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 21, 2009
Poll: Only 12% of Israelis Believe Obama Supports Israel (DPA-Ha'aretz)
Syrian Arrested in Plot to Sell Arms to Terrorists - Anahad O'Connor (New York Times)
Israel to Send Ship to NATO Operation - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
Roman-Era Mansion Uncovered in City of David in Jerusalem (Israel Antiquities Authority)
When Israeli Bedouin Women Go to University - Akiva Eldar (Ha'aretz)
Israeli Wine Flows onto International Shelves - Elana Ringler (Reuters)
UNIFIL Building Fence to Stop Zionist Cows (Daily Star-Lebanon)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
President Barack Obama called on Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab states on Thursday to act simultaneously to help kick-start Middle East peace negotiations. The White House put forth the idea in announcing that Obama had spoken by phone with Jordan's King Abdullah and "agreed on the need to launch Israeli-Palestinian negotiations as soon as possible." "They also agreed that all parties - Israel, the Palestinians and Arab states - should take steps simultaneously to create a context in which these negotiations can succeed," Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said. Arab states have resisted Obama's appeals to make good-faith gestures toward Israel and have instead put the onus on Israel to act first. (Reuters)
See also President Wants Palestinian Concessions - Barry Schweid
Now it's the Palestinians' turn. With Israel having issued no new housing settlement contracts for months, President Obama said Tuesday, "My hope is that we are going to see not just movement from the Israelis, but also from the Palestinians," citing the areas of incitement and security. With Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at his side at the White House, Obama said Arab states also must show their willingness to engage Israel.
Obama already has obtained a big concession from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who agreed to the concept of a Palestinian state existing alongside Israel. The president's next big step toward that goal would be a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. His call on the Palestinians and the Arabs for concessions probably reflects a view by Israel and its supporters that the other side must give ground as well. (AP)
Ahmad Vahidi, nominated Thursday by President Ahmadinejad to serve as Iran's defense minister, is a suspected international terrorist sought by Interpol in connection with a deadly 1994 attack on a Jewish community center in Argentina. Vahidi, a former commander of the elite unit of the Revolutionary Guard known as the Quds Force, was listed with four other Iranian officials on Interpol's most-wanted list in 2007 at the request of Argentine prosecutors.
Kenneth Katzman, a senior analyst at the Congressional Research Service, said Vahidi is also suspected of having played a role in a 1996 attack on the Khobar Towers U.S. Air Force barracks in Saudi Arabia. "Vahidi was commander of the Quds Force during the late 1980s to early 1990s, and his choice certainly sends a very strong signal that Ahmadinejad plans to continue, and maybe even accelerate, Iran's material support for pro-Iranian parties and militias in the region," Katzman said.
Vahidi's "reputed intimate involvement in various acts of terrorism, particularly against Argentina and the United States, makes his selection especially flagrant," said Kenneth Piernick, a former chief of the FBI's Iran-Hizbullah unit. "This does not look like an unclenched fist." Malcolm Hoenlein, vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said the elevation of Vahidi "is reflective of the hard-line nature of the new Cabinet." "This should heighten concerns about Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons," he added. (Washington Times)
Iran allowed IAEA nuclear officials to inspect the construction site of the Arak heavy water reactor last week after blocking visits by the UN non-proliferation watchdog for over a year, diplomats said. Western powers fear Iran may configure the reactor to derive plutonium from spent fuel rods as another possible source of bomb-grade fuel, besides its Natanz uranium enrichment plant. Diplomats also said Iran had allowed an upgrade of IAEA monitoring at the Natanz site as requested by the agency, which had been finding it hard to keep track of expanding activity. (Reuters-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Construction in West Bank settlements is effectively frozen, Israel Radio quoted Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman as saying Thursday. He clarified that Israel would not tolerate this situation for an extended period of time, and said that Jerusalem was waiting for the next round of talks with the U.S. on the matter. Senior diplomatic sources said Tuesday that U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell was well aware that the Netanyahu government has not approved any new building in the West Bank since taking office, and that a de facto settlement freeze had already been in effect for more than four months. Prime Minister Netanyahu will meet with Mitchell on Aug. 26 in London to discuss the settlement issue and the diplomatic process. (Jerusalem Post)
