Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 4, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel, U.S. to Boycott UN Anti-Racism Conference - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    Israel and the U.S. decided a few weeks ago to boycott the Durban II conference scheduled for early 2009.
    According to a senior government official, the joint decision was made after discussions among senior U.S. State Department and Foreign Ministry officials, and after being raised in talks between Foreign Minister Livni and Secretary of State Rice.
    Israel and the U.S. decided to make their participation in the conference conditional on guarantees the event would not become a rerun of the previous anti-Israel festival in Durban in 2001.
    "The burden of proof will be on the UN and the organizers," a Jerusalem source stated.
    On Wednesday, major U.S. newspapers ran an advertisement signed by 25 public figures calling on the government to boycott the conference.

Nationwide Drill to Simulate Missile Attack (Jerusalem Post)
    A nationwide Home Front drill simulating a surprise missile attack will be held on Tuesday, April 8. A warning siren will sound for a minute and a half.
    At Israeli schools, all pupils and teachers will immediately proceed to a protected area or shelter where they will stay for an hour.
    Schools in the communities surrounding Gaza and in Ashkelon will be exempt from the drill.

Spain Arrests Two Islamic Terror Suspects Wanted by Morocco (AP/MSNBC)
    Spanish police Tuesday arrested two Islamic terror suspects in Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, who were wanted by Morocco. One was sought over a string of suicide attacks in Casablanca in May 2003.
    The Casablanca bombings targeted a Jewish community center and cemetery, a hotel, a restaurant and a Spanish social club, and killed 33 people in addition to 12 bombers.
    Morocco's government says a terror network dismantled in February had plotted to assassinate Cabinet ministers and members of the Jewish community.

Palestinians Blow Up Monument in British War Cemetery in Gaza (Reuters)
    Palestinian gunmen blew up a 6.5-foot-high stone monument in Britain's Gaza War Cemetery on Thursday.
    The cemetery contains graves of British and other foreign soldiers who were killed in conflicts in the region from as early as World War One.

Netherlands and Denmark Fund Hate Journalism - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch/Jerusalem Post)
    The Netherlands and Denmark provide funding to a Palestinian news agency, Ma'an, that glorifies terrorists, uses biased language and promotes hatred for Israel.
    The news agency repeatedly honored murderers as "martyrs" and refers to areas of pre-1967 Israel as "occupied Palestine." Stronger anti-Israel terminology was used in its Arabic website than in its English one.

Egypt Bans Der Spiegel Issue for "Insulting Islam" (AFP)
    Egypt has ordered the seizure of a special edition of the German news magazine Der Spiegel after it was deemed to be insulting to Islam, newspapers reported on Wednesday.
    Al-Gomhuriya said the March 25 issue contends that Islam is a Christian offshoot and contains several images and comments insulting to the Prophet Mohammed.

Saudi Woman Killed for Chatting on Facebook - Damien McElroy (Telegraph-UK)
    A young Saudi Arabian woman from Riyadh was murdered by her father after she was discovered in the middle of an online conversation with a man on the social network site Facebook, the al-Arabiya website reported.

Vietnam to Open Embassy in Israel (AFP)
    Vietnam's Deputy Foreign Minister Vu Dung, on an official visit to Israel, announced that Hanoi intended to open an embassy in Tel Aviv "within several months," the Israel Foreign Ministry said Thursday.
    Although the two countries established ties in 1993 and Israel has an embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam has been represented by its embassy in Egypt.

Ohio Couple Fosters Agricultural Ties in Israel (Newark [Ohio] Advocate)
    Orville and Rachel Felumlee, of Licking County, were among 63 Ohio farmers and agricultural professionals to learn about new technologies, ideas and opportunities during a February visit to Israel sponsored by the Negev Foundation and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.

Useful Reference:

