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|
June 25, 2010
Poll: Israelis Support Continued Gaza Blockade - Ephraim Yaar and Tamar Hermann (IMRA)
Hizbullah Playing a Dirty Game over Gaza Blockade - Con Coughlin
Second Thoughts in Gaza on Lifting the Siege (Economist-UK)
Israeli Agent Implores U.S. Not to Deport Son of Hamas Leader - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
Arabs Attack Jewish Dance Group in Germany - Kirsten Grieshaber (AP-Washington Post)
Pakistan Court Convicts 5 American Muslims in Terror Case - Zarar Khan (AP-Washington Post)
British Trade Union Calls for Boycott, Expelling Israeli Ambassador - Jonny Paul (Jerusalem Post)
IDF Evaluating "Safer" Cluster Bombs - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
Hacker Posts Anti-Israel Content in Kansas City - Scott Canon (Kansas City Star)
Israeli Professor Creates a Birth Control Pill for Men - Karin Kloosterman (Israel21C)
Israeli TV Airs Less Sex and Violence than American TV - Ron Friedman (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Congress has voted in favor of expanding U.S. sanctions on Iran to punish foreign suppliers of gasoline and block banks doing business with the regime from the American financial system. The House of Representatives voted 408-8 for the measure, sending the legislation to President Obama for signing. "This is the strongest Iran sanctions legislation ever passed by the Congress," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (Bloomberg)
See also Senate Passes Iran Sanctions 99-0 - Laura Rozen
The Senate on Thursday passed Iran sanctions legislation that gives President Obama only part of the flexibility he had sought to exempt some U.S. allies from its provisions. The Obama administration had sought exemptions for countries with which it is working closely to pressure Iran. Instead, the bill as passed would give the president the option to "waive" sanctions on a case-by-case basis if he certifies to Congress that national security requires it. (Politico)
The State Department is urging Lebanon and organizers of an upcoming aid flotilla to Gaza to deliver the supplies over land to avoid confrontation with Israel's military. "As we continue to make clear to involved parties, mechanisms exist for the transfer of humanitarian assistance to Gaza by member states and groups that want to do so," the State Department said in a statement Wednesday. "Direct delivery by sea is neither appropriate, nor responsible, and certainly not effective." "We, along with our partners in the [Mideast] Quartet, urge all those wishing to deliver goods to do so through established channels so that their cargo can be inspected and transferred via land crossings into Gaza." (Washington Times)
See also Iran Will Not Send Aid Ship to Gaza - Shirzad Bozorgmehr
Hossein Sheikholeslam, secretary-general of the International Conference for the Support of the Palestinian Intifada, announced Thursday, "The Iranian ship carrying humanitarian aid will not go to Gaza," the Islamic Republic News Agency reported. (CNN)
Waving Israeli and U.S. flags and posters of Gilad Shalit, hundreds of Jewish activists on eight ships sailed up the East River to the United Nations on Thursday to call for action on behalf of the Israeli soldier held captive by Hamas for four years. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations organized two large passenger boats and several groups joined the flotilla on sailboats and other pleasure craft on the fourth anniversary of Shalit's capture.
"This is the true freedom flotilla," said Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents. "The real siege in Gaza is not against the people of Gaza but against Gilad Shalit who for four years has been held without even the Red Cross having access to him." (New York Jewish Week)
See also Conference of Presidents Delivers Humanitarian Aid to Red Cross Official for Gilad Shalit (Conference of Presidents)
See also Rights Group Criticizes Hamas Treatment of Captive Israeli
Human Rights Watch said Friday that Hamas militants are violating the rules of war by prohibiting a captive Israeli soldier from having contact with his family and the Red Cross. The group said the treatment of the 23-year-old soldier is "cruel and inhuman" and matches a UN definition of torture because he is denied any outside contact. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Lebanese media have rushed to declare that Israel's offshore natural gas fields actually belong to Lebanon. Hizbullah Executive Council head Hashem Safieddine said the organization would not allow Israel to loot Lebanese gas resources. The head of petroleum and natural gas exploration in Israel's National Infrastructures Ministry, Dr. Yaakov Mimran, called the claims "nonsense." He said the latest offshore discoveries in the Leviathan field, as well as the earlier Tamar and Dalit fields, are absolutely within Israeli territory.
