The writer is director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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