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|
September 17, 2010
Russia to Supply Syria with Cruise Missiles (AFP)
Three Congress Members Seek to Block Saudi Arms Deal (JTA)
Iran Raids Office of Opposition Leader Moussavi (Reuters)
USAID Funding for "Geneva Initiative" Ad Campaign (NGO Monitor)
If War Comes: Israel vs. Hizbullah and Its Allies - Jeffrey White (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Hundreds of Golan Druze Begin Visit to Syria (AFP)
Hamas Summer Camps Indoctrinate 100,000 Children in Gaza (Intelligence and Terrorism
Eight U.S. Universities to Launch Study Programs in Israel - Gil Shefler (Jerusalem Post)
The IDF Speaks Arabic (IDF Spokesperson)
The Myths of 9/11 - David Frum (National Post-Canada)
Israeli Economy Expands 4.6% in Second Quarter as Exports Surge 19.9% - Alisa Odenheimer (Bloomberg)
Israel Eyes China as U.S., EU Markets Flounder (Bernama-Malaysia)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Arab states pledged on Thursday to step up pressure on Israel to join a global anti-nuclear arms pact, defying U.S. warnings their action could harm Middle East peace talks. The U.S. and its Western allies urged the group to withdraw a planned resolution at the IAEA's annual assembly next week calling on Israel to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The U.S. envoy to the IAEA said the non-binding resolution targeting Israel would undermine broader efforts in 2012 toward establishing a region free of weapons of mass destruction, and could also upset Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. "It would do nothing but send a negative signal to the larger peace process," said Amb. Glyn Davies.
Israel, which would have to forswear atomic arms if it signed the NPT, says it needs full Middle East peace first. The U.S. alarmed Israel in May by backing Egypt's initiative for the 2012 meeting, but Washington has since pledged to keep the Jewish state from being singled out. (Reuters-New York Times)
In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley confirmed that the U.S. is concerned that the Arab move, should it happen, could jeopardize the Mideast talks. "First of all, let's state a fact," Crowley said. "Israel has fully cooperated with the IAEA and that is in contrast to one or more governments, Iran and Syria being two that come to mind, who have not cooperated with the IAEA." (AP-Washington Post)
Glyn Davies, the chief U.S. delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency, on Thursday suggested time was running out for Syria to cooperate with the UN atomic agency probe of alleged secret nuclear activities before the agency invokes its seldom-used authority to call for a special inspection. Davies told the agency board in Vienna that, unless Syria ends its stonewalling, the IAEA must increasingly "consider all available measures and authorities to pursue the verification assurances the international community seeks" - diplomatic language for a special inspection. Refusal by Syria to allow a special inspection would allow the board to refer the issue to the UN Security Council, which then could issue a reprimand, pass a resolution demanding compliance, and ultimately pass the kind of sanctions Iran is now under. (AP-Washington Post)
U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell said after meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Thursday, "Our effort to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in no way contradicts or conflicts with our goal of comprehensive peace including peace between Israel and Syria." (Reuters)
See also Mitchell Confirms Intense Efforts to Restart Israel-Syria Peace Efforts - Barak Ravid and Zvi Bar'el (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's senior ministers, a forum known as the septet, decided this week not to extend the construction freeze in the settlements. Since a cabinet decision was needed to put the freeze into effect last November, another cabinet decision would be needed to extend it, and the septet decided, before Netanyahu's meeting in Jerusalem with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, not to ask for an extension. (Jerusalem Post)
The macroeconomic situation continued to improve in the West Bank and Gaza. Real GDP growth in the first half of 2010 (compared to the first half of 2009) is estimated by the IMF at 9% for the West Bank and 16% for Gaza. Since April 2008, 409 roadblocks have been removed throughout the West Bank. Since the beginning of 2010, 60 roadblocks have been removed. Just 16 checkpoints remain in the West Bank, all operating as "normally open."
In the first half of 2010, Israel transferred to the Palestinian Authority NIS 2,299 million, compared to NIS 2,029 million in the parallel period of 2009 and NIS 1,865 million in the parallel period in 2008. These funds come from import taxes, VAT and purchase taxes, and excise taxes collected by Israel on behalf of the PA.