Senior Israeli officials said it was Lebanon that set the limits on its own territorial waters after it had given out exploration licenses exactly along these borders. Prof. Moshe Hirsch of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, an expert in international law, explained that the gas is under Israel's continental shelf. (Ha'aretz)
See also Israel Will Protect Natural Gas Finds - Jonathan Ferziger and David Wainer
Israeli Minister of National Infrastructures Uzi Landau said Israel is willing to use force to protect off-shore natural gas finds, after the speaker of Lebanon's parliament said the fields extended into his nation's waters. "We will not hesitate to use our force and strength to protect not only the rule of law but international maritime law," Landau said Wednesday when asked about Lebanese claims. "Whatever we find, they will have something to say....These areas are within the economic waters of Israel." Israel and Lebanon are technically at war and have no diplomatic relations.
A coastal state is entitled to explore for oil and gas in its economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles, according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. A halfway point is used when the distance between countries is less than 400 nautical miles. The Leviathan field lies 81 miles off Israel and the Tamar field 55 miles, according to Landau's ministry. Landau noted that there is no dispute with Cyprus over Israel's rights to the Leviathan gas exploration site and the Tamar field. (Bloomberg)
Residents of villages in Mount Hebron woke up one morning this week to find that there was no water in their faucets because of the recurring problem of Palestinian water piracy. The Israel Defense Forces recently thwarted an attempt made by Palestinians to illegally connect to the Mekorot Israel National Water infrastructure in order to siphon off water from it.
According to a senior official at the Israel Water Authority, "The pumping from these illegal drillings come to a massive quantity of 10 million cubic meters of water a year....The Palestinians are connecting illegally to the supply lines of Mekorot and are causing a shortage in Hebron, Kiryat Arba, Yatta, and the surrounding villages," affecting both Arabs and Jews. "Water theft from Israeli pipes costs the state millions of shekels every year." (Ynet News)
An Israeli parliamentary delegation successfully lobbied the Council of Europe to thwart a Turkish effort Thursday to issue a condemnation of Israel's response to the May 31 Gaza flotilla. It also blocked a Turkish bid to establish an international investigative committee within the framework of the Council. The council's final motion also contained calls on Hamas to permit visits to kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. (Jerusalem Post)
Eight mortar shells and one rocket were fired at Israel from Gaza on Thursday. Attacks from Gaza have increased in recent days. (Ynet News)
See also Israel Responds to Gaza Rocket Fire
In response to rocket and mortar fire, the Israel Air Force struck a weapons storage facility in northern Gaza and two tunnels intended for infiltrating into Israel and executing terror attacks. More than 90 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israeli territory since the beginning of 2010, and over 330 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel since the end of Israel's 2009 Gaza Operation. (IDF Spokesperson-IMRA)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will return to Washington on July 6, a month after the Gaza flotilla incident caused him to cancel his previously scheduled visit. The reception is expected to be warm and public, a direct contrast to the last meeting, in March when Netanyahu was ushered in and out of the White House at night without so much as an official photo. The overture to Netanyahu is viewed as the administration officially burying the hatchet that ruptured relations between the two countries for much of the spring. It's a move that happens to coincide with the wishes of those American Jewish groups who argued that the public bad blood was bad for everybody, including America's efforts to move the peace process forward.
Said one Jewish activist of White House officials, "They've come to the conclusion that they really do need the AIPACs, the ADL supporters....It's a statement on where the real power still is." William Daroff, director of the Jewish Federations of North America's Washington office, said, "The lesson here is that the administration needs to always keep in mind the need to communicate with the Jewish community and the pro-Israel community.... Despite what some people say, the most representative and most efficient vehicle for communicating with the Jewish community is through the national mainstream Jewish organizations."
Alan Solow, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said, "I think they respect that we represent the great center of American Jewry," but stressed, "If the ideas we expressed had not been valid or persuasive, it would have had less effect." (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Israeli Captive in Gaza
Why so much emotion about the soldier Shalit, abducted in June 2006? First of all, there are international conventions governing the status of prisoners of war. Shalit has been sequestered for four years. The fact that the Red Cross, which regularly visits Palestinians in Israeli prisons, has never been granted access to him is a flagrant violation of the laws of war. But moreover and most of all: Shalit was not captured in the fury of a battle but during a raid in Israel, when Israel, having evacuated Gaza, was at peace with its neighbor. Shalit is not a prisoner of war but a hostage. His fate is comparable to that of, not a Palestinian prisoner, but a kidnap victim being held for ransom. (Huffington Post)
The Israel Defense Forces is a citizens' army in which most young men serve for a minimum of three years, followed by several decades of reserve duty. Our soldiers are literally our parents, our siblings, our children. All of us have loved ones who could suffer the same ordeal that Gilad Shalit began four years ago today.