New: "Israel 60" Website (Conference of Presidents)
    Resources for celebrating Israel's 60th anniversary.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Assembling Advanced Centrifuges
    Iran has assembled hundreds of advanced centrifuges reflecting a possible intention to speed up uranium enrichment, diplomats say. One diplomat said more than 300 of the centrifuges have been linked up in two separate units in Iran's underground enrichment plant and a third was being assembled. He said the machines apparently are more advanced than the thousands already running underground. But a senior diplomat said that while the new work appeared to include advanced centrifuges, they were not the sophisticated IR-2 centrifuge that Tehran recently acknowledged testing. (AP)
  • China Denies Passing Intelligence about Iran's Nuclear Program to IAEA
    Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu on Thursday denied reports that China had provided intelligence on Iran's attempt to develop nuclear weapons to the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying the report was fabricated and born out of ulterior motives. (Xinhua-China)
  • Activists Say UN Rights Body Undermines Free Speech - Robert Evans
    International activist groups accused the UN Human Rights Council on Monday of acting as a cover for Islamic and other countries aiming to restrict free speech after the Council passed resolutions which NGOs said bowed too far to concerns about defamation of Islam. "All of the Council's decisions are nowadays determined by the interests of Muslim countries or powerful states such as China or Russia that know how to surround themselves with allies," the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said. The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) said the Council "stands exposed as no longer capable of fulfilling its central role: the promotion and protection of human rights." (Reuters)
  • Hamas Man "Killed" in PA Custody
    A group of independent Palestinian MPs investigating the death in custody of a Hamas preacher say he was tortured. Majed Barghouti, 42, died in February at a Palestinian Authority intelligence service base in Ramallah. Hassan Khreishe, MP, said, "The intelligence service and its chief [Tawfiq Tirawi] bear the moral and legal responsibility for the death." The MPs viewed Barghouti's body before burial, noting "torture marks" on the legs, back and arms. (BBC)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Sniper Attacks Israel's Public Security Minister, Wounds Aide - Amos Harel
    Public Security Minister Avi Dichter's bureau chief, Mati Gil, was wounded by Palestinian gunfire Friday while he and Dichter were touring the Givat Nazmit observation point in Kibbutz Nir Am, adjacent to the Gaza security fence. Also Friday, Palestinians opened fire on farmers working in the fields of Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha near Gaza, Army Radio reported. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Al-Qaeda Affiliate Jaish Al-Umma Claims Responsibility for Shooting (Israel Radio-Reshet Bet-Hebrew)
        See also Jaish al-Umma (Army of the Nation) - An Al-Qaeda Affiliate in Gaza - Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Former Terrorist Leader: Palestinians "Marching Toward Total Ruin" - Avi Issacharoff
    Zakariya Zubeidi, until not long ago the commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in Jenin, is no longer hiding from the Israel Defense Forces. In an interview he said, "We've shut down the Al-Aqsa part because of the conflict between Fatah and Hamas. Look, it's perfectly clear to me that we won't be able to defeat Israel." "Back in [Arafat's] day we had a plan, there was a strategy, and we would carry his orders....Everything that was done in the intifada was done according to Arafat's instructions."
        "We failed entirely in the intifada. We haven't seen any benefit or positive result from it. We achieved nothing. It's a crushing failure. We failed at the political level - we didn't succeed in translating the military actions into political achievements. The current leadership does not want armed actions....When [Arafat] died, the armed intifada died with him." "I got tired. When you lose, what can you do? We, the activists, paid the heavy price. We've had family members killed, friends. They demolished our homes and we have no way of earning a living. And what is the result? Zero. Simply zero. And when that's the result, you don't want to be a part of it any more. Lots of other people, as a result of the frustration, and because Fatah doesn't have a military wing any more, have joined the Islamic Jihad." (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Kills Three Islamic Jihad Gunmen in Gaza - Yuval Azoulay
    Israel Defense Forces troops killed three Palestinian gunmen from Islamic Jihad on Thursday in an exchange of fire during a military operation near Khan Yunis. (Ha'aretz)
  • PA Policeman Who Murdered Israeli Officer on Joint Patrol Sentenced - Efrat Weiss
    The IDF Military Court in Samaria on Wednesday sentenced Na'al Yassin, a Palestinian police officer who murdered Border Guard officer Yossi Tabijah, to a life term and an additional 30 years. On September 29, 2000, a Palestinian vehicle and an Israeli Border Guard vehicle were on a joint patrol and parked near the West Bank city of Kalkilya. Yassin exited the Palestinian vehicle and began to shoot at the Israeli vehicle, crying "Allah Akbar," killing Tabijah and wounding another Israeli officer. A representative from the prosecution said that during some of the hearings, Yassin claimed he would continue to kill after he is released from jail during prisoner exchanges. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel Still Fighting for Independence - Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Cal.)
    Israel's security situation is even more complicated now because of the split in the Palestinian government. If Israel should reach a peace agreement with the PA, it would still have to fend off the terrorist-controlled government of Gaza. Hamas must be dealt with before any agreement with the PA would have teeth.
