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|
December 11, 2009
Israel Doubts Egyptian Wall Will Block Gaza Tunnels - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
Iran Seeks Nuclear Parts through Taiwan - Con Coughlin (Telegraph-UK)
India, Israel to Ramp Up Military Ties (Times of India)
See also India Seeks Advice from a Special Friend (Strategy Page)
Ten Israeli UAVs Headed for Afghanistan - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
Fatah Fighters Buying Guns Instead of Food for Kids - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
Hamas Will Not Give Up a Grain of Palestinian Soil (Al-Qassam Brigades-Hamas-Gaza)
Britain Uses Food Labels to Pressure Israel Over Settlements (Telegraph-UK)
Israeli Accepts Nobel Prize in Chemistry - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
Anti-Israelism and Anti-Semitism in Progressive U.S. Blogs/News Websites:
Influential and Poorly Monitored - Adam Levick (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
Barclays: Israel's Economy Ready to Roar (Globes)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The U.S., UK and France say they will seek new sanctions against Iran if it does not comply with existing UN Security Council resolutions demanding that it end uranium-enriching activities and come to the negotiating table. Japan's UN ambassador, who heads the Security Council Sanctions Committee on Iran, briefed the council Thursday on violations of existing resolutions that have taken place during the last three months.
Britain's UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant outlined those violations: "This report set out a pattern of violations by Iran of Security Council resolutions - including two illegal exports of shipments of arms from Iran in direct contradiction of Resolution 1747....And if you add this together with the continued uranium enrichment activities of Iran, in violation of Security Council resolutions - of Iran's failure to answer questions to the IAEA about its weaponization activities, the revelation of a secret enrichment site at Qom, and Iran's rejection of the offer over the Tehran Nuclear Research Reactor - then I think you can see there is clearly this pattern of violations of international obligations and an unwillingness of Iran to negotiate seriously with the international community over the nuclear issue."
French Ambassador Gerard Araud told the council that Iran is not respecting its international obligations and that there "is no longer any reason to wait" on pursuing new sanctions. "France considers that the time has come to increase this pressure," he said. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told the council that "engagement cannot be a one-way street....Should Iran continue to fail to meet its obligations, the international community will have to consider further actions." (VOA News)
See also Gates Sees More Iran Sanctions Over Nuclear Plans
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said on Friday he expected the international community to impose significant additional sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. (Reuters-New York Times)
Gen. James Jones, President Obama's national security adviser, describes where things stand in the quest to walk back Iran's nuclear program. The door to diplomatic discussion with the Iranians remains ajar, "but it's not going to stay open much longer." If Iran doesn't show it's serious about addressing international concerns that it is pursuing nuclear weapons, the action will shift in January to imposing sanctions at the UN Security Council. The effort to pass a sanctions resolution will take perhaps a month. And steps to penalize Iran may not stop there. (Wall Street Journal)
See also below Observations - Obama at Nobel Prize Ceremony: "Those Who Seek Peace Cannot Stand Idly By as Nations Arm Themselves for Nuclear War" (White House)
Iranian demonstrators have made it clear that their target is not just President Ahmadinejad, or the disputed election that returned him to power in June, but the entire foundation of Iran's theocracy. The protesters took direct aim at Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, chanting, "Khamenei knows his time is up!" They held up flags from which the "Allah" symbol - added after Iran's 1979 revolution - had been removed. Most shocking of all, some burned an image of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the father of the revolution. That creeping radicalization has underscored the rift within Iran's opposition movement, analysts say, and poses a problem for its leaders, including former presidential candidates Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi. (New York Times)
See also Thousands Flee Iran as Noose Tightens - Steve Stecklow and Farnaz Fassihi
The UN says more than 4,200 Iranians have sought refugee status since Iran's controversial June presidential vote and bloody street violence. Nevsehir, Turkey, is home to 543 Iranians seeking asylum. Others have turned up in countries as far away as Australia, Canada and Sweden. (Wall Street Journal)
Flower farmers in Gaza exported a shipment of 30,000 flowers through an Israeli crossing on Thursday. Israel's Defense Ministry responded to a request by the Netherlands to enable Gaza's flower growers to export their entire harvest of some 35 million roses, carnations, and chrysanthemums to markets in European countries for the first time since the 2006-07 season. The next shipment of 250,000 flowers is slated for next week. (Christian Science Monitor)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The current sense in Jerusalem is that the U.S. is scaling back its intensive involvement in the diplomatic process. Middle East envoy George Mitchell has not been to the region in over a month and is not expected back until January. The feeling in Jerusalem is that Washington believed that Netanyahu's moratorium would move the process along a bit, and when the Palestinians failed to respond positively to the move, the U.S. decided to sit back and see how things would play out.
