Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 26, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Google Earth and the Campaign to Wipe Israel Off the Virtual Map - Andre Oboler (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Virtual Israel, as represented by Google Earth, is littered with orange dots, many of which claim to represent "Palestinian localities evacuated and destroyed after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war." Thus, Israel is depicted as a state born out of colonial conquest rather than the return of a people from exile.
    Each dot links to the "Palestine Remembered" site, where further information advancing this narrative can be obtained.
    Many of the claims staked out in Google Earth present misinformation, and sites known to be ruins in 1946 are claimed to be villages destroyed in 1948. Arab villages which still exist today are listed as sites of destruction.
    The Google Earth initiative is not only creating a virtual Palestine, it is creating a falsification of history.
    The concept of "replacement geography" replaces the historical connection of one people to the land with a connection between another people and the land.
    The inclusion of virtual Palestine, superimposed on Israel in the core layer of Google Earth, is an example of replacement geography advanced by technology.
    Those wishing to explore Israel in Google Earth are immediately taken to a politically motivated narrative unrelated to their quest. Google should remove the narrative and treat Israel as it treats every other country on the globe.
    The core layer of Google Earth should be ideology free and not serve as a platform for indoctrination or a campaign to wipe Israel off the virtual map.

Saudis Holding Hundreds Linked to Al-Qaeda (AP/New York Times)
    Saudi authorities have arrested and detained 520 people so far this year who are suspected of having links to al-Qaeda, the Saudi Interior Ministry said Wednesday.
    The ministry said some of those arrested had been plotting bomb attacks against an oil installation and "a security target."
    Police found money, weapons and ammunition owned by the suspects, who had buried some of it in remote areas.
    The men, who are from Africa, Asia and other regions, were organized into cells whose leaders were based outside Saudi Arabia.

Iranian Engineer Pleads Guilty in Nuke Plant Case (AP)
    Mohammad Reza Alavi, 50, an Iranian engineer, pleaded guilty Tuesday to transporting stolen property he obtained at a former job at the largest nuclear plant in the U.S.
    Alavi, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Iran, worked for the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station west of Phoenix for 17 years.
    When he quit in 2006, he brought a laptop to Iran containing training software with design schematics and other details of the plant.