        We are committed to the two-state solution as outlined at the Annapolis conference, but this can only be achieved when terrorism is defeated. Sixty years is long enough for a nation to fight to retain its independence. Our Arab partners, including Egypt and Jordon, need to join with the U.S. to pressure Hamas and other terrorist groups to cease and desist. The writer is a member of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
  • The Damascus Summit - Only Division and Fragmentation? - Amir Kulick
    Meetings of the Arab League have become the most important and prestigious inter-Arab institution, a symbolic affirmation of the principle of "Arab unity." Precisely for that reason, the most recent meeting in Damascus was noteworthy for the divisions among League members. 11 of the 22 invitees preferred not to come. There has never been a boycott of heads of so many central Arab states.
        The Damascus Summit may be best remembered as the most symbolically expressive manifestation of the division of the Arab world into two camps - a pro-Western one led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and an anti-Western one dominated by Iran and Syria and including Hizbullah and Hamas. What is new is that Syria, once the "beating heart" of Arab nationalism, may now be gradually making its way outside the Arab camp, replacing the Arab national identity that the regime of Hafez al-Assad worked so hard to cultivate with a new identity in which the dominant dimension is Shi'ite. If so, then the chances that Damascus will agree to cut off ties with its current allies as part of an overall Israeli-Syrian settlement are quite remote. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Real Sanctions Will Cool Off the Ayatollahs - Yossi Sarid
    The international community's weakness is revealed in all its shame when it comes to Iran and that country's nuclear option, which is slowly but surely taking shape. Iran's provocative policy is unusual in its severity: there are many conflicts and confrontations in the world, but no other country save Iran is threatening the destruction of another country. The principal actors responsible for the weakness of the international community are Russia and China. But they are not alone. Were the nations of the world to really seek to stop Iran's nuclear program, they could do so without firing a single cruise missile.
        International sanctions are a very efficient tool for dealing with "crazy states" and "leper states." Isn't it strange that thus far not a single truly painful and serious economic sanction has been leveled against Iran? Iran may be one of the largest producers of oil, but it is a big consumer of refined petroleum products that it does not itself produce. One can only imagine what would happen in that country were it to be denied refinery products in one fell swoop. (
  • The Islamists Really Are True Believers - Michael Young
    Hizbullah's secretary general, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, often mentions Israel's eventual evaporation. In 1992, following his appointment as head of Hizbullah, he described the party's long-term strategy as "fighting against Israel and liberating Jerusalem, as well as [Iran's] Imam Khomeini's proposal - namely ending Israel as a state." Academics, analysts, and journalists, particularly the Westerners among them, for whom the concept of elimination is intolerable, think much more benignly that this is a "bargaining" position. Hamas and Hizbullah are pragmatic, they will argue, so that their statements and deeds are only leverage to achieve specific political ends that, once attained, will allow a return to harmonious equilibrium. But for outside observers to ignore or reinterpret their words is both self-centered and analytically useless. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • "UK Is European Center of Anti-Semitism" - Etgar Lefkovits
    Britain has become the epicenter for anti-Semitic trends in Europe, exacerbated by a growing and increasingly radical Muslim population and the detachment of the British from their Christian roots, said Hebrew University Prof. Robert S. Wistrich at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. The Cambridge University-educated historian said anti-Semitism in Britain "has been around for 1,000 years of recorded history," noting that the expulsion of all Jews from Britain in 1290 by King Edward I was the first major expulsion of any Jewish community in Europe.
        During World War II, the British refusal to rescue the Jews of Europe and their decision to close the gates of Palestine stemmed not only from realpolitik but from anti-Semitic sentiments, he said. "Nothing was to be construed as fighting a Jewish war." Wistrich said that today's British media had an almost universal anti-Israel bias. "Palestinian terrorism is portrayed as a minor pin-prick compared to 'massive' retaliation of this 'rogue' state [Israel]," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also British Jews Are Free from Fear - British Ambassador to Israel Tom Phillips (Jerusalem Post)
        See also We're Alright, Professor Wistrich - Henry Grunwald, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews (Jerusalem Post)
  • The War Against the Jews - Melanie Phillips
    Palestinian children are taught from the cradle to hate and to murder Jews. This Nazi-style indoctrination in hatred of the Jews and incitement to murder, fired by the rocket fuel of purportedly divine authority to produce mass genocidal hysteria, is the real cause of the Middle East impasse. Yet such continuous incitement scarcely figures in the deliberations of a Western world determined to force Israel into a "compromise" with those who would destroy it. (Spectator-UK)
  • The New Generation of Anti-Semites Want to Exterminate, Not Just Excommunicate, Jews - George Jonas
    In the 21st century all anti-Semites are foes of the Jewish state. They would all dismantle Israel if they could. This hasn't always been the case. There used to be anti-Semites, especially in Europe, who wanted to induce their Jewish neighbors to return to Zion. They wanted Jews to have a country of their own, not because they liked them but because they didn't. Today's anti-Semites no longer want to exclude or exile or excommunicate. They want to exterminate. (National Post-Canada)

    Weekend Features

  • Israeli Veterans Hit the Slopes - Charles Agar
    Roni Goazlan, 35, is one of 10 wounded Israeli veterans who were in Snowmass this week for a sports clinic sponsored by the Jewish Community Center, Chabad of Aspen, and Challenge Aspen. A medic with the border patrol in Israel, Goazlan was on vacation in Jerusalem in June 2002 when he spied a suspicious man outside a crowded bus terminal. "I knew he was a suicide bomber," Goazlan said. He tackled the bomber and pushed the man against a wall just before the bomb exploded. Goazlan spent ten days in intensive care and endured 22 operations over one year and 8 months before his legs were amputated.
        "You must go on; you can't go back to the past," Goazlan said, adding that he's never felt sorry for himself over his injuries. In fact, he's got a new lease on life. "Before I was attacked, I didn't do any sports," Goazlan said. Today, he's the captain of his hometown wheelchair basketball team, he rides horses, and thanks to the folks at Challenge Aspen, he skis. (Aspen [CO] Times)
  • American Tourists Donate Blood in Israel - Daphna Berman
    The Topel family from Chicago - In Israel to celebrate their twin daughters' bat-mitzvah - toured the Old City of Jerusalem, shopped on Ben Yehuda Street, lounged by the hotel pool and rolled up their sleeves to give blood at a Magen David Adom drive. "When you give blood in Israel, it's like leaving a part of yourself behind," said Amy Topel. "We're definitely seeing an increase in the number of tourists donating blood while on vacation," said Jonathan Feldstein, the Israel representative of American Friends of Magen David Adom. "Nowhere else in the world are tourists putting blood drives on their agenda while they are on vacation."
        "There are very few things we can do as Americans to show solidarity with Israel. We can visit, we can support the economy and we can give blood. These are very tangible ways to make a contribution to the State of Israel," said Daniel Derman, a U.S. physician who hadn't given blood in 15 years until he rolled up his sleeve while on vacation last week in Jerusalem. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Archeologist Finds Artifacts from Time of Solomon's Temple - Rhonda Spivak
    Yuval Baruch, Jerusalem's district archeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority, made archeological history in October 2007 when he uncovered pottery artifacts on the site of Jerusalem's Temple Mount dating from the time of King Solomon's Temple (the First Jewish Temple). "The Muslim Waqf does not allow Israeli archeologists to conduct any excavations on the site. But I got access to a small tunnel where electrical cables run....I was not supposed to be left there alone, as the Waqf always has someone present when Israeli archeologists are on the site....By chance the Arab electrical workers left me and a member of my staff for about 15 minutes while they went to pray. When I was alone in that brief time, I found the pottery shards among dust near the bedrock level," he says.
        Baruch's findings include ceramic bowl rims, bases and body shards; the base of a juglet used to pour oil; the handle of a small juglet; and the rim of a storage jar. The finds are dated from eight- to six-century BCE. In particular, the bowl shards were decorated with wheel burnishing lines characteristic of the First Temple Period. (Canadian Jewish News)
  • Observations:

    Arab-Israeli Journalist: Education on Peace Is the Key to Resolving Conflict - Anastasia Strgar (University of Oregon Daily Emerald)

    • In light of the continuing stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians, Arab-Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh told a University of Oregon audience he believes that change must come from teaching the next generation of children not to hate their neighbors.
    • Although Abu Toameh started out as a correspondent for a Palestine Liberation Organization newspaper, he found the job too restricting. "It is not a secret that Palestine has no free media," said Abu Toameh, and the PLO censored much of his work. After being offered a position at the Jerusalem Post, it took him only 20 seconds to decide to take the job.
    • To achieve peace, Abu Toameh emphasized educating the next generations of Palestinians to be more accepting of their Israeli neighbors.
    • He said Israel has changed a lot in the last 15 years. "If you had told me 16 years ago that Israel would have brought the PLO to the West Bank and moved 10,000 Jewish refugees from the Gaza Strip, I would have asked you what kind of medication you were on," Abu Toameh joked.
    • One audience member asked how many generations will need to be educated before peace can ever be found; he replied, at least two, if not three.

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