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|
January 8, 2010
Ahmadinejad: Iran and Syria Will Create a New World Order (UPI)
Man Threatening Jews Taken Off U.S. Flight (Reuters)
Dozens of Advanced IEDs Found in South Lebanon (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center )
France Moves to Outlaw the Burka and Niqab, Citing "Equality" - John Lichfield (Independent-UK)
PA Official: Hamas-Iran Alliance Harms Palestinians - Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
Will Obama Attack Israel? - Barry Rubin (Jerusalem Post)
Oldest Hebrew Inscription Indicates Kingdom of Israel Existed in 10th Century BCE - Shalhevet Zohar (Jerusalem Post)
Leading Dutch Ministers Look at Holocaust-Assets Restitution - Interviews by Manfred Gerstenfeld (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
President Obama said Thursday: "Although our intelligence community had learned a great deal about the al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen - called Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula - that we knew that they sought to strike the United States and that they were recruiting operatives to do so - the intelligence community did not aggressively follow up on and prioritize particular streams of intelligence related to a possible attack against the homeland."
"Over the past two weeks, we've been reminded again of the challenge we face in protecting our country against a foe that is bent on our destruction.... Let's be clear about what this moment demands. We are at war. We are at war against al-Qaeda, a far-reaching network of violence and hatred that attacked us on 9/11, that killed nearly 3,000 innocent people, and that is plotting to strike us again. And we will do whatever it takes to defeat them." (White House)
See also Failed Christmas Bomb Plot Will Likely Alter Obama's Agenda - David S. Broder
The Christmas plot appears to have shaken Obama like nothing else that happened in his first year. When he allowed the White House to quote his warning to his Cabinet colleagues that another "screw-up" like that could not be tolerated, he seemed to signal that his benign leadership style had reached its limits. (Washington Post)
Rashad al-Alimi, Yemen's deputy prime minister for national security and defense, said Thursday that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian accused of trying to bring down an airliner as it was approaching Detroit on Dec. 25, had met with operatives of al-Qaeda and probably with Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American-born Internet preacher, in Yemen before setting out on his journey. However, Alimi denied that Abdulmutallab left Yemen with the explosives, saying he obtained them in Nigeria, though he offered no specific evidence. Alimi also said that Abdulmutallab had been recruited in London. (New York Times)
Israel agreed to pay the UN $10.5 million in compensation for damage to UN property and for the life of a UN driver during Israel's war last winter in Gaza, according to two UN officials. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak discussed the payments by phone this week, said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky. Israel has said that the damage to UN property was a result of collateral damage, claiming Gazan militants were fighting near the properties. Though Israel blames Hamas for the destruction of the UN properties, it is seeking to improve ties with the UN. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel doesn't want to see deadlines imposed on the negotiating process with the Palestinians, even as the U.S. is endorsing the idea of a two-year time frame. "In the past, attempts to impose time frameworks have not proved either realizable or helpful," Ambassador to Washington Michael Oren told the Jerusalem Post. U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell said Wednesday that "we think that the negotiation should last no more than two years." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Dahlan: Talks to Resume in Coming Weeks
Fatah Central Committee member and former PA security commander Muhammad Dahlan sees peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel resuming in the coming weeks, according to an interview with Al-Hayat published on Friday. Dahlan said that Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the PA have been holding intense contacts with the Quartet to formulate a unified position regarding the resumption of peace talks. The PA will insist that the '67 borders be the final borders of the future Palestinian state, he added. (Jerusalem Post)
The Prime Minister's Office issued a complaint to the White House several days ago lamenting ongoing incitement against Israel by Palestinian leaders. In the complaint, senior officials in the Prime Minister's Office urged their American counterparts to demand that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas cease to glorify the memory of terrorists who murdered Israelis. The complaint noted recent incidents beginning with a ceremony in Ramallah at which Abbas inaugurated a town square named in honor of Dalal Mougrabi, a female terrorist responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israelis aboard a bus in 1978. The PA also failed to condemn the recent terror attack in which Rabbi Meir Chai was killed in a drive-by shooting in the West Bank two weeks ago by Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades operatives, the armed wing of Abbas' Fatah party. Later, senior PA officials visited the homes of those who carried out the attack after they had been killed by the Israel Defense Forces. (Ha'aretz)
1,361 people came to Cairo from 43 countries to participate in the Gaza Freedom March, 700 of them from the U.S. "If we can't go to Gaza, we'll bring Gaza to Cairo," said one American peace activist. And indeed, for an entire week, more than a thousand foreign citizens, the vast majority of them from Western countries, scurried around the Egyptian capital looking for ways and places to demonstrate against the blockade of Gaza. A large percentage of those present were Jews, as well as Palestinians who are citizens of Western countries.
