Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at www.dailyalert.org|
June 26, 2009
Money Floods Out of Iran as Election Crisis Continues - Damien McElroy (Telegraph-UK)
Iran Doctor Tells of Neda's Death (BBC News)
Global Reach of Spain's Courts Curtailed - Robert Marquand (Christian Science Monitor)
Hizbullah Seen as Bigger Threat to U.S. than Al-Qaeda - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
Sharansky Becomes Jewish Agency Chairman - Raphael Ahren and Nir Hasson (Ha'aretz)
New U.S. Special Representative Announced for Muslim Outreach (U.S. State Department)
Israel Upgrades Colombia's Kfir Fighters - Arie Egozi (Flightglobal)
Taliban Averts Attacks with U.S. Equipment - Eli Lake
Israel Ranks 7th in Broadband Penetration (Ynet News)
"New" Anti-Semitism in Contemporary German Academia
- Yves Pallade (Jewish Political Studies Review)
Are Israeli Settlements Legal? (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Test Yourself: How Do We Apply International Humanitarian Law During Wartime? (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
International Law and the Fighting in Gaza - Justus Reid Weiner (Global Law Forum)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Iranian President Ahmadinejad lashed out at President Obama on Thursday, warning him against "interfering" in Iranian affairs and demanding an apology for criticism of a government crackdown on demonstrators protesting electoral fraud. Ahmadinejad said Obama was behaving like his predecessor, George W. Bush, and suggested that talks with the U.S. on Iran's nuclear program would be pointless if Obama kept up his criticism.
"Do you want to speak with this tone?" Ahmadinejad said, addressing Obama. "If that is your stance, then what is left to talk about?" He added: "I hope you avoid interfering in Iran's affairs and express your regret in a way that the Iranian nation is informed of it." He asked why Obama "has fallen into this trap and repeated the comments that Bush used to make." (Washington Post)
See also Hizbullah Accuses West of Fomenting Iran Turmoil (AFP)
Step by step, Iran's leaders are successfully pushing back threats to their authority, crushing street protests, pressing challengers to withdraw or to limit their objections to the disputed presidential election and restricting the main opposition leader's ability to do much more than issue statements of outrage. There were still signs of widespread public anger and resentment toward the leadership, but no organization to channel it, political analysts said.
But there were also signs of continued resistance. Only 105 out of the 290 members of Parliament took part in a victory celebration for Ahmadinejad on Tuesday, newspapers reported Thursday. Echoing a symbol of defiance to the shah, the ritual of 10 p.m. rooftop shouts of "God is great" and new chants of "Death to the dictator" has been growing stronger by the day. (New York Times)
Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told TIME that Israel is ready to start talks "without preconditions" with Arab leaders. "Even today, I'm ready to start talks with any country in our region. We agree with President Obama's approach to a regional settlement of historical disputes. I'm ready to take a jet to Damascus to meet President Bashir al-Assad."
Referring to Iran, he said, "This really fanatic extremist regime is still in power, and the young people who are ready to fight and die for change are not getting any real support from the West....The fact that this regime continues to be an acceptable partner for dialogue is really a bad message. It shows the bad guys are winners."
Lieberman also called demands that Israel halt construction in Jewish settlements a "mistake." "We are trying to formulate some understanding with the U.S. We don't speak of building new settlements. We don't speak of expansion. We try to build only within existing construction lines...[but] we cannot suffocate our own people." (TIME)
Hamas marked the second anniversary of its take-over of Gaza this week, but there were no victory parades, no jubilation and no great words - just growing anger, despair and hopelessness among many Palestinians. "Not everything deserves to be celebrated," says Ahmed Yousef, Hamas' deputy foreign minister. Gaza in June 2009 looks like a police state. Armed Hamas men keep each residential block under their scrutiny. Complaints about unscrupulous behavior by Hamas people can fill pages. A young man reports how Hamas first beat him up and then shot apart all four tires of his car, because he was listening to a Fatah song. A common intimidation method used by Hamas is knee-capping, where victims are shot from close range in the knees, crippling them. (DPA)
See also Gaza's Two Years under Hamas: Order and Absurdity - Steven Gutkin and Karin Laub
Two years after Hamas seized power, the Gazan economy is sustained by smuggling through tunnels, its civil service gets paid on condition it doesn't work, and its population is no longer fearful of gangs but feels muzzled by Hamas. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Hamas' senior political leader Khaled Mashaal said on Thursday, "The Palestinian people reject the Israeli position on a demilitarized state, on the refugees, on Jerusalem, and on the Jewish state." "A demilitarized state is a pathetic state, not a serious national entity. The Palestinians will not accept Jerusalem as a unified city under Jewish control." Mashaal called U.S. President Obama's demand that Israel freeze all construction in the settlements "positive, but not enough." "President Obama uses new language, but we expect real pressure on the Israelis. There are demands to freeze the settlements, but that is not the price we want, even if it is a necessary step." (Ynet News)
Israel has agreed to keep its forces out of four West Bank cities, security sources said Thursday. Israel will refrain from entering Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jericho and Kalkilya, except in cases where the army believes terrorists are poised to attack Israelis. The agreement was made possible after the PA's continued activity to curb terrorist groups in the West Bank. Some 800 Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives are currently being held in PA jails. (Ynet News)
UNIFIL has increased its operations in southern Lebanon and has begun entering villages in search of Hizbullah weapons caches. UNIFIL peacekeepers recently uncovered close to 20 Katyusha rockets that were ready for launch. UNIFIL has also succeeded recently in thwarting attacks planned against its own personnel. (Jerusalem Post)
It's been two years since Hamas' takeover of Gaza. In June 2007, clashes between Hamas and Fatah claimed the lives of 158 Palestinians; since then about 100 Gazans have been killed in intra-Palestinian clashes. The prevailing assessment in Egyptian intelligence is that Hamas' political leadership is interested in reconciliation, but Hamas' military wing, headed by Ahmed al-Jabari, and its officials in Damascus, are the problem.
