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Abbas Supports Sudanese President
Accused of Darfur Genocide - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
PA TV reported on Nov. 28 that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has expressed his personal support for the president of Sudan, Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, who is accused of being responsible for the genocide in Darfur.
In a letter to the Sudanese president, Abbas wrote that he and Palestinians "have complete faith in the wisdom of President Omar Al-Bashir."
Palestinian Public Opinion: Tactically Flexible, Strategically Ambitious - David Pollock (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Palestinian public opinion trends in Oct.-Nov. 2010 reveal flexibility on short-term tactics, but troubling long-term intentions.
When presented with a choice of longer-term options, clear majorities in both the West Bank and Gaza say "the actual goal should be to start with two states but then move it all [to] being one Palestinian state."
Only a minority - 34% of West Bankers, and 23% of Gazans - choose the alternative formulation: "the preferred goal" is for a two-state solution that keeps two states living side by side.
This is probably because roughly 60% of respondents in both territories say they are "not so certain" that "Israel will exist 25 years from now as a Jewish state with a Jewish majority."
The writer is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute.
Erbakan Criticizes Israel, Accuses Erdogan of Being Part of Jewish Conspiracy - Abdullah Bozkurt (Today's Zaman-Turkey)
The soured relationship with Israel and Prime Minister Erdogan's tough line with the Jewish state are all part of a facade to deceive the Turkish public, claims former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, 84, Turkey's first Islamist prime minister.
criticized Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK), saying it is in the hands of the worldwide Zionist movement. He implied that the rise of the AK was helped by the international Jewish conspiracy and vowed that he will fight back to stem the Zionist grip on the neck of Turkey.
"Why on earth did the AK Party give a 'go ahead' to the membership of Israel in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD] and not block membership? Why did the government consent to multi-billion dollars worth of defense contracts with Israeli firms?" he asked.
Erbakan also reiterated his fierce opposition to the EU membership process, saying the EU has been trying to enslave the Turkish people.
NGO "Lawfare": Exploitation of Courts in the Arab-Israeli Conflict (NGO Monitor)
NGOs claiming to promote human rights (many funded by European governments, the EU, and prominent foundations) are engaged in international lobbying, as well as filing civil lawsuits or initiating criminal complaints in Belgium, England, Spain, Switzerland, and the U.S. against Israeli officials for alleged "war crimes" or "crimes against humanity."
This monograph presents a number of case studies analyzing the central role that NGOs have played in the strategy of lawfare, using it to further their political campaigns against Israel.
This report also highlights the lack of transparency and accountability of NGOs, and their contribution to diplomatic and political tension, and even greater conflict.
See also NGOs Hijack International Human Rights to Wage Political Warfare Against Israel - Jennifer Rubin (Washington Post)
Allah, Kill Christians and Jews
"to the Last One" - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
A video on official Hamas TV on Dec. 3 called for Allah to kill Jews, Christians, Communists and their supporters, asking Allah to "count them and kill them to the last one, and don't leave even one."
Peace Will Come When Palestinians Want It - Joel Mowbray (Washington Times)
The Israeli government has compiled a new quarterly report that analyzes what its Palestinian counterparts are doing to promote peace - or not.
The new Incitement and Culture of Peace Index will help the U.S. and Europe judge PA President Mahmoud Abbas not by what he says at the White House, but rather by what the PA is doing at home. Its purpose is also to gauge what steps the PA is taking to prepare its people for peace with Israel.
Peace is impossible as long as Palestinian children grow up hating Israel and loving violence.
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- U.S. Debates Role in Mideast Peace Effort - Paul Richter
The Obama administration's abandonment of a failed strategy for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking has sparked a debate within the White House about what kind of approach - and how much energy - America's overbooked national security team should put into the Middle East effort.
Officials gave varying accounts of whether the administration was still aiming to complete the basics of a peace deal within one year, a goal it set in September. Although the State Department has officially said meeting that deadline remains the goal, others suggest that the timing is fading in importance.
Secretary of State Clinton opened a new round of discussions Thursday with Israeli chief negotiator Isaac Molho after talking to PA President Mahmoud Abbas twice on Wednesday. She is to meet with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on Friday.
(Los Angeles Times)
- Attitudes Toward the Middle East Peace Process: Surveys of Arab and Jewish Opinion in Israel and Public Opinion in the U.S. - Shibley Telhami
Among the findings of the American poll is that one-quarter of Americans state that the Arab-Israeli issue is one of the top three American interests, and two-thirds say it's among the top five American interests. 71% support American diplomatic efforts to mediate the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Two-thirds want the U.S. to "lean toward neither side," 25% want American diplomacy to lean toward Israel, and 2% want the U.S. to lean toward the Palestinians.
