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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 23, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Katyusha Rocket Hit Haifa Oil Refineries During Second Lebanon War - Fadi Eyadat (Ha'aretz)
    A Katyusha rocket fired by Hizbullah hit an open area in the Haifa oil refineries complex during the Second Lebanon War, it was revealed Thursday.
    Kiryat Ata Mayor Ya'akov Peretz said a major disaster was narrowly averted.

Israel HighWay
- March 22, 2007

Issue of the Week:
    A Palestinian State?

Hamas TV: Four-Year-Old Daughter of Suicide Bomber Vows to Follow in Her Footsteps - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    Hamas TV on Wednesday broadcast a video of the four-year-old daughter of female suicide bomber Reem Riyashi singing to her dead mother and vowing to follow in her footsteps.
    The video clip ends as the little girl picks up a stick of explosives from her mother's drawer.
    View Video (YouTube)

New UN Rights Panel Still a Disgrace - Editorial (Chicago Sun-Times)
    The UN Human Rights Council, in its previous incarnation as the Human Rights Commission, failed miserably in addressing human rights violations.
    The supposedly reformed Council has continued issuing resolution after trumped-up resolution against Israel - eight in all, all of them unanimous, with another four planned.
    The Council plans to place Israel under permanent investigation for alleged violations of international law in Palestinian areas and to hear a report compiled by a UN special reporter that compares Israeli actions to South African apartheid.
    But what of the tactics of Hizbullah, to name just one bastion of terrorism?
    The Human Rights Council rejected a report on last year's fighting between Israel and Hizbullah in Lebanon because it listed violations by the latter as well as the former.
    Never mind that Hizbullah triggered the conflict by abducting Israel soldiers or that Israel has a right to defend itself from terrorists.
    This Council is a disgrace.

Holocaust Inversion: The Portraying of Israel and Jews as Nazis - Manfred Gerstenfeld (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The false accusation of Holocaust inversion - the portraying of Israel, Israelis, and Jews as Nazis - is a major distortion of history.
    This anti-Semitic concept claims that Israel behaves against the Palestinians as Germany did to the Jews in World War II.
    A variety of Western mainstream public figures have made Holocaust-inversion statements.
    Some Holocaust inverters aim at the destruction of Israel and seek to lay the infrastructure for its moral delegitimation through demonization.
    For Europeans it is also an effective way to cover up for Holocaust crimes of their countries and expunge guilt by claiming that what was done by the Nazi perpetrators and their many collaborators is a common phenomenon and by now is practiced by Israelis and Jews.

Israel's Sacred Golf Course - A. Craig Copetas (Bloomberg)
    Along the Sea of Galilee, New York-based Americas Partners LLP General Partner Joseph Bernstein is spending $46 million to build the first 36-hole championship golf course in Israel, atop Mount Arbel.
    On July 4, 1187, near the site of the Galilee Golf Club pro shop, Saladin, the Sultan of Egypt, Arabia, Syria and Mesopotamia, crushed the Crusader army dispatched to recapture the Holy Land.
    International investors in 2006 pumped a record $23 billion into Israel, fueling economic growth by 5.1% and pushing unemployment down to a ten-year low in the fourth quarter.

