Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 2, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Jerusalem Should Stay Entirely Under Israeli Control - U.S. National Survey (Israel Project)
    Results of a poll of 800 likely U.S. voters conducted on March 18-20, 2008:
    Should Jerusalem stay entirely under Israel's control since Israel keeps all the Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy sites open and safe for all faiths?
    63% support an Israeli Jerusalem, 20% support a divided Jerusalem.
    Do you believe Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank are justified to protect Israeli citizens from terrorism?
    77% justified, 15% not justified.
    If nothing else works to stop missile attacks against Israel from Gaza, should Israel use its military to re-occupy Gaza?
    60% agree, 32% disagree.
    See also Poll: Americans View Iran, Hamas, PA, and Hizbullah as Extremists - Greer Fay Cashman (Jerusalem Post)
    According to the Israel Project poll, 84% of Americans view Iran as extreme. Hamas was seen as extreme by 72%. The Palestinian Authority was considered an extremist organization by 68%, while 64% saw Hizbullah as extreme.
    65% thought America would be less safe if Iran succeeds in developing a nuclear bomb, while 34% assumed there would be no change.

Saudi Arabia's Top Cleric Denies Inviting Israelis to Interreligious Talks (Jerusalem Post)
    Saudi Arabia's highest religious authority, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh, told the Saudi paper Al-Riyadh that reports that he invited Israeli religious representatives to attend an interreligious conference in Riyadh were "baseless," Israel Radio reported Wednesday.
    Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said last week that the country's top clerics had given him the green light to pursue interfaith dialogue with Christians and Jews. However, he did not say that Israeli representatives would be invited.

Arab Rights Groups Slam Saudi Death Fatwa - Andrew Hammond (Reuters)
    Over 100 Arab rights groups and intellectuals on Tuesday condemned a Saudi religious edict calling for the death of two writers for apostasy.
    Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak, viewed by Islamists as the leading independent authority of "Wahhabism," ruled last month that two newspaper columnists should be put to death if they did not renounce their "heretical articles" questioning the view that Christians and Jews should be considered unbelievers.
    "All we can see in this fatwa is intellectual terrorism which sees 'Islam' as its exclusive monopoly and only sees in the 'other' blood which can be shed freely," said the group's statement.

Key Links 
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • House of Representatives Recognizes Jewish Refugees from Arab Lands
    The U.S. House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution Tuesday urging the U.S. government to ensure that the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab lands be recognized in any final peace deal between Israel and the Arabs. (JTA)
        See also U.S. Congress Recognizes Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries for First Time - Shlomo Shamir
    According to the unprecedented resolution, U.S. officials involved in Middle East peace negotiations which also reference the Palestinian refugee question are to "also include a similarly explicit reference to the resolution of the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries." "Jewish refugees outnumbered Palestinian refugees, and their forced exile from Arab lands must not be omitted from public discussion on the peace process," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). (Ha'aretz)
        See also The Palestinian Refugee Issue: Rhetoric vs. Reality - Sidney Zabludoff
    Number of Jewish refugees in 1948 and following years: close to 1,000,000. Number of Palestinian refugees in 1948: 550,000, plus 100,000 (net) in 1967. Jewish refugees' assets lost in Middle East and North Africa: $6 billion. Palestinian refugees' assets lost: $3.9 billion (in 2007 dollars). The writer is an international economist who has worked on numerous economic issues at the CIA, White House, and Treasury, as well as issues of restitution of assets stolen by the Nazis. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
  • Some U.S. Exports Veer Off Course from Dubai to Iran - Eric Lipton
    Roadside bombings of American troops in Iraq were occurring with unnerving regularity when military investigators made a disturbing discovery: American-made computer circuits sold to a trading company in the United Arab Emirates had turned up in the bomb detonators. Last year the Bush administration cited the diversion of the computer circuits to Iran, and eventually Iraq, as proof that the UAE was failing to prevent American technology from slipping into the wrong hands, and it is unclear that much has changed. Administration officials said aircraft parts, specialized metals and gas detectors that have a potential military use had also moved through Dubai, one of the emirates, to Iran, Syria or Pakistan.
        As many as 400,000 Iranians live in the emirates, many of them traders who track down goods in the sprawling consumer bazaar of Dubai and then re-export them to Iran, at times ignoring UN trade sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program and a broader U.S. embargo. "This was a huge sieve," said Lisa A. Prager, a former top Commerce export control official. "Almost nothing that said it was going to UAE was staying in UAE." (New York Times)
  • Muslims Battle West at UN Over Free Speech - Eliane Engeler
    Muslim and Western nations clashed at the UN on Tuesday after a measure backed by Islamic countries added monitoring religious prejudice to the duties of the UN investigator on freedom of opinion and expression, responsible for reporting on repressive governments' restriction of free speech. The change sponsored by Egypt and Pakistan now requires him to also report acts that constitute "abuse of the right of freedom of expression." The change was seen as a move against forms of expression that have offended Muslims, such as cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
        The U.S., Canada and some European countries said the measure could curtail freedom of expression and help dictatorial regimes block dissenting views. "The resolution adopted attempts to legitimize the criminalization of expression," said U.S. Ambassador Warren W. Tichenor. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Intelligence: Hizbullah Is Growing Stronger - Yuval Azoulay
    Intelligence officers told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday that Hizbullah "is growing stronger on all levels, improving its systems, its units and is receiving a great deal of weapons and missiles for medium and long distances. Hizbullah is readying itself for an escalation that may break out in the North as a result of an operation against Israel." "Hizbullah is operating in southern Lebanon [south of the Litani river], mostly in the villages, in secret and in civilian garb." (Ha'aretz)
  • Egypt Arrests Hamas Man for Plotting to Kill Fatah Official - Roee Nahmias
    A Hamas gunman was arrested in Egypt for plotting to assassinate a senior Fatah official who was visiting the country, the London-based newspaper Al-Hayat reported Tuesday. Egyptian sources said that at the time of his arrest, Ayman Nufel was in possession of an automatic assault rifle and explosives. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Mortar Attack on Israeli Kibbutz Wounds Two - Mijal Grinberg
    Two people were wounded Tuesday when Palestinians in Gaza fired a mortar shell at Kibbutz Netiv Ha'asara. The mortar shell also damaged a building and a power line. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hatred of the Jewish People - Michael Gove
    In 2006, Israel came under attack from the Lebanese-based terror group Hizbullah. Its leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, is on record as saying: "If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice, I do not say the Israeli."
        Anti-Semitism is finding new allies, making new connections, gathering new force. Learned magazines devote thousands of words to the pernicious nature of Jewish influence on Western governments, and senior commentators then celebrate the delicious courage of this novel argument. Academics, without apparently being conscious of the irony, argue for a boycott of Israeli thinkers in the name of freedom. It is one of the grave distempers of our times, this prejudice towards the Jewish people, their nation and their collective identity. And one of the tasks of our times is its exposure, its combating and its defeat. (Times-UK)
  • An Exaggerated Film on Muslim Incitement - Manfred Gerstenfeld
    Less than 24 hours after the "Fitna" (strife) documentary was posted on the Internet, one third of the Dutch population had seen it. The film, made by Geert Wilders, addresses extreme violence, incitement and hatred emanating from the Muslim world. The movie's strength is the cumulative effect of mass murders, incitement and hatred all shown within a few minutes and all resulting from the same worldview. Where it goes radically wrong is by suggesting that the Koran must necessarily lead to these crimes and that all Islam is violent. Its reprehensible exaggeration makes Wilders and the movie an easy target for criticism, creating a heyday for appeasers and deniers. He has squandered part of his unique opportunity to expose the Muslim violence issue effectively and concisely worldwide. The writer directs the Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism project at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    IDF: World Health Organization Report "Completely Wrong" - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)

    • A World Health Organization (WHO) report that sharply criticized the IDF's screening of Palestinians who seek medical treatment in Israeli hospitals was flatly rejected by defense officials on Tuesday.
    • Col. Nir Press, commander of the IDF's Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration, said that of the five cases presented in the report of Palestinians who died while waiting for permits to travel to Israel for treatment, each of the Palestinians mentioned in the report had in fact received permits.
    • One such case was of Mona Nofal, 34, who died of cancer in Gaza in November. Press pointed out that Nofal had in fact been treated in Israeli hospitals in July, August and October. Hamas used Nofal's case to blame Israel when in fact she had died of cancer and not because of Israeli policies.
    • Press said that while the IDF was stringent with its screening of sick Palestinians - due to daily terror attacks in Gaza and attempts to smuggle suicide bombers into Israel this way - over 90% of the requests to visit Israeli hospitals were approved.
    • In 2007, 7,226 permits were granted, an increase of over 50% from 2006 when 4,754 were allowed in. The 10% denied permits - due to security threats - are given the opportunity to go to Jordan or Egypt.
    • "Despite the non-stop rocket fire, Israel is doing all it can when it comes to allowing sick Palestinians into Israel," Press said.

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