Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 15, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Hugo Chavez's Jewish Problem - Travis Pantin (Commentary)
    Hugo Chavez is in possession of the largest proven oil reserves of any country in the Western hemisphere. At current production levels and prices Venezuela's oil revenues may top $250 million daily.
    He has aligned his government with regimes and terror groups that would otherwise seem to hold little attraction for a Spanish-speaking South American country.
    These include Libya, Syria, Hizbullah, and Hizbullah's patron Iran. Virtually alone among world leaders, Chavez is an impassioned defender of Tehran's right to pursue nuclear technology.
    There is something else, aside from simple anti-Americanism, at work in Chavez's foreign policy.
    Since he took office in 1999, there has been an unprecedented surge in anti-Semitism throughout Venezuela.
    Government-owned media outlets have published anti-Semitic tracts with increasing frequency. Pro-Chavez groups have publicly disseminated copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
    Prominent Jewish figures have been publicly denounced for supposed disloyalty to the "Bolivarian" cause, and "Semitic banks" have been accused of plotting against the regime.
    Venezuela's Jewish community, amounting to less than one percent of the country's total population of 26 million, is among the oldest in South America, dating back to the early 19th century.
    One-third of Venezuela's Jews have fled the country by now, and those who remain are in a state ranging from discomfiture to terror.

Arab Media Blind to Darfur - Salah Khadr (Al-Jazeera-Qatar)
    More than 200,000 people have died in the conflict in Darfur, with millions more turned into refugees, but for many in the Arab world, the humanitarian catastrophe may as well not exist.
    Lawrence Pintak, a journalist and Arab media expert, says the problem with Darfur is that it does not fit the template of Arabs being the victims and other people the aggressors. Thus, the Arab media have largely ignored it.
    "I think we are in a state of denial," says Jehad Khazen, a former editor of al-Hayat newspaper.
    "People say 'the Arabs or Muslims - cannot do this - it did not happen' - but they did do this and it did happen - and they have to reconcile themselves to the fact."

Iran's Blood-Drenched Mullahs - Nir Boms and Shayan Arya (Washington Times)
    Ever since its establishment in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has had an abhorrent human-rights record, including summary executions of hundreds of the late shah's supporters, executions of thousands of political prisoners and daily reports of executions, public hangings, floggings and torture.
    Mass graves can easily be found in any large Iranian city.
    Iran also tops the list for executing juveniles in direct violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - currently there are more than 70 children on death row.
    Religious minorities such as the 300,000-member strong Bahai community are under siege; since 1979, more than 200 Bahais have been executed.

