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|
September 18, 2009
New Study - Blocking the Truth of the Gaza War: How the Goldstone Commission Understated the Hamas Threat to Palestinian Civilians - Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Israel's Population 7.5M, 75% Jewish (Ha'aretz)
Warning: Terror Group Planning Attacks on Israelis in India - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
IDF: Iran Has Taken Over Hizbullah - Anshel Pfeffer (Ha'aretz)
Father of Pakistan's Nuclear Bomb Gave Know-How to Iran - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
A Deadly Palestinian Divide - Howard Schneider (Washington Post)
Asia's Most Wanted Islamist Militant Killed in Indonesia - Andrew Higgins
Facebook, Holocaust Denial, and Anti-Semitism 2.0 - Andre Oboler (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
Engraved Gemstone with Portrait of Alexander The Great Discovered (Red Orbit)
2.6M Tourists Visited Israel in Past Year - (Ynet News)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, rejected a UN proposal to compel Israel and Hamas to conduct credible investigations into war crimes during last winter's war in Gaza or face possible prosecution by an international prosecutor. Rice said the U.S. has long had "very serious concerns" about the mandate the Human Rights Council gave to the Goldstone panel, calling it "unbalanced, one-sided and basically unacceptable." "Our view is that we need to be focused on the future," Rice said. "This is a time to work to cement progress towards the resumption of negotiations and their early and successful conclusion and our efforts, and we hope the efforts of others, will be directed to that end." (Washington Post)
Iran experts at the UN's nuclear monitoring agency believe that Tehran has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and worked on developing a missile system that can carry an atomic warhead, according to a confidential report drafted by senior officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency. The document, titled "Possible Military Dimension of Iran's Nuclear Program," appeared to be the "secret annex" that the U.S., France, Israel and other IAEA members say is being withheld by agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei.
According to the document, Iran worked on developing a chamber inside a ballistic missile capable of housing a warhead payload "that is quite likely to be nuclear." Iran engaged in "probable testing" of explosives commonly used to detonate a nuclear warhead - a "full-scale hemispherical explosively driven shock system." Iran worked on developing a system "for initiating a hemispherical high explosive charge" of the kind used to help spark a nuclear blast. "The agency...assesses that Iran has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device (an atomic bomb)." (AP/ABC News)
Having scuttled plans to build a massive ground-based missile defense system based in the Czech Republic and Poland intended to counter the threat posed by Iranian ballistic missiles, the Obama administration instead favors shorter-range ground- and sea-based missiles positioned closer to Iran. "This new approach will provide capability sooner, build on proven systems and offer greater defenses against the threat of missile attack than the 2007 European missile defense program," Obama said Thursday.
Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the new approach will be global in nature, integrating allied systems such as the Israeli Arrow, jointly developed by Israeli Aerospace Industries Ltd. and Boeing Corporation. "It does not have to be just American weapons and just American sensors," Cartwright said. The first phase of the new plan has already begun, with the deployment to the eastern Mediterranean of Aegis ships equipped with the SM-3 Block 1 Mod A missile system complementing the Patriot systems already deployed. (Air Force Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The chairman of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission, Shaul Chorev, told the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna on Tuesday that a nuclear-free Middle East requires a change in regional attitudes toward Israel. Chorev also reiterated that Israel has repeatedly asserted it would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the region.
Chorev stressed that in order for the Middle East to function as a nuclear-free zone, "progress toward realizing this vision cannot be made without a fundamental change in regional circumstances, including a significant transformation in the attitude of states in the region toward Israel." He also emphasized that many states that are party to the international non-proliferation treaty have violated their commitments. "Grave and overt violations by Iran and Syria had been detected and then formally reported by the IAEA." During Chorev's address, representatives every Arab state except Jordan and Egypt walked out. (Ha'aretz)
Larisa Grischenko, 39, died on Wednesday from critical wounds sustained four years ago in a terror attack at the Hadera market. Grischenko had been in a coma since the October 2005 bombing, which left six people dead and 55 wounded. (Ha'aretz)
Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Shalom Cohen's visit this week to the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper's offices has stirred a storm of controversy, as some claimed this was part of "normalization of ties with Israel." The Egyptian Journalists Association demanded the reporter who met with him be fired. Makram Mohammed Ahmed, head of the journalists association, told the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi on Tuesday that he would not tolerate any deviation from the journalistic consensus, which opposes normalization with Israel. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Goldstone Report
In an interview Thursday on Israel TV Channel 2, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Goldstone Commission "was a kangaroo court, the result of which was known in advance. Look at the mandate which this commission operated under, a mandate which - by the way - most Western countries opposed and had reservations about. From this mandate, they say in advance that Israel carried out war crimes and now they are filling in the blanks."
