Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at www.dailyalert.org|
July 9, 2010
Top Hamas Prisoner Outlines Plan for Future War on Israel - Ronen Bergman (Ynet News)
See also Has Hamas Weathered the Storm? - Tom Perry (Reuters)
A Tale of Two Passports - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
The Kurds of Syria: An Oppressed, Forgotten Minority - Jonathan Spyer (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli Arab Scientist Seeks Breath Test for Cancer - Guy Grimland (Ha'aretz)
The Demjanjuk Trial - Johannes Houwink ten Cate (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
Video: Jerusalem Symphony Playing 1812 Overture with Light Show (judyinjerusalem)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
President Obama said in an interview with Israel Channel 2 television on Wednesday: Israelis "see the enmity of neighbors that surround them in a very tough neighborhood. They see a track record of attempts at peace where, even when concessions were made, a deal could not be consummated. They see rockets fired from Gaza or from areas in Lebanon." (White House)
See also Finally, Presidential Empathy - David Horovitz
In his first Israeli TV interview since he won the presidency, Obama ticked all the right boxes - stressing his "sympathy and identity" with the Jewish experience; disarmingly acknowledging that his middle name "Hussein" might prompt suspicion, then offsetting that by naming his senior Jewish advisers; and noting that thwarting Iran's nuclear drive had been his "No. 1 foreign policy priority." Perhaps most importantly, the president, when urging a more flexible attitude to peacemaking from the Israeli public, did so with a commendable effort at empathy: "The Israeli people are going to have to overcome legitimate skepticism, more than legitimate fears, in order to get a change that I think will secure Israel for another 60 years." (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that a freeze on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank had so far failed in its objective of spurring Palestinians to enter direct peace talks. "I decided, unlike any previous government, to freeze the construction in new settlements for a 10-month period to encourage the Palestinians to enter peace talks," he told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. "So far seven months have passed and they haven't come in." "You can't go on a trapeze, hold out your hand and have no partner on the other side," he said. (AFP)
See also Video: Israeli Prime Minister on Peace with Palestinians (ABC News); Video: Interview with Prime Minister Netanyahu - Katie Couric (CBS News)
Iran is buying around half of its July gasoline imports from Turkey and the rest from Chinese sellers, oil traders said on Thursday, as most other suppliers have stopped selling due to the U.S. sanctions. Turkish refiner Tupras began supplying gasoline to Iran in June. Unipec, the trading arm of Chinese refiner Sinopec, and state-run Chinaoil restarted direct sales of gasoline to Iran earlier this year, stepping into a void left by fuel suppliers who halted trade.
The limited pool of suppliers was driving up the cost of gasoline for Iran and making it harder for the Islamic Republic to buy the quantities it needs, traders said. "These restrictive measures mean it is getting very serious for Iran," said Mehdi Varzi, a London-based energy consultant. "The oil market is a big market, and they will always find suppliers, but it is getting more difficult and it is costing more." (Reuters)
See also Smugglers in Iraq Blunt Sanctions Against Iran - Sam Dagher
Even as the U.S. imposes new sanctions on Iran, hundreds of millions of dollars in crude oil and refined products are smuggled in from Iraqi Kurdistan every year. The scale of the trade has raised concerns among American officials. (New York Times)
Three Britons were convicted on Thursday of plotting to murder hundreds of people in suicide bombings after being recruited by an al-Qaeda-inspired cell bent on blowing up transatlantic airliners bound for North America. Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Waheed Khan and Waheed Zaman recorded martyrdom videos threatening waves of attacks against Britain and the U.S., and worked with the gang that planned to bring down planes with home-made liquid bombs. Prosecutors said the plot could have been on the same scale as the 9/11 attacks. The plot's ringleader, Abdulla Ahmed Ali, identified seven flights to San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal, Washington, New York and Chicago that left London within 2 1/2 hours of each other. Ali was jailed for life last September. (Reuters)
The Saudi cabinet agreed on Monday to sign a nuclear cooperation accord with France "for the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy." The pact was first proposed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007. In December, neighboring United Arab Emirates awarded a South Korean-led consortium a $20 billion contract for four nuclear power plants. (AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Egypt and Jordan are growingly concerned with Iran's nuclear program, a senior Israeli defense official said this week, noting an increase in anti-Iranian rhetoric in both Arab countries. Israeli delegations recently traveled to Jordan and Egypt for high-level talks with the political and security echelons on a wide range of issues including the Iranian nuclear threat. One official said that in both countries there was a sense of "urgency" regarding the need to stop Iran's nuclear progress. "While there is not much that Jordan and Egypt can do to stop Iran, it is important for the United States and countries in Europe to hear that they, too, are concerned with Iran's nuclear program," the official said. (Jerusalem Post)
Hamas has started arresting dozens of Palestinian "collaborators" with Israel as part of its "National Campaign to Combat Collaborators with the Enemy." Two months ago, Hamas issued an ultimatum to suspected collaborators in Gaza: Surrender by July 10, or face the death penalty. In April, Hamas executed two Palestinian men on the pretext that they had passed on information to Israel that was later used to kill gunmen in Gaza. Human rights activists expressed fear that Hamas was planning to use the campaign to settle scores against its political enemies. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Obama-Netanyahu Meeting
President Obama did his best to provide a dramatically improved backdrop for U.S.-Israeli relations during Prime Minister Netanyahu's July 6 visit to the White House, compared to the climate of the strained April visit. This included strikingly specific commitments on key issues important to Israeli security. Obama seems to have recognized that the punitive spirit ran counter to the deep well of popular support for strong U.S.-Israeli relations in the American heartland, in key parts of the Democratic Party, and on Capitol Hill, garnering him little political advantage in the process.
