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|
March 26, 2010
U.S. Softens Sanction Plan Against Iran - David Crawford, Richard Boudreaux, Joe Lauria and Jay Solomon (Wall Street Journal)
Poll: 48% of Jewish Israelis See U.S. Administration as Pro-Palestinian; 9% Pro-Israel - Gil Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
Nearly 300 Congressmen Declare Commitment to "Unbreakable" U.S.-Israel Bond - Natasha Mozgavaya (Ha'aretz)
Key Congresswoman: Dispute Won't Harm Aid to Israel - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
Despite Row, U.S. and Israel Sign Arms Deal - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
UN Rights Body Says Israel Should Pay for Gaza Damage (AP-Washington Post)
ISM Activists Played Russian Roulette with IDF Bulldozers - Lenny Ben-David (Pajamas Media)
Scandinavian NGO Funding Promotes Israel Boycotts, "Lawfare," and the Rhetoric of Conflict (NGO Monitor)
Israeli Arab Woman Appointed Full Professor at Tel Aviv University - Or Kashti (Ha'aretz)
Israel Raises $2 Billion in Euro-Denominated Bonds - Alisa Odenheimer (Business Week)
Scotland's Jews: Community and Political Challenges - Kenneth Collins and Ephraim Borowski (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Israel insisted Friday it would not change its policy of building homes in east Jerusalem. "Israeli construction policy in Jerusalem has remained the same for 42 years and isn't changing," a written statement from Netanyahu's spokesman, Nir Hefez, said. Hefez said Netanyahu and Obama had reached a "list of understandings" in the talks Wednesday, although some disagreements remained. He said they had an understanding "based on the principle that on the one hand construction policy in Jerusalem doesn't change, and on the other, Israel is ready to take steps to move the diplomatic process." Later Hefez clarified that he had not meant to say Washington had agreed to Israel building in east Jerusalem, but to stress Israel's own policy on the issue.
Netanyahu's office said he would Friday "present to the forum of seven (ministers) the progress on a list of issues in the diplomatic contacts he held in the United States in order to make progress in the peace process." "There is no deadline," a cabinet spokesman told Israel Radio. (Reuters-New York Times)
See also No Agreement with U.S. on Jerusalem Construction - Herb Keinon and Khaled Abu Toameh
According to a Palestinian Authority official in Ramallah, the U.S. administration on Thursday informed the PA that the Netanyahu meetings in Washington did not produce any agreement on the issue of construction in east Jerusalem. The official said that PA leader Mahmoud Abbas met in Amman with David Hale, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, who briefed him on the outcome of Netanyahu's talks with Obama.
"On the issue of Jerusalem," one source in Netanyahu's office said, "the truth is that this is a city of 750,000 people, and every couple of days there is going to be some kind of building, or zoning, or buying or planning....The whole idea that every time this happens dialogue will stop is a recipe for no peace process."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who accompanied Netanyahu to Washington, told the Americans he was "disappointed" by the reaction to Israel's West Bank moratorium decision. He said he thought this would bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table. Instead, the move made the Palestinians believe that if they held out, they could get even more. (Jerusalem Post)
Top Israeli officials on Thursday rallied behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his dispute with the U.S. over Israeli construction in east Jerusalem. A string of cabinet ministers declared that Israel would keep on building Jewish homes in east Jerusalem and accused Washington of unfairly putting pressure on the Israeli government.
Silvan Shalom, Netanyahu's deputy and sometimes rival in the Likud Party, told Israel Radio on Thursday that he "completely supports" the prime minister, saying that the Jewish people's historical bond to Jerusalem is unbreakable. "The subject of building in Jerusalem is unconditional, and if we blink we will lose everything," Shalom said. While he said the relationship with Washington is critical for Israel, he warned that "one-sided" pressure could backfire. In the past, perceived pressure from abroad has rallied Israelis around their leaders. (AP)
See also Conflicting Demands Test Netanyahu - Ethan Bronner
After contentious meetings in the White House, Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, returned home on Thursday with the task of responding to an unyielding American demand that he limit Israeli building in east Jerusalem. Netanyahu's governing coalition views Jerusalem, west and east, as the undivided, eternal capital of the Jewish people, where it can build where it wants.
