Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 24, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel: Iran to Get New Russian Air Defenses by '09 - Dan Williams (Reuters)
    Iran is set to receive advanced Russian-made S-300 missile batteries by the end of the year that could help fend off strikes against its nuclear facilities, senior Israeli defense sources said on Wednesday.
    The best S-300 can track 100 targets at once and fire on planes 120 km. away.
    An Israeli defense official said Iran's contract with Russia required that the S-300s be delivered by the end of 2008. A second source said first units would arrive in early September.
    "There's no doubt that the S-300s would make an air attack more difficult," the Israeli official said. "But there's an answer for every counter-measure, and as far as we're concerned, the sooner the Iranians get the new system, the more time we will have to inspect the deployments and tactical doctrines."
    According to the Israeli official, it would take a year for Iran to deploy the S-300s and man them with trained operators.

U.S. Generals in Turf Battle in Israel - Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    A report by U.S. security coordinator to Israel Gen. (ret.) James Jones will reveal a turf war going on between Jones and American security envoy Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, Israeli defense officials said Wednesday.
    "There is tension between Jones and Dayton," said a senior defense official. "The report needs to be looked at as part of an American domestic power struggle and is less about Israel and its policies in the territories."
    The report will criticize Dayton, said another security official, since it "will conclude that law-enforcement institutions - which Dayton was supposed to help create - do not really exist."

Gazans: Egypt Blocks Students from Studying Overseas - Ashraf Khalil (Los Angeles Times)
    Bitterness toward Egypt for keeping the border closed was particularly acute among the university students I interviewed who could lose scholarships and chances to study overseas if they can't get out of Gaza.
    Every year Egypt lets in thousands of Israeli tourists, they told me. Senior Hamas leaders seemingly come and go from Cairo every week, but not a few hundred graduate students.
    "Egypt could fix this in two days," one student said.

