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 17, 2009
Gates: Iran Nuclear Arms Worst Threat to Security (AFP)
Report: Cure for Radiation Sickness Found - Ronen Bergman (Ynet News)
Islamic Emirate Nightmare - Arnaud de Borchgrave (UPI)
When Will the U.S. Officially Recognize Jerusalem as Part of Israel? - Michael Doyle (McClatchy)
Arab Journalist Views Prospects for Peace - Robert Fulford (National Post-Canada)
Shards of Stories at Israeli Spy Memorial - Matti Friedman (AP/Washington Post)
Iraqi-Jewish Musicians' Work Enjoying Posthumous Revival - Rachel Shabi (New Statesman-UK)
Israel's Economy Looks Resilient (Economist-UK)
Israeli, African Doctors Combat HIV (UPI)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Israel accused Iran and Syria on Thursday of sending weapons to Lebanon's Hizbullah in violation of UN resolutions, after one of the militant group's weapons depots blew up near the Israeli border. The conditions of the 2006 cease-fire that ended the Israel-Hizbullah war prohibit weapons smuggling to Hizbullah and forbid the group from engaging in military activities in south Lebanon. A senior Israeli officer said the warehouse that blew up on Tuesday contained active, short-range rockets smuggled from Syria. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the incident was evidence of "Iranian and Syrian efforts to continue to transfer weapons to Hizbullah in direct and flagrant violation" of the 2006 cease-fire. (AP/Washington Post)
See also Hizbullah Weapons in Southern Lebanon (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
"You don't appreciate the value of law and order until you lose it," said Nablus store owner Rashid al-Sakhel as he surveyed the bustling streets. "For the past eight years, a 10-year-old boy could order a strike and we would all close. Now nobody can threaten us." For the first time since the second Palestinian uprising broke out in late 2000, a sense of personal security and economic potential is spreading across the West Bank as the PA's security forces enter their second year of consolidating order. The International Monetary Fund forecasts a 7% growth rate for 2009. Two weeks ago, the Israeli military shut its nine-year-old checkpoint at the entrance to the city, part of a series of reductions in security measures.
The aim of American and European policy is to stitch Palestinian politics back together by strengthening the PA under Mahmoud Abbas, which favors a two-state solution with Israel, while weakening the Islamists of Hamas, who rule in Gaza. The Israeli government of Prime Minister Netanyahu says it shares the goal of helping Mr. Abbas, which is why it is seeking to improve West Bank economic conditions as a platform for moving to a political discussion.
Asked to explain why the West Bank's fortunes were shifting, a top Israeli general began his narrative with a chart showing 410 Israelis killed by Palestinians in 2002, and 4 in 2008. "We destroyed the terrorist groups through three things - intelligence, the barrier, and freedom of action by our men," he said. "We sent our troops into every marketplace and every house, staying tightly focused on getting the bad guys." (New York Times)
Israel discussed renewed peace negotiations with Syria on Wednesday with Fred Hoff, a top adviser to U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell. The Israelis repeated their long-standing offer to hold direct talks with Syria if it distances itself from Iran and armed Islamist groups arrayed against Israel in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. "These things have to end if, indeed, Syria is seeking peace," Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said. Syria insists that any new negotiations include assurances that it will recover the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in 1967. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
A group of Israeli reservists who served in Gaza has prepared signed, on-camera testimonies about Palestinian terrorists' use of Gazans as human shields to counter the anonymous accusations of alleged human rights abuses by Israeli soldiers in Gaza. Pinchas Sanderson, 29, recounted: "We came upon an ambulance from a local children's hospital. It was suspicious because there was a very old lady in the ambulance of a children's hospital. Inside we found three RPG rocket launchers." (Ha'aretz)
See also Hear the Real Voices of Israeli Soldiers (SoldiersSpeakOut-StandWithUs)
See also Europeans Funding Group that Accused IDF Soldiers - Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon
The group Breaking the Silence, which on Wednesday released a report claiming that the IDF used Gazans as human shields, received NIS 226,589 from the British Embassy, 19,999 from the Dutch Embassy, and 43,514 from the European Union in 2008. (Jerusalem Post)
After a month-long lull, terrorists in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket into Israel on Thursday which landed near Sdot Negev. (Ha'aretz)
President Obama aspires to accelerate the peace process and is behaving as though everything starts and ends with the question of whether Israel will or will not freeze construction in the settlements. Sixteen years have passed since the Oslo Accords, and we have gotten nowhere, except for the fact that the Palestinians turned us into moving targets during the intifadas and suicide attacks. Since there is still no serious partner on the Palestinian side, it is hard to get excited by the optimism of Obama, who expects a quick peace treaty not only with the Palestinians but with Syria as well.
