Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Iran Operating Over 5,000 Centrifuges for Uranium Enrichment - Ali Akbar Dareini (AP)
Aid Agencies Seek $462 Million for Palestinians - Shawna Ohm
Russian Tourists Descend on Eilat - Yanir Yagna, Irit Rosenblum and Zohar Blumenkrantz (Ha'aretz)
Amid Poverty, a Renaissance Villa in the West Bank - Karin Laub (AP)
Israeli Surgeons Share Expertise in China - Alison Klayman (JTA)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Gunmen attacked three luxury hotels, a hospital, a train station, a movie theater and other buildings in Mumbai Wednesday, killing at least 100 people and wounding more than 300. The attackers took dozens of people hostage, and witnesses said they were seeking out Americans and Britons. A group calling itself the Deccan Mujaheddin asserted responsibility for the attacks. The term "mujaheddin" suggests the attackers are Muslim extremists. (Washington Post)
See also At Least Eight Israelis Held Hostage in Mumbai
An Israeli rabbi is among at least three people being held hostage by gunmen at the Habad house in Mumbai on Thursday. Another five or six Israelis were among the hostages being held by militants at the Trident/Oberoi hotel. (Ha'aretz)
A report Thursday from CNN's Indian affiliate said that three people were killed at Mumbai's Habad House including a couple and 16-year-old youth. (Ha'aretz)
See also Terrorists Target Mumbai Jewish Center - Amy Kazmin
For thousands of Jewish travelers visiting Mumbai each year, the Habad House was an important port of call, offering services that ranged from kosher meals to holiday services to the sympathetic ear of a young rabbi. Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg, a young Israeli who also holds U.S. citizenship, and his wife Rifka, set up the Habad House in Mumbai five years ago. Rabbi Yosef Kantor, a Habad rabbi in Bangkok who worked closely with Rabbi Holtzberg, said, "He is a man with a very big heart....He was very committed to the mission he took upon himself." (Financial Times-UK)
The UN atomic agency approved on Wednesday a contested Syrian bid for technical aid in planning a nuclear power plant, overcoming U.S.-led resistance while Damascus is under investigation for covert activity that could lead to atom bombs. A Nov. 19 IAEA report said a Syrian building demolished in an Israeli air raid last year bore similarities to a nuclear reactor and uranium particles, possibly remnants of pre-enriched nuclear fuel, had been found in the area. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The UN has an interest in downplaying Hizbullah's rearmament and activities in southern Lebanon because it wants "industrial quiet" there, a senior Israeli diplomatic official said Wednesday. "The UN is denying any Hizbullah activity south of the Litani, even though Hizbullah admits to it," the official said. (Jerusalem Post)
Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, made a secret visit to Egypt this week for talks with Egyptian officials on restoring and extending the cease-fire in Gaza. Gilad asked the Egyptians to pressure Hamas to rein in the terror factions and stop their rocket attacks against Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets at Israel on Thursday. Another rocket was fired Wednesday night. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
A London conference on Wednesday debated the "promise and perils" of universal jurisdiction, a concept that allows foreign nationals to be prosecuted for crimes committed elsewhere. A Palestinian civil rights group has used the doctrine to demand that a British court investigate an Israeli soldier for war crimes. Maj.-Gen. Doron Almog participated in the rescue of the Air France flight hijacked to Entebbe, Uganda, in 1976, and later helped secure Israel's border with Gaza against terrorist infiltrators while heading the army's Southern Command from 2000-2003. But when Almog arrived in London in 2005 to raise funds for children with special needs, he was warned by Israeli officials not to get off the plane because he would be arrested for alleged war crimes.
"Originally the idea of universal jurisdiction was conceived in many European countries in order to stop war criminals - former leaders who engaged in genocide, who have escaped the law," said Dr. Dore Gold, head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. "Unfortunately, the whole system of universal jurisdiction has been abused." "Universal jurisdiction should be directed precisely at those countries like Iran, where those who engage in mass murder are considered heroes, and not against the U.S., the UK and Israel, who are leading the war on terrorism." Almog still cannot travel to Britain and participated in the conference through a video link. (CNS News)
See also Conference Program: Averting Abuse of Universal Jurisdiction (Middle East Strategic Information)
There are two opposing views on how to handle Syria. The first holds that Syria has taken Iraq's place in the "axis of evil," and that the way to alter its behavior is continued isolation and stepped-up sanctions - this is the stick approach. The second argues that the U.S. should engage with Damascus and attempt to pry Syria from its allies in Tehran with a basket of incentives - the carrot approach.
Assad wants "normalized" relations, a new U.S. ambassador (recalled after Hariri's assassination in Lebanon in 2005), an end to economic sanctions, compensation for the recent U.S. air strike, and American sponsorship of indirect peace talks with Israel. In other words, in return for agreeing to an increased regional role and an end to its isolation, the Assad regime would like to be offered an increased regional role, an end to their isolation - and a pile of cash to boot. Apparently, the hope of the regime in Damascus is that if it creates a regional problem, it should receive an international reward for fixing it.
Carrots, be they diplomatic or economic, should be offered to those who adopt genuinely helpful policies. Providing them to states that merely offer to temporarily reduce their degree of rogue behavior is not only bad policy; it is bound to lead Syria to light more fires and then ask for additional rewards for extinguishing them. The writer is a Legacy Heritage Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington. (Jerusalem Post)
To spend a week in Israel is to begin to understand that this country is generations away from peace with the Palestinians. Sunday: A Kassam rocket is launched from northern Gaza into Sderot, an Israeli town within 3 km of the Hamas stronghold. Monday: Three more rockets are fired into Sderot, which has endured thousands of rocket attacks in recent years. The Israeli government has blocked access points to Gaza until the rockets stop. Tuesday: Three more Kassam rockets slam into the fields of the Negev. A young woman, who has lost relatives to the rocket attacks from Gaza, tells me, "We don't count the rockets anymore."
Wednesday: Two Kassam rockets land south of Ashkelon, a town well beyond the Gaza border, on the coast towards Tel Aviv. Thursday: The Palestinian Authority runs advertisements in Israeli newspapers detailing Fatah's commitment to a peace plan. It is a meaningless commitment. How can Israel negotiate peace with Palestinian interlocutors in Fatah, who have no control over Gaza, where more than 40% of Palestinians live?
An entire generation of Palestinian children is being raised on a full diet of hate education, on jihad and anti-Semitism. This is the long-term hurdle to peace in this generation, and the next. Look at the geography books for Palestinian children that encourage children to see no Israel, books that feature maps of Israel in the colors of the Palestinian flag, and described as Palestine. When the next generation of leaders is taught from childhood that Israel does not exist, how is future negotiation possible? The irony is that this hate education is funded by the West, by countries that pour money into the PA, who use it to glorify terrorism and to twist young minds against Israel, and peace. (The Australian)
Beware of Engagement - Martin Kramer (Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies-Shalem Center)
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