A number of environmental infrastructure projects are being implemented in the West Bank including a waste disposal site for around 700,000 inhabitants in the southern West Bank near Bethlehem and Hebron funded by the World Bank; a waste disposal site near Ramallah funded by the German Development Bank KfW; a waste water treatment plant to serve Nablus funded by KfW; and a waste disposal site serving Jenin, Tulkarem, Kalkilya and Nablus in the northern West Bank, enabling the closure of 90 pirate sites, funded by the World Bank. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
On Wednesday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said, "The attempts at delegitimizing Israel and the IDF are growing stronger. But we have a moral army which operates in the most professional and ethical ways." He noted, "We face the threat of rockets and missiles fired from urban areas and nature reserves. We will not let Hamas fire on Israeli civilians and we have the capabilities to stop them." "Iran is growing stronger, as are Lebanon and Hamas. We also have much work to do in the Judea and Samaria region [West Bank]. The IDF, as the guarding shield of Israel, will stand between the enemy and the State of Israel....We must continue fighting for our right to live here." (Israel Defense Forces)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
It's been a long time since negotiations elicited as many smiles and as positive an atmosphere as the Washington-Sharm-Jerusalem round of talks. The optimism is dictated from above, i.e., by Obama, who has decided to take our subject in hand, demonstrating a blatant change in his almost hostile attitude toward Israel. When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declares that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are serious in their intentions to renew the peace process, for the time being this represents more a wish of Obama's than a realistic impression of the round of talks thus far.
Netanyahu demonstrated leadership when he agreed to freeze construction in the territories for 10 months. He also made a promise to the Israeli public that he meant 10 months, "and not one day more." The Palestinians refused to enter direct talks and wasted nine months. Now that the sides have begun to speak directly under Obama's sponsorship, the entire issue of the freeze as a condition to talks is passé. (Ha'aretz)
PA President Mahmoud Abbas is saying that he will continue to participate in the peace talks that have been orchestrated by the Obama administration. Though the Palestinians have been threatening to walk out if Israel doesn't extend a freeze on all settlement-building in the West Bank, it appears that the parties are trying to weasel their way out of this impasse. While the continued talking will, no doubt, be heralded by the Americans as proof that the talks have a good chance of succeeding and that their goal of a Palestinian state and genuine peace within a year will be achieved, realists know that it means nothing of the kind.
Netanyahu is aware of the fact that if the Palestinians ever actually accepted a state in almost all the West Bank with a share of Jerusalem in exchange for a complete end to the conflict with no right of return for refugees, the Israeli people would almost certainly accept this offer - whether it was wise policy or not. But he also knows that Abbas cannot possibly accept this deal, for the same reasons he rejected such an offer in 2008, when Ehud Olmert put it on the table in the wake of the 2007 Annapolis Summit, not to mention Yasir Arafat's similar refusal of such a deal at Camp David in 2000: the rejectionist culture of Palestinian politics and Hamas won't allow it.
The majority of Palestinians and Israelis understand that what is going on is an elaborate farce being staged for the benefit of Obama and Hillary Clinton rather than constituting a genuine chance for peace. (Commentary)
U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell has brought up his previous experience as a peace broker in Northern Ireland in virtually every media briefing he has conducted since his appointment by President Obama in January 2009. His invariable point is that Northern Ireland's conflict had dragged on for decades and was considered intractable. Then Mitchell began chairing negotiations - and in less than two years, a deal was struck. It follows that Israelis and Palestinians can also overcome their seeming intractable differences in less than two years.
Mitchell's observation that the Israeli and Palestinian leaders have already begun to engage the serious issues appears a little strained: After all, they have already discussed those same issues in multiple sets of negotiations dating back to 1992 - most of them involving Abbas, Netanyahu, or both. The problem has not been that they won't take on the issues, but that they have been chronically unable to bridge their differences on them. (Washington Post)
The U.S. administration, which just forced Israel and the Palestinian Authority to enter direct peace negotiations, seems to have completely forgotten about Gaza. The Americans know that for now Gaza is a lost cause, so they pretend the problem does not exist. If the Obama administration is hoping that a peace deal might prompt Hamas and the residents of Gaza to seek a similar deal, they are they are being naive; on the contrary, such a deal would only increase Hamas' determination to step up its efforts - with the help of Syria and Iran - to scuttle the peace process.
Abbas and his Fatah faction fled Gaza just over three years ago, handing it over to Hamas. As soon as Hamas started shooting in the summer of 2007, Abbas' forces and loyalists either surrendered or ran away. Abbas' seaside headquarters has been turned into a Hamas detention center, where many of the president's loyalists are being held and tortured at the hands of the Islamist movement.