Obama assumed he did a great thing when he spoke in Cairo about the suffering of the Jewish people in the Holocaust. What is infuriating is the implied distortion: that we deserve a state because of the Holocaust. His disregard of our historical connection to the Land of Israel, and obscuring the fact that the Palestinians are unable to overcome their passions and to be worthy partners to a peace agreement, is extremely annoying.
We expect that, as a leader who aspires to solve the problems of the world through rapprochement, Obama will come to Israel and declare here courageously, before the entire world, that our connection to this land began long before the Israeli-Arab conflict and the Holocaust; and that 4,000 years ago Jews already stood on the ground where he is standing. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
By vast majorities, Congress endorsed President Bush's 2004 letter elaborating Israel's right to defend itself, by itself, against any threat and recognizing new realities on the ground in which the Jewish population centers in the West Bank would be an inseparable part of the state of Israel in any future permanent-status agreement. In November 2007, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the Bush administration convened in Annapolis with the unified goal of solving all outstanding issues. Annapolis provided the framework for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians toward bringing an end to the conflict and to all claims. Yet today, the issue of settlement construction commands the agenda between the United States and Israel. This is a mistake that serves neither the process with the Palestinians nor relations between Israel and the Arab world.
Although America has not supported settlement construction, it has, on some occasions, recognized the realities that have developed over 40 years. Sharon reached understandings with the U.S. administration regarding the growth and building of settlements, as part of the Roadmap. These understandings provided a working platform and, in my opinion, a proper balance to allow essential elements of stability and normality for Israelis living in settlements until their future would be determined in a permanent-status agreement. I adopted these understandings and followed them in close coordination with the Bush administration. Let me be clear: Without those understandings, the Annapolis process would not have taken on any form. Therefore, the focus on settlement construction now is not useful.
The focus on settlement construction, while ignoring the previous understandings, unjustly skews the focus from a true political process and from dealing with the real strategic issues confronting the region. Settlement construction should be taken off the public agenda and moved to a discrete dialogue, as in the past. The writer was prime minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009. (Washington Post)
Palestinians, watching Obama face down Israel on the settlements issue, have become emboldened, refusing to sit down and talk, instead raising new conditions and bragging about how protracted negotiations have worn Israel down. Israelis, meanwhile, are growing increasingly worried that Obama does not understand their concerns. A huge majority in Israel now believe the American president favors Palestinians. The push from Washington for a new direction in the Mideast has transformed the situation so dramatically that it risks overshooting its mark and making prospects for reconciliation more remote. Palestinians seem determined to let Obama wring concessions from Israel without making any of their own. Arabs still refuse to make concrete moves indicating a willingness to accept Israel's existence in the region.
If Obama wants to make peace more likely between Israelis and Palestinians, he needs to dial down the one-sided pressure. He should show he expects all sides to compromise, and he needs to convince everyone - Arabs and Israelis - that he understands the threats Israel faces and is committed to seeing that a peace deal does not bring more threats to Israel's survival. (Miami Herald)
Peace is a process, contingent on a good idea but also requiring a great deal of campaigning. This is where we as Arabs have not done enough to communicate directly with the people of Israel. An Israeli might be forgiven for thinking that every Muslim voice is raised in hatred, because that is usually the only one he hears. Essentially, we have not done a good enough job demonstrating to Israelis how our initiative can form part of a peace between equals in a troubled land holy to three great faiths. Others have been less reticent, recognizing that our success would threaten their vested interest in keeping Palestinians and Israelis at each other's throats. They want victims to stay victims so they can be manipulated as proxies in a wider game for power. The rest of us - the overwhelming majority - have the opposite interest.