"The occupation of Gaza? We left Gaza down to the last centimeter.... There were those who said, "Good, this will bring peace." Others said, "Maybe this will not bring peace but the international community will give us full legitimacy as soon as there is the first missile." Then there was the first missile, and the second and the thousandth. There were thousands of missiles and finally Israel responded, as is its right, against the terrorists who hide inside civilian populations and fire at civilian populations. And now the same international public that applauded when we left there, points an accusing finger and accuses us and not Hamas of being war criminals." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
The report published by the Goldstone Commission presents a major challenge to democracies forced to act against terrorist groups. It fails to consider the mode of operation of terrorist organizations which deliberately endanger civilians and make urban areas their battlefield of choice. It makes no reference to the recruitment and exploitation of children and the smuggling of weapons, and ignores clear evidence of the abuse of mosques, ambulances, hospitals and residences. At the same time it places unrealistic and unworkable demands on any state seeking to protect its civilians from terrorist attacks. Its simplistic and impractical approach to the complex challenge of confronting terrorism effectively creates a presumption of guilt for state forces confronting terrorists in all contexts. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell is trying to put together a package that would make everyone happy enough to agree to sit down and talk. Mitchell wants a settlement moratorium, but he also wants to see steps from the PA and the Arab world. And then along comes South African Judge Richard Goldstone and his UN Human Rights Council-commissioned report and throws a tremendous wrench into the works. If Mitchell thought it was rough getting the Arab world to make normalization gestures before Goldstone issued his report alleging Israeli war crimes in Gaza, one can only imagine how difficult it will be now.
And the report does not exactly give Israel confidence that if it withdraws from further territory, the world will recognize its right to self-defense. When Israel withdrew from Gaza to the last Jew, there were those who said that if one missile fell on Israel, the country would have all the legitimacy in the world to take military action to defend its citizens. But as Goldstone made painfully clear, that hasn't exactly turned out to be the case - something that will undoubtedly give the country's leaders pause before making further concessions. (Jerusalem Post)
Richard Goldstone's long-awaited report has confirmed suspicions that his investigation is guided by an agenda to isolate Israel. Panel member Christine Chinkin had branded Israel's Gaza operation a "war crime" before the inquiry had even begun. Hand-picked "witnesses" testified before the UN mission. Most notable was the appearance via video of Shawan Jabarin, director general of al-Haq, a Ramallah-based NGO which spearheads lawsuits against Israeli officials in courts across the world. While Jabarin is "among the senior activists of the Popular Front terrorist organization," Al-Haq's allegations are cited at least 30 times in the report.
