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|
July 1, 2010
Son of Hamas Founder Granted Asylum in U.S. - Eli Lake (Washington Times)
The Arab-Israeli Military Balance in 2010 - Anthony H. Cordesman and Aram Nerguizian (Center for Strategic and International Studies)
Iran to Boycott Coca Cola, Intel and "Zionists" - Dudi Cohen (Ynet News)
U.S. Estimates Al-Qaeda Strength at Fewer than 500 - David E. Sanger and Mark Mazzetti (New York Times)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Iran sent Syria a sophisticated radar system in mid-2009 that could threaten Israel's ability to launch a surprise attack against Iran's nuclear facilities, and could also benefit Hizbullah, say Israeli and U.S. officials. Any sharing of radar information by Syria could increase the accuracy of Hizbullah's own missiles and bolster its air defenses. The move was described as part of a dramatic increase in weapons transfers and military coordination among Iran, Syria and Hizbullah. (Wall Street Journal)
Israel's first steps toward easing its blockade of Gaza were welcomed Wednesday by U.S. special envoy George Mitchell as he visited the Kerem Shalom crossing where goods are transferred to the Palestinian territory. Trucks carried glass kitchenware, baked goods and cables, and drivers said they were now bringing in chocolates, soft drinks, clothing and shoes that had been barred in the past. Military officials said home appliances, such as refrigerators and microwave ovens, were also being allowed in.
"I saw firsthand today that progress is being made," Mitchell said after touring the crossing. "We welcome these changes. As implementation proceeds, these arrangements should significantly improve conditions for Palestinians in Gaza." "Israel has legitimate security concerns," Mitchell said. "The United States strongly reaffirms Israel's right to self-defense, and we support international efforts to prevent the trafficking of arms and ammunition into Gaza." He also called the continued detention of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas "deplorable and unacceptable." (Washington Post)
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Israeli Industry Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer met secretly in Zurich Wednesday to try to defuse tensions resulting from the Gaza flotilla incident, Israeli television reported. While Turkey has demanded a formal apology, Israel has refused, saying its troops acted in self-defense after being attacked by a group of passengers on a Turkish ship which was part of a flotilla trying to break Israel's blockade of Gaza. (New York Times)
Five activists who caused £180,000 damage to a Brighton arms factory were acquitted after they argued they were seeking to prevent Israeli war crimes. A jury found them not guilty after they sabotaged the factory, which they believed was selling military equipment to the Israelis. They are the latest group of peace and climate-change activists to successfully use the "lawful excuse" defense - committing an offense to prevent a more serious crime. In his summing up, Judge George Bathurst-Norman suggested to the jury that "you may well think that hell on earth would not be an understatement of what the Gazans suffered" at the time of Israel's 2009 Gaza operation. (Guardian-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting U.S. envoy George Mitchell on Wednesday: "It's time to put aside posturing. It's time to put aside preconditions. It's time to get on with direct talks - formal direct talks for peace....This is the only way that we'll solve the intricate problems that we're discussing...if we actually sit down, face one another in the same place and actually engage in serious deliberations for a solution....The best way that the Palestinian Authority can persuade the Israeli public that they're ready to live in peace with us is to talk peace with us - to talk directly." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
After the meeting between Saudi King Abdullah and President Barack Obama on Tuesday, the Lebanese paper an-Nahar, quoting a source in Washington, reported Wednesday that, "Saudi Arabia is not convinced that the economic sanctions on Iran will bear fruit, and it believes the alternative measures available to the Obama administration must be examined, since there is no guarantee that the current policies will stop Tehran from moving forward with its nuclear program."
Despite the differences of opinion, the report said Washington and Riyadh were in talks towards the signing of an extensive weapons deal, in which the Saudis are to purchase two squadrons of F-15 fighter jets, as well as maintenance and development services for similar products acquired in the past, at a cost of $20 billion. (Ynet News)
See also Report: Saudi King Abdullah Wants to Wipe Israel and Iran Off the Map - David Kenner
On June 5, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah reportedly told French Defense Minister Herve Morin that "There are two countries in the world that do not deserve to exist: Iran and Israel." Georges Malbrunot, a French journalist with Le Figaro, said two sources have confirmed the story. (Foreign Policy)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
In an interview published on Friday, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren stressed, "Our security relationship with the U.S. is very important for the U.S., not just for us. We provide security benefits that the U.S. can't get from any other country in the world, whether in intelligence sharing, weapons development or just the mere fact that Israel has a sizable army that is highly trained, highly motivated, highly disciplined and under the authority of a democratically elected government that can field that army in a matter of 12 hours. Think about that. What other country in the Middle East can remotely do that - remotely. There is no substitute for Israel in the American security universe - nothing."
Oren dismissed as "nonsense" the so-called "realist" foreign policy camp in the U.S. which argues that Israel is a strategic liability for America. "What are they going to do, build a strategic alliance with Syria, with Kuwait - where is the benefit? There are people in Washington who say this, there are think tank people who say it, but I have never heard anyone in the administration remotely intimate it." (Jerusalem Post)
See also "Tectonic Rift" or "Tectonic Shift" in U.S.-Israeli Ties? - Herb Keinon
Newspapers around the world ran reports Monday quoting Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, as saying there was a "tectonic rift" in U.S.-Israeli ties. Oren denied ever having said anything of the kind, telling the Jerusalem Post: "There are tectonic shifts - not rifts - in America's foreign and domestic policies, reflecting President Obama's commitment to changing the status quo, and these are posing new challenges for Israel. There is no rift in Israel's relations with the Obama administration, and no crisis."
A few days earlier, at a briefing with the Jerusalem Post editorial board, Oren painted a much brighter picture of relations with the U.S., saying that the Obama administration was "as good if not better" on Israel than "many previous administrations." "We have had disagreements with other administrations in the past, and the litmus with the relationship is not whether there are disagreements, but how you approach the disagreements." (Jerusalem Post)
The Obama administration has signaled in word and deed that it would accommodate the Syrian regime and normalize relations with it. This is premised on the notions that the Assad regime is stable and that by drawing closer to the regime, Washington will make it more stable, not less. What these assertions ignore is the potential role that jihadism could play in undermining the Assad government.
In Syria, the hated minority Alawite Shia sect rules. Islamists arguing for a jihad in Syria believe that in the Syrian regime they have an enemy that is at once tyrannical, secular, and heretical. Members of the jihadist internationale are asking themselves where to go after Iraq and Afghanistan. On jihadist online discussion forums, they have been authoring what amount to policy papers calling on the jihadist leadership to take the fight to Syria. The writer is a visiting scholar at the Hudson Institute. (New Republic)
Only Israel Is Making the Effort Toward Peace - Lee Rosenberg and Alan Solow (JTA)
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