Israel: Small Country, Big Impression - Julie Burchill (Times-UK)
    In seven nights, my friend Nadia and I stayed in Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Eilat and Tel Aviv.
    And though we came back determined to return ASAP, and well aware that there was so much more to see, in no way did we feel exhausted or short-changed.
    There are lots of lies told about Israel - some of them deliberate, others are mere misunderstandings.
    "It's far away" - no, it's four hours by plane.
    "It's dangerous" - I've felt more physically threatened on Brighton sea front on a school night.
    If you want to believe them, go ahead, ignore Israel, and keep trotting back to the same old destinations you've visited a score of times.
    But you'll be missing out on supporting, in some small way, a dazzling, good-hearted country surrounded by barren theocracies who'd rather it had never existed.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • UN Security Council Nears Vote on New Iran Sanctions
    The UN Security Council will vote Saturday on a new sanctions resolution on Iran, Britain's ambassador to the UN, Emyr Jones-Parry, said Thursday. Iranian President Ahmadinejad has asked to speak to the Council ahead of a vote, and he has been granted a visa to travel to New York, but it was not clear when he might arrive. (CNN)
        See also Major Powers Submit Final Iran Draft - Alexandra Olson
    The new sanctions would ban Iranian arms exports and freeze the assets of 28 additional individuals and organizations involved in Iran's nuclear and missile programs. About a third of those are linked to the Revolutionary Guard, an elite military corps. (AP/Guardian-UK)
  • U.S. Joins Israel in Peace Effort - Salah Nasrawi
    The U.S. has quietly joined Israel in urging Arab leaders to reformulate their 2002 peace offer in an effort to end the decades-long Middle East conflict, Arab diplomats said Thursday. So far, some Arab heavyweights are publicly resisting the idea. Three Arab diplomats in different Arab capitals said Washington has been pressing for changes to make the offer in line with the "Roadmap."  (AP/Washington Post)
  • On Mideast Trip, Rice to Try a New Formula - Glenn Kessler
    Secretary of State Rice is trying to make progress on the creation of a Palestinian state, but her goals have been thwarted by the changing realities on the ground. Now Rice is headed on her fourth Middle East trip in four months with a new game plan. She still wants to coax the Israelis into giving the Palestinians what she calls a "political horizon" - the glimmerings of a Palestinian state. But, at the same time, she wants the Arabs to also sketch a "political horizon" for the Israelis - the beginnings of recognition to give the Israeli government more room to strike a deal. (Washington Post)
  • Bolton Defends Israel's War on Hizbullah - Barry Schweid
    Former UN Ambassador John Bolton on Thursday defended Israel's war with the Hizbullah militia in Lebanon last summer as legitimate and one that had the support of several Arab countries as well as the U.S. "We did not try and shape Israel's strategic objective, but we would not have opposed Israel's decision to eliminate Hizbullah," Bolton said. The fighting was touched off by Hizbullah's slaying of three Israeli soldiers and capture of two others, who are still held. Israel destroyed a significant part of Hizbullah's capacity in the war, but in the aftermath, a UN arms embargo has not been enforced and Hizbullah has been able to rearm, Bolton said. (AP/FOX News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Top Hamas Terrorist Charged with Murder of 36 Israelis - Amos Harel
    Senior Hamas terrorist Ibrahim Hamad was charged recently with the murder of 36 Israeli civilians in Jerusalem since 2002. The military court in Judea ruled that he was guilty of coordinating the suicide bombing at the Moment Cafe in which 11 people were killed; the suicide attack at the Sheffield Club in which 16 people were killed; and the bombing at Hebrew University in which 9 people were killed. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas-Fatah Tensions Simmer Despite Unity Government - Avi Issacharoff
    Despite the Mecca agreement, the hatred between Hamas and Fatah has not disappeared. On Wednesday, Hamas activists surrounded the home of Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade leader Samih al-Madhoun, fired RPG missiles at the house, and killed one of his bodyguards. The incident set off a wave of kidnappings.
        "Every day there are new violent conflicts," says A., a Gaza businessman. "Just three days ago Hamas men set fire to the shop of a CD seller in the Jabalya refugee camp for making CDs of songs supporting Mohammed Dahlan and Fatah....Ten days ago members of the Hamas Executive Force attacked the Fatah offices in Beit Hanun and destroyed them completely." BBC correspondent Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped about 10 days ago, has yet to be released. Nearly every day Palestinians are kidnapped in Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Child Killed in Renewed Palestinian Infighting - Ali Waked
    A two-year-old boy was killed in the crossfire during fighting between Hamas and Fatah on Thursday night. Hassan Abu Nada is the fifth fatality since the onset of renewed infighting on Wednesday. Clashes broke out after Rami Sarur, a member of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, was killed in Beit Lahiya on Wednesday. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Concessions on Jerusalem Explored - Eli Lake
    The Saudi initiative that would divide Jerusalem, a proposal which was endorsed by the Arab League in 2002, is expected to be a central point of discussion at an Arab League summit in Riyadh at the end of the month. After meeting Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas, Secretary of State Rice will fly to Egypt to meet her Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi, and United Arab Emirates counterparts to discuss, one State Department official said, "strategies for marketing the Arab peace offer." A State Department official said one of the goals of the meeting will be to discuss the kinds of steps they can take to persuade Israel to start new negotiations.
        Former Israeli ambassador to the UN Dore Gold said: "Those who believe that redividing Jerusalem by advancing the Saudi plan will lower the flames of radical Islamic rage have absolutely no idea of what they are dealing with. Any proposal to give the Hamas government the hope of taking over Jerusalem will shoot up jihadism in the region by giving new hope to al-Qaeda affiliates that Jerusalem is within their grasp." (New York Sun)
        See also Not a Peace Initiative, But Rather a Public Relations Stunt for America - Jacky Hogy
