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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 4, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Jewish Members in the Next U.S. Congress (JTA)
    12 Jewish senators and 27 representatives are expected to serve in the 112th U.S. Congress, including newly elected Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
    Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) were reelected, as was Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who does not identify a religion but notes that his mother is Jewish and a Holocaust survivor.
    New Jewish members of the House of Representatives include Nan Hayworth (R-NY) and David Cicilline (D-RI). (Ha'aretz)

U.S. Poll: 57 Percent Support Israel, 5 Percent Palestinians (Israel Project)
    57% of Americans think America should be a supporter of Israel, while 5% say the U.S. should support the Palestinians, according to a poll of 1,000 U.S. voters conducted on Nov. 2 by Public Opinion Strategies and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for The Israel Project.

Listen to Conference of Presidents on Radio
    Malcolm Hoenlein co-hosts the John Batchelor radio show on Thursday nights from 10-11:30 p.m. EST on WABC 770 AM.

Lebanon's Garbage Blights Israel's Beaches - Zafrir Rinat (Ha'aretz)
    Over the last few days, trash from Lebanon has inundated Israel's beaches from Netanya in the north to Nitzanim in the south.
    The waste apparently comes from a huge unregulated dump near Sidon that has begun sliding into the sea.
    "Out at sea, you can see an armada of plastic bags sailing toward the beach," said Netanya resident Alex Axelrod.
    A few days ago, inspectors from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority found barrels that originally contained hazardous material on a beach south of Netanya.

