Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Obama Sends Condolences to Habad (JTA)
Israel Takes Part in NATO Intelligence Discussions - Roni Sofer
Would-Be LAX Bomber Resentenced to 22 Years - Kim Murphy (Los Angeles Times)
Anti-Semitism Is Not the Same as Islamophobia - Clemens Heni (Jerusalem Post)
London Gallery Shows Anti-Semitism in Arab Media - Jonny Paul (Jerusalem Post)
Trade Union and Other Boycotts of Israel in Great Britain and Ireland - Ronnie Fraser (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
The Shop Protest No One Bought - Marcus Dysch (London Jewish Chronicle)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Fresh evidence unearthed Thursday by investigators in India indicated that the Mumbai attacks were stage-managed from Pakistan by top leaders of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Indian and American intelligence officials have already identified Lashkar operative Yusuf Muzammil as a mastermind of the attacks. On Thursday, Indian investigators named senior Lashkar figure Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. Both men were in contact with their charges as they sailed to Mumbai from Karachi, and then continued guiding the attacks as they unfolded, directing the assaults.
Deven Barthi, a deputy commissioner on the Mumbai police force, said the weapons used in the attacks came from a factory in Punjab province in Pakistan that is under contract to the Pakistani military. The attackers left a trail of evidence in a satellite phone they left behind on a hijacked fishing trawler, which contained the telephone numbers of Muzammil, Lakhvi and a number of other Lashkar operatives.
Some of the six people killed at Habad house in Mumbai had been treated particularly savagely, the police said, with bodies bearing what appeared to be strangulation marks and other wounds that did not come from gunshots or grenades. The Washington Post reported that Rakesh Maria, India's joint commissioner of police, said Thursday that the bodies of those killed at the Jewish center showed they were "beaten badly. There was heavy assault there." (New York Times)
See also Rice Calls on Pakistanis to Act Quickly on Terrorists - Candace Rondeaux
During a visit to Pakistan on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Rice urged the country's leaders to move forcefully against groups linked to the deadly attack last week in Mumbai. Pakistani President Zardari has asked India to refrain from blaming his government and has vowed to cooperate in a joint investigation. The Pakistani government banned Lashkar following a deadly 2001 assault on India's Parliament in New Delhi. (Washington Post)
See also below Observations: Mumbai Nanny Says She's No Hero (CNN)
Already tense relations between Egypt and Hamas have soured after Cairo for the first time openly accused the Islamists of torpedoing Palestinian reconciliation talks. Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit was quoted as saying on Thursday that months of Egyptian-mediated talks between Hamas and Fatah failed in November because of "Hamas' lack of enthusiasm toward reconciliation." (AFP)
Forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas are rounding up suspected Islamist activists and allegations of torture and abuse of legal procedure are mounting sharply. One man recounted an ordeal last month in a Palestinian prison in Hebron where he was forced to hang or stand for hours in "stress positions." The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights logged 28 alleged cases of torture and ill-treatment in November in the West Bank, compared to 26 cases in the first half of 2008 and 40 from July to October. Hamas says 700 of its members are being held in the West Bank. Fatah says 100 of its members are currently being held by Hamas in Gaza.
Rights groups say most complaints of abuse involve Preventive Security and General Intelligence, which operate jails separate from the EU-trained police and U.S.-trained Presidential Guard and National Security force. Ramiro Cibrian-Uzal, the EU envoy to Israel, dismissed suggestions the West Bank was turning into a police state and offered high praise for what he termed Abbas' "counterterrorist" forces, saying: "They are doing great." (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
"The home front will be the main front of the [next] war, whether it is missiles from Gaza, Lebanon, Syria or Iran," says Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i. Vilna'i is setting up a special security school to train mayors and regional and local council heads how to manage in the event of a war. In accordance with a plan drawn up by the National Emergency Administration (a newly created agency set up to coordinate the various emergency services), by the end of this year every municipality and council will have to have an approved emergency plan for their community during wartime. (Jerusalem Post)
A 45-year-old woman and her two-month-old baby girl were injured Thursday by stones hurled at vehicles traveling on the Nablus bypass road in the West Bank. When the car reached a junction near Hawara, a large stone smashed the windshield. (Ynet News)
Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket that landed near Sderot on Thursday evening, after firing a mortar shell that landed near a kibbutz earlier in the day. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Hamas' international financial support network suffered a series of recent setbacks, most notably the U.S. federal court conviction of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and five of its leaders on charges of providing material support to Hamas. Yet the group is still able to raise substantial funds. As the governing party in Gaza, Hamas has access to new sources of funding, including taxes and customs fees. Furthermore, foreign donations account for most of Hamas' revenue, primarily from Iran and Qatar.