The writer is Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and nonresident senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings. (Brookings Institution)
See also Survey Results: 2010 Israeli Arab/Palestinian Public Opinion; Israeli Jewish Public Opinion; U.S. Opinion (Brookings Institution)
See also Voting in Foreign-Policy Oblivion - Andrew Kohut
It is hard to recall a time when foreign policy issues played so diminished a role in the American public's thinking. Midterm election exit polls found only 8% of voters saying that a foreign policy issue was a voting consideration for them, and more generally, national polls show just 11% citing a foreign policy issue as the most important problem facing the nation. This is the lowest registration of international concerns since immediately before the 9/11 attacks.
The writer is President of the Pew Research Center.
- How WikiLeaks Cables Capture 21st-Century Turkey - Jackson Diehl
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reiterated during a visit to Washington last week that the clash between Israeli commandos and Turkish Islamic activists off the coast of Gaza in May can be fairly compared with al-Qaeda's attacks on New York and Washington.
"It was the Turkish 9/11 - I repeat it!" he exclaimed. "Our citizens were killed by a foreign army."
Actually, it wasn't quite that simple. The Turks were not innocent civilians but militants who sought a confrontation; they were killed by professional soldiers whose first weapons were mace and paintballs.
Turkey is a member of NATO, a host of U.S. military bases vital to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a major purchaser of American weapons. But is it still really an ally?
Popular support has given Prime Minister Erdogan the confidence to undercut U.S. policy in Iran, cultivate anti-American Muslim dictators in Sudan and Syria, and make Israel a near-enemy. "Britain has a commonwealth" with its former colonies, Davutoglu reminded me. Why shouldn't Turkey rebuild its leadership in former Ottoman lands in the Balkans, Middle East and Central Asia?
"At the end of the day we will have to live with a Turkey whose population is propelling much of what we see," Ambassador James F. Jeffrey wrote in a penetrating dispatch. "This calls for an issue-by-issue approach and recognition that Turkey will often go its own way." "The current cast of political leaders," he noted, have a "special yen for destructive drama and rhetoric. But we see no one better on the horizon." (Washington Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Barak: Palestinians Didn't Mind Settlement Construction During Past Peace Talks - Shlomo Shamir
The Palestinians did not have a problem with Israel continuing settlement construction during past peace talks, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said following a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon on Thursday, saying that it was mutual mistrust, not settlement building, which was hindering the current round of direct negotiations. Barak said that, contrary to recent Palestinian claims, settlement building wasn't the real bone of contention between Israel and the PA.
"We aren't building any new settlements," he said. "43 years of construction hardly covers 2% of the West Bank."
Former Prime Minster "Olmert's government was engaged in profound talks with the Palestinians and [settlement] building then was double what it is today and that didn't seem to be an obstacle," Barak said, adding that when he was premier during negotiations with former PA chief Yasser Arafat, building was "four times what it is today." (Ha'aretz)
- New Clash with Hamas Looms - Yaakov Katz
Amid escalating rocket fire from Gaza, defense officials warned on Thursday that Israel is preparing for a possible clash with Hamas in the near future. Since the beginning of the month, there have been over a dozen mortar and Kassam rocket attacks, more than double the parallel period last month. In addition, an advanced anti-tank missile was fired several days ago at an IDF armored vehicle along the Gaza border, causing extensive damage, though no injuries. Officials said Hamas was not directly behind the attacks but that it was turning a blind eye to other terrorist groups, some of which worked on behalf of Hamas.
"The IDF must be ready to operate in Gaza in a more extensive way than in the past," Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi warned this week.
- Beyond the Freeze Deal: A New Agenda for U.S. Efforts on the Peace Process - Robert Satloff
The recent announcement that the Obama administration has ended efforts to negotiate a 90-day extension of Israel's moratorium on West Bank settlement construction is more opportunity than embarrassment. After 22 months of near-fruitless efforts to promote Israeli-Palestinian negotiations conditioned on a total cessation of Israeli settlement activity, the administration can finally focus its efforts on the substance of its diplomatic mission.
Washington's peace diplomacy deserves a reset. A central reason for its poor record - now broadly recognized by key decision-makers in the administration - was the misplaced decision to junk the tacit understanding on Israeli settlement construction limitations reached under the George W. Bush administration. This new position fed a damaging and flawed narrative about the impossibility of diplomatic progress without a freeze.