At the request of the president's wife, Suzanne Mubarak, 100 people were allowed to enter Gaza on Dec. 30. The international organizers of the march coordinated it with NGOs with connections to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which had organized lodging for the guests in private homes. When the Hamas government heard this, it prohibited the move "for security reasons."
The next morning, the activists discovered a cordon of stern-faced Hamas security men blocking them from leaving the hotel (which is owned by Hamas). Security officials accompanied the activists as they visited homes and organizations. During the march itself, when Gazans watching from the sidelines tried to speak with the visitors, the security men blocked them. "They didn't want us to speak to ordinary people," one woman concluded. After the march, another said, "We came to demonstrate against the siege, and we found that we ourselves were under siege." In meetings without the security men, several activists got the impression that non-Hamas residents live in fear, and are afraid to speak or identify themselves by name. "Now I understand that the call for 'Freedom for Gaza' has another meaning," one young man told me. (Ha'aretz)
See also British MP Galloway Deported from Egypt (Press Association-UK)
The Israel Defense Forces launched a series of air strikes overnight Thursday against targets in Gaza City, Khan Yunis and Rafah in Gaza after Palestinians fired a Kassam rocket that hit southern Israel. Three Palestinians were killed, medics said. The IDF Spokesman's Office said Israel Air Force aircraft bombed a tunnel from Gaza heading toward Israel, a weaponry workshop in Gaza City, and two smuggling tunnels linking Gaza to Egypt. Earlier in the day, Gaza militants fired at least 10 shells into Israel, and fired an anti-tank missile at IDF troops patroling the border with Gaza. On Thursday, the Israel Air Force dropped thousands of leaflets over Gaza, warning residents to stay away from the border with Israel and to avoid involvement in smuggling, Ma'an news agency reported. (Ha'aretz)
Canadian human rights activist and former justice minister Irwin Cotler is spearheading a petition that calls on governments and the UN to take immediate and massive diplomatic and economic action against Iran. Cotler accused the Iranian government of violating international law regarding nuclear weapons development, incitement to genocide, state-sponsored terrorism and human rights. "For sanctions to be effective, what is needed is the will to act, and what has been absent so far has been political will with respect to each of the threats," said Cotler.
The petition calls for asking the UN Security Council to file a complaint against Tehran with the International Criminal Court. "Iran has already committed the crime of incitement to genocide," said Cotler. "We do not have to wait and should never wait for the actual beginning of atrocities before taking action." Signers include Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz; British MP Denis MacShane; Bassam Eid, executive director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group; Prof. Suzanne Stone of the Cardozo School of Law; former deputy prime minister of Sweden Per Ahlmark, former minister of justice and foreign affairs of Bangladesh Kamal Hossain, former Canadian prime minister John Turner, and author Elie Wiesel. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Cotler Urges World Action Against Iran - Jenny Hazan
Petition signatories also include Darfur survivor and Sudanese member of parliament Salih Mahmoud Osman; Egyptian democracy advocate Saad Edin Ibrahim; former Israeli Education Minister and legal scholar Amnon Rubenstein; former Canadian foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy, and international law specialist Prof. Fayam Acavam. (Canadian Jewish News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The salient strategic fact in the Middle East today is the Iranian drive for regional hegemony. This goal of hegemony is being pursued through the assembling of a bloc of states and organizations under Iranian leadership. The pro-Iranian bloc includes Syria, Sudan, Hizbullah in Lebanon, Hamas among the Palestinians, and the Houthi rebel forces in northern Yemen. The Iranian nuclear program is an aspect of this ambition. A nuclear capability is meant to form the ultimate insurance for the Iranian regime as it aggressively builds its influence across the region.