On June 25, 2006, Hamas terrorists - using a tunnel secretly excavated during a cease-fire with Israel - infiltrated under the Gaza border and attacked an IDF base. Firing rocket grenades and automatic weapons, they killed two soldiers - Lt. Hanan Barak and Sgt. Pavel Slutzker, both 20 - and kidnapped 19-year-old Cpl. Gilad Shalit. The IDF promptly launched a massive manhunt in Gaza, suffering an additional five fatalities, but failed to find the abductors. Hamas has demanded that Israel release more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, most of them convicted terrorists, in exchange for Shalit's freedom. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the United States. (Wall Street Journal)
Why have none of those involved in the recent, so-called humanitarian efforts to aid the residents of Gaza raised their voices on behalf of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit? Why did the organizers of the recent flotilla refuse to deliver a letter to Shalit from his family? Why were their voices of condemnation and outrage not heard when Hamas launched countless terror attacks and thousands of rockets at Israeli border towns like Sderot?
Why were they not raised when Hamas began firing Iranian Grad missiles on major Israeli cities like Ashkelon and Beersheva? It was that development that triggered the intensification of Israel's naval blockade of Gaza and its 2009 offensive, which finally restored some semblance of normal life to southern Israel.
It is Hamas, not Israel, that has spared no effort to use Gazans as pawns in a global game of jihad and delegitimization of Israel, a game orchestrated by Iran that also employs Hizbullah and now - ominously - elements within Turkey. The writer is president of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. (Chicago Tribune)
Israel is treated differently than other nations. If Britain, for example, had stopped an IRA-supporting flotilla from reaching Northern Ireland, the condemnation and attention would not be at the same level. The focus and disproportionate criticism on Israel is as old as the state itself. In the years following its rebirth in 1948, the small state of Israel faced regular deadly raids from marauding groups sponsored by Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. When Israel responded to protect its citizens, condemnations from the UN followed. Even the U.S. often told Israel that it expected it not to retaliate.
Last month 600 people were killed in Darfur according to the UN. Yet nine deaths in the flotilla incident is considered more newsworthy - and more worthy of demonstrations and condemnations. Now that's disproportionate. (Forbes)
The Syrian city of Tadmor, east of Damascus, known as Palmyra to Romans and tourists alike, was home to one of the regime's fearsome jails. This was the site of a massacre of Islamist prisoners - perhaps a thousand in all - by Hafez el-Assad's brother Rifaat after an assassination attempt on Hafez. According to a report, "Years of Fear" - published in Washington this month by the Transitional Justice in the Arab World Project, supported by Freedom House - as many as 17,000 Syrians may have been "disappeared" during Hafez el-Assad's rule in the early 1980s.
Assad's long battle to maintain his Alawi rule against violent Islamist enemies clogged the fetid prisons of Syria with thousands of political prisoners. Then on 16 June 1979, an army captain, Ibrahim al-Yusuf, led a massacre of Alawi students at the Aleppo artillery school. A subsequent assassination attempt on Assad prompted Rifaat's Defense Brigades' assault at Tadmor in which up to a thousand Muslim Brotherhood prisoners were machine-gunned to death in their cells. The Hama uprising in February 1982, in which the old rebel-held city was virtually destroyed by tank and shell-fire, caused up to 15,000 deaths, according to the report. In the early eighties and later, up to 25,000 men went missing, swallowed into interrogation centers and prisons, the report says. (Independent-UK)
Until recently, Syria had its eyes firmly fixed on the spoils to be offered by the U.S. and its Western allies. But today, Turkey is on the way to becoming the major regional player, with Syria set to be the biggest beneficiary. Turkish exports to Syria grew by $300m in 2009 alone. Last September Turkish and Syrian transit visas were abolished, leading to the roads of northern Syria awash with Turkish-registered trucks; the number of Syrian tourists visiting Turkey doubled in 2009. Because of Turkey, Syria will be less inclined to cede to Washington's demands now that it has a recognized powerful friend in the region. (Le Monde diplomatique-France)
On July 4, the 600 commissioners of the Presbyterian Church (USA) will consider a scaldingly critical 150-page report that rebukes Israel for its treatment of Palestinians and calls for the American government to squeeze the Jewish state financially. We do not like it, and have signed a letter circulating among Presbyterians nationwide, calling on the General Assembly to reject the Middle East Study Committee's report. We find that report to be unbalanced, historically inaccurate, theologically flawed and politically damaging.