The demise of the U.S.-Israeli settlement freeze proposal gives Washington the opportunity to engage in a different type of diplomacy. The course correction is to fix the U.S. approach and not for the U.S. to shift direction to another negotiating track (e.g., toward Syria) or for Israelis or Palestinians to choose unilateral options over improved diplomacy. At the heart of this new U.S. approach is a different mindset about the process - one that values the achievement of goal-driven though incremental progress over setting deadlines, making public demands, and trying to satisfy some elemental wish to be viewed popularly as working toward Middle East peace.
The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- What WikiLeaks Reveal about Obama's Middle East Policy - Shlomo Avineri
President Barack Obama's policy in the Middle East has had two focuses: first, the belief that solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the key to bringing the Arab world closer to the U.S., and second, that the solution to the Iranian nuclear threat will lie in diplomacy and repeated attempts to negotiate.
After nearly two years, not only has the Palestinian-Israeli conflict not been resolved, the sides haven't even made it to the negotiating table. Moreover, the generous openness toward Iran has not yielded results, nor have the sanctions - which have been far milder than their supporters suggest.
What the WikiLeaks documents reveal is the fact that this policy was based on a serious mistake in assessing the Arab countries' stances. Statements by the king of Saudi Arabia and the president of Egypt, as well as from leaders from the Gulf emirates, indicate that what really is scaring the heads of the pro-Western Arab countries is not the conflict with Israel (which of course they want to resolve in a way acceptable to the Palestinians) - but rather Iran.
Sometimes they see this strategic threat as a continuation of the long-standing Arab-Persian conflict. The Obama administration is completely impervious to these strategic, religious, cultural and historical dimensions, and uncritically bought the Arab propaganda without being sufficiently attuned to the Arabs' strategic considerations.
The writer, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, served as director-general of Israel's Foreign Ministry.
- A Three-State Solution? - Chuck Freilich
Israel's preeminent demand has been for an "end to conflict", i.e., to be able to live in security, without further demands, once an agreement has been reached. Hamas, however, will do everything it can to derail an agreement, including attacks on Israel and attempts to delegitimize and topple the PA. If Gaza is not part of the agreement, the conflict will not end.
Talks were to initially focus on the supposedly easier issue of territory which, if resolved, would inherently resolve the settlement issue. In reality, territory is one of the difficult issues. Under the 2000 "Clinton parameters," Arafat rejected an offer of 98-99% of the West Bank. In 2007 Abbas, the purported pragmatist, rejected Olmert's offer of 100% (including a 3.5% land swap). Is there reason to believe that anything has changed?
Rightly or not, the U.S. is perceived in the Arab world today as weak, preoccupied with its domestic problems, lacking in the determination and resources necessary to address the major issues facing the region, such as Iran and Iraq, let alone the intractable peace process. Major progress is unlikely as long as this perception persists.
Rather than an imminent two-state-solution, the reality is that a de-facto three-state solution is evolving (Israel, West Bank and Gaza). The ongoing focus on settlements obscures the truth, that until the PA becomes a functioning, united entity, a final breakthrough is not feasible. The writer is a senior fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School.
- How WikiLeaks Influence Turkey and the Middle East - Harold Rhode
People in the Middle East believe the U.S. is all-powerful, and when it chooses to, enforces order as it sees fit. To them, the release of the WikiLeaks classified documents was intentional. Among the leaked documents is one in which the U.S. Embassy in Turkey writes about rumors that Erdogan has multiple Swiss bank accounts in which he has more the $1 billion.
A large number of Middle Easterners believe the Jews run America and the world. By this logic, the best way for Erdogan to redeem himself was to find a way to ingratiate himself to the Americans and Israelis. Erdogan jumped at the opportunity to send two Turkish planes to help the Israelis put out the fire in the Carmel Mountains, a humanitarian gesture that would help Erdogan back into the good graces of the Americans and the Jews.
By personally calling Erdogan and thanking him for sending the planes, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu got credit for decency in the eyes of the world, and the Turkish nation in particular. Netanyahu also personally shook the hands of the Turkish pilots who came to Israel's rescue. Pictures of the Israeli prime minister were printed in newspapers and shown on Turkish television, demonstrating to the Turks that Netanyahu is a decent man, not the "killer" that Erdogan and his colleagues have claimed the past few years.