This Iranian objective is being promoted by a rising hardline conservative elite within the Iranian regime and is personified by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Their aim is a second Islamic revolution that would revive the original fire of the revolution of 1979. They appear to be aiming for the augmenting of clerical rule with a streamlined, brutal police-security state, under the banner of Islam. Building Iranian power and influence throughout the Middle East is an integral part of their strategy.
The ongoing unrest in Iran probably does not constitute an immediate danger to the regime. But it surely indicates that large numbers of Iranians have no desire to see their country turned into the instrument of permanent Islamic revolution and resistance envisaged by the hardline conservatives. In addition, the Iranian resistance model failed in a straight fight with the Israeli Defense Forces one year ago in Gaza when Hamas' 100-man "Iranian unit" suffered near destruction. The Hamas regime in Gaza managed to kill six IDF soldiers in the entire war. This is a failure, recorded as such by all regional observers. The writer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Herzliya, Israel. (The Australian)
A combination of key personalities, networks, and institutions defines the complex political system of the Islamic Republic. Factional competition and informal, back-channel maneuvering trump the formal processes for policymaking. The Supreme Leader retains the most power, but he is not omnipotent. The evolving role of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the vulnerability of the elite "old guard" to challenge, and the succession of the next Supreme Leader are key determinants of Iran's future direction. In light of complexities in the Iranian system, U.S. policymakers must take as an article of faith that dealing with Iran does not necessarily mean dealing with a unitary actor due to the competing power centers. (RAND Corporation)
Download the Full Report (RAND Corporation)
Three statements calling for reform in Iran have been issued in the past week, one by opposition presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, one by a group of exiled religious intellectuals and the third by university professors. Taken together, they suggest that the movement will not settle for anything short of radical change. They seek the resignation of the current leadership, introduction of broad democratic freedoms, prosecution of security forces engaged in violence against the opposition and an end to politics in the military, universities and the clergy. All three statements reflected an increase in defiance on the part of the opposition. The writer is a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute for Peace. (Los Angeles Times)
See also Who Will Lead Iran's Revolution? - Pooya Dayanim
Iranian political refugees in Turkey say they want the removal of the position of the Supreme Leader, the Guardian Council, the Assembly of Experts, the Expediency Council and abolishment of the Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Basij militia. For leadership, some look to Mohsen Sazegara, a former founder of the Revolutionary Guards now living abroad. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is hoping that Israel will withdraw to the pre-1967 lines within the next two years to enable the Palestinians to establish an independent state with half of Jerusalem as its capital. But under the current circumstances, an Israeli pullout from these areas could, ironically, mark the beginning of the end of the Abbas era. In an interview published this week in a Kuwaiti newspaper, Abbas revealed that he had solid proof and "verified information" that Hamas was planning to take over the West Bank. If Israel wants to pull back from any territory, it needs to make sure who is going to be in control of that area.
If Israel repeats the same mistake and hands over the West Bank to Abbas when he is still weak and does not enjoy much credibility among his own people, there is no doubt that Hamas will end up sitting on hilltops overlooking Ben-Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv, and the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem. Hamas has never hidden its intention of overthrowing the Abbas regime and replacing it with a government that reports directly to Bashar Assad in Damascus and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran. Abbas is in power in the West Bank largely thanks to the presence of the Israeli security forces in these territories. Abbas knows very well that had it not been for the presence of the Israeli army in the West Bank, it is highly likely that Hamas would have been able to achieve its goal a long time ago.
Many Palestinians are convinced that if a free and democratic election were to be held in the West Bank these days, Hamas would win again because of Fatah's failure to implement major reforms and get rid of icons of financial corruption among its top brass. The massive PA clampdown on Hamas may have caused serious damage to its terror infrastructure, but it has by no means affected popular support for the movement among Palestinians in the West Bank. (Hudson Institute New York)
The Obama administration has ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in which Americans are being killed and wounded, an intelligence/homeland security defense that has been proven profoundly wanting, and a set of domestic priorities in economics and health care. All of this will continue against the backdrop of midterm congressional elections in 2010 in which the Democrats may suffer significant losses. It's not that Obama doesn't care about the Arab-Israeli issue, but it's not the fulcrum of his foreign-policy agenda. He doesn't need Arab-Israeli peace to be considered a consequential president.