Hamas would like to forget about Israel's Gaza operation in January. Although it claimed "victory" when the war ended, it is now clear that Hamas failed to obtain any of its aims, and also has had to prevent other groups from firing rockets for fear of a harsh Israeli reprisal. However, Hamas is not trying to keep these smaller groups from taking action along the border fence. Hamas is continuing to smuggle in short-range and long-range rockets to rehabilitate its military capability. It is also digging tunnels throughout the Strip to prepare for the next Israeli invasion, planning to use them to abduct soldiers and launch attacks against Israeli forces. (Ha'aretz)
Palestinian militants in Gaza opened fire on an Israel Defense Forces patrol near the Nahal Oz crossing on Thursday. The Israeli troops returned fire. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
For a few days this month, it was enthralling to witness a tidal surge of Iranians in the streets of Tehran, demanding that their presidential vote be heard and respected by the country's leaders. But that didn't last long. Now Iranians know the truth: They do not live in a true democracy. They live in a Soviet-style police state that sends militias and riot police to beat and kill unarmed protesters for daring to speak their minds.
But no matter how much Americans root for Tehran's demonstrators, the outcome of these protests cannot be the U.S.'s main issue. Stopping Iran's outlaw nuclear program remains America's top priority. Iran now has enough centrifuges spinning to create enough fuel for as many as two nuclear weapons a year. President Obama has said the U.S. should know in six months if Iran is serious about negotiating. But that was before the election disgrace. And before Obama blasted Iran's leadership for its brutality in response to protests. The president can't - and shouldn't - ease up on Iran's thugocracy. But he also can't allow his end-of-the-year deadline to slip. Obama needs to keep America's focus on this overriding priority: It's the nukes. (Chicago Tribune)
The storm of protests over the disputed election in Iran may have raised the prospect of a weakened regime, but it has done little to curb Israeli concerns about Iran's nuclear program or its support for militant groups in the region. Israeli officials and academics agree with the Obama administration that the extent of recent demonstrations could prompt significant change in the Islamic republic. But they are not convinced that such change is inevitable: If the country's hard-line clerics reinforce their authority, it could quickly end President Obama's hope for dialogue and lead to even more Iranian support for such groups as Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas among Palestinians. (Washington Post)
In Iran, the stage may now be set for a violent showdown. Past experience, however, raises questions whether the security forces can be uniformly relied on to implement an order to violently quash the protests, and whether such an order could spark unrest within the ranks of the security forces. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, responsible for protecting the regime, is riven by the same divisions as Iranian society. For the past two decades, the IRGC has increasingly come to rely on conscripts to meet its manpower needs, due to a drastic decline in volunteers. This raises questions about the political reliability of the IRGC should it be needed to quell popular unrest.
While the Basij militia is in the lead in dealing with the unrest, it is a volunteer force that many join for opportunistic reasons - for a paycheck, a scholarship, or a bit of authority. While the Basij is more thoroughly vetted than other organizations (due to the role of local clerics and mosques in the recruitment process), it is hard to believe that its membership is insulated from the broader political forces at work in Iranian society. Accordingly, some units might experience significant desertions if employed to violently suppress the protests. The writer is a senior fellow and director of The Washington Institute's Military and Security Studies Program. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Do you hear the silence from the Arab world over events in Iran? Let's start with Arab leaders, who are experts at vote rigging - if they hold elections at all. What could they possibly say about the Iranian election, or the allegations of vote fraud, without sounding hypocritical? It's likely that many young Arabs watching thousands of Iranians demanding to be heard, Arabs who are suffocating under dictators of their own, thought, "That's me."