There has been a flurry of diplomatic activity behind the scenes between the Israelis and the Turks - seeking ways to patch up their differences. We should not be surprised if Turkish-Israeli relations markedly improve in the coming months. By "intentionally" leaking documents about Erdogan, the U.S. has, from a Middle Eastern point of view, warned him that he had better find a way to step in line. The writer, a senior advisor at the Hudson Institute-New York, served from 1994 until his recent retirement in the Pentagonís Office of Net
Assessment. (Hudson Institute-New York)
See also Turkey FM Lauds "New Era" in Relations with Israel (Reuters-Ha'aretz)
- We Are Brothers, Are We Not? - Shmuel Rabinowitz
Last week, the Palestinian Authority came out with an official declaration claiming the Western Wall - the most sacred site for the Jewish people since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE - is not a holy site for Jews.
Jews and Muslims have one God and one father. This common basis can and should be the bedding upon which peace will sprout between the two nations. But for over a century, people who do not have the belief of God in their hearts undermine the Jewish nation's affinity for its sacred sites - the Western Wall, the Cave of the Patriarchs, Rachel's Tomb, and others.
History does not need me to describe the deep and inextricable tie between the Jewish people and the Western Wall. It is proven through thousands of letters sent by Jewish pilgrims who came to the Land of Israel during our 2,000-year exile from our land. It is proven by illustrations, etches, and drawings of the Western Wall created by Jews from all corners of the globe. It is proven by the millions of Jews annually who cling to the ancient stones; that contain within them the memory of the ancient Jewish Temple that stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Believers of Islam - if you are indeed seekers of peace, do not be tempted by the slippery and destructive slope of denouncing the Jewish faith and our heritage in the land of our fathers. We share one father and one land on which we must live in peace and brotherhood before God.
The writer is the rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites.
- The Man Who Said No to Hitler - Terry Teachout
Adolf Busch, the greatest German violinist of the 20th century, is at the very top of the short list of German musicians who refused to kowtow to Adolf Hitler. This aspect of his life is described in detail in Tully Potter's Adolf Busch: The Life of a Honest Musician.
When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Hitler and his henchmen started putting into place a policy of systematic persecution of German Jews. Numerous well-known Jewish musicians, including Bruno Walter, Otto Klemperer and Emanuel Feuermann, either were forced out of their posts or quit in protest.
In April, mere weeks after Hitler seized the levers of power, the Busch Quartet decided to stop playing in Germany. Busch was the only well-known non-Jewish German classical musician to emigrate from Germany solely as a matter of principle - and one of a bare handful of non-Jewish European musicians, including Arturo Toscanini and Pablo Casals, who resolved to stop performing there for the same reason.
Virtually all of the other big names in Austro-German music stayed behind. Busch knew better. In a prophetic letter, he wrote, "Some of them believe that if they only 'play along,' the atrocities and injustice that are part and parcel of the movement will be tempered, can be turned around...they do not notice that they can only have a retarding effect, that the atrocities will still take place, only perhaps a bit later." (Wall Street Journal)
Cuba's Jewish Hostage - Editorial (Washington Post)
Raul Castro's attempt to win foreign favor and investment for Cuba's moribund economy took a particularly cynical turn on Sunday, when the dictator celebrated Hanukkah with Havana's tiny Jewish community. No mention was made of Alan P. Gross, an American who passed the holiday in a Cuban military facility, where he has been imprisoned for a year without trial because he tried to help Cuba's Jews.
- Gross, 61, a specialist in international development, traveled to Cuba under a contract from the State Department's Agency for International Development. His mission was to connect members of the Jewish community to the Internet, using laptops and satellite equipment, so that they could contact other Jewish communities and download information from sites such as Wikipedia. Though that is normal activity in most of the world - and Gross declared his garden-variety equipment to Cuban customs - he was arrested on Dec. 3, 2009. Senior Cuban officials claimed that Gross, who is himself Jewish but speaks little Spanish, was sent to Cuba as a spy. Yet a year later, not a single charge has been brought against him.
- Appeals by the State Department and congressional leaders for Gross's release on humanitarian grounds - or at least the detailing of charges against him - have fallen on deaf ears in Havana. Instead the regime appears to be intent on forcing an exchange for one or more of five Cuban intelligence agents who are serving federal prison terms after being tried and convicted on espionage charges. This makes Gross not a prisoner but a hostage - one whose continued detention is a flagrant violation of international law and human decency.
- To its credit, the Obama administration has put further improvement of relations with Cuba on hold while pressing for Gross's release. A statement released last Friday said the State Department had "made it very clear to the Cuban government that the continued detention of Alan Gross is a major impediment to advancing the dialogue between our two countries."
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