To disrupt Hamas financing further, the U.S. and the international community together must continue to crack down on the group's fraudulent fundraising and press Egypt to do more to shut the smuggling tunnels that funnel funds and goods to Hamas in Gaza. The writer is director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling Wednesday that eliminated the distinction between supporting the violent and social wings of a terrorist group. "If you give money to an organization that you know to be engaged in terrorism, the fact that you earmark it for the organization's nonterrorist activities does not get you off the liability hook," Judge Richard Posner wrote for the majority. The ruling favors Joyce and Stanley Boim, whose son David was shot and killed by Hamas terrorists in 1996, upholding a $156 million damages judgment against the Quranic Literacy Institute and the American Muslim Society. Attorney Stephen Landes hailed the decision as an important precedent for families of people killed by terrorists because it helps "victims of terror make the people paying the terrorists pay the victims." (Investigative Project on Terrorism)
The Egyptian media is rife with anti-Semitism. There are few places where Jews are blamed for so many of the world's ills, from carcinogenic pesticides to the war in Iraq. More distressing is that much of the blaming is being done by Egypt's self-described liberals - the pro-democratic and anti-Islamist crowd on which the country's hopes for a more tolerant future supposedly rest. The new, "liberal" Egyptian weekly Al-Youm As-Sabi headlined a recent report: "Jews are the principal suspect in the financial crisis." In October, Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt's largest independent newspaper and widely regarded as the country's only serious tribune for liberalism, ran a column baldly titled "The Jewish Conspiracy."
These and other examples are especially notable because they have nothing to do with Israel or Zionism. They expose the falsehood - popular with prominent scholars like John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt - that hatred of Jews is not one of the great motivating factors in the Arab world's overall objections to Israel. Over the past eight years, the U.S. has invested huge resources in attempting to bring democracy to the Middle East. But it's not clear whether that project will succeed as long as America's natural allies in the region remain themselves so profoundly irrational and illiberal. (Wall Street Journal)
U.S. president-elect Barack Obama has suggested appointing a special presidential negotiator on Kashmir. This is a very dangerous move indeed. In light of the Mumbai attacks it would be a pure political reward for terror outrages. The message such a move would send would be: You murder enough civilians and we'll start making concessions. As the epicenter of global terrorism shifts from the Middle East to South Asia, you can see the effort to transform the Kashmir dispute into the equivalent of the Palestinian dispute; that is, the fountainhead, all-purpose grievance that can be used to explain, if not justify, every act of Islamist butchery and murder in the region.
The Pakistan government denies all involvement in the Mumbai attacks and most senior Indians I speak to do not think the ineffectual Pakistani civilian government was directly involved. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to believe that an operation of such scale and sophistication, mounted by Pakistanis from within Pakistan, had no involvement from the Pakistani military or some element of its Inter Services Intelligence agency. The ISI founded Lashkar-e-Taiba to prosecute its low-level war against India in Kashmir, just as the ISI founded the Taliban to ensure a government in Afghanistan sympathetic to Pakistani interests.
The parallel with the behavior of Pakistan in the A.Q. Khan scandal is instructive. The Pakistanis expect us to believe they are a responsible nuclear power, yet have no responsibility or even knowledge when their chief nuclear scientist sells nuclear weapons technology to rogue regimes across the world, often using Pakistani military transports in the process. There is no obvious path forward with Pakistan, which occupies that diabolical category of divided state, where part of the state fights terrorism and part of it enables and helps terrorism. (The Australian)
Whether a peaceful resolution of the nuclear conflict with Iran is possible hinges on three factors: an international consensus that Iran should not acquire a nuclear weapon; the willingness of the U.S. and the West to communicate to Iran and others that the conflict is about proliferation, not about the character of the regime; and domestic politics in Iran.
The incoming American president has stated that he is prepared to talk to Iran directly and, in principle, without preconditions. However, high-level bilateral talks between Washington and Tehran would not begin before the fall of 2009. And they should not, unless Iran responds to Obama's inauguration with a considerable confidence-building measure, such as the suspension of enrichment or improving the IAEA's access to Iranian nuclear installations. The prospect of re-opening diplomatic relations between the two countries would boost Ahmadinejad's domestic popularity tremendously before Iran's presidential elections next summer. But there is little reason to help him win re-election, if he does not show that he wants to do business.