There are doubts as to whether Abbas would even be able to impose, or sell, a peace agreement to many of his constituents in the West Bank, particularly those living in refugee camps. So if Abbas cannot even visit Gaza and has limited control over the West Bank, where is he supposed to implement a peace agreement? In downtown Ramallah? The Palestinian and Israeli negotiators and their U.S. sponsors are continuing to ignore the facts on the ground - namely that a radical, Iranian-funded Islamist state already exists - in Gaza. (Hudson Institute-New York)
See also Without Hamas, Palestinians Can't Make a Peace Deal - Dan Ephron
Hamas is constantly in a position to sabotage the peace process. In the 1990s, Hamas killed scores of Israelis in suicide bombings aimed at derailing peace talks. Hamas' control over Gaza raises serious questions about Abbas' ability to negotiate an agreement on behalf of all Palestinians. Gazans account for 40% of the population in the Palestinian territories.
Though Abbas is the elected president, his term ran out 20 months ago and no new elections have been scheduled. To counter questions about his mandate, Abbas has vowed to submit whatever deal he strikes with Israel to a referendum - or make it the principal issue around which a general election is fought. That strategy has several problems. Depending on how much Palestinians end up ceding in the negotiations, Hamas could well win such a vote, just as it won parliamentary elections in 2006. More likely, though, the group would boycott the referendum altogether and hunker down in Gaza, where it now has thousands of men under arms. Neither scenario would bode well for the implementation of a peace treaty.
Some have called for Israeli talks with Hamas. But as long as Hamas rejects the idea of two states sharing historic Palestine, it's difficult to see what issues the sides would discuss. Eventually, who gets to govern should be determined by a general election. But to avoid the mistakes of the 2006 poll, voting must be preceded by the dismantling of armed groups, chiefly Hamas' military wing. Political groups cannot be allowed to engage in the democratic process while retaining the means to subvert it. That has been the lesson of recent years in the Palestinian territories, in Lebanon, and elsewhere. (Newsweek)
Israel annexed all of Jerusalem decades ago. And while very few Jews move to and build in Arab neighborhoods, enormous Jewish neighborhoods have been constructed on land that used to be empty. There is no chance these places will ever be part of a Palestinian state unless the Palestinians first conquer Israel. It doesn't matter if Israelis should or should not have built in these areas. The fact is that they did. Hundreds of thousands of people live there today.
The same goes for some of the settlements near the Green Line, such as those in Gush Etzion. Because they can be annexed without disrupting or fatally compromising a Palestinian state in the future, they will be. Last year, after Jimmy Carter visited the Gush Etzion settlement of Neve Daniel, he said, "This particular settlement area is not one that I can envision ever being abandoned or changed over into Palestinian territory. This is part of settlements close to the 1967 line that I think will be here forever."
Imposing a building freeze in areas that will never be Palestinian is actually a little bit dangerous. It puts these places on the table, so to speak, and tells the Palestinians they stand a chance of acquiring them as parts of their own state down the road if only enough pressure can be brought to bear. But it isn't going to happen. (Commentary)
Millions in Western taxpayers' pounds, euros, and dollars now fund all the actions of the Palestinian Authority. Much of that money comes through direct budget support, which means unconditional checks to the Authority, or paying off its debts. In that way our governments support everything, good and bad, that the PA does. This is particularly troubling as official PA media and schoolbooks radicalize Palestinians and, crucially, Palestinian children. Western governments may not be able to stop Hamas or the regime in Tehran from calling on Palestinians to keep fighting. But there is no reason we have to subsidize actions intended to deepen animosity between Israelis and Palestinians.
Peace depends on Palestinians rejecting the idea that only an impossible, violent victory and the destruction of Israel is an acceptable outcome. That repudiation of war will get harder and harder if the official media - supported by Western donations - continues to promote hatred and undermine any possible spirit of compromise. The writers lead the international "Coalition Against Hate Education" through the TaxPayers' Alliance in the UK. (Wall Street Journal)
The State Department's sanctions czar, Robert Einhorn, likes to tout that the threat of sanctions has led to about $60 billion in energy projects being terminated in Iran. This figure mostly reflects the decision of European firms to back off. However, Russia and China have made it clear that the Iranian energy sector is still open for their business. In 2009, the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) replaced France's Total in a contract to develop a major part of Iran's South Pars gas field. Chinaoil, the trading arm of CNPC, began delivering gasoline to Iran in 2010. Unipec, the trading arm of Sinopec - the China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation - also resumed gasoline sales to Iran in the spring of 2010 after a nearly six-year hiatus. Russian energy giant Gazprom continues to explore whether to expand Iran's oil and gas pipelines.