Let's look at the Arab world's legacy: A succession of Arab leaders were known simply for standing up to America and Israel. It did not matter what they did to their own people: the human rights violations, the mass graves, the stifling of the media and most forms of expression. But what's happening in Iran is not about the U.S. or Israel. It's about people who feel their will and voice have been disregarded. In Egypt, it's our secular dictator, in power for almost 28 years, who disregards our will. In Iran, it's a clerical regime in power for 30 years, hiding behind God. (Washington Post)
Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez applauded the Iranian president's "very big and important [election] victory." Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega sent Ahmadinejad a congratulatory note that began with "Beloved Brother Ahmadinejad." Tehran has established partnerships with both Chavez and Ortega, and has also signed lucrative energy agreements with Bolivia. There is credible evidence that Hizbullah may now be using Venezuela as a base for operations. Under the Ortega government, Iran has opened a massive new embassy in Managua. As journalist Todd Bensman reported in 2008, there have been "local press reports accusing the Iranians of sneaking in Revolutionary Guards under diplomatic cover." Meanwhile, Tehran is helping to bankroll a deep-water port on Nicaragua's Caribbean coast. The writer is director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the Hudson Institute. (Weekly Standard)
The Settlements Controversy
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is denying that there were understandings between the Bush Administration and the Sharon government that permitted some construction within settlements. She spoke on June 17 of an op-ed "Our former ambassador Dan Kurtzer has written...that lays out our position on that." On June 25, Elliot Abrams, who headed the Mideast team at the Bush White House and participated in the key discussions with Israeli officials about the settlements freeze issue, weighed in with an op-ed stating, "There were indeed agreements between Israel and the United States regarding the growth of Israeli settlements on the West Bank."
A little history will help to explain the contradiction between Abrams and Kurtzer. Abrams and Steve Hadley, the Deputy National Security Adviser to Bush at the time, crafted the settlement growth understandings. Dan Kurtzer, then U.S. Ambassador to Israel, opposed them. He confirmed to Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post in April 2008 that he had opposed accepting an April 2004 letter from Sharon's chief of staff, Dov Weissglas. "I thought it was a really bad idea," Kurtzer said. "It would legitimize the settlements, and it gave them a blank check." But the White House did accept the Weissglas letter. So these dueling op-eds by Kurtzer and Abrams are a continuation of a policy war within the Bush Administration. (Middle East Forum)
References: Secretary of State Clinton's Remarks, June 17, 2009 (State Department); The Settlements Facts, June 14, 2009 - Daniel Kurtzer (Washington Post); Hillary Is Wrong About the Settlements, June 25, 2009 - Elliot Abrams (Wall Street Journal); Israelis Claim Secret Agreement with U.S., April 24, 2008 - Glenn Kessler (Washington Post)
See also "Israeli Population Areas in Settlement Blocs Should Remain within the State of Israel" - Interview with U.S. Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer, March 25, 2005
Q: "So President Bush is willing to leave settlement blocs in Israeli sovereignty in the future agreement just as Clinton was?"
Kurtzer: "He said it clearly in the letter of last April - I can say it again to the people of Israel. The President remains committed to what he said in that letter: That in a negotiation on final status, the outcome is going to mean that Israeli major population areas in our view should remain within the State of Israel....I believe there is full understanding between the Prime Minister and the President and between the Prime Minister's office and his advisors and the President's office and the President's advisors." (Israel TV Channel 10-IMRA)
See also U.S. Policy on Israeli Settlements - Dore Gold (ICA-Jerusalem Center)
The built-up areas in the settlements occupy just 1.7% of the land area in the territories. Over the next decade the settlers will consume just one-half of one percent for construction purposes in an area already delineated as "their municipal boundaries." But whoever believes that settling the territories of Judea and Samaria is the actualization of a natural right and historical justice cannot be content with simply stating these figures. Our friends in the U.S. need to hear from us that the historic, religious, legal and sentimental links that bind the people of Israel with Hebron and Beit El are no less legitimate than those of the Palestinians; that we are not occupiers in our own country; and that there are Jews for whom this land is holy, just as it is holy to Palestinians.