Extreme Islamist Ideas Penetrating Territories - Jonathan Spyer (Jerusalem Post)
    There is a growing presence in eastern Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza of preachers, organizations and individuals committed to the extreme Sunni Islamist current known as "Salafiyya," the ideology associated with al-Qaeda.
    In the West Bank, the removal of Hamas-affiliated imams in over 1,000 mosques has paradoxically opened the door for the rising prominence of Salafi-oriented preachers.
    A certain Saudi-Palestinian sheikh, whose brother is in a Saudi jail accused of al-Qaeda ties, has been in Nablus since early 2008.
    He has a lot of money (presumably from supporters in Saudi Arabia), and has gathered around himself a circle of young activists committed to the Salafi-Jihadi path.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Top Israeli Officer Calls to Block "Iranian Aggression" on U.S. Visit
    Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, on a visit to Washington, said on Wednesday it was crucial to block "Iranian aggression" in the Middle East. "We are witnessing, I believe, a paradigmatic change in the Middle East in which radical countries and elements are trying to (install) a new order to replace the traditional national, secular one that exists today," Ashkenazi said. "At the center of this radical axis is Iran, which seeks to achieve its regional aspiration of hegemony by upsetting the existing balance of power." He accused Iran of backing "terror organizations and radical groups" and of pursuing nuclear arms "to project power within the region and beyond." "I believe it is therefore crucial that we block Iranian aggression," he said. (Reuters)
        See also IDF Chief of Staff: All Options Open Against Iran - Yitzhak Benhorin
    IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said Wednesday that Israel prefers to solve the Iranian nuclear problem through diplomatic means, but hinted that the Jewish state must also prepare for the scenario of a military strike. "We are all united in thinking that Iran should not be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon, and there is no doubt that the preference is for diplomatic activity and for sanctions," Ashkenazi said. "This is the preferable way, in terms of international activity as well. This is the Israeli preference and the American preference. In addition, everyone understands, both the Americans and certainly us, that we must prepare for all options." (Ynet News)
  • U.S.-Syrian Meeting Scrapped - David R. Sands
    The State Department on Wednesday scrubbed plans to meet with a visiting delegation from Syria. One day after he said the delegation would be received by a top State Department official, spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said the meeting will not take place. Even before canceling the meeting, the Bush administration was cool to direct engagement with the Assad regime. (Washington Times)
  • Arab Media Cartoons Depict "Jewish Control" of U.S. Presidential Candidates
    Editorial cartoonists in the Arab world are using direct or borderline anti-Semitism in their portrayal of the presumptive U.S. presidential candidates as lackeys of the Jews and Israel, according to a report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued Wednesday. The report cites numerous examples of hate-filled characterizations of Jews and overt racist stereotypes. "Once again, the Arab media does not miss an opportunity to promote classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of Jewish control over Washington," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. (Anti-Defamation League)
        Read the Report (ADL)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Shin Bet: Gaza Lull Is Lifeline to Hamas - Amos Harel
    Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin believes the cease-fire agreement in Gaza serves the interests of Hamas, not Israel. "The cease-fire gave Hamas a lifeline. We are not attacking them. We eased the blockade on them at a time when they are not committed to stopping their rearmament," Diskin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday. He said the temporary lull "is essentially an illusion. In our assessment the rocket attacks will resume at some point in the future."
        Diskin noted that "Israel's situation is very problematic in its struggle against radical Islam. Palestinian daring against Israel has increased since Hamas took over [in Gaza] while Israel's deterrence has suffered a very substantive blow." He argued that Israel's deterrent has "suffered substantially" in the past three years, with the disengagement from Gaza, the Hamas takeover there, and the Second Lebanon War. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Intelligence Agencies Warn of "Substantial" Global Jihad Threat - Roni Sofer
    Substantial threats to Israel, its citizens, and Jewish people all over the world exist from worldwide Jihad organizations, specifically al-Qaeda, intelligence agencies told the Israeli Security Cabinet on Wednesday. Officials said that global Jihad constitutes a threat to all Western countries, democratic regimes, and moderate Arab nations. (Ynet News)
        See also Al-Qaeda's Threat Against Israeli and Jewish Targets Is Mainly Overseas - Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon
    Deputy head of the National Security Council Col. (res.) Shaul Shay told a conference at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University that the threat al-Qaeda posed to Israel was mainly overseas. "Al-Qaeda's strength is mainly abroad against Israeli and Jewish targets. They have infrastructure and experience and it is easier for them to work in these theaters," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Bracing for U.S. Push to "Codify" Status of PA Talks - Herb Keinon
    The U.S. is interested in having Israel and the Palestinians codify the progress in their talks up to now so there will be a lasting document to serve as the basis for further negotiations following the changeover of governments in Washington and - possibly - in Jerusalem, Israeli diplomatic officials said this week. The document would be in lieu of a finished "shelf-agreement" that President Bush discussed at November's Annapolis Conference. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Border Guard Injured in Jerusalem Shooting Attack Dies - Ronen Medzini
    Border Guard officer David Shriki, who was critically wounded in a shooting attack near the Lions' Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem 12 days ago, died of his wounds Wednesday. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Car Bomb Discovered in Jenin - Yaakov Katz
    During a Border Police operation in the West Bank city of Jenin on Tuesday, a large explosive device was discovered in a car that was likely on its way to explode in an Israeli city. The 12-kg. device was connected to several gas balloons and pipe bombs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Ford Foundation Still Funding Anti-Israel Groups - Michael J. Jordan
    Many of the anti-Israel activists at the UN anti-racism conference in Durban, South Africa, in 2001 were egged on by Ford Foundation-backed, pro-Palestinian groups. Hoping to head off a similar debacle, Ford says it will not pay for any organization to participate in the follow-up conference to Durban, slated for April in Geneva. Yet Ford today is funding several organizations that engage in the "Durban strategy" - to paint Israel as a "racist, apartheid" state and isolate the Jewish nation through boycotts, divestment and sanctions - according to a months-long JTA investigation.
        A 2008-09 Ford grant for $305,000 went to the Arab NGO Network for Development, which features a map on its Web site that fails to note the existence of Israel. Beneficiaries of Ford funds include the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, Muwatin: Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy, The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and Miftah: The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy. All these groups signed onto boycott and divestment petitions against "Apartheid Israel." (JTA)
  • Bolstering the Arab Center - Marwan Muasher
    To be a moderate in the Arab world today sometimes feels like an act of courage, and other times like a leap of faith. Sometimes, it's just plain suicidal. And yet, there has never been a time when moderation is more needed in the region than now. Despite the Arab center's efforts to solve the Arab-Israeli issue, its major shortcoming is that it has focused on that one subject. If it is to be popular in Arab eyes, it needs to expand its agenda to other areas of concern - governance, political reform, economic well-being and cultural diversity.
        The process of opening up political systems in the Arab world - which means democratizing them and making them more transparent - must begin as an alternative to the current stalemate that has trapped Arab citizens between the status quo (dominated by ruling elites that have often failed to deliver development, freedom and good governance to their people) and the more radical forms of political Islam, which many believe would curtail political, social and personal freedoms. The writer is a former foreign minister and deputy prime minister of Jordan. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Observations:

    Hold Iran Accountable - Irwin Cotler (Ynet News)

    • The enduring lesson of the Holocaust and of the more recent genocides - in the Balkans, Rwanda, and Darfur - is that they occurred because of state-sanctioned incitement to hatred. This teaching of contempt - this demonizing of the other - is where it all begins. As the Supreme Court of Canada put it, "The Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers; it began with words."
    • We have been witnessing for some time a state-sanctioned incitement to genocide whose epicenter is Ahmadinejad's Iran. It is dramatized by the parading in the streets of Tehran of a Shihab-3 missile draped in the words "Wipe Israel off the map" while the assembled thousands are exhorted to chants of "Death to Israel."
    • The answer is for the international community to act now as mandated under the Genocide Convention, which prohibits the "direct and public incitement to genocide." State parties to the Genocide Convention, such as the U.S., have not only a right, but a responsibility, to enforce the convention, particularly to prevent genocide.
    • Specifically, an application for immediate action against Iran should be submitted to the Security Council pursuant to Article 8 of the Genocide Convention. This would allow the U.S. to detail the compelling danger of genocidal incitement presented to Israel by Ahmadinejad's Iran and seek an effective range of sanctions and remedies against this dire threat.
    • Furthermore, the U.S. should be preparing criminal indictments of Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders on the basis of the "universal jurisdiction" principle, which would become actionable when they set foot on American territory. In addition, Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders should be placed on a watch list, preventing their entrance into the U.S. as "inadmissible persons," as has been done in the past for then-Austrian president Kurt Waldheim because of his participation in the persecution of civilian populations during World War II.

      The writer is former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.

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