Speaking out matters, but it is not enough. Our governments and all stakeholders also must be ready to carry out practical measures to help ease the day-to-day hardship of Palestinian lives. The two communities in the Holy Land are not fated to be enemies. What can unite them tomorrow is potentially bigger than what divides them today. We should move toward real peace now by consulting and educating our people and by reaching out to the Israeli public. Some Arabs, simplistically equating communication with normalization, may think we are moving too fast toward normalization. But we all know that dialogue must be enhanced for genuine progress. We all, together, need to take the first crucial step to lay the groundwork to effectively achieve peace. The writer is crown prince of Bahrain. (Washington Post)
The real obstacle to peace is the intense hatred growing within Palestinian society, the kind of hatred that prevents any possibility that a responsible leadership will emerge. The West frequently mentions its endorsement of a Palestinian state, but who exactly will be leading it? The politically impotent Mahmoud Abbas who is an exile in his own country, or Islamic fundamentalist Khaled Mashaal? The real obstacle to peace is the absence of a serious Palestinian leadership and an authorized partner whose word will be kept and whose signature on agreements will be fully honored. Ever since 1948, the only Palestinian leader who managed to win the majority's support, Yasser Arafat, reverted to terrorism and the armed struggle at the moment of truth.
Another obstacle is the bottomless barrel of aid funds to the Palestinians, whose billions in contributions only amounted to boosting terror groups in our region. In any other place in the world, the funds donated to the Palestinian Authority would have been sufficient to establish industrial infrastructure, provide employment, housing, and a car to each worker. However, in the "territories" these funds have been swallowed up by terror arms and private pockets. Yet the West believes that it promotes peace in our region.
The obstacle to peace also has to do with the West's double-standards: the calm with which it accepts Gilad Shalit's abduction; the exaggerated pampering of the corrupt Fatah; the understanding shown to the demands made by Hamas terrorists, while only being strict and unbiased when facing our besieged democracy. (Ynet News)
For two decades, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was considered to be above petty political squabbles. But Khamenei has gotten his hands dirty. His decision to so stridently support Ahmadinejad after a disputed election has dramatically changed his image among his people. "Public respect for him has been significantly damaged," said one analyst. "Opposing him is no longer the same as opposing God." Ahmadinejad "commits crimes, and the leader supports him" was a popular slogan during the riots of June 20.
"For nearly two decades Khamenei has wielded power without accountability," said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "Those days are over. Formerly sacred red lines have been crossed. For the first time, people have begun openly questioning whether Emperor Khamenei has any clothes on." (Los Angeles Times)
The U.S. and Europe should focus on the Iranian regime's latest human rights abuses, signaling to Iranian dissidents that they are not alone. Governments must demonstrate to Iran's repressive leaders that although dialogue may continue, "business as usual" will not. Iran, where national honor and pride are highly valued, will not be indifferent to regular displays of public contempt for its leaders.
Cities can pay tribute to prominent Iranian dissidents by renaming sections of streets in front of Iranian embassies after them. Western governments should severely limit the scope of visits by Iranian dignitaries and deny visas to accompanying business delegations. Governments should close offices used by the Iranian regime to promote its agenda; particular scrutiny should be given to Press TV, the Iranian government's London-based English-language satellite channel. The writer is director of the Brussels-based Transatlantic Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
For the past three decades, the U.S. has been Iran's "Great Satan." Schoolchildren learned to chant "Down With U.S.A." Conservative clerics sermonized against America. Anti-American murals depicting images such as a skull-faced Statue of Liberty dotted Tehran. But since Iran's disputed presidential election last month, another Satan has gained ground: Great Britain. Iran's government has expelled two British diplomats, kicked out the longtime British Broadcasting Corp. bureau chief, and arrested British Embassy staff members, accusing them of fomenting the unrest. Last week, an adviser to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called Britain "worse than America" for its alleged interference in Iran's post-election affairs.
Iranians consider the British "the masters of political intrigue, and players such as the U.S. are considered to be novices," said Mehrzad Boroujerdi, director of Middle Eastern studies at Syracuse University. Ali Ansari, a professor of Iranian history at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, noted that "Ahmadinejad's government has always been very Anglophobic in its approach....They're really obsessed with Britain in a way that even previous Iranian governments, even in the Islamic republic, haven't been." "There were a couple of members of Parliament that got up and said [President Bush's 2002] 'axis of evil' speech was written by the British....They said the Americans weren't capable of this, they weren't intelligent enough to think of this." (Washington Post)
More than a month after the elections in Lebanon, the process of forming a new government has reached an impasse. The coalition led by Hariri now musters 71 representatives in parliament while the opposition has 57. In order to tackle the country's severe economic problems, Hariri has declared that he wanted "a national unity government" that includes opposition parties, but the Hizbullah-led opposition is demanding a third of the cabinet ministers and a veto on all important government decisions - something Hizbullah had obtained in the previous government. Hizbullah wants to remain free to act as it sees fit concerning the flow of arms smuggled to it from Syria, and to be able to control any decision regarding Israel.