The report is replete with dubious statistics and sources. Quoted casualty figures list senior Hamas military figures such as Nizar Rayan and Said Siam as civilians. Rather than advise how to better stop groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad who deliberately target civilians, Goldstone opts for straightforward denunciation of Israel. (Guardian-UK)
One claim made by Goldstone is that Israeli forces "did not use their best efforts to permit humanitarian organizations access to the wounded and medical relief, as required by customary international law." Israel has argued the opposite, citing numerous examples when IDF soldiers risked their own lives to assist Palestinians in need of medical care. While the fighting was going on, the IDF allowed hundreds of trucks loaded with food staples and medicine into Gaza. Israel ceased military operations for several hours each day to allow humanitarian corridors to be opened, even though Hamas took advantage of the lulls. (Jerusalem Post)
Might it be possible that this latest initiative from Tehran is yet another attempt to buy time or run out the clock? This seems like another snow job from the mullahs. Professor Abbas Milani, the director of Iranian studies at Stanford University, notes: "When you read [the Iranian letter] and realize how empty of earnest negotiating positions it in fact is, you are left with no choice but to conclude that they are relying on their ally in Putin's Russia to veto any resolutions against them. For the Russians to be able to even pretend to be serious in their talk of no need for more pressure on the regime, Tehran has also to pretend to be serious in negotiation." This analysis appears to conform to all the available facts as we know them. (Slate)
Talks with Iran offer little hope and pose significant risk. In entering direct talks with Iran, Washington faces two obstacles: first, Iran's reputation for recalcitrance in negotiations and its stated refusal to discuss the nuclear issue, upon which American concerns center; and second, the perception that the administration is lending legitimacy to a regime fresh from violent repression of its political opponents. The White House, therefore, needs to ensure that its representatives raise human rights issues in any meetings with Iranian officials, which would preserve U.S. credibility with the Iranian people. The writer is former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
See also A Test for Iran - Editorial (Washington Post)
It is ironic that just as the Obama administration seemed prepared to write off regime change forever, the Iranian people have made it a distinct possibility. It would be tragic indeed if the U.S. took steps to bolster the staying power of Iran's dictatorship at precisely the moment when so many Iranians appear prepared to risk everything to be rid of it. It would also seem strategically shortsighted to risk throwing this regime a lifeline, because nothing seems more likely to enhance the prospects for peacefully resolving the nuclear issue than the Islamic Republic's replacement by a more democratic government. The writer, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was national security advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney from 2005 to 2009. (Foreign Policy)
Israel and the Palestinians
As a part of the package the Obama Administration is working out with Israel on the settlement freeze and return to negotiations, there is reportedly a promise of some gestures from the Arab world in the form of opening trade offices and providing overflight rights for Israeli commercial aircraft to link Israel to Asia. But such steps are not likely to change attitudes where they count the most - in Israel and Palestine.
According to a poll by the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace, 65% of Palestinians and 63% of Israelis believe it is impossible to reach a final status settlement these days. To imagine that peace is possible on this foundation of deep mutual antipathy and mistrust really stretches credulity. Peace is not going to come from clever formulas and untenable compromises. It will only come when the people who are most affected want it to come, and believe in it. That is not the case today. The writer has served as U.S. Ambassador to Egypt and Israel, and as Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East. (AmbassadorBlog)
Having raised Arab expectations months ago with the idea of a settlement freeze, the Obama administration now has the unpleasant task of coaxing Mahmoud Abbas to tacitly accept an agreement on settlements that offers less than expected. The main question now relates to the structure of subsequent peace negotiations. While the differences between the parties do not seem bridgeable on Jerusalem, refugees, and security, defining the borders of Israel and a future Palestinian state may be possible. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
In all likelihood, Syria was behind the firing of two rockets from southern Lebanon into Israel last Friday, employing pro-Syrian Palestinians. Damascus has often used similar incidents to get its messages across, despite a pro forma veneer of deniability. Only Syria has the latitude to set up rockets in an area tightly controlled by Hizbullah. President Bashar Assad is displeased with the fact that the Syrian track appears to be far less of an Obama administration priority than the Palestinian track. By ordering rockets to be fired into Israel, the Syrians reminded the Americans that they could provoke a conflict between Lebanon and Israel. In some respects this is similar to the policy that Syria is pursuing in Iraq, where they have also tried to accumulate political capital by manipulating the security situation.
For Syria to engage the U.S. effectively, the Assad regime believes it must accumulate leverage regionally. But its only means of doing so is by destabilizing its surroundings, adding to the obstacles preventing better ties with Washington. (The National-UAE)
See also U.S. Believes Syria Is Overplaying Its Hand in Iraq - Jonathan Spyer
The government of Iraq is furious at the mounting evidence of Syrian involvement in the car bombings last month in Baghdad which left 95 dead. The evidence suggests that the U.S. administration is increasingly aware that its energetic attempts over the last months to induce Syria to alter its approach to its neighbors appear to have failed. Seven U.S. delegations have traveled to Damascus since Obama took office, but the flurry of diplomacy has not produced the expected change in Syrian behavior. Syrian encouragement of opposition intransigence is playing a central role in preventing a resolution of the ongoing political deadlock in Lebanon. Syrian domiciling of Hamas is not accompanied by any noticeable efforts to induce that organization to moderate and make possible progress on the Israeli-Palestinian track.