One source said the U.S. would not stop its work in the area, but "just bring it down a couple of notches." He said there was also a sense that Washington was waiting to see the outcome of a number of issues - including whether Mahmoud Abbas would indeed step down, and what would happen if there were a deal for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. (Jerusalem Post)
The IDF has completed a review of the 36 "most serious" cases of alleged war crimes as cited by Judge Richard Goldstone in his report on the Gaza operation, and concluded that 30 of them are "baseless accusations." The other six were found to relate to genuine instances where operational errors and mistakes were involved. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Israel Briefs U.S., UN on Gaza Probes - Yaakov Katz
Military Advocate General Maj.-Gen. Avihai Mandelblit met with U.S. and UN officials in New York Wednesday, briefing them on investigations the IDF is conducting into last winter's operation in Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
The Israel Defense Forces carried out two extensive drills this week. The first drill, by the Home Front Command, included the emergency rapid distribution of gas masks in the event of an attack threat before the army completes the regular distribution, due to begin within a few months. The second drill, held in the north by the Paratroops Brigade and involving several reserve units, simulated various combat scenarios against Syria and Hizbullah. (Ha'aretz)
See also Electric, Water Companies Told to Buy Protective Suits for Non-Conventional Attack - Yaakov Katz
Fearing chemical and biological attacks on Israel, the IDF Home Front Command has issued a directive to national infrastructures companies to purchase active protection full-body suits for their employees so they can continue providing services in contaminated zones. (Jerusalem Post)
The Palestinian Authority is starting to be portrayed as the side against peace. Two moves by Netanyahu managed to change the picture: First, his willingness to endorse a Palestinian state, and then the temporary settlement freeze. Israel made a move, so why is Abbas refusing to negotiate? He is being asked this by world leaders at a time when his PA continues to incite against Israel.
While Israel is ready for negotiations, here and now, the Palestinians are presenting preconditions and are losing the West's support. Preconditions for talks with Israel? As if we never had Oslo, mutual recognition, and signed agreements?
The Palestinians failed to realize that hatred for Israel does not equal sympathy for the Palestinians. They confused anti-Israel sentiments with pro-Palestinian sentiments. They failed to understand that many in the world hate Israel, but are using the Palestinians as the fig leaf for this hatred. The Obama administration is increasingly having reservations about them. (Ynet News)
The various Palestinian leaderships, including the PLO, Fatah and Hamas, are incapable of showing the kind of statesmanship that can lead to a peace agreement with Israel. This is the case for a number of reasons: a misunderstanding of reality, a sentimental fixation that binds them to both a baseless "vision" and a warrior culture, a lack of courage to tell the Palestinian public the truth, and personal interests based on the link between the continuation of the conflict and their staying in power. The result is that the Palestinians find themselves in a historic trap of their own doing that precludes any chance of holding serious negotiations. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
According to the 1993 Oslo Agreements, Jerusalem is one of the issues to be discussed in future permanent status negotiations. The Swedish move to have the European foreign ministers back a declaration recognizing eastern Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state clearly pre-judges the outcome of those talks. When the EU foreign ministers met on December 8, they issued a statement that only partly softened the Swedish draft. It dropped the reference to the Palestinian state being comprised of "the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital," but still retained a proposal that envisions "Jerusalem as the future capital of two states."
The EU statement insisted that the EU "will not recognize any changes in the pre-1967 borders" without the agreement of the parties. Yet by enshrining the 1967 lines as a previous political border, the EU was ignoring that these were only armistice lines and not a recognized international boundary. In fact, it was UN Security Council Resolution 242 which acknowledged that the pre-1967 lines might change. By waving the carrot of a statement of support for eastern Jerusalem to be part of a Palestinian state, the Swedes are causing Mahmoud Abbas' advisors to believe that if they avoid bilateral negotiations with Israel, they can create the political environment for third party intervention to their advantage.