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

  • Iran Says Missile Tests Boost Its Position in Talks
    Iran's missile tests last week will strengthen its position in diplomatic discussions over its disputed nuclear plans, Deputy Defense Minister Nasrullah Ezatti said Monday. "The maneuvers helped the Islamic Republic to go to the negotiating table with a full hand," he said. (Reuters)
  • Israel, Palestinians Clash over Mediterranean Summit Text
    Israel and the Palestinians disagreed over the final declaration at a Mediterranean summit and the wording will have to be changed, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Monday. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said his delegation "categorically opposed" wording in the text submitted by Israel that referred to a "state of the Jewish people." (AFP)
  • Blair Scraps Gaza Visit Due to Security Threat
    Middle East envoy Tony Blair canceled a visit to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Tuesday due to a security threat, a spokesman for the former British prime minister said. "Unfortunately Mr. Blair has had to postpone his visit to Gaza due to a specific security threat which would have made it impossible to proceed," the spokesman said. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Barak: UN Resolution on Lebanon War a Failure
    Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday branded UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that ended the Second Lebanon War a failure, saying that it had not achieved the aim of disarming Hizbullah in Lebanon. Barak told a Labor Party forum on Monday that the resolution had not worked, does not work now, and will probably never work. Despite the resolution's call for a strict ban on arms shipments to Hizbullah, the group has rearmed and now has a larger rocket arsenal than it did during the war. "Hizbullah is continuing to ignore [the resolution] with the ongoing intimate assistance of the Syrians," Barak said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hizbullah Radar Tracking Israeli Planes - Yaakov Katz
    The Iranian and Syrian militaries have assisted Hizbullah in setting up advanced radar installations atop Mt. Sannine in Lebanon's Beka Valley which can be used to track Israeli planes from the Mediterranean Sea to Damascus, the Azerbaijan-based Trend News Agency reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Canada Removes Terrorist Websites - Amy Soberano
    The Canadian Internet service provider iWeb recently removed three websites powered by Hamas and Hizbullah - both designated as terrorist organizations in Canada. Jonathan Halevi, co-founder of the Orient Research Group Ltd. and a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, had filed a complaint after discovering that an official Hamas website was being hosted in Canada. After reporting that Hizbullah may be activating sleeper cells in Canada, CBC questioned iWeb about two additional websites, one promoting Hizbullah and the other in support of Hamas, both of which were eventually taken down.
        According to Halevi, as much as 95% of online activity powered by terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda and Hamas, is hosted by American servers. "Nobody is getting sued for supporting terrorist organizations on the Web. There is an urgent need for an international Internet police," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Long-Term Implications of Prisoner Exchanges - Justus Reid Weiner and Diane Morrison
    Prisoner exchange is governed by international humanitarian law as detailed in the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions (1949). At the end of a conflict the states implement an exchange of captured soldiers. In the interim, the captured soldiers are entitled to the status of Prisoners of War, who must be provided with adequate facilities and care as well as communication with the outside world.
        Israel's enemies, using proxy guerilla organizations such as the Iranian-proxy group Hizbullah, operate outside the legal framework of the laws of war - routinely committing war crimes such as indiscriminate attacks (the deliberate targeting of civilians as such) and perfidy (disguising combatants as protected individuals such as civilians). The organizations' fighters are unlawful combatants who are not entitled to the protected status of POWs, and are subject to prosecution as war criminals.
        By exchanging prisoners with the proxy organizations as if they were law-abiding states, Israel can be seen as upgrading the status of the organizations' unlawful combatants. Such exchanges afford them the same rights as lawful soldiers, without demanding from their leaders the reciprocal obligations. At the same time, Israel downgrades the rights of its own captured soldiers by overlooking the organizations' systematic depravation of POW rights for Israeli soldiers under the Geneva Conventions. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • When Talking Can Kill - Caroline Glick
    The West's latest offer to appease Tehran constituted a major achievement for the Iranians. It promised civilian nuclear power plants, economic assistance, new airplanes, agricultural assistance, hi-tech transfers and a freeze on the expansion of economic sanctions against the nuclear-weapons-seeking mullocracy. In exchange, the Iranians weren't even required to end their uranium enrichment activities. All they needed to do was promise not to expand their current enrichment activities.
        As David Albright, president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, explained to Newsweek, at their current, known level of uranium enrichment the Iranians are producing 1.2 kg. of enriched uranium a day. At this enrichment level, they will be able to produce a nuclear bomb by next year. So the international community's willingness to accept continued Iranian uranium enrichment at current levels is a clear signal of the international community's willingness to accept a nuclear-armed Iran. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Waltzing with Beirut - Michael Oren
    The First Lebanon War's original aims of ensuring a Lebanon free of Syria and its terrorist proxies, oriented toward peace and resistant to Islamism, are precisely those desired by the West today. The legacy of Lebanon is not merely anguish, but also lessons that can help avert such catastrophes in the future. Trying to impose peace on a Middle Eastern nation by military means can prove calamitous - that is the first lesson of Lebanon as well as Iraq. But, having embarked on that course, a precipitous pullout can yield even deadlier results.
        Furthermore, war aims must be fully endorsed by the government and communicated to the public. Winning in the Middle East also means playing by Middle Eastern rules - maneuvering between rival ethnic groups, deterring and incentivizing them, and identifying which of them predominates.
        Lastly and most pertinently, trust Israel's instincts. The West's forward-most outpost in the Middle East, Israel correctly signaled the danger of Osirak and of a terrorist-dominated Lebanon. Israel is now warning about the cataclysm impending from a rapacious, nuclear-armed Iran. The West would be well-served to listen. The writer is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. (New Republic)
  • Observations:

    Israeli Doubts over Syria Peace - Jonathan Marcus (BBC News)

    • The central issue in the Israel-Syria peace process is the fate of the Golan Heights, which today has become Israel's vacation playground. In addition, some 20,000 Israelis live on the plateau.
    • If opinion polls are anything to go by then few people seem to want to give up the Golan. "Nobody in their right mind in Israel, whether he is a right-winger or a left-winger, will agree to the idea that you have to step-down from the Golan Heights in order to see there the next morning an Iranian intelligence-gathering operation or missile launchers," Israeli Middle East expert Ehud Yaari told me. "It's not going to work."
    • "The main purpose of the negotiations so far is to make it easy for President Assad not to retaliate for the Israelis knocking out his nuclear reactor at Kibar on the Euphrates on 6 September 2007," Yaari said.
    • Professor Shlomo Avineri, a former head of Israel's foreign ministry, said, "For the Syrians, there is only one agenda - the Golan Heights....The Israelis also have other agendas, like the Syrian involvement in Lebanon in support of Hizbullah, Syrian support for Hamas in Gaza, and the Syrian-Iranian relationship." "The Syrians are not interested in talking about that. So I can see here a deep gap not just in positions but also in what the negotiations are going to be about."
    • So how likely is it that Syria would be willing to break with its foreign policy of the past 20 years and end its close alliance with Iran? Avineri believes this is unlikely because of Syria's weak position in the region. "Syria is very much in the corner of the Arab consensus and I think the Syrian-Iranian relationship is very fundamental to the present regime in Damascus. That's why the Syrians are not going to be ready to give it up, even in return for the Golan Heights."

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