Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 2, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

Trial Begins in The Hague on Murder of Lebanese PM Hariri (AFP)
    A landmark international tribunal to try the suspected killers of Lebanon's former prime minister Rafiq Hariri opened in The Hague Sunday.
    Chief prosecutor Daniel Bellemare said the Special Tribunal for Lebanon constituted the world's first anti-terrorist court.
    The tribunal, which includes 11 judges, four of them Lebanese, was created by a 2007 UN Security Council resolution and will apply Lebanese law. It has an initial, renewable, three-year mandate.
    See also Fear Grips Democracy in Lebanon - Kenneth Timmerman (Washington Times)

Iran Wants Apology from Hollywood (AFP)
    The art advisor to Iranian President Ahmadinejad urged a visiting delegation from Hollywood's Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to apologize for "insults and slanders" about Iranians in films, the IRNA news agency reported Saturday.
    Javad Shamaghdari cited "300" and "The Wrestler" as among offending films.
    The 2007 smash hit "300," a gory portrayal of the Greco-Persian wars, drew the wrath of Iranians for showing their ancestors as bloodthirsty.
    "The Wrestler" was criticized for the scene in which the picture's star, 2009 Oscar nominee Mickey Rourke, tears the Iranian flag.

Rebuild Gaza, But Don't Forget Nahr al-Bared - Khalil Makkawi (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    In 2007, the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in northern Lebanon was infiltrated by a terrorist group, Fatah al-Islam.
    In the struggle to flush them out, 180 Lebanese soldiers were killed and much of the camp was destroyed, leaving some 30,000 refugees homeless: a mini-Gaza of our own.
    Despite many months of negotiations, the $440 million of international assistance required to help reconstruct the camp has still not been secured.
    If the foreign donors gathering at Sharm el-Sheikh are now ready to spend $2 billion, why not $2.5 billion?

