Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 28, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Western Intelligence Suggests Syria Can Still Produce Chemical Arms - Louis Charbonneau (Reuters)
    Syria maintains an ability to deploy chemical weapons, diplomats say, citing intelligence from Britain, France and the U.S.
    There is a growing conviction among Western capitals that President Assad has failed to come clean about Syria's chemical weapons program despite his promises to end it.
    "We are convinced, and we have some intelligence showing, that they have not declared everything," said a senior Western diplomat.
    When asked how much of its program Syria has kept hidden, the diplomat said: "It's substantial."

Palestinians Plan to Join 60 UN Bodies, Treaties (AFP)
    The Palestine Liberation Organization's central council on Sunday adopted a plan to pursue attempts to join 60 UN bodies and international agreements.

Al-Qaeda Chief Urges Kidnappings of Americans (Reuters-Guardian-UK)
    Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has called on Muslims to kidnap Westerners, particularly Americans, who could then be exchanged for jailed jihadists including Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel-Rahman, serving a life term for a 1993 attack on New York's World Trade Center.
    "I ask Allah the Glorious to help us set free Dr. Omar Abdel-Rahman and the rest of the captive Muslims, and I ask Allah to help us capture from among the Americans and the Westerners to enable us to exchange them for our captives," said Zawahiri.
    The al-Qaeda leader also expressed solidarity with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian Army Finds Six Tunnel Openings in Sinai Mosque - Joel Gulhane (Daily News-Egypt)
    The Egyptian army on Saturday discovered and destroyed the openings of six tunnels in a mosque in the Gaza border town of Rafah.
    The tunnel openings were found behind Al-Nasr Mosque's washroom, behind the pulpit, one in the southern corner and three "from the bottom of the mosque," according to an armed forces statement Sunday.

IDF Doctor Saves Life of Palestinian Baby - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    An IDF medical officer saved the life of a one-month-old Palestinian baby who suffered from respiratory arrest on Friday night.
    The infant was brought by her parents from the village of Beitin near Ramallah to an IDF checkpoint.
    A doctor gave the baby initial treatment and after a few minutes managed to normalize her breathing.
    Palestinians receive urgent medical treatment in IDF army posts several times a month.

Video: Arab Mob Screams at Jewish Children Visiting Temple Mount - Marissa Newman and Yifa Yaakov (Times of Israel)
    A group of Jewish adults and children were harassed by Muslims on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Thursday during the visiting hours allotted to non-Muslim visitors.

The Holocaust's Foremost Unsung Hero - Emily Amrousi (Israel Hayom)
    Moshe Kraus, who died in Jerusalem in 1986, is responsible for the largest rescue operation during the Holocaust.
    In 1944, Kraus orchestrated the granting of extraterritorial status to houses and factories in Budapest, Hungary, under the auspices of Switzerland, barring entry to Germans and the local Hungarian authorities, and housing thousands of Jews.
    The Swiss embassy granted 40,000 Jews certificates making them foreign Swiss nationals. Tens of thousands of additional documents were forged while the Swiss turned a blind eye.
    Young, brave Jews disguised as Nazi officers roamed the streets handing out these documents to Jews.