The U.S. government has the capacity to make both Russia and China feel considerable pain. CNPC has a U.S. subsidiary, PetroChina. The Obama administration or Congress could consider banning CNPC from holding any U.S. assets. As for Russia, Lukoil sells gasoline in over 2,000 facilities in 13 U.S. states. Those facilities could be a target of sanctions. Gazprom Marketing and Trade, the U.S. subsidiary of Gazprom, should be barred from further natural gas business in the U.S. All of the offending Russian and Chinese companies could be banned from receiving U.S. government contracts and forcibly divested from state pension funds. Mr. Gerecht, a former CIA officer, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Mr. Dubowitz is executive director of the foundation. (Wall Street Journal)
See also Why Is Switzerland Backing Ahmadinejad's Iran? - Benjamin Weinthal
The Swiss energy giant Elektrizitaets-Gesellschaft Laufenburg (EGL) and the state-owned National Iranian Gas Export Co. (NIGEC) signed a massive 18 billion gas deal in 2008. The NIGEC is a subsidiary of the National Iranian Gas Company, which was placed on Britain's Proliferation Concerns List in February 2009. The Obama administration should cite EGL as a violator of enhanced U.S-based Iran sanctions. The writer is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (National Review)
Since the Green uprising started last summer, not a single resolution has been presented by the U.S. or European states on the brutal repression taking place in Iran. By November 2009, 5,000 Iranians were in prison, hundreds tortured and raped, and dozens put on show trials and sentenced to death or long prison terms solely for their peaceful demands for free and fair elections. On June 20, 2009, the day Neda Agha Soltan was gunned down on a Tehran street, President Obama quoted Martin Luther King when he said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
The first step to attaining justice is to build recognition of injustice. The Iranian people need the UN's help - as did the citizens of Chile, South Africa, and Hungary - to attain justice. At the UN General Assembly meeting this fall, the U.S. has another opportunity to help them by ensuring the establishment of a UN mandate that will investigate abuses and encourage accountability for those perpetrating crimes in Iran. We should not miss it again. The writer is executive director of the Democracy Coalition Project. (Foreign Policy)
A calm and careful review of Israel's interactions with many states in the world in which real power resides explains why Israel is not nearly as diplomatically isolated as its critics would have us believe. For the past four decades, the level of American public support for Israel has remained remarkably stable (about 65%). A high level of friendship toward Israel and the Jewish people characterizes the two most populous states - India and China. Both are old civilizations that treat the Jewish state with reverence as they see in it a similar old civilization that has had remarkable achievements. Likewise, countries on the Pacific Rim such as South Korea and Australia are usually pro-Israel. Sub-Saharan African countries also contain very pro-Israel circles.
"Old Europe" is indeed a different matter, though influential pockets of strong pro-Israeli sentiment are still present in all Western European states. However, the expansion of the EU has worked in Israel's favor as the attitude of "New Europe," the Eastern European states, is more favorable. Because of the growing Islamist threat, the number of states seeking security relations with the Jewish state is on the rise. Israel also has cordial and fruitful relations with Muslim states that emerged from the dissolution of the Soviet Empire such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
We can also detect the beginning of weariness with the Arab-Israeli conflict. Some have even begun to realize that the Palestinians have a stake in not ending the conflict and in propagating the victim image to continue to get financial support from gullible Western donors. The writer is professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and director of its Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
Col. Richard Kemp, 51, served in the British army for 30 years. He commanded the British forces in Afghanistan, participated in the Gulf War, and served on the exclusive COBRA council, charged with advising the government in times of emergency. In January 2009, a video clip showing him defending Israel during an interview with the BBC during the Gaza operation was posted on YouTube. Kemp explained that Israel had no choice but to engage in the Gaza operation, and stressed that the actions the IDF was taking in order to avoid civilian casualties were exceptional. Later he defended Israel's reputation during testimony before the Goldstone committee.
On Tuesday Kemp arrived in Israel to take part in a conference at the IDC's International Institute for Counter-Terrorism. Asked about the Goldstone report, he responded that it significantly harms the abilities of Western states to defend themselves against terror. "In a roundabout way the report gives legitimacy to tactics used by terror organizations all over the world, and legitimizes their ability to hide behind civilians. In this way it turns any action by Israel in its war against such terrorists into an illegitimate act, and indirectly encourages the prolongation of this tactic," Kemp said. If Western states adopt the conclusions of the Goldstone report, they will be left with no "realistic way" to act against terror anywhere in the world. (Ynet News)
Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel have been making a comeback in the past 12 months. The seeds of the modern BDS movement were planted in 2001 at the now-infamous UN "Anti-Racism" conference in Durban, South Africa, which degenerated into an anti-Israel hate-fest. A wide range of anti-Israel organizations developed an "Apartheid Strategy" - a long-term propaganda campaign to declare Israel the new South Africa, with boycott, divestment and sanctions as their primary tactic.