    The wind blowing in the last few weeks from Jerusalem concerning the Saudi initiative is not sweeping with it Prof. Joseph Kostiner from Tel Aviv University. The senior Arabist, an analyst with a world-wide reputation who specializes in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, prefers to see this peace formula sink into the dustbin of history and be replaced by another. "The Saudis themselves did not believe that Israel would accept the plan," he stresses. The authors of the initiative didn't direct it to Israeli ears at all. The 9/11 attacks created a hostile environment in the U.S. for its friends in Riyadh. "They [the Saudis] wanted to demonstrate before American public opinion their positive side. It was not coincidental that the initiative was first floated with the American newspaperman Thomas Friedman on 13 February 2002. But the strategic aim was not to reach peace, but rather to use the American conception of peace."  (Maariv-Hebrew, 23Mar07)
  • Abdullah's Chance - Thomas L. Friedman
    In recent months, we've seen Saudi Arabia publicly blast Hizbullah for launching an unprovoked war on Israel; we've seen King Abdullah forge a cease-fire between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza; we've seen him try to tame Iran's president; and there are rumors that a top Saudi official met with Israel's prime minister, Ehud Olmert. Saudi Arabia becoming more assertive could have real benefits, provided that the leader of Saudi Arabia is ready to do what the leader of Egypt did when it comes to making peace with Israel.
        What the moribund Israeli-Palestinian talks need most today is an emotional breakthrough. Another Arab declaration, just reaffirming the Abdullah initiative, won't cut it. If King Abdullah wants to lead - and he has the integrity and credibility to do so - he needs to fly from the Riyadh summit to Jerusalem and deliver the offer personally to the Israeli people. That is what Egypt's Anwar Sadat did when he forged his breakthrough.
        An Abdullah initiative delivered in this way would also be a vehicle to tell Hamas to put up or shut up. It is one thing for Hamas to reject the Oslo peace accords. But how could it reject a peace overture to Israel presented by Saudi Arabia? If the Saudi king just wants to score some points, he will hold the Arab summit, re-issue the peace plan and go home. If he wants to make history and make peace, he will hold the Arab summit, re-issue the peace plan, and deliver it in person. (New York Times, 23Mar07)
  • Assessing the New Palestinian Unity Government: A Step Forward or Back? - David Makovsky
    The terms of the Palestinian unity government end much of the residual ambiguity lingering in the wake of the Mecca accord. Those who withheld judgment amid hope that the status quo would improve are - like the Quartet members themselves - disappointed. On balance, it is difficult to view the new government as anything but a major step backward on the road to coexistence. By avoiding references to mutual recognition, the government's platform marks the increasingly Islamist tone of Palestinian politics. Expectations that Rice's trip to the Middle East would produce dramatic progress looked slim before the Palestinian unity government was formed. Given the stated platform of that government, the chances of a breakthrough at this time are virtually nil. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Ramping Up on Iran - Arnold Beichman
    In the words of Henry Kissinger: "There are all kinds of tactical discussions about how to deal with Iran....But there are a number of fundamental principles to keep in mind. If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, we will live in a new world. That is the fundamental issue we must face. And our only choice is either to prevent it, or to pay the price of not having prevented it. We have to understand how much time we have and what, in all the discussion of tactics, the penalties are that we can exact. But above all we have to know that this is not a tactical issue. This is a fundamental issue of a historical turn."
        In dealing with the Iran tyranny, prudence dictates we assume the worst, especially when no serious international inspection of Iran's nuclear program has been agreed to by the warmongering Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Because Neville Chamberlain didn't think the worst of Adolf Hitler, millions and millions of people paid a price in lives and treasure. Because we didn't think the worst of Islamofascism, the attacks of September 11, 2001, happened. Sweeping and enforceable sanctions - now - against Iran is the first step. The writer is a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. (Washington Times)
  • Putting the Impossible First - Barry Rubin
    In the Middle East, the attempt to turn radicals into moderates, terrorism into resistance, serial political murderers into negotiating partners, and situations of total anarchy into great opportunities for diplomatic progress never ends. Far too much quality time of leaders, policymakers, and diplomats is spent on the impossible - or at least highly improbable.
        Like Syria and Iran, Hamas does not want to be moderate. Unlike them, it hardly pretends otherwise. It continues to make clear its virulent anti-Semitism and goal of destroying Israel. Yet a huge amount of time and energy is going into this dead-end effort at moderating Hamas. Suddenly, at the worst possible moment in history for success, resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become the top priority for many governments. Fatah has collapsed; Hamas is extremist and believes time is on its side; and every Israeli concession has inspired escalation by the Palestinians and others. The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Pullback Unlikely - Joshua Brilliant
    A year and a half after Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza so many problems remained unresolved that analysts believe it unlikely Israel would go for a similar pullback in the West Bank. According to Hebrew University Professor Yaakov Bar-Siman-Tov, the Gaza withdrawal signaled the end of the idea of "land for peace." Bar-Siman-Tov doubted there would be another unilateral disengagement in the near future. In the past seven years Israel carried out two unilateral withdrawals: from Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza in 2005. Both did not provide peace.
        The Islamic Hamas claimed its fighters forced the Israelis out of Gaza, and Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said he believed the disengagement demonstrated Israel's weakness, Bar-Siman-Tov noted. When Hizbullah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and triggered a month-long war, "the entire strategy of a unilateral disengagement was dealt a serious blow. It was proven, for the second time, that it was ineffective (in producing peace)." Gazans have also continued cross-border attacks. (UPI)