The Boy Who Ran for Three Years to Escape the Holocaust - Tom Tugend (Jerusalem Post)
    The movie "Run Boy Run," the tale of an eight-year-old boy who escapes the Warsaw Ghetto and for three years survives on his own in Nazi-occupied Poland, could easily defy belief if the survivor were not still alive and ready to document and detail his experiences.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • White House Would Consider Cutting Aid to Palestinians in Wake of Hamas-Fatah Deal - Candy Crowley
    White House Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken told CNN on Sunday: "There are clear principles that any Palestinian government has to adhere to: recognize Israel, renounce terrorism, respect past agreements. Any government has to do that."
    Crowley: "You would consider cutting off aid?"
    Blinken: "If the government didn't do that? Yes."  (CNN)
  • Netanyahu: What Are You Going to Talk About with an Enemy that Seeks Your Destruction? - Bob Schieffer
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told "Face the Nation" Sunday: "President Abbas...made a giant leap backwards, away from peace, because he embraced Hamas that calls for the extermination of Jews worldwide, for the eradication of Israel, and actually acts on a daily basis against peace by firing thousands of rockets against Israel, having sent scores of suicide bombers against us, digging tunnels to kidnap our soldiers and citizens. All sorts of horrible things with Hamas....These are the people who praise bin Laden as a holy warrior. These are the people who condemn the United States for killing bin Laden."
        "We will not negotiate with a government that is backed by Hamas, an organization that is committed to our destruction. It's common sense. Of course. I mean, you want to make peace with an enemy, but only with an enemy that's decided to make peace. An enemy that seeks your destruction, what are we going to talk about, the method of our self-annihilation?"  (CBS News)
        See also Video: Netanyahu on CNN (CNN)
  • Kerry: If Israel Doesn't Make Peace Soon, It Could Become "an Apartheid State" - Josh Rogin
    If there's no two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon, Israel risks becoming "an apartheid state," Secretary of State John Kerry told a room of influential world leaders in a closed-door meeting Friday. Jewish leaders are fuming over the comparison. Kerry also said that both Israeli and Palestinian leaders share the blame for the current impasse in the talks, and at some point he might unveil his own peace deal and tell both sides to "take it or leave it."
        "A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second class citizens - or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state," Kerry said. Leading experts, including former South African justice Richard Goldstone, have argued that comparisons between the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians and "apartheid" are offensive and wrong. (Daily Beast)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu on Holocaust Remembrance Day: We Must Identify an Existential Threat in Time and Take Action in Time
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday at Yad Vashem: Tonight, on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, I ask myself: why, in the years preceding the Holocaust, did the overwhelming majority of world leaders fail to detect the danger in time?
        The bitter truth is: They did not want to see it because they did not want to face the consequences of that truth. The axiom of avoiding conflict at any cost was adopted not only by the leaders. The people themselves, primarily the educated ones, shared it too.
        Today Iran is calling for our destruction. It is developing nuclear weapons. It continues to develop inter-continental ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads to threaten the entire world. Today, just like then, there are those who dismiss Iran's extreme rhetoric. Today, just like then, there are those who view Iran's nuclear ambitions as the result of the natural will of a proud nation - a will that should be accepted. Those who make such claims are deluding themselves.
        Iran wants a deal that will eliminate the sanctions and leave their nuclear capabilities intact. Such a deal, which will enable Iran to be a nuclear threshold state, will bring the entire world to the threshold of an abyss. I call on the leaders of the world powers to insist on a full dismantling of Iran's capability to manufacture nuclear weapons, and to persist until this goal is achieved.
        In any event, the people of Israel are strong. When faced with an existential threat, the situation of our people today is entirely different than it was during the Holocaust. Now we have great power to defend ourselves. On behalf of the Jewish people, I say to all those who still seek to destroy us: you have failed and you will fail. Israel is a state that seeks peace with all its neighbors - a state with a will of iron to ensure the future of its people. (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Video: Israelis Pause to Remember
    Israelis stopped in their tracks Monday, standing in silence as sirens pierced the air to remember the 6 million Jews who perished in the Nazi Holocaust during World War II. The Jewish state came to a virtual stop as the two-minute siren went off at 10 a.m., marking Holocaust Remembrance Day - one of the most solemn days on the Israeli calendar. (AP-Ynet News)
        See also We Stand Together on Holocaust Remembrance Day - Sarah Tuttle-Singer
    When the siren sounds on Holocaust Remembrance Day, coffee cups are placed down mid-sip. Arguments end mid-sentence. A joke breaks at the punchline. Even the children stop playing, their bodies eerily still on the playground. Every car pulls to the side of the road. And we stand. Together. (Times of Israel)
  • What Happens If a Technocrats' Cabinet Is Established in Ramallah? - Barak Ravid
    Disagreement is developing between Israel and the U.S. over what will happen if a new Palestinian government establishes a cabinet of technocrats. The Americans believe that, under such circumstances, there would be no reason not to cooperate with the new government and renew the talks. However, Israel opposes any cooperation with the new government as long as all of its components and supporters, particularly Hamas, do not recognize Israel, reject terror and honor previous agreements.
        While EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton released a statement supporting the establishment of a Palestinian unity government, she also noted that the EU required the entire new Palestinian government to be committed to nonviolence, the two-state solution, and honoring previous agreements, including those that included recognition of Israel's right to exist. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Why I Voted in Favor of Suspending Peace Negotiations with the Palestinians - Yair Lapid
    On Thursday, after an unusually long meeting of the Israeli government's security cabinet, it was decided to suspend peace talks until it becomes clear whether or not the new Palestinian unity government with Hamas is formed. The decision, to which I was party, passed unanimously.
        Why? Because Hamas is a not the legitimate representative of the Palestinians, but rather a Jihadist terror organization whose express purpose is to kill and maim Jews simply because they're Jews.
        I cannot understand how anyone could expect us to negotiate with a government, half of which claims to want to reach an agreement with us while the other half claims it is not bound by that same agreement. One half claims to want peace and the other half - simultaneously - shoots thousands of rockets and mortar shells on innocent civilians and rules over Gaza in a reign of Islamic terror.
        One half speaks English and tells the world what it wants to hear, and the other half is an Islamist organization that denies the very existence of the Holocaust, was outlawed in the U.S. and in most European countries and has claimed, in an official statement of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh (the new partner of Mahmoud Abbas): "Osama bin Laden was a Muslim freedom fighter."
        We did not call for the cessation of the talks, but rather for their suspension. We have not closed the door. When the new government is formed, we can decide - in consultation with the U.S. - where to go from here. But before we continue talks, we must know something very basic: With whom exactly are we talking? The writer is Israel's Minister of Finance. (TIME)
  • Time to Rethink Basic Logic of Peace Process - Michael Rubin
    The Palestinian Authority exists because the Palestinian leadership agreed to recognize Israel and foreswear terrorism. That Hamas now forms part of the Palestinian government means that the Palestinian government no longer adheres to the agreement that forms the very basis of its existence.
        If the Palestinians are going to absolve themselves of their contractual responsibilities, there is no reason why Israel should continue remitting payments or doing anything to facilitate the PA's existence. If Abbas wants his partner to be Hamas, then he should pay the price for that decision. The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. (Commentary)
  • Abbas and Holocaust Commemoration - Jonathan Tobin
    If the world thinks Abbas' nice words about the Holocaust are more important than his pact with Hamas or even his personal embrace of the terrorist murderers who shed Jewish blood, then perhaps it is time to start worrying about a trend that appears to elevate Holocaust commemoration over and above any concern for Jews currently alive.
        Courtesies about the events of the 1940s do not outweigh efforts to deny legitimacy to Jewish rights, let alone justify the embrace of those who shed Jewish blood in our own time. (Commentary)

Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2014 (Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority)

Each year six torches are lit at Israel's central memorial ceremony held at Yad Vashem on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day in memory of the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust. These are the torchlighters in 2014:

  • Asher Aud was born in 1928 in Poland. He was 14 when his mother and brother were murdered at the Chelmno extermination camp. In August 1944 Asher was deported to Auschwitz, where he found his brother Berl who helped him survive. In January 1945, Asher was sent on a death march. He survived Mauthausen and Gunskirchen. In November 1945, Asher immigrated to Israel and took part in the War of Independence. Asher and Chaya Aud have three children and 13 grandchildren.
  • Itzchak Biran was born in 1935 in Romania. In June 1941, Itzchak was staying with his uncle in the town of Bobivtsi. The night after the Soviet troops retreated, the locals murdered all of the Jews in the village. The next day his uncle Zelick was also captured and murdered. Itzchak joined up with a group of Jews hiding in the forests. After the war he attempted to immigrate to Israel in 1947 on the famous Exodus ship, eventually arriving in April 1948. He became a pilot in the Israeli Air Force. Itzchak and Zlila Biran have three daughters and five grandchildren.
  • Chayim Herzl was born in 1937 in Budapest, Hungary. When Ferenc Szalasi came to power in Hungary in October 1944, gangs of Arrow Cross militias began murdering thousands of Jews in the streets of Budapest. One night, Arrow Cross men came to their house and took his mother away. Chayim hid under the bed. He never saw his mother again. Later, he lived in one of the homes that enjoyed Swiss diplomatic protection through the efforts of Raul Wallenberg and other diplomats. In January 1945, some of the Jews living in these protected homes were murdered. In 1947, Chayim immigrated to Israel. He became a rabbi and settled in Kibbutz Sa'ad. Chayim and Dvora have six children and 19 grandchildren.
  • Dita Kraus was born in 1929 in Prague. In November 1942, Dita and her parents were deported to Terezin. In December 1943, they were sent to Auschwitz. In March 1944, half of the children living at the children's block where she stayed were murdered. In May, Dita and her mother were sent to labor camps in Germany, and then in March 1945 to Bergen-Belsen. She married Otto Kraus whom she met at Auschwitz and in 1949 immigrated to Israel. For 30 years, both Otto and Dita taught at the Hadassim Youth Village. They have three children and four grandchildren.
  • Zvi Michaeli was born in Salonika, Greece, in 1917. On April 7, 1943, Zvi's family was deported to Auschwitz. His parents and two older sisters, Myriam and Eleonora, were murdered that day. His sister Julie was killed four months later. In January 1945, Zvi was sent on a death march to Germany, arriving in Bergen-Belsen in a state of severe malnutrition. After the camp was liberated, Zvi was taken to Sweden for rehabilitation. On the ship he met his future wife, Elvira, a fellow Auschwitz survivor. In November 1949, the couple arrived in Israel. Zvi and Elvira raised a daughter and have three grandchildren.
  • Hinda Tasman was born in Minsk, Belarus, in 1929. In July 1941 the Jews of Minsk were incarcerated in a ghetto. Almost every night Germans entered and murdered entire families. In November, German soldiers entered her home and shot every member of the family. Hinda survived because her father concealed her with his body. In April 1943, Hinda escaped from the ghetto and was recruited by a partisan unit which operated in the nearby forests. Hinda returned to the ghetto and smuggled entire families out to the partisans' camp. After the war, Hinda returned to Minsk, then immigrated to Israel in 1959. Hinda and Boris have two sons and five grandchildren.

        See also Holocaust Survivors Recall Most Traumatic Moments - Aron Heller (AP)

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