Netanyahu has brought up several possible gestures welcomed by the Americans, including restrictions on Israeli troop activities in the West Bank, freeing of Palestinian prisoners, some latitude for reconstruction in Gaza, and further efforts to bolster the Palestinian economy. In Israel, officials said they could not imagine how Netanyahu could agree to a substantial reduction in building in Jerusalem and still expect to hold office. (New York Times)
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday said: "The lack of progress toward Middle East peace is clearly an issue that is exploited by our adversaries in the region and is a source of, certainly, political challenge....There is no question that the absence of Middle East peace does affect U.S. national security interests in the region, in my view." (DPA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The Obama administration is demanding that Israel hand over more West Bank land to exclusive PA control, including the Abu Dis area adjacent to Jerusalem, Palestinian sources said Thursday. Other demands made by the U.S. include the release of about 2,000 prisoners by Israel, as well as restoring the situation to what it was in September 2000 on the eve of the Second Intifada, one source said. Obama also demanded that Netanyahu renew peace talks with Syria. (Ynet News)
British officials were split over whether to expel an Israeli diplomat from London this week, with UK security officials viewing the move as overly harsh, Ha'aretz has learned. But the Foreign Office supported it, a high-ranking official in the British Prime Minister's Office has confirmed.
A senior Israel Defense Forces official involved in intelligence sharing with Britain noted, "We gave the British everything they asked for on issues of Middle East terrorism that they deemed important....This was despite the fact that they didn't fulfill their commitment to change laws allowing the arrest of IDF officers in Britain on suspicion of war crimes." (Ha'aretz)
On Wednesday, Suhil Koka of Nablus was convicted of murdering two soldiers, Yosef Atiah and Ariel Boda, in a shooting attack in 2005. Koka was sentenced to two life sentences and an additional 30 years in prison. Before sentencing, Koka told the court, "If there is anything I regret, it is that I only killed two soldiers and not more. I want to remind you that Hamas and the Al Kassam Brigades will not forget their sons in jail, and [kidnapped IDF soldier] Gilad Shalit is only the beginning." (Israel Defense Forces)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Israel is an ally and shares our commitment to democracy and entrepreneurship, and it should be treated as such. Treating the positions of the two parties as equal in value when one demands a return of many thousands of compatriots who have never set foot in the country while asserting that no Jews may live in Palestine has not succeeded in 50 years and will not do so now. Peace is far more likely there if we announce that the Palestinians are on their own than by continuing to encourage them in thinking that we will do their bargaining for them. The writer, a former U.S. senator and Washington state attorney general, served on the 9/11 Commission. (Washington Post)
By choosing to turn a minor gaffe into a major incident while ignoring far worse Palestinian provocations and specifically attempting to muscle Netanyahu into a pledge to stop building in east Jerusalem - something no previous administration had ever done - Obama showed that pressure on Israel remained high on his agenda. Having already reneged on pledges of American support for Israel's holding on to parts of the West Bank and Jerusalem, the president is doubling down on his drive to bludgeon the Jewish state into further concessions without any hope of reciprocation from the Palestinians.
Washington has placed the onus for the certain failure of peace talks on Netanyahu despite the fact that he has accepted the principle of a two-state solution, frozen building in the West Bank and sought to minimize interference with the lives of Palestinians. And by responding more forcefully and with greater anger to a minor dispute with its ally than to the endless atrocities and provocations committed by the Islamist regime in Tehran, Obama has sent a clear signal that no one need take his pledge to stop Iran seriously.
The latest round of bitter and pointless controversy over Jerusalem orchestrated by Obama must leave even the most ardent fans of the president wondering. The majority of American Jews do not wish to see Jerusalem divided. Nor do they believe that Israel needs to be saved from itself. Like most Americans, they understand that the Palestinians are the real obstacles to peace, not a democratically elected government of Israel. The writer is executive editor of Commentary magazine. (Jerusalem Post)
It is the staggering overreaction of the Obama administration, and most certainly and centrally of the president himself, that is the more shocking, counterproductive and potentially dangerous aspect of the current crisis.
While most Israelis believe that prime ministers Rabin, Barak and Olmert traveled a great deal more than half way down the road in their efforts to reach a viable peaceful accommodation with the Palestinians, and that those efforts foundered on the rock of abiding Palestinian rejection of our very legitimacy here, the Obama presidency evidently feels differently. It is wrong and it ought to know better, but this administration apparently still believes that Israel had the capacity to go further.
The American response emboldens Palestinian and wider Arab extremism. If America publicly brands Israel worthy of such bitter condemnation, then the worst of the extremists can confidently expect their violence against Israel to be granted still more indulgence internationally than it already enjoys. Furthermore, when professions of shoulder-to-shoulder solidarity - as expressed by Biden in his Tel Aviv speech - are rapidly followed by a public avalanche of criticism and allegations of disloyalty to U.S. interests, as expressed by the White House and State Department, how much weight can Israel henceforth afford to attach to such warm rhetorical assurances?
