Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Pakistan Arrests Suspected Mumbai Planner - Abu Arkam Naqash
Presidents Conference Calls for Pollard Pardon (JTA)
Egyptian Paper Urges Top Cleric to Purify His Hand after Peres Handshake (AP/Ha'aretz)
Egyptian Rights Group: Human Rights Deteriorate in Arab World (AP)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
President George Bush reiterated Friday his pledge that the U.S. would not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. "We have made our bottom-line clear. For the safety of our people and the peace of the world, America will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon," Bush told the Saban Forum in Washington. (UPI)
See also Bush: No Palestinian State Will Be Born of Terror
President Bush told the Saban Forum on Friday: "I was the first American President to call for a Palestinian state, and building support for the two-state solution has been a top priority of my administration. To earn the trust of Israeli leaders, we made it clear that no Palestinian state would be born of terror....To help the Palestinian people achieve the state they deserve, we insisted on Palestinian leadership that rejects terror and recognizes Israel's right to exist."
"Our aim was to help a troubled region take the difficult first steps on the long journey to freedom and prosperity and hope. Some have called this idealistic, and no doubt it is. Yet it is the only practical way to help the people of the Middle East realize the dignity and justice they deserve. And it is the only practical way to protect the United States of America in the long term." "The day will come when al-Qaeda and Hizbullah and Hamas are marginalized and then wither away, as Muslims across the region realize the emptiness of the terrorists' vision and the injustice of their cause." (White House)
President-elect Barack Obama told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday: "We need to ratchet up tough but direct diplomacy with Iran, making very clear to them that their development of nuclear weapons would be unacceptable, that their funding of terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hizbullah, their threats against Israel, are contrary to everything that we believe in and what the international community should accept, and present a set of carrots and sticks, in changing their calculus about how they want to operate."
"One of the main things that diplomacy can accomplish is to help knit together the kind of coalition with China and India and Russia and other countries that now do business with Iran to agree that, in order for us to change Iran's behavior, we may have to tighten up those sanctions. But we are willing to talk to them directly and give them a clear choice and, ultimately, let them make a determination in terms of whether they want to do this the hard way or the easy way." (MSNBC)
A report released Monday by a task force led by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Defense Secretary William Cohen recommends that Obama create a high-level forum in the White House to direct the government's response to threats of genocide, focus intelligence analysis on potential cases of mass atrocities, and provide more funds for crisis prevention and response. "Preventing genocide is an achievable goal," the report says. "There are ways to recognize [genocide's] signs and symptoms, and viable options to prevent it at every turn if we are committed and prepared." The task force was convened by the U.S. Institute of Peace, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Academy of Diplomacy. (Washington Post)
See also below Observations: Invoke the Genocide Convention Against Iran - Irwin Cotler (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command recently handed out leaflets to the residents of the port city of Ashdod, the town of Kiryat Malachi, and several other communities explaining the ways to properly prepare for missile attacks. The IDF believes that terror organizations in Gaza have managed to significantly increase their rocket launching range, to up to 30 kilometers (18.6 miles). The leaflets explain how to prepare a protected space in one's house against the missile threat and how to act when an air raid siren is sounded. "Due to the possibility that rockets will also reach your residential area, preparing and helping your family prepare for difficulties which are not familiar in daily life is essential," the leaflet said. (Ynet News)
See also Israel Air Force Hits Gaza Rocket Crew - Barak Ravid
The Israel Air Force on Sunday bombed a group of Palestinian militants in Gaza as they were preparing to fire Kassam rockets at Israel. Southern Israel was battered by Kassam rocket fire from Gaza with more than 20 Kassam rockets and mortars fired at Israel over the weekend. (Ha'aretz)
See also Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues - Shmulik Hadad
Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets toward Israel Sunday evening that landed near two different kibbutzim. Eshkol Regional Council Head Haim Yalin, who lives in close proximity to the landing site of one of the rockets, said: "We heard a very loud blast; the houses shook. Unfortunately, these attacks have been going on all day long." (Ynet News)
Israel has provided NATO with substantial intelligence about the Iranian nuclear program and the development of long-range missiles by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, diplomats in Jerusalem said. The intelligence was delivered by a team of IDF experts who came to Brussels to brief their counterparts. The Israeli delegation focused on the Iranians' Shihab-4 missile, with a strike range of 3,000 km., that will threaten parts of Europe. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
We are now dealing with two separate Palestinian entities in the West Bank and Gaza and we don't have one clear address on the Palestinian side. Because of this split, there is no real partner for peace on the Palestinian side. Hamas is not a partner because of their ideology and Fatah is not a partner because they are weak, corrupt and unable to deliver. Mahmoud Abbas' term in office expires on Jan. 9, 2009, exactly four years after he was elected to succeed Yasser Arafat. But Abbas has made it clear that he intends to stay in power beyond that date, saying he is entitled to unilaterally extend his term by another year. Hamas says it won't recognize Abbas' legitimacy after Jan. 9.
What does all this mean for U.S. efforts to "boost" the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians? If Abbas does remain in power, he will be depicted by his opponents as "another Arab dictator." Abbas will lose much credibility and legitimacy among his own people. He will no longer be able to present himself as an elected leader. The new U.S. administration will have to deal with a weaker Abbas - one who would never be able to sell any agreement with Israel to the majority of the Palestinians. Unless the Palestinians end the power struggle between Fatah and Hamas, there is no hope for making any progress toward solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Hudson Institute)
Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka were murdered along with four other Jews in Mumbai's Nariman House, not far from the luxury hotels and crowded railway station that bore the brunt of an assault that killed 171 people and wounded 239. They and their co-religionists were murdered for the simple fact of their faith. In Pakistan, from where the attack was plotted and launched, a popular theory holds that their country is under threat from what the worldlier of Islamabad's residents call the American Kosher Deli - an alliance of Americans, Israelis and Indians, whose capital is New Delhi. In the faith-obsessed imagination, religion is the defining feature of every person, country and culture. By this logic, non-Muslims are inevitably hostile to Islam.
Against this backdrop, it can be tempting to view the war on terror as a struggle between those - Christian, Jew and Hindu - who reject the prophet Mohammed's message and those who submit to it. But the lesson from Mumbai is in fact the opposite. The common enemy is not Islam, much less ordinary Muslims, but a toxic, totalitarian interpretation of the faith that goes by many names - among them Islamism, militant Islam, fundamentalist Islam and radical Islam. This ideology, exported in its Sunni form most fervently by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and in a Shia variant by the revolutionary regime in Iran, calls for every aspect of human life to be ordered according to the medieval precepts enshrined in sharia. What binds democratic America, Israel and India, then, is not merely that they are loathed by radical Muslims, but a shared commitment by most, if not all, Americans, Israelis and Indians to a planet on which all kinds of belief (and disbelief) have an equal right to thrive. (Forbes)
Invoke the Genocide Convention Against Iran - Irwin Cotler (Jerusalem Post)
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