The coming year may well bring a resumption of negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. The Obama administration is reportedly working on letters of assurance that might enable both sides to stay at the table once they get there. Both Israelis and Palestinians need the talks to resume: Abbas to show that he's still relevant, particularly if Hamas pulls off the prisoner exchange with the Israelis, and Netanyahu, who wants to show that he's a peacemaker. (Foreign Policy)
Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab claims that he received training and the explosives used in the attempted attack from the Yemen-based group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP. "The group's growing ambition and increasing strength really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention," says Princeton's Gregory Johnsen, one of the U.S.'s foremost experts on Yemen. "Just because people in the West haven't been focused on Yemen, doesn't mean Al Qaeda has not been active there." In August, the group narrowly failed to assassinate Saudi Arabia's security chief. While the group may have ties to "Al Qaeda central," the organization appears to act independently. (New Republic)
In Egypt, seven Coptic Christians were murdered Wednesday by a Muslim gunman as they filed out of a midnight mass in Nag Hamadi. In Pakistan, more than 100 Christian homes were ransacked by a Muslim mob last July in Bahmaniwala. In Iraq that same month, seven Christian churches were bombed in Baghdad and Mosul in the space of three days. Such atrocities - and there are scores of other examples - are grim reminders that when it comes to persecution, few groups have suffered as grievously as Christians in Muslim lands.
Little wonder, then, that once-thriving Christian communities in the Muslim world have now largely voted with their feet by fleeing to safer havens, often in Europe or the U.S. That's true even in Bethlehem where the Christian majority has largely fled since the arrival in the 1990s of Yasser Arafat's repressive government and the ascendancy of Islamist groups such as Hamas. By contrast, Christians practice their religion freely and openly in Israel, just a few miles distant. Attention seems endlessly focused on "Islamophobia," but the West's tolerance for its large Muslim populations stands in sharp contrast to the Muslim world's bigotry and persecution of its own religious minorities. (Wall Street Journal Europe)
Hamas operates on the assumption that it has the right to penetrate the Egyptian border whenever it wishes, no matter what the consequences and regardless of the opinion of the Egyptian government or people. Evidently Islamists no longer hold a monopoly on this type of thinking. Groups from other political shades have begun to parrot the Islamist line, exposing Egyptian interests and national security to grave risks, not least of which is the danger of being dragged into wars Egypt may not have wanted or had the chance to plan for. Stripped of all other considerations, what we have is a case of the smuggling of arms, explosives and other instruments of violence without the knowledge and approval of Egyptian authorities. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
On Jan. 22, 1942, the New York Times ran an editorial that rejected the establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. The immediate context was the idea of forming a Jewish brigade within the British Army. The Times based its objection, among other things, on the assumption that Jews did not need a state of their own, because once the Allies achieved a victory, they would be citizens with equal rights in their countries of residence, in accordance with the Atlantic Charter signed by the U.S. and Britain in August 1941.
Moshe Shertok - who would later change his name to Sharett and serve as Israel's first foreign minister and second prime minister - submitted a lengthy response to the Times, the gist of which was that resolving the Jewish problem does not concern only Jews, but all of humanity. Anti-Semitism was not invented by Hitler, he wrote; indeed, the standing of the Jews in Europe had been steadily eroding over the previous 50 years. Democratic rule and human rights will be endangered as long as the Jews are not granted a country of their own, he added, and as long as they continue to serve as a target for demagogues who wish to sow suspicions and hatred between classes and peoples. (Ha'aretz)
In the 1970s and early 80s, I worked closely with then-Manhattan borough president Percy Sutton, one of the first and most consistently outspoken leaders on behalf of the struggle for freedom for Soviet Jews. He led the Black Coalition for Soviet Jews, and traveled to Russia to visit Soviet Jewish refuseniks. He did not do this for political expediency, but rather out of a deep commitment to the struggle for the fight for the human and civil rights of the Jews of the Soviet Union. With his passing, his friendship and his devotion to causes we shared should be remembered. The author is the executive vice-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the former executive director of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry. (JTA)
One Struggle with Many Different Arenas - Interview with Tony Blair - Adar Primor (Ha'aretz)
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