Of course, siding with Israel has galvanized anger and violence against the U.S. But siding with Israel is siding with the values that are the essence of America. And abandoning Israel is abandoning those values. By deliberately inflating the Ramat Shlomo issue into a public crisis of faith in its ally, the Obama administration has given encouragement to Israel's enemies, turned more of Israel's friends against it, and potentially put every Israeli's life in a little more danger. (Jerusalem Post)
Criticism from the U.S. has made it easier for other countries to condemn Israel, said analyst Mark Heller of Israel's Institute for National Security Studies. "I am guessing [it] somehow opens the floodgates because people might sense that if the U.S. appears to be distancing itself a little bit, then it's open season," he said. "It's easier [for others] to act on what might be their natural tendency anyway....Things that people might have been willing to look the other way about under a different Israeli government draw a sharper response under this government," he said.
Former Israeli ambassador to the UK Yoav Biran called Britain's expulsion of an Israeli diplomat hypocritical. Not only was London acting without Israel's having confirmed it was behind the killing of key Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, but the victim also was no angel. "We are not talking about the killing of a righteous gentleman. We are talking about an arch-terrorist cooperating on behalf of Hamas with Iran. His job was to provide ammunition, weapons and explosives to Hamas, who used it against innocent civilians," he said. (CNN)
President Obama seeks to renegotiate the agreement reached for starting proximity talks with the Palestinians and to extract additional concessions from Israel. Most striking is the administration's effort to force Israel to accept the division of Jerusalem even before the talks start. Yet the administration may be overplaying its hand on the issue of Jerusalem. The division of the city is opposed by the current democratically-elected Israeli government and (according to polls that I have directed) by over 70% of the Jews in Israel. Few issues in Israel command such a large and clear majority.
The timing of the crisis also serves Israel well - just before Passover - when Jews repeat a 2,000-year-old text pledging, "Next year in Jerusalem." Rejection of the division of Jerusalem expresses the deepest wishes of an overwhelming number of Jews living both in Israel and the diaspora. Jerusalem has never been a capital of any political entity, except that of a Jewish state, and Jews have been the majority in Jerusalem for the past 150 years. Moreover, the Arab residents of Jerusalem, if given a choice, would in all probability prefer to live under Israeli sovereignty than become part of a failed Palestinian state.
Israel's prime minister is acutely aware of the need for American support and friendship, but the Israeli interest in keeping Jerusalem united is more intense than the Obama desire for a foreign policy success. The American commitment to democracy incorporates respect for choices made by other democracies. Israel can convince Americans that its democratically-elected government has every right to determine its future. The writer is director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, and professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University. (BESA Center-Bar-Ilan University)
The decision of the Obama White House to pick a public fight with Israel over its interior ministry's fairly routine announcement of progress towards approval of the construction (some years from now) of apartments in northeast Jerusalem has by now been subjected to sharp and justified criticism for its disproportionality; its bad faith in reneging on signed agreements with Israel; its mean-spirited spitefulness; its dogged attachment to the exploded assumption that "settlements" are the cause of Arab intransigence; its desire to keep intact the possibility of an apartheid state of Palestine that would not accommodate a single Jew; and its entire indifference to the violence that its reckless statements could (and did) incite in Jerusalem. (FrontPageMagazine)
Netanyahu's temporary freeze on building in the West Bank never included east Jerusalem. There are Jewish parts of east Jerusalem that every serious player knows will stay with Israel in any peace deal. They were staying with Israel under the Bill Clinton mandated offer to the Palestinians in 2000, and under the even more generous plan put by Ehud Olmert in 2008. Israel got the public relations and political management wrong but the substance right.
The Obama administration is offering endless concessions to Syria, which treats Washington with studied contempt; and will never criticize the Palestinian Authority. It is developing a very bad tendency to constantly flatter its enemies in the fantastical hope of engaging and converting them, while abusing its friends, to show its even-handedness. Australia has no need to go down that same road. (The Australian)
The U.S. should finally recognize Israel's sovereignty over West Jerusalem. My three grandsons, American citizens who were born and live in a neighborhood near Israel's Knesset, have no country listed in their U.S. passports, only the city of birth. Since 1948, the U.S. has refused to recognize any part of Jerusalem as part of the sovereign territory of Israel. Hardly a confidence booster for Israelis.