What is needed is an ongoing Israeli diplomatic effort for Jerusalem, underlining Israel's legal rights and its role as the protector of the holy sites. Unfortunately, European states, which once sought to protect the holy sites of Christianity in Jerusalem, today appear to be oblivious to what would happen to their churches were the Old City of Jerusalem to be given to a Palestinian regime under the influence of Hamas. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
In the second half of 2009, during its term as president of the EU, Sweden attempted to institute a sweeping change in EU policy towards the Arab-Israeli conflict. The primary change it sought was EU recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. A comparison of the EU's 1999 Berlin document and the 2009 Brussels document demonstrates that the major change in the position of the EU relates to the status of Jerusalem and its future as the capital of two states. EU heads have expressed their opposition to Israeli steps in Jerusalem in the past. On the other hand, this is the first time that the EU officially expressed its support for the idea that the capital of the Palestinian state is in Jerusalem. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
There is one word we don't hear in connection with possible Iran sanctions: effective. With the Islamic Republic getting closer and closer to enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, only a game-changing set of coordinated and punitive economic and political measures can force the regime to make unpalatable choices. Achieving international consensus on some kinds of draconian measures may well be impossible. But that may not be necessary, if the U.S. is willing to throw its full might behind a truly tough sanctions regime, and if, as diplomats suggest privately, there is now significant enthusiasm in Britain and France for an ad hoc coalition pressing forward with new sanctions.
Among possible new options: a complete travel ban for all regime officials, a ban on all correspondent relationships with Iranian banks (which facilitate letters of credit and foreign financing of Iranian business and trade), and an end to all export financing. Also: denial of landing rights to Iran Air and denial of access to capital markets for Iran's most important investors and commercial partners. Sanctions such as these will hit hardest at the regime, and affect ordinary Iranians only incidentally. They will also deepen the divide between the public and the military-religious dictatorship, targeting the means of regime enrichment that comes all too often at the expense of the Iranian public. The writer is vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. (Wall Street Journal)
Right now the Palestinian Authority is refusing to negotiate at all, nominally because Israel is building a few apartments in Jerusalem. So what? That should be an incentive to negotiate faster so that the construction doesn't go on and on, becoming even more irreversible. Why, if the Palestinians are suffering so much, won't they make peace?
The answer: The Palestinian leadership wants total victory and Israel's elimination. It is willing to go on letting its people suffer for a century in pursuit of that goal. It hopes that the world will give it everything it wants without having to make any concessions. It realizes that saying "no" and letting the conflict continue gives it more - not less - leverage internationally because this makes Israel look like the guilty party. (Jerusalem Post)
President Obama asserts, seconded by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that "America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements" in the West Bank. But history shows that Israeli settlements not only are legitimate under international law but positively encouraged. The League of Nations' 1922 British Mandate for Palestine, Article 6, encourages "close settlement by Jews on the land, including state lands and waste lands not required for public use." Most Israeli settlements in the West Bank have been built on land that was state land under the Ottomans, British, Jordanians and Israelis, or on property that has been privately purchased.
Eugene Rostow, U.S. Undersecretary of State for President Lyndon Johnson, said in 1990: "The Jewish right of settlement in the West Bank is conferred by the same provisions of the mandate under which Jews settled in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem before the State of Israel was created." One can argue, as Obama does, that Israel's establishing towns in the disputed territories after 1967 obstructs diplomacy, but one cannot accurately declare the settlements illegal. The writer is Washington director of CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. (Los Angeles Times)
The protests in Melbourne on Sunday against the presence of Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom were a display of moral and intellectual bankruptcy. Describing Israel as an apartheid state and equating Israel with Nazism is not just an assault on historical fact; it belies any true understanding of the course of history. One wonders how those very students would respond if Melbourne, like Sderot in southern Israel, was the target of a relentless battery of rockets fired from terrorists against innocent civilians for eight long years. These protesters want an end to the conflict. They want a Palestinian state. So do the majority of Australian Jews and Jews worldwide. And so does Israel.
Shalom is also Israel's Minister for Regional Development and has been negotiating with the Australian government to work with Israel on rehabilitating the Jordan River. Given how many Palestinians rely on the river for their livelihood - both in the West Bank and in Jordan - it is a project that will mainly benefit the Palestinian population. The writer is founder and chair of the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange and the Australia Israel Leadership Forum. (Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
Of all the ways in which the U.S. marches to the beat of its own drummer, few are more striking than the American people's consistent and deep-rooted support for the Jewish state. According to a recent Gallup survey, for the fourth year in a row, 59% of Americans - nearly 6 in 10 - said their sympathies were with Israel, while just 18% sided with the Palestinians. 63% said they had a favorable view of Israel (21% said very favorable), compared with just 15% who thought highly of the Palestinian Authority.