No less important was repairing the strategic implications of public discord. For Israel, the appearance of distance from Washington is a blow to Israeli deterrence and welcome news for its adversaries. For America, shabby treatment of one ally is a signal for others to take cover.
In his post-meeting statement, President Obama articulated in stunning clarity the U.S. acceptance of Israel's policy of nuclear opacity (neither confirming nor denying its possession of nuclear weapons) and what is effectively the "Israeli exemption" to membership in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The writer is executive director of the Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Last summer, President Obama tried to be conciliatory with Iran and pressure Israel. Now he is imposing sanctions on the Iranians and embracing Prime Minister Netanyahu. Obama and his aides realize that they have to work with Netanyahu. They also know that any political agreement Netanyahu signs will get the sweeping support of 70 to 80% of the Israeli public. That recognition helped bring about Washington's transition from bashing to caressing.
Netanyahu did his bit to change the American approach. He accepted the two-state principle, froze construction in the settlements, quietly blocked building for Jews and demolition of Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem, and eased the Gaza blockade. (Ha'aretz)
The current Israeli government is usually depicted in Washington as a radical, far-right demon, not ready to accept sacrifices in order to achieve the two-state solution, yet nothing could be further from the truth. The Netanyahu government has made abundantly clear that it accepts the two-state solution and it has done the unthinkable - the announcement of a moratorium on further settlements. The real problem here has not been Netanyahu, but actually the Palestinian Authority - always dissatisfied and always asking for more. The Americans should actually be twisting Abbas' arm. (Strategic Studies Group-Spain)
In their latest meeting, Obama lauded Netanyahu and his policy, treated him with respect, and stressed areas of agreement. Obama's previous strategy of exerting brutal pressure on the prime minister and creating a crisis in U.S.-Israel relations did not produce the hoped-for results, did not improve America's status in the Arab and Muslim world, did not promote talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and did not prompt strategic shifts in Netanyahu's policy. The opposite was true: The Palestinians reached the conclusion that they need not do a thing - the U.S. will do the job for them and elicit all the concessions they demanded from Israel. Professor Eytan Gilboa is a political science and communication lecturer at Bar-Ilan University. (Ynet News)
The PLO platform, as reaffirmed in the Fatah Congress in August 2009, states that their struggle will not stop until the Zionist entity is eliminated and Palestine is liberated. As a logical corollary, they refuse to accept Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. This explains why, when Mahmoud Abbas was asked in a Washington Post interview in May 2009 why he had declined Olmert's far-reaching offer, he answered that "the gaps were wide."
The Palestinian leadership insists that negotiations now start at the point they had reached with Olmert at the end of 2008. That means they are not satisfied with what was put on the table a year ago. They want more than that. One cannot expect a plausible, peaceful solution in the foreseeable future unless the PLO leadership changes its mind, heart, and writings. MK Benny Begin is a member of Prime Minister Netanyahu's forum of seven senior ministers. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, announced in English in Aspen, Colorado, a year ago that Jews are welcome to live in a future state of Palestine where they "will enjoy [full] rights and certainly will not enjoy any less rights than Israeli Arabs enjoy now in the State of Israel." Just days earlier, however, Saeb Erekat, head of the PA's negotiations department, said just the opposite in Arabic: "Nobody should agree to Israeli settlers remaining in the Palestinian [state]....Some say that we will grant the settlers citizenship. We reject [this idea] out of hand."
Fayyad spoke in English to Americans and Israelis, Erekat spoke in Arabic to Palestinians. Palestinians play this double game because it works. Israelis, Americans and others too often accept the dulcet tones they hear directly and dismiss reports of harsh words they only learn about second-hand. (Jerusalem Post)
Israelis have grown used to being attacked in media controlled by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, media that glorify suicide bombers and deny the Holocaust. Israelis know that Palestinian students study textbooks in which Israel does not exist. Meanwhile, Gaza is led by Hamas, which officially declares it will fight until Israel is gone.
