Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 12, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel to Respond to U.S. "Benchmarks" Document Before PM Goes to U.S. - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    In its formal response to a U.S. document on access and movement in the territories, Israel will say that it had already carried out steps aimed at improving the situation at the Gaza crossings, that it was in the process of removing or changing various West Bank roadblocks, but that it was unable to agree to a truck route between the West Bank and Gaza due to security concerns, senior government sources said.
    According to sources in the Prime Minister's Office, Israel's formal response to the "benchmarks" document will come before Prime Minister Olmert leaves for the U.S. on Saturday night.
    The document, written in April by U.S. security coordinator Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones, and U.S. Consul-General in Jerusalem Jacob Walles, sets deadlines for steps that both Israel and the Palestinians are expected to carry out.

CAIR Membership Falls 90% Since 9/11 - Audrey Hudson (Washington Times)
    Membership in the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has declined more than 90% since the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to tax documents which show that the number of reported members spiraled down from more than 29,000 in 2000 to fewer than 1,700 in 2006.
    The organization relies on about two dozen donors a year to contribute the majority of the money for CAIR's budget, which reached nearly $3 million last year.

Palestinians Shot by Their Own Side, Healed by Israel - Charles Levinson (Sunday Telegraph-UK)
    In Gaza, Aref Suleiman was raised on Palestinian struggle against the Jewish state. Today he lies in an Israeli hospital bed in Ashkelon, his body riddled with Palestinian bullets, his wounds tended daily by Israeli nurses.
    "Palestinians shoot me and Jews treat me," he laughs bitterly. "It was supposed to be different."
    "The Jews are like honey, like flowers," he says. "They wash me, clean me, and change my gown every day. Even in my home, my own family wouldn't change me every day."
    See also Nowhere Safe for Gaza Residents - Sarah El Deeb (AP/Washington Post)
    As the power struggle between Hamas and Fatah turns increasingly brutal, no one is safe.
    Gazans won't discuss politics anymore, for fear of retribution. Ambulance drivers are reluctant to answer emergency calls because they don't know which checkpoint they might come across along the way.
    "There's a blanket of fear around the city," said human rights activist Raji Sourani.