In the name of peace - who am I supposed to be making peace with? Am I being asked to live with one or two Palestinian states? And why exactly should I be rushing to bring the unbridled hate of such neighbors ever closer to my kids? Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. (Huffington Post)
President Obama seems to have forgotten who America's friends are. If you're the democratically elected prime minister of the Middle East's only fully functioning democracy, and America's most reliable ally, the president will sic his secretary of state on you if you don't cave in to his demands. Jews should be allowed to live anywhere in Jerusalem, as should Arabs. Yet Israelis announce that Jewish housing will be added in Jerusalem and it provokes the biggest crisis in American-Israeli relations in recent memory.
Dividing Jerusalem, as it had been split until the Six-Day War, is the single gravest risk to Israel's security. Just imagine a Palestinian capital, with Palestinian forces, only miles from Israel's Knesset. Would Israel really sign a suicide pact to put all the organs of its government within easy striking range of Palestinian rockets? Haven't we seen this happen before with Sderot and Gaza?
Israel is a sovereign nation. For Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to treat it with such disdain, and handle its elected officials as if they are naughty children, is shocking. (Jerusalem Post)
In the mid-1980s, Mohsen Rezaei, then chief commander of the Revolutionary Guards, got Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's permission to develop nuclear bombs. As a CIA agent in the Revolutionary Guards then, I learned of this nascent effort and reported it to my handlers. For Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, one Koranic tenet is that you should deceive your enemies until you are strong enough to destroy them. Khamenei is employing this when he makes his declarations to the West.
Within Iran, radical Islamists have grown in power since Ayatollah Khomeini's death in 1989. They belong to a secret society called the Hojjatieh, a cult devoted to the reappearance of the 12th imam, Mahdi, and Islam's conquest of the world. To achieve that end, the radicals believe they must foment chaos, famine, and lawlessness, that they must destroy Israel, and that world order must come to an abrupt halt. The Hojjatieh see any movement toward peace and democracy as delaying Mahdi's reappearance. It is difficult for the West to understand this ideology, but we can't afford the luxury of confusion. Iran is almost certainly developing nuclear weapons, and an Islamic Republic of Iran with atomic bombs would strongly destabilize the world.
We can either rise up to our principles and defend the aspirations of the Iranian people for a free and democratic government, or we can allow Iran to become a nuclear-armed state. Instead of counting on watered-down UN sanctions, the West should cut off all diplomatic ties with Iran, close down all airspace and seaports going to or from Iran, sanction all companies doing business with Iran, and cut off its gasoline supply. We should then demand an immediate halt to all Iranian nuclear and missile delivery activities and the right to peaceful demonstration and freedom of speech for all Iranians. And if that fails, a military action should be in the cards. Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym. (Christian Science Monitor)
With any hope of a new round of UN Security Council sanctions on Iran now postponed until June, and the understanding that, if at all, these will be weak and ineffective measures, Obama's diplomatic initiative is slowly grinding to a halt. Some are arguing that it's now time to resort to the strategy that has worked in other cases: it will contain a nuclear Iran. But will the U.S. indeed be able to contain a nuclear Iran?
Containment (and deterrence) of an adversary necessarily depend on a state's ability to transmit to the adversary credible threats of consequences for certain behavior on the part of the adversary. The lesson that Iran has learned from the Obama administration is that while there has been no shortage of threats of consequences, there have been little to no actual consequences. Iran has seen that the U.S. sets red lines and deadlines that in practice are virtually meaningless. The U.S. has undermined its own ability to present a credible threat by saying outright that it has no intention of taking military action.
How does one contain Iran from consolidating its hegemonic hold over the Arab Gulf states due to their fear of their now much stronger neighbor? And how will the U.S. contain Iran from having a seriously negative impact on Israel's ability to defend itself in a war provoked by Hizbullah or Hamas, with the backing of Iran? These are the likely scenarios of Iran going nuclear, not nuclear attack. Until the U.S. has real answers to containing these kinds of Iranian threats, there is not much value to talking about U.S. containment of a nuclear Iran. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
Last year's report by the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza War, known more popularly as the Goldstone Report, is not going away. It remains one of the most potent weapons in the arsenals of international terrorist organizations seeking to render ineffective the capacity of the West to engage in self-defense. A report that has the stamp of the United Nations makes serious allegations about a state engaged in lawful self-defense, while letting the aggressor, an international terrorist organization, completely off the hook.
The members of the Goldstone team had a very specific outlook of the nature of this kind of armed conflict that affected their conclusions. Col. Desmond Travers of Ireland was the senior military figure on Goldstone's panel and probably its most important member after Justice Goldstone. He told Middle East Monitor on Feb. 2, 2010, he utterly rejects that there is something called "asymmetric warfare" in which insurgent forces are introducing civilians into the battlefield against modern armies in a way that changes the nature of warfare. He argues that these ideas are mainly coming from the U.S. and Israel and they are utterly wrong. This outlook directly affected what Travers and his colleagues looked for as they gathered evidence, and how they went about the interviews that they conducted with Palestinians in Gaza.
Western armies are going to be dealing increasingly with situations in which terrorist groups are embedding their military capabilities in the heart of civilian areas. In these circumstances, Western armies have three choices if their countries come under attack: to give up and not defend their citizens, to act like the Russians in Chechnya and use indiscriminate firepower, or to find a way to separate the civilians from the military capabilities they hope to destroy. Israel clearly chose the last option. The laws of war need to be applied correctly and not in a way that ignores what insurgent forces are doing on the ground. (U.S. News)
The claim for Israel's recognition as a Jewish state is as old as Zionism itself. In every negotiation aimed at resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israeli demands have included the right to self-determination as a Jewish state in one form or another. Both Jews and Palestinians have the right to self-determination. The trick is to accommodate both, rather than denying one or the other. Denying Israel's status as a Jewish homeland essentially ensures a perpetuation of the conflict.
The idea that a majority group in a democratic state would seek to enshrine certain public attributes that reflect its character is neither unique nor rare. Constitutions of countries such as Denmark, Finland, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Germany, and Italy all give some preference to the will of the majority. While the basic rights of minorities are protected, the majority's inclination to shape its country's public profile is honored. The writer is former legal adviser to the Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN and an international associate with The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
The Rambam Synagogue in Cairo, on the site where Moses Maimonides, the Rambam, taught his disciples 800 years ago, has been restored by the Egyptian government. Specialists from the Department of Antiquities had worked long and hard to duplicate the site's original colors. The total cost of the project had reached $2 million and the result was spectacular. Maimonides had been the personal physician to Saladin, and for centuries Jews, Muslims and Copts had come to the site in search of healing.
The Egyptian authorities permitted the small Jewish community of Cairo to organize a dedication ceremony on March 7, which was attended by the Israeli and U.S. ambassadors. However, the press in Cairo reacted angrily, bemoaning the amount of money squandered on restoring a Jewish site and declaring that it was a purely Egyptian monument. In response, Zaki Hawas, head of the Antiquities Department, cancelled an official grand opening planned for March 14. Thus did Egypt miss a perfect opportunity to show the world that it was an open and tolerant country. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt and fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)
See also A Synagogue's Unveiling Exposes a Conundrum - Michael Slackman (New York Times)
Writing for an Israeli newspaper about the visit I took last year to Israel was a move that could affect the future of my entire career as a Jordanian journalist. I received a wide range of feedback from friends, colleagues and officials. Some were supportive while others were outright angry. There were some who accused me of being too pro-Israel. Others said I had been brainwashed into promoting the idea of living side by side with Israel. My main response to them is that this is exactly the essence of the peace treaty signed by my country with Israel more than 15 years ago and it is certainly the only option on the international political table today.
I had a feeling that my words would draw fierce opposition, but I was not prepared for the outpouring of understanding from people who embraced what I wrote. However, many of these people felt they could not show support for what I wrote or express the same sentiment in public, opting instead to stay in the shadows out of fear of being accused of being "normalizers." I have taken to calling these people the "silent majority." I do understand their fears. There is a powerful lobby against the "normalizers," though it is their support that has encouraged me to continue and that has given me the momentum to stay on track. People on both sides of the conflict must open their eyes to the fact that we have suffered enough and it's now time to resort to the voice of reason and resolve our differences through dialogue. The writer is a reporter and editor at The Jordan Times in Amman. (Huffington Post)
See also Let the People Speak - Hani Hazaimeh
It has been more than 15 years since the peace treaty was signed between Israel and Jordan and yet there is still little recognition of the other side's legitimacy as a nation. The 1994 peace treaty clearly stated that both countries must take steps toward normalizing ties in all areas - social, cultural and economic - not just political. As a child I was taught that Israel was the greatest enemy of the Muslim and Arab world, and I certainly never imagined that one day I would be sitting opposite an Israeli having a normal conversation. I have since discovered the common ground we share as Muslims and Jews living in the Middle East and have realized the importance of working together for the sake of future generations. (Jerusalem Post)
A Reality Too Terrible to Admit - Jonathan Spyer (Ha'aretz)
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