Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Lebanon: War Could Start Again Over Shebaa Farms - Clancy Chassay (Guardian-UK)
Federal Investigators: 29 Michigan Men Tied to Hizballah - Niraj Warikoo (Detroit Free Press)
U.S. Judge Refuses to Dismiss Terror Finance Suit vs French Bank (AP/International Herald Tribune)
Jordan to Add Tower to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem (Reuters/Ynet News)
Tehran Demonstrators Hurl Firebombs at Danish Embassy (AFP/Yahoo)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Israel said on Tuesday it would not negotiate with Syria as long as the country continued to back militant groups, rebuffing remarks by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that he was ready for peace talks. Miri Eisin, a spokeswoman in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office, said that for Israel to agree to renew negotiations, Syria would first need to change "simple things - not allowing all the terrorist organizations to have their headquarters openly in Damascus....To not have the foreign minister of Syria say he wishes he could be fighting with Hizballah would be a great step in the right direction." (Reuters)
See also Syrian Leader Courts Israel Talks (BBC)
See also Peres: Syria's Assad Welcome in Jerusalem
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres said that Syria's President Bashar al-Assad was welcome to come to the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem if he wants to reach a peace agreement. "Imagine Assad would come and say 'I'm coming to the Knesset,'" Peres told Israel Television Channel One. "Wouldn't we let him come?...Why can't Assad do what others have done? Saadat came here." (AFP/Yahoo)
Qatar's foreign minister Sheik Hamad Jassim ibn Jaber al Thani cut short his mediation effort and left Gaza on Tuesday after failing to bridge differences between the ruling Hamas movement and its chief rival, Fatah. Qatar proposed a six-point deal that included a call for a two-state solution and a cease-fire with Israel. (Los Angeles Times)
See also below Observations - Intransigent Hamas: It's Easy to Call for a Middle East Peace. But What If Palestinian Leaders Don't Want It? - Editorial (Washington Post)
Under the cover of secrecy, the fundamentalist regime in Tehran is waging a sustained, bloody campaign of intimidation and persecution against its Arab minority. These Arabs believe that they are victims of "ethnic cleansing" by Iran's Persian majority. Sixteen Arab rights activists have been sentenced to death, according to reports in the Iranian media, found guilty of insurgency in secret trials before revolutionary courts. Most of the defendants were convicted on the basis of confessions extracted under torture. Ethnic Arabs comprise 70% of the population of the oil-rich province of Khuzestan, known locally as Ahwaz. In the past year, 25,000 Ahwazis have been arrested, 131 executed, and 150 have disappeared, the Ahwazi Human Rights Organization (AHRO) reports.
Nearly 250,000 Arabs have been displaced from their villages, and dozens more towns will be erased by the creation of a military-industrial security zone bordering Iraq, making a possible further 400,000 Ahwazis homeless. Tehran has a grand plan to make the Ahwazi a minority in their own land through "ethnic restructuring." Financial incentives are given to ethnic Persians to settle in Ahwaz and new townships are planned which will house 500,000 non-Arabs. (Times-UK)
Europe appears to be crossing an invisible line regarding its Muslim minorities: more people in the political mainstream are arguing that Islam cannot be reconciled with European values. "You saw what happened with the pope," said Patrick Gonman, 43, the owner of Raga, a funky wine bar in downtown Antwerp. "He said Islam is an aggressive religion. And the next day they kill a nun somewhere and make his point." His worry is shared by centrists across Europe angry at terror attacks in the name of religion on a continent that has largely abandoned it, and disturbed that any criticism of Islam or Muslim immigration provokes threats of violence.
Now those normally seen as moderates - ordinary people as well as politicians - are asking whether once unquestioned values of tolerance and multiculturalism should have limits. Former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw of Britain, a prominent Labor politician, seemed to sum up the moment when he wrote last week that he felt uncomfortable addressing women whose faces were covered with a veil. The veil, he wrote, is a "visible statement of separation and difference." (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
On Tuesday, two Palestinians who arrived at the Reihan Crossing near Jenin raised suspicion with the local Border Guard policemen manning the checkpoint. Following a search of the two, soldiers found two pipe bombs, weighing about one kilogram each. On Monday, a Palestinian man was shot and killed at the Hawara checkpoint south of Nablus after attempting to stab IDF soldiers. (Ynet News)
The Lebanese Army has confiscated arms apparently belonging to Hizballah in south Lebanon, Lebanese Defense Minister Michel al-Murr said Tuesday, but he declined to provide further details. (Ha'aretz)
Israel still enjoys the image of a regional superpower even after the campaign in Lebanon, said former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon on Tuesday. Ya'alon explained that Israel's enemies are trying to avoid a head-on confrontation with the IDF in the conventional battlefield and are targeting the civilian population instead of military installations. (Jerusalem Post)
Close to 100,000 participants, among them almost 30,000 tourists from abroad, took part Tuesday in the 49th annual Jerusalem March, a 100% increase over last year. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
As Arab and Muslim intellectuals and activists concerned about the promotion of democracy in our region, we call on America and its president to reaffirm - in words and actions - its commitment to sustained democratic reform in the Arab world. We know that some, worried by recent Islamist gains among voters in Palestine and Egypt, are having doubts about the wisdom of pushing for freedom and democracy in the Middle East. These worries are exploited by despots in the region to perpetuate the untenable status quo. Democratic participation is the only way to combat extremism and pressure all groups, including Islamists, to moderate their stance in order to maximize their share of the vote.
From an open letter to President Bush signed by 103 other Arab and Muslim activists who have worked in support of democracy (see www.islam-democracy.org). (Washington Post)
The war in Lebanon has sparked considerable Syrian political bombast directed at Israel. The Arab culture code instinctively perceives weakness and reacts to it with battle-ready arrogance. Syria does not have to definitively win a war against Israel to acquire major political gains. In October 1973, boldly initiating war and undermining Israel's military self-confidence were sufficient benefits for Syria.
Syrian aggression designed to "recover" the Golan Heights from Israeli "occupation," even without a conclusive military victory for Damascus, could nonetheless politically unfreeze the standoff between Syria and Israel, prompting Israeli territorial concessions. Assad's threat to open an insurgent guerrilla front on the Golan cannot be dismissed as haughty bravado. The writer lectures on the Middle East at Hebrew University. (Jerusalem Post)
Intransigent Hamas: It's Easy to Call for a Middle East Peace. But What If Palestinian Leaders Don't Want It? - Editorial (Washington Post)
To subscribe to the Daily Alert, send a blank email message to:
To unsubscribe, send a blank email message to: