Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Report: Hamas Agrees to Long-Term Truce - Salah Nasrawi (AP/Washington Post)
Much at Stake for Egypt in Palestinian-Israel Talks - Jeffrey Fleishman
(Los Angeles Times)
International Criminal Court to Issue Arrest Warrant for Sudan's President - Colum Lynch (Washington Post)
Abbas Flails Out at His Only Possible Partner for Peace - Martin Peretz (New Republic)
Hamas Converted Medicine Bottles from Humanitarian Aid into Grenades - Yaakov Katz
Israel Overtakes Russia as India's Top Defense Supplier - Josy Joseph
(Daily News and Analysis-India)
Iraqis Seek Reparations for 1981 Israeli Attack on Nuclear Reactor (DPA/Qatar Tribune)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
"What really happened in Gaza was truly like a miracle," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, noted in a meeting with visiting Palestinian Islamic Jihad chief Ramadan Abdallah. The Supreme Leader again congratulated Palestinians on their victory over the Zionist regime's army. Khamenei went on to say that the Zionist regime's collapse has already begun. He reminded Palestinian resistance leaders that, as on the battleground, the Palestinians must insist on their political position to "force the enemy to retreat." He expressed hope for a complete liberation of Palestinian lands and said he "strongly believes that the final victory will come in the not-too-distant future" if the resistance continues at this pace.
For his part, Ramadan Abdallah thanked Iran for its help to Palestinians, especially during the recent war in Gaza. He said the victory over the Zionist regime's army was a "great strategic development" and promised "final victory" by the Palestinians. (Tehran Times-Iran)
Pope Benedict, trying to defuse a controversy over a bishop who denies the Holocaust, said Thursday in Vatican City that "any denial or minimization of this terrible crime is intolerable," especially if it comes from a clergyman. The pope told Jewish leaders from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations: "The hatred and contempt for men, women and children that was manifested in the Shoah (Holocaust) was a crime against humanity. This should be clear to everyone, especially to those standing in the tradition of the Holy Scriptures." The pope also confirmed that he was planning to visit Israel, the first visit by a pope since John Paul visited in 2000. (Reuters)
Pakistan acknowledged for the first time that the Mumbai terrorist attacks were launched from its shores and at least partly plotted on its soil, saying Thursday that it had arrested most of the chief suspects including one described as "the main operator." Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik said Pakistan has started criminal proceedings against eight suspects, suggesting it is serious about punishing those behind the November attacks, which killed 164 people. Malik said those in custody included Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarrar Shah, both Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders named by India as the masterminds of the attack. (AP)
See also The Saudi Connection to the Mumbai Massacres: Strategic Implications for Israel - Col. (res.) Jonathan Fighel
The Mumbai attacks have been linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba and radical Islamic groups in Kashmir generally. Saudi Arabia has contributed very much to what Lashkar-e-Taiba looks like, how it thinks, its motivation, ideology, and funding. The notion of global Islam has also penetrated to Gaza and exists under the umbrella of Hamas. Hamas could agree to a hudna (calm) for fifty years, but there will be no recognition of Israel or a cessation of the struggle against it. If Hamas was ready to act pragmatically, it would no longer be Hamas. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Student activists at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., are hailing a divestment decision by the board of trustees that they say makes the college the first in the country to break financial ties with companies specifically because they do business with Israel. But the college strenuously denies the move was politically motivated. Students for Justice in Palestine said it had urged trustees over the past year to sell off holdings in a mutual fund run by State Street Global Advisors in order to divest from six companies because of human rights concerns in the Palestinian territories. The companies were: Caterpillar, United Technologies, General Electric, ITT Corporation, Motorola, and Terex.
