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|
July 15, 2009
Human Rights in Syria: Six Thousand Political Prisoners - Lina Sinjab (BBC News)
Two Somali-Americans Charged with Aiding Terror - Andrea Elliott (New York Times)
West Bank Cancels Leonard Cohen Concert in Protest Against Israel - Rachel Shabi (Guardian-UK)
Hamas Says Israel Dumping Aphrodisiac Gum on Gaza (AFP)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
President Obama said in an interview Monday: "Given the outrageous violence that we've seen directed against peaceful demonstrators post-election, the crackdown by hard-liners against journalists, the raiding of foreign embassies, it's not clear whether or not you have the kind of room in Iran that would walk through the door that we've left open for them to stand-down on nuclear weapons development and to be able to pursue a more peaceful path with their neighbors and abide by international norms."
"I think that it's important for us to recognize that although the prospects of bilateral engagement may have been shifted as a consequence of this post-election activity, that we still have a multilateral tract with the Europeans and the Russians and the Chinese and others; that no matter what happened, we were going to have to mobilize to help obtain some sort of serious agreement with the Iranians and that diplomatic effort is going to continue....My hope is that they continue to see this as an opportunity. But obviously, you know, what's happened over the last several weeks raises serious questions." (CNN)
Iranian authorities executed 13 members of the Sunni Muslim rebel group Jundallah by hanging Tuesday in the southeastern Iranian city of Zahedan. Iran has accused the U.S. of supporting Jundallah, which claims to be fighting on behalf of the Baluchi ethnic group in Iran and Pakistan. (New York Times)
A campaign in Greece to raise money to rebuild a Christian Palestinian hospital in Gaza allegedly destroyed by Israel appears to be a scam. For nearly a week in February, Greece's official state television network inundated viewers about a telethon on Feb. 9 to raise money to "rebuild the Christian hospital in Gaza that Israelis destroyed with their bombs" in January. The telethon included recorded video messages by Greek President Carolos Papoulias and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyianni, along with a parade of Greek politicians, singers, public personalities and trade unionists. Many used the telethon to cast broadsides at Israel. The campaign raised $1.67 million, according to telethon organizers, who said little Greek children had broken their piggy banks for Palestinians in need.
A JTA investigation revealed, however, that no Christian hospital was on the UN list of structures in Gaza damaged in January. Two Palestinians living in Gaza reported that the only Christian hospital in Gaza, Al Ahli, financed by the Church of England, was used during the war and did not receive a scratch. (JTA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
A series of explosions on Tuesday in an abandoned building in Khirbet Silim, about 10 miles north of Lebanon's border with Israel, was caused by a fire in a Hizbullah weapons depot, a Lebanese security official said. According to Israeli security sources, the depot contained rockets which Hizbullah was hiding for future use against Israel. Israeli sources said the incident shows that Hizbullah continues to hide weapons among the civilian population in southern Lebanese villages, despite the explicit ban of such activities in UN Resolution 1701 and the presence of UNIFIL and Lebanese army forces. (Ynet News)
The Prime Minister's Office on Tuesday slammed a recent Human Rights Watch fundraising delegation to Saudi Arabia as evidence the organization has lost its "moral compass." "A human rights organization raising money in Saudi Arabia is like a women's rights group asking the Taliban for a donation," Prime Minister Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev said Monday. "If you can fundraise in Saudi Arabia, why not move on to Somalia, Libya and North Korea?" he said.
Regev's comments came two weeks after Israel was ripped for alleged misconduct during the Gaza operation in reports issued by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, two high-profile human rights NGOs. "We discovered during the Gaza operation and the Second Lebanon War that these organizations come in with a very strong agenda, and because they claim to have some kind of halo around them, they receive a status that they don't deserve," a senior official said. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Human Rights Watch Raises Funds in Saudi Arabia by Demonizing Israel (NGO Monitor)
See also Human Rights Watch Lauded in Saudi Arabia - Nasser Salti
Human Rights Watch is gaining more recognition and support in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world. During their recent visit to the Kingdom, senior members of the organization were given a welcoming dinner in Riyadh, where they presented a documentary and spoke on the report they compiled on Israel violating human rights and international law during its war on Gaza earlier this year. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Whenever American Jewish leaders are invited to the White House to talk about Israel - as 16 were on Monday - the prime purpose of the invitation is not to give them an opportunity to sway the leader of the free world, though their views may be genuinely sought, but for the administration to diminish the prospect of them lobbying against the president's policies. We're not suggesting that Obama is substantively less pro-Israel than most of his predecessors. But we are concerned over his refusal to embrace the 1967-plus strategy enunciated by his predecessor, at a time when his administration is demanding a freeze even to Israeli construction in Jerusalem areas captured in 1967.
If the administration feels it faces no countervailing pressure, it will go on deepening the erroneous perception that settlements are the obstacle to peace. This alienates Israel's majority, which is willing to make painful territorial concessions, yet believes that ill-tempered calls for an unconditional freeze everywhere only encourage Palestinian intransigence. Pro-Israel Americans should caution Obama not to lose the Israeli "street" as he seeks favor with the Arab one. (Jerusalem Post)
The erratic uprising in Iran has redefined political action throughout the Middle East. Before the June 12 presidential election, the Islamic republic had never been so powerful. Tehran had survived three decades of diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions and emerged a regional superpower, its influence shaping conflicts and politics from Afghanistan to Lebanon. But the day after the election, the Islamic republic had never appeared so vulnerable. The virtual militarization of the state has failed to contain the uprising, and its tactics have shifted the focus to Iran's leadership. Given its advancing nuclear technology and regional influence, Iran believed before the election that it held the trump cards in any negotiations. Now, politically disgraced, it is the needy one. (Washington Post)
For 30 years, Iran has cast itself as a leader of resistance to Israeli and Western policies, and few of its leaders have done as much for that image as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Under Ahmadinejad, Iran's "resistance" brand has gone global, challenging Western hegemony in the name of defending the globally downtrodden and winning allies from Lebanon to Venezuela. But analysts say Iran's resistance image has been challenged by Ahmadinejad's controversial June 12 reelection.
"People can see now that Iran has the same authoritarian political systems as the Arab world," says Nabil Abdel Fattah, assistant director of Cairo's Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, a think tank with government ties. "Ahmadinejad is not a hero." Josh Stacher, a professor of Middle East politics at Kent State University, says: "Every state in the region has a president or a king that the people on the ground disagree with, and every state has seen rigged elections....The amount of people on the streets in Tehran show that people there aren't buying Ahmadinejad's resistance rhetoric anyway, and that could spread through the neighborhood." (Christian Science Monitor)
IDF Responds to "Breaking the Silence" Claim of Gaza Rights Violations (IDF Spokesperson, 15 July 2009)
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