Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 8, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Pakistan Arrests Suspected Mumbai Planner - Abu Arkam Naqash (Reuters)
    Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, one of the planners of last month's attack on Mumbai, was arrested by Pakistani security forces, an official of a charity regarded as a front for the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba said Monday.
    The official said Lakhvi was taken into custody following Sunday's raid on a camp used by fighters outside Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir. "Lakhvi is among four or five people arrested," said the official.
    Lakhvi, one of Lashkar's operations chiefs, was named as a ringleader in the Mumbai plot by the lone surviving gunman captured in India. He and Yusuf Muzammil, the head of Lashkar's anti-India operations, gave orders by telephone to the militants who killed at least 171 people.

Presidents Conference Calls for Pollard Pardon (JTA)
    The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has asked President Bush to pardon Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. navy analyst who was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for Israel.
    "It's time that he be released," said executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein. "He has expressed remorse."
    Pollard's pardon is opposed by the U.S. intelligence community; however, presidents on the brink of retirement often feel freer to take up controversial pardons.

Egyptian Paper Urges Top Cleric to Purify His Hand after Peres Handshake (AP/Ha'aretz)
    Several opposition newspapers and lawmakers in Egypt called on the country's top Islamic cleric to resign Saturday for shaking the Israeli president's hand at a conference.
    Egyptian media has been running a photo of Grand Sheik Mohammed Seyed Tantawi shaking hands with Israeli President Shimon Peres almost daily since the two met at a UN-sponsored interfaith dialogue in New York last month.
    Al-Osboa newspaper called on Tantawi to ritually purify his hands after the shake. Tantawi said he did not recognize the Israeli president.

Egyptian Rights Group: Human Rights Deteriorate in Arab World (AP)
    The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies said Friday that human rights in the Arab world have deteriorated over the past year and the future looks bleak for reform.
    The group accused Egypt of using its influence in various international organizations to thwart human rights reform, and criticized the Arab League for supporting repressive regimes in Sudan and Yemen.
    "The Arab League has become more expressive of authoritarian tendencies than any time in the past," the report said.

Key Links 
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush Vows to Deny Iran Nuclear Weapons
    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)
  • Obama: Iranian Nuclear Weapons Are Unacceptable
    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)
  • Report Gives Obama Advice on Handling Genocide Threats - Michael Abramowitz
    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:

  • IDF: Ashdod Now in Range of Palestinian Rockets - Efrat Weiss
    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 Provides NATO with Intelligence on Iran's Nuclear Program - Barak Ravid
    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):

  • Fatah-Hamas Struggle Blocks Progress on Peace with Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
    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)
  • Radical Islam Fears the "American Kosher Deli" - Sadanand Dhume
    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)
  • Observations:

    Invoke the Genocide Convention Against Iran - Irwin Cotler (Jerusalem Post)

    • Dec. 9 marks the 60th anniversary of the Genocide Convention, proclaimed in the wake of the Holocaust.
    • It is in Ahmadinejad's Iran where one finds the toxic convergence of the advocacy of the most horrific of crimes embedded in the most virulent of hatreds. It is dramatized by the parading in the streets of Tehran of a Shihab-3 missile draped in the words "Israel must be wiped off the map" and underpinned by the words of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that "[t]here is only one solution to the Middle East problem, namely the annihilation and destruction of the Jewish state." Iran has already committed the crime of incitement prohibited under the Genocide Convention.
    • The Genocide Convention authorizes a panoply of international legal remedies which Israel could invoke or support others in invoking in response to Iran. An application to hold Iran to account should be submitted to the UN Security Council pursuant to Article 8 of the Genocide Convention; an inter-state complaint can be launched against Iran before the International Court of Justice; and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should be asked to refer the danger of a genocidal and nuclear Iran to the Security Council as a threat to international peace and security.
    • The legal remedies to counter state-sanctioned incitement exist. Calling Ahmadinejad's Iran to account - and directly linking its nuclear ambitions to its genocidal incitements - is a responsibility, one envisaged by the Genocide Convention 60 years ago.

      The writer is the former minister of justice and attorney-general of Canada and is a Canadian member of parliament.

          See also Conference Video: State-Sanctioned Incitement to Genocide - What Can Be Done (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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