Saudi Arabia and Egypt have been trying to persuade Syria to pressure Hizbullah to accept a compromise, which is a new phenomenon. The U.S. and France are also doing all they can to bring Syria to pressure Hizbullah into a more conciliatory position. So far Syria, basking in all that international attention, has given no indication that it is ready to act. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated that in the event that Hizbullah were included in the next Lebanese government, Lebanon would be held responsible if Hizbullah were to attack Israel. The writer, a former ambassador to Egypt, is a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and editor of infoelarab.org. (Jerusalem Post)
Accusations of "disproportion," like those against the IDF, will almost certainly be applied to American forces when domestic and international opposition to U.S. actions can find no other complaint. In NATO's 1999 Kosovo campaign, there were few if any claims of disproportionate use of force, despite the Serbian military's limited power and the infliction of hundreds of civilian casualties. Though American military action in Afghanistan or Iraq has not yet received comparable condemnation, it is only a matter of time before this occurs
The principle of proportionality is so vague and difficult to apply with any consistency, and so widely misunderstood, that the U.S. military should discard it. Instead, American authorities should simply take the position that U.S. doctrine proscribes use of force that is indiscriminate, wasteful, excessive, or not necessary to achieving military objectives. America's armed forces should openly acknowledge that they do not abide by the principle of proportionality because it is so problematic. The writer is a former U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps officer. (U.S. Army War College Journal)
Whatever happened to the suicide bombers of Jerusalem? It was widely said by people as eminent as Tony Blair's wife that the real cause of such a lurid and awful tactic was despair: the reaction of a people who had no other avenue of expression for their misery and frustration. Well, surely nobody will be so callous as to say that there is less despair among Palestinians today.
Of the various explanations, one would be the success of the wall or "fence" that Israel has built. Another possible reason for the slump in suicide is that those who were orchestrating it came to find that the tactic was becoming subject to diminishing returns. Nasty, vicious, fanatical old men were making the decisions and deciding the days and the hours of death. And the hysterical ululating street celebrations when such a mission was successful did not signify despair at all but a creepy form of religious exaltation in which relatives were encouraged to make a feast out of the death of their own children as well as those of other people. (Slate)
The national convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) this month attracted thousands of people and featured anti-Semitic, homophobic rhetoric and defense of the terrorist group Hizbullah. While many panels featured criticism of U.S. policy, one stood out for its hate-filled rhetoric. During a "meet the authors" session, Imam Warith Deen Umar, former head of the New York state prison chaplain program, portrayed the Holocaust as punishment of Jews for being "serially disobedient to Allah." Umar previously hailed the 9/11 hijackers as martyrs who were secretly admired by Muslims, and he has called for violent jihad. He is the author of Judaiology, a book describing "the inordinacy of Jewish power."
During his ISNA appearance, Umar said: "The first man that Obama picked when we were so happy that he was the President, he picked an Israeli - Rahm Emanuel - his number one man. His number two man - [David] Axelrod - another Israeli person. Why do this small number of people have control of the world?" (Investigative Project on Terrorism)
"It is very difficult for a family that has lost someone to have fun," explains Rabbi Seth Mandell, the president of the Koby Mandell Foundation, about the camp currently in session for dozens of children from families affected by terrorism. Camp Koby and Yosef was established by Seth and Sherri Mandell, whose son Koby and his friend Yosef Ishran were murdered by terrorists in May 2001 while hiking near Tekoa. Some 500 children from across the country are attending the camp this summer. Their families are not asked to pay for the camp, which is funded entirely by donations. "Some children experience a real breakthrough during the camp session," said Seth. "After therapy with the counselors, they sometimes say something they have never told anyone."
A camper named Yochai, whose father was murdered in a shooting attack, says the camp "gives strength." "It helps, and it's fun. If you need something, you talk. There are good people here. If I'm having a hard time, the counselors always help. They are good friends. Everyone comes from the same background, and we are the same kind of people," says Yochai. (Ynet News)
Obama's Opening Gambit - Michael Doran (Middle East Strategy at Harvard)
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