Controversial Professor Denied Tenure at DePaul - Ron Grossman (Chicago Tribune)
    Norman Finkelstein, a DePaul University faculty member with outspoken views on Israel and Jewish issues, has been denied tenure.
    DePaul Dean Chuck Suchar of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences said he found Finkelstein's attack-style scholarship inconsistent with the university's commitment to respect for the views of all.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Security Council Concerned by Arms Traffic from Syria - Evelyn Leopold
    The UN Security Council backed the Lebanese government on Monday in its battle against Palestinian militants. The council also expressed "deep concern at mounting information by Israel and other states of illegal movements of arms in Lebanon, and in particular across the Lebanese-Syrian border," said a statement read by Belgium's UN ambassador Johan Verbeke, this month's council president.
        The council issued the statement after hearing from UN Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, who later told reporters he drew an "alarming and deeply disturbing picture" of "a steady flow of weapons and armed elements across the border from Syria." In its statement, the council regretted that "the disbanding and disarming of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militia" had not been carried out, an obvious reference to Hizbullah. (Reuters)
        See also Olmert Will Urge Bush to Prevent Smuggling of Weapons to Hizbullah - Ronny Sofer
    Israel is expected to raise the issue of the rearming of Hizbullah and the incessant smuggling of weapons into Lebanon during Prime Minister Olmert's meeting in Washington with President Bush next Tuesday. The UN peace-keeping forces mandate in Lebanon is set to be renewed in two months' time, and Israel is looking to take advantage of the opportunity to change the situation on the ground, as Hizbullah has improved its capabilities. Intelligence officials said that Israel's main concern was over Hizbullah possessing a long-range missile called the Fatah-110, which could reach Tel Aviv.
        A senior diplomatic official said that the embargo is not being enforced due to the phrasing of a clause in the UN mandate that states that the Lebanese prime minister can ask for international forces to deploy along the border with Syria. However, Lebanon's prime minister is in no hurry to do so. Israel will ask the U.S. to use its influence on Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora to have him deploy peace-keeping forces along the border as one of the conditions of renewing the UNIFIL forces mandate in August. (Ynet News)
  • British Academics' Boycott of Israel Provokes Reaction - Matthew Taylor, Suzanne Goldenberg and Rory McCarthy
    Few could have predicted the scale of the backlash to the University and College Union's resolution to boycott Israel. Tony Blair phoned the Israeli prime minister to reassure him that the motion did not reflect wider public opinion. In Israel, MPs began drafting a bill to label British imports - allowing consumers to stage their own counter boycott. In the U.S., 2,000 American scholars - including at least nine Nobel laureates - have vowed to stay away from any event from which Israelis are excluded.
        Prominent lawyer and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz says he has mustered a team of 100 high-profile lawyers on both sides of the Atlantic to "devastate and bankrupt" anyone acting against Israeli universities. Prominent UK lawyer Anthony Julius said Israel was being treated in a way reminiscent of the anti-Semitism of the medieval Christian church. "I sometimes think that Jews born in the 1940s and 1950s have been living through a golden period, but that the closed season on Jews has now come to an end." (Guardian-UK)
        See also University of Miami President Donna Shalala Supports Israeli Academics (Miami Herald)
        See also Petition of Solidarity with Israeli Academics (Scholars for Peace in the Middle East)
  • New York Eyes Divestment from Companies with Iran Links - Reid Epstein
    The New York State Pension Fund should divest itself from companies that do business in Iran, state Sen. Craig Johnson said Sunday as he announced the introduction of a bill that allows the state comptroller to pull the investments. A similar bill regarding investments in Sudan has passed the Senate and is pending in the Assembly. (Newsday)
        See also NY Pension Fund Targets Sudan - Jessica M. Pasko
    New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli on Monday proposed using New York's state pension fund to increase pressure on the Sudanese government to end the bloodshed in Darfur. At least eight states, including California, have already begun selling off Sudan-related investments. (AP/Houston Chronicle)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • 17 Palestinians Killed in Gaza Infighting - Avi Issacharoff
    Rival Palestinian gunmen exchanged fire at two Gaza hospitals, and Cabinet ministers fled their weekly meeting after the government headquarters was hit in a crossfire Monday, in the latest round in an increasingly brutal power struggle between Hamas and Fatah. In all, 17 Palestinians were killed Monday and early Tuesday, including three shot dead in Beit Hanoun Hospital in northern Gaza. At Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, combatants fired mortars, grenades and assault rifles.
        Gunmen from Hamas killed Jamal Abu al-Jediyan, Secretary General of the Fatah movement in northern Gaza and a co-founder of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade. Palestinian sources said al-Jediyan, a close associate of Mohammed Dahlan, had been executed outside his home. Fatah spokesman Maher Mikdad pledged revenge, and in a message, Fatah called on its members to target all Hamas political and military leaders. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Gunmen Fire RPG at Hamas Prime Minister's House - Ali Waked
    Gunmen fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the home of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Tuesday, damaging the building but causing no casualties. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Rocket Injures Israeli at Negev Factory - Mijal Grinberg
    An Israeli was hurt by shrapnel on Tuesday when a rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza hit the Sha'ar Hanegev industrial zone. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Evils of Holocaust Denial - Abdurrahman Wahid and Israel Lau
    Holocaust denial is gaining currency among millions of people who are either ignorant of history or are being misled by their media, their governments or their own religious authorities. By lying about the events of the past, the deniers are paving the way toward the crimes of the future. The real purpose of Holocaust denial is to degrade and dehumanize the Jewish people. By denying or trivializing the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis and their allies, the deniers are seeking to advance their notion that the victims of the 20th century's greatest crime are, in fact, that century's greatest victimizers. Holocaust denial is the most visible symptom of an underlying disease - the inability (or unwillingness) to recognize the humanity of others.
        Wahid is the former president of Indonesia. Lau, a survivor of the Buchenwald concentration camp, is the former Chief Rabbi of Israel. A conference of religious leaders opened on June 12 in Bali, Indonesia, on "Tolerance Between Religions: A Blessing for All Creation," cosponsored by LibForAll Foundation, the Wahid Institute, and the Museum of Tolerance. (Wall Street Journal, 12Jun07)
  • The Guidebook for Taking a Life - Michael Moss and Souad Mekhennet
    We were in a small house in Zarqa, Jordan, trying to interview two heavily bearded Islamic militants about their distribution of recruitment videos when one of us asked one too many questions. "He's American?" one of the militants growled. "Let's kidnap and kill him." But before anyone could act on this impulse, the rules of jihadi etiquette kicked in. You can't just slaughter a visitor. You need permission from whoever arranges the meeting. And in this case, the arranger who helped us to meet this pair declined to sign off. "He's my guest," Marwan Shehadeh, a Jordanian researcher, told the bearded men.
        The rules of jihad etiquette have some general themes. Suicide bombers have long been called martyrs, a locution that avoids the Koran's ban on killing oneself in favor of the honor it accords death in battle against infidels. Here are five of the more striking jihadi tenets, as militant Islamists describe them:
    Rule No. 1: You can kill bystanders without feeling a lot of guilt.
    Rule No. 2: You can kill children, too, without needing to feel distress.
    Rule No. 3: Sometimes, you can single out civilians for killing; bankers are an example.
    Rule No. 4: You cannot kill in the country where you reside unless you were born there.
    Rule No. 5: You can lie or hide your religion if you do this for jihad. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    A Culture of Violence Rules the Palestinian Territories - Kamal Gabriel
    (MEMRI/Elaph-Arabic (UK))

    • The all-against-all infighting and its basic code have become the mental and psychological makeup of the Palestinian people, as a natural result of the predominant discourse of hostility and incitement. This discourse has been adopted by Palestinians of all persuasions and in all the factions religious, pan-Arab revolutionary, and leftist. It is a discourse whose aim was sowing hatred, having recourse to violence, and enjoying spilling blood.
    • At first it was directed against the so-called Israeli enemy, and it uprooted any possibility of or tendency towards rational mutual comprehension or of recourse to discussion, dialogue, and negotiation - what is known as peaceful resolution - and it raised the slogan of "clinging to the choice of resistance." But one clings to goals, not methods, and resistance (meaning armed resistance) cannot, psychologically and culturally, be the only choice for peoples to achieve their goals, without there being any alternative.
    • The discourse of violence had already managed to be the only one on the scene, which was emptied of any counter-discourse when the rational thinkers fled or were forced to keep out of sight - amidst the vast flood of feelings of violence that began to sweep away everything in its path.
    • The predominant discourse of violence, most of which was formed by the religious discourse, was not the discourse of a means that attempts to achieve a goal, but rather was a discourse of violence and sacred killing in the name of jihad.
    • This was translated into political language in the slogan that the Arab-Israeli struggle is an existential struggle, and not a struggle over borders, and its implementation in practice was the so-called martyrdom-seeking operations for killing Israeli civilians. The hatred was transformed from hatred of Zionism to hatred of Jews - "the sons of apes and pigs."
    • Perhaps no one has noticed that when you take an individual or a group away from the culture of using reason and peaceful dialogue, and replace it with the culture of violence and of killing those who are different, you cannot then afterwards control it and direct it to be used against one single side.

      The writer is a liberal Egyptian author.

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