Presbyterians believe that God calls them and others to be peacemakers and to work for justice. Historically, the denomination has condemned violence on both sides. Sadly, the report strays from this path to peace-building and instead deals in neatly-assigned roles - Israel as oppressor, Palestinians as victims - period. But peacemaking does not mean pointing fingers. Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson is President of Auburn Seminary. Gustav Niebuhr is an associate professor of religion and the media at Syracuse University. (Washington Post)
Efraim Halevy, former head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, told the European Parliament that Turkish women are "some of the most militant, and spearhead the effort to Islamicize Turkey today." Muslim women manifest emancipation by saying no to secularity where men are secular, and to religiosity, where they're religious. When a Muslim society already embraces secularism, as Ataturk's Turkey or the Shah's Iran, women "wear their hijab as a symbol of their personal emancipation."
"Many of the women of Turkey have turned to a more fundamentalist approach to Islam as a means of women empowerment," Halevy says. When Iran's Islamic Revolution began, "the women of Iran teamed up with the Ayatollahs led by exiled Khomeini and spearheaded the demonstrations that led to the downfall of the Shah." "Only after the exile of the Shah did the Ayatollahs turn on the women, their erstwhile strategic ally." (National Post-Canada)
The UN Human Rights Council ended its latest three-week session on Friday by abandoning human rights victims the world over and contributing to the spread of anti-Semitism. The Council has a standing agenda of ten items. One is reserved specifically for condemning Israel. One is for all of the other 191 UN states, should anybody consider them to raise "human rights situations that require the Council's attention." The practical consequence is that five hours were devoted to Israel-bashing and four hours were devoted to all other countries. Then the Council held an additional "urgent debate" over the pro-Hamas blockade-busting enterprise, spending another 4.5 hours on Israel. In total, the Council spent more than twice as much time on Israel than the rest of the world taken together. The writer is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust. (FOX News)
If an Israeli state can be expected to host an Arab minority approaching 20%, then a neighboring Palestinian state can be expected to do the same for Jewish communities rather than emptying its territory of Jews. Unfortunately, there are no prospects whatsoever that would allow a Jewish minority in a Palestinian state to survive and prosper. Observe the fate of Jewish communities throughout the Arab world, where even the minuscule remnants of the Yemenite Jewish community face persecution and mortal danger.
One can also extrapolate from the dwindling Arab Christian communities: Bethlehem, once a symbol of Arab Christianity, is effectively a Muslim town. If this is the treatment accorded people who share a similar culture and speak the same language, can Jews expect greater benevolence? The Kingdom of Jordan imposes a death penalty on anyone convicted of selling land to Jews. (Jerusalem Post)
As doctors at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem began unloading the injured from a helicopter after the Gaza flotilla raid, they quickly realized it wasn't Israeli soldiers who had been rushed to their facility for emergency treatment. "We understood that they are really the terrorists who were brought to our hospital," said Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, Hadassah's director general. The medical team was tasked with providing care to seven severely injured Turks. "For me it was not an issue," said Mor-Yosef. "I don't agree with what they did...but at the same time, I wanted to provide them the best treatment possible, and to cure them." Some of Mor-Yosef's staff performed life-preserving surgery on several of the wounded. "No matter who you are, if you wind up in Hadassah's emergency room, you'll be taken care of," he said. (Washington Jewish Week)
This is a place I feel safer in than anywhere else, where I sit down on the public bus and don't think anyone looks suspicious or is going to pickpocket me - far different than how I felt during my two weeks of travel in Europe, where I watched violent fights break out on the Brussels subway and constantly had to clutch my bag tightly in fear of being robbed.
The feeling of immense comfort and happiness that comes over me when an 18-year-old Israel Defense Forces soldier with an M-16 strapped across her body sits next to me, and she compliments me on my purse, is an everyday occurrence. Watching members of the IDF walk the streets or on campus at Tel Aviv University with you is even better. This is a Middle Eastern country where you can walk the streets alone at night, wearing whatever you please, and have no fear of possible sexual assault or petty crime or theft. This is the Israel I know. And it's the one I hope most of the world comes to know. The writer, a print journalism major, will be a senior this fall at Penn State University Park. She spent the spring semester at Tel Aviv University. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
Turkey in Crisis - Harold Rhode (Hudson Institute-New York)
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