Sigmund Roos, chairman of the board of trustees, said the board never reviewed the group's petition. Roos said he was disappointed that students had portrayed the board's decision as a protest of Israeli policy. (Boston Globe)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Two-thirds of the Palestinians who were killed in the Gaza fighting were members of terror organizations, Israel Channel 2 News reported Thursday. A report issued by Military Intelligence and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories listed 1,134 Palestinian fatalities, 673 of whom belonged to Hamas and other groups. (Ha'aretz)
Israel's Central Elections Committee said on Thursday the apportionment of Knesset seats would remain without change following the final tally of Israel Defense Forces soldiers' ballots. (Ha'aretz)
See Complete Knesset Election Results below
See also Arabs Make Gains in New Israeli Parliament
Arab parties have increased their representation in Israel's newly elected parliament by one seat. The Balad party won three seats, Ra'am-Ta'al won four, and Hadash, that had three members in the previous Knesset, won four. Last month, Israel's Supreme Court overturned a decision to disqualify two Israeli Arab parties from running for Knesset. The Central Elections Committee had previously decided to ban the parties on the grounds that they did not recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish democratic state and supported an armed struggle against Israel. (Media Line)
Palestinians in Gaza fired three Kassam rockets at Israel Friday morning, two of which landed near Sderot. (Ynet News)
See also Recent Rocket Attacks Not By Hamas - David Blair
At least 40 rockets and mortar bombs have been fired at Israel from Gaza since Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire on Jan. 18. However, an Israeli security official said groups other than Hamas carried out the most recent attacks. "Our intelligence says it's not them," he said. Instead, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and fighters linked to the supposedly moderate Fatah movement are thought to have launched the strikes. (Telegraph-UK)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Israel's Gaza operation will not achieve a strategic outcome that goes beyond a breakable ceasefire. Hamas will find a way to eventually re-arm and re-engage in the same destructive behavior against Israel. At the same time, Hamas leaders will not be able to explain to Palestinians how shelling Israeli towns with rockets and terrorizing Israeli society will better their lives and advance the cause for statehood. Negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians based on the 1967 boundaries seem almost futile today.
There is little reason to believe that Israeli leaders will now accept, rightly or wrongly, going back to the 1967 borders where Israel's cities would be connected by a corridor nine miles wide, leaving population centers exposed and within mortar range of adversaries. It is equally difficult to imagine how Palestinians, as weak and divided as they are, will ever be able to change the balance of power in their favor and achieve their aims.
The future of Palestinian refugees lies either in full citizenship in some of the countries where they now live, or in relocating them to areas that can absorb them far better than Gaza and the West Bank. The writer is a research analyst at the Saban Center. (Saban Center for Middle East Policy-Brookings Institution)
Venezuela's Jewish community seems to have replaced George W. Bush as President Hugo Chavez's favorite foil. After Israel's offensive against Hamas in Gaza last month, the caudillo expelled Israel's ambassador and described Israel's actions in Gaza as "genocide." Then Chavez turned on Venezuela's Jews. "Let's hope that the Venezuelan Jewish community will declare itself against this barbarity," he bellowed on a government-controlled television channel.
Government media quickly took up the chorus. One television host close to Chavez blamed opposition demonstrations on two students he said had Jewish last names. On a pro-government Web site, another commentator demanded that citizens "publicly challenge every Jew that you find in the street, shopping center or park" and called for a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses, seizures of Jewish-owned property and a demonstration at Caracas's largest synagogue. On Jan. 30 the synagogue was duly attacked by a group of thugs, who spray-painted "Jews get out" on the walls and confiscated a registry of members. (Washington Post)
On Feb. 3, Iran successfully launched its first entirely homemade satellite, the Omid ("hope"), from the space center in Semnan Province, southeast of Tehran, on the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. The Omid is a small research satellite that will return to the atmosphere in June-July 2009. The two stage Safir 2 satellite launcher is liquid fuel-powered. Its successful launch demonstrates the capability to fire, manage, and separate the stages. It also shows an independent capability to construct, launch, and control satellites.