The U.S. has offered Israel, Egypt and Persian Gulf countries to be part of a nuclear umbrella against an Iranian attack, the Egyptian newspaper al-Gumhoria reported Thursday. In its editorial, the newspaper slammed the idea of a "suspicion umbrella," defining it as "a bribe to Israel for indirect normalization purposes." "The only one to reveal this satanic plan was President Hosni Mubarak, who was very firm in his response. He stressed that Egypt does not support free normalization with Israel." (Ynet News)
The Saudi newspaper Al-Watan reported Thursday that the kingdom was working on plans for its first nuclear power plant. The U.S. inked civil nuclear power deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates last year. Over the last two years, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, the UAE, Yemen, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt have all indicated an interest in developing nuclear programs, with Israeli officials saying that if these countries did not want the programs now for their military capabilities, they wanted the technology in place to keep "other options open" if Iran were to develop a bomb. "The Saudis are genuinely scared of what will happen if Iran turns nuclear," one official said. "This is part of their response." (Jerusalem Post)
The U.S. on Tuesday criticized Israel for stamping passports of tourists intending to visit the West Bank as "Palestinian Authority only," restricting visitors' ability to enter Israel. "We have let the government of Israel know that these restrictions unfairly impact Palestinian and Arab American travelers and are not acceptable," the State Department spokesman's office said. Israeli officials have defended the policy as necessary to insure that individuals who pose security risks aren't able to wander around Israel. In the past, some foreign terrorists were able to attack Israelis after first rendezvousing with contacts in Palestinian-controlled areas. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Two years ago I was released from Evin Prison after 105 days in solitary confinement. I was arrested in early 2007 on the ludicrous charge of attempting to foment a "velvet revolution" to overthrow the Iranian government. Even President Ahmadinejad acknowledged the absurdity of the charges; this month, explaining why he fired his minister of intelligence, he noted that the intelligence chief had made himself the subject of ridicule by charging "a 70-year-old woman" with wanting to start a revolution. (Actually, I was 67 then.)
Thousands were arrested in the protests after the June 12 presidential election that large numbers of Iranians believe was rigged in Ahmadinejad's favor. More than 100 of the protesters and their leaders were put on trial this month. In weeks of interrogation during my incarceration in 2007, I came to understand only too well the paranoia that drives Iran's security agencies and its hard-liners. These men fear that they will be overthrown by a mass movement of their own people. The trials have caused as much revulsion at home as abroad. The widespread discontent will not be easily silenced. Iran's hard-liners seem to have accomplished what their ubiquitous foreign "enemies" could not: They have planted the seeds for their own, homegrown velvet revolution. The writer is director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. (Washington Post)
The Arab-Israeli conflict is not based on a misunderstanding. The conflict has a source, and it is the refusal to acknowledge that source - rather than any failure to "engage" - that is the main reason for the failure of decades of peacemaking. Under the conflict-as-misunderstanding model, the more one side takes "confidence-building measures," the more the other side will reciprocate. Israel has been going along with this idea for years, most dramatically by unilaterally withdrawing from Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza in 2005. Yet instead of reciprocating, the Arab side became more belligerent: The more Israel acts as if it is responsible for the conflict, the more radicalized the Arab side becomes.
The idea that pressing both sides is how you make peace has become so ingrained that no alternative is ever considered. There is, however, an alternative paradigm that has never been tried: to recognize, intellectually and publicly, that the engine of the conflict is the Arab refusal to accept Jewish history, peoplehood or sovereignty anywhere in the Land of Israel. The Arabs will not end the conflict that they started so long as they still have hopes that Israel will become delegitimized and will weaken and disappear. When these hopes are dashed, then the Arab world will see that there is no alternative to making real peace with Israel.