Palestinians Complain of Widespread Torture in PA Detention Centers (ABNA-Iran)
    Recent reports and testimonies gathered by human rights organizations and journalists have shown that intensive, even life-threatening torture is still being widely practiced by PA security authorities.
    "I am subjected to the shabah (confinement to a very low and small chair while one's hands are cuffed and tied to his back) up to 17 hours per day; I am only let go during the time of prayers, meal times, and when I have to use the bathroom," said Mua'ath Abu Ejheishe, one of the detainees at the Jericho prison.
    Abu Ejheishe is the son of Hamas Legislative Council member Muhammed Abu Ejheishe.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Takes Aim at Palestinian Incitement - Ian Deitch
    Israel announced Wednesday it will officially monitor incitement by the Palestinians, taking aim at what it says are widespread provocations against the Jewish state that undermine efforts to reach Mideast peace. Israel claims that Palestinian leaders promote - or tolerate - hatred in school textbooks, public speeches and their official media. Israelis have especially bristled at maps in schoolbooks and documents that do not designate Israel, and Palestinian TV broadcasts of mosque leaders denigrating Jews.
        All this feeds off - and perhaps amplifies - what Israelis consider a hostile atmosphere, reflected in the fact that militants who carried out deadly attacks against Israeli civilians are widely regarded as heroes in the Palestinian territories. Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, said incitement has increased since peace talks resumed in September. (AP-Washington Post)
  • Election Outcome May Complicate Obama's Foreign Policy - Mary Beth Sheridan and Greg Jaffe
    The midterm elections focused almost exclusively on domestic issues. But Tuesday's outcome may result in Republicans using their new strength to question the president's policies toward countries such as Syria and Israel. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), a strong supporter of Israel, will probably take command of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, replacing Howard Berman (D-Calif.), who had been largely sympathetic to Obama's agenda. (Washington Post)
  • Saudi Arms Sale Draws Concern of U.S. House Committee Leaders - Viola Gienger
    The Obama administration's decision to sell $60 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia has prompted concerns from the top Democrat and Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. A letter being circulated by Reps. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) stops short of opposing the sale, but raises "the potential repercussions for our friends and for our own forces in the region in the event of political change in Saudi Arabia."
        "We have serious concerns about the nature of Saudi involvement in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, particularly since the Saudis have failed to take steps toward normalization of relations with Israel or to augment their financial support to the Palestinian Authority."  (Bloomberg)
        See also Arms for the King and His Family: The U.S. Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia - Joshua Teitelbaum
    The U.S. State Department has notified Congress of the biggest arms sale in American history - a $60 billion purchase by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Totally offensive in nature, the package, with its attack planes, helicopters, and "bunker-buster" bombs, was clearly designed to deter Iran. King Abdullah has also significantly upgraded the Saudi Arabian National Guard, which amounts to the personal militia of his family faction. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Netanyahu: Palestinians Trying to Bypass Negotiations - Roni Sofer
    Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the stalled peace talks with the Palestinians during a Knesset debate on Wednesday, saying: "Rejecting Israel's right to exist certainly doesn't advance reconciliation between the nations and our desire to bring about a peace agreement. The Palestinians made an official commitment in this regard - as part of the Wye agreement and other agreements. I promise to discuss this commitment during the process, but for now I want the process to move forward without preconditions."
        "If (the process) fails, it will be because the Palestinian Authority is trying to bypass the negotiations and move the process to the international track."  (Ynet News)
        See also Text of Prime Minister's Remarks (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Israel Cuts UNESCO Ties over Designation of Holy Sites - Tovah Lazaroff
    On Wednesday, the Israel Foreign Ministry suspended cooperation with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said that relations with UNESCO would not be restored until it retracted its statement last week that two ancient biblical sites - the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb - were an integral part of the "occupied" Palestinian territories. Ayalon said that the Palestinian Authority was behind the statement in another attempt to delegitimize Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Kills Islamic Terrorist in Gaza - Ali Waked
    The IDF and Israel Security Agency confirmed on Wednesday that they were responsible for the explosion in Gaza City that killed Muhammad Jamal al-Namnam, a senior field commander in the Army of Islam, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Gaza. Al-Namnam was involved in attacks against Israeli targets and recently planned to carry out more attacks against Israeli and American targets in the Sinai Peninsula. (Ynet News)
        "The Israeli army targeted a ticking bomb," said army spokeswoman Lt.-Col. Avital Leibovitz. (Bloomberg)
        See also Are American/Multi-National Forces in Sinai Targets? - Lenny Ben-David
    The 1,800 Multi-National Force and Observers (MFO) in Sinai are sitting ducks for terrorists. The lightly armed soldiers come from 11 nations, but by far the largest contingent is from the U.S. (I*Consult)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Will Election Results Affect Israel Policy? - Dan Ephron
    Experience has shown that the composition of Congress does not necessarily determine Washington's approach to the Middle East. The most relevant example would be President Clinton's dealings with Israel during his second term. Though Republicans had a majority in both the House and the Senate, Clinton managed to force Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu into withdrawing from parts of the West Bank under an interim deal with the Palestinians.
        "Yes, a Republican Congress will raise the domestic political cost of confronting Israel," says Jonathan Rynhold, an expert on Israel-U.S. relations at the BESA Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv. "But there are plenty of ways to pressure Israel without Congress." The bottom line: U.S. policy won't change much as far as Israel is concerned. (Newsweek)
  • Turkey's New Threat Assessment: A Challenge for Washington - Ariel Cohen
    Turkey's dramatic announcement that it revised the list of countries which it believes threaten its national security confirms Ankara's strategic drift away from the West and greater embrace of Iran and other states hostile to the U.S. These alterations prove the ascent of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's "neo-Ottoman" geopolitical approach and the continuation of a staunchly anti-Israel foreign policy. Turkey removed Russia, Iran, Armenia, Iraq and Syria from the list. Finally, Turkey has put its former strategic and trade partner Israel at the forefront of the list as a "severe threat."
        The Obama administration should express grave concern over Turkey's foreign policy trajectory, as relations with Iran and Israel have become a litmus test for the course of Turkish foreign policy. (Heritage Foundation)
  • Finish Rabin's Work - Bill Clinton
    Today marks 15 years since an assassin's bullet killed my friend, Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister. On the occasion of the anniversary of his death, the world would do well to remember the lessons of his life: his vision for freedom, tolerance, cooperation, security and peace is as vital now as it was 15 years ago. The story of Yitzhak Rabin and the story of Israel are intertwined. He took up arms to defend Israel's freedom, and laid down his life to secure Israel's future. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Obama Mustn't Force a Final Deal - Ari Shavit (Ha'aretz)

    • The real game begins now: establishing a viable Palestinian state within a year. Why? Because the American president believes establishing a Palestinian state would placate the Arab Muslim world, which he wishes to appease.
    • In a certain sense, the president's resolve is to be commended. It's good to have a world leader trying to save the two-state solution. But in another sense Obama's determination is dangerous. If Obama tries to impose an end to the conflict prematurely, he will upset the stability, encourage violence and leave chaos in his wake.
    • Obama, even after losses at home, has enough power to coerce Israel. But Obama does not have enough power to turn the fake into real. He cannot topple Hamas, revoke the demand for return, and turn a Palestine into a peace-loving state. So if he insists on forcing the issue, all hell will break loose.

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