After the Iranian presidential elections, Washington and Tehran may be prepared to hold serious bilateral talks, though we should not have too many illusions. Most probably, the West will have to realize that Iran, with or without Ahmadinejad, will not be prepared to give up its nuclear "achievement" - the 4,000 or more centrifuges that will be installed by that time. The writer is executive chairman of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Berlin. (International Herald Tribune)
The president of the UN General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua, last week called for Israel to be shunned as a pariah and strangled economically. His call came on the UN's Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, an annual occasion devoted to lamenting the rebirth of Jewish sovereignty in the 20th century, denouncing the national liberation movement - Zionism - that made that rebirth possible, and championing the cause of the Palestinian Arabs. Unmentioned is the fact that Palestine's Arabs would have had their state 60 years ago had they and the Arab League not rejected the UN's decision and chosen instead to declare war on the Jewish state.
More than one million Israeli Arabs enjoy civil and political rights unmatched in the Arab world - yet Israel is accused of repression and human-rights abuse. Successive Israeli governments have endorsed a "two-state solution" - yet Israel is blasted as the obstacle to peace. The Palestinian Authority oversees the vilest culture of Jew-hatred since the Third Reich, and wants all Jews expelled from the land it claims for itself - yet Israel is labeled an "apartheid state" and singled out for condemnation and ostracism. (Boston Globe)
See also The UN's Racist Conference on Racism - Claudia Rosett (Forbes)
The proposed canonization of Pope Pius XII is an internal Roman Catholic theological issue. Yet if the Vatican feels today that the Pope's behavior during the Holocaust merits particular recognition, I have suggested that it send the notarized evidence in the Vatican archives to the Righteous Among the Nations Department at Yad Vashem and apply for him to be made a Righteous Gentile. To date more than 21,000 Righteous Gentiles, almost all of them Christians, many of them Roman Catholics, have been recognized by Yad Vashem, which makes extraordinary efforts to give honor where honor is due. At the moment only archival material up to 1939 is accessible to scholars; for later material, they will have to wait until 2013.
There are many historical episodes in which the evidence of the Pope's positive involvement will be confirmed or negated by the documents in the Vatican archives. One is the refuge given to 477 Jews in Vatican City and its enclaves on the eve of the German roundup of Jews in Rome in 1943. A further 4,238 Jews were saved when they were given sanctuary in monasteries and convents throughout the city. Among those in Rome at that time already recognized by Yad Vashem was Father Pietro Palazzini, later a cardinal. Only the Vatican archives can reveal what part the Pope himself played in these two acts of rescue, which saved four-fifths of the Jews of Rome. (Ha'aretz)
Qadoura Musa spent 12 years in Israeli jails on security-related charges. Today Musa is a champion of cooperation with the Israelis. "I have decided to work with the Israelis, rather than fight with them," said Musa, now a grey-haired elder who serves as Palestinian governor of the region around the northern West Bank city of Jenin. Relations are especially good between Musa and Dani Atar, head of the regional council of Gilboa, the neighboring part of Israel. The current focus of both men is a plan to develop a large industrial park on the Palestinian side of the boundary between the West Bank and Israel, a project that could eventually provide jobs for 15,000 Palestinians and 2,000 Israelis. Germany is underwriting the construction of a connecting road as well as preliminary work on the park itself. (Toronto Star)
For young Israeli men and women, a post-army sojourn overseas has become so common it is seen almost as much a rite of passage as military service itself. The beaches of Goa, India, are so immersed with Israeli backpackers that restaurants offer Hebrew-language menus. But with the recent unrest in India, the number of places safe for Israelis is rapidly shrinking. Much of the Middle East and the Arab world is already off limits and the government warns that the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt has been infiltrated by al-Qaeda. Even when traveling to safer venues, the government advises Israelis to keep a low profile.
"If it's not attacks, it's anti-Semitism. It's not safe anywhere but that's no reason not to go," said Shiran Yousef, 20, who is about to depart to India. "If there are tourists there, there is no reason why we shouldn't go there." Arbel Altschuler, 21, who plans to head to India next week, said he would shy away from speaking Hebrew and would refrain from any outward symbols - such as Israeli markings on his backpack - that would identify him in touchy places. He said he would take the basic precautionary steps he has honed so well at home. "There is a price to being Israeli," he said. "It seems normal to me already, though. We have to be more careful than others, and we have to accept that." (AP/Washington Post)
Mumbai Nanny Says She's No Hero - Paula Hancocks (CNN)
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