Someday, the U.S. and Europe will, without equivocation, call on the Arab states to lead the way toward ending their conflict with Israel. When that happens clearly and consistently, and provided that radical Islam's bid for an Iranian nuclear umbrella has been defeated, real peace could come more quickly than anyone now imagines. (Jerusalem Post)
Convicted murderer Marwan Barghouti was elected last week to the Fatah Central Committee. On May 20, 2004, Barghouti, commander of Fatah's Tanzim militia, was convicted by an Israeli civilian court on five counts of murder, including commissioning and organizing the attack on Tel Aviv's Seafood Market restaurant where three guests partaking in a bachelorette party were shot to death in 2002. Faith in Barghouti as peacemaker persists despite his self-acknowledged orchestration of the Second Intifada terror war and even recent inflammatory statements to the Fatah convention.
In this context it is instructive to listen to Kadima's Avi Dichter, a former Israel Security Agency head and ex-minister of public security. Barghouti "earned his status in PA society with the blood of murdered and wounded Israelis," said Dichter, a proven advocate of compromise with the Palestinians. "This man has amply proved his unreliability." (Jerusalem Post)
A central pillar of the Obama administration's Middle East policy paradigm was shattered at the Fatah conference in Bethlehem. At the conference, Fatah's supposedly feuding old guard and young guard were united in their refusal to reach an accommodation with Israel. Both old and young endorsed the use of terrorism against Israel. Both embraced the Aksa Martyrs Brigades terror group as a full-fledged Fatah organization. Both approved building a strategic alliance with Iran. The U.S. argues that by barring Jewish building, Israel will encourage the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority to moderate its policies and so engender an atmosphere conducive to a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian conflict with Israel. The Fatah conference put paid to that fiction. (Jerusalem Post)
PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, partner of the U.S. and Israel in peace processing, was in Khartoum on Wednesday for talks with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has a warrant out for his head on charges of genocide. This indictment by the International Criminal Court has never bothered any other leaders of the Arab world. So why should it perturb Abbas? Al-Bashir is a big player in the Arab world, mostly in the role Sudan has taken on in the transfer of weapons from Iran and Syria to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and Eritrea. Remember that Israel bombed a desert convoy in Sudan a few months ago - at the request of the United States. (New Republic)
The issue is not whether Israel must respect human rights, but that the human rights of Israel and its people have not been respected. The discrimination emerges not from suggesting that human rights standards should be applied to Israel - which they must be - but from the fact that these standards have not been applied equally to anyone else.
It was Hamas that fired deliberately on Israeli civilians. It was Hamas that boasted - only days before the conflict exploded in December - that Israel was "hopeless and desperate" when faced with its attacks. It was Hamas that painted Israel and Jews as the sons of apes and pigs and that called for their murder in its charter and publicly incited to their genocide. Once the war began, it was Hamas that continued to target Israeli civilians as part of a systematic, widespread attack. It was Hamas that chose to position its fighters in Palestinian civilian areas. It was Hamas that misused ambulances to transport fighters to launch attacks. It was Hamas that recruited children into armed conflict.
These are all indisputable war crimes. Yet they do not find their way into the resolution establishing the Goldstone Commission. Simply put, if there had been no Hamas war crimes, there would have been no need for an Israeli response. (Jerusalem Post)
Opposing Israel has become an institutionalized ritual. It's now a movement across Europe and North America. It has its traditions, like Israel Apartheid Week, celebrated every spring in universities, often the cause of riots and an occasion to intimidate Jewish students. Vehement opposition to Israel appears to be the major interest of thousands of people all over the world. Many are Muslims, sympathizing with the Palestinians, but many are not.
Those involved often insist that it's not a matter of anti-Semitism. But in my personal observation, enemies of Israel often turn out to be anti-Semites as well. The most distressing quality of the attacks is their singularity. They leave us with the impression that Israel deserves more censure than any other country on Earth - in fact, more than all other countries combined. Those who oppose Israel's policies have a right to their opinions and their anger, however unreasonable. And those, like me, who are infuriated by the relentless and totally selective drumbeat, also have a right to our grave suspicions. (National Post-Canada)
Taking the Mideast Peace Plunge - Editorial (Christian Science Monitor)
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