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|
August 14, 2009
Report: Hizbullah Setting Up Camp in Venezuela - Shimon Shiffer (Ynet News)
Gaza PM: "Hamas Will Never Recognize the Zionist Entity" (IMEMC-PA)
Giving a Voice to the Children of "Missile City" - Kelly Rippin (NBC News)
Israel's Place in the World - Michael Steinhardt (Wharton School-University of Pennsylvania)
Young Israeli Settlers Embrace Counterculture Symbols of '60s - Joshua Mitnick (Christian Science Monitor)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The head of a delegation of U.S. Democratic members of Congress blamed the Palestinians on Thursday for failing to hold talks with Israel. "I think the largest thing impeding the negotiations at this point is simply the unwillingness of (Palestinian leader Mahmoud) Abbas to sit down (with the Israelis)," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in Jerusalem. Senior U.S. Republican Congressman Eric Cantor, who visited Israel a week ago at the head of a similar delegation, also blamed the Palestinians for the stalled talks. (AFP)
See also Top U.S. Democrat Breaks with Obama on Settlements
A senior member of U.S. President Obama's party blamed Palestinians for a lack of peace negotiations and cast doubt on calls for a settlement freeze. "I don't think settlements are nearly the big issue that confronts the Palestinians and the Israelis in reaching an agreement," said Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the American House majority leader. The influential lawmaker said he had sympathy for the Israeli government's refusal to halt construction. "Netanyahu's standpoint and Israel's standpoint is that if one of your children gets married and wants to live close to you, there needs to be a place to live [in a settlement]. That's not an irrational argument." (Ma'an News-PA)
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is to pay a state visit to Iran in the near future to congratulate his Iranian counterpart on his re-election and to discuss expansion of mutual relations, the official IRNA news agency reported Thursday. Syria is Iran's closest ally in the region and the two countries enjoy common cultural, political and economic interests. Currently, Iran is carrying out a big number of economic projects in Syria, including car production and housing projects, and Damascus hosts thousands of Iranian tourists and pilgrims every year. (Xinhua-China)
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, an independent technocrat favored by the West, may face pressure to cede his post to a figure from Fatah in the wake of its congress in Bethlehem, political sources said on Wednesday. Many in Fatah have been irked by Fayyad, a former International Monetary Fund official, and complain that budget cuts have hit the party and its loyalists. Fayyad, 57, is rejected outright as a Western puppet by Hamas which runs Gaza. Fayyad said on June 29 that it was time for Palestinian leaders to get on with building the independent state they seek, instead of waiting for a peace agreement with Israel. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
According to a message recently relayed from Washington, Qatar and Oman may be willing to renew relations with Israel if it freezes construction in West Bank settlements. But as there has been no progress in talks with the U.S. regarding its demand to halt construction, Israeli officials say that no significant change in ties should be expected in the near future. Qatar had an Israeli delegation office until the Gaza operation seven months ago. Ties with Oman, that once included an embassy, were cut following the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000. (Ynet News)
On Wednesday night, Eitan Frankel, 18, and two friends were driving from Dolev to Ma'ale Levona. "As we approached Ma'ale Levona, just a minute from the gate, we...saw a Mitsubishi on the side of the road with its hazard lights on," Frankel said on Thursday. "The car had yellow [Israeli] license plates, and did not look suspicious. The driver signaled from the window to us. We were sure this was an Israeli who needed help with a flat tire." "We pulled up slowly, parallel to the car, and lowered a window." At that point, a man "hiding in the bushes fired a shot, smashing the back right window....We started driving again, and heard six to seven shots ring out behind us." (Jerusalem Post)
Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report Thursday alleging that the IDF killed 11 civilians holding white flags in Gaza. HRW had no presence in Gaza during the conflict and its report is based entirely on unverifiable claims wrapped in a facade of research. The report's co-author, Joe Stork, is a veteran anti-Israel political activist and the antithesis of a professional legal analyst. HRW failed to investigate incidents in which "white flags" - ambulances and hospitals - were used by Hamas to hide military activity. Six of the seven alleged incidents are based on reports by journalists or NGOs with highly biased agendas. (NGO Monitor)
See also IDF: "White Flag" Report Based on Unreliable Witnesses (Israel Defense Forces)
Prime Minister Netanyahu responded negatively to French President Sarkozy's plea to free Salah Hassan Hamori, a terrorist of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine imprisoned for planning to assassinate Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the Prime Minister's Office said Thursday. Sarkozy sent a letter to Netanyahu last week after meeting with Hamori's mother. (Jerusalem Post)
After the Fatah convention in Bethlehem, a candidate for the Fatah Revolutionary Council, Ziad Abu Ayin, did not hesitate to voice threats against Hamas on Tuesday: "We will not negotiate endlessly with Hamas....Hamas has turned 1.5 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip into hostages. The Fatah leadership must decide how to free these hostages, whether through negotiations or combat. Yes, combat. But everyone must accept this decision, they cannot be allowed to continue to control the lives of the Gazans. Hamas defeated Fatah in the elections because of the chaos within Fatah. But now, after Fatah has unified its ranks, it's a new Fatah. The old Fatah is gone and Hamas is about to be defeated." (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Among those attending the Fatah Convention in Bethlehem was Khaled Abu Asba, who took part in a notorious attack in 1978 in which an Israeli commuter bus was hijacked and 37 Israeli civilians were killed, including 12 children. At the Fatah conference, former PA Prime Minister Abu Ala welcomed Abu Asba and referred to him as one of the heroes of the Palestinian people. A huge banner in the conference hall showed a boy in a military uniform, toting a Kalashnikov assault rifle. A leaflet passed out among delegates was headlined: "Until the Zionist entity is wiped out." A resolution approved by the assembly stated that Fatah will not give up the armed struggle until all the descendants of those claiming to be of Palestinian Arab origin can live inside Israel. Another resolution decreed that placing both east and west Jerusalem under Palestinian control is a "red line" that is non-negotiable.
Zakariya Zubeidi, one of the commanders of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, was asked by a Palestinian journalist about the continuing military training the U.S. is supplying to the PA. Zubeidi smiled and said: "I am happy. In case there is a future war, we will have some people who will be well trained." Fatah spokesman Fahmi Al-Za'arir stated: "The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are the jewel in Fatah's crown. We must...maintain them in a state of alert." Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades activist Kifah Radaydeh said the PA would resume violence against Israel when Fatah is "capable." "It has been said that we are negotiating for peace, but our goal has never been peace. Peace is a means; the goal is Palestine." (TomGrossMedia.com)
Fatah's sixth General Assembly has shown that it is still not ready to transform itself from a revolutionary movement into a governing body that cares about establishing institutions and infrastructure for the future Palestinian state. Instead, Fatah seems determined more than ever to maintain its status as a "national liberation movement." The fiery rhetoric of the delegates and the signs on the walls of the conference hall are testimony that Fatah continues to live in the past and not in the present, choosing to blame Israel and Hamas for almost all the miseries of the Palestinians. Instead of forming committees to look into ways of reforming Fatah and restoring its lost credibility among a majority of Palestinians, the delegates preferred to establish a commission of inquiry to investigate the death of Arafat. (Jerusalem Post)
One American administration after another has embraced the same false premises and set into motion a "peace process" that ineluctably fails. In 1967, Israel's Arab neighbors fought a war to wipe the Jewish state off the map. When they lost, Israel took control of Gaza and the West Bank. Israelis were willing to relinquish those territories - but they wanted a solid peace treaty in exchange. No Arab leader was willing to pay that price.
Seven years ago, President Bush officially endorsed the establishment of a Palestinian state - as long as it would not become another terrorist-sponsoring state. Hamas explicitly rejected that condition. Hamas demands that infidels leave the Middle East or, at the very least, submit to Islamic rule. But isn't that just where the bargaining begins? No. For Hamas, Islamic supremacy is not a negotiating position; it's a religious conviction and therefore not open to compromise.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thinks an "economic peace" could pave the way to a broader settlement. He recalls that the economy of the West Bank was among the fastest growing in the world after 1967 and before 1993 - when Israeli leaders brought Yasser Arafat from exile. A precipitous economic decline followed. The writer is president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. (Washington Times)
The West has given up on its attempts to prevent Iran acquiring an atom bomb - and the result will be a nuclear arms race that threatens not only the future of the Middle East, but the entire world. This is the apocalyptic view that now appears to be taking root among some of the world's leading Iran experts, as we approach the point when Tehran's newly re-elected president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, decides whether he is prepared to enter into a constructive dialogue over his country's illicit pursuit of nuclear technology. To judge by the mood of the delegates participating in a conference on Iran this week in Italy, organized by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the omens do not look good. The overwhelming consensus was that the chances of Ahmadinejad's responding positively to Obama's appeal to Tehran to "unclench its fist" are remote indeed.
A mood of defeatism appears to have settled over the White House, while a similar air of resignation has taken hold in Europe. Only Britain and France have any appetite for further tough talking. With political will diminishing in the West, the most likely outcome is that leading Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt, seek to acquire their own nuclear arsenals. The Saudis helped to finance Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, while the Syrians and Egyptians are known to have their own advanced research projects.