More Israelis today believe the Palestinians will keep demanding concessions until there is no Israel. The 1993 Oslo peace accords failed when Yasser Arafat rejected concessions under which nearly all of the West Bank and Gaza would have become a Palestinian state. Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas, refused concessions that were even more generous. Even if a two-state solution is attempted, what would happen the day after it begins? Would not rockets soon be flying over its borders? The writer is the Yitzhak Rabin Professor at George Washington University and former director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. (Financial Times-UK)
An exchange is now taking place in some American policy circles over whether to engage Middle Eastern militant Islamist groups, particularly Hizbullah and Hamas. Last week, Mark Perry, author of a book advocating talking to Islamists, noted a recent report by senior officers in U.S. Central Command that proposed a new approach to Hizbullah and Hamas.
Hizbullah, at least its leadership and security cadre, is an extension of Iran. The party is there primarily to defend and advance Iranian regional interests. That means that Hizbullah will never defy Iranian directives when it comes to matters as fundamental as the U.S. or Israel. As for Hamas, its ultimate ambition is to seize control of the Palestinian national movement, supplant Fatah, and redefine the conflict with Israel in terms the movement prefers. When these groups see Americans contorting themselves to justify flexibility toward militant Islamists, they assume, rightly, that their political strategy is working.
Hizbullah has no desire to integrate into the Lebanese mainstream and never did. Rather, it seeks to neutralize the ability of the Lebanese state to challenge the party's military autonomy. Similarly, Hamas will only integrate into the Palestinian security forces once it is sure that it won't be obliged to surrender its freedom of military action.
The "talk to Islamists" scheme is entirely America-centric, built on an assumption that the obstacles come from Washington and have nothing to do with the ideology and convictions of the Islamist groups themselves. It also rests on a Yankee notion that everyone secretly yearns to talk and that dialogue can resolve most issues. That's not innovative thinking; it's a case of transposing America to the minds of others, which is either naive or astonishingly smug. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
Sayyid Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah died Sunday in Beirut at the age of 75. While he was not exactly Hizbullah's spiritual guide, as was often alleged, he was one of the most influential shapers of modern Shiite political thought in both its peaceful and more violent incarnations. Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution energized Shiites throughout the Muslim world, an epochal event that Fadlallah welcomed. The revolution's most successful export was Hizbullah - the Party of God - an Arab Shiite organization created by Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops in the Bekaa Valley.
During the '90s, Fadlallah had a falling out with Hizbullah and Iran. The sticking point was the concept which held that the supreme religious and political authority for Hizbullah was Iran's Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. While Fadlallah railed against the Iranians, Hizbullah started buying off Fadlallah's Lebanese followers and instructed them to follow Khamenei.
American researchers and policy-makers have long anticipated Hizbullah's shift toward becoming a regular Lebanese political party, free of Iranian influence. Most recently, President Obama's counterterrorism czar, John Brennan, has discussed the possibility of engaging with Hizbullah's so-called moderate elements and giving them a larger stake in Lebanese politics. But the fact is that the Party of God ultimately gets its marching orders, on war and peace, from the Supreme Leader of Iran. (Wall Street Journal)
This monograph analyzes the factual and legal claims of two of the most powerful NGOs, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, regarding the 2009 conflict in Gaza, particularly relating to Israel's use of white phosphorus and UAVs. The analysis demonstrates that many of the factual claims made by the NGOs are contradicted by military sources, weapons experts, and media reports, and their presentation of key aspects of international law is inaccurate or incomplete. Policy- and opinion-makers should carefully examine NGO reports before allowing them to influence their positions. (NGO Monitor)
Read the Full Report (NGO Monitor-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
An innate, reflexive and Pavlovian reaction exists between much of the Muslim experience and any manifestation of Judaism. This has been classically exhibited in the events surrounding the recent flotilla incident. However, at no point have I heard a sane discussion on the complex reasons why a blockade was in place or why Egypt had for years cooperated in maintaining the blockade. I was in Riyadh during the first days of Israel's 2009 Gaza operation and watched as Muslim-majority Egypt refused to allow Saudi Arabia to deliver medical aid and supplies to Gaza. The border remained closed because, simply put, Egypt doesn't want to face a mass migration of Gazans.
At one stage, a spokesperson for Hamas appeared on the BBC citing that Gazans have no need for aid, revealing the prime goal of the flotilla's mission: to run the gauntlet against the blockade, not to alleviate material needs. The flotilla was a bald and blatant political move designed to humiliate and provoke. (Huffington Post)
An article on a Venezuelan website asserts that today's Zionists are "Christ killers.'' Another states that Zionists control the planet, government, media, banks and weapons. On official TV or radio in Caracas, the anchor rants about boycotting companies allegedly owned by Zionists, such as Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson. On another program a pundit raves that the Mossad may be planning an attack on Jewish institutions or even to kill El Presidente.
These are either Venezuelan government employees or sympathizers of President Hugo Chavez. Their motivation is to promote unapologetic hatred towards Jews consistent with Chavez's antipathy toward the State of Israel. The writer is the Florida regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. (Miami Herald)
Israel: A Normal Country - Jose Maria Aznar et al. (Wall Street Journal)
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