    Weekend Features

  • New Palestinian Political Group to Advocate a Peaceful, Negotiated Settlement - Matthew Kalman
    A new Palestinian movement was launched Wednesday in Ramallah in the West Bank aimed at the moderate middle of Muslim politics. Wasatia - Arabic for "moderation" - is the first Islamic religious party to advocate a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a tolerant, democratic society at home. Political science professor Mohammed Dajani, director of the American Studies Institute at Al-Quds University in eastern Jerusalem, hopes to build Wasatia into a movement that will eventually compete with Hamas for the votes of what he calls the silent majority of Palestinians. "The new party will foster a culture of moderation and attract Palestinian voters who are moderate in their religious beliefs. The existing Palestinian Islamic parties breed radicalism and fundamentalism," Dajani said. "Charity and voluntarism - this is Islam," he said. "The creation of new jobs does not have to be related to arms and violence."
        The Wasatia platform does not endorse the return of the estimated 4 million Palestinian refugees to their homes in what is now Israel. "I would say to the refugees: 'Move on with your life.' We cannot let the past bury the future, even though it should always be remembered," said Dajani. He said most Palestinians are proud of their Muslim heritage but many are uncomfortable with the fundamentalism of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and, after years of disastrous armed resistance, are tired of their extreme militarism. "We have found that hardliners are not the majority among Palestinians," said Bashar Azzeh, a doctoral student who spent seven years in the U.S. "There is a feeling that people have tried violence, they have tried everything, and this is what we need now."
        "A moderate, centrist Islamic party will take support from Hamas voters who will not vote for secular parties," said Hanna Siniora, a veteran Palestinian publisher. But Mahdi Abdel Hadi, director of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, said that centrist parties won only 6 of 132 seats in last January's election. "Without alliances with powerful elites in society, this new initiative will be born dead," said Abdel Hadi. (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Israel Needs Good Bloggers and Jokes, Says Ex-Sharon Spokesman - Joe Eskenazi
    Former Israeli spokesman Ra'anan Gissin knows how to serve as an effective spokesman. "If you want to have your words remembered, you have to use all the tricks in the book to do that - word associations, stories, sometimes mimicking....This is a world where people zap through everything. There are 100 channels on television, and people don't remember what you say." Currently out of government, Gissin is working on a yearlong research project at the Herzliya Institute on ways to spread Israel's message despite an "indifferent and often hostile media."
        For example, Gissin said, instead of giving a diatribe about Islamic terror and Israel's virtues, why not try telling a couple of jokes? "You can make the same message by retelling 4,000 years of Jewish history and boring [your audience] or by telling two good jokes in 30 seconds." "Young people, bloggers, could do a marvelous job of this counter-insurgency warfare in the media without using weapons," he adds. (Jewish News Weekly of Northern California)
  • Observations:

    The Implications of a Nuclear Iran - Deputy Minister of Defense Ephraim Sneh
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Iranian President Ahmadinejad belongs to a school of thought which believes that the return of the Shiite messiah - the Mahdi - is supposed to happen very soon. Ahmadinejad believes he has a divine role in making this arrival concrete in our lifetime, maybe even within a few years.
    • Iran's aspiration is to build a Shiite- or Iran-dominated belt from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean. Iran is meddling in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon. In addition, Iran has its eye on the oil wealth of the Persian Gulf, and the Gulf states are scared.
    • Tehran pays 100 percent of the Islamic Jihad budget and gives a bonus for every Israeli murdered. In addition, through Hizbullah Iran pays the Al Aqsa Brigade, which belongs to Fatah in name only.
    • Iran imports 40 percent of its consumption of refined oil products. An embargo on gasoline could create a very serious problem for the regime. In addition, Iran is dependent on the flow of money and credit from Europe, which could be severed.
    • While Israel may be the first victim on Iran's list, it won't be the last. The ideology of the Iranian regime despises the entire culture which Europe and Israel share.
    • The Iranian people would prefer a different regime, but they do not see a glimmer of support from outside. The international community is evasive and aversive to confrontation with the regime. The people see that the Western democracies prefer to court the regime rather than confront it.

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