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

  • Hamas Says It Will Not Police Truce with Israel - Ibrahim Barzak
    Hamas leader Khalil al-Haya said the group will not act to confront Palestinian militants who breach the truce with Israel, after Gaza militants fired three rockets into southern Israel Tuesday, lightly wounding two Israelis. Hamas said it was exerting pressure on Islamic Jihad, which claimed responsibility for the attack, to stop the rocket fire, but al-Haya said Hamas forces would not confront rocket launching squads on the ground. "Hamas is not going to be a police securing the border," he added. "No one will enjoy a happy moment seeing Hamas holding a rifle in the face of a resistance fighter." (AP)
  • UN Expert: Deeper Syrian Nuclear Inquiry Needed - George Jahn
    An initial probe of an alleged Syrian nuclear facility hit by Israeli warplanes was inconclusive and further checks are necessary, a senior UN atomic inspector said Wednesday. Olli Heinonen, a deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said "there is still work that needs to be done" in following up on the claims that Syria was hiding elements of a potential nuclear arms program. (Washington Times)
  • Presbyterians Debate Anti-Israel Measures - Josh Gerstein
    A Presbyterian Church committee on peacemaking Tuesday signaled a reluctance to re-embrace a divestment initiative that the church adopted in 2004, voting 32-23 to strike language that would authorize a council of church leaders to carry out divestment without further approval from the general assembly. However, the committee voted 38-26 to endorse a peace proposal that includes a Palestinian Arab "right of return," that Jewish leaders contend would lead to the demise of Israel as a Jewish state.
        A former American negotiator in the Middle East, Dennis Ross, warned against taking the Palestinian side in a videotaped message to delegates. Ross said, "I find the resolution on divestment from companies doing business with Israel and the others that criticize Israel to be divorced from reality. They don't take into account the price the Israelis have paid or the concessions they made or the many times the Israelis in negotiations have been prepared to go very far and not found responsiveness on the other side." (New York Sun)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Two Years in Terrorist Captivity
    On June 25, 2006, IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was abducted on the Israeli side of the border with Gaza. Hamas must allow the International Red Cross to immediately visit Gilad Shalit and to allow him to receive proper medical attention. Almost two years have passed since the unprovoked abduction of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser on the Israeli side of the Lebanese border on July 12, 2006. To date no word has been heard from the two captive soldiers. Especially grave is the fact that these unprovoked abductions were carried out on sovereign Israeli territory.
        Taken from their families almost two years ago, these captive soldiers are denied the most basic of human rights. The terrorist organizations that carried out these abductions, and Syria and Iran who support them, behave as if these human rights are nothing more than a bargaining chip in their game of negotiation. Neither Israel nor any other civilized, law abiding country can accept this situation. We urge you to support us in our endeavor - to bring our soldiers home. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • The Gaza Lull - Alex Fishman
    Hamas is no longer smuggling huge amounts of weapons into Gaza. It simply doesn't need to. Since the Gaza pullout in 2005, more than 120 tons of explosives have made their way in; more than 1,000 machine guns, 32,000 Kalashnikovs, 4,000 RPG launchers, hundreds of rockets, dozens of anti-aircraft missiles, and several hundred mortar shells. These are astronomical quantities for a military organization which has only 11,000 people who can operate weapons.
        Today, weapon smuggling in Gaza is a professional, state-run business, sponsored largely by Iran. Tehran sees Hamas as a long-term investment - much like Hizbullah. The smuggling operation is a huge, well-oiled machine which cannot be stopped by a verbal agreement with Egypt. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Can Sarkozy Trigger Changes in Israeli-Arab Relations? - Zhang Yanyang
    After French President Nicolas Sarkozy's visit to Israel, former Israeli ambassador Freddy Eytan, who heads the Israel-Europe project at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, sees Sarkozy's initiative to create a Mediterranean Union in hopes of fortifying ties with North-African states, several of which are opposed to Israel's involvement in the union, as a great initiative for economic cooperation which can serve as a basis for political stability. "It is important to have an economic project joining people," he said. "When you have economic cooperation, it is easier to find common ground politically."
        Eytan believes, however, that Sarkozy's proposal to divide Jerusalem between Israel and a Palestinian state is unrealistic. "No Israeli government, either the left or the right constituencies, would support a one capital, two-state solution," Eytan said. "Any government would be opposed to this formula." (Xinhua-China)
        See also A Leadership Role for France - Irwin Cotler (Jerusalem Post)
  • Tactical Hudna and Islamist Intolerance - Denis MacEoin
    Hudna is the first word used in Muslim history to mean cease-fire, specifically in the context of the seventh century Truce of al-Hudaybiyya. Named after a village outside Mecca, the truce came six years after Muhammad and his followers abandoned Mecca for Yathrib, today's Medina. This move set a pattern of retreat followed by regrouping and rearming, which permits an attack on the territory previously left behind. Muhammad and the rulers of Mecca negotiated a truce, the essence of which was to permit the Muslims to return unarmed on pilgrimage each year for the next decade. It came to an end two years later, however, when Muhammad entered Mecca with a small, armed force and took the city peacefully. Hudna, in other words, amounted to a temporary truce.
        For Muslims, the challenge is to move from a worldview that sees all other religions and all non-Muslim people as inferior, Satanic, ignorant, and subject to Muslim conquest to one that coheres more closely with modern thinking, where religious hatred is increasingly relegated to the history books. The extent of Islamic terrorism, and the gulf between Islamic thinking on human rights and the norms of the original Declaration of Human Rights, justify concentration on Islamic intolerance as a special problem. The writer holds a Ph.D. in Persian studies from the University of Cambridge, is currently the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newcastle University, and is author of The Hijacking of British Islam (2007). (Middle East Quarterly)
  • Acknowledging the Plight of Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries - Lyn Julius
    This week, before an audience of peers and MPs, an 80-year-old Jewish refugee named Sarah told the story of her traumatic departure from Egypt in 1956 in the wake of the Suez crisis. She departed with nothing - along with 25,000 other Jews expelled by Nasser and forced to sign a document pledging that they would never return. Sarah was speaking at a House of Lords briefing as part of the Justice for Jews from Arab Countries congress.
        JJAC, an international coalition of 77 organizations, held its inaugural congress in London to highlight the neglected rights of (according to indisputable UN figures) 856,000 Jewish refugees like Sarah. The Jewish "catastrophe" not only emptied cities like Baghdad (a third Jewish); it tore apart the cultural, social and economic fabric in Arab lands. Jews lost homes, synagogues, hospitals, schools, shrines and deeded land five times the size of Israel. Their ancient heritage - predating Islam by 1,000 years was destroyed. (Guardian-UK)
  • Observations:

    Coalition of the Ineffectual - Richard Perle (Washington Post)

    • Secretary of State Rice can rightly claim to have forged a coalition on Iran, but Rice's coalition has failed to slow, much less halt, Iran's unrelenting nuclear weapons program or diminish its support for terrorist groups.
    • At least half its members - Germany, Russia and China - are maneuvering for self-serving advantage in their dealings with the mullahs in Iran. Russia continues to assist Iran's nuclear program while selling Iran advanced weapons. China is prowling for oil deals and selling advanced weapons. German businessmen fill the lobbies of Iranian hotels.
    • For their part, the Iranians are relentlessly building a nuclear weapons program while supporting terrorism and subversion in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Israel.
    • Coalitions, even successful multilateral ones, are important and sometimes essential, but they are not, and must not be seen as, ends in themselves. Confusion on this point can lead to claims of success when failure is staring you in the face. We have a multilateral coalition. It is "united." But it has not, and almost certainly will not, do the thing for which it has arduously been put together.
    • Seven and a half years after denouncing Iran's nuclear weapons program, the president and his coalition can only look on while the Iranians rush to the finish line.

      The writer, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, was assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration.

          See also Diplomacy Must Work - British Foreign Secretary David Miliband
      We've been pursuing the diplomatic track for several years, we've had four Security Council resolutions, and yet the Iranian regime is still busy installing new centrifuges. (International Herald Tribune)

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