Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Assad Admits Israel Never Pledged to Cede Golan - Smadar Peri (Ynet News)
U.S. Says It Erred in Case of Gaza Strip Students (Reuters/Ynet News)
Assailants Beat Guards, Steal Bus from Christian School in Gaza (AP/International Herald Tribune)
The Gaza Breakdown - Mark Matthews (Baltimore Sun)
Chavez Pressures Venezuelan Jewish Community (Diario El Universal-Venezuela)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Syria has agreed to allow the UN nuclear watchdog agency access to the al-Kibar site on the Euphrates River, but has turned down the IAEA's request to go to at least three other facilities that U.S. intelligence says may be connected to a reactor and a clandestine nuclear weapons program. The IAEA visit to Syria is scheduled for June 22-24. "They will only go to the bombed site," said a diplomat close to the IAEA. "They did request to go to other places. It's the first visit. There will be other visits, to be sure."
"They'll want to use ground-penetrating radar to look for evidence of certain particles associated with this kind of reactor," said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security and a former UN weapons inspector. "But it's not something you do in a couple of hours." (Washington Post)
Nuclear bomb blueprints and manuals on how to manufacture weapons-grade uranium for warheads are feared to be circulating on the international black market, according to investigators tracking nuclear smuggling. Alarm about the sale of nuclear know-how follows the disclosure that the Swiss government, allegedly acting under U.S. pressure, secretly destroyed tens of thousands of documents from a massive nuclear smuggling investigation.
The information was seized from the home and computers of Urs Tinner, a Swiss engineer in custody for almost four years as a key suspect in the nuclear smuggling ring run by A.Q. Khan, which trafficked nuclear materials, equipment and knowhow to at least three countries: Iran, Libya, and North Korea. While the Tinner files, believed to number around 30,000 documents, had been shredded, "We know that copies were made," said Mark Fitzpatrick, an expert on the illicit networks at the British-based International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS). (Guardian-UK)
Hardline Sunni clerics accused Shiites Sunday of destabilizing Muslim countries and humiliating Sunnis. In a strongly worded statement, 22 clerics savaged Iranian-backed Hizbullah, saying the Lebanese Shiite group has tricked other Muslims into believing it is against Jews and Americans. A Saudi official said the clerics who issued the statement do not represent the official Saudi religious establishment, but the clerics' anti-Shiite diatribe reflects growing Sunni distrust of Shiites and Iran. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
An IDF soldier was wounded by Palestinian sniper fire near the Kissufim crossing on Tuesday during an operation to uncover explosive devices planted along the Gaza border. (Ynet News)
On the eve of his departure for Washington on Monday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert took a firm stand in defense of a peace process that included construction in eastern Jerusalem. "I believe there is no contradiction between the people of Israel's total allegiance to Jerusalem and its unity and our ambitions to create peace within it," he said at a celebration to honor the 41st anniversary of the reunification of the city. (Jerusalem Post)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that Israel has identified signs of distress coming from Hamas. Some 70 Hamas fighters have been killed during the last two months, and more than 300 have been killed during the past six months, he said. "Hamas is very stressed. The most effective action is the siege." (Ha'aretz)
Egypt has recently been attempting to thwart a proposed agreement to upgrade Israel's relationship with the EU. The proposed deal would significantly improve Israeli access to European markets, and could add billions of dollars to Israel's economy. Egyptian ambassadors in London, Paris, Brussels, Madrid, Rome and other European capitals have met with high-level foreign ministry officials in their respective countries to ask them to reconsider the agreement with Israel. Senior Israeli Foreign Ministry officials warned their Egyptian counterparts that Israel views this effort very gravely and wants it stopped.
Israel's assessment, a senior government official said, is that the Egyptian campaign constitutes retaliation for a U.S. Congress decision to freeze up to $200 million in American military aid to Egypt. Cairo blames Israel for this freeze, because Israel has frequently complained to Washington about Egypt's failure to combat arms smuggling into Gaza.
Israel also sent a formal protest to the PA Monday over a letter sent by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to the OECD, in which he asked the organization to reconsider its invitation to Israel to join. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who met Monday with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, told Abbas that Israel deems the letter completely unacceptable. (Ha'aretz)
The Israel Security Agency arrested three Israeli Arabs from Lod last month on suspicion that they planned to kidnap an Israel Defense Forces soldier, murder him, and demand the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the body. The men, activists in the Islamic movement, were indicted Monday. One of them studies sharia at a Jordanian university. (Ha'aretz)
Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket at Israel on Tuesday morning. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The return of half the Jews dispersed in the world to Israel is unprecedented, and the revival of an antique prayer language, Hebrew, is no less revolutionary. Add to these the realization of the essential conditions of serious democracies: civilian primacy over military power; the rule of independent legal institutions; an utterly free (and obstreperous) press; a plural society; and an indigenous culture open to foreign cultures.
In contrast to these achievements, the surrounding world of the Arabs is a functional and philosophical calamity. The political development of the Palestinians has shriveled. They did not take up the UN partition plan, which allotted them a state that would now also be celebrating its sixtieth anniversary. The Palestinians are as much and as little a nation as the warring tribes and clans of Africa and Pakistan. They have to make peace among themselves before they can even conceive of peace with Israel. (New Republic)
One of the most enduring myths about American politics, one laced with just the faintest hint of the world's oldest hatred, is that of the all-powerful Jewish lobby. Yet in a country as diverse as America, candidates are constantly trying to ensure that they are in the good graces of people of almost all faiths and traditions.
AIPAC is undoubtedly one of the most effective lobbying organizations in Washington. But it succeeds because very large numbers of Americans share its aims, not because it somehow strongarms politicians into supporting it. Candidates want AIPAC's approval because they know that being seen as pro-Israel is central to their foreign policy credentials. In opinion polls, Americans express overwhelming support for Israel. They see it in kindred terms - a thriving democracy forged in an inhospitable climate. (Times-UK)
UN Targets World Union for Progressive Judaism - Anne Bayefsky (New York Daily News)
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