Yet Israel's economy has grown explosively during the ten-year period when BDS has been working tirelessly to make these statistics go down, and support for Israel among the American public has surged in the same period. Even in Europe, where political hostility to Israel is greater, European venture funds now invest heavily in Israel. (Christian Science Monitor)
The main organizers of the Gaza flotilla were the Turkish IHH, a body for which there are strong indications of having terrorist links. There were also others on board with terrorist links. Several of the participants on the Mavi Marmara were prepared for violence with weapons and attacked the Israeli soldiers. The weapons found were far from normal for a ship purporting to be bringing humanitarian aid. Seven of the nine dead had expressed their wish to die as martyrs before they departed on the journey.
Negative opinions about Israel were hastily expressed by senior officials of various countries and international bodies. They did not care to wait until a reasonable amount of facts were known. Today, if one analyzes their statements, one finds many fallacies in them. In view of many other far more violent actions by some Western countries on various occasions, the claims about disproportionality of the Israeli interception of the flotilla convey double standards.
The German response to the flotilla affair merits special investigation. On 2 July the German parliament issued a unanimous resolution with an anti-Israel bias. Never in its history has the Bundestag issued a resolution against any rogue state. The Jewish Central Council in Germany adopted a statement saying that the Parliament's resolution was based on incomplete information and a mixture of half-truths and prejudices. (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
A recent edition of Time magazine purports to explain "Why Israel Doesn't Care About Peace." This assertion reinforces the views of State Department Arabists who have long believed that Israelis don't know what's best for themselves and must be forced, like recalcitrant children, to capitulate to the demands of the Arabs for their own good. The idea is that Israel needs "tough love" - because Israelis are too stupid, immature or politically constrained to make decisions people 6,000 miles away see as in their best interests. They also naively believe that by piling on with other critics of Israel they can change the policy of Israel's democratically elected leaders.
The Arabists only care that a Palestinian state is created in a year, not whether it will be a threat to Israel then or at any time in the future. Israelis will have to live with the consequences of their decisions for decades to come. What if the "moderate" Abbas is replaced in ten years by a Hamas-like extremist government? In that decade the quality of weapons will have improved and suddenly Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ben-Gurion Airport will be in the cross-hairs of Palestinian rockets. (New York Daily News)
See also Time's Up - Dvir Abramovich
As Jews around the world celebrated the Jewish New Year last week, they got a hell of a present - a shameful and offensive story from Time magazine that not only engaged in Israel-bashing, but also trotted out age-old anti-Semitic stereotypes. Time has a problem with Israelis because they survived against the odds. It criticizes Israel for weathering the global financial crisis, for being productive, inventive, for building a thriving economy and a modern democracy. Any other people would be praised for such achievements. Yes, Australians and other nations are allowed to enjoy life, go out to restaurants, have fun on the beaches, lead regular lives. But not Israelis. The writer is director of the Centre for Jewish History and Culture at the University of Melbourne. (Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
One day in the early 1940s, little Salim Fattal ran away from Muslim toughs in his dusty Baghdad neighborhood. The older boys finally caught the 12-year-old and slapped him around for no reason other than Salim was a Jew. Fattal, 79, is a retired Israeli broadcaster and writer who pioneered Israel's Arabic-language radio and television and directed acclaimed documentaries. He continues to speak out on behalf of Jews from Arab lands, dispossessed and exiled after centuries of coexistence, and was in the Bay Area last month as a guest of Jimena (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa).
"We could feel the superiority of the Muslims against the Jews," Fattal said of his life in Iraq. "There were periods where they treated the Jews justly, but they were accustomed to seeing Jews submissive and inferior all the time." Fattal is unforgiving of Arab enmity toward Israel and the Jews.
"Because it's a Jewish state, the whole world attacks Israel from all possible directions." He sees this as a new form of anti-Semitism. "If you scratch a boy from Gaza, the media says, 'What did you do?' But when a terrorist comes to Israel to bomb a bus, it's only a matter of reporting what happened, and after two days it's forgotten." "Until this day [Arabs] talk about annihilation of Israel," Fattal said. "How can you negotiate with someone who wants you to die?" (San Francisco Jewish Weekly)
In Gush Etzion this week, Prof. Ehud Netzer, under the auspices of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Archaeology, announced the restoration of a royal box at King Herod's private theater at Herodion National Park. Netzer was immediately struck by an intricate pattern of wall paintings and plaster moldings in a style unusual for Israeli art at that time. "The box was decorated by Italian artists, sent to Herod probably by Marcus Agrippa," Netzer said, who dated the theater as constructed in 15 BCE. The royal box contains scenes of the countryside, the Nile River, a large boat with sails, and also trees, animals and human beings. (Jerusalem Post)
The Sources of Iranian Negotiating Behavior - Harold Rhode (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
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