A poly-nuclear Middle East would pose the greatest threat to world peace seen since the creation of the Iron Curtain. But the doctrine of mutually assured destruction, which could be relied upon during the Cold War to prevent a nuclear holocaust, cannot be applied to a region in which national pride and personal honor often take precedence over the more basic human instinct for self-preservation. (Telegraph-UK)
The Obama administration, frustrated by Iran's non-response to its diplomatic overtures, is considering policy shifts to ratchet up U.S. pressure on the Tehran regime - while still leaving the door open a crack for negotiations. The clock on U.S. diplomatic outreach is running out, says Shaul Bakhash, a leading Iran expert at George Mason University. Any direct engagement by Washington "with an Iranian government that appears illegitimate, that's engaged in an extraordinary crackdown on its own people, would be criticized," he said.
At the same time, growing international pressure could harden the positions of Iran's religious rulers. "Given that Iran's supreme leader has always said 'don't negotiate from a position of weakness,' it is unlikely Iran would be willing to engage in negotiations at this time," Bakhash said. "Its leaders would not want to appear weak at home by looking for accommodation abroad." Bakhash said he expects Iran's leaders to stall by offering a proposal meant to buy time, and not directly address U.S. and international concerns.
David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, said that reality could force the Obama administration to face politically and morally awkward choices. "You get (Russia and China) to cooperate not because you assert it's the right thing to do, but by offering something that's even more important to them than their relations with Iran," he said. That could include concessions to Russia on NATO expansion - and an easing of human rights pressures on both countries. "These are extremely difficult decisions to make, when realpolitik factors come up against moral imperatives," Harris said. (New York Jewish Week)
This week, a U.S. military delegation is in Damascus, Syria, to discuss how the two countries can collaborate to stabilize Iraq. Having served in the Pentagon for four years, including as the Levant director responsible for U.S. policy on Syria, among other countries, I wish them luck. Getting Syria to change its bad behavior in Iraq and Lebanon, to cease its partnership with terrorists and terror-sponsoring states, and to come clean about its nuclear program will not be easy. Though the Syrians can gloat over a few visitors and some announcements, the administration has actually given the Syrians very little. U.S. diplomats have been quick to emphasize that Syria will need to take important steps to change its behavior if it hopes for a sustained relationship.
Contrary to the bright-eyed wishes of some former U.S. officials, new relations with Syria will not markedly alter the region, as former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Edward P. Djerejian recently argued in the Wall Street Journal. The writer served in a variety of positions in the U.S. Defense Department, including special assistant to the undersecretary of defense for policy. (Foreign Policy)
See also Damascus and the Road to Mideast Peace - Edward P. Djerejian (Wall Street Journal)
In 2002, near the height of a violent Palestinian uprising now known as the Second Intifada, IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon was said to have said, "The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people." The statement was published in some of the globe's most distinguished publications, including this one. There's just one problem. Yaalon never said it.
Only now, seven years later, is the record finally being corrected. In recent weeks, publications including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Boston Globe have all carried retractions or clarifications. "It only takes one mistake, one falsehood, and others pick up on it," said Gilead Ini, senior research analyst at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), that has been tracking down publications that have printed the comment.
In the 2002 Ha'aretz interview in which he is supposed to have said these words, Yaalon actually seems to have been making a very different point. Attempting to define what would constitute an Israeli victory in the Palestinian conflict, he said: "I defined it from the beginning of the confrontation - the very deep internalization by the Palestinians that terrorism and violence will not defeat us, will not make us fold." (Toronto Star)
Raslan Abu Rukun is the new deputy general in the Israeli consulate in Philadelphia that handles affairs for Israel in six states. As a Druze Arab, Abu Rukun is among two Christians, three Muslims, and eight other Druze Arabs who are Israeli diplomats. The Druze-Jewish relationship is harmonious, and Druze loyalty is unquestioned. They are the only non-Jews drafted by Israel into its military, says Abu Rukun. He joined his country's diplomatic corps in 2006 and spent two years in Nepal. Culturally, "I'm an Arab, but if you talk about national or political identity, I'm Israeli."
In addition to Israeli Arabs in the foreign service, an Arab sits on Israel's supreme court; an Arab is the minister of sports, culture and science, and more than a dozen Arabs are members of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. This is why it angers most Jews to hear Israel-haters call it "apartheid." It is a deliberate lie. (Philadelphia Daily News)
Is Eastern Jerusalem "Occupied Territory"? - Richard L. Cravatts (FrontPageMagazine.com)
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert