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|
April 21, 2010
Iranian Missile Could "Probably" Reach U.S. by 2015 - Mike Emanuel (FOX News)
Abbas Hospitalized Six Times in Recent Weeks - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
U.S. Aid Cuts Hit Egypt's Democracy Groups - Hadeel Al-Shalchi and Lee Keath (AP)
Arabs Protest "Disaster of Israel" with PA, Turkish Flags - Sharon Roffe-Ofir (Ynet News)
Israel Prizes Awarded on Independence Day - Ben Hartman (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Iran is increasing its paramilitary Qods force operatives in Venezuela while covertly continuing supplies of weapons and explosives to Taliban and other insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the Pentagon's first report to Congress on Tehran's military. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), the Islamist shock troops deployed around the world to advance Iranian interests, "maintains operational capabilities around the world," the report says, adding that "it is well established in the Middle East and North Africa and recent years have witnessed an increased presence in Latin America, particularly Venezuela."
"If U.S. involvement in conflict in these regions deepens, contact with the IRGC-QF, directly or through extremist groups it supports, will be more frequent and consequential," the report says. The report provides the first warning in an official U.S. government report about Iranian paramilitary activities in the Western Hemisphere. (Washington Times)
See also Report on Military Power of Iran (U.S. Defense Department)
See also Iran Seeks to Persuade Security Council Not to Back Tough Nuclear Sanctions - Thomas Erdbrink
Iran is launching a broad diplomatic offensive aimed at persuading UN Security Council members to oppose tougher punishment for its nuclear program. Iran wants to focus on reviving stalled talks about a nuclear fuel swap, but leaders of Western nations say that unless Iran alters its conditions for the deal, they will refuse to discuss it again. Iran's official stance is that UN sanctions are not effective. But unofficially, any vote against a new sanctions resolution would be welcomed as a great diplomatic victory. (Washington Post)
The U.S. summoned the senior Syrian diplomat in Washington on Monday to address "provocative behavior" regarding the potential transfer of Scud missiles to Hizbullah that it said could be a threat to both Lebanon and Israel. "The United States condemns in the strongest terms the transfer of any arms, and especially ballistic missile systems such as the Scud, from Syria to Hizbullah," State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid said in a statement. (Reuters)
See also Pentagon: Hizbullah's Fighters Rearm Thanks to Tehran - Viola Gienger
Iran has helped the Lebanese militant group Hizbullah rearm itself to levels beyond those in 2006, according to a Pentagon report. Iran views Hizbullah ''as an essential partner for advancing its regional policy objectives,'' the Pentagon said. Israel intercepted a vessel in November carrying 60 tons of weapons for Hizbullah, including rockets and anti-tank shells, according to the report. Iran is also training Hizbullah fighters in camps in Lebanon and provides as much as $200 million a year in funding, the Pentagon said. (The Age-Australia)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said in an interview on Monday that a new U.S. Mideast peace proposal isn't the correct move at this time. "A number of people have advocated that. That time is not now. The time now is to get back to the proximity talks [and] have those conversations that eventually will lead to direct negotiations, start to make the hard decisions to bring a balance between the aspirations of the Israelis for security and make that blend with the aspirations of the Palestinian people for their sovereignty," Emanuel said. (Ha'aretz)
On Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of trekkers and barbequers celebrated at campsites, parks, and forests throughout Israel. The Israel Air Force flew over Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and the Navy performed a naval review off of Israel's shores. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
I can't tell you how many times in the past 20 years, as an intelligence analyst, policy planner, and negotiator, I wrote memos to Very Important People arguing the centrality of the Arab-Israeli issue and why the U.S. needed to fix it. Today, I couldn't write those same memos or anything like them with a clear conscience or a straight face. The notion that there's a single or simple fix to protecting U.S. interests, let alone that Arab-Israeli peace would, like some magic potion, make it all better, is just flat wrong. In a broken, angry region with so many problems, it stretches the bounds of credulity to the breaking point to argue that settling the Arab-Israeli conflict is the most critical issue, or that its resolution would somehow guarantee Middle East stability.
A brilliant, empathetic president has made America the focal point of action and responsibility for the Arab-Israeli issue at a time when the country may be least able to do much about it. The painful truth is that faith in America's capacity to fix the Arab-Israeli issue has always been overrated. It's certainly no coincidence that every breakthrough from the Egypt-Israel treaty to the Oslo accords to the Israel-Jordan peace agreement came initially as a consequence of secret meetings about which the U.S. was the last to know. The writer, an advisor on the Middle East to Republican and Democratic secretaries of state, is a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center. (Foreign Policy)
President Obama's demand that Israel freeze new building announcements in East Jerusalem for a few months underscores the growing divide between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government. At the heart of this disagreement lies a dramatic change in the way Washington perceives its own stake in the game. It actually began three years ago when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared in a speech in Jerusalem that U.S. "strategic interests" were at stake in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - a judgment reiterated by Obama when he said resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict is a "vital national security interest" for the U.S. The writer, vice president and director of Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, served twice as U.S. ambassador to Israel. (New York Times)
President Obama is reported as saying that American policy towards Israel is "costing us significantly in blood and treasure." First mistake. It's the other way round, Israel is holding the front line against Iran whose power is spreading through the region via Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas. If Israel was not holding the line, then the U.S. would face a most uncomfortable choice: either to tackle Iran head-on or concede that Pax Americana didn't work and it is time to withdraw from the Middle East with as little ignominy as possible.
Obama goes on to conclude that Israeli-Palestinian peace holds the key to Middle East stability. Second mistake. If there was genuine peace tomorrow and a state of Palestine, it would make no difference to the Sunni-Shia divide, to the ambitions of Osama bin Laden or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to the civil war in Yemen, to the sectarian conflict in Lebanon, to the hard-wired despots in Egypt and Syria, and so on and on.
Obama also thinks that this projected state of Palestine is a practical proposition. Third mistake. The Palestinians are irremediably divided between Fatah and Hamas, and a state would trigger civil war to determine which faction would own it.
Obama finally is weighing using his presidency to impose some solution on Israel. Fourth mistake. No such solution exists. Any attempt at imposition would oblige Israel to see its existence now an urgent issue of self-defense and survival. (National Review)
President Obama's official position on Iran is that "all options are on the table," including the use of force. But senior officials regularly talk down the military option in public - thereby undermining its utility even as an instrument of intimidation. A year-long attempt at engagement failed; now the push for sanctions is proceeding at a snail's pace. And what would sanctions accomplish? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Financial Times last week that "maybe...that would lead to the kind of good-faith negotiations that President Obama called for 15 months ago." Yet the notion that the hard-line Iranian clique now in power would ever negotiate in good faith is far-fetched.
More likely - and desirable - would be a victory by the opposition Green movement in Iran's ongoing domestic power struggle. But the administration has so far shrunk from supporting sanctions, such as a gasoline embargo, that might heighten popular anger against the regime. (Washington Post)
Netanyahu: Iran Can Be Stopped - George Stephanopoulos (ABC News)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told "Good Morning America" on Sunday:
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