Americans stand with Israel because in it they recognize a liberal democracy much like their own. They know that Israel is a stable ally in one of the world's most critical and volatile regions, and its painfully acquired expertise in counterterrorism is invaluable - all the more so as we wage our own war against jihadi terrorists. Americans sympathize with Israel because they understand that the enemies of Israel hate the U.S. as well. Finally, there is a deep religious bond between American Christians and the Jewish people, a bond that stretches back to the earliest era of American history. America and Israel are linked by the kinship of common values - an affinity of strength and decency that reflects the best of both nations, and sets them apart from the other nations of the world. The writer is a columnist for the Boston Globe. (Jeff Jacoby.com)
Senator Orrin Hatch, a solemn-faced Republican from Utah with a soft spot for Jews and a love of Barbra Streisand, has penned a catchy holiday tune, "Eight Days of Hanukkah." The video was posted Tuesday on Tablet, an online magazine of Jewish lifestyle and culture, just in time for Hanukkah. Known around the Senate as a prolific writer of Christian hymns and patriotic melodies, Mr. Hatch, 75, said this was his first venture into Jewish music. "Anything I can do for the Jewish people, I will do," Mr. Hatch said in an interview. "Mormons believe the Jewish people are the chosen people, just like the Old Testament says." (New York Times)
Watch the Video (Tablet)
Pieces of an inscribed tablet recently put together by archeologists reveal the events that precipitated the Maccabean Revolt in 167-164 BCE and the story of Hanukkah. The reconstituted tablet yielded a text from the Syrian-Greek King Seleucus IV dated 178 BCE to the ruling leadership in Judea - 11 years before the Maccabean Revolt. It set out instructions to begin collecting money from all of the temples in the region, marking the start of a significant, negative shift in Seleucid policy on Jewish autonomy. That shift culminated in a vicious Seleucid crackdown on the Jews of Judea and the looting of the Temple in 168-167 BCE, which prompted the Maccabean Revolt. (Jerusalem Post)
More than 55 million colorful Hanukkah candles were made by the Menorah Candle Company factory in Sderot in the past two months. The owner of the company, Holocaust survivor Yisrael Sheiner, 82, spent most of World War Two in the Polish woods, hiding with his family from Nazi soldiers. Sheiner sees it as symbolic that Sderot, the most-bombarded city in Israel, is producing millions of candles that stand for Jewish heroism and resilience. Two years ago, a Kassam rocket hit the plant. The blast sent doors flying off their hinges and blew out the factory windows.
Sheiner recounts that when he was 11, he, his parents and his three siblings escaped from the Polish town of Pinczow into the woods. Hanukkah came as they were on the run. "I drew the hanukkiah I remembered from home, took a piece of wood and carved it out," he says. "We celebrated Hanukkah in some bunker in the middle of the woods, but the important thing is that we all survived." (Ha'aretz)
A trip across America reminds one of the degree of support Israel enjoys both among Jews and non-Jews. In the town of Florence in northwestern Alabama, I heard Parker Griffith - a first-term Democratic congressman - speak of Israel in a way that could bring tears to the eyes. Griffith told an interdenominational crowd of some 150 people at the town's Reform synagogue: "I went to Israel as a tourist, and came back as a Zionist." Griffith, a retired oncologist, talked about Israel's energy and ingenuity, and about the need for the U.S. to stand by Israel and not be taken in by Iranian deception. He spoke of a recent trip to Israel, and how struck he was that places he heard about as a kid in Sunday school were actually real.
I asked Griffith the source of his support. An Episcopalian, he grew up on the Old Testament and is familiar with it - it means something to him. Secondly, he went to medical school at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he had a number of Jewish friends. Those friends, he said, cared greatly about Israel, and it rubbed off. (Jerusalem Post)
Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum has identified 3.6 million Jews who lost their lives to Nazi Germany's genocide and is trying to identify the rest while survivors are still alive. "We are in a race against time," said American-born Cynthia Wroclawski, outreach manager of the Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Project. "Our mission is to reach people who have information." Most of Yad Vashem's data have been drawn from the "pages of testimony" given by Holocaust survivors and others who have evidence that their relatives or friends were killed by the Nazis. Complicating the identification of survivors, said Shlomo Aronson of Jerusalem's Hebrew University, is that the Waffen-SS and other Nazi units that engaged in mass killings throughout Eastern Europe did not record the names of their victims. Nor were Soviet Jewish casualties registered as Jews. (Washington Times)
Those Who Seek Peace Cannot Stand Idly By as Nations Arm Themselves for Nuclear War - President Barack Obama (White House)
Accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Thursday, President Obama said:
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