Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Iran Not Running Out of Uranium (AP/International Herald Tribune)
Iran to Try Bahais for Spying for Israel (AFP)
Nobel Winner Defends Israel's Actions - Ronan McGreevy (Irish Times)
Pro-Palestinian Group Fabricates Story of Anglican Church Divestment - Jonny Paul (Jerusalem Post)
Asia's Jewish Myths - Ian Buruma (The Australian)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Little more than a year after U.S. spy agencies concluded that Iran had halted work on a nuclear weapon, the Obama administration has made it clear that it believes there is no question that Tehran is seeking the bomb. Obama's nominee to serve as CIA director, Leon E. Panetta, testified on Capitol Hill last week, "From all the information I've seen, I think there is no question that they are seeking that capability."
Senior U.S. officials now discount a National Intelligence Estimate issued in November 2007 that was instrumental in derailing U.S. and European efforts to pressure Iran to shut down its nuclear program. U.S. officials said there was growing consensus that the 2007 estimate provided a misleading picture and that the country was poised to reach crucial bomb-making milestones this year. (Los Angeles Times)
Israel's new coalition government - whether led by Benjamin Netanyahu or Tzipi Livni - is likely to take a tough line when it comes to the Islamic militants of Hamas and the potential threat of Iran's nuclear program. Both threaten harsh military action against Hamas if rocket fire from Gaza persists and reject negotiations with Hamas. They also agree the Hamas regime should be toppled. (AP/Washington Post)
See also White House: Obama Eager to Work with Israel after Elections
The White House praised the Israeli elections as a sign of a strong democracy, as spokesman Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that President Obama looks forward to working with the next prime minister of the U.S. ally. "President Obama looks forward to working with whoever makes up that next Israeli government in a search for lasting and durable peace in the region," Gibbs said. (AP)
UNRWA, the massive UN bureaucracy that administers assistance to the Palestinians, is locked in a battle in Washington with those who say the agency should be shut down because it has been co-opted by radicals. They challenge not only the legitimacy of UNRWA but the refugee status of the 4.3 million Palestinians it is charged with serving. In the U.S. Congress, Reps. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) are reviving their campaign to cut U.S. funds to UNRWA until it comes clean about what the lawmakers say are its irregularities and its coziness with terrorists. The U.S. provides between a fifth and a quarter of UNRWA's annual budget. (JTA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
For all the confusion prompted by the near parity of Kadima and Likud in Tuesday's election, and even before the final tally of soldiers' votes, one of the most critical pieces of arithmetic is straightforward. Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu can reasonably hope to build a narrow coalition majority with "natural" allies and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni cannot. Netanyahu can probably block Livni; Livni probably can't block Netanyahu. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Israel Goes to the Polls - Editorial
However the political jockeying plays out, Israelis have once again reaffirmed their commitment to a democratic process that, for all its imperfections, will eventually produce a representative, responsible and lawful government. If only the same could be said of the Palestinians and the rest of Israel's neighbors, on whom any hopes for a lasting peace must ultimately rest. (Wall Street Journal)
Israeli planes on Wednesday struck a Hamas post in Khan Yunis in Gaza in response to Palestinian mortar fire at Israel earlier in the day. "As the sole authority in the Gaza Strip, Hamas bears full responsibility for all terror activities originating within its area of control," the IDF said. Approximately 40 Kassam rockets, mortar shells, and Grad missiles have been fired at Israel since a cease-fire with Hamas took effect over two weeks ago. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Israeli voters Tuesday threw a wrench into the plans of the world's peace processors - President Obama included. The winners were those who presume that as long as Iran and its proxies are armed and ready to fight, no amount of uprooted Jewish settlements will bring peace. Israeli voters are disillusioned with U.S. special envoys. They know most Palestinians agree with Hamas, which rejects the existence of any Jewish state and vows to fight it to the end. They expect that, even if peace talks somehow near a deal to concede Israeli-controlled land, Iran will surely spoil the deal by getting Hamas or Hizbullah to attack - or perhaps by using its own growing nuclear and missile threat. (New York Post)
We now have most of the nominees for the key Mideast positions in the Obama White House and the State and Defense departments. None of the people announced up to now is known to bring a pronounced "Arabist" perspective, nor to be a consistent critic of Israel, nor to be an apologist for Iran, Syria, Hizbullah or Hamas. Obama is assembling a team of intelligent centrists with a realistic, pragmatic approach. None is starry-eyed and romantic about the Arabs. Many have extensive experience with Israel and some understanding of its strategic position. On the other hand, nowhere is there a true hawk either. (Jerusalem Post)
Every U.S. president has tried to placate the mullahs, with no success. The reason is that since 1979, Iran has been torn between its reality as a nation state and its dream as the vehicle for a universal messianic revolution. As a nation state, Iran has no objective reason to be an enemy of the U.S., a fact reflected in the abiding popularity that America enjoys among Iranians. As a revolutionary force, however, Iran must regard the U.S. as its No. 1 enemy because the U.S. is the only power capable of resisting the global ambitions of the Khomeinists.
Official Iran is not any kinder to Islam than to the West. For the first time in almost 14 centuries, Islam is being scripted out, its place taken by an ersatz faith based on the cult of the "supreme guide," the return of the "hidden imam," and dreams of world conquest. As the embodiment of the Khomeinist revolution, the country is a threat to regional stability and world peace. Obsessed by the concept of "exporting the revolution," the Khomeinist ruling elite devotes vast resources to undermining the established order in neighboring countries.
The change of behavior that President Obama has called for could only come when Iran reasserts itself as a normal nation state bound by international law and custom. (Times-UK)
Once, as the second intifada was nearing its height, I met with a Hamas man in Gaza City to talk about suicidal killing. He had written his master's thesis on martyrdom. Unlike other Hamas leaders, he had actually sent one of his own children to his death, in an attack on an Israeli settlement. To him, suicide bombings were valuable, not just because they could kill Israelis but because they confounded the unbelieving world, signaling "that we no longer love this life."
Matter-of-factly, he told me that the Palestinians might have to sacrifice half the rising generation to drive the Israelis out and rule all Palestine again. He wound up sacrificing most of his own family. Israel killed the Hamas man, Nizar Rayyan, in January by dropping a bomb on his house. (Atlantic Monthly)
Hamas, Not Israel, Should Be Tried for War Crimes - Alan Dershowitz (Jerusalem Post)
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