Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Veteran Mideast Envoy Ross Named to Advise Clinton on Iran Strategy - Glenn Kessler (Washington Post)
In a Palestinian Unity Government, Hamas Wins - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Israel's Jewish Population Getting Younger, Arab Population Getting Older - Yoram Ettinger
Ancient Seals Unearthed in Jerusalem Dig - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The Obama administration intends to provide some $900 million to help rebuild Gaza, administration officials said Monday. A U.S. official said that the aid would not go to Hamas but would be funneled through nongovernmental organizations.
The aid will be formally announced next week when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton travels to a Palestinian donors' conference in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, which is seeking to raise close to $2 billion for Gaza. After the conference, Clinton will make her first trip to Israel as secretary of state. (New York Times)
A memorandum opinion written by U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Ellis III on Feb. 17 and released last week may spell the end to a four-year effort by the Justice Department to convict two former pro-Israel lobbyists for allegedly violating the Espionage Act by passing classified government information to journalists and an Israeli Embassy official. The case against the AIPAC lobbyists was the first time two civilian nongovernment employees were indicted under the Espionage Act, although the type of information they gathered and passed on was similar to that collected every day by Washington journalists and think-tank analysts who cover national security affairs.
Ellis determined that the government's authority under an executive order to put a "confidential," "secret" or "top secret" stamp on information does not automatically qualify it as national defense information under the law. Ellis noted that J. William Leonard, who had been director of the government's Information Security Office responsible for oversight of the entire U.S. classification system, would testify about the "back channel" practice of government officials disclosing classified information to journalists and lobbyists "for the purpose of advancing national security interests."
That claim would support the defendants' argument that some of the information in the case was passed to them by government officials, some of whom, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have been subpoenaed to testify if the matter goes to trial. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
A report prepared by the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories states that the release of Marwan Barghouti - who was sentenced in an Israeli court to five life sentences in 2004 - would not have a dramatic impact on the Palestinian Authority and would not succeed in uniting Palestinian factions. On Monday, the London-based Al Hayat cited Palestinian sources as saying that Israel was considering releasing Barghouti as a goodwill gesture to Mahmoud Abbas. The report concluded that Barghouti's influence was mainly in Ramallah, but not in other parts of the West Bank. In addition, Barghouti would encounter fierce opposition from the "old guard" in the PA. (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli soldiers stationed near the Kissufim border crossing opened fire on Palestinians planting explosives on Monday. An Israel Air Force helicopter subsequently bombed the terrorists' car as they tried to escape. (Ha'aretz)
Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket on Monday afternoon that landed near a kibbutz in southern Israel. Several hours earlier, a Kassam rocket exploded near the town of Sderot. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The U.S. administration attended four full days of negotiations in Geneva on planning the UN's Durban II "anti-racism" conference. During that time they witnessed the following: the failure to adopt a proposal to act against Holocaust denial, a new proposal to single out Israel which will now be included in the draft without objection, vigorous refusal by many states to back down on references to "Islamophobia" (the general allegation of a racist Western plot to discriminate against all Muslims), and numerous attacks on free speech. This "dialogue" is not promoting rights and freedoms. It is legitimizing a forum for disputing the essence of democracy, handing Holocaust deniers a global platform and manufacturing the means to demonize Israel in the interests of those states bent on the Jewish state's destruction. (Forbes)
See also Boycott Durban II - Gregg J. Rickman
The 2001 World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, otherwise known as the Durban Conference, was a parley hijacked by radicals to become an anti-Israel hate-fest. The April 2009 Durban II conference promises to top that fiasco, despite the Obama administration's decision to attempt to influence the process. We must do the only honorable deed and boycott Durban II, denying the world's terrorists and bigots the privilege of our legitimizing presence among them. The writer served as the first U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism from 2006 to 2009. (JTA)
As a Middle East way station for terrorists, Syria can't be ignored. Candidate Barack Obama pledged during the campaign to engage Syria in contrast to President Bush's attempt to isolate it. Now a limited engagement has begun as Obama gave a nod of approval for trips last week to Syria by the heads of the Senate and House foreign affairs committees. The U.S. has tried soft diplomacy before with Syria, under President Clinton and pre-9/11 Bush. Both attempts revealed a Damascus unwilling to give up ties with Iran, Hamas, and Hizbullah, or to end its dark influence in Lebanon. The Assad regime, based on the rule of the minority Alawite tribe, needs the economic benefits of those ties and a perception of external threats to control internal dissent. (Christian Science Monitor)
President Obama's UN envoy, Susan Rice, has pledged to "refresh and renew American leadership" at the UN. But U.S. rivals with a long history of opposing American aims now hold some of the most influential posts at the world body, a testament to the diminished power of American diplomacy to shape the organization. The General Assembly is headed by a leftist Nicaraguan priest, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, who routinely rails against the evils of American imperialism. Cuba chairs the Non-Aligned Movement. Libya serves on the Security Council and next year will preside over the General Assembly. Last week, Libya blocked a U.S. plan for a Security Council resolution condemning violence against civilians in south Darfur.
Even Iran and Sudan, which are subject to U.S.-backed UN sanctions, have secured leadership positions on the board of the UN's top development agency and at the head of the Group of 77, a group that coordinates social policies for Third World countries. (Washington Post)
Repetition of Failed Experiments Is Not a Formula for Israeli-Palestinian Peace - Elliott Abrams (Weekly Standard)
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