Many years ago, a member of the British House of Lords asked Chaim Weizmann why the Jews insist on settling in the Land of Israel when there are so many undeveloped countries that could serve as a national home. Weizmann responded with a question: Why do you drive 200 kilometers every Sunday to visit your mother when there are so many old ladies living on your street? This elementary truth has not changed. From a moral standpoint, there is no difference between settling the Galilee, the Negev, and Petah Tikva - in areas where Arabs lived - and settling Judea and Samaria. The real argument is about borders; it is certainly not about rights. (Ha'aretz)
The last thing that Abu Mohammed al-Najjar wants is for Israel to succumb to U.S. pressure and halt construction in the West Bank settlements. Freezing construction would be a disaster not only for him and his family, but for thousands of other Palestinians working in settlements in the West Bank. More than 12,000 Palestinians are employed by both Jewish and Arab contractors building new homes in the settlements. "We're talking about thousands of families in the West Bank that rely on this work as their sole source of income," a Palestinian official in Ramallah admitted. Jawdat Uwaisat, 44, said that he and his colleagues working for Israelis earn almost three times what they would receive doing the same work for Palestinian construction companies. He said even Palestinian supporters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are employed in settlements. "When people want to feed their children, they don't think twice." (Jerusalem Post)
Three years ago, Hamas terrorists crossed the international border between Gaza and Israel to attack an Israeli army post. They killed two Israelis and kidnapped Corporal Gilad Shalit. He remains their prisoner to this day, held somewhere inside Gaza. Unlike Hamas killers held by Israel, Shalit has received no Red Cross visits. How can it be okay for Hamas to hold an Israeli soldier hostage but not okay for Israel to attack Hamas terror bases and infrastructure as it did last December and January? Why is it an imperative for Israel to lift the limited blockade on Gaza (which attempts to prevent Hamas from rebuilding its military infrastructure while letting in food and medicine) so long as it is illegally holding an Israeli prisoner?
Israel is being asked to make concessions on security and territory as a precondition of discussing peace. This insistence on pressuring Israel takes no account of the realities of Palestinian politics and society that render the entire project a fool's errand. Hamas remains in power in Gaza, and might well be in charge of the West Bank too if Palestinians there were offered a free choice.
Those who blithely talk of the need for Israel to freeze settlements ignore the nature of Hamas - a military/political entity that continues to support the eradication of Israel and the massacre of its Jewish population. They forget that a total withdrawal of Israeli settlements and soldiers from Gaza four years ago didn't bring peace or even an attempt by the Palestinians to build their economy. Instead it brought Hamas into power and the conversion of Gaza into a vast terror base. (Commentary)
Six weeks ago the U.S. Justice Department asked a federal court to dismiss the Espionage Act charges that had been pending against former AIPAC officials Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman for four years. Then, with 30 days to go before trial, the government abruptly moved to dismiss the charges without a trial. The court agreed. The case should never have been filed in the first place. There are a legal pad full of questions the case raises for the government to answer.
Why was the government's counter-intelligence apparatus selectively aimed at the pro-Israel foreign policy lobby in general and AIPAC in particular, when the same case could have been made against literally hundreds of other lobbyists and journalists for discussing foreign policy issues that might implicate classified information? How could the government create a trap for Rosen and Weissman by dangling the warning that "lives were in danger" without expecting these moral men to act?
There were no classified documents ever involved, the work by Rosen and Weissman was part of their jobs and not something outside the norm, and there was no spying, bribery, theft or secret meetings. A few weeks ago some 125 rabbis from across the country wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder raising these and other questions. Abbe D. Lowell represented Steve Rosen. Baruch Weiss and John Nassikas served as defense attorneys for Keith Weissman. (JTA)
See also Leniency for AIPAC Leaker - Josh Gerstein
Federal Judge T.S. Ellis has virtually wiped out the prison sentence of more than 12 years he first imposed on Larry Franklin, a Pentagon analyst who pled guilty to leaking classified information to two pro-Israel lobbyists. (Politico)
In 2002, when I was Newsweek's Jerusalem bureau chief, Jihad Jaara, a former Bethlehem commander of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, boasted to me that he was one of the killers of Avi Boaz, 71, a U.S. citizen living in Bethlehem. Israel considered Jaara a prolific killer, responsible for the murders of Israeli settlers, soldiers and accused Palestinian collaborators. Jaara has been living in exile for seven years, guarded by police, in a secret location on the outskirts of Dublin, protected by a multilateral agreement made to end the 39-day siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in the spring of 2002 when the EU accepted 13 of the most-wanted militants. Last month I flew to Dublin: I wanted to find out if Jaara knew the FBI was after him and if he had any regrets about the Avi Boaz murder. (New York Times Magazine)
What's Really Blocking Mideast Peace? - Jacob Dayan (Los Angeles Times)
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