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 28, 2009
Report: Hizbullah Training Lebanese Armed Forces (Jerusalem Post)
U.S. Charges Men with Plotting Jihad Attacks in Israel - Mike Baker (AP)
Israeli Missile Defense System Improved (UPI)
Germany Warns of Terror Threat - Jurgen Dahlkamp and Holger Stark
Ottawa Professor Charged in Deadly Bombing to Return to University - Andrew Seymour (Ottawa Citizen-Canada)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates tried to reassure Israel on Monday that Washington's bid to talk Iran into giving up nuclear work was time-sensitive and worth pursuing, despite Tehran's reticence. A statement by Prime Minister Netanyahu's office said: "Gates said the United States and Israel see eye-to-eye with regard to the Iranian nuclear threat." (Reuters-Washington Post)
See also Gates: Obama Seeks Iran Response by September (CNN)
U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell told Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus on Sunday that the U.S. has decided to ease sanctions on spare aircraft parts, information-technology products and telecommunications equipment, sales of which had been restricted. The move represents the latest action in a rapidly accelerating rapprochement between Washington and Damascus. While U.S. officials said Monday that the move doesn't mark a formal lifting or easing of sanctions on Damascus, the president will use his waiver authority under congressionally mandated sanctions to aid purchases of U.S. products deemed important to the welfare of the Syrian people. (Wall Street Journal)
Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and James Risch (R-Idaho) are circulating a letter pressing President Obama to lean on Arab nations to make peace overtures to Israel. "Such steps could include ending the Arab League boycott of Israel, meeting openly with Israeli officials, establishing open trade relations with Israel, issuing visas to Israeli citizens, and inviting Israelis to participate in academic and professional conferences and sporting events," said the letter. "We also believe that Arab states must immediately and permanently end official propaganda campaigns which demonize Israel and Jews." The letter praises what it says have been Israel's overtures, including Netanyahu's reiteration of Israel's backing for a two-state solution and his easing of some travel conditions in the West Bank. (JTA)
In an unusually aggressive speech published on his website, Iran's opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi accused the regime of a catalogue of crimes and abuses. He warned: "The more people you arrest, the more the movement will spread." One analyst in Tehran said: "Mousavi's smelling blood. He sees the President as wounded." (Times-UK)
See also Ahmadinejad Seen as Increasingly Vulnerable Since Re-election - Robert F. Worth and Nazila Fathi
President Ahmadinejad dismissed his intelligence minister on Sunday and his culture minister resigned, the latest fallout of a bitter dispute among conservatives that has exposed Ahmadinejad's vulnerability in the aftermath of last month's disputed election. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
After both sides released emotional statements - Netanyahu on the continuing construction in eastern Jerusalem and the Americans on the possibility of cutting economic aid to Israel - there are increasing signs that both parties have decided to pour cold water on the high flames of their controversy and continue to try to find the desired formula for reviving negotiations between Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab states.
Certainly, at least for now, the Americans cannot point to any change in the known Arab approach to Israel. In other words, Obama's envoys are hearing one message from the Arab capitals: After you extract concessions from the Israelis regarding all of the territories, there will be something to talk about with regard to normalization of relations with the Jewish state, but not beforehand.
George Mitchell also heard these words in Damascus. Bashar Assad is prepared to renew negotiations with Israel after he receives a commitment that the talks will be renewed from the point where they were halted by the previous prime minister - and that in exchange for a peace treaty Israel will commit itself to return the Golan Heights and half of the Sea of Galilee. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 27July09)
During a special Security Council session on the Middle East on Monday, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev read from a letter by Lebanese citizens who demanded that Hizbullah refrain from storing weapons in civilian areas. "The recent explosion (in Hizbullah's arms depot in south Lebanon) was very dangerous, and it prompted us to publicly say what everyone is trying to conceal: Illegal arms are being stored by Hizbullah within civilian population areas in basements near our children," said the letter, published in Al Mustaqbal on July 16.
"We are not naive. We've already experienced a massive disaster in 2006 [the Second Lebanon War] during what you [Hizbullah] called a victory. If you are acting in the name of Allah and the religious leadership, then you must clear the civilian areas of weapons and anything else that endangers our lives." (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Israelis welcomed Barack Obama when he visited in July 2008 and many responded enthusiastically to his election. But Israelis sense that Obama has placed the onus for restarting negotiations on Israel. Worse, he is perceived as showing weakness toward the world's bullies while acting resolutely only toward Israel. Many Israelis suspect that Obama actually wants a showdown with Jerusalem to bolster his standing in the Muslim world. If those perceptions aren't countered, the Israeli public will reject Obama's peace initiatives.
Here are some suggestions for Washington about how to reassure increasingly anxious Israelis: Make clear that renewing the peace process requires simultaneous Israeli and Arab concessions. Reaffirm the Israeli status of the settlement blocs in a future agreement. Actively confront Palestinian demonization of Israel. Affirm Israel's historical legitimacy to the Muslim world. Make clear that the impending nuclearization of Iran, and not the Palestinian problem, is the region's most urgent crisis. Don't treat the Netanyahu government as a pariah. The writer is a senior fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. (New Republic)
The UN Development Program last week published the fifth in a series of hard-hitting reports on the state of the Arab world. Six Arab countries have an outright ban on political parties and the rest restrict them. Despite their oil, two out of five people in the Arab world live on $2 or less a day. Overpowerful internal security forces often turn Arab states into a menace to their own people.
In almost every Arab country, fertility is in decline, more people, especially women, are becoming educated, and businessmen want a bigger say in economies dominated by the state. A revolution in satellite television has broken the spell of the state-run media and created a public that wants the rulers to explain and justify themselves as never before. Taken together, these changes are creating great agitation under the surface. The old pattern of Arab government - corrupt, opaque and authoritarian - has failed on every level and does not deserve to survive. (Economist-UK)
See also Arab Human Development Report 2009 (UN Development Program)
Hamas, the terrorist organization that specializes in targeting civilians, has now decided, according to a New York Times headline, to shift "from rockets to culture war" in an effort to garner public support for its cause. In order to bring about this transformation, it must engage in a form of Holocaust denial that erases the historical record of widespread Palestinian complicity with the "old Nazis" in perpetrating the real Holocaust. It has become an important part of the mantra of Hamas supporters that neither the Palestinian people nor its leadership played any role in the Holocaust. (Hudson Institute-New York)
Why Won't Obama Talk to Israel? - Aluf Benn (New York Times)
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