Anti-Semitism in Araby - Josef Joffe (Newsweek)
    Anti-Semitism is as much part of Arab life today as the hijab or the hookah.
    Whereas this darkest of creeds is no longer tolerated in polite society in the West, in the Arab world, Jew-hatred remains culturally endemic.
    Cartoons in the government-controlled Arab press feature The Jew as a murderous conspirator, a capitalist bloodsucker or Satan himself.
    So peacemakers, beware. They'll have to deal with a civil society on one side that is by no means civil.
    The writer is a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Abramowitz fellow at the Hoover Institution, both at Stanford.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Military Chief: Iran Has Enough Material to Make a Nuclear Weapon
    Iran likely has enough material to make a nuclear weapon, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen told CNN on Sunday. "We think they do, quite frankly," Mullen said. "Iran having a nuclear weapon, I believe, for a long time, is a very, very bad outcome for the region and for the world." In February the Institute for Science and International Security released a report concluding that Iran has reached "nuclear weapons breakout capability," based on an analysis of data from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog agency.
        However, an IAEA official cautioned that Iran's stock of low-enriched uranium would have to be turned into highly enriched uranium to qualify as weapons-grade material. That hasn't been done, the official said. (CNN)
        See also U.S. Defense Secretary: Iran "Not Close" to Nuclear Weapon - Deborah Zabarenko
    Iran is not close to having a nuclear weapon, which gives the U.S. time to try to persuade Tehran to abandon its suspected atomic arms program, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Sunday. (Reuters)
        See also IAEA Report: How Much Nuclear Material Does Iran Have?
    The IAEA has verified that, as of 17 Nov. 2008, 9,956 kg of UF6 had been fed into the cascades since February 2007, and a total of 839 kg of low-enriched UF6 had been produced. The enrichment level of this low-enriched UF6 product verified by the Agency was 3.49% U-235. Iran has estimated that, between 18 Nov. 2008 and 31 Jan. 2009, it produced an additional 171 kg of low-enriched UF6. (International Atomic Energy Agency)
  • U.S. to Boycott "Durban II" UN Racism Conference - Matthew Lee and Edith M. Lederer
    The Obama administration said Friday that the U.S. will boycott an upcoming UN conference on racism unless its final document is changed to drop all references to Israel. The conference is a follow-up to the contentious 2001 meeting in the South African city of Durban. The U.S. and Israel walked out midway through that meeting over a draft resolution that singled out Israel for criticism and likened Zionism - the movement to establish and maintain a Jewish state - to racism.
        State Department spokesman Robert Wood said the closing statement under consideration mirrored the 2001 draft and was unacceptable. "As a result, the United States will not engage in further negotiations on this text, nor will we participate in a conference based on this text." At the same time, he said the U.S. would participate as an observer in meetings of the UN Human Rights Council, a body that was shunned by the Bush administration for anti-Israel statements and failing to act on abuses in Sudan and other states. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Largest U.S. Jewish Body Urges EU to Take Obama's lead, Skip Durban - Natasha Mozgovaya
    The biggest Jewish body in the U.S. on Sunday lauded the decision of the Obama administration not to participate in a UN anti-racism summit which it fears will be used as a forum to criticize Israel. Alan Solow, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said they greatly appreciate the decision of the Obama administration not to participate and urged the European Union to follow its lead.
        "It was clear from the preparatory meetings that this conference was again being hijacked by those who want to have a repetition of the first Durban conference, which focused almost singularly on Israel and was the occasion for vile and bigoted declarations and manifestations," Solow and Hoenlein said. "The blueprint for much of what we have witnessed in recent years was put forward at the Durban conference, including the attempts to delegitimize and demonize Israel." (Ha'aretz)
  • World Faces Daunting Challenge in Rebuilding Gaza - Karin Laub
    On Monday, donor countries meeting in Sharm el-Sheik in Egypt will be asked to pledge at least $2.8 billion in aid to Gaza, but for reconstruction to move forward, a series of improbable events would need to happen. Gaza's Hamas rulers would have to reconcile with their West Bank rivals led by Mahmoud Abbas. Israel and Egypt would have to recognize Hamas' governing role and reopen the borders they closed after Hamas seized Gaza by force in June 2007. Israel has also linked a border opening to a prisoner swap with Hamas.
        Israel says it can't allow supplies in freely, for fear Hamas - a group committed to Israel's destruction - would hijack concrete and steel to build bunkers and rockets. (Washington Post)
        See also World Bank Offers Donors Options on Gaza Aid
    The World Bank said on Sunday it would urge international financial support for rebuilding Gaza through direct donation to the Palestinian Authority and to some independent Gazan groups like the Municipal Development and Lending Fund and the NGO Development Center, neither of which is run by Hamas. (Reuters)
        See also $300M in U.S. Aid to Gaza to Have Strict Limits - Glenn Kessler
    The U.S. on Monday will pledge $300 million in humanitarian relief for people in Gaza but will maintain restrictions to prevent any assistance from reaching Hamas, State Department spokesman Robert A. Wood said. "Hamas is not getting any of this money," Wood emphasized. Secretary of State Clinton will also announce $600 million in assistance to the Palestinian Authority. (Washington Post)
        See also Arab Countries Have Not Delivered Pledged $1B to Rebuild Gaza
    A senior Arab League official says Arab countries have not delivered any of the more than $1 billion they pledged to rebuild Gaza. (AP/FOX News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Rocket Fired from Gaza Hits Israeli School
    A rocket fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza on Saturday landed in the courtyard of a school in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, sending shrapnel flying into classrooms. Authorities said the school was empty for the weekend. (Reuters)
        See also Experts: Palestinians Fire Improved Rockets - Shmulik Hadad
    Experts say the two Grad rockets that landed in Ashkelon Saturday were new and improved models, capable of greater destruction than those usually fired from Gaza. The rocket that hit a school succeeded in penetrating the fortification used to protect it from projectiles. The rockets were locally manufactured 170 mm rockets with a range of 14 km (8.6 miles) and are capable of massive damage. [Standard Grads are 107 mm or 122 mm.] Two tractors were required to pull the rocket from the ground in which it had become lodged. (Ynet News)
        See also Ten Rockets Hit Israel Saturday - Yanir Yagna (Ha'aretz)
        See also Six Rockets Hit Israel Sunday - Shmulik Hadad (Ynet News)
  • Netanyahu: Why Pour Money into Gaza before Rockets Stop? - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu voiced serious reservations during recent meetings with foreign leaders about money going into Gaza for reconstruction before the rocket fire on Israel has stopped. One Netanyahu aide said that with the Gaza reconstruction conference, it seemed as if the world felt that attacks on Israel were a thing of the past, when they were taking place daily. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Secretary of State Clinton Must Reject Hamas "Unity Government" Ploy - Elliott Abrams
    The real question at the Gaza donors conference is whether the nations present will fully support the Palestinian Authority in its efforts to regain a presence in Gaza or will press for some kind of "reconciliation" or "national unity government" that legitimizes a Hamas role in governing all Palestinians. If they do the latter, chances for the future development of free and responsible Palestinian institutions, and for some kind of Palestinian independence under an agreement with Israel, will likely be doomed.
        Today moderation among the Palestinians is best represented by the Palestinian Authority itself, not the sluggish Fatah leaders. Governmental functions in the West Bank are performed by the PA, and many are in fact performed with competence and efficiency under the leadership of Prime Minister Fayyad. Strengthening the PA, then, is the best way to help Palestinian moderates right now. So reconstruction efforts in Gaza are far more than a humanitarian issue: They will either regain a foothold for the PA in Gaza or will give Hamas some of the money - and perhaps even an official foothold in the West Bank through some "unity government" farce. Clinton and Mitchell need to play their cards carefully to ensure that the money we pledge helps the people - and the long-term prospects for peace - and not Hamas terrorists. The writer, senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, was a deputy national security adviser under President George W. Bush. (New York Daily News)
  • Durban II and the Limits of Engagement - Gerald Steinberg
    The Obama administration's decision not to attend the Durban Review Conference in Geneva is a very significant step toward ending obsessive attacks against Israel and restoring the moral foundations of human rights. The way has now been cleared for Europe to follow the U.S.   For President Obama and U.S. officials dealing with human rights and international organizations, ending the racist nature of the UN's anti-racism machinery is particularly important. This will require close cooperation among democracies, as well as the nations of Europe. Denunciation of the Durban process is the first important step. The writer is executive director of NGO Monitor and chairs the Political Science Department at Bar-Ilan University. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Netanyahu's Middle East Outlook - Lally Weymouth (Washington Post)

    In his first interview with foreign media since he was asked to form Israel's next government, Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu said:

    • "I propose a way which I believe can achieve progress: to continue political talks and at the same time advance the economic development that has begun and also strengthen the Palestinian security forces. I personally intend to take charge of a government committee that will regularly address the needs of the Palestinian economy in the West Bank."
    • Q: But economic progress is not a substitute for political progress.
      Netanyahu: "It's not a substitute but in Northern Ireland it was an unbelievable facilitator for the Good Friday agreement and the others that followed."
    • Q: Do you believe in a two-state solution as George Bush outlined in 2002?
      Netanyahu: "Substantively, I think there is broad agreement inside Israel and outside that the Palestinians should have the ability to govern their lives but not to threaten ours."

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