The real concern is that satellite launch technology is similar to the technology required in order to launch ballistic missiles. A missile capable of carrying a load of several dozen kilograms is also capable of carrying several hundred kilograms for distances of thousands of kilometers. This means that Iran can threaten West European countries. Yet Iran has had a military missile program for a long time, and the range of its Shehab-3 missile has covered Israel for at least the past decade. From this standpoint, the inherent threat of the solid-fuel Sejil missile, whose first trial took place last November and that was probably designed for military purposes, is much more serious than the direct threat stemming from the Iranian space program. The writer is a Senior Research Fellow and Director, Military Balance Project at the INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
There has been much talk of "engaging" Iran of late in Washington. The real question, however, is how does the U.S. engage Iran successfully? What can the U.S. do against an Iran that is building a nuclear weapon in order to become a regional hegemon? An Iran that is able to appeal to Shiites in Arab societies, perhaps most importantly in Lebanon? That can play on Arab sympathy for the Palestinians, while also influencing its allies in Iraq? And that can on occasion raise the domestic heat on American friends such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan? Amid all the talk of...well, talking to Iran, the Obama administration has yet to formulate a new and comprehensive policy toward the Islamic Republic. To talk is not a strategy. The writer is opinion page editor of the Beirut Daily Star. (Middle East Strategy at Harvard)
The myth of Camp David hangs heavy over American foreign policy, and it's easy to see why. Of all the attempts to forge a Middle East peace, the 1978 treaty between Egypt and Israel has proved the most durable. Camp David was indeed Jimmy Carter's one major foreign policy accomplishment amid a string of disasters including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the rise of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and Ayatollah Khomeini's ascent in Iran.
But the truth is that Carter never wanted an Egyptian-Israeli agreement, fought hard against it, and only agreed to go along with the process when it became clear that the rest of his foreign policy was in a shambles and he desperately needed to log a success. Carter's preferred Middle East policy was to insist on a comprehensive settlement among all concerned parties. It was Sadat's historic trip to Jerusalem in November 1977, where he discussed a separate peace between Egypt and Israel, and forestalled Carter's plan for a Geneva peace conference - not Camp David - that marked the true seismic shift in Middle East relations. (Wall Street Journal)
It is tragic that Turkey, a country that had been the savior of so many Jews - first during the Spanish Inquisition and later during World War II - has been transformed into one whose Jewish minority lives in fear. In 2007 Emir Kivircik published The Ambassador, a biography of his grandfather, Behic Erkin, the courageous Turkish ambassador to France who saved 20,000 Jews in France from the Holocaust. When World War II erupted, 10,000 Jews in France were Turkish citizens, and another 10,000 had previously been Turkish citizens. Erkin managed to get Turkish citizenship for the latter 10,000 Jews and then convinced both the French and Nazi governments to allow them all to return to Turkey. Zeyno Baran is a senior fellow and the director of the Center for Eurasian Policy at the Hudson Institute. Onur Sazak is a research associate at the center. (Weekly Standard)
Women's rights advocates say Iranian women are displaying a growing determination to achieve equal status in the country's conservative Muslim theocracy. Increasing educational levels and the information revolution have contributed to creating a generation of women determined to gain more control over their lives, rights advocates say. To separate the sexes, the state built schools and universities expressly for women, and improved basic transportation, enabling poor women to travel more easily to big cities, where they were exposed to more modern ideas.
Yet women still face extraordinary obstacles. Girls can legally be forced into marriage at the age of 13. Men have the right to divorce their wives whenever they wish, and are granted custody of any children over the age of 7. Men can ban their wives from working outside the home, and can engage in polygamy. By law, women may inherit from their parents only half the shares of their brothers. Their court testimony is worth half that of a man. (New York Times)
A Minority Report from the West Bank and Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh (MichaelTotten.com)
Note: Due to technical difficulties, some readers may not have received Daily Alert of Wednesday, February 11, which may be seen here: http://www.dailyalert.org/archive/2009-02/2009-02-11.html
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