A recent article in the Kuwaiti Arabic daily AlRai quoted an American source as saying that the Syrians "don't know the difference between normalizing relations and behaving like they've defeated the U.S. in a world war." "Assad fires a rocket here and there and expects us to run to him...this kind of security blackmail no longer works on the United States." The writer is senior researcher at the Global Research in International Affairs, IDC, Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)
Where are we in our fight against al-Qaeda? On the one hand, we see continued terrorist attacks by supporters of an uncompromising ideology. Terrorists have learned to increase their lethality and their political impact; and they are drawn to unstable and/or ungoverned territories where they fight, form bonds, draw recruits and further develop their trade.
On the other hand, there are reasons for optimism: U.S. and allied governments have impacted many of al-Qaeda's most lethal capabilities. The group is forced to perpetually rebuild. In addition, the ideology driving al-Qaeda is showing signs of wear and its popularity appears to be waning and more Muslim voices publicly challenge its tenets. The writer is director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
As American economic and technology guru George Gilder puts it in his new book The Israel Test, "The test of a culture is what it accomplishes in advancing the human cause - what it creates rather than what it claims." Gilder shows that Israel creates wealth through creativity and innovation, and is today contributing more to the human cause through its scientific, technological and financial advances than any other country in the world except the U.S.
Gilder asserts that the future of the world will be determined by its treatment of Israel. He asks: "What is your attitude toward people who excel you in the creation of wealth or in other accomplishment? Do you aspire to their excellence, or do you seethe at it? Do you admire and celebrate exceptional achievement or do you impugn it and seek to tear it down?" (Jerusalem Post)
Max Fuchs did not talk much about what he did in the war. His children knew he landed at Omaha Beach. Sometimes, they were allowed to feel the shrapnel still lodged in his chest. And once, he had told them, he sang as the cantor in a Jewish prayer service on the battlefield. On Oct. 29, 1944, at the edge of a fierce fight for control of the city of Aachen, Germany, a correspondent for NBC radio reported: "We bring you now a special broadcast of historic significance: The first Jewish religious service broadcast from Germany since the advent of Hitler." Fuchs, now 87 and living in New York City, was 22 that day.
The battlefield service has drawn 310,000 hits and unlikely fame on YouTube. Fuchs volunteered to sing that day because there was no cantor available. He had been studying to become a cantor when the war broke out, but left his studies and was drafted, and never considered the chaplaincy. He later served as a cantor at the Bayside Jewish Center in Queens. (New York Times)
See also Video: The Jewish Service Heard Round the World: Live from Germany (American Jewish Committee-YouTube)
High above the pot-holed streets of Gaza City sits Rosy, Gaza's only spa and a refuge for its upper crust. The spa is a sign of how a reasonably well-off minority has found a way to endure amid Gaza's bleak landscape of toxic politics and economic paralysis. A handful of upscale restaurants and hotels still serve lavish meals and fragrant waterpipes to businessmen, landowners, aid workers, journalists, and even the occasional senior Hamas official.
At the top of the pyramid of Rosy's client base are the international and local staff of UN agencies, aid organizations, human rights groups, and journalists. Then there are the civil servants who work for the Hamas-run government - around 20,000 doctors, teachers and other government workers who get regular monthly wages. And there are the 70,000 employees of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority based in the West Bank who - because of the internal political rivalry - are paid to stay home and boycott Hamas. "When they told us to stop going to work, I had a lot more free time," says Dana Khaled, 26, who is employed by the Finance Ministry, during a recent workout. (AFP)
The biblical description of Israel as "a land flowing with milk and honey" is particularly true around Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year that begins on Friday at sunset. Symbolizing a sweet new year, honey is an obligatory fixture at the holiday meal and in the following month Israelis consume an impressive 40%, or 1,500 tons, of the honey they eat annually, according to government figures. "People are buying boutique honey straight from the bee keepers," says Shai Spector, a honey producer from Kfar Ruth who offers 11 different varieties. To create specialty honeys, Spector trucks bee hives around the country, setting them in orchards or groves as the trees blossom to ensure the dominant characteristics that come from each kind of flower. "Each honey has its own distinct taste, aroma and color," Spector said. (AFP)
"Yes We Can" Meets "No